One of the reasons I am an all-rounder is that I just love all fish. Whatever the species, discipline, venue or tactics, I’m in my element when fishing. I often joke, it’s what I was created for. Or maybe that should be a semi-joke! So as the river season came to an end there was no sadness or looking back. I simply couldn’t wait to move on. Following a week on holiday where I targeted flounder and dab, I eagerly began my carp campaign for the year. The first outing is the one in the video, so as always, I try to avoid repetition in the article.
As you can see from the video, although I didn’t catch my target species, I did net a couple of tench (photo 1). They both put up a good fight and although I knew they weren’t big fish as in monster carp, it was only when I saw them that the species was confirmed as they certainly put up a fight that would have done a smaller carp proud. Fishing the venue for the first time and not having any prior knowledge I was happy with my catch. That’s one of the benefits of being an all-rounder. Although I set a target species I am never disappointed when something else turns up.
I go through my bait selection (photo 2) in the video and was pleased that it worked out as I do put some thought into every session I do. I have a wide variety of stuff at home and I never go into my bait tubs and just pick out anything. I know exactly what I want. Anyway with a couple of tench under my belt it was really a carp I was after. My next outing was on the local canal where carp really are a needle in a haystack job. You hardly ever see another angler and certainly not a carper. But I love the challenge and when it does come together it’s a brilliant feeling.
I started to fish the canals for carp some years ago now, pretty much on a ‘If they are in here then this is where they will be’ approach. Literally casting into the unknown I will never forget the fish carp I caught. A beautiful wild common that is nowhere near the biggest I’ve caught but is definitely one of the best for sure. And I’ve been hooked on canal carping ever since. Blanks are part of the journey, although I didn’t actually come away fish-less as I caught a bream (photo 3). Fishing a 12mm M2 bottom boilie and a same size M1 pop-up, the bream was tempted by the latter, which had been soaked in whisky link.
Third session was back to the venue that opened the article. This time though I didn’t have the place to myself and so felt a bit restricted in terms of where I set up. I blanked, but with only one fish coming out all day, it was indicative of how tough the lake is. No fish but there were a pair of gadwall on the water and at one point I had a mass of mating common toads (photos 4,5) at my feet in the margins. In fact after they broke up I counted 7. As a naturalist I see the big picture of my angling sessions, and while I am there to catch fish of course, the reality is I can appreciate the wider natural world around me.
You can see my set-up (photo 6) which is pretty standard for carp fishing. My rods and reels at Daiwa, hangers Fox and alarms Gardner ATT. I pretty much fished the same way on my next sessions which were back on the canal. The only difference being that each rod was on an individual bank stick. With space at a premium, due to the narrow towpath where I set up, I had to position the rods at an angle, otherwise they would have been a complete obstruction! The limited space also meant my ancient and well-used Fox Evolution provided shelter for the night (photo 7).
I have had it years and as far as looks are concerned, it has certainly seen better days. But I can push I right back into the hedge without any worries of it getting pierced by branches and also the flexible nature of construction allows me to erect it in such a way that it doesn’t protrude over the walkway too much. And as you can see from the photo, I tie a carrier bag on the front as well so that when the night cyclists come racing along they have some advance warning. It really is a race track out there sometimes! None on this particular outing though and no carp either – but plenty of chub!
The fish were all small and apart from one that fell to a bottom M2 boilie, the others were tempted by an M1 pop-up. And while the day before (and after) saw temperatures hit the high teens, overnight they plummeted sharply to the point where we had a ground frost. You can see the frost on my rod bag (photo 8) and where I scraped it to show it was reasonably solid. To round off the article I visited a third venue – hence the title of this piece.
I was actually there tench fishing but due to the high cost of fuel (not to mention the availability at times!) I am more and more combining sessions within sessions so to speak. So whilst I am still focused I may switch between what I am fishing for in terms of species. It may involve taking extra gear, and you can only do it on longer outings (this one was a three-nighter) but in these days of petrol prices on a sky-rocket journey upwards, a little flexibility and innovation is the way forward.
So, with a day slot available I decided to target carp. I fished 2 SBS corn shaped boilies on a hair with a piece of artificial corn. Popped up about an inch off the clear gravel bottom, everything was dunked in tutti frutti 3-in-1 turbo dip. I cast out beyond my usual plateau/drop-off location for tench as I know the carp anglers fish further out. Well, about 2.00pm I had a screamer resulting in a solid blue light on the alarm, a single tone on the receiver and line peeling from the reel like there was no tomorrow!
I had connected with my target species and lifting into it, this was confirmed. You know when you’re playing a carp! I do know the venue well and so let it go to the right, applying enough pressure to try and persuade it to turn, thinking it was doing it of its own accord rather than me manipulating it. That’s the key with playing a big fish really, let it think it is in control! Then when it turned to the left I again let it go but applied that background pressure. But then suddenly it all went slack.
Oh no! Was it a hook pull? Or worse still snapped line! But as I reeled in quickly I realised the fish had respond to my pressure and was actually swimming towards me. By the time I caught up with it, it was about 5 or 6 lengths out and apart from the obligatory defiance at the net, it was then just a case of gently bringing it in. What a great feeling it is to slip a good fish in the waiting landing net, and I’m finishing the article off with a couple of photographs (9,10) of the fish in different poses. A great way to kick off my 2012 carp campaign for sure! (article published April 14 2012)