Sunday, 29 June 2008

Carp Fishing - Time To Move On

For the last few weeks I’ve been restricted from fishing my usual waters because I hadn’t done any work parties. Spiralling fuel costs and a heavy workload were to blame for my lack of effort in helping out this year. I’ve always got a north west carp lake I can visit but I had to spend a month away from the lakes I really wanted to be fishing.
My first June fishing session of 2008 saw me in two minds about what to do, I really wanted to have a go for a north west catfish but I received a report from one of my mates on Friday stating the lake was full and that anglers where turning up at his lake to try and find somewhere to fish. That wasn’t an ideal situation for me so I decided not to fish on Friday after work. Instead, I opted to go on Saturday afternoon in the hope that a few anglers would have gone home after their Friday overnighter.
This tactic seemed to work and I found one of my preferred new lakes almost empty of anglers on Saturday afternoon!, sadly it wasn’t a catfish water so it was just the usual carp to aim for this week.

The lake was only small but despite this it had a few decent carp in so I set about trying to find them. After a few hours of looking hard for these elusive carp I gave up!. I’ve never known carp hide so well on such a small lake, if it wasn’t for the fact that I know the fish are in there I’d have said the lake had no fish in!.

Fox international pole elastic in size 4 makes an ideal line marker

I took a chance and set up near the middle of the lake, I had plenty of open water to fish and a far tree line to cast to. I opted for two rods in open water and one to the tree’s. I wanted to be tight to the far margin trees so I used a pole elastic line marker in conjunction with the line clip on my spool to edge my hookbait virtually under the trees on the far bank. I simply cast close to the trees then took a bit of line off the spool and clipped it up, I gradually edged my casts closer to the trees, each time letting off a little more line and re-clipping until it was really tight to the far bank. Once done, I added the pole elastic to the line by tying it in an overhand knot, the elastic locks in place and I was left with a perfect line marker for the exact distance I needed. I’ve used this useful tackle tip on numerous occasions when I’ve needed to fish tight to a visible feature and it really works a treat enabling you to fish really tight to a feature without loosing any end tackle.

Pole elastic line marker tied in place, tie an overhand knot and the elastic locks in place when pulled tight, a simple pull on either of the tags is all thats needed for removal, it's simple and very easy to use!

My other two rods where fished in open water around some clean sandy areas that I could actually see with the aid of my optix sunglasses. It was shallow in this area and despite not seeing any carp I figured I might get a chance after dark.

With the rods out I sat back to enjoy the Saturday afternoon sunshine. Being in the middle of the lake I had a good view so I sat and waited for a carp to show itself, I was still sat watching as it got dark and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t even seen a fish after 8 hours of watching the water.

The night remained quiet and I was up early morning watching the water again, nothing showed and as the morning wore on I became resigned to the fact that I was going to blank, I’d already decided to pack up at midday and at 5 to 12 a fish crashed out at the far end of the lake. That was typical, just 5 minutes to go and a fish shows in a swim I’d looked at but decided against fishing!. I packed away my gear and left for home wondering how so many big carp can hide in such a small water?.

Despite blanking this week I was happy to at least be back chasing some big fish again, I’m sure there will be more blanks to come over the coming months but at least I’ve a chance at catching a reasonably big carp by north west standards. Obviously pin point location is going to be crucial on such a small lake and that's not going to be easy with the fish being reluctant to show themselves. I can already see this lake is going to require time and a close attention to detail in order to crack it but I know what needs to be done and I'll be back for another try soon.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Carp Fishing - Floater Session, Not Quite!

The last Saturday in may saw me back on the Cheshire carp lake I’ve been visiting for the last few weeks. It was my last trip to this lake for a while as the work party season was drawing to a close and I’ll have a much bigger choice of waters to choose from next weekend.
I’m not one for getting up early on my days off work so I had a leisurely start to the day and didn’t arrive at the lake until well gone midday. I had a good walk around but it was busy again with bivvy anglers in most swims. There was one swim at the very end of the shallows that looked good, the swim was empty and there were a few carp milling round the area. I still wasn’t sure about the swim, I knew nobody was going to fish the area as the swim was too small for a bivvy so I decided to go and check out another lake in the area before deciding where to fish.

I made a short drive to the second lake and had a look around, it was busy here too but there were fish showing. One area in particular was rammed with carp cruising round on the top, every swim in the area was occupied except one that was right bang in the middle of where the fish were!. I was on the opposite bank so I had to make my way round to the empty peg. I doubled back and collected my fishing gear and two bags of floating dog biscuits from the car on the way. As I walked round the lake and the swim came into view my heart sank, there in front of me was another angler carrying his gear and there could only be one place he was going!. I carried on walking towards the peg but he was ahead of me and there was nothing I could do about it, I’d missed getting on a swim full of carp by 20 seconds!.

With little else on offer at this water I headed back to the car and drove back to my original lake. At least I was right about the quiet peg in the shallows, it was still empty so I grabbed my gear and quietly dropped into the swim. The carp were still present so I kept well back whilst setting up. There was a bar running through the swim and the fish were skirting the far side of this bar and swimming to an overhanging bush in the margins then back out into the lake. I placed a couple of ccmoore odyssey xxx pop ups beyond the bar and right on the patrol route the carp were taking to reach the bush. Each hookbait just had a two bait pva mesh bag attached, I didn’t bother putting in any freebies, I was right on top of the fish and a couple of 2oz lead weights landing in the area was more disturbance than I really wanted.

Once I was set up I got comfortable and watched the fish, I spent a few hours watching them and I lost count of the number of times the fish passed over both of my hookbaits!. I expected a run sooner rather than later but for some unknown reason it just wasn’t happening?. After a couple of hours of carp constantly passing my hookbaits I was cracking up, all I could think was that something wasn’t quite right with how the rig was sitting, or maybe the line was lifting off the bottom on the other side of the bar?. I repositioned the right hand rod and made sure the line was fished as slack as possible so it would lie on the bottom. I didn’t have to wait very long to see if moving one of my rigs would work, only 20 minutes passed when the line tightened and the rod tip on my right hand rod slowly pulled round, as it did so the shallow water erupted to the tune of my delkim!.

I was on the rod and in control of the situation right from the start, the carp made a determined push for open water but the fish was fighting a loosing battle against my 15lb berkley big game line. Eventually I had the fish circling in front of me and another couple of minutes later a low double mirror was engulfed in the folds of my landing net.

The mirror weighed 13lb 12oz, probably an average size carp for the water, the fish looked like it had been in the wars a little with a less than perfect mouth and a slightly damaged tail, no doubt caused by recent spawning activity. I took a couple of pictures and returned the fish to the water quickly.

13lb 12oz after re-positioning my rig

With a fish under my belt I decided to move swims for the last few hours of the day, the swim I’d caught 3 fish from last week had become vacant so I gathered my gear and headed round there. This turned out to be the wrong decision, I really should have stayed where I was. I’d expected the carp to move out of my corner and into a wider area of the shallows after all the commotion, they already had a habit of doing this in the evening anyway but on this occasion they stayed around the bar and I blanked the rest of the session having moved off them!. I know the move was a bad one as a mate was fishing the same area just down the bank from me and he cleaned up whilst I watched from an empty swim, it just goes to show you can't make the right decision every time!.

With work party restrictions either lifted or due to be lifted in the next couple of weeks I now find myself standing at a crossroads in my fishing. The sandhurst result from a few weeks ago was such a massive result for me and I felt like I’d been handed a lifetime achievement award following the capture of those fish. I’ve been taking stock recently and thinking about other carp lakes I’ll be able to fish and about other species of fish. I’ve never had any interest in them before but I’d quite like to catch a north west wels catfish, a new pb barbel would be nice too and I’ll definitely be spending more time fishing for pike rather than carp next winter. There are always new carp waters to try and crack and I’ve a few new venues lined up for my carping too. The summer months are full of promise and whichever angling target I decide to choose next you’ll be able to read my progress here.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Carp Venues - Capesthorne Hall Uncovered Pt2

A heron has landed on the bridge, click to watch.

Its been a while since I wrote Capesthorne Hall Uncovered Pt1 I know there has been a few north west carp anglers eagerly awaiting part 2 so here it is. The second instalment deals with the garden pool. For those of you that don’t know, Capesthorne main lake has a bridge crossing it about two thirds the way up the shallows (park pool). The bridge is regarded as the dividing line between the garden pool and the shallows.
The water in the garden pool gets deeper as you move up to the dam wall and at the far end of the lake, in front of the dam wall, you’ll find about 7 feet of water maximum with the average depth being about 3-4 feet for the garden pool as a whole. Walking from the car park towards the bridge, when you reach the bridge and turn right before crossing, the first swim you arrive at is known as the arches. This has always been a tricky peg to catch fish from. Carp pass through this swim in numbers and it took me a while to work out how to catch consistently from it. The arches rates as one of my favourite swims on the entire lake, its one of those swims where 2 rods never seems enough to cover all the options.
Looking at the picture below, this is taken from the arches looking across to the hidey peg known as ‘robinson crusoes’ and the first swim in the field known as ‘the moose’. The areas of interest are the channels in the silt and the brickwork around the bridge. The most common mistake when fishing the arches is to try to get tight under the bridge or to the brickwork of the bridge that can be seen when its full. As you can see, the stone is built up and gradually falls away to meet silt about a rod length away from the bridge, a bait fished were the stones hit the silt is a winner!. The carp use this line to patrol and when I started finding it I found some very good action. The other areas of interest are the silt channels, you may notice that the old stream bed comes through the second arch, this is not a good place to fish, the only action I ever received in the channel was from bream. It was far better to fish the third and fourth arches over against the silt/stonework area as this is where the carp like to move.

Capesthorne Hall Garden Pool,The Arches

Casting tip for fishing the arches for Capesthorne Hall Carp, click to watch!

There is a smaller channel in the silt that breaks off and heads towards the moose swim and where it stops and turns back to open water in front of the moose is also and excellent area. The silt/stones are about a rod length from the bridge and similarly, the channel in front of the moose is a couple of rod lengths away from the overhanging rodey bush that everyone casts too because its all they can see. Open water in front of both the arches and the moose are also worth a look, this quarter of the lake from the bridge up to the eagle is probably the biggest area of natural food in the lake and you’ll see carp head and shoulder and roll in this area during the evenings. I’ve also included a view looking back from the moose swim, you can clearly see the brick line of the bridge and how that it comes round and under the rodey bush then into the margins of the moose, baits placed anywhere along this line are a potential winner as its a carp patrol route.

Capesthorne Hall Garden Pool, The Moose

Next up is the ornamental eagle, years ago this swim was an absolute flier of a peg. You can see the old stream bed coming close in right in front of the eagle, you can also see a feature that I spoke about in part 1, the line where sandy margins hit the silt. In front of the eagle they pretty much come together, the sand/silt line and the stream bed are very close at this point and a rod fished a rod length off the eagle is another winner on the right day. Before the drain down, I used to see carp rolling right in front of the eagle and it was only when I saw the lake empty I realised why. Despite the lake turning gin clear, fish can still be caught from this spot if your quiet. They can also be caught further along towards the toilet if you find the sand/silt line the carp use as a patrol route. If any of you have read Paul Selmans Carp Reflections this area of the ornamental eagle gets a mention in the Capesthorne Hall chapter of his book.

Capesthorne Hall Garden Pool, Ornamental Eagle

The next picture is taken from just before the eagle and shows the margins of both sides, as you can see its silty and again the areas of sand meeting silt are the ones to have a rod on, One rod on the line and one out in the silt where the carps food collects was always my tactic in these swims, sometimes you can’t get into the peg you want so it pays to know how to get the best and possibly a bonus fish out of the ‘has been’ type pegs that most people don’t fancy.

Capesthorne Hall Garden Pool, Open Water

Next is the dam wall taken from the field side, again it’s a silty middle and sandy edges, the silt/sand area in the last field peg, just before the swim known as the ‘chicken run’ is another good place to fish. There used to be a fir tree growing in the corner by the toilet and when it was there, the corner was always worth fishing but the tree got chopped down and with little cover, the carp always seemed a bit reluctant to go in there although they do still show up there from time to time.

Capesthorne Hall Garden Pool, Dam Wall

Last but not least is the plug hole. When I first fished Capesthorne Main Lake in the summer of 1996 this was ‘the’ swim to be in, I remember waiting the best part of 3 months before I ever saw it vacant and even then it was only because the carp angler fishing there went home early for his tea!. It was such a productive peg, the lads used to try to angle a cast under the trees to land tight into a gap in the rodey bushes right back against the bank, if the cast wasn’t right you simply didn’t catch. Things changed after the lake was drained and with gin clear water and weed present the fish deserted the plug hole swim in droves and it fell out of favour. This turned out to be a bonus for me as I managed to stumble across an area that produced in the depths of winter and the swim was rarely or never fished!. In the picture you can see where the lads used to catch tight into the rodey bush, the area I had winter action from is under the big tree with the dead leaves on. It’s the nice flat silt area, there’s nothing much there to attract them, just a nice depth of water over their heads and the security of the big overhanging tree. If you get the right area here, winter carp action during December, January and February is possible. Runs don’t come every time but if you can get in there, its worth fishing and it’s the first peg I’d head for during the depths of winter.

Capesthorne Hall Garden Pool, The Snags/Plughole

Well that’s about it, most of what I learned during the time I spent fishing Capesthorne Hall Main Lake. I found Capesthorne to be a very tricky water, pinpoint location, a good carp bait, an efficient rig and an understanding of carp behaviour were all needed on this lake. Watch the carp closely, seeing these pictures of the lake empty is only part of the jigsaw and you’ll need to get up close and personal with these fish in order to get amongst them consistently. If you can learn how to catch carp consistently on Capesthorne Hall then you’ll leave the place a very accomplished carp angler. The carp fishing is far from easy and if you have any problems with your bait, rigs or location you will suffer an awful lot of blanks!. Best of luck to those of you who decide to fish this tricky and challenging carp water.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Carp Fishing - Cheshire Return

Carp fishing has a tendency to lift you up to the heights one minute then leave you wondering why you even bother going fishing the next!. After the dizzy heights of sandhurst it was time to face reality the next weekend. For the first few days after sandy all I could think of was getting back down there again!. After a few days reality began to creep back in, the session was a holiday and it was best to treat it that way. The reality is that a northern twenty pound carp is probably harder to catch and I had to get things into perspective.
I was still on a high so I pushed the boat out and opted to do a night on a local Cheshire carp water. I was in no rush on Friday evening and I actually cooked and ate my tea before leaving for the lake. In the past I’d usually have my tea at the lake after I’d set up and I don’t know why I was being so leisurely about getting to the lake?, after all, this is the north west and it’s a busy area for carp anglers.
After an hours drive I arrived at the lake to find it rammed!, I managed to park the car in the only space I could find adjacent to the car park and went for a short walk. Every peg had a bivvy in it except one. I couldn’t believe it, one peg left on a Friday night, I really should have been a bit more hasty in getting away!. I stood in the peg and looked hard for signs of carp, it wasn’t a peg I fancied and it looked completely empty of fish. My late arrival at the lake cost me big time and reluctantly I headed back to the car and back home. I’m not one for fishing if I think I’m wasting my time, there was a stupid amount of angling pressure on the lake and it was too late in the evening to consider another lake. I’d certainly come back down to earth with a bump after sandhurst and when I got home I decided not to bother with a short day session on the Saturday, instead, I opted for a weekend away from carp fishing.

This brings me to bank holiday weekend. After finding my chosen lake rammed on the previous Friday night I stripped out my rucksack and went back to my preferred short session carping. I’d already decided on a new lake for the holiday weekend and after a quick trip to daves of middlewich for a few items of tackle I headed off to pastures new. The new lake didn’t look very inspiring, sure it was a nice enough lake and it was full of carp but it just wasn’t my type of place. I had a walk around and found a few small groups of carp clouding up in the margins. There was plenty of carp taking refuge in the extensive lily pads along one bank and they looked well up for being caught off the top as they nosed the underside of the pads looking for snails and other bits of natural food. Despite seeing enough fish to be in with a good chance of catching I got back in the car and headed to one of my usual Cheshire lakes instead. The lake I’ve been fishing these last few weeks might be busy but at least I’d be in with a shout of a decent sized fish, if I’d caught one of the carp in the new lake I’d have needed to catch the biggest I saw just to get a scraper double!.

Fortunately my usual lake was near enough empty, I couldn’t believe my luck when I pulled into the car park and saw just 2 cars present. After wasting time at the new lake the pressure was on, it was now 4pm and I was only fishing until dark. I had a quick look at the lake, I knew the carps movements very well on this lake so I opted for the shallows without even trying to locate the fish, I knew they’d be in the area somewhere and I could sit and watch for them when I was set up.

The other anglers on the lake were bivvied together on the grassy bank at the far end of the lake, they looked to be chilling out with a beer or two and I did’t have the time to pop in and say hello so I went straight to my chosen swim on the shallows. My rod pod is always fully assembled and I had a few pva mesh bags already tied so it was a simple case of putting a couple of odyssey xxx pop ups on, balancing them out in the margins and casting out.

I already knew the spots I wanted to fish and I knew I was in the right place after casting out. When the second lead weight hit the water it sent half a dozen carp bolting for cover as the rig landed straight on top of them!. I hadn’t seen the fish there because there was a stiff wind on the water but I’d certainly picked the right spot and I sat back to await the carps return. Just 10 minutes after casting out the left hand delkim signalled a slow run and I watched the monkey climber slowly pull up to the top of the needle before I hit it. Unfortunately all I hit was fresh air and I got done again by one of these heavily pressured and very crafty carp.

I recast the rod with a new pva mesh bag on and sat down again. I was concerned this time, these carp seldom hang around for long and I wondered if I’d blown my best chance of a fish. The good thing was the fact that I had at least 8 acres of water to myself with no other lines present so I was still hopeful of catching something. Another 10 minutes past when I had a drop back bite on the same rod. This time the carp was on and the rod took on a nice curve as I wound down and hit the run. The carp didn’t do anything at all, never once did it take line, it just sulked all the way to the landing net and 5 minutes later I slipped the net under a mirror that turned my scales to 14lb 2oz.

A brace of Cheshire mere carp

I was happy enough to have caught and after releasing the mirror I repositioned the rig back to the same area. I had to wait half an hour for the next action, another drop back bite saw another fish successfully hooked up and I played in my second carp of the evening. This fish gave me a slight scare when it threatened to pick up my other line for a few seconds but eventually it succumbed to steady pressure and came to the net. I had the fish secured in the water whilst I sorted out my camera and scales, it was then that my delkim sounder box signalled a very fast run on my remaining rod!. This was going to be fun, I stood next to my landing net that already contained a carp and slowly played in my next fish. This carp just sulked its way to the net just like the first one had, I netted the second fish with no trouble then got myself prepared so I could deal with both fish.
I’ve been in the position of having two fish on the bank before so I was able to get everything done with no fuss, the first fish turned out to be a 16lb 8oz common and the second an 11lb 4oz mirror. I photographed and released the fish one at a time and fortunately everything went smoothly. I’d certainly landed lucky, 3 fish in an hour was a major result on this water. Sure they weren’t massive carp but for the north west area they were certainly a good reward for an evenings carp fishing.

16lb 8oz, the biggest of the Cheshire mere carp brace

I recast both rods with new pva mesh bags on and settled down again. I had a feeling things might go quiet after banking a few fish in such a short space of time and I was right. I watched the lake for signs of fish and every time I saw a carp they seemed to be a bit further away from me as they vacated the area. I did have one more run an hour later but like the first run at the beginning of the session I got done by the carp and simply hit fresh air when I struck. I sat it out in the hope of picking up a fish that might still be milling round the area but no more action came my way. I couldn’t complain, I’d caught 3 doubles in a few hours fishing and that was certainly an improvement on going home and not fishing like I’d done the week before!.

Tight Lines

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