Sunday, 25 May 2008

Carp Fishing - Yateley Sandhurst Session Continued

Before reading this blog entry you should have a read of sandhurst session part 1 before carrying on.
After banking that 39lb 8oz common I was completely on cloud 9 for a few hours. My mobile phone battery was in danger of going flat as the news filtered through to my mates back home and the congratulations came flooding in by text. As the lads started arriving ahead of our booking, I switched my phone off and recounted my bizarre story to them as they all arrived. They were all keen to get fishing and their presence brought me to my senses and I began to focus on the carp fishing again.

Peg 13 was free and following the display the carp put on the evening before I moved into this swim. When your on a session you have the luxury of being able to watch things unfold over a few days and as well as the carp that rolled and bubbled in this area in front of 13, the coots and other birdlife were regular visitors. I didn’t know what natural food was down there but all the signs were indicating a natural hotspot. It was also well away from any of the spots marked on the bailiffs maps that have been doing the rounds on the internet and that made it even more appealing.

I settled into my new peg in the afternoon, once again I put a zig rig out on one rod whilst the other two rigs went straight into the hot area the fish and birds seemed to like. I kept my simple tactics, a ccmoores odyssey xxx popup on both rods and a light scattering of 20 baits spread over and in between both hookbaits. The area the fish showed was quite big, maybe 20 yards square so my baiting was very light, the fish obviously liked the area for naturals so there was no need to try and fill it in.

Early evening the zig rig rod was away again!. I was just as surprised as the first time it went. I was standing next to the rods when the monkey climber pulled up and the delkim signalled a good run. My first instinct was to look at the area I’d cast to check for birds. All I saw was a big boil on the surface so I hit the rod and it took on a nice curve as the carp charged off up the lake as fast as it could. The fight was slow and it took a while to get the fish close in, a lighter than usual 10lb drennan double strength hooklength and a small size 10 esp big t raptor hook meant I had to play the fish on the light side but eventually I had it under the rod tip. It was another common, easily a twenty but quite small compared to the stunner I’d caught from peg 11. After circling and trying to get under a tree in the margins the fish finally gave up and rolled into the waiting net.

I sorted out my camera, scales and unhooking mat before lifting the fish out and onto the mat. I still can’t get over the carp taking a piece of yellow rig foam but there it was dangling from the edge of the carps mouth. I unhooked the fish and weighed it in at 22lb 8oz making it the biggest fish I’d ever caught on a zig rig. I got one of the lads to take a few pictures then slipped the fish back.

A 22lb 8oz yateley sandhurst common caught on the zig rig

This was turning into a very good session. I didn’t bother putting the zig rig back out again, it was late evening anyway so I switched the rod to my normal popup rig and fished it in the margins over a handful of ccmoores odyssey xxx fishmeals. It stayed quiet after the zig rig common capture. It wasn’t until just after 4am the next morning when things kicked off again. My mate ian had taken gino’s place in peg 12 and at 4.10am he was into a fish. His common turned out to be a 28lb+ fish and whilst doing the photo’s for him one of my rods in the hot area was away!. I apologised to ian and went to deal with my own fish. One of the other lads finished his photos whilst I played in another heavy carp. The fish didn’t do much, it just wallowed all the way in and after a short fight I netted a big mirror carp. Ian’s mat was already on the floor between our swims so I just grabbed the scales and camera and got on with unhooking and weighing another big carp. Ian commented straight away that my mirror was bigger than the common he’d just put back and he confidently said it was another 30, I try not to guess but he looked to be right. Sure enough the scales gave 31lb 8oz, a pb mirror by just 6oz!. I got some decent photo's done before returning the fish. It was first light and I wanted to get the rods back out again as I was sure there was more to come.

31lb 8oz yateley sandhurst mirror, a new PB by just 6oz

The recast was good and I topped up the area with another 10 baits. I didn’t want a lot of bait out there, just odd ones the carp could pick up here and there before finding the hookbaits. A few hours passed when the other rod on the same area rattled off. This fish felt as big as the last one for the short time I had it on. The fish kited left and after a few minutes I felt that horrible grating feeling up the line that told me the fish had found a snag. There was little I could do and a few seconds later my main line was cut off on the gravel. A close inspection of the retrieved line revealed lots of abrasive marks and nicks in the mono. I use berkley big game mono in 15lb breaking strain and I have total faith in it, the snag that carp found must have been a bad one for my line to come out like this and I accepted that there was little I could do to prevent loosing this fish.

I removed the damaged mono and tied a new rig on. The rig went back to the same area in the hope of more action but none came that day or on the last night. The wind changed direction up towards the car park swim and I watched as the fish slowly made their way down to the other end of the lake were a few of my mates were waiting for them!.

That was it for me, my first yateley sandhurst session turned out to be an amazing experience. I did a double pb breaking both my common and mirror bests. I also managed a couple of carp on the zig rig too and I felt I was finally getting to grips with this rig. I’ve had no problems getting runs on the zig rig but I always seem to suffer missed runs with it and I’ve made a little progress on this sandhurst trip. I intend to write my thoughts on this rig at a later date when I’ve had a chance to try it on a few local north west waters just to reinforce the lesson I think I’ve learned!.

On a final note, yateley sandhurst is an amazing lake, its very picturesque, loads of big fish and very well run and I’ll definitely be going back for another go at these superb carp.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Carp Fishing - Yateley Sandhurst Session

Yateley Sandhurst Session Pt1

The north west carp scene is pretty much a circus these days. There aren’t enough waters or big carp to go around and this makes carp fishing very difficult if you’re a short session angler. To compensate for the lack of big carp in the region I used to make two or three trips a year to a southern day ticket water. For around 8 years this used to be linear fisheries in oxford. Unfortunately linear grew and grew and it became more of a circus down there than it did on my local north west club waters. Not only did linear end up full of idiots, they became extremely greedy too, when I first started going there it was £8 for a 24 hour session, the last time I went it was well over £20 and I know today that its now even higher!.

I actually decided 3 years ago that I wouldn’t do another day ticket water because I simply don’t agree with the stupid prices these day ticket carp fisheries charge nowadays. Things change and 3 years on I was talked into having a session on yateley day ticket water sandhurst lake. The good thing about sandhurst was that the lake could be booked for exclusive use and so a group of my mates got together and booked a weekend on there. We actually ended up having to pay a bit more each but this was considered to be worthwhile as it kept the lake to just ourselves and ensured there would be no ‘day ticket’ type anglers on the water. You know the sort, captain pugwash who thinks he can fish anywhere he wants because he's got a bait boat or the idiot with the beginners guide to spodding who insists on ruining your chances as well as his own!.
The trip was a bit of a holiday for me so on top of the weekend I booked a day ticket for a further two nights from cemex angling, I had four days and nights fishing on the water, hopefully enough time to get on some fish and catch a few of them.

At 225 miles it was a long journey and the sat nav came in extremely handy, sometimes I’d be lost without this little gadget and it certainly made my trip to yateley very easy. Having found the lake without any difficulties I drove on to yateley angling centre were my fishing partner gino was able to pick up the day tickets he’d booked through the shop. We grabbed some fish and chips from the chippy near the shop then went and sat in the car park area so we could scan the lake whilst eating them.

Yateley Sandhurst Lake Map

The wind was pushing away from the popular ‘car park’ peg and down towards peg 19 on the far bank. It was an easterly wind and the temperature was well over 25 degrees, not exactly brilliant fishing conditions but the lake had been fishing well so we were hopeful of catching.

We did a lap of the lake to try and locate the carp. This wasn’t too difficult and we found them on the end of the wind, there seemed to be quite a few fish down near the second car park so I opted for peg 16 as it covered the fish and gave me a few more options than the corner peg on the left (17). My carp tactics for this trip were the same as always, I like to keep things simple so I just used my standard carp rig and cast a small pva mesh bag to were the carp where showing. I scattered 10-15 boilies around the area just to make sure they found the odd bait then waited for them to find one of my ccmoore odyssey xxx hook baits.

The first day and night passed by with no runs for me. My mate gino had dropped in a few pegs down from me in 14 and during the second day he spotted carp showing in front of peg 12 and moved onto them. He was rewarded with a mid twenty mirror and being a true gent he came down to my swim and tipped me off, he suggested I move into peg 11 next door as it would put us both on the fish. I wasn’t sure, I opted to stay where I was for the time being as there were fish in the area but the second time he came back and urged me to move I decided to do it. I’m not sure why I chose to move, after all, I was already on fish but moving would make a social easier and it would mean a decent fried breakfast so I went.

Someone moved straight into my swim after I’d vacated it and an hour later they landed a 31lb common!. To say I was annoyed was an understatement!. If only I’d stayed in my swim I might have had that fish myself and top of my shopping list was realising my dream of catching a 30lb common. I wasn’t happy at all and having moved to peg 11 I was less than impressed with the swim and I wondered why the hell I’d moved. Gino on the other hand knew exactly what he’d seen in the area, he banked another two mid twenties in a short space of time and this gave me hope that I’d at least manage to get myself off the mark at some point during the trip.

I’ve been playing about with zig rigs for a long time but I’ve never had much faith in them, I’m not sure why, I know they work, back in 1989 my first ever double came to the old anchored surface crust so I knew there was mileage in the zig rig. There were fish cruising round in the sunshine so I opted to fish the zig rig. A small piece of yellow foam hair rigged on a size 10 esp raptor hook, this was fished on a 10lb drennan double strength hooklink and fished three feet up in about four and a half feet of water.

I sat chatting with gino during the evening of day two, there was an angler in peg 13 and during the evening we were treated to a superb display from the carp, they were lunking out and rolling like mad in front of peg 13 and the guy fishing there was only a day angler. I’d already prepared myself to move in the dark such was the display of big carp in front of his peg. It was late evening and whilst I was sorting my gear the zig rig rod was away. I couldn’t believe it, a small piece of yellow foam and a carp had taken it literally in half light conditions!. I played the fish in slowly with just a 10lb drennan double strength hooklink I didn’t want to risk loosing it. Everything went well and I landed my first sandhurst carp. The fish turned out to be a nice mirror that fell short of the 20lb mark, probably a small fish for the water but at 19lb 4oz I was more than happy to be off the mark with my first sandhurst carp.

19lb 4oz, my first sandhurst carp caught on a zig rig

That first carp settled me and I decided not to move into peg 13 in the dark, it was Friday the next day, other anglers would be going home and nobody else would arrive if they had to be off for our booking by 4pm so I stayed in peg 11 for the night. I switched the zig rig back to a standard carp rig and having cast out all 3 rods out I settled down for the night.

The night was quiet until 4am when the left hand delkim ripped off. I was out of the sleeping bag and on the rod in a flash, the fish felt quite heavy and from the moment I hooked it, it tried to ‘roll’ me repeatedly. I’d already lost a couple of big north west carp at the net when the carp had rolled over and I’d lost the fish to a hook pull so my heart was in my mouth during the fight with this carp. I kept a steady pressure on and every time it rolled I’d drop the rod tip a little to compensate. The hook held firm and after 10 minutes or so I managed to bundle the fish into the waiting net. I had a quick look at it in the water, it was a common, quite a long fish that looked quite broad across the back. I didn’t want to think about the 30lb barrier, I thought it might be close but I’d been after a 30lb common for so long I just shut the thought out of my mind. Gino was on hand to help and having got the camera gear and the weighing scales ready I carried the fish to the mat. I knew it felt heavy but I wasn’t ready for what followed!. Gino hoisted up the scales and read out the weight, 39lb 8oz!. I thought he was joking, I asked him again and he said the same. ‘You try lifting it, it’s effing massive’ he said. I did and sure enough it weighed in at 39.08!. I was quite shell shocked and it was only when the pictures were being done that I realised just how massive this carp was. It was a real stunner with not a mark on it.

A Yateley sandhurst cracker! My new PB Common at 39lb 8oz!

I’d simply blown away the walton hall park common that was my previous pb common at 27lb 4oz!. The events around the capture were bizarre, moving swims, seeing another angler catch from my vacated swim, seeing so many fish in another peg and wanting to move in the dark, catching that 19lb 4oz mirror on the zig rig and staying in peg 11. If I’d actually moved I’d never have caught this stunning fish and I feel that sometimes in life, things are meant to be and it certainly looked like my name was on that fish. I felt incredibly lucky to have caught it and I’m in debt to gino who twice tried to talk me into moving swims when he could have kept the area to himself.

My first yateley sandhurst session was already a memorable one, I stayed in peg 11 for most of the next day and when the other lads turned up on Friday afternoon we drew for choice of swims for the weekend. It was then that I opted to move into peg 13, unlucky for some maybe but it wasn’t for me and I’ll finish the story of my first yateley sandhurst trip next week!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Carp Fishing - Change of Tactics Catches the Carp

As usual I overslept again this week!. It was 10.00am before I was up and about and with sandwiches, a flask and all my fishing gear to sort out it was gone 11.30am when I finally left for the lake. Even if I found some carp quickly it would still be gone 1pm before I’d have the rods out. The journey to the lake was slow, I try to avoid the ‘A’ roads in Cheshire as most of the time you always seem to get stuck behind a lorry and this trip was no different, with few overtaking opportunities I just had to stay at a very low 40mph until I reached a turn off. This slowed me down even more and it took longer than my usual hours drive to reach the Cheshire carp lake I’d chosen to fish this week.
Upon arrival at the lake there were 4 cars in the car park which wasn’t too bad, it meant the lake was busy but the two best swims on this particular carp water are often overlooked. I was so confident of getting on the fish I actually took my gear with me rather than leave it in the car to go looking for fish.

I dropped my gear at the lakeside and went to check out one of the flier swims. True to form the swim was empty and as I stood in the peg surveying the water a very dark looking common rolled twice in quick succession. I didn’t go for my gear straight away, I carried on watching the water and sure enough the signs of carp in the swim slowly became apparent, another fish rolled further out and there was plenty of bubbling in the far corner against some overhanging trees. I’d seen enough and I went back and collected my fishing gear from where I’d left it.

I’d fished this swim before but it had been a good 3 years since I’d last wet a line on this lake. I still had an idea the carp would still be doing their old routine so I placed my rigs accordingly, one rod went off the trees to the left but in open water on a spot that had done me a few fish in the past, the second rod was just an underarm cast down the margins to try and pick up the carp as they patrol around the edge of the lake. Both rods were baited with the same kevin nash monster pursuit boilie pellets I’ve been using these past few weeks. A pva mesh bag accompanied each rig and I used a catapult to scatter a handful of mixed trout pellets around each rod just to bring the fish down on the bait.

I was expecting to catch sooner rather than later and just 20 minutes after casting out I had a vicious liner on the open water rod, a further liner on the margin rod an hour later had me wondering what was wrong?. Something wasn’t right, with a few carp in the area I would usually have caught by now and a few hours into my session I’d just had liners. The carp were still around but they seemed reluctant to feed on the pellets which was unusual.

A change of tactics was needed so I decided to fish tight against the trees. There were plenty of branches trailing in the water and to my left there was a tree stump sticking out of the water, beyond this was a very small bay which is where the carp were showing the most. I dropped a rig against the branches of the overhanging tree at the entrance and exit to the bay. I fished locked up, no back leads and rods pointing straight at the bait. I screwed the clutch up tight on my infinity bait runners and secured the rod pod so it wouldn’t get pulled in or pulled over. I opted to leave putting in any bait to see how things went so it was just a single monster pursuit boilie pellet tight to the trees.

This change of tactics brought an almost immediate reward, just 15 minutes after casting in a couple of bleeps from the delkim was followed by the rod top knocking violently, I was on the rod straight away and because the carp had no line to take it was easily halted from making the sanctuary of the branches that were trailing in the water. I applied some moderate side strain and the fish came out from the bay and into open water were I was able to play the fight out in a normal manner. The carp was lively and still took 5 minutes or so to subdue but eventually I slipped the net under a very long and very thin mirror carp that looked like it might make 10lb. I weighed the fish at 9lb 15oz, not quite a double but it was a result and it proved I was thinking on the right lines by changing tactics and fishing to the snags.

My second and biggest carp of the day at 11lb 4oz

I dropped the rig back in the same spot against the tree, again with no freebies. I wondered if the commotion caused by hooking my first carp would put the others off a bit but I needn’t have worried, half an hour later the delkim sounded another few bleeps and again the rod started knocking violently. I struck quickly and there was a big boil in the water where my bait had been. This carp was a bit more stubborn than the first and it gave me no end of trouble as it tried to reach the snags, at one stage it had me wrapped around the tree stump in the margins but I was able to move up the bank a few feet to change the angle of pull and get the fish free again. I did eventually get the fish into open water and a few minutes later I slipped the net under another mirror carp which turned out to be slightly bigger than the last one at 11lb 4oz. I set up my camera and did a few pictures of this carp as it was quite a nicely scaled fish, with the camera work done I slipped the carp back and focused on getting the rod back out again.

I dropped the rig in against the tree again and set the delkim, I remembered my unhooking mat on the floor and as I turn round to pick it up the same rod was away again. I was on it quickly and gave no line as with the previous two fish. After trying hard to get into the overhanging branches of the trees, this fish headed for open water where I was able to wear it down and get it into the net. This fish was a common that was similar in size to the last two, I weighed the fish and it just scraped into double figures at 10lb 2oz.

With 3 carp coming my way I was more than happy, I did wonder how long the fish would keep coming to the single hookbait approach but I carried on and again dropped my rig tight to the branches of the trees at the entrance to the small bay. Things went a bit quiet for a while and I was able to sit down and poor a brew from my thermos flask. It was 45 minutes later when the delkim sounded again, I was sitting next to the rods all this time so again I was on it straight away. Things went well this time and as I applied moderate side strain the fish came straight out into open water where the carp circled repeatedly on a short line before finally giving up and slipping into the landing net. It was another common, again of similar size to the others and on weighing, this particular common also scraped double figures at exactly the same weight as the last one, 10lb 2oz.

This second 10lb 2oz fish turned out to be my last of the day, despite recasting against the trees again no more runs came and I didn’t see any more fish either. The change of tactics had brought me 4 carp in 2 hours so I was happy enough, I gave it another hour and a half with no action and no sign of fish before I finally called it a day and packed up. I was happy, it had been a warm day, very comfortable with hazy sunshine all day. The carp had finally given themselves away and for once I’d been able to take advantage and catch a few fish.

Tight Lines

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