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

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