I’ve done a number of nights so far this summer on my syndicate lake after carp and from talking with other anglers it certainly seems to have been a bit hit and miss. Mostly miss. Whilst it is always good to see what other anglers are doing in the sense that it allows you to pitch your own catches realistically, nevertheless when it is a struggle don’t just simply accept that’s the way it is and blindly carry on in the hope something will happen one day. The reality is that one day may be a long way off. Instead get your thinking head on.
Sometimes the answer to the situation isn’t drastic, It may be just a small change here and there. Cue the heading of this article and if you’re a football fan you will, no doubt realise I’m talking about Claudio Ranieri and the nickname he earned at Chelsea for tinkering with the squad. In the desire to improve and move forward he did a lot of changing.
Now of course, it’s highly unlikely we will need wholesale revolutions in our angling approach. But whether we are forced into it or not, it’s not a bad thing to constantly evaluate where we are and to see if there is any room for improvement. Which there usually is.
In my case it was the decision to switch to a small hook bait that did the trick. I fished with a single SBS corn shaped boilie and whereby I’ve only had one fish on the bank so far this season, plus a hook-pull two lengths out, I actually netted two carp in just the one overnighter. The first one came about midnight with the other as dawn started to break.
The mirror had a couple of scales missing as you can see from the photograph but the common was absolutely immaculate. It was as if it had only been formed that minute as it really was perfect in every way; not a mark, scar or anything at all on it. All fish are worthy of our respect though whether they are beautiful or battle-scarred warriors.
If you follow my angling exploits on a regular basis you will know that I enjoy my canal carp fishing. And with the fish not exactly wall-to-wall I decided to have a focused time pursuing them. Yes you can drop on them and catch one in a single visit, as I proved recently, but generally speaking you need to put a few sessions in to get some success. In fact I have a hit rate of 5 visits for 1 fish on the sections I fish.
I decided to have a couple of late evening and into dark sessions in a section I have never fished before. I have a number of spots where I know carp can be located but I’m always keen on trying new bits. Not only is there great satisfaction when you do get something from there but you never know if there may be a real beast in residence as opposed to the usual ceiling of a mid-double.
The photo above gives an idea of the sort of features I look for in new spots. Overhanging trees or bushes, reeds and lilies. In fact anything that offers shelter and natural food source. The canal itself has that much boat traffic (see later!) that not much gets to take root in terms of plant growth. So when I do locate a few things in the margins they’re definitely noted. And particularly when the features are far bank, which offer a more secure refuge than the busy towpaths.
Having just collected some new Classic range rods from Rock Tackle I was really keen to try them out. My Daiwa Powermesh have been really faithful to me over the years and I’ve had some great fish on them. Not only carp to 30lb but also double-figure bream, several big 9’s tench and even barbel to over 16lb! But I’m not sentimental where fishing tackle is concerned and they were discarded without emotion. Mind you, I say discarded but what has actually happened is that I’ve given them away to a young angler. And he’s really happy!
You can see the new rods in the photo and the thing that probably stands out is the slim cork handle. When you see them in ‘real life’ the feature is even more noticeable. I must admit though when it comes to gear I’m not a tackle tart in the sense I like to flash the brand. What I’m looking for is quality in terms of performance and although the rods are new to me – and also brand new anyway as this is the first batch on the market – you can still tell to a great extent when something is going to do the business. That’s why I was happy to part with my Powermesh. I didn’t need a back-up, just in case.
I knew from the moment I met with Phil Norman on a very, very wet and a very, very windy day (but that’s another story!) down in Worcestershire and handled the rods that they would be just right. But of course I will be providing feedback so watch this space as they say. Well my first two sessions on my new canal spot and the only feedback I could provide was that they’re smooth and light. In other words I blanked.
For my next two outings I decided to have early mornings in a place where I have caught carp before. But can you believe it, I had boats coming through from not much after first light. They must have wet their bunk beds or something! Anyway, it meant my 4.00am alarm clock endeavours were hindered really, although I did manage to christen the rods with a couple of bream! One was caught on popped up corn shaped boilie and the other on 12mm bottom fished M2 – both doubles. That’s the boilies doubles not the bream!
There’s a thin line between determination and stubbornness! It’s important that we pursue the former but definitely not the latter, so with that in mind I stuck at the task of catching a canal carp. In torrential rain I did a late evening session up to midnight, catching a solitary bream for my efforts. But rather than be discouraged by 5 carp blanks on the bounce I was merely motivated to get one in the net.
So, with an evening slot free, I once more set off for the local cut. Although fishing over pellets and a few loose boilies as per usual, I changed my boilie approach again in that I went for a 14mm lobworm pop-up on one rod and a double 12mm lobworm fished on the deck on the other. I was working on the larger bait eliminating the small bream. Sometimes we need to reduce the size of the bait, other times increase it. You can see some of my various boilies and pellets used in this week’s article in the photograph above.
Certainly once darkness kicked in it became a very autumnal night. Wet grass, chilly feel to the air and an abundance of slugs everywhere! The only problem I have with slugs though is that I end up taking them back home courtesy of them hitching a ride as they make their way into my bag, box or holdhall. But my mind was on things other than flicking away slugs when, an hour into dark, the hanger on the pop-up rod hit the butt and a solid scream came from the bite alarm. Game on!
The fish put up a really good fight and I christened the rod (apart from small bream as mentioned earlier) in style as I netted a beautifully conditioned mirror. I didn’t need to even unhook it as it did a self job in the net. That was close! As you can see it’s not a big fish but I was absolutely buzzing.
After 5 carp blanks it came good in the end. I was impressed with how the Classic rod coped as well because once you hook into a canal carp, with lots of natural features close by such as overhanging bushes, you do have to engage in a power struggle of sorts even for small fish. There isn’t always the luxury of allowing the fish any line.
The session was my final carp outing of the week so it was great to sign off with a fish. The image above is from a recent Angler’s Mail. If you follow my angling adventures on a regular basis you will know all about the show at Cudmore and the overnighter session in between the days on one of the lakes. Well, Ben Hervey-Murray took a couple of photographs and it was a nice surprise to see them featured a few weeks later.
And if you check out my YouTube channel you can see footage from the show, and also carp fishing with Ben, in the August 2012 video. And look at the video thumbnail photo. What a brace of carp that is! Don’t they look amazing! And finally, if you’re out fishing yourself over the next few days, enjoy. And I hope you catch the fish of your dreams. Tight lines. (article published September 8 2012)