Sunday, 19 October 2008

Pike Fishing - Short Lure Fishing Session

The last time I went fishing I was feeding carp on the top and floater fishing so it seemed a bit strange to be heading out pike fishing on my next session. October is traditionally the start of the pike fishing season though, I’d managed to miss my first piking session due to prior commitments so when the second Saturday in October came around I was ready and waiting to go with my lure bag.

Most of my pike fishing is done with lures these days, they are just so convenient, neither you or your car ends up smelling of dead fish after a session and as far as I’m concerned that’s a good enough reason to stick with the lures!. For me, lure fishing is about searching out potential spots pike might be held up. It’s a very mobile approach and in a typical lure fishing session I’ll cover 3 or 4 different waters in the same day. This makes my sat nav extremely useful and I rely on this little gadget to get me around the north west from lake to lake with no fuss, if you’re an angler that visit’s a few different waters or travels any distance, a sat nav is a cracking device to have.

The first lake I visited was one of my old stomping grounds for carp, a nice Cheshire mere that also contains a few pike up to mid twenties. Most pike in this water are small I thought it might respond well to a lure fishing approach. The first swim I tried was one of the car park swims, I knew from previous experience that a few pike had been caught here in the past so I investigated the swim with a large mepps aglia spinner. I started off on the right hand side of the swim fishing shallow at first and moving slightly further left with each cast until I’d covered the swim in an arc.

Once I’d covered the swim I did the same again but I counted the spinner down a little to fish it at a different depth, I fished around the swim at all different depths but no takes where forthcoming so I had a wander round with my rod and decided to try near a set of lily pads as it seemed like an obvious ambush point for a predator like the pike.

I started again on the right of the swim but nothing happened until my mepps aglia got near to the pads. On my third retrieve a small pike had a snap at my spinner, I didn’t hook the fish but I caught site of a characteristic green flash of a pikes flank. Previous experience has taught me that I’d probably get a take next time the spinner went through the swim. The take didn’t come first time through the swim, it came on the second run through. As the lure came near the pads the pike grabbed it properly this time and I had a short battle with a jack that had no chance of getting away as I was using a 20lb wire trace and 30lb breaking strain power pro braided mainline. I placed the pike on my unhooking mat and used a pair of forceps to remove my spinner, the forceps are ideal for avoiding a pike’s sharp teeth and I’d recommend them to any budding pike angler. Once the spinner was removed I weighed the fish at 4lb and took a quick photo, even though it was small, it was still my first pike of the season.

My first lure caught pike of the new season took a mepps aglia spinner

I couldn’t get another bite after the small pike so I tried a change of tactics, I switched my mepps spinner for a spinnerbait and tried in amongst the dying lily pads themselves. Spinnerbaits are excellent for this type of fishing as they don’t get caught up easily. I was able to retrieve my lure through the pads in the hope of finding another pike. I did see one pike strike in the pads but it was in an inaccessible area that I couldn’t reach and there was no bites for me in the areas I could reach so I moved on.

The sat nav got me to my next lake in no time at all, I couldn’t fish this Shropshire mere without a sat nav because its in the middle of nowhere and very difficult to find. I’ve never known a county with so many single track roads as Shropshire!. The second lake was rumoured to hold a few pike but rumours were all I’d heard. There were a few carp anglers in residence on this lake so I had to give them a wide berth. You never can tell where carp anglers are actually casting too so as a general rule I won’t go within two swims of them. This didn’t leave me with much water, just the margins and a tasty looking set of snags that might hold a fish if I could get a lure close enough to them.

I started with a mepps spinner again working from right to left then I worked the swim again at different depths, I went through most lures and plugs I had but with no luck at all. I have a feeling I might get lucky on this lake but it will be on another day when the carp anglers aren’t around as they were occupying all the areas that contained lily pads and I reckon the pads would probably give me my best chance of a pike on this lake.

During the afternoon it had begun to rain lightly, it was that horrible drizzly type of rain and after an hour of standing out in it I was soaked so I quickly decided to call it a day rather than visit a third water. There will be plenty of time to catch more pike this winter so I headed home with just the one small jack to my credit but at least I was off the mark.

Tight Lines.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Carp Fishing - Indian Summer

The weekend after my return to yateley I was a little bit stuck for a venue, the weather had been very nice for nearly a fortnight, real indian summer conditions with temperatures nearing the 70’s. Unfortunately the really high pressure associated with settled weather conditions meant the going was likely to be tough on the carp fishing front. With this in mind I opted to visit a well stocked Cheshire runs water to give myself a chance of getting a bend in the rod.

As soon as I arrived at the lake I had a feeling I’d catch, it was just a matter of how many. The carp were on the surface in numbers, as I stepped out of the car and looked across the lake I saw a lot of backs breaking surface on the far side and nobody fishing round there!. I grabbed my gear straight away and headed round to the swim that was full of fish. After dropping my gear and watching for a few minutes I decided floaters were the best line of attack and fortunately I’d taken a couple of bags of chum mixers with me.

The only problem with using floaters was the bird life, there was a large amount of seagulls on the lake and they would cause problems for me sooner or later. I began to feed mixers slowly, just half a dozen at a time to start with. It didn’t take long for the carp to show and interest and the first bait was sampled and taken within minutes. I continued feeding mixers and slowly the fishes confidence grew as more and more carp joined in. I’m amazed I managed to avoid the seagulls for so long, a few of them even flew over my baited area and ignored it despite seeing the carp getting stuck into the floating baits, a sure sign nobody had been floater fishing on the lake for quite a while!.

After an hour and a half of constant feeding with the catty my swim looked like a jaccuzzi, there were carp everywhere with their mouths out of the water scrapping for every last mixer. The swim was nearly ready for a hookbait so I slowly began to put a floater rod together. I set the rod up with a drennan sub surface controller and a 10lb drennan double strength hooklength that was 5 feet long. A single mixer superglued to size 10 esp big t raptor hook completed the setup.

I was just waiting for the superglue to dry on the hookbait when two ducks appeared from nowhere and charged straight through my swim grabbing every mixer they could. I continued to feed the mixers as the ducks had their fill but it was another hour before the carp started to get their confidence back again, just as they did a swan arrived on the scene and set me back again, next to arrive were the gulls and at one stage I had a swan, a couple of ducks and about 30 gulls all over my baited area grabbing every last mixer, in with these birds were the carp and they weren’t going to miss out on their free food. My answer to the birdlife was to step up the feed and I simply hammered in the mixers, the birds had their fill and when they couldn’t eat anymore they simply drifted away and watched from a distance, even the gulls had their fill and half an hour later I was sat with a swim full of carp again.

The carp were a little more wary with the disturbance from all the birds and they kept coming back for seconds every so often. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t really going to get the carp completely preoccupied because of the birds so I changed tactics and set up a zig rig. I knew the water was roughly 3ft deep so I set up a zig rig with a 2.5ft hooklength and a small monster pursuit boilie pellet for a hookbait. My new tactics were to put the zig rig out slightly to one side of the baited area and to continue feeding mixers to try and build the carps confidence again.

The zig rig had been out maybe half an hour when the water erupted and my delkim suddenly burst into life. I was on the rod straight away and after a spirited fight I landed a small common that I guestimated to be around 6-7lb in weight. I took a quick picture on the mat and returned the fish then continued to feed more mixers whilst I sorted out another hookbait for the zig rig.

Zig rig caught common of around 7lb, the first fish of the day

I was fishing again a few minutes later, this time I put the zig closer to the feed area. It was perhaps another 30 minutes before I had a repeat of the last run, the water erupted again and again the delkim warbled its tune. This fish turned out to be a small mirror of perhaps 4lb. I returned the fish unweighed and set the zig rig up again with another fresh boilie pellet. By now I was fishing right in amongst the feed area and it didn’t take long to receive another blistering take. Unfortunately this fish kited to my right and I had to pile on the side strain to try and keep it from getting round a marginal bush. It was a real hang on for dear life moment and sadly my hook length parted as my line came into contact with the submerged branches of the tree.

My swim went a little quiet after loosing the fish and before I could build the carps confidence again the wind sprung up making it impossible to feed more mixers. It was blowing straight in my face so my mixers just kept getting blown straight back at me. As well as feeding mixers during the afternoon I’d also been feeding in some large elips pellets from hinders. With this new breeze blowing I simply switched to my usual knotless knot hair rig and fished on the bottom instead.

Switching to bottom fishing produced my 3rd carp of the day

Switching to bottom baits produced another run half an hour later and after a spirited fight I netted another small common around the 7lb mark. By this time I was knackered, feeding mixers for over 4 hours with a catty really does take it out of you so I called it a day with just 3 fish to my credit. Judging by the amount of carp that had been in my swim I should have had more but you just can’t avoid problems with birds ruining your groundwork. They’d been a real pain for me on this session and they’d cost me dearly, judging by previous floater fishing sessions on this water I’d have been looking at catching over 10 carp for the session. At the end of the day, you can’t rush the carp through to pre-occupation on chum mixers. It takes time to build them up with careful feeding so its hard to avoid our feathered friends. I’m now thinking of buying a laser pen to help me out next time!.

Tight Lines.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Carp Fishing - Return to Yateley

Last weekend I finally made a return fishing trip to Yateley Sandhurst. The trip started with a short journey to my mate Steve’s in Runcorn. Once at Steve’s I loaded my carp gear into his motor so we could share the fuel costs and I left my car on his drive. I packed my sat nav too and this incredibly useful device got us to yateley angling centre to collect my day tickets and then onto the lake with no difficulty at all.

Safe arrival courtesy of the sat nav

I knew the fishing was going to be a struggle, the air pressure had been continually rising all week and we were greeted by a flat calm lake that didn’t exactly look inspiring. I spent a fair few hours walking round the lake looking for carp but very little showed. The odd carp I did see were up in front of the car park peg and I had no chance of getting near them as the lake was busy.

Having spent most of the day looking for carp I resigned myself to picking a swim from the best of the rest as it was getting late. The swim I chose was peg 13, I’d fished this swim on my first sandhurst carp trip back in may and caught a thirty from it. The wind was pushing down the lake towards peg 19 so I had a hunch that 13 might be worth a look. I got my rods set up and cast my rigs to the same area I’d caught from last time. On my previous trip I’d witnessed an amazing display from the sandhurst carp as they topped and rolled in this area so it seemed logical to fall back on my limited experience from the last session.

The night passed uneventfully and I was disappointed not to have some kind of action at first light. I left the rods out until 9.00am whilst I had some breakfast then wound in and went for a long walk around. Other anglers would be going home during the day as the lake was exclusively booked for the weekend so I wanted to get an idea of where I was going to fish later on.

After 2 hours of walking round I knew the fish were up at the car park end and if I drew well I’d get on them and be in with a chance. I returned to my swim at 11.00am so I could cast out my rigs again. The previous day only 2 fish had been caught and both came within 10 minutes of each other just after midday. With two carp coming out so close together time wise I thought this might be some kind of small feeding period so I wanted my baits out through this time of day just in case.

I’m so glad I did get the rigs back out. At 11.45am one of my snowman hookbaits was picked up, I was watching the water at the time and hadn’t seen anything when right out of the blue one of my delkims burst into life and the line peeled off the spool at a good rate of knots!. After my initial bemusement I quickly slipped into routine and hit the rod. Sure enough it arched over and after no movement for a few seconds I eventually felt a kick on the end from what felt like a decent fish. The fight was a bit of a stalemate for 5 minutes or so, the carp took no line but neither did I make any back. The fish wasn’t snagged, it was just a heavy weight on the end of the line and eventually the steady pressure had it moving towards me.
I’d hooked the fish about 50 yards out and once I’d managed to get it moving it came into the margins quite quickly, again the carp never took any line and looking at it in the clear water I could see it was a nice fat mirror that looked to be around mid twenties. I was a little nervous when the fish was under the rod tip but I needn’t have worried as the fish was well nailed in the bottom lip and I could clearly see this as the fish slowly rolled into the waiting net.

I must admit I was delighted to see that fish netted, I hadn’t been fishing much over the last few months and when I sat and reflected, I realised it was my first decent fish since I’d caught a 22lb 4oz mirror from a no publicity Cheshire carp water back in mid June!. I left the carp in the water whilst I got on with the business of weighing and photographing my fish. I put the unhooking mat on the road behind my swim and set up the tripod and camera ready for a smooth photographing session. I weighed the mirror at 26lb even, a nice fat fish that was in reasonable condition. My mates Steve and Gino were on hand and with their help I had the weighing and pictures done in no time. I released the fish back to the lake and watched with a big smile on my face as it drifted out of sight.

26lb Mirror from Yateley Sandhurst Lake

The lads were due at the lake just before 2pm and not long after I’d released my carp, the first of them arrived to have a look around the lake. I recounted my capture to them as they arrived and filled them all in on where I thought the fish were. Once everyone was present we had a draw for swims for the rest of the weekend. I was actually relieved to have caught as I came out second to last in the draw. Not only was the car park end of the lake stitched, I’d lost peg 13 as well and I was left with little choice but to pick from a handful of no hoper pegs!.

I opted for peg 19, this peg gave me a big view of the lake and at least 3 swims either side of me were empty. I was hoping the lack of pressure might see a few fish move into the area but they didn’t!. I had to sit and watch carp show up at the car park end and the lads up there managed to catch a few fish over the weekend. For me, my catching was over and I had to make do with the barbeque on Saturday and the fireworks that went on each evening. Despite looking hard I didn’t see a single fish up my end of the lake and I blanked the rest of the trip.

Peg 19, shame the carp were up the other end!

At the end of the day you pay your money and you take your chance, the draw had been unkind to me on this yateley trip and I accepted that I was very lucky to have caught my 26lb mirror when I did!. If I hadn’t insisted on fishing through that potential feeding period in the middle of the day I would certainly have blanked the whole trip.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Carp Fishing - Finally Fishing Again

Carp fishing is different things to different people, nearly 20 years ago I was literally consumed by it, after Kevin Maddocks best selling book it became known as ‘carp fever’ and back then I had it big time!. These days I can take it or leave it as far as carping goes. I’d not actually wet a line in about 5 weeks before this weeks session, the desire to get out there and catch just isn’t there at the moment and there are other things in life besides fishing!.

What made me go fishing this week was a pending return to yateley sandhust. Having not been fishing for a while I figured I might be a bit rusty so I opted for a night on a tricky Cheshire carp water I’ve been visiting occasionally this year. If nothing else at least I’d give my fishing gear a bit of an airing ahead of my next sandhurst trip. I guess it was the thought of going back to sandy that got me out again, there are just so many big fish in the lake that you can’t help but get excited about a trip there and after my last sandhurst trip I can’t help but wish for more of the same!.

I arrived at the lake early afternoon on Saturday, the first thing I noticed was that the two best swims on the lake were taken. These swims are so consistent that at this point I’d usually be on my way to another lake straight away. What made me stop was a carp cruising round on the surface, it was very visible and I stopped to watch it for a few minutes. It’s funny but the more you watch the more you see and after 5 minutes I’d seen enough carp cruising to stay and fish one of the lesser swims, for once, the fish were stacked up somewhere else other than the two point swims that give access to the out of bounds bank.

Naturally I set up in the swim that had the most fish present, it was late afternoon when I finally got settled in with all my rods in place. I staggered a couple of rigs at 30 and 40 yards range which is where the bulk of the fish where cruising round, obviously the carp were on the top so I wasn’t expecting much action until the early hours of the morning at least. The third rod I fished just beyond my two bottom bait rigs on a zig rig with a piece of yellow foam as bait, this was fished 3 feet up from the bottom in roughly 6 feet of water.

My aqua m3 wasn’t really necessary given that it was flat calm so I left it packed away and just slept under my jrc stealth brolly, one of my mates called it ‘classic September conditions’ but as I sat there under the brolly watching a flat calm lake with a full moon beaming down I knew it was going to be a struggle.

JRC Stealth Brolly, my home for the night on this session

I was a little disappointed that none of the cruising fish had shown an interest in the zig rig I’d put out, I believed the zig offered me the best chance of a fish given the conditions but I remained biteless despite my best efforts. As darkness fell I got the feeling the carp had done a runner on me and this was confirmed by the shear number of fish that were now showing in front of the out of bounds so the best I could hope for would be a chance in the early hours.

It was 5am when that chance came, a single bleep from the right hand delkim had me awake and what seemed like an age later but was probably only a few seconds, the rod ripped off to the tune of that lovely warbling sound. I’d almost forgotten how good it feels to hear your delkim going into meltdown whilst the spool of the reel is whizzing round!. I hit the rod and it arched over nicely as I made contact with the carp on the other end. The fish ran right but steady pressure brought it back to where I’d hooked it. I dropped the other rods so as not to get into trouble later in the fight as it felt like a good fish. After 5 minutes of steady pressure I hadn’t actually gained any line on the fish, it was still roughly where I’d hooked it 40 yards out and it was feeling quite heavy, the fish had made a couple of runs in different directions but I wasn’t making much headway in the fight. It was at this point I made a text book error, I increased the pressure on the fish in the hope of at least getting it moving towards me, I knew it wasn’t snagged, it was just big and I should have known better despite having not been out for over a month!. A minute after increasing the pressure on the fish I felt that sickening feeling as the line fell slack and the rod lost its battle curve, the hook had pulled out!.

I sat and reflected on what I’d just done, what a stupid mistake, it might sound daft but when playing big fish I usually take a step back to calm myself down and I run things through in my mind, I’m usually telling myself to go easy and just keep it steady but I hadn’t done that this time and I was kicking myself for loosing what was obviously a very good fish!.

I checked the rig, it was all in order and I couldn’t see any problems with it so I recast the rod and topped up with a couple of odyssey xxx boilies and returned to the bedchair to see out the rest of my session. I sort of knew there wouldn’t be another run, given the conditions I did rather well to get any kind of action at all. It was a shame I couldn’t bank a carp to boost my confidence levels prior to sandhurst but I had at least re-learnt an important lesson, never try and rush things!. If I’m fortunate enough to get a run or two at sandhurst next week I definitely won’t be putting extra pressure on any fish I hook!.

I fished on until 11am in the morning then had a bite to eat and packed up, even on the way home several hours later I was still annoyed with myself for blowing a very rare chance to catch a big fish from this tricky cheshire carp water.

Obviously there won’t be an entry for my blog next week as I’ll be down at yateley. The story of my sandhurst return will be posted on 28th September so until then, tight lines.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Carp Rigs - The Line Aligner

A few months ago I joined a north west carp syndicate, one of the rules of the syndicate was that no long shank hooks were allowed. No long shank hooks was a pretty vague statement so I read the rules closely and it was recommended that a hooks shank should be no longer than that of a drennan super specialist hook. I knew straight away that this meant my beloved Kamasan b175's were on the banned list of carp hooks I could use for the syndicate and it sort of left me with a bit of a problem. I’d been using the kamasan b175’s in conjunction with a knotless knot since 1995 and my confidence in this hooking arrangement is extremely high, its probably the most efficient carp rig I’ve ever used!.

Prior to my usual carp rig, I’d actually used drennan super specialist hooks and as they were on the approved list for the syndicate it seemed logical to go back to them and fish with the rig that Jim Gibbinson made famous in the early 90’s, the line aligner. The line aligner and the knotless knot/b175 setup are very similar and they both work the same way, in fact I only switched to using the knotless knot because it was so easy to tie, both rigs are extremely efficient hookers of carp so it was no great hardship to use the line aligner again.

Tying the line aligner is reasonably straight forward, I actually start by tying a knotless knot the same way I would if using the b175’s. With a b175 the rig would be finished at this point but unlike the b175, the drennan super specialist hooks don’t have the 45 degree down turn on the eye that gives the rig the ability to flip over. This ability to flip comes from adding a piece of 1mm soft rig tubing which both extends the shank and adds the flip effect.

Knotless knot ready for the 1mm soft rig tubing that forms the line aligner

With the knotless knot tied I take a needle and thread the other end of my silkworm hooklink through the eye. At this stage I thread the needle through the tubing and bring the needle out through the wall of the soft tubing as can be seen in the picture below, pull the needle out so that hooklength runs through the tubing and exits through the tubing wall.

Threading kryston silkworm through the tubing wall

At this point the tubing can be slid down over the hook shank and manipulated so that where the silkworm hooklink exit’s the tubing wall is on the ‘inside’ of the hook eye the same as the knotless knot.

The tubing positioned so the silkworm exits on the inside of the hooks eye

Once this is done the rig is completed by cutting a 45 degree angle in the end of the soft rig tubing, the angle of cut is vital and the best way to describe this cut is to refer you to the picture below. As you can see the line comes out of the tubing on the inside of the hooks eye and the 45 degree cut in the rig tubing is on the opposite side going away from the hook.

Cut the tubing at a 45 degree angle and the rig is complete

Once the line aligner rig has been tied you can try the finger test on it. Pull the silkworm hooklength over your finger and try to manipulate the hook point so that its always away from your finger and won't catch hold. The hook point will always stay away until you hit the 45 degree cut in the rig tubing, at this point the rig will always turn and dig into your finger and you’ll never actually manage to pull it over your finger without it flipping and catching hold.

Try the finger test, the rig will always turn and dig into your finger.

I believe the line aligner works on the basis of the carp not actually knowing it's picked up a hookbait, hooking occurs when the rig actually tightens to the lead. The knotless knot works the same way, the 45 degree down turned eye on a kamasan b175 hook has pretty much the same effect as the 45 degree cut in the rig tubing on the line aligner. Both rigs are extremely efficient hookers of carp and having switched back to the line aligner for syndicate use I’ve remembered just how happy I was with this rig for catching carp.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Carp Rigs - Leadcore Leaders

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write a blog entry about leadcore and carp fishing for some time now, literally since this blog started in fact. To be honest, I’ve ducked out of doing it far too often so it‘s time I had my say.
Why have I ducked writing about leadcore and leaders?. Quite simply because I can’t stand them!. I don’t think there are many things in carp fishing that present such a danger to our carp but leadcore leaders are right up there at the top of my ‘most dangerous’ list. I don’t believe leadcore is being used safely and I’m not sure it actually can be!, although some ways are safer than others.

Click to see a video of my leadcore free carp rig

I’m an old school angler and when I learnt to carp fish I learned to follow some simple rules, always find the carp being one, keep quiet and keep your movements to a minimum being another. Simple common sense things that all anglers should strive to do. Another simple rule I learnt fairly quickly was the simple rule of thumb for shock leaders and that is….if you don’t need one, don’t use one!.

The thinking behind the old school leader rule was safety, even back in the late 80’s intelligent carp anglers knew that shock leaders could cause problems in the event of the anglers main line breaking. So where did we go wrong?. Knowing that shock leaders had the potential to cause trouble, how did carp fishing end up down the leadcore leaders route and why do anglers think they are actually safe to use?.

I’ve seen many arguments about leadcore on the fishing forums and not once has a leadcore user actually put up a reasonable argument for using them. The only advantage in using leadcore is that it’s weight keeps the last 2-4ft of your line/rig on the bottom, that’s it, it serves no other purpose than to try and conceal your rig.

So we know the one advantage of leadcore but why is it so dangerous?. In order to understand what makes leadcore so deadly, you have to think ahead in your rig tying and question what you are doing, why you are doing it and what effect your rig might have in the event of your main line breaking?. After all, its when your mainline breaks that the dangers start.

Below is a picture of the instructions inside a gravel / khaki leadcore leader packet. As you can see, the leader is spliced into a loop and the angler is supposed to pass the leadcore through the hooklink swivel then pass the end of the hooklink back through the larger loop. This is then fished with a safety clip or inline lead but both ways of setting up the rig mean that the carp will still be left towing the leadcore round in the event of the main line breaking?. In my view, this is simply not acceptable and the red 'x' marks are the instructions I firmly disagree with!.

Leadcore instructions, not as safe as they appear to be!

Given that leadcore is heavy and usually around 35-45lb in breaking strain, ask yourself if a carp can break free from this setup should it ever get snagged?. What will a carp do when it’s hooked and lost? The simple answer is that it will head for a ‘safe’ area of the lake which will usually be the snaggiest area it can find!. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that a fish in a snaggy area towing round a 3ft length of 35/45lb leadcore is potentially at risk, even if the lead weight is lost from the set up, that 3ft or so of leadcore is still there and if a carp does get tethered the chances are it will die of starvation. As an angler, do you really want to put the carp you fish for at risk like this?.

No angler should ever use leadcore that’s attached direct to the swivel of a rig as per the instructions above!. When your mainline breaks, the carp should be left with nothing more than the hooklink and as responsible anglers, it’s our duty to fish our rigs as safely as we can. With leadcore, the only way this can be achieved to any degree is with the use of a helicopter rig, specifically the old CV safety rigs that were designed for safe shock leader use in the early 1990’s. At least with a CV safety rig the carp has half a chance of getting rid of the lead and the leadcore but if I’m honest, even this rig has the potential to cause problems if its used on a choddy bottom or in weed.

CV Safety rig, not ideal but the safest way there is to use leadcore, just substitute the black tubing for leadcore.

How the cv saftey rig works, the whole rig gets dropped leaving the carp with no leadcore to get tethered on.

As you can see from the pictures above the CV Safety rig can leave your carp with just the hooklink in the event of your main line breaking, providing your lake bottom is firm and clean.

I’ve read the comments of pro leadcore users saying leadcore is safe if it’s tied up correctly, others have said their rigs are ok because they use a low breaking strain of hooklink or a barbless hook and that education is better than an outright leadcore ban. Come on guys get real!, barbless hooks have their own mouth damage problems and low breaking strain hooklengths are only really usable in open water fishing situations. Even then, they may still be strong enough to stop a carp from breaking free if it gets tethered.

Leadcore causing carp deaths really came to light in the early to mid 1990’s when the very high profile ‘arnie’ the 40lb common from orchid lake in Oxfordshire was found dead tethered to some reeds, it’s now 2008 and just recently the high profile Chilham Mill in Kent has just joined a growing list of fisheries that have banned leadcore after two of their precious carp were found dead tethered to snags. Clearly education doesn’t work and why would it when the instructions in the packet say its ok to leave your carp trailing a leader when your main line breaks?!. People come and go from carp fishing and education is always ongoing, in the meantime, carp like arnie the orchid common and the Chilham fish will continue to be lost!. Education is really just a lousy excuse for anglers to keep using leadcore in the mistaken belief that what they’re doing safe. Well it’s not and if you’re pro leadcore please think long and hard about using it because it’s simply not necessary in the modern carp world.

So if leadcore isn’t safe to use what do you do?. Well the daft thing is leadcore itself has been redundant in carp fishing for some time now, rig tubing has advanced to the stage where it’s now several times heavier than leadcore so it sinks like a brick and keeps your line on the bottom better than leadcore itself. Sure you have to go to the trouble of threading rig tubing onto your main line but isn‘t that better than risking another Chilham or an Orchid lake scenario?. Rig tubing also comes in a variety of colours too, black, clear and a whole host of different shades of green make it easy to conceal your rig from shy feeding carp.

ESP anchor rig tube, just one of the new types of rig tubing that leaves leadcore redundant in modern carp fishing.

Please ask yourself the old school question next time you go fishing, do you really need to use a leadcore leader?. I think any intelligent reader already knows the answer to that question. You don’t need a leadcore leader, so please don’t use one.
Thanks for reading.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Carp Fishing - Red Letter Days Pt5

I’ve had a week or two away from carp fishing recently, not because of any particular reason, I just haven’t felt like getting out recently so I’ve simply taken a break. As I like to add at least one entry to my carp blog every week I’ve decided to continue my ‘red letter days’ series and look back at another of those special days in carp fishing when things fall right.

This particular ‘red letter day’ goes back to the mid 1990’s, Saturday 4th March 1995 to be exact!. At this time I was fishing a little known carp water in North Wales. I’d done the winter on this under fished welsh carp water and I’d been catching steadily through the colder months. I’d got my winter winter carp location spot on, the carp had been stacked up in and around a weedbed and I’d done well fishing in and around the dead weed.

Urban carping in North Wales during the mid 1990's

After a long winter, runs from the weedbed I was fishing had dried up a little and the previous week I’d caught a carp in the teeth of a big south westerly wind. This time the wind was gale force north westerly so again I opted to fish in the teeth of it rather than go back to the weedbed, I figured the fish had woken up a bit and although they weren’t rolling I had a hunch they’d be on the wind.
I got myself set up as comfortably as I could with a gale force wind blowing in my face, my mate barney thought I was mad and he couldn’t believe I wasn’t going to fish to the weed but I had a feeling the carp would move with such a big wind blowing. He’d opted to fish off the back of the wind so he could watch the water comfortably. I was fishing in a corner of the lake and I placed my hookbaits at the bottom of the marginal shelf just along each bank with the third in open water, the water at the bottom of the shelf was about 8ft deep so it was a fair depth and I hoped a patrolling carp would pick up one of my margin baits sometime during the hours of darkness.

I didn’t sleep much during the night, I’d like to say my location was spot on and the carp kept me up all night but it was the wind continually hammering my old fox supabivvy that kept me awake. I had a quiet night and by early morning I was still runless. I wound the rods in and went to have a chat with barney, he’d blanked too but during the night he’d heard carp crashing out somewhere along the bank to his left. I was on his right and the position he was hinting at put the carp on the back of the wind. I asked barney if he was going to move swims and he said no, he was comfortable where he was so having offered him the choice I told him I would pack my gear and move along the bank to his left to see if I could locate the fish and maybe get a chance before we went home later that day.

I knew the new area I was moving into, it was the weedbed area I’d done well from all winter so I opted for one bait in the middle of the dead weedbed with the other two rods just off the right and left hand edge of it. I didn’t bother setting up a shelter, I just hid behind the bedchair to avoid the biting wind that was now going straight over my head. I figured if the carp had been crashing in this area then they should be around the weedbed again. By 12.30pm I was starting to doubt if the move would pay off, I’d caught literally every session throughout the winter but I felt I was staring a blank in the face this time.

I wasn’t feeling confident at all when out of the blue at 1.05pm the right hand rod on the edge of the weed suddenly burst into life!. After the initial shock of my old super compact bite alarm sounding I ran to the rod and hit it. Sure enough the rod slammed over and I found myself doing battle with another hard fighting winter carp. This fish was a bit strange, after running 30 yards against the clutch it suddenly turned upwards and almost tail walked like a pike. I could clearly see it was a big fish with a very dark coloured black back. I had a feeling it was the lake biggie, he was known to tail walk on the first run and I’d never had any of my other welsh carp behave like this. After breaking surface in spectacular fashion the carp kept deep in the water for the rest of the fight. The fish fought particularly well in the margins and it took me quite a while to wear him down and get him ready for the net. Amazingly, as the fight was coming to an end I saw a second fish swimming with the big one, I even recognised the fish as a twenty I’d caught back in November 1994, the other fish continually flanked the biggun as it ploughed up and down the margins and it was only when he rolled into the landing net that the smaller 20 actually pulled away and disappeared out of sight!.

I had a lump of a carp in the landing net, the fish was known to be 25lb+ which meant a new personal best for me. I called barney and he came to help with the weighing and photographing of my new PB. The scales gave me 25lb 6oz, it was a magic moment holding up the biggest fish in the lake for pictures and I’ll never forget that fish!. Barney did a great job with the pictures and I returned the biggie to the water. We still had a few hours left so I put a fresh ultraspice popup on and recast to the edge of the weedbed.

25lb 6oz Winter mirror from a little fished North Wales carp lake

The recast ultraspice boilie had only been out for 5 minutes when it was away again!. This carp also gave a good account of itself and after a spirited fight I landed a lovely looking 12lb 12oz mirror. The day had turned out to be a good one and I was glad barney had told me about hearing the carp crashing out in the night. With a new PB and a nice double already under my belt I thought I’d cast the rod out again.

12lb 12oz Welsh carp came 5 minutes later

I wasn’t expecting anything else to happen after picking up 2 fish but amazingly the rod in the middle of the weedbed was away just 20 minutes later. This carp kept deep the whole fight and it was just as difficult to bring to the surface as the big one had been. I caught sight of the fish in the deep water and amazingly I found myself staring down at the low twenty that had been flanking the big mirror towards the end of the fight just half an hour earlier!.
I kept the pressure steady as I watched the fish twist and turn in the clear water, eventually this carp came closer and closer to the surface and once the fish had a gulp of air it soon gave up and went into the net. I was bouncing, even though it was a repeat capture I’d just caught my first ever brace of twenties and from a water that only had 2 twenty pound fish in it!. First time round in November this fish went 21lb 2oz, at the end of the winter he’d lost a little and I weighed the fish in at 20lb 4oz. I called barney again to do the pictures and he did the honours with the camera as usual. He congratulated me on my first ever brace of twenties too, it was a massive result catching the two biggest fish in the lake half an hour apart and the session became the highlight of a very successful winter carp campaign.

20lb 4oz Mirror that had been flanking the biggun just half an hour earlier!

I did put the middle rod back out again but I didn’t receive any further action. I couldn’t complain, the quick move for just a few hours turned out to be brilliant decision and things went better than I could ever have dreamed. I’ve had many red letter days since March 1995, my PB is much bigger these days and I’ve had a few sessions equally as good as this one but that first ever twenties brace still ranks as one of my most special angling moments.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Carp Fishing - Back in Cheshire Again

It’s been a good few weeks since I last updated my blog with a live session report. There are two reasons for this, first is because I have quite a few entries written about other general carp fishing stuff that I wanted to publish and secondly because I was invited to join a publicity shy north west carp syndicate. I dithered over taking the syndicate ticket as my own lifetime isn’t long enough to fish the current waters I already have available. The syndicate was quite close to home though and it would certainly reduce my fuel bill if I started fishing there. With this in mind I took the ticket and I’ve spent the last month doing short evening sessions and the odd Saturday daytime on this new water.

I’ve had a few carp from the new syndicate but I’ve been less than impressed with their size, the lakes biggies had spawned successfully and as a result, the water was overrun with commons in the 2-6lb range. After 4 weeks of these small fish I decided to give the syndicate a miss for a while, it does contain some decent fish and I will visit again at some point in the future but for now I decided to head back to one of my Cheshire carp waters for my first overnighter since I tweaked an old back injury back in June.

I arrived at the lake to find only 2 anglers fishing and one of them was packing up, he’d done the night and lost a couple of fish and with other duties at home and the Edgbaston Test Match to watch he was pulling off. This was good for me, he was occupying the right hand main point swim which just happened to be one of the most productive swims on the lake.

Back in February 2007 I’d bought myself a brand new aqua m3 bivvy and having looked at the weather forecast for the weekend I thought it would be best to take my m3 rather than fish under my usual stealth brolly. Rain was forecast and the extra protection from the m3 would be a big help in staying comfortable and dry. I set up slowly during the afternoon and got myself well organised. When it came to the rods I brought along a couple of my daiwa infinities as the fishing was mostly long range, my preferred tfg x series rods were nice playing rods and they cast a long way but my infinities just had that little extra bit of power and I needed as much help as I could get to reach the 'out of bounds' far bank.

Aqua M3 Bivvy, I had some extra protection if the rain came.

My two infinities I fished ‘on the chuck’, single odyssey xxx pop ups fished as single hook baits on a helicopter rig as far over to the far bank as I could cast, one rod was tight, the other about 20 yards short. The far bank was out of bounds and the fish tended to hold up here to avoid angling pressure.
The third rod I fished at about 60 yards over bait. My odyssey xxx baits are rolled in 20mm size so 60-80 yards with a catapult was a relatively easy target to hit.

With the baits all out I sat back to listen to the afternoons cricket, England seemed to be in a good position to win the test match but as the afternoon wore on they lost what little advantage they had as the South Africans dug in. I was still listening to the test match early evening when a delkim holding one of the ‘chuck’ rods let out a few bleeps, the monkey climber rose a few inches, then fell again. I watched and wondered what was going on when the monkey slowly started climbing again, that was enough for me, I tightened the clutch, wound down and hit it. Normally I’d expect the rod to hoop over but on this occasion it didn’t. I hit fresh air with no fish on the end. I scratched my head and wondered what had happened. A tench perhaps? Or had I been done by a carp? There was also a possibility I’d picked up a trailer, quite a few carp had been trailing line and rigs this year with quite a few anglers cracking off whilst trying to reach the fish on the out of bounds bank. I’d never know exactly what happened so after thinking about it for a while I simply checked my hook point to make sure there was no problems then put my rig out again and settled down to listen to England loose the Edgbaston test match!.

This particular Cheshire carp water is known to produce in the early hours of the morning so I had high hopes of a run as it went dark, 2.30am until about 9.00am was regarded as the hot time for takes and a few fish showing at dusk gave me some confidence for the night ahead. Just after dark a carp crashed out twice at close range, the fish was just 30 yards out and far closer in than I was fishing!. Because it had crashed and not rolled I chose to ignore it. In my experience crashing fish are not feeding fish and I’ve not done well casting at carp that show this way, if the short range fish had rolled I’d have put a bait on it straight away but not this time.

My decision not to cover the crashing carp may have been a costly one. I slept through take time without a sniff of a fish and when I woke up at 9.00am I was a little disappointed not to have had some action. I had a drink and a bite to eat, packed my gear and headed for home at around 10-ish. I let a few of my mates know I’d blanked and after talking to one of them who fishes the lake a lot, he was of the opinion I’d dropped a howler by not covering the crashing fish!. As only an occasional visitor to the water I accepted his opinion and next time I see a carp crash out on this venue I’ll make sure I cover it, although I still maintain that casting to carp that crash is generally unproductive.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Carp Fishing - Red Letter Days Pt4

For those of you who know your history the 6th September 1997 might just ring a bell?. It was the day Princess Diana was laid to rest. At the time, the TV and Radio was a nightmare, it seemed that the media were doing their level best to depress anyone and everyone!. I’m not a big fan of the royals and although what happened was a tragedy, it had little or no bearing on my life and I’d had enough of the continuous misery being churned out by our media on a daily basis. There was only one thing to do on the day of Princess Di’s funeral and that was get up early and go carp fishing, at least on the bank I was free from having this event rammed down my throat!.

I was up a couple of hours before first light making a flask and some sandwiches for the day ahead, I was fishing Capesthorne Hall at the time, I knew it was an hours drive to the lake and I wanted to be there before dawn. The drive to the lake was a little shorter than usual, the roads at that time of the morning are always quiet and with no Sunday drivers to get stuck behind I knocked a good 10 minutes off my usual journey time.
My plan was to fish the first part of the day on what is now one of the most talked about carp waters in the north west, capesthorne top pool, back in 1997 there was no night fishing allowed and the water was a shadow of the venue it is today. The top pool did have a tendency to produce fish from first light onwards until mid morning back then and the second part of my plan was to move onto capesthorne main lake during the afternoon as the main lake was a known late afternoon/evening carp water.

Capesthorne Top Pool Circa 1996

I’ve always been a short session carp angler and being days only the capesthorne waters were ideal for me, my fishing gear was stripped out to the minimum and this made the walk across the field to the top pool quite bearable, I walked through the small gate and dropped my gear in the boathouse peg so I could have a look around, it was starting to crack light and with nobody around I had the lake to myself, all I needed was a fish to roll and give me a clue and I could drop onto the area and be in with a chance of catching.

I was using tiger nuts at the time and these were fished on the D-rig that I finally published last week. The D-rig has been a nice little string to my bow for many years and during the mid to late 90's it was the darling of capesthorne, those spooky capes carp didn't seem to have an answer to the D-rig and it constantly tripped the carp up time and time again.

Right on cue a carp head and shouldered beyond the main pads to the right of the boat house so I grabbed my gear and moved down a couple of pegs and into the bay (peg 12). I cast a couple of single tiger nut D-rigs to were the carp had rolled and sat back to see what happened. I didn’t have to wait long, just 5 minutes after casting in the right hand rod pulled down and signalled a run. I was on it straight away, the fish took a bit of line but once it got bogged down in the weed the fight changed and the fish became quite subdued. I slowly pumped the carp and the accompanying weed back towards the net, apart from a nervous moment close in when the fish tried to make the branches of a fallen tree, I had no problems and I slipped the net under my prize after a fight that lasted about 5 minutes.

I peeled back the landing net mesh to find a nice common and on closer inspection I realised it was ‘the’ common, crinkle tail, a fish that is now quite famous and a target of every capesthorne top pool angler these days. Old crinkle tail looked in good shape and I thought I was looking down at my first ever 20lb common!. I weighed the old boy and the scales gave me 19lb 12oz, not quite my first 20lb common but still a pb common none the less. I did a few self takes and returned crinkle tail to the water, back in 1997 self takes were allowed and its only recently they’ve been banned on sotas waters.

Capesthorne Top Pool Crinkle Tail at 19lb 12oz on 06/09/1997

I’d had a quick result, it was 7.30am when I’d caught crinkle tail and I fished on through dawn and through the morning with no further action. I had hoped to bank another fish having got crinkle at the start of my session but it wasn’t to be and early in the afternoon I gathered my gear together and moved onto the main lake for the rest of the day.

Capesthorne main lake was fishing quite hard and being Saturday afternoon I was up against it, I stood on the bridge looking for carp and wondering what to do, this was a position I’ve been in many times before and after spending an hour looking round I decided to drop onto the famous ornamental eagle peg in the garden pool. I knew from hours of watching capesthorne carp that they would move up from the shallows late afternoon and that I might stand a chance in the eagle. I knew the swim and I knew the margins in front of it were a prime area for carp moving through in the evenings. I fished a few benches to the left of the eagle so as not to disturb the area, I dropped both D rigs in the margins and sat back to watch the water, if I saw fish move elsewhere I could always move on them if necessary, otherwise I was sitting and waiting for the carp to come to me.

I was enjoying the day and with no radio on I was still free from the historical event that was unfolding in the real world. It was 6.50pm when my attention was caught by a single bleep from one of my delkims. I looked at the rods just as the left hand rod flew off. A carp had picked up one of my margin fished baits in front of the eagle and bolted for open water!. The fight was a cracker with no weed to get stuck in and the carp made several determined runs in a fruitless attempt to evade my landing net. The runs became shorter until eventually I slipped the net under a nice mirror, it wasn’t one of the bigger main lake fish and the scales revealed a weight of 15lb 8oz. Although it wasn’t a biggie, it was the first fish that had been out for a few days and its capture put the icing on the cake of a good days fishing for me.

15lb 8oz Mirror from Capesthorne Main Lake 06/09/1997

A new pb common from the top pool and a nice mirror from the main lake later on was a great result and I was rightfully pleased with the day I’d just had, in fact I may have been the only person who was grinning from ear to ear on that famous day!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Carp Rigs - The D Rig

For 95% of my carp fishing I use a bog standard knotless knot hair rig. There aren’t many occasions when I’d actually need another rig, I’ve tried a few different rigs over the years and whilst some of them have worked in different circumstances my standard hair rig is still the one I use the most.

One rig that did make a positive difference in my carp fishing was the D Rig. I was fishing that well known Cheshire carp water capesthorne hall at the time and the fishing was difficult to say the least. I was getting very few runs despite being on fish every session. I came to the conclusion that the carp must at least be picking up my hookbaits but somehow getting away with it and cleaning me out of bait. On a normal carp water that hasn’t been subject to the same kind of angling pressure capesthorne has, the knotless knot hair rig was fine but these capesthorne fish were extremely crafty and I found myself struggling.

The answer to my problem came in the form of a variation of the famous d rig that was known as the ‘reflex’. This particular version of the d rig was commercially available from a tackle company called big fish adventure, it was made using my favourite kamasan b175 hook and involved whipping a small length of amnesia line to the back of the hook with the ‘hair’ itself being made from a loop of drennan double strength mono that was passed through the amnesia ‘D’, tied at the required length and glued so it didn’t come undone.

Big fish adventure kamasan b175 'reflex' D rig

I went from carp showing over my baits and no action to carp showing over my baits and plenty of runs so the rig definitely worked. On close examination it’s obvious that the stiff mono and amnesia looped together allowed for more movement of the hook bait than the conventional hair rig and I think this extra movement certainly had a big hand in tripping up those cute capesthorne carp.

The next step after using the big fish adventure version of the ‘reflex’ d-rig was to tie my own as they were on sale at £3.00 for a packet of 5!. I bought some 30lb amnesia, some fly tying cotton and a fly tying vice and set about doing them myself. The self tied d rigs worked a treat and in the long run they saved me quite a bit of money.

Home tied carp 'D rig' using amnesia and fly tying cotton

If you look closely at the above picture you can see that my kryston silkworm hooklength is actually tied to the shank of the hook just underneath the whipping then threaded back through the eye of the hook. With the hooklength coming off the inside of the eye like this you get the same ‘flip’ effect that the knotless knot and the line aligner both rely on. The advantage of this rig is the extra free movement of the hookbait that comes from the stiff amnesia and the 8lb mono being looped together, if you put one of these rigs next to a conventional hair rig you can see the difference straight away.

I’ve never needed to use this d-rig variation very much, apart from capesthorne I generally tended to use it on pressured day ticket waters where the carp had a reputation for being cute, linear waters like hardwick and st johns being good examples, this rig worked a treat on those two particular carp waters and I caught well from both after ringing the changes and switching to the d rig. If you're fishing a pressured water then give this rig a try. I’m not sure if big fish adventure still sell the Kamasan B175 hooks already whipped but they are easy to do yourself. I found that using the fly tying vice and tacking the amnesia in place with superglue prior to whipping was a big help.

Although I don’t use this rig that often I always have a few b175 hooks already whipped up and sitting in my tackle box just in case, the rig has done me proud on pressured carp waters and it’s definitely worth trying if you think your carp are clearing you out of bait on a regular basis and not getting hooked.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Carp Baits - Maize

I first started using maize as a carp bait in the early 90’s, it was cheap and convenient and at the time I was hard up for cash so it was ideal. The carp seem to like it too and over the years no end of big fish have fallen to this simple and easy to use carp bait.

I’d recommend buying maize by the sack and preparing it yourself. I do use the dynamite maize now and again purely for convenience but overall, maize by the sack is a lot cheaper. Today, maize is still under £10 per 20 kilo sack and it doesn’t take a genius to work out how cheap that is compared to your average kilo of rolled boilies, if your fishing on a budget maize is the perfect bait.

How to prepare maize for carp fishing

As with most particle baits maize requires soaking and boiling before use. I soak mine for 24hrs then boil it in an open pan for around 20 minutes or until some of the grains begin to split open. That’s it, preparation is literally that easy. My normal routine is to put as much maize as I need on soak two days before I go fishing. The day before I head out I’ll boil it up ready and if for any reason I can’t go fishing, I bag it up and freeze it ready for next time as maize will freeze without any problems. You can always keep a few bags of maize in the freezer too, if you find yourself with a few spare hours to go fishing then your bait is already waiting for you.

Soaked and Cooked Maize ready to use

Presenting maize on the hook is very easy too, I fish mine as a miniature stack rig with two grains of maize on a knotless knot hair rig with a small piece of yellow foam sandwiched between the grains. You can use a larger piece of yellow foam to create a popup bait, or a smaller piece to make your bait critically balanced so it just sinks with the weight of the hook, or you can use just one or two grains of maize straight on the hair rig and fish it as a bottom bait. My preference is for critically balanced or if I’m fishing in weed a popup.

Knotless Knot Maize Stack Rig

Waters like linear fisheries and horseshoe lake have been turned over on maize, not just once but many times over, I did exceptionally well on maize at linear in the late 90’s long before it became a popular bait on there. Today, a decade on, maize is still recommended as a bait on waters like st johns and hardwick. Its been a hugely successful bait that has stood the test of time and there aren’t many waters that won’t respond to this cheap and convenient bait.

31lb 2oz Linear Hardwick Mirror, this former PB was caught on the Maize Stack Rig shown above.

On the back of the popularity of maize, companies like enterprise tackle have produced fake/rubber maize and whilst I’ve used fake maize as a bait and caught, my preference is still for a couple of real grains and a piece of yellow foam on my rig. The yellow foam is cheaper and with only 5 pieces of fake maize in a packet I think the enterprise fake baits are far too expensive.
With fuel and food prices on the up, sticking to the cheap and simple options can keep the cost of your fishing right down, as a carp bait, maize is very good, very cheap and well worth considering as a bait.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Carp Fishing - Petty Pool Memories

If you spend any amount of time online and viewing carp forums you can’t possibly have missed the huge row that blew up after a local north west carp angler was caught out fishing the out of bounds section on Northwich AA’s petty pool. I didn’t offer my own opinion on any of the forums and whilst the forum arguing was going on I kept thinking back to my own time on petty pool, remembering in particular just how hard this water actually is if you fish it legally from the designated pegs.

My own experience of petty pool started in April 2002, at the time I’d already graduated from capesthorne hall and the reputation of petty pool just didn’t frighten me in the slightest. 2002 was the year we had a foot and mouth outbreak and with waters closing down everywhere, Northwich AA took the decision to leave petty pool open in the close season. This was just the opportunity me and my mate Barney had been waiting for, a difficult water made easier by close season fishing for the first time!. We could smell a result on the cards and the second week in April we made a start fishing this tough north west carp water.

The first thing you notice about petty pool is the fly life, the ground around the pool was boggy and getting to some swims involved using wooden walk ways the club had put in. Unfortunately the boggy areas were a breeding ground for very small black flies that just loved biting anglers and right from the start they made my life hell. The carp didn’t help either, despite it being close season they still seemed to live their whole lives over on the far side of the pool a million miles away from any angling pressure.

Me and Barney fished the pool 3 days per week, evenings after work on Friday and every Saturday and Sunday daytime. We never turned up very early but we always stayed to the death at 10pm in the hope of picking up a last minute fish. We kept a moderate amount of bait going in too although it was usually into the poorer producing swims as I just didn’t have the time needed to be at the gates early enough to secure famous pegs like the bus stop although if the going pegs were empty we always dropped in there, as I was the driver Barney was stuck to the hours that I could fish.

April soon turned into May, then into June and still no sign of a run to either me or Barney. By now the flies were a nightmare and I was literally going fishing in a thermal suit to keep them from biting me, I had a hat, mozzie net for my head, gloves and a couple of bottles of jungle formula, I even had bicycle clips for the bottom of my jeans to stop them from biting my legs but somehow they always seemed to get me!.
Whilst suffering getting bitten during the summer I still couldn’t seem to get near the fish, day after day we’d watch through binoculars as huge carp would launch themselves out of the water on the out of bounds bank a mere 250-300 yards away!. Time kept moving on and June turned into July then into August with still no sign of a run to either of us. By now I was already beginning to think that life was too short to fish petty pool. Your confidence just ebbs away when you have to sit and watch carp rolling and jumping on the far side when there’s nothing you can do about it.

September came and the nights were beginning to draw in, 3 days a week since April with no sign of a run was just madness but we both thought that the carp might come over from the far side under cover of darkness so we stubbornly stuck it out and carried on fishing.

It was Saturday 7th September 2002 when the unthinkable happened!. We were on for a day session, Barney had taken the bus stop peg as it was empty but there was a big wind blowing into the car park swims and with a bit of rain in the air I just fancied it up that end so I turned left from the car park and dropped into the second to last peg at the car park end. The big wind made the fishing bearable but I still had the thermal suit to keep from getting bitten. We had to be off the pool at 10.00pm so at 9.40pm I started packing my rucksack and gear ready for another glum walk back to the car. It didn’t take too long to pack away, I'd done the brolly and I was just zipping up the side panel on my rucksack when my left hand rod finally ripped off!.

I was actually quite stunned for a minute, 3 days a week for 6 months and finally my line was peeling off the spool at a rate!. I came to my senses pretty quickly and hit the rod, sure enough it whooped over and I was finally into my first petty pool carp. I find it difficult to explain what was going through my mind as I played that fish in. My heart was in my mouth as I played it, I literally kept stepping out of myself and kept talking to myself as I played it in, you know the sort of thing, keep it steady, don’t blow it, take a deep breath and stay calm!. The fish didn’t have that much to offer thankfully, it did try to make some reeds on my left hand side but my setup is strong and I was easily able to guide it away from any potential danger. Roughly 5 minutes after getting the run I slipped the net under my first petty pool carp. I can’t tell you what a moment that was!, all the driving there and back, baiting, biting insects and demoralising trips were forgotten in that magic moment.

I left the fish in the net and packed my rods away whilst I waited for barney to appear from the bus stop. When he did I told him I had a fish in the net and he was as delighted as I was!. I retrieved the fish from the landing net, weighed her and did a few photographs before returning my prize to the water. How big was my petty pool carp I hear you ask? It was 14lb 12oz, possibly the smallest carp in the pool!.

Petty Pool carp, my one and only success in 6 months hard fishing!

It had taken so long to finally get a bite on this most demanding of venues and when my time came I got myself a 14lb 12oz mirror. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!. I’d literally bled every week for that fish and at the end of the day I caught a mid double. For a while I was gutted but after sitting and reflecting I had after all caught a carp from petty pool and any carp from there is a massive achievement regardless of its size.

We fished on through the rest of September and October before finally calling it a day for the year. I came to the conclusion that life is far to short to fish petty pool, I like my carp fishing and I enjoy getting runs and catching fish, if I’m honest, despite finally catching a carp from petty pool, I felt like the venue had beaten me into submission. I never did go back after our last October session and neither did my mate Barney. He actually blanked right through and I felt for him as he'd put in the same amount of effort as I had and he deserved something for that. When the 2003 season came round I dropped my Northwich AA membership and moved onto more productive waters to begin the slow process of rebuilding my shattered confidence.

I can’t begin to tell you how hard petty pool is as a carp venue, limited bank space and wise carp that happily live well away from any angling pressure, it’s a lovely place to sit when the flies aren’t biting but slowly it chips away at your confidence until eventually you wonder if the effort is worthwhile and give up. I have a lot of respect for the lads who sit it out on there waiting for their fish of a lifetime, it is without doubt the hardest carp water I have ever fished and probably ever will fish. I kind of feel for the lads who have been making the effort to fish there only to find another angler sneaking into the out of bounds and catching those fish with ease because the water itself is just so much harder than that!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Carp Fishing - Moon Phases and Another Blank

It hasn’t escaped my notice that quite a few carp fishing forums have had moon phase discussions on them of late. Some people swear that the phases of the moon do effect carp fishing and some don’t. I’ve kept track of my own carp captures in relation to moon phases for many years and if I’m honest, my own results are inconclusive.
Writing down and summarising my own results against moon phases would be quite a large job and one I don’t have the time to do at the moment, the point of me bringing the subject up on my blog is to publish a list of moon phase peaks for 2008. Below is a list of all peak moon days in 2008, every one of them is a peak day, even the full moon days that a lot of people seem to rubbish.

Peak Moon Days for Carp Fishing in 2008

Whilst it’s not as accurate as charting moon rise, high point and setting times, checking your results past and present against these peak days might give you a very rough idea if the theory is working for you. Obviously you would expect to see slightly more captures recorded on peak days. To really check your captures thoroughly against the moon, you should visit the moonstrike website and delve much deeper into the specific times your carp have been caught. Remember, the moon rises and sets every single day so even a capture made on a poor day may coincide with the moon either rising, setting or reaching its high point, the only way to find out for sure is to check your capture times thoroughly and see if the moon phase theory works for you.

It’s funny how things change so quickly, last week I finally got access back to most of my waters that had been closed to me due to not doing work parties. After only one blank session I somehow managed to aggravate an old lower back injury which meant sleeping on a bedchair was out of the question for a week or two. Oh the best laid plans!, this left me a bit stuck for a choice of venue this week and after much deliberating I decided to spend a few hours back at the runs water I’ve been fishing during May.

I arrived about 1pm in the afternoon and after leaving the gear in the car I had a slow walk around the lake to see if I could spot some carp. I didn’t have to look very hard, I found them in the shallows, some were cruising round on the surface whist others were fizzing away happily feeding on natural food. I didn’t bother walking any further, I headed straight back to the car to collect my fishing gear then slowly began setting up on the same peg I’d moved into last time.

I figured I’d only get one chance to get a bait amongst these fish, I sat and watched them for 10-15 minutes before deciding were to cast, I aimed for a spot right in the middle of the fish, they were bubbling away in this area so even if they disappeared the natural food might see them return. I was confident of at least catching one fish so I dropped my rig and pva mesh bag right on the money and slackened off my line. A couple of fish swirled as the lead weight hit the water and previous experience of this happening suggested that it might be bad news.

I thought long and hard about the second rod and I finally decided to place it in an area I suspected they may move too if spooked. Again just the rig and a small pva mesh bag were all I used, my odyssey xxx baits weren’t round either, just a couple of barrels in the mesh bag and a barrel on the hair rig.

I sat back to watch things unfold, if things had gone well I would have expected a run pretty quickly but it never came, in fact half an hour after casting in most of the fish had left the swim and gone to another area. Funnily enough the carp passed by my second rod but where I’d expected them to possibly hold up, they carried on moving. Odd fish did stay around the shallows so I didn’t move swims when I probably should have. For whatever reason, the carp definitely weren’t up for being caught this time round and after watching them closely and moving my baits around to try and get a chance I finally called it a day at 8pm.

I don’t mind blanking, it comes with the territory when you fish for carp but I really thought I’d have one when I saw all those fish milling around. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to do an overnighter in search of some bigger fish again, in the meantime it’s gentle back exercises for me!.

Tight Lines

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