Caught by design!
You may or may not place too much importance on the Bible, but there is a character in the Old Testament by the name of Methuselah. He is recorded as having lived to the ripe old age of 969, and very often I feel that I need to live like him just to do everything I want to in angling. In fact my profile on my facebook page states exactly that! Although I’m sure that even if I did live that long I’d still be scratching the surface. When I am planning my trips, the permutations of not only where to fish, but also the species to target, often leaves me in a state of real indecision.
Ever since catching a few carp whilst roach fishing on the local canal earlier in the year, I have been thinking that I need to get back on the venue and specifically target them. And with the summer fast running out, I decided this week to do just that. I knew that if I didn’t make time for canal carp, I would be regretting it during the winter months, and the last thing I want to be doing is wishing my life away, waiting for spring to appear. So with a couple of slots available in my diary, I decided to fish two overnight sessions.
The canal in late summer
It was with a real sense of excitement that I set off for the first trip. And with a warm, dry night forecast, the conditions were looking good. Walking along the towpath, apart from the access point pegs, there was no evidence whatsoever that any anglers had ventured further than a one minute walk from their car. With dense towpath flowers and grasses growing undisturbed, no-one had cast a line anywhere near the spot that I was heading for. And the prospect of fishing for virgin carp was what prompted the sense of excitement.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not being critical in any way, shape or form so don’t get upset if this applies to you, but I get much more motivated by the thought of fishing for the unknown. I have no problem with people that name fish and the information that is available giving when it was caught, by who and at weight, is not an issue to me. But given the choice I would rather be fishing a venue that has no history (at least that I am aware of), where I have no idea what is in there, as opposed to knowing exact numbers, names and size of the inhabitants.
Caught by design, not by accident!
So it was with a great sense of anticipation that I cast out my rods, set them on the bite alarm and clipped the hangers on the line. Fishing two rods, my line was 10lb Sufix Synergy with the same breaking strain hooklengths – Drennan carp dacron on the left and Drennan Double Strength on the right. But apart from that everything was identical, down to the size 4 Drennan boilie hook, the 1.5oz in-line lead and the scopex boilie. I was fishing both rods in the middle of the canal and had baited up on arrival with pigeon conditioner seeds. And the death of a recent celebrity carp is a sharp reminder that if we do use seeds or certain particles, then correct preparation is absolutely vital.
I cast out with PVA bags containing pellets and boilies as that then concentrated the real goodies in a tighter spot. As it was a dry night I did wonder whether to put the shelter up, in the end I decided to because I never feel comfortable stretched out inches from the towpath. I know that the difference is only a thin sheet of fabric but it gives that sense of privacy. Plus, you never know when it will rain, so up went the shelter. It was then, while flattening the undergrowth, that I discovered rat holes! I spent the night having to continually knock the shelter as well, scaring them off! Apart from the rats I did have some carp action though, as with the clock approaching 2.00am, I lifted into a fish that put up a great fight.
I take my rat catcher with me!
But apart from the overhanging bushes and vegetation on the far bank, there were no snags for it to use to its advantage and I soon found myself slipping the net under it and bringing it to the bank. It’s brilliant when plans come together and to catch a canal carp from the section by design rather than accident brought real satisfaction. After the run around that the fish gave me though, I knew it would take time for the swim to recover. But as I packed in the morning I had no more action, yet was still content with the single fish caught. On my second session of the week, I took a friend with me. Twinkle my Bedlington Terrier tagged along to keep the rats at bay!
It was another dry and fairly warm night, although it was quite chilly at first light. But I had no fish at all, just a few plucks on the boilies, no doubt from roach pulling at the bait. If I do continue to fish for carp on the canal though, one thing I will definitely do is to fish pop-up baits. Over the two sessions I have been getting leaves and twigs around the hook bait when I’ve been reeling in. Not in any great number, but enough to make it beneficial to change presentation. I always aim to keep it as simple as possible and go for basic rigs to start with, particularly on a water that has no pressure. But you do have to change and adapt when necessary.
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(Originally published August 2009)