Sunday, 31 May 2009

Carp Fishing - Day Ticket Carp Fishing Trip

I must admit I’m not a big fan of day ticket carp fishing, mainly because of the silly prices fisheries are charging for a 24hr session these days!. If I do fish a day ticket water I want to be sure I’m on the type of water that offers me big fish, after all, if I’m paying over the odds, I want to be in with a chance of a big carp. I’d actually given up day ticket carp fishing many years ago when I thought Linear Fisheries were getting greedy and starting to charge too much, my opinion of Linear hasn’t changed and I haven’t been there for a while now.
The one day ticket water that persuaded me to part with my cash again was the famous Cemex water known as Sandhurst. I’ve fished this cemex carp water a couple of times now and on Friday 24th April 2009 I headed back down to Yateley for my third go at this amazing big fish carp water.

The journey to the lake was uneventful, the only thing that crossed my mind on the way down there was how on earth long distance carp anglers ever managed without a Sat Nav!. My trusty Tom Tom took me straight to the lakes gate and at around 3pm on Friday afternoon I met up with 14 of my mates as we’d booked the lake for our exclusive use.

I had a good walk around, the carp seemed to be fairly well spread and the whole lake seemed to be fishing quite well, the only area that looked devoid of carp was the famous swim known as bailiffs, whilst fish showed everywhere else, this normally productive peg looked like a dead duck as far as catching carp was concerned!. Eventually we drew for swims and I couldn’t believe my bad luck, on my last trip to this cemex water I’d drawn last out of the bag and had to watch as all the decent pegs disappeared. This time I came out second to last and suffered the same fate!. I ended up stuck with ‘bailiffs’ and I knew straight away I’d be in for a struggle, what made it worse was the lake fishing very well and I had to watch as my mates banked an amazing amount of big carp, I haven’t counted them all but over the weekend at least 16 x 30’s came to the bank along with an obscene amount of 20’s!.

My own fishing over the weekend was poor, I was right about the bailiffs swim not having any fish in front of it and I struggled big time. The best I could manage was a lost fish in the early hours of Saturday morning, I had a one toner on my left hand delkim which was fished on a silty patch at around 40 yards. I hit the rod quickly and it thumped over nicely as I struck into a solid lump. I was really pleased to be into a fish given how bad my peg was but that happiness lasted roughly 20 seconds before I felt that sickening feeling as everything went slack and the hook had pulled. I wound in and examined the rig and hook point and I could find nothing wrong so I rebaited and recast the rod.

Nothing happened the next day, at 1pm I wound in and went to the barbeque the lads had organised, I wasn’t feeling too good, I had a headache brought on through lack of sleep and I felt a bit sick, with this in mind I went easy on the food, just a couple of burgers and sausages washed down with a bottle of oasis rather than a beer. After the barbeque I took a couple of headache tablets, retied all my rigs and cast them out. As the evening wore on I began to feel a lot better, I had a bit of a sleep and when I woke up I had just one thing on my mind and that was moving asap as there was still no carp around!.

BBQ in the Cemex Sandhurst car park.

One of my mates was also keen on moving, he’d had 2 fish from peg 11 but he wasn’t happy, the swim he moved to was the second pipe, I’d looked at this swim and hadn’t fancied it so when he left peg 11, I moved onto the road bank and set up again, the move was a quick one, I was only fishing under my stealth brolly so I was packed and round the other side of the lake in no time. Once settled in I got the rods out and just sat watching the water. I couldn’t understand why my mate had moved out of peg 11, there were fish in front of it and the swim looked good for a carp.

I stopped up late that night to watch a film on my Ipod and it was midnight before I got my head down, I hoped for a fish as we got towards first light as this seemed to be a good feeding period on the lake. I didn’t have to wait that long, just an hour after settling down to sleep my middle delkim suddenly burst into life and my line was peeling off my infinity bait runner at a fast and steady rate. There was no way this fish was anything but a carp, the hookbait was a 16mm snowman presentation, a real mouthful that was meant for a carp. I hit the rod and sure enough there was a dead weight attached to the other end. I kept the pressure steady, not too much as I didn’t want a repeat of the hook pull I’d had earlier in the trip. The carp kited left towards peg 12 and I had to drop the rod tip and apply some severe side strain to stop the fish kiting through my mates line next door. I managed this but my heart was in my mouth!, everything held firm and I managed to get the carp close in and ready to net, the fish ploughed up and down the margins for a while and all the time I kept praying it wouldn’t come off. I don’t have many hook pulls, my rigs are extremely efficient and its amazing how one lost fish can play on your mind. I had no problems with this fish and after a long fight under the tip I eventually netted the fish.

I was relieved, despite so many fish being caught by everyone else I’d struggled and this fish had saved me from a blank session. I grabbed my head torch and using the more discreet red led lights I set up my unhooking mat, got my scales ready and sorted out my camera ready for the photos. The carp was a mirror and it was well nailed, no chance of loosing this one!. I weighed the fish at 22lb 14oz, not as big as I’d hoped but it had prevented a blank session and considering how bad I’d drawn, I was well pleased with this fish!.

22lb 14oz Cemex Sandhurst mirror carp.

I rebaited the rod with another snowman hookbait and cast it back out. The rest of the night passed uneventfully and I slept in until well gone 8am. I was due to be off the water at 4pm that day but I wanted to leave earlier to avoid any rush hour traffic. I had some breakfast and began packing up, there were quite a few carp in my swim cruising round in the upper layers, these fish appeared over all 3 of my baits during the morning and I left my rods out as long as I could whilst I packed the rest of my gear away. Sadly nothing happened and at midday I wound my rods in and packed the last of my gear into the car.

Sadly I believe this will be my last trip to Cemex Sandhurst. Just like Linear Fisheries, I believe Cemex are now getting greedy. The introduction of the Cemex plus ticket at a cost of £35 per year has meant a big increase in the price of fishing not just Sandhurst but all Cemex carp waters so for a second time, I’m now retiring from day ticket carp fishing to concentrate on my club and syndicate tickets. In this day and age £25 for 24 hours fishing is just wrong, putting an extra £35 on top is down right despicable and I hope Cemex come to their senses and abolish this fee, one things for sure, I’ll not consider returning until they do.

Tight Lines.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Carp Tackle Review - JRC Stealth Brolly

Spring is well under way now and summer is just around the corner, after a winter of day only carping I’ve started fishing nights again in the last month or so and I’d forgotten just how handy it is having a decent brolly for overnighters.

The JRC Stealth Brolly is my chosen system for overnighters, the stealth covers my bedchair and sleeping bag easily and leaves me with plenty of room to store my gear at the back of my bedchair. What I like about the stealth brolly is how fast you can get set up, I’m a short session carp angler and I’m always watching the water and looking to move onto showing fish, the speed of which I can put up and take down a stealth brolly really does help me stay on top of things and I can’t recommend this carp shelter come brolly highly enough.

The JRC Stealth Brolly easily covers a Bedchair and Sleeping Bag

The stealth also has an infill panel available to turn it into a bivvy but to be honest, I never used mine such is the protection you get from the standard brolly with sides. You only need six T-Pegs and two adjustable bank sticks to fully secure the stealth brolly, although personally, I rarely use more than the 4 pegs you really need to secure the built in storm sides. These 4 pegs on there own mean the brolly is very very secure and I’d only use the extra two pegs in extremely high winds.

At the moment, Britain is plunging into recession, this doesn’t necessarily mean lower prices for our fishing gear though, our currency is extremely weak at the moment and as such, imported goods are tending to cost more. Most of our tackle manufacturers shipped production to the far east many years ago to help boost their profits and these same companies are now being forced to put up the prices of things like bivvies and brollies. The JRC Stealth Brolly has been around a while now and as such, its price has reduced considerably over the last few years. This makes the stealth brolly an extremely attractive looking investment if your on the lookout for a shelter for winter day fishing sessions and summer overnighters.

My JRC Stealth Brolly from the side, no Bedchair showing means you're nice and dry and 4 t-pegs is usually enough to secure.

The stealth doesn’t cost the earth and its very practical, being a brolly it will fit in the centre of your holdall no trouble at all so there are no extra bags to carry like you’d have with a bivvy, ideal if your travelling light and looking to move quickly. I’ve actually had my stealth brolly for 5 years now and I’ve no intention of changing it. Next time I need a new shelter I’ll certainly be buying another one the same as I need that ability to move quickly and to keep an eye on what’s going on. You can see more of what goes on around you from underneath a stealth brolly than you can sat in a two man bivvy. This itself has the potential to put more fish on the bank, it’s so easy to miss a carp rolling if your inside a bivvy but even lying in your sleeping bag you can still see a lot of water from under a brolly and I find this invaluable when it comes to my short session fishing.

If you’re looking for a brolly, give the JRC Stealth Brolly a serious look, in this day and age its cheap, practical and ideal for a carp angler!.


Sunday, 3 May 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt7

After opening my 2009 carp account with a 14lb 6oz common last week I was back at the lake the following Saturday which was the 24th January. On my way to the lake is was getting increasingly agitated as the fields either side of the road were white with frost. The closer I got to the lake the worse the frost seemed to be and I had a nagging feeling that I might be driving towards a frozen lake!. I was already most of the way there so I didn’t bother turning the car round and going home. When I arrived I found the lake half frozen but fishable although I needed to do a bit of work to reach the area I wanted to fish.

The angler who was on last week was on again, he was in the bay but he didn’t have a lot of water in front of him and I scratched my head wondering why he hadn’t dropped into my open water swim instead?. The answer to that question came soon enough as a carp rolled against the ice in the bay, I looked at the rolling fish and sure enough another 3 shows followed in quick succession. He’d beaten me to the fish again. I’m not one for getting up early to go fishing, I usually arrive at the lake sometime between 10 and 11am and this early bird was beating me to the fish!.

As well as no carp, my swim also had other problems namely a lot of ice that needed shifting, between me and my usual winter hotspot was a strip of ice that was roughly 20 yards long and about 10 yards wide, this sheet of ice was blocking me from casting so I needed to move it. I cast over the ice and slowly retrieved my rig until it got caught up in the ice. At this point I dropped the rod tip to water level and slowly applied pressure to the rod. At first nothing happened but after a few seconds the rod tip began to spring back so I applied some more pressure and again slowly the rod tip began to spring back. I literally pumped that big sheet of ice into the margins were I could break it up. It took me 15 minutes to move the ice from 40 yards out into the margins. It was 15 minutes well spent as I could now cast my rig onto my favourite spot which I duly did.

The second rod went out to the left as close to the edge of the ice as I could cast, as the ice melted I would recast this rod as far over to my left and as far towards the bay as I could possibly get as this was the area the fish were occupying and I had to get as close to them as possible to give myself a chance of catching.

The angler in the bay was having a good day, I saw him land at least 4 carp and I suspect he may have had a few more besides the ones I saw him land. This would be the kind of result I’d expect to have if I was on my own but my late arrivals meant a second best swim for me. I badly needed rid of the ice as it was preventing me from getting a bait into the area the carp were holding up. Just after midday I had the good fortune to feel a breeze on my face, over the next half an hour the breeze got stronger and slowly but surely a massive raft of floating ice slowly moved away from the bay and started to break up. By 1pm the lake was completely ice free!.

I wasted no time, as soon as I had a clear path to my left I wound in the roving rod and whacked a rig and mesh bag as hard as I could towards the entrance to the bay. The rig landed perfectly so I made a decision to leave it there for the rest of the session, I was still slightly off the fish but with an angler in the bay and no ice to hide under I was convinced the carp would push out to were my left hand bait was, with the hotspot already covered this was to be my last roll of the dice for the day and it was time to sit it out for that all important run.

By 3.30pm I was looking at my watch and thinking I’d blown it, there were carp in the area I’d cast the roving rod but nothing had happened, the hotspot rod had also remained spookily quiet and with less than an hour of my session left I was beginning to resign myself to a blank. Its funny how fishing goes sometimes, you expect a run and it doesn’t come, you don’t expect one and all of a sudden your bite alarm springs into life!. That’s pretty much how it was on this occasion, it was 15.50pm when the left hand rod tip suddenly pulled round and the alarm sounded. All I could think about was how much of a relief it was to finally get a run!.

The carp swam towards me very quickly, from roughly 100 yards range it was under my feet in less than a minute, I knew what was coming so I loosened off the clutch on my reel and sure enough, as I gained contact with the fish close in it ran hard and I had to give line quickly. The carp wasn’t a particularly big fish so I had it under control quite quickly, experience has taught me to loosen the clutch when a fish swims towards me because they invariably run when they’ve put up so little fight. With the carp in the margins I just kept a steady pressure on and wore the fish down until it popped up on top and went into the waiting landing net.

I was relieved to say the least, I really thought I was going to blank and I really didn’t deserve that!. I secured the net and got on with setting up the scales and camera. The carp weighed in at 13lb 6oz, another average size fish for the water. I have to say I made a complete mess of the pictures, for once I wasn’t paying attention and in my haste to get the fish back to the water I didn’t take the angle of the sun and the position of the tripod into consideration. The result being a shadow across the carps tail that is in the shape of the tripod. I realised I’d done this but I wasn’t going to subject my carp to any more time out of the water than necessary so I made do with the pictures I had and released the fish back to the water.

This 13lb 6oz January winter carp saved a blank!

With one carp caught I suddenly felt another fish might be on the cards, my hook bait was still on so with time running out I quickly attached another pva mesh mesh bag and whacked the bait back out to the same distant spot. Again the cast was good and I sat down to see if my last half an hour would produce a bonus fish. Instead of packing up at 16.30pm I made do with putting my gear away and sitting it out a bit longer, I was convinced another run was just minutes away and I ended up staying until 17.00pm in the hope of another bite. Despite half an hours overtime the run never came and I finally conceded defeat and packed up.

I did my usual stint with the spod before leaving for home and it was completely dark by time I left. On the way home I thought long and hard about fishing this water for the rest of the winter. With another angler consistently being there earlier than me I was going to struggle and that’s something I’m not used to on this water having had it to myself for so long. I already have my fishing plans in place for 2009 and I’ve started to consider a change of venue for the rest of the winter. I’ve got a week or so to sit and reflect on the change of scenery I’m thinking about, it will certainly mean less runs but at the same time, bigger fish than low twenties would be a very real possibility and right now the thought of somewhere new to tackle is very appealing.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt6

I can’t believe just how cold its been over Christmas and new year!. Prior to this fishing session I’m writing about now, which took place on Saturday 17th January, my last winter carp session was on boxing day!. With the lakes iced over for a few weeks I eventually decided to make a start on reviewing some of the fishing gear I use and my first review was on kryston silkworm braid, a hooklength material I've been using for over 15 years now. As I've used this material for so long it seemed logical to review one of my favourites first. I’ve also added a few new links to this blog, notably Mo's Co Pva, mo has been supplying carp anglers with pva for years and I use his gear myself, you’ll find a link to mo’s ebay shop in the right hand navigation under ‘recommended sites’. Also added to this section are a few north west based ebay shops, northern monkeys owner Julian Grattidge has a new ebay shop called ‘Darkside Tackle’, Trafford Angling Supplies and the Cheshire based Koala Products. Ebay is a great source of cheap fishing tackle and these guys are local to the north west area so give them your support!.

Saturday 17th January was a cold day, if it wasn’t for the fact that we’d had wind and rain prior to the weekend I wouldn’t have bothered going but I suspected the lakes would be ice free and as I pulled into the car park my thoughts were proved right, the water was bendy and that was enough for me.
I wasn’t alone on this session, there was another carp angler on the water and he had beaten me to the fish. The carp were stacked up at the entrance to the bay and he was just about on them, I couldn’t really drop in on his left hand side as my own angling etiquette wouldn’t allow it, I wouldn’t have been happy if it was done to me so I wasn’t going to do it to someone else!.

I had very little choice but to set up in the main area of the lake, this at least gave me access to my faithful hotspot so I covered this area with one rig and I put the other just off to one side, both rods were just fished with pellet hookbaits and a small pva mesh bag. I was in for a struggle today, the other guy had the fish covered and he was first into a carp, he was also second and third into the carp as well as he picked them off from the bay entrance. My swim remained quiet, nothing showed in front or on my right but I had the hotspot covered and this spot has very rarely failed to produce at least one carp on each winter session!.

The first few hours of my 6th winter session had been quiet, I was sitting watching the water when I had a single bleep came from the delkim. I sat and watched but nothing happened for a few seconds, I wasn’t sure if it was a carp or not as it was quite windy by this time, I glanced at my watch and it was 1.30pm, as I looked back up at the water my delkim started a very slow run and as I went to grab the rod I watched my monkey climber slowly pull up. I hit it and sure enough I found myself attached to my first carp of 2009. I was pleased to be into a fish, I’d have hated to start the new year with a blank!.

The fish didn’t do much, it just kited from side to side all the way in and after a few minutes in the margins I eventually slipped the net under an ‘average for the water’ common carp. That’ll do me I thought, I gathered my unhooking mat and scales, set up the camera and got on with weighing and photographing the fish. The common turned the scales to 14lb 6oz, not a small fish and not a big one either but it was my first fish of 2009 so I was happy to at least get myself ‘off the mark’ so to speak.

First winter carp of 2009, a common of 14lb 6oz

I covered the hotspot again, 1.30pm was an hour earlier than my boxing day capture from the same spot so I had a bit longer left this time and I was hopeful of another fish. Once I was settled down it was back to the waiting, I was slowly getting more and more restless as time ticked by. My reason for this was that evening time is usually regarded as the best time on my winter carp water and I was convinced a second run would come. I held on and held on in the hope that the hotspot would give up a second fish but it never did. I even stayed an extra 15 minutes until 16.45pm but it was all in vain and I couldn’t add another carp to my now running 2009 tally.

I even left the rods as late as possible before spodding in some pellets ready for next week, doing this put me at risk of getting wet as the rainy clouds where looming in the distance. I managed to get my gear in the car just in time and as I pulled out of the car park the heavens opened and it lashed down!. Despite only catching one fish I left feeling lucky I was still dry!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt5

After 4 nice doubles on the 22nd December I was keen to get back to the lake on Christmas eve, I set the alarm for 8am and when it went off I woke up with a splitting headache and I felt sick. There wasn’t going to be any Christmas eve fishing session for me this year so I rolled over and went back to sleep in the hope that a few more hours might see me right.

The next chance to get out fishing again was 2 days later, I was fully recovered by then but unfortunately the weather had taken another turn for the worse, gone was the mild weather and lovely westerly wind that had brought me 7 carp in the last 2 trips. Instead, bright sunny conditions and a bitingly cold easterly wind were the conditions that greeted me when I rolled into the car park on boxing day morning.

The conditions may have been poor for catching carp but they were very good for spotting them and I found the fish within minutes of getting out of the car, they were occupying the centre of the lake just off the back of the cold easterly wind. Occasionally a carp would poke its head out of the water and I even saw the odd back breaking surface as the fish tried to take advantage of any warmth the sun had to offer. The carp were well within casting range of my open water swim so I set up there and slowly put my rods together.

I put my first rig on my prebaited hotspot at 40 yards along with a few freebies, this spot was proving to be very consistent as usual and my intention was to keep a rod here whilst I would drop the other rig in areas I could see the fish in order to pick them off. With conditions being so bad I wasn’t very confident in the roving approach, it always seems to work best when there is a big wind on the water to disguise any lead splash.

On my last session I had set up on a huge shoal of carp that had eventually vacated the area I was fishing, I had caught two of them before they left but leave they did. These carp were not liking lead weights on their heads at the moment and sure enough, just 10 minutes after casting a 2oz lead in amongst the showing carp, they had disappeared. It was an hour later when I spotted the carp again, they had moved off towards the out of bounds area and they seemed to be holding in an area that was around 90-100 yards out and slightly to the left of where my first cast went. I decided to try again so I wound the rig in, clipped on another small pva mesh bag and cast out again. I planted my feet when casting and stepped into the cast to generate the extra power I needed to reach the fish as they were right on the edge of my casting range. My 2oz lead weight landed around 90 yards out and this was the near side of where the carp could be seen.

With my cast made I sat down to see if the fish would move again. I was disappointed when they did, the next time I spotted a carp they had moved out of range and I was left scratching my head wondering how to get a bait anywhere near them. Today, they just didn’t seem to want to know. A change of tactics was called for so I simply left each rod where it had been cast. It was going to be a waiting game today and I simply had to keep quiet and wait it out.

Having abandoned the roving style I just sat and watched the water, I had a bite to eat and a drink from my flask and around 1pm I fell asleep!. I slept for around an hour and when I woke up and had another look for the fish I found nothing had changed. I was sitting and thinking about blanking when at 2.30pm the hotspot rod suddenly let out a single bleep, before I had chance to focus on the rod my monkey climber pulled up to the top of the needle as a full blooded run developed.

That good old hotspot, its such a consistent area, it had saved me from blanking on numerous occasions over the last few winters and the area had come up trumps again!. I hit the rod and sure enough it arched over and took on its battle curve. The fish took very little in the way of line, just the occasional shake of the head before it began kiting to the right. Steady side strain kept things on track and in the margins I had a great fight with a common that just didn’t want to give up. Eventually the carp had no choice and as the fish tired, I slipped the landing net under a nice mid double that at least meant I hadn’t blanked.

I secured the net and got the camera and weighing gear ready, once set up I lifted the fish out onto the unhooking mat for a closer look, the carp was nailed in the bottom lip as usual, a clear example of just how effective my basic carp rig actually is. With the carp unhooked I weighed it in at 16lb 2oz, a nice common that was slightly bigger than average for the water and a nice result on what was a very very poor day for carp fishing!.

16lb 2oz Boxing day common that saved a blank!

After a few quick pictures in the sunshine I returned the carp to the lake and got on with trying to catch another one. I still had a few hours left so it was well worth trying the hotspot again. I recast my rod and again topped up the swim with a small handful of pellets that I just scattered around the area to try and pull in any passing fish.

Unfortunately nothing else occurred, the carp that had moved out of range of my roving rod decided to stay there and as they didn’t drift back over as the day went on it became obvious that I wasn’t going to have any luck on that rod. The hotspot also stayed quiet and I had no more action from that area either. At 4.30pm I got the spod rod out and deposited another kilo of bait onto the hotspot. By now the temperatures where already below zero and I reckoned my kilo of feed would probably be the last food these carp would see for a while as a frozen lake would be the most likely outcome of the heavy frost that was now falling around me. I packed up and headed for home not knowing how long it would be before I returned again, this cold weather front looks to be in for a few days so this boxing day session may well turn out to be my last carp session of 2008.
Tight Lines.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt4

I had a few days annual leave booked over Christmas and with Saturdays 22lb common fresh in my mind I decided a return trip to the lake was in order so I packed my gear early on Monday morning and headed back across Cheshire to my winter runs water.

Things had certainly changed since Saturday, the wind had eased right off and the carp had decided to show themselves. As soon as I pulled into the car park I was greeted by a carp crashing about 50 yards out and right in the entrance to the small bay off the main lake. I got out of the car and looked over at the area and inside 60 seconds and 5 more carp broke surface, in fact the more I looked the more I saw and the area was absolutely crawling with carp, it was an awesome sight with fish topping all over the area.

There was no time to waste, I had to get to work so I unloaded the car and headed for the bay swim that had been the scene of my boxing day and new years day twenties over last Christmas. I couldn’t get myself set up quickly enough, I had the rod pod down first and my two rods were put together in no time. My rods still had the pellets on from Saturday so I didn’t bother putting fresh baits on, I had to get the rods in amongst those carp as soon as possible so I just attached a pva mesh bag to each rod and cast them out. The first rig went off to right where a lot of carp seemed to be gathered and the second rig went straight out in front just on the edge of where another group of fish were showing.

I was settled in very quickly and I was expecting action straight away. Winter carp fishing can be a bit unpredictable, I thought I’d got my baits in quietly and that the carp hadn’t spooked but half an hour later I was having serious doubts about my swim, the fish had just stopped showing completely!. I made a decision to move the close in rod a bit further out into the middle of where the carp had showed instead of on the edge of the area, I had hoped to pick fish off without disturbing them and I’d obviously failed at that so I just went for the jugular so to speak.

I was actually contemplating a move to the centre of the lake when at midday all hell broke loose, the right hand delkim melted as a carp picked up my pellet and bolted for the horizon. I was on the rod quickly and after just a few seconds of playing the fish the left hand rod did the same!. With 2 fish on at the same time I was in trouble, I had to end the fight with the first carp as quickly as possible so I applied more pressure to try and bring the fish to the net. The carp actually felt quite decent, not as heavy as a 20 but certainly better than average for the water, this prolonged the fight and all the time I had the fish circling the other rod was running!. Eventually I netted a nice mirror, I secured the net and grabbed the second rod, by now this fish was quite a way out but it was still on. I had a job to cut down the distance between me and the fish in case it kited either side as I had bushes trailing in the water that might cause problems. Luckily the fish came straight into the net with very little fight and 5 minutes later I was stood there looking down at two carp in my landing net!.

I had a feeling of déjà vu, I’d caught a common and mirror brace from this swim on the 29th December 2007, just a week short of one year ago. Here I was again in the same situation, as I did then, I got my sling sack out and retained one of the fish whilst I weighed and potographed the first fish, the mirror weighed in at 16lb 12oz and after a few pictures I released this fish and brought the common to the unhooking mat, the common proved to be slightly smaller at 14lb 4oz but together they made up a nice brace of winter carp. Luckily everything had gone smoothly and I was happy to have both fish returned to the water safely.

First of my winter carp brace, a 16lb 12oz winter mirror

Second of my winter carp brace, a 14lb 4oz winter common

I rebaited my rods after my two fish and covered the same areas of the lake again. I sat back expecting some more action but after an hour nothing had showed and the area that looked like a carp stock pond two hours earlier was now empty of fish. I had a bite to eat and a drink from my flask and contemplated a move to the centre of the lake. After giving it until 2pm I finally made that move to the middle of the lake and to my prebaited hotspot. With the carp moving into the main area of the lake, this area would surely give me another chance before I went home at 4.30pm.

I put a pva mesh bag onto my hotspot at around 40 yards, the second rig went slightly off to the left about 50 yards out, this was an area I figured the carp may pass through on their way to the main area of the lake and the out of bounds area. Over the next hour I saw quite a few carp crash and they had moved out of range and into the out of bounds area. The fish obviously knew where to go to get away from angling pressure!. There was an odd fish showing closer in so I was hopeful of another carp before I went home.

I had to wait until 15.40pm before the run came, out of the blue the hotspot rod took off and my right hand delkim burst into life. This fish kited to my right and gave me a bit of a scare as it came close to an over hanging tree but some steady side strain had the fish close in and after a short fight in the margins I netted my third carp of the day. On the mat I carefully unhooked the fish and started my weighing process, on the scales I had 15lb 4oz, a few pictures followed and I returned my carp to the water, a nice mid double winter common to go with my brace of carp from earlier on.

Third winter carp of the day, a 15lb 4oz common

I had my rig back on the hotspot again for the last half hour of my session, by now a few carp had rolled in the area and I was convinced the hotspot rod was going to produce another fish. By 16.25 I had all my gear packed away with just the rods and the net to go. I looked at my watch waiting for 16.30 exactly before I wound in and started baiting up again. I was going to leave the hotspot rod till last as I was sure something was going to happen. When 16.30 arrived I walked over to the rods and just before I picked up the left hand rod it bleeped once, I paused for a second and sure enough the left hand rod in open water suddenly pulled round as a run developed!. I wasn’t expecting that, I was convinced it would be the hotspot rod but I wasn’t complaining, I hit the rod and began bringing my fourth carp of the day to the net. Everything went well and eventually I netted another nice common. I had to go digging in my rucksack for my scales and camera but eventually I got everything set up and my last carp of the day turned the scales to 16lb 8oz, another better than average fish for the water.

Last minute 16lb 8oz carp made it a good winter session.

The light was fading fast and I still had work to do before I went home, I packed the rods away and thankfully the hotspot rod didn’t go before I wound it in although I was still half expecting it too!. Once my gear was packed away I got on with spodding in some more bait as I was planning a return two days later on Christmas Eve. It took me a while and not for the first time I ended up spodding in the dark. With this task duly completed I headed for home more than happy with my four late December carp.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt3

Last week I got out of bed on Saturday morning, looked out of the window and promptly went back to bed!. The weather had been so cold I didn’t think it was worth going fishing. It was milder last Saturday but the rise in temperatures was too late to thaw the ice in time so I went Christmas shopping instead.
The following week was Saturday 20th December 2008, the weather had stayed mild all week with quite a few days topping 10 degrees, on top of this there was quite a big wind blowing and I really fancied my chances of putting a couple of winter carp on the bank this weekend.

After an uneventful journey across Cheshire I pulled into the car park for my first look at the lake. No fish were showing but they didn’t have to today, I went and stood in my usual peg and surveyed the middle area of the lake, there was a straight westerly wind piling straight into my swim with white capped waves crashing over my bank, it was perfect conditions for fishing the area I’ve been spodding bait onto every week before I go home.

I didn’t waste any time getting the rods out, I had them assembled and baited with a pellet each in no time, both rigs were accompanied by the usual pva mesh bag of freebies and I cast one rod straight onto my baited area and the other rod slightly off to the right and slightly behind my first bait. The baits were being fished at around 40 yards range but I still needed to put a bit of effort into the casts as the wind was quite strong.

I back leaded both rods and turned round to go and get my sounder box out of my bag, I got half way to my rucksack when one of the spools on my infinity reels started hissing away!. I turned back and grabbed the rod and sure enough, a quick strike saw the rod go over and I was into my first winter carp of the day. The fish kited to my right and I must admit it caught me by surprise, by time I realised what was going on the carp had taken out my other rod and left me with a bit of a tangle. It didn’t stop me landing the fish and after a 5 minute fight under the rod tip I netted my first fish of the day.
Untangling the mess wasn’t too bad once the carp was on the mat and with both rods out of the way I secured the fish in the water whilst I readied the camera for a few photo’s. I weighed the fish first and the scales gave me 15lb 2oz, a nice old common and a good start to the day!.

15lb 2oz winter carp made it a quick start to the day

An early carp like this generally meant a good day was on the cards, my fish had come at roughly 11.15am and I was confident it wasn’t going to be my last fish of the day, it was just a case of how long I’d wait for the next fish and how many I’d end up with!. Nothing much happened after my first fish, I watched the water but nothing showed which was unusual on this lake. The mild weather was giving me confidence but I couldn’t understand why things were so quiet?.

It was 2.30pm before the same rod on the baited spot was away again, I had no trouble avoiding my other rod this time and after a spirited fight I slipped the net under a small common that had a bit of a gammy mouth. I went through the usual unhooking and weighing and despite its small size I took a picture, more for the blog than anything else as it wasn’t a particularly big fish at 10lb 8oz although all carp are welcome on a short winters day.

10lb 8oz, not massive but all carp are welcome in December!

I had just under two hours of my session left so I quickly sorted out my rig with a fresh pellet and attached a new pva mesh bag to the hook before dropping it back on my baited spot at about 40 yards range. I watched the water closely for the last few hours, I saw one fish crash out in the out of bounds area of the lake about 180 yards out, this fish was off the back of the wind which seemed a bit strange as it was so mild and my two fish had come literally in the teeth of it. Another fish rolled off to my left at about 60 yards range and I thought about covering that fish with a bait but with less than an hour to go and two fish already coming to my net I decided to sit tight and see what developed.

I’d had my stealth brolly up during the day and with an hour left I decided to put it away, this meant I could sit and watch the water sitting down instead of standing as I had done for the last few hours, I poured myself a coffee from my flask too and just sat in the wind watching the lake for more rolling carp. I was busy looking at the bay behind me when a single bleep from the left hand delkim focused my attention on the rods. There was a big pause before a second bleep occurred. I had a feeling something was going on so I got up and walked over to the rods and as I did so my monkey climber suddenly shot up to the top of the needle as a full blooded run developed.

I was on the rod quickly and my light strike was met with a solid resistance. It took me a while to get the fish moving towards my bank, playing the fish in was a slow affair and I must admit, at the time it didn’t really register that I might be attached to a decent fish. As with most big carp, this one was like a dead weight compared to low doubles that are usually quite lively but the penny still didn’t drop for me?. I’d like to say I had a dogged fight under the rod tip but this particular carp just came straight up on top and waddled straight into my waiting net. It was only then that I caught a glimpse of the fish itself, it was another common and the gut on this carp and the shear width across its back meant I was looking down at a December twenty and a nice early Christmas present!.

My unhooking mat was hanging in a tree drying so I got it down and set up everything to weigh and photograph the fish, I’d actually began putting everything away in readiness to bait up so this carp caught me on the hop a bit. On the mat I zeroed the scales and hoisted the fish up, it was well over the 20lb mark and the needle settled on 22lb 10oz. Well I was delighted, I’ve had a few twenties from this Cheshire carp lake over the years but I didn’t recognise this one which made it all the more sweeter!.

22lb 10oz, a big winter carp from the North West

I put the rod back out again but there were no more pickups this time. I got the spod out not long afterwards and deposited a kilo of pellets and maize onto the spot I’d just taken my three fish from. It took a while to get the bait in and it was just about dark when I’d finished so I headed off home happy that I’d taken a December 20 after all that cold weather a few weeks earlier!.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt2

I was listening to the radio earlier today when the announcer reading the weather stated that we’d had the coldest start to a winter in 30 years!. I didn’t doubt this for one minute, when I banked my first and only double figure carp of the winter so far I actually felt like I’d got out of jail on that trip because the temperatures were so low.

I kept an eye on the temperatures prior to my second fishing trip of the winter and again they were low all through the week. When Saturday came around I very nearly didn’t go because I thought the lake would be frozen over. I always have a back up plan when it comes to my winter fishing so I packed my rover lure bag so I could visit the river dee if the lake did happen to be iced up.

Luckily for me I didn’t need the lures so the pike were safe for another week. When I arrived at the lake it was clear of ice and thankfully there was no fog this time either so I had a good view of the lake. I made my way to my usual swim that covers a large amount of water, the odds were that the carp would be somewhere within casting range so I got myself setup up and cast both of my rigs to what I call my ‘starting spots’, the areas I’ve caught regularly from in past winters. One of these hot spots had done me a carp the previous week so there was always a chance. Whilst I waited for a bite I kept scanning the water for signs of fish moving.

It wasn’t long before my best mate the local robin was being a nuisance again begging for food, I didn’t mind feeding him but he didn’t seem to understand that he wasn’t supposed to crap on every item of fishing tackle I had with me!. I continued scanning the water for most of the day but no carp showed. That might not be much of a big deal on most carp waters but the lake I’m fishing is exceptional and it’s very rare not to see at least a couple of carp roll during the daytime. These carp are so prolific in winter that I’ve even witnessed upwards of 50 shows when the lake has been half iced over!. Today however, I wasn’t seeing anything and it wasn’t until I listened to that radio announcer that I realised just how bad the weather conditions have been this winter.

Cheeky little robin perched on my rucksack!

I continued watching the water for signs of carp right up until 4.30pm when it was time to go home, it had been the quietest winters day I’d ever known on the lake, the temperature barely made 4 degrees all day and with the light fading it was getting very cold very fast. I made haste when it came to spodding bait in my swim and I was finished and on my way home in record time!.

When I got home I could feel my throat tightening and the next morning I succumbed to a cold which stayed with me for most of this last week. I’d recovered enough to go fishing this weekend but the temperatures hadn’t. The lakes had been iced up all week but on Thursday night into Friday morning the temperature rose a little and it began raining. Rain is good news when the lakes are frozen up and I hoped a bit of the wet stuff would get me fishing. I delayed any decision on going until I got up the next morning and checked the weather websites and had a look out of the window.

When I got up I logged onto the internet and had a look at the bbc weather, the temperatures hadn’t come up very much and looking out of the window there didn’t seem to have been much rain during the night. I doubted there was enough of a thaw to have made the trip worth while, there was always the pike fishing on the river but that was going to be my only option and as I’m mainly a winter carp angler I based my decision to not go fishing on the fact the lake would definitely be frozen over.

This brings my winter carp fishing up to date, one freezing cold blank with no carp showing and one abandoned trip due to the lake being frozen over. I hope that announcer on the radio has some better news about the temperatures for next weekend!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt1

After a long break from carp fishing I finally felt like I needed to be on the bank again so on Saturday 29th November 2008 I paid a visit to the old winter carp water I’d done so well on in the past. This Cheshire carp water is well stocked so there’s always a chance of some action but I hadn’t reckoned on the weather!.

I woke up early on Saturday morning as I wanted to be at the lake in plenty of time to have a good look around. Unfortunately I found myself packing the car in freezing fog. I actually contemplated not going at one point, not only was the fog hazardous to drive in, it’s probably the poorest conditions of all for catching carp, specially in winter!.

I wasn’t going to be deterred, it had been nearly 11 months since I’d banked a New Years Day twenty from the lake and I was ready to renew my chess match with these lovely commons. I drove a bit slower on the way to the lake due to the fog but eventually I pulled into the car park to get my first view of the water. It was certainly foggy, the first thing I looked at was the margins, sure enough they were ice free despite it being freezing cold so at least I could actually get the rods out.

Due to the fog I couldn’t see very much so I unloaded my fishing gear and made my way along the bank to my usual winter carp swim. I’ve fished the lake for many years so I knew the swim well, my new plan was to get the rods into areas I know have produced for me in the past then sit and wait for the fog to lift so I could watch the water and hopefully work out the carps location. The out of bounds bank was about 200 yards straight out in front of me and I could barely see it, I could just about make out the tree line through the fog and that was enough to give me the line I needed to cast on. I quickly put the rods together, tied a couple of new rigs on and dispatched two peparami hook baits along with a small pva mesh bag with a couple of freebies in. I could only guess at the range my baits were cast but I did step into the casts and I gave each rod a good overhead thump, I’m guessing they landed somewhere around 80-90 yards out as I didn’t see either rig hit the water due to the fog!.

Once the delkims were set I settled down quite quickly, I didn’t realise it was so cold, there was ice forming on my monkey climbers and at one stage my main line was actually frozen to the tip rings until i freed it!. The resident robin was on the scene as soon as I arrived so once I’d got everything sorted out I gave him some food. That was a mistake, he turned out to be a real pest and after crapping on my rucksack, chair, flask, mat and bait box I’d just about had enough of my feathered friend!. I stopped feeding him and decided to try and watch the lake, the fog had lifted a little although I still couldn’t make out the colour of the leaves on the trees opposite.

Winter Robin, I made a mistake feeding this little fella!

I was scanning the water for signs of fish when at 11.45am the left hand rod suddenly burst into life without warning, I was quite stunned, these were possibly the worst conditions for catching carp yet the spool on one of my infinity reels was going into meltdown!. I jumped up and hit the rod and it arched over nicely as I felt that characteristic thump of a carp on the other end. I kept the pressure steady and the fish came slowly towards my bank, there was a few bushes in the water down to my right and I did think these might be a problem at one stage as the fish kited over to my right but some consistent side strain kept things on track and after a short fight in the margins I slipped the landing net under my first carp of the new winter season.

Well that was a good start, nothing had showed so I must have pretty much landed in the right area as the bait had only been out for just over an hour. I quickly set up the tripod and camera and got the unhooking mat and scales ready before lifting the fish out of the water. It was a nice common, not a massive fish by any means but most welcome on such a cold day. I weighed the fish at 12lb 2oz which is probably an average sized fish for the water. I rattled off a couple of pictures and released the fish quickly so I could re-bait my rod and get another hook bait back out to the same area.

12lb 2oz winter carp caught in icy and foggy conditions

My re-cast was good and the fog had lifted enough for me to see my rig land this time. The next hour passed uneventfully and I had a brew from my flask and some ham sandwiches I’d brought with me. Around 1pm I caught sight of a fish, it rolled in the area I’d picked my carp up from and I already had a bait there so my hopes of catching another fish rose considerably. Another hour passed when a slow run developed on the same rod, I was on it quickly and as I wound down and struck I expected the rod tip to pull over but it didn’t, I just hit fresh air instead. I checked the rig over and everything seemed in order, I paid particular attention to the hook point and this was ok too so I put another pva mesh bag on and recast my peparami hook bait back to the same area.

As the afternoon wore on the fog lifted enough for me to see the golden colour of the remaining leaves on the trees in the out of bounds and late afternoon the clearer conditions allowed me to spot a couple of carp that rolled in different areas. As it was getting late I just made mental notes of where I’d seen the fish and then got on with putting a little bit of bait in to give them a little taster and hopefully encourage them to hang around my swim.

It was so icy my landing net froze solid!

With my baiting up done I headed for home around 4.30pm I had a hard time packing up as my landing net had frozen solid after the morning fish I’d caught. I’d been trying to get my net dry by shaking it but every time I propped it back up against a tree it would be as solid as a board 15 minutes later. I did manage to get the net back in it’s bag after wrestling with it for a while. The frozen net was an indicator of just how cold it was and I left for home happy that I’d opened my winter carp account and happy that I’d caught a carp with the odds stacked against me.

Tight Lines

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Carp Fishing Tackle Review - Kryston Silkworm

I first started using kryston silkworm in 1994!. At the time, I’d moved onto a small north wales club water that had a pretty severe weed problem. Prior to fishing this club water I was quite happy with my merlin/multistrand combi link, I was catching a lot of fish on the combi link but when I came up against the weed I started to struggle a little.
The weed I was fishing in was silkweed and a hooklength material like multi-strand was a complete nightmare when fishing in it. As the strands separated the last few inches of my rig would get clogged with silkweed and clearing the weed off my rig became a real problem. Once the fibres of multi-strand were damaged the last few inches of my rig would be weakened and I just couldn't risk a loss of breaking strain, after all, those last few inches of your rig down to the hook are vitally important!.

Krytson Silkworm, use it with confidence!

I was desperate for an answer to the multi-strand and silkweed problem so I began to look at alternative hooklength materials. At the time one particular braided hooklink material seemed to be very popular and it seemed to be standing head and shoulders above everything else, that hooklength was the famous kryston silkworm.
I had nothing to loose so I went out and bought silkworm in a couple of different breaking strains. The one I eventually settled on was the 25lb version and the day I bought my first spool started a long association with kryston silkworm that is still going strong today!.
I could make a few quotes about kryston silkworm based on the information on the kryston website but this is a blog and I’m reviewing silkworm based on my own findings. Nearly 16 years after I first used kryston silkworm I’m still on the very same hooklength material. Yes I’ve tried other materials for short periods but carp fishing is about confidence and I keep coming back to the products I find the most reliable and I promise you, kryston silkworm is one of the very best, it’s just a superb hooklength material.

Lovely Capesthorne hall carp that fell to kryston silkworm

I like 25lb silkworm because its so supple, coated braids seem to be all the fashion in carp fishing at the moment and yes, they work very well but they lack the suppleness that allows for a more natural movement of your hookbait and for me, this natural movement is a big plus because I want my hookbait to behave as naturally as possible when a carp sucks and blows at the bait. I believe carp reject your hookbait because they've worked out that its attached to something and without suppleness this is far easier for them to do hence me preferring silkworm over a more popular coated braid.
Not only is silkworm supple, its actually quite thick in diameter compared to most hooklength materials and I think this thickness is actually a benefit if your using it as part of a basic knotless knot setup. Used in conjunction with a nice down turned eye hook like the kamasan b175, kryston silkworm helps create an extremely effective carp rig that turns and hooks carp easily.

Use with a pva stringer or mesh bag to avoid the odd tangle

The only problem I've had with silkworm is the odd tangle, tangles can be reduced by using a coated braid but you also loose the suppleness of your hooklength thats so important. The answer to tangles with silkworm is to use a pva stringer or mesh bag, pva is quite cheap these days and theres a link to Mo's Co in the recommended sites section of this blog, buying from mo is cheaper than paying top price for your pva in the tackle shop, ditto for kryston silkworm, i buy mine from ebay to save money!.

20lb 8oz mirror from 1994/5, silkworm proved to be superb for fishing in weed!

Silkworm certainly helped me unlock that small north wales club water all those years ago, being braid it was easier to get the silkweed off my rigs without damaging them and being so strong I had no problem landing all of my fish from some very weedy areas. Any doubts I had about silkworm rapidly disappeared and my confidence in this hook length material is now so great that I just don’t bother fishing with anything else. I took most of the residents of capesthorne hall on 25lb silkworm and capes is one of the most pressured carp waters I’ve ever fished!. I also use silkworm when I visit heavily pressured day ticket waters like linear fisheries and yateley sandhurst lake. Silkworm has worked brilliantly on all of these waters and a whole host of others too. If you’re just starting out in carp fishing and are confused by all the different materials available to make carp rigs, try kryston silkworm!, I promise you it really is one of the best hooklength materials out there.

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