Sunday, 27 January 2008

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt10

Winter Carp Diary Pt10

After ending 2007 on a high with 5 carp to 18lb on new years eve I was keen to get back to the lake to try and open my account for 2008. The journey to the lake was a bit shorter than usual due to the lack of traffic on the roads, new years day morning was the quietest I've ever known and at one stage I felt I could well have been the only person on the motorway.
I arrived at the lake around 10.30am, I was immediately scanning the water for signs of carp as soon as the lake came into view. I spent a few minutes sat in the car park just watching the water before I got out of the car and went for a walk around. On new years eve the carp had done a disappearing act on me during the afternoon so I figured they wouldn't be on my baited area. I looked there first anyway but my gut feeling about them not being there was right. I found them in the bay round to the left. The fish were stacked up in the same area I'd caught from on boxing day and on the saturday between christmas and new year. There seemed to be quite a few carp stacked up in the bay and as I dropped my gear in the bay swim I was confident of catching my first north west winter carp of 2008.
I started off with one rod on a spot I'd seen several fish rolling over the christmas period, I'd picked up a low double mirror from the area last saturday but I'd seen several other fish roll in the area and it was close to the bank and an easy cast. A single piece of peparami on the hair rig and a two bait pva mesh bag completed the setup, my rig was the usual 8 inches of kryston silkworm with a kamasan b175 hook in size 6 that was tied knotless knot style. I made a short 25 yard cast and trapped the line as the lead hit the water, I let the lead sink on a tight line and it landed on the bottom with a nice thud. Once the first rod was set I cast the other rod to a mark about 70 yards out, there were fish actively moving in this area and I was confident the second rod in particular would produce something during the five hours I had ahead of me. The baits were out by 11.10am and I sat back to concentrate on watching the water for signs of fish.
It really pays to watch the water when you're looking at locating winter carp. The time I'd spent looking for carp over the last few weeks had really paid dividends and I was on them again today. I'd have preferred a little wind to be blowing today but it stayed flat calm. It made locating carp easier but at the same time, a lead landing on the fish was harder to get away with and there was always a chance they would vacate the area as they had done on new years eve.
After casting out both rods things seemed to go quiet for a while, the carp certainly stopped showing in the area I'd put my second rod. Nothing showed for over half an hour after my leads had hit the water. When a carp did give itself away it was to the right of my second rod and it looked like the fish had drifted off a little after me casting out. I was so busy looking for fish on my right that it came as a bit of a surprise when the left hand delkim bleeped twice, this was the rod that was positioned close to my bank. I focused on the left hand rod and a few seconds later the tip pulled down and the delkim sounder box signalled a slow run. I was on it quickly and after a quick strike the fish was on. After only a few seconds of playing this fish I had just one thought in my mind, it was heavy. No charging round, it just plodded round in semi circles on an ever shortening line just as my boxing day biggie had done. By the time the carp was in the margins I was convinced my first fish of 2008 was a 20+. I caught a glimpse of the fish in the water, it was a common, a long fish that did indeed look like a twenty. After a short scare close in with the other rod I slipped the landing net under the fish. It certainly looked to be over the magic twenty mark and my initial guess was somewhere around 21lb-ish. I secured the net and got everything ready for the weighing and pictures. As I lifted the fish from the water I knew it was a new years day twenty and the scales gave me a reading of 20lb 6oz. Well that was it for me, I didn't care what happened for the rest of the day, I'd kicked off 2008 with a cracking twenty pound winter common.

First carp of 2008, new years day twenty at 20lb 6oz

Once the photographic duties were completed I returned my prize to the water. I watched the fish disappear out of sight then turned my attention back to the rod. The peparami was still on so I simply tied a fresh pva mesh bag and dropped the rod back on the same spot. Nothing else happened during the afternoon, it took a few more hours of observation to work out that the carp had indeed moved to the entrance to the bay. It was just before 3pm when I worked this out and I wound in the right hand rod and repositioned it to the area I'd seen the odd fish. I planned to fish until 4.30pm so I had an hour and a half with a bait in the last area I'd seen a carp. With time running out I packed my gear away, by 4.15pm my tackle box, camera gear and unhooking mat were all neatly away and my rucksack was ready to go, only the landing net, pod and rods remained out. I'd already decided to pull the left hand rod in first, I'd caught a twenty on this rod but no fish had showed in or near the area for hours so I bent down to wind it in and as I did the right hand rod ripped off. I was quite surprised, I'd already accepted I was only going to get one fish so this one was a real 'last knockings' bonus fish. A few minutes later and I'd have been on my way home!. I hit the rod and began battle with my second new years day winter carp. Funnily enough, I had a feeling of deja vu as the fight off this second carp played out just like the first and when the fish went over the net I looked down at what could well be my second new years day twenty. I emptied the rucksack and got myself ready for the weighing and photographing, it was a 50/50 fish and as I lifted it from the water and transferred it to the unhooking mat I wondered if it was going to make it over twenty. It fell short by quite a way in the end but at 19lbs even, it made up half of a cracking new years day brace of commons to start 2008 with.

A few minutes longer I'd have been on my way home, 19lb common at the death

Once documented, I slipped the fish back none the worse for its trip to the bank. I packed the rods and the rest of my fishing gear away quickly and cleared off home with mixed feelings. Catching my first twenty of 2008 made it a very special New Years Day session, getting a ‘last knockings’ 19lber made it even better but as I drove away from the lake I couldn’t help feeling a little bit sad. I’d had a great couple of weeks off over Christmas and I’d caught some lovely winter carp but I knew the time had come to hang up the rods for a while but more about that next week.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt9

Winter Carp Diary Pt9

New years eve was a mild day, I was at the lake for 11am for my final five hours carp fishing of 2007. After slowly driving down the track to the lake I pulled up in the car park and went for a quick walk around to see if I could locate some carp. I looked in the bay I'd caught a couple of doubles from on my last winter carp session, nothing showed in the bay but I did notice a fish roll back in my usual swim. I didn't see the carp break surface but from the rippling ring it left behind it looked to be pretty much on top of the area I'd been prebaiting throughout this winter.

My favourite winter carp swim

That was my starting point sorted out, I unloaded the fishing gear from the car and walked the short distance to my peg. Having put my gear down I had a good look at the swim. Sure enough, there were signs of carp in the area, in fact there seemed to be quite a few fish present and I couldn't get the rods out quick enough. The first rod went into the area I‘d been baiting up, a gentle lob of 40 yards saw my rig and pva mesh bag land perfectly, I trapped the line and sunk the lead on a tight line then put the rod on the rod pod. I pulled a bit of slack line off the clutch and set my monkey climber into its normal postion, I still had the monkey climber in my hand when it was ripped from my grasp by a full blooded run. That’s the kind of start I was looking for! away in seconds!. I was straight into the fish and after a short scrap I netted my first winter carp of the day, it was a small common that didn't look like it was going to make double figures, a quick weighing confirmed a weight of 9lb 8oz, my smallest carp of the winter so far. I slipped the fish back without a photo and got on with the business of getting the rods out again.

My first rod went straight back onto the baited area with another pva mesh bag attached. There had been a couple of fish showing in area c on my little swim diagram so I put the second rod out to that spot, again with a pva mesh bag for good measure. Once the rods were out I settled down to watch the water. There were signs of fish all over the place and having caught one so quickly I was confident of a multiple catch. Just half an hour after the recast, the baited spot rod was away again, another short fight saw another small common slip into the net, it was bigger than the last one and on the scales it went 12lb 14oz, probably an average size carp for the water.

12lb 14oz Common, my second fish of the day.

Two fish before midday meant I could well be in for a bumper end to the year, I dropped the rod back onto the baited spot again and at the same time I moved my right hand rod to cover a new spot further to the right, I'd seen several carp show on this spot, all in the half an hour between runs, there certainly seemed to be a few fish knocking round the new area and I sat back expecting action sooner rather than later. Just under an hour passed by with no action, a few fish had begun to show in area c again and I was kicking myself for moving the rod in the first place. I sat and pondered moving it back when a single bleep came from the right hand delkim. I watched the rod but couldn't see it twitching at all, a second bleep had me hovering over the rod waiting for it to rip off, I still couldn't see any sign of a hooked carp though, no twitch of the rod tip, no nothing?. The twitch came half a minute later when the rod wrenched round and the delkim sounder box signalled the run, I was standing next to it at the time so I was straight into the fish. It had been hooked a fair way out but despite this the fight was quite short, the fish came straight into the margins where it charged round for a few minutes before rolling into the landing net. It was another low double common, in fact it was a very low double common that weighed in at 10lb 6oz. I did a quick photo purely because it was a double and I document all my double figured winter carp.

With three carp under my belt before 1pm I wondered what was in store for what I consider to be the most productive part of the day, the mid to late afternoon. When I repositioned the right hand rod I went for area c again, I'd been pondering moving it back there anyway so it seemed logical to cover the carp that had been rolling out there. That turned out to be a smart move on my part as the right hand rod on area c was a away within five minutes of it hitting the water. Again a single bleep from the delkim had me standing beside the rods when a full blooded run developed. This fish fought a bit better than the others, probably due to the extra few pounds of weight it had, after netting it and going through the motions of weighing and photographing, my fourth carp of the day turned out to be a 14lb 10oz common, not quite a mid double but at least the fishes weights were going in the right direction, upwards!.

14lb 10oz Common, a decent winter carp for the water.

New years eve was turning out to be a decent day. Four fish in the first couple of hours was quite a result and after recasting the right hand rod back to the same area I decided to grab a bite to eat before anything else happened. I needed to tie a couple of spare pva mesh bags too, things had been a bit hectic and I needed to get myself sorted out. I managed to eat my sandwiches and tie those couple of spare pva bags and it was just as well I did. As I finished the last one, the right hand delkim burst into life again. This was getting silly, it wasn't even 1.30pm and I was playing my fifth carp of the day. This fish felt a bit bigger than the others and it took me a while to get it into the margins, when I did get it close in, it kept deep and made a few decent runs before finally rolling on the top and into the waiting net. It was a decent fish, certainly my biggest of the day and after going through the weighing and photography routine I returned a lovely 18lb common to the water.

18lb Common the biggest of 5 winter carp landed on New Years Eve and my last fish of 2007.

Amazingly, that 18lb common turned out to be my last fish of the day, I usually expect action from 2pm onwards on this water but it was like someone had flicked a switch, all carp activity ceased and I was left runless for the rest of the day despite it usually being the most productive time. I couldn't complain, 5 carp landed on new years eve and my last fish of the year turned out to be a mint conditioned 18lb common.
That fish was a fitting end to my 2007 north west carp fishing. It had been a mixed year for me, the highlight was my first 20lb+ carp from the river dee, a capture that will remain on my mind for a long time to come. I'd ended the year on a high note too, a superb 25lb 2oz common on boxing day and a nice five fish catch on new years eve.
I hope my form continues in 2008. By the time this entry is published it will be a bit late for festive good wishes but I'll wish you them anyway. Tight lines for 2008.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt8

Winter Carp Diary Pt8

After my 25lb 2oz winter carp on boxing day I had a few days away from fishing. I did have a couple more sessions pencilled in for both Thursday and Friday but I didn’t bother going on either day, opting instead to take a break and catch up with a few odd jobs around the house.
I was back at the lake again on Saturday 29th December. I had a decision to make now, the bay had done me a big fish and I was a little surprised not to catch another as there seemed to be a few fish rolling during the afternoon and I’d had them covered. I stood in my usual peg for 10 minutes just looking for carp, a fish crashed at around 100yds range. Usually thats just about within casting range but there was a big wind pushing down the lake and I’d struggle to make the cast. I went and stood in the bay swim I’d caught my mid-twenty from a few days previous. Sure enough, a fish rolled in the bay only it was a lot closer and well within range. That was enough for me, I abandoned my usual winter carp swim and opted for the bay.
I started with a rod in the area the carp had just rolled, it seemed logical to go straight to the area where the fish was so I cast a pva mesh bag to where I’d seen the carp. The pva bag contained a couple of pieces of peparami and the rig was my standard 8” kryston silkworm hooklength with a piece of peparami on the hair rig. The second rod i cast to the area I’d seen fish but not caught on boxing day. Late on boxing day a few fish had rolled in a tight little area close in and I figured it was worth trying again in the absence of any other carp showing.
Over the first hour or two I noticed odd fish roll in the bay, they were around the first hookbait that had been cast to a showing fish. Despite seeing the odd carp it remained quite quiet, the wind was howling accross the lake, I didn’t mind the wind blowing a bit, I was well wrapped up in my igloo3 so I just sat in the teeth of it watching and listening for fish. Around 1.15pm I noticed the clouds getting thicker and blacker in the distance, they were just about on top of me and I knew the heavens were about to open. I grabbed my brolly out of the holdall and began taking it out of the bag. I never managed to get the brolly out before the first drops of rain started hitting me, it was quite heavy and made worse by a strong and gusting wind that was lashing it straight in my face. My brolly is a JRC stealth brolly and for those of you that don’t know, the stealth has a retaining screw that needs to be removed in order to open the brolly then replaced to make sure it stays open. With the wind and rain driving in my face I’d just managed to get the retaining screw off when the right hand delkim burst into life. I dropped the brolly and put the retaining screw in my pocket for safe keeping. I was on the rod quickly, the line was peeling off the spool at a nice steady rate, I put in a light strike and the rod hooped over with the line singing in the heavy wind. The fish was a fair way out but I made steady progress bringing it to the net, I couldn’t tell how big this carp was, there were big waves crashing over the bank and I didn’t even see the fish until it popped up ready for the net after 5 minutes or so. When the fish rolled into the net I recognised it as a common I’d caught a few weeks previous at 16lb 6oz.
I secured the landing net with the fish still in the water and went to sort out my gear, the rain was still coming down and everything was getting soaked, I got the stealth sorted first, once it was pegged down over my gear I got the weighing and camera gear ready, even though I’d caught the fish a few weeks earlier I still like to go through my routine and document everything accurately. Once I had everything ready I had a quick look in the landing net to double check that it was a repeat capture but before I could lift the fish out onto the waiting unhooking mat, my remaining rod slammed round suddenly as my other delkim went into meltdown. I secured the net and hit the rod. I was in a bit of a mess now, the second fish was a ‘charger’ it charged off and generally went mental which indicated a small fish and this was confirmed when I slipped the net under a low double mirror after a short but hectic fight.
I’ve been in the double take scenario quite a few times before so I was ok when it came to dealing with the situation. I carry an old Rod Hutchinson sling sack combo in the bottom of my holdall and this along with my landing net provides the solution for dealing with two carp reasonably safely. Once the sling sack was wet, I lifted the net with both fish onto the unhooking mat and unhooked them both, I threw the rods and rigs to one side, I could untangle them later. The common stayed wrapped in the net and zipped into the unhooking mat so it couldn’t move. The mirror i slipped into the sling sack which was then secured in the margins. My landing net has weighing/carrying handles stitched into the sides so I was able to weigh the fish, do a quick photo then return it and deduct the weight of the landing net afterwards. With the net deducted the common weighed 16lbs even, a loss of 6oz from when I last caught it in winter carp diary pt3.

Windy repeat capture at 16lb

The smaller mirror was retrieved from the water and weighed in the sling sack, again I deducted the weight of the sling after returning the fish and I was left with a weight of 11lb 2oz, not massive but not a repeat capture either.

Second winter carp in 5 minutes, an 11lb 2oz mirror

Getting those two winter carp documented was hard work with a big wind blowing straight in my face but I eventually managed to get both fish returned. I got on with the job of untangling the rods and getting them cast out again. The two carp had come at roughly 1.30pm and 1.35pm so I still had a few productive hours left to fish. After preparing a few more pva mesh bags i put both rigs back in the areas I’d just caught fish from. I spent the rest of the day dodging the rain, when it came I sat under the brolly, when it stopped I sat out watching the water the best I could with that big wind blowing in my face. I saw a couple more fish show in the vacinity of my baits during the afternoon but disappointingly another run never came. This was the second time I’d fished the bay and had carp showing either near or right on top of my hookbait with no run coming and I wondered why I wasn’t getting pickups. I fished on until around 4.15pm and packed up.
Before I left I chopped up a few sticks of peparami and catapulted them around the area I’d seen most fish. My usual halibut pellets I put in my usual peg along with a small amount of dynamite hemp and maize as I was returning for my traditional new years eve day session on the 31st. Going fishing on new years eve day passes the time before the evening festivities and its something I’ve done for as many years as I’ve been carp fishing. Last year I fished new years day for the first time ever and this year I intended to do the same provided I wasn’t at risk of being over the limit on new years day morning. With my baiting up and preparation for my new years eve fishing completed I headed for home still wondering why I wasn’t getting pickups when fish were rolling on and around my baits. I hoped a little bit of free bait would encourage those winter carp to feed a bit heavier in the bay, which in turn, would hopefully bring me another good winter carp catch.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Carp Fishing - Winter Carp Diary Pt7

Winter Carp Diary Pt7

Fishing for carp in winter can be slow at times. It’s funny how a couple of blank sessions with nothing happening can affect you. It’s so easy to just give the carp fishing a miss for a while and return to it when you’ve had a rest. With the persistent cold weather we’d had recently I’d actually thought about not going carp fishing on Chistmas Eve. If it hadn’t been for the fact that my Christmas eve fishing sessions were a bit of a tradition, I’d probably have stayed at home. Similarly, I had second thoughts about going on boxing day too. In the end I managed to drag myself out of bed and after making a flask and some sandwiches I loaded the fishing gear into the car and headed for the lake in the hope that I might catch another winter carp.

The temperature had certainly risen quite a bit, not only was it mild, it wasn’t raining either which meant I was in for a comfortable day on the bank if nothing else. On arriving at the lake I unloaded the fishing gear and headed for my usual favourite swim. I had a quick wander round but with no carp sighted I settled into my peg and started where I’d left off on Christmas eve, one rod on the spot I’d been putting bait on regularly and the other ‘on the chuck’ as far over to the out of bounds bank as I could get. I was fishing by about 11.30am and I was due to wrap it up at 4pm which gave me 4 and a half hours to try and catch a winter carp.

Despite the milder weather no carp showed for the first few hours. It was roughly 1.30pm when I spotted a carp roll, the fish turned over in a bay that went behind me on my left hand side, I couldn’t reach that fish from where I was fishing so I made an immediate decision to move. Before the rings had disappeared from that rolling carp I was gathering my fishing gear together. Once it was packed away, I pulled the rods in and moved round into the bay.
From my new swim I had a couple of easy casts to reach the general area I’d seen the carp roll. I did wonder if I should wait for another show but in the end, I only had a couple of hours left so I took my best guess and put both rods out with my usual pva mesh bag on each rod. I really should have waited before casting the rods in again as just 10 minutes later a carp rolled again. I wasn’t particularly close to it and I had no choice but to pull a rod in and recast. I left the pva mesh bag this time, I was close enough to where the carp were showing and a single peparami hookbait would do the job. Another 5 minutes after repositioning the left hand rod, another fish showed slightly off to the right. These two spots were roughly 40 yards apart. I made another snap decision to move the right hand rod and I dropped another single peparami hookbait on top of this fish too.

It was just about 2pm when I’d finally got myself settled down again. I was confident something would happen this time, with both hook baits cast to rolling fish it was surely just a matter of time before one or both of them were picked up. Usually on this water, baits cast to showing carp are picked up pretty quickly but on this occasion it didn’t happen. I’d been literally sitting on my hands waiting for one of the delkims to signal a run and after an hour of no further carp showing and no sign of that run I began to think my luck was going to run out again.

I put the radio on to catch the 3pm news and to see how the boxing day football was coming along. They gave Villa and Chelsea as a 4-4 draw which was a bit of a surprise, Liverpool were only just kicking off and with no live commentary to listen to I waited for a quick weather forecast which usually comes at the end of the news bulletin. I never heard the weather forecast, just before it came on the right hand delkim bleeped a couple of times then went into a full blooded run, I looked up to see the right hand rod tip pull round and the line begin to peel off the spool. Brilliant, after a coupe of blanks a screaming run was most welcome. I was on it straight away, as soon as I struck I instinctively knew I was into a decent fish. I’d hooked the fish just 20 yards out and I made no impression on it at all for the first few minutes. It just felt like a big heavy weight, a sure sign I was playing a good fish. I applied a steady pressure, just because the fish wasn’t moving far didn’t mean I had to try and crank it in, I kept a steady pressure and sure enough I kept gaining the odd yard of line. The carp never actually took any line off the clutch. It just seemed to plod around, kiting from side to side on a gradually shorter line. After what seemed like an age but was probably no more than 5 minutes, I caught site of the carp in the clear water. It was a long fish and I had a half an idea it was a twenty. I kept calm and kept the pressure steady, the fish circled round in front of me a few times before eventually popping up on top, having caught site of the width across the carps back, probably a twenty turned to definitely a twenty and as it wobbled into the waiting landing net I knew it was going to be another one of those fist clenching ‘yesss’ moments that all north west carp anglers love.
I was gazing into the net at my prize when that familiar ‘got to get to work’ thought kicked in. I secured the net and left the fish safe in the water whilst I got the weighing and photography gear ready. When I broke the net down and eventually lifted the fish out of the water I changed my mind about its size. I was thinking 22-ish but when I lifted it out onto the unhooking mat that estimate went up to 25+. It was a real pig of a common, not only did it have a back like arnie, it had quite a gut on it too. My new 25+ estimate turned out to be as near as damn it right as the scales revealed a weight of 25lb 2oz. I rattled off a few pictures on the digital camera and released the fish back to its watery home, I watched the fish sink down in the water and slowly swim off until it was out of sight. Once the carp was gone, I got on with the job of sorting my gear out.

Christmas cracker, my 25lb 2oz Boxing Day Common!

I quickly had the rod sorted out, my peparami hookbait was still intact so I simply dropped the rig back in the area I’d just caught from. Despite seeing another carp roll near to the other rod nothing else happened and at 4pm I packed my gear away. Once I’d loaded up the car for my return journey home, I dropped into my original peg and left them a bit of bait ready for my next winter carp session.
After struggling for a few sessions I drove home with a big smile on my face, a boxing day 25lb+ common was more than I could have hoped for and I was glad I’d made the effort to go. I’ve sort of reached a crossroads in my winter carping now, 25+ is about as big a fish as I’d expect to catch from this particular winter carp water and I’ve a decision to make, do I carry on fishing there knowing I probably won’t better that fish or do I move on to another north west carp water for the rest of the winter?. I think I’ll be giving that decision some thought over the next week or two.

Tight Lines.

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