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!.

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