Living life in the fast lane with an M1 boilie
Left to right: A canal bream… Another decent bream from the canal… A well gashed chub… The carp on session four
With the alarm clock set for 3.00am, I was up even before the dawn chorus kicked off. Only just though, as the first birds start singing before the sun rises and then when it does pop over the horizon, by then the full orchestra of warbles, coos and trills is in full swing. At this time of the year, first light is a wonderful segment of the day to be around, and as I walked along the towpath of my local canal I was thinking of the things that we get to experience as anglers that so many miss out on. Sunsets, sunrises, nature. Oh and of course blanks, horrendous weather and all other manner of unpleasant things. Well, the good far outweighs the bad in my book.
The peg I fished is one that I have been on before, in fact some years ago when I first decided to fish the Staffs/Worcs canal for carp, this was the very area that I targeted. I did catch fish then, but with the years having passed you never really know what to expect. The only way to find out though is to cast out, put the rods on the bank sticks and wait. And that’s exactly what I did. I fished two rods as per normal, with my usual canal rigs and tackle, which I have covered in recent articles and videos. My approach was different though. I fished SBS Baits M1 boilies with a 16mm bottom bait on one rod and a 12mm pop-up on the other with PVA bags around the hook baits containing pellets and loose boilies.
This created a tight bed of bait, which I then supplemented by throwing out several loose boilies in the general area. As I say on the accompanying video, these will act as welcoming signs letting the carp know that the buffet is now open and it’s eat-as-much-as-you-like time. I did have a couple of visitors but not carp though; what you might refer to as the carp angler’s worst nightmare in fact. Bream. The first one had me thinking it was a carp for a moment though as it went off on a run. But after a few seconds I knew what I was playing. Still, I was sitting on the rods so it wasn’t like I was woken in the early hours of the morning. Not that I am bothered anyway though really. As it says on the home page of my Angling Journal – There is no such thing as a nuisance fish.
My short session was even tighter than I thought it would be as the boats started to come through from 6.30am. By the time I packed away an hour and a half later, the canal was pulling from one direction to another as locks opened and closed. Time to go home, do some work, and plan my next visit which was a couple of days later. This time, the only common denominator was the canal carp as I moved from morning to evening and geographically located to another stretch. I have caught from here before so that was a definite confidence booster. But as we know, confidence in itself doesn’t put fish on the bank. I didn’t totally blank though as I netted a really nice chub, well for the venue anyway.
The fish looked like it had been mauled by a pike, and as I say on the video, we never really know what’s around and about do we? Even though this is not a recognised pike section who is say that there isn’t a half-decent fish lurking somewhere? It was a really warm night, and packing away at 1.00am it still felt quite muggy. Driving home I was almost tempted to visit another section of canal and catch the dawn feeding period. In fact even when I got home and finally went to bed at 2.30am I was still considering that as a viable option. But instead I decided to hit the sack and return the next evening.
My third session was to another new stretch, well new for the week. I decided to return to the place where I have been catching canal carp recently. Disappointed with my carp blanks and in need of a fish? Well not really, as the sort of fishing I do I have ‘blanker’ as my middle name. I enjoy the challenge of targeting elusive fish and these canal carp are certainly the proverbial needle in the haystack. And that’s how they proved to be on this session, which sadly wasn’t a case of third time lucky. The only ‘luck’ that I had was to make it back to the car just as the heavens opened and the thunder and lightning storm passed through.
I had seen flashes of the latter and heard rumbles of the former regularly during the evening but thankfully they were quite distant. Fishing until after 1.00am, by the time I got to bed it was two hours later. But energised, I was back in the same place twenty-four hours later. A sucker for punishment or a dedicated angler who doesn’t get discouraged? You can make your own mind up but I know what I think.
This time I had two fish and they were both at the opposite ends of the scale. First off was a small chub that until I lifted into it may well have been a 20lb carp the way it tore off. Being so tiny though I was able to get it out quickly and cause minimum disruption to the swim. I couldn’t say that for the next fish though, which was a good common that took a lot more time to subdue. But eventually I won the battle and lifted an immaculate looking fish out of the water and on the bank. To say that I was over the moon was an understatement. After three canal carp blanks my dedication had won through in the end.
This is the reality of specialist angling. You are targeting specific fish that in percentage terms constitute a tiny figure of the total fish in the area. By its very nature you will encounter (or endure!) blanks – that goes with the territory. But when you do succeed the amount of personal satisfaction you feel is brilliant. It’s not everyone’s style of angling, but it’s mine and I love it. It’s all about the challenge and as I looked down on that common in the net, the way I felt could only be matched by England winning the World Cup, Wolves lifting the Premier League title or WBA getting relegated on zero points. All three would be nice actually!
Video number 27 on list
(Originally published June 2010)