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As an all-rounder it will soon be time to say good-bye to certain species, as the onset of winter means that others will be coming to the fore. So with that in mind I wanted to get out and do a few carp sessions before the water temperatures start to fall. Doing an overnighter on trip one, I headed for a lake hoping to persuade some of the inhabitants to join me for a photo session. It was a lovely evening as I set up my gear and I almost stayed in my polo shirt right through till morning. I say almost because I did put my fleece on once the sun set.
I go through my bait approach in the accompanying video so there’s no need to repeat myself here. Fishing at about 50 metres I sat back and waited. That sums up this type of fishing. Whilst other times I may be re-casting, putting out bait or whatever, this time once the trap was laid and I was happy with the positioning of the baits, the waiting game began. I can only do that though once I know everything is as it should be. If I’m not 100% at peace with anything then I will put that right. Once I do then I am confident and expectant.
As the sun set I observed three creatures of the night: common pipistrelle bats, white-clawed crayfish and brown rats. The latter are part and parcel of the night angler’s life really, there’s nothing you can do about them unless you take a dog with you to keep them away. As you can see from the video I managed to capture some footage of the crayfish in the shallow, crystal clear margins. Our native species, they are quite rare, and so consequently are highly protected. I filmed them in their natural environment for a few seconds and then left them alone.
Also in the video you can see some amazing film of an adult and juvenile great crested grebe. The adult bird brought a fish to the younger one, who really struggled to get it down as it was so big. Working on a ‘waste-not-want-not’ basis, the adult grebe then downed the fish itself. As you can see, it went in one. As a lover of British wildlife, I really enjoy watching stuff like this. I don’t for one moment think ‘That’s my fish you’re eating’. I know what many anglers think of cormorants and otters but in reality they aren’t the only ones gobbling up the fish. The problem is of course the quantity that they eat, or in the case of the otter, the quality as it can easily polish off a specimen fish.
Birds like grebes and kingfishers have been around on our waterways for years and there’s a natural balance. So although I may not have the same feelings of animosity towards the two previously mentioned invaders, I can certainly see where other anglers are coming from. I suppose I just see the big picture that’s all. I can understand all sides of the argument. The other nature clip in my video is totally non-controversial – a shot of a water mint in flower that I spotted growing by the side of the lake.
Back to the fishing though, and as the sun set I was hopeful. However, there wasn’t much in the way of fish activity. Apart from one reasonable fish that crashed a few pegs away, the only breaking of the surface was done by small fish as in roach or rudd. But although the external signs of carp were minimal I was confident that there would be some action beneath the surface. Hence when my lobworm boilie rod came alive at 5.30am I wasn’t shocked or surprised. I lifted into the fish and began the process of drawing it in to the waiting landing net.
That’s the fish in photo 1 above. It proved to be the only one of the session which again highlights the thin line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’. I have lost count of the great sessions I have had where it was just one fish that made them so. That’s the reality of specimen angling really, you are by nature targeting a tiny percentage of the fish present in any venue. And that’s why it’s great when it all comes together. Session two saw me heading for a venue where the carp truly are elusive – the Staffs/Worcs Canal.
Arriving at dusk I baited up with a small amount of Nitro Mix and because I was throwing it underarm and just a few metres, I mixed it quite sloppy so that it fell over a wider area as opposed to the hard balls of session one that plummeted to the bed of the lake in seconds. On one spot I fished a 12mm M1 pop-up over boilies and CSL pellets and on the other 14mm Phaze boilie over Phaze pellets and boilies. Although the stretch I fished has a very low head of carp I was confident of a fish. And a couple of hours into dark as I had two bream on the Phaze boilie I knew that the fish had moved in.
A carp wouldn’t be far behind. Instead the surface of the canal was broken only by a boat racing along with a lighting display that wouldn’t have been out of place at Blackpool illuminations. Needless to say it killed the swim and although I carried on until midnight, the rest of the evening was as dead as can be. My next two sessions were also on the canal and although I didn’t blank I failed to connect with any carp. But often I’m fishing swims where I don’t even know if there are carp in front of me or not. Some anglers may think that’s an odd thing to do, but I’m not saying I go to places to carp fish where they simply aren’t there. That would be daft. I don’t know if they are present, that’s the difference. They might be. Or they might not. But pioneering over the years has thrown up some real gems for me.
I did catch bream though and that’s one in photo 2 that I had just taken from the water, with the M2 boilie still intact. The funny thing was I caught on just Phaze or just M2, there were no mixing of baits during the individual session. Nature-wide the trips to the canal were highlighted by hundreds of noisy corvids passing over at dusk as they made their way to a nearby roost. There were also several common pipistrelle bats feeding, in flight at the same time as the birds. I also noticed movement in the grass which led me to the discovery of a tiny common frog (photo 3). I sat him on my chair, took a quick photograph and then released him.
The highlight of my next session was also wildlife, as a carp blank was compensated by numerous white-clawed crayfish feeding in the margins. This was an into-dark visit to the lake that I fished at the head of the article. My fish so far have all come early hours and beyond, so there till only 10.30pm didn’t put me in prime feeding spell. But you don’t catch sitting at home, and if that’s the only available time for you to get out then you take it. I dropped a broken boilie in the margins and it was fascinating watching the crayfish feeding. At one stage I had 23 of them in area the size of a dustbin lid.
With my carp head well and truly fixed I decided to round the week off by heading for a venue on the Kinver Freeliners ticket, Seggy Pool. With no night fishing on this particular place, I had an afternoon. I’ve only fished it once before when I gave it a go for perch. On that occasion I did catch a double-figure carp and have been wanting to get back and target the species specifically. It’s a shallow lake and pretty standard so with a lot of fish present of all species I used a lot more bait than I normally do. The plan was quite simple – draw the fish in and keep them feeding. I fished two spots, both around 2.5 lengths out. I didn’t want to fish too close in to spook them every time I moved but not too far out as that was unnecessary. As I was laying the buffet table it was up to me where it went.
I put out regular balls of nitro method vitaflake mix in both spots; this was the bait foundation. Then as I was fishing a Phaze 14mm boilie on the left rod I added Phaze pellets and boilies to that area. The right rod was a 14mm lobworm pop-up and so along with the pellets went some loose boilies. The pellet mix I fished was a new one (for me) – multimix proactive. Made up of CSL, hemp, betain, spicy red along with standard pellets, that’s a pretty impressive mix if you ask me. And it certainly worked as a number of carp made their way to the bank. That’s a couple of them in the final photographs above. I really enjoyed my day and I think for my next carp Angling Journal entry I will do the video part at Seggy. It’s a lovely place and will make for an entertaining 10 minutes or so. (Published October 2011)