Friday the thirteenth (carp fishing article and video, entry 257)

I am definitely not a superstitious person and so the prospect of an angling session on Friday the thirteenth did not affect me in the slightest. Things such as ‘touch wood’, seven years of bad luck for breaking a mirror and not walking under a ladder have no hold on my life at all. And the only reason I won’t open an umbrella in the house is because there’s no reason to! It is amazing though how many people are held in bondage by superstition. We look at so-called primitive tribes in different parts of the developing world and laugh at their idiosyncrasies yet we are no different in the western world.

And my attitude to superstition spills over into my angling too. The only favourite peg I have is one that I enjoy fishing in, nothing at all to do with supernatural experiences. And as I don’t believe in ‘luck’ – either good or bad – I know that the success or failure of any session is down to either me, the conditions or the fish and not because I forgot to wear my lucky shirt or fish with my lucky rod.


Going to war with the canal carp

I have been promising myself for a couple of weeks that I will have a go for the carp on the local canal and so that’s the route I went. I suffer from the fact that there isn’t enough time to do everything that I want to in fishing. They say that life is short and that’s certainly true as far as my angling is concerned.

But I have also made a promise to myself that I need to be more flexible and so hopefully that will enable me to do at least a few of the things that I want to. My wife laughs at me when I use the word ‘campaign’ to describe what I’m doing at that time, as in my ‘gravel pit bream campaign.’ She thinks I’m at war with something!

So without any indications whatsoever that this was going to be the start of a battle, I headed for the canal late evening once the boat traffic had died down. It was pleasant enough weather-wise, although the temperature was due to fall once the sun set.



I caught some decent chub

Bait boat on the canal!

There were several spots in mind that I was happy to fish, all of them being noted from previous walks along the towpath while spinning. The stretch in question has various features with overhanging trees and far bank reeds fairly common – and it was facing the latter that saw me drop my gear after a long walk from the car. My initial first choice was already taken by a couple of carp anglers who were there for the night.

I certainly wouldn’t want to laugh at what other anglers do, so I don’t want to give that impression because that’s not the reason for mentioning it. But I did find it sort of amusing that they were using a bait boat on a canal that is twenty feet wide! I even thought for a while trying to come up with even a small advantage of fishing that way but I drew a blank. I have nothing against bait boats at all but if you use one there has to be a reason why.

Tip of the week

Canals can be great this time of the year but to get the best from them avoid the boat traffic.

Dusk to dawn is the best time.


Baiting up with seeds and brown crumb

My baiting was done by hand – with a small amount of seed mix being deposited in two spots. The first was directly in front of me against the reeds that fringed the far bank and the second was ‘downstream’ in the main channel. With the canal being so narrow, being exact as far as depositing attractor bait is concerned isn’t a major issue (hence my comments about the boat). Certainly once the day draws to an end the fish will move freely and will soon pick up on a baited area.

I mixed a small amount of brown crumb in with the seeds because on their own they would scatter too much when thrown out. Although I wasn’t looking to bait a tiny pinpoint spot nevertheless stray seeds all over the swim wasn’t what I was looking for either. I didn’t mould hard balls of bait as they would have sunk into the bed of the canal. Instead I made the texture such that it broke on impact with the water so that the seeds rested on the bottom.


Lots of action from the chub

My choice of hookbait was tutti frutti boilie. I went for PVA bags filled with pellets as this enabled the hookbait and the freebies enclosed within them to be tightly grouped together. Although the general seeds and crumb mix was over a slightly wider area, the goodies were very much in close proximity to each other so that feeding fish could be drawn in to the main course and hopefully my hook bait as well!

I had a busy session. If I wasn’t catching fish then there was plenty of action from mini-runs as small chub plucked at the boilie. When fishing hair rigs I generally like to keep the bait close to the hook but knowing that there would be lots of active small chub present I lengthened it slightly. That way, once the fish felt the resistance it would drop the bait. It meant that I wouldn’t be casting in every five minutes! But a decent fish would take the hook as well as the boilie.


At last – a carp!



At last – what I was fishing for!

I had lots of chub right from the word go. Some of them were decent enough fish as well, certainly on the right gear they would put up a great fight. Even on 10lb line they resisted, so imagine the battle on 3lb or 4lb line. But the carp were proving to be very elusive. Until right at the end that is. The session itself was a four-hour one beginning at 9.15pm and after a succession of chub I eventually netted a carp. As the photograph shows it wasn’t a big fish, but it was nice to catch my chosen species. And walking back to the car I thought to myself that the next time I cast out will be into a river. Can’t wait!


Click on the icon for this week’s video clip


The week ahead

Can’t wait until midnight on Sunday when the river season opens! I’m not 100% sure where I will be though at the moment but one thing is for sure, it will be on flowing water.

I need to prepare more seeds for the coming river sessions. Having a designated freezer is excellent as bait can be prepared and then frozen ready for use.

(Originally published June 2008)

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