Monday 24 October 2011

Learning to fish for carp again…Part 1

Stalking of sorts...

I need to catch a decent carp for the bloggers challenge, one of about twenty pounds or more will give me the required amount of points I’m looking for.  Not as easy a task as it may sound to some, especially for someone like me who rarely, if ever fishes for carp. I don’t really know why this is as I have always been fascinated by them, and in my earlier years as an angler was quite happy catching them up to about 10 lb on various methods during the rise of the commercial water in the late eighties and early nineties.  I seem to have developed some kind of mental block with them over recent years though and have just not developed any desire to buy some modern carp gear suitable to either tackle them with, or be fashionable enough to be seen on the bank with.

On a recent zed session with Andy  I happened to mention that I still needed a carp for the challenge but didn’t feel I had a decent enough rod to handle a bigger fish of say 20lb plus. He kindly offered to lend me a Wychwood Rogue that had been gathering dust in his shed, seemed a decent enough rod and better than any carp rod I have, which is none.
So with no more excuses I headed out on Sunday morning to tackle a local water known to contain a good head of fish up to 30lb.  I arrived at dawn and walked a circuit of the lake sussing out the swims, wind direction and generally looking for any signs of fish showing.  I decided to target a few areas on the windward bank as I knew fish visited these areas and with a warm breeze blowing that way it seemed a good place to start.

I opted for a semi stalking approach baiting a few clear spots in the weed that I could see close to the margin at no more than an under arm cast away. The first peg would be base camp and the other two I would rotate round to as and when any signs of fish appeared.

After about an hour the first signs in any of the spots were some carp breaching half out of the water at about 40 yards along the marginal reeds from my spot in peg one.  I couldn’t get any closer to the fish than the peg I was in, so I went for broke and hoofed the bait out to the area where they were breaching.  The cast landed pretty close and I hoped it was clear of weed. The line was laid slack to keep the fish from spooking and the end rig equipped with a pop up on a short heli rig (chod style I suppose you’d call it).  I sat back and waited for the rod to tear off.

 I would be waiting a long time until eventually curiosity got the better of me and I wound back in to find the rig weeded up.  I re-baited and cast back out a bit nearer (as much as I dared) to the marginal reeds hoping to land it on the clear gravel. I was just answering a call of nature by the tree to my left when I noticed a shape near the baited area closer in. I froze and stared slack jawed as two large dark shapes drifted in under the overhanging willow branches onto the bait. It’s difficult to be accurate but I would guess them both to be near the target weight.  Two lovely looking dark mirrors less than 20 feet from me and they were feeding confidently on my bait totally unaware of my presence. Only one problem, my bait was 40 yards away!

 I carefully wound it back in and quickly re-rigged with an inline 1oz lead and 4 in braid hooklink baited with a pop up.  The fish had drifted back under the branch by now so with a smooth underarm lob the bait was positioned neatly on top of the gravel patch. I watched as some more carp slowly made their way along the reed line towards the willow branch, but turned and headed back out over the weed where I lost sight of them.  Time was now my enemy and so with 5 minutes left before I had to leave to get home in time to take my daughter to a birthday party (I was already pushing it), I had recast to the other side of the willow branch where the two mirrors were slowly drifting in and out of view.  Sadly the fish never fed over my bait and time was up. I packed the rods away with the fish still visible along the reed line. 

Although a blank it definitely wasn’t a wasted trip, I had successfully managed to find and bait a spot, attract and observe carp feeding from it confidently and then cast a bait to the spot without spooking the fish. You know, I think I could get into the carp fishing lark.

Saturday 8 October 2011

A zander target done !

I finished work at just after 12 and headed towards Melton Mowbray home of pork pies and stilton cheese (according to the signs). I arrived at one pm and started looking for Steve  and Jeff, not an easy task, as the lake was a lot bigger than it looks on google maps.  Eventually the bailiff turned up and pointed me in the right direction. Steve was already set up on the windward bank in a nice bay fishing towards some overhanging trees around the mouth of a shallow inlet.  I set up nearby with open water in front.   Jeff had gone "off piste" looking for roach and chub on the nearby river wreake.

Bearing it out on the windward bank

After an hour or two of battling the strong 20 mph westerly winds blowing straight into our faces, forever giving false bleeps on our alarms, I took a quick reccy up the lake where we soon decided to move to a more sheltered spot.  Rods were cast back out and hopes were raised as we chatted about the lake and its potential.  Soon, Jeff arrived with the bailiff (Chay) just as Steve landed a small jack pike, a couple of single bleeps alerting him to the take.  I decided to recast both rods again, a rudd tail to the right hand margin and a small skimmer out towards an island. Both baits were hair rigged with a single size four hook set to hang free near to the tail fin. 
The bailiff left us to it, so we stood behind my rods chewing the fat about tactics and fish we'd caught or wished to catch, as we fishermen do. Suddenly without warning there was a triple bleep on my alarm and the drop off indicator fell to the bankstick.

Line was being taken slowly from the spool so I flicked the bail arm across, wound down and struck. The rod took on a good bend and a decent fish was on the end, it kited right hugging the bottom.  I said to the lads it might be a pike as at first there was none of the head shaking that you usually get with zander, just steady smooth power.  After a short while the fish headed in closer towards us and now I dd feel a bit of headshaking just before it rose up in the water.  A large green and white flank rolled confirming I had a big zed on (squeeky bum time!).

 I gingerly drew it up to the surface again and held my breath as it smoothly slid across the waiting net cord. "That's a PB" I blurted out excitedly.  The estimate was between 8 and 10 lb from Jeff and Steve, as she was lifted up in the net she started looking bigger.  I hoped for a double at least but until the scales confirm it you never know.  Steve did the honours and read off a very satisfying 11lb 1oz - my target of a double figure zed was well and truly done.

11lb 1oz

Monday 3 October 2011

Crucian match .. pipped at the post

Arriving on the car park at the lakeside it was still dark at 6:30am, I switched off the lights and cut the engine so I didn't wake up all the bivvy boys sleeping around the lake.  Andy and Danny were already set up on the dam wall, saving me a swim alongside them.  The lake, misty and dark still in the slowly emerging dawn, looked the same as I remembered from about 3 years before. Would I be lucky enough to catch a nice 2lb crucian, I would soon find out.

Danny challenged me to a little friendly match with the honour of the pound trophy at stake. Rules were easy, biggest crucian wins, no problem then!

After setting up my crowquill float I was soon into the first fish, a skimmer. Soon to be followed by another, and another, and another, and another .................. and another, and ...

Plenty o' Skimmers

.... another

The other lads were reporting the same problem with a never ending stream of skimmers coming to any bait that was put in front of them, from pellets,corn, caster and worm etc etc, until eventually TFFT I landed a crucian !

1lb 6oz (moving up a whole percent point!)

With this single fish caught I was in the lead, and so it remained until I had to pack up and go at around 11:30am (family commitments beckoned).  I kept in touch with the other two by text to see how they were fairing.  Andy said he'd eventually had one by 1:30 but not bigger than mine.  Then just as I thought the prestigous trophy was in the bag ... Andy declared himself victorious with a 1lb 12oz fish..............denied !

We probably had over ten pounds of skimmers each, which was a little bit annoying to say the least. They would  have been preventing the crucians getting to our baits in time. Still it was nice to know there are some crucians around.  The lake could do with some of the skimmers being cut back a bit though, which I'm sure the carp lads would welcome judging by the couple of runs I saw one lad have, both were from skimmers.