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Although I claim perch as my favourite species, you wouldn’t think so of late, as I’ve done more carp fishing this year than anything else. But that’s the great thing about being a solo angler; I can fish for whatever takes my fancy, and carp have definitely been tempting me over the last few months. And why resist that kind of temptation? That’s one sort I don’t struggle with. And while I have been mostly on the Staffs/Worcs Canal, the opening session in this article sees me on a lake that I fished a few times towards the end of last year. It’s not classed as an ‘easy’ water, but then again I relish the challenge. And a couple of fish around the ‘20’ mark certainly made my visits worthwhile.
It’s a big open venue and one that I enjoyed being on, and for me that’s a big part of what angling is all about. A nice quiet place, safe car parking so you don’t have to worry if your car is there when you get back and plenty of nature to keep me interested while I’m waiting for the fish to bite. In fact, on arrival I saw a pair of ravens very low in flight disappear over a ridge and a couple of noisy oystercatchers were in the area throughout the session, which was an overnighter.
I ‘shared’ the session with perch, although I’ve explained that in my recent perch article so there’s no need to repeat myself. The video for this article starts with my bait on display which had my Trakker bag to overflowing – and then some more. Times have changed from when I was a kid and you took a tub of maggots with you, maybe some groundbait, but that was it. Now we have all manner of dips, additives as well as pellets, boilies and the like. Don’t neglect the former of course, but don’t reject the latter either. Bait is a big factor in angling, but it is just one of many ingredients that make an angler successful No pun intended.
First thing I did was to put out some seeds. I have recently got hold of a sack of ground cereal so this went in the bucket along with my usual brown crumb. Then I added some corn steep liquor along with the water from the lake. I was only fishing 3-4 lengths out, so threw the balls of bait out by hand. The tackle approach was identical in the sense of 2oz lead fixed between two beads and a power gum knot, braid hook length and Sufix Synergy mainline. The only difference was right at the business end.
The left rod was a pop-up 14mm lobworm boilie dipped, with a PVA bag of pellets filled with boilies. The right rod saw me with my confidence 12mm M2, again dipped, with M2 pellets along with standard ones in the bag, and of course a few boilies. To both bags I added a small amount of liquid from the dip bottle, giving it a minute or two to work its way through the contents. You can see both boilies ready for casting out in the PVA bags in photograph 1.
After a windy arrival, by the time the sun set and the rods were out, it was a very still night. I had the occasional liner that had me ready for action, but as I was fishing backleads I knew that whatever it was, it wasn’t necessarily on my bait as the line was pinned to the bed of the lake. But when the bite alarm on the pop-up gave out multiple bleeps I knew I had a fish on. Striking, I could tell it wasn’t a big carp, maybe a small one or even a tench I thought to myself. Imagine my total surprise when I found I had slipped a big brown trout into the net (photograph 2). It was so hollow that it could quite easily have been pushing 9lb or more had it been ‘full’. You can see from the shot how my hands disappear into its side.
What I found interesting is that when I set up my rod I had an M1pop-up on it from my previous carp outing on the canal. So I took that off and cast it on the water. Well, as it lay in the net, the trout brought the boilie up. So as well as taking my bottom bait in 14 feet of water it had also fed on my discarded surface one. I decided to weigh it and at 5lb 9oz it is a new personal best. I prefer, of course, to catch species by design but as long as they are not foul-hooked and caught fair and square, they all count. The rest of the night remained quiet.
My second visit to the lake and my approach and tactics were pretty much the same. The only difference was that my right-hand rod was baited with hair-rigged giant corn shaped boilie, and I substituted the seeds for corn in the baiting-up mix. The corn boilies are a new product and after a recent visit to SBS I was keen to try them out. Within an hour of dark I had a screaming run and found myself lifting into a fish. Not a carp though but a tench. It’s nice when you get an instant take on a new bait so I didn’t change it, but I did make the next cast a double (ie 2xcorn) so that I could tempt something bigger.
Well it worked. I caught a bigger tench shortly afterwards! No more fish during the night but after getting amongst the tincas it certainly got me thinking. If you read my Angling Journal regularly you will know that I have a tench campaign every spring on a gravel pit. Well this started out originally as a carp expedition but when I hit some quality bream I switched focus. This changed again later as tench became the chosen quarry. And that’s exactly where I will be going on this lake on any future visits. You can see one of the fish in photograph 3.
It’s not like I’m a carp angler full stop. I’m an all-rounder and now that I’ve got amongst some decent tench I want to explore that potential. So watch out for some future articles/videos in the next few months when I fish for tench. In the meantime though I was back after carp and this time on the local canal. Out for an evening session, fishing to midnight and beyond, I was certainly confident enough as it’s one of those places I have caught fish from already this year. However having said that, I’ve also blanked as well, and it was the latter that I did this time round. It’s all part and parcel of the type of fishing I do.
Driving home in the early hours of the morning though, I saw my first barn owl of the year. I’m just surprised that any survived at all following the harsh weather of last winter. Their food source was well and truly hidden away under a thick blanket of snow. Although many barn owls did die, some hung on and every time we see one it is testament to the resilience of nature; and a lesson that we can all learn and take on board and especially as anglers. My next visit to the canal wasn’t a blank, although to many die-hard carp fishermen it may as well have been. I caught a bream.
Then one morning at home I get a telephone call. It’s about a syndicate water that I have been on the waiting list for a few years. Am i still interested? Yes, and so the next morning I make the journey with the obligatory passport-sized photographs and of course the cheque. Of course, the new venue sees me change a few plans and my next carp sessions are on the lake in question. Apart from my self-imposed publicity ban (unless requested otherwise by a club) many places I fish are out of my hands anyway as they have their own rules in place regarding the broadcasting of fish captures. Ultimately my Angling Journal anyway isn’t about putting people in swims. It’s about me sharing my experiences and hopefully inspiring others along the way. That will no doubt be manifested on a venue that I will never fish; it’s not about imitation but inspiration.
I made a point of obtaining no information whatsoever on the water, and that was easy enough as the person I met wasn’t even an angler and was basically concerned with getting my money. That suited me as I want to explore the water for myself and go down my own route. Yes, it will be harder and will take some time as the pieces of the jigsaw slowly drop into place. But I don’t want the ‘Don’t fish that side’ or ‘That bait won’t work’ that even subliminally can affect your angling. I’m a firm believer that when advice gets passed on and repeated it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, if someone says the carp don’t feed in the margins then no-one fishes them. And no carp are caught. So it becomes true.
My first couple of visits resulted in a blank and a tench at first light. Both were overnighters and even though I only had the one fish to show for my efforts I really enjoyed myself. Fishing midweek I pretty much get to call the shots as to swim selection and I set up in different swims each time. I will share more about the lake over coming months as I do intend to fish it often – if only to get my money’s worth, as it’s my most expensive ticket that I in possession of. My final session of the article saw me complete a hat-trick of visits in four days. It was hard going, with work, family and other commitments. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I fished one boilie over seeds at distance, with a 12mm M1 pop-up (photograph 4) in the margins. This was also fished over seeds and my stall was well and truly set out for a carp, hoping that I would indeed catch one for the article. So when the margin bite alarm came alive at 1.00am, the screamer saw a confident me on the rod as I struck into a big common. Well, not quite, as immediately I knew that unless it was a baby I hadn’t even connected with a carp of any description. Bringing the fish to the net I was pleasantly surprised to find myself looking down at the rudd in photograph 5.
It is indeed amazing what you can catch on a boilie. Along with the not so surprising tench and bream I had a brown trout and a rudd. Plus, as you can see from the video, a branch. No carp, but that’s no problem. An Angling Journal entry on carp fishing without the species isn’t in the same category as the old song ‘A pub with no beer’. Not that it would be a problem to me though, I don’t drink alcohol. So just as I was happy enough to catch other fish, I’d be more than happy to drink my favourite tipple all day long, Pepsi Max. Not to forget my favourite angling beverage, the good old fashioned cup of English tea.
I hope that you enjoyed the accompanying video. The nature shots were as follows: mallard, red campion and a mute swan with cygnets asleep tucked in. I thought that was an amazing sight, so even though I was pushing my barrow back to the car at the time, I got my camcorder out and captured the birds. I know many anglers don’t like swans, but some don’t like anything or anyone anyway. For me there’s a great world of nature out there, and whether it be the common terns that dropped by on morning one on the lake or the common pipistrelle bats that kept me company right through every session, I love the whole scene. (Published June 25 2011)