It is often said that most people can only effectively concentrate on one thing at a time. And whilst I can certainly see the wisdom in that statement, as far as my angling campaigns are concerned, I like to have two on the go, running alongside each other. The main reason is that because we are totally at the mercy of the elements, there are times when you need to switch not only venue but also species. This may be due to a flooded river or a frozen lake or whatever, but inevitably will happen from time to time.
But the second reason is that, as a genuine all-rounder, I enjoy the variety of targeting different species. Now don’t misunderstand me, I have nothing but respect for the angler that only ever fishes for one species, whatever that may be. But personally, as I enjoy catching all fish, I get great enjoyment from the principle that says ‘variety is the spice of life’! So as well as my mini-campaign for bream that I kicked off last week, I am also going to be doing some carp fishing over the next few months, and in particular canal carping.
It’s been a few years ago now that I decided to target a local stretch of the Staffs/Worcs canal, during the first year that the canals remained open all year round. Without any prior knowledge, just the hunch that there must be carp in there somewhere, I picked a stretch and stuck at it. I was thrilled to even get amongst the fish, and the biggest, which was a low double, remains one of my ‘best’ carp, simply for the circumstances surrounding its capture.
However, for the campaign I am currently about to embark on, I do have the benefit of information, above all the knowledge that there are carp in the venue I am going to be focusing on. And that has got to be a head start, as you can only catch something if it’s there! Prior to even casting a line, I had a good walk along the venue with someone who has fished it regularly as a pleasure angler, and heard many tales of anglers being broken by carp that had picked up the bait intended for smaller fish.
I made mental notes, based on what I heard and also what I saw, and as we drove back together, and I chatted with Alan, I felt excited about the prospects of tackling the canal over the next few months. It didn’t take long for me to put my desires into practice, as the very next day I set off for the short journey to begin the campaign. As anyone who fishes canals will know, and certainly from this time of the year onwards, the boat traffic starts to increase as the holiday season kicks in.
Therefore, and particularly with the style of fishing I intend to do, I won’t be getting there until quite late and fishing on into darkness. I chose, for my first session, a peg opposite some reeds. At the moment they are mere shadows of what they will become in the next few months, but nevertheless are a feature well worth trying. I’ll share in more detail about my tackle over future weeks, but I am fishing the hair-rig boilie approach, with two rods.
Almost immediately on casting out, I found myself landing a chub about 2lb in weight. During the early part of the session in particular, I had quite a few take a fancy to the fruit favoured boilie I was using. I’m not sure of the level of specimen activity on the stretch, but I have found that boilies can be instant baits and fish don’t need to be weaned onto them. But one thing is sure – the chub certainly liked them!
I didn’t have any carp, but I kept my eyes – and ears – open and did see several swirls that could possibly have been from my chosen species. I say ‘possibly’ because they were at distance and weren’t great splashes. I fished on until the early hours and packed away. By the time I got to bed it was 3.00 a.m. – another couple of hours or so and it would have actually been an overnighter! I only had a few hours sleep, and although I was tired the next day, the evening saw me once more heading for the canal for another session.
I fished another peg, this time against a bed of far bank rushes. As the sun set and I stretched out on my bed chair alongside the towpath, I listened to the sounds of the birds as they sang farewell to the day. Although beautiful enough in their own right, the combined sounds of several blackbirds, robins, and a couple of blue tits together with the gentle cooing of a wood pigeon or two, certainly produced a lovely ornithological orchestral sound. And when that performance came to an end, I was treated to the screeching, wheezing and gurgling of a couple of Barn Owls, who were resident in some trees behind me, but unfortunately were out of sight.
I really do enjoy the whole nature package that comes with being an angler, and it may be a well-worn cliché, but angling really is more than just catching fish. Again though, no carp, but I did connect with some more chub. After just two sessions I reached the conclusion that the stretch is full of the species! Certainly after my winter roach campaign, where I constantly picked them up, I am beginning to wonder if I am a chub magnet! Anyway join with me over the coming weeks to see how I get on with my pursuit of the carp. They’re in there – I just need to wade through a few chub first!
(Originally published March 2005)