Thursday, 22 February 2018

Braxted Reservoir 'The Spinning Coin'

I woke up under the clearest of skies, above my head the deepest of one hundred thousand blues. The sun was bright and high in the sky, the breeze was light and warm, I love days like these so much. The conditions were perfect to be out on the water, however I was up and out early for different reasons, I had work to do. Walking to the van without my tackle felt odd and very frustrating. Hopping up into the cab and reluctantly turning the key in the ignition, I suddenly had a wild thought. I was heading up to Colchester but after that my day was free. It occurred to me that on the way up I pass by Braxted. If everything goes according to plan, once I'd done my work I could swing by the waters for an afternoon session. I wouldn't have a great deal of time but it was worth a shot.

One Hundred Thousand Blues
Before I'd even finished that thought I was racing back into my flat to get my tackle. It was all very undignified, I literally grabbed everything by the handful, dragged it out the door and 'carefully' threw it all in the back of the van, smelly fishing clothes included. Now with the engine humming, I opened all the windows fully, cranked the stereo up to 'ear bleeding' volume and made my way out of the city. I whizzed up the motorway and on towards the Dartford tunnel, the music was pumping hard. I had no doubt that the monstrous riffs of the 'self-titled Killing Joke album' were battering everyone within a mile radius. As I entered the tunnel, the music carried and reverberated to crazy levels, I instantly got flashbacks to 'Donnington Monsters Of Rock' 1993.

As I reached the A12 I had a head full of carp and music, the adrenaline was racing through my veins and my thoughts were already at the waters edge. How was I going to fish?, Should I fish zigs?, both of these questions couldn't be answered until I was in my swim and ready for the casts. I simply couldn't wait to get to the lake, however, I still had to hold onto some kind of reality, I was forgetting I had a job on. The journey seemed to last forever and as I past Braxted on the way up, I started to get pretty dam impatient. The miles limped by, the minutes felt like hours. After what felt like a lifetime I eventually rolled into my destination, 'Status-Graphite'. It's a small family run business that builds both guitars and basses out of wood and graphite, they supply to some of the biggest touring bands in the world. What they produce is total quality - if 'Status' built fishing rods, 'I'd take 12 sets'.     

The Task Was Easy
The place has a strange connection to my fishing, one of the craftsmen that works there is the son of the late great Roger Heaton who was bailiff on Kingfishers Hoo complex. I always have a coffee and we have a little natter about all things angling, sadly Roger passed away December 2017. I will miss him very much and the lakes just wont feel the same without him around. So after much conversation, coffees were finished and the guitars were left for servicing, my next destination was the water. I sparked the vans ignition, opened the windows fully again, set the stereo to 'stun' and I was on the road once more. The journey back flew by and before I knew it I was winding down the old farm track to the Braxted car park. As I pulled up, to my surprise, the whole complex was empty, there were no cars and no signs of another human anywhere. It was looking like I had the whole place to myself.

I hopped into the back of the van and covertly changed into my 'stinky' fishing threads. I then took a slow walk around both the front and back lake. By this time some heavy cloud cover started to move in over head, this changed the feel of the day drastically. I had a feeling though that it might actually improve the fishing. Back lake looked lovely and I was tempted, however I knew that come 5:30 it would start to fill up with anglers 'that are only after the big one'. I didn't really want to find myself hemmed in between lots of guys casting out to their 'pre-baited' spots, some of whom think they own the lake. I decided to give it a swerve, the choice was now between the res or front lake, I really couldn't make up my mind. After a good 15 minutes of juggling random 'pros & cons' around in my head, I decided to flip a coin, heads 'the res' & tails 'front lake'.

Heads Or Tails

Prising out a slightly discolored two pence piece from my wallet, I flipped it off my thumb and waited for the decision to reveal itself to me. The penny twirled in the air for a second or two and then hit the floor with a muted thud. It was 'heads', the 'res' it was, the idea of the back breaking walk up wasn't inspiring me much but the coin had spoken. I began the killer journey, it really doesn't get any easier, as usual, by the time I got to the top I was seeing double. This was actually an improvement, usually I'm on the verge of blacking out. By this time it was mid afternoon so I was looking at about 4/5 hours of fishing, that was more than enough to tempt a bite or two. Being the only one up there felt inspiring, it was like a doorway to another world that only I had the key to.

I did a quick lap before deciding where to set up, surprisingly there weren't any signs of fish. This was very rare, the carp in the res are usually pretty clumsy at giving their location away. The water looked dead so I thought I'd follow the wind. It was pushing nicely down towards the dam wall, I'm usually reluctant to fish the dam swim because it gets hammered, but I thought it was worth a go. I was now in two minds whether to fish zigs or bottom baits, I was having a day of extreme 'indecisiveness' so instead of spending more time tangled in thought. I got the coin out again, heads 'zigs' & tails 'bottom baits'. A nice sharp thumb flick saw the coin twirling in the air once more, it hit the deck on tails, the coin had spoken, I'd be fishing on the bottom.

The dam wall swim has a few "go to areas" but I wasn't planning to target any of these. I wanted to get a spot going in the slightly deeper water, the plan was to fish both rods close together and load the swim up with a lot of bait. Taking into consideration that I didn't have a great deal of time, it might sound stupid to be fishing with a lot of bait, but I just a had a feeling that it was the right way to go. There's a pretty high stock of fish in the res and I always use a lot of bait when I'm fishing on the bottom. As usual everything was going to be kept really simple, I'd be fishing running rigs in combination with bottom baits. My bait of choice was 'Tigerfish', I'd be fishing a single boilie on the hair with a small mesh bag containing crushed Tigerfish and a few high oil pellets. This would add a little bit of extra attraction around my hook bait.   

Crushed Tiger Fish

I performed a few measured casts in the 'ball park' area I was planning to target. Both rods were then clipped up to 13 rod lengths, I made the penultimate casts, both landed perfectly. It worked out that both rigs were roughly a rod length away from each other. I then proceeded to spread about a kilo and a half of freebies in and around the area. It was a proper big spread, I didn't keep it too tight, I wanted to draw the carp in and get them feeding confidently. Working on the basis that over the past year or so, a lot of smaller fish seemed to be coming through. I wanted enough bait out there to, 'hopefully' attracted the slightly larger ones. Both alarms were flicked on, bobbins were hung and I could finally take a seat.

View From The Swim
It had been a pretty busy day and it seemed like a hell of a lot of effort for what would only amount to a couple of hours. But I'm always up for getting the rods out whenever possible, you don't have to be doing long haul sessions. Within twenty minutes of setting up all the clouds cleared and it was bright sunshine once again. My favorite kind of day had returned, I sat there alone by the water watching everything around me. The light breeze continued to push down towards the dam, gulls cut through the sky above and the usual politics was occurring between the mallards and coots, they appear to be forever at war. Sitting surveying everything around the water, the real world seemed like it was a million miles away, which was fine with me, for the next few hours I had no interest in it.

Over the next hour or so I started to receive a few liners and a couple of carp topped towards the back of my spot. There were definitely fish moving in on my bait and all the signs were pointing to a bite. I grabbed my binoculars and started scanning the area, I clocked a few patches of bubbles. They were quite hard to see because the ripples were obscuring them but I counted at least five separate patches. Now with a slightly raised heart rate I sat as still as a statue and focused on my rod tips, one could go at any second. More line bites started and as my attention went from my tips, to the water, and back again. A huge eruption appeared directly over my right hand rod, you could literally see the silt clouding in the upper layers.

The Tip Of My Attention
BANG! my right rod exploded into life, the buzzer screamed and the clutch whirled and clicked, grabbing the rod and leaning into the madness. The blank arched round and I was connected to, what felt like, a really good fish. It was steaming at speed out into the open water, I held on tight, with the sun low over head I was being blinded by the reflection on the surface of the water. I literally couldn't see anything, I clambered up holding the rod in one hand and managed to grab my polarized sunglasses with the other. Waiting for the bright blotches to disappear from within my eyes-balls, I was 'back in the game'. At this point I hadn't gained any ground so I decided to let the carp 'blow its load' and then start to tease it back towards me.

I wasn't in any rush, this fish felt heavy so I just braced for the ride, after another 10 minutes or so I finally started to guide her my way. It was now only a short distance out and as it fought for every inch of its life, just below the surface, the suns rays suddenly reflected off a huge flank of large mirror scales, that's a moment I'll never forget. I instantly knew which fish it was. A few years back an angler I got talking to on the bank had showed me a photo of this specific fish. To say that it's unique looking is an understatement. I was now feeling really nervous and as I lowered the net down and went for the final scoop, I prayed to god that it would go in with no fuss. To my relief the carp cruised over the cords with no sudden bid for freedom. 

A Shimmering Prize
I couldn't quite believe what I was witnessing, this was an incredible example of a mirror carp and I can safely say that it was way up there with one of the best I've ever caught. It was an honour to be able to hold such a mind blowing creature. It seemed that passing both my choices and decisions over to a measly, discolored two pence coin really paid off. It wasn't something I was going to make a habit of but fate had definitely dealt me a winning hand. I gave the fish a good soaking with some water, checked its mouth which was perfect - 'due to the fact I hadn't bullied it'. Now it was time to get a few shots, preserve the memory and then send her back home.

Pure Perfection - in every sense
To say I was happy would be dishonest, I was blown away, I was so pleased that I'd decided to make the effort to fish today, this capture wouldn't of happened otherwise. It just goes to show, like many times before, short sessions can pay off. If the fish are feeding and you drop in on them then you can get quick results. The rest of the afternoon passed me by without another bite, this really didn't bother me, to be able to sit and watch the day slowly decay into evening was a simple pleasure, I packed up 'a happy man'. The long walk back down to the van was a blur and as I started my journey home, with both windows wide open and the stereo pumping out some hard and heavy riffs. I once again felt lucky to have angling in my life, you just never know what might happen. This short and 'indecisive' session will be one that I'll remember for many years to come. Where will I end up next? I might just let the coin decide.

Heads Or Tails?

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Technological Advancement, An 'Orwellian' Future & Carp Fishing

"all thoughts are chipped, tracked, removed from our minds, harvested countless times inside of the machine" An Extract From An Earth Synthetic By Paul Warren 2018 ©
We're living in an age where 'tech' has been embedded into every aspect of our existence, to such a degree that many just can't seem to function without it. Everywhere I turn people are fixated on some kind of device. There's part of me that feels like this was the plan all along, if you can get the worlds population addicted to technology then it can, very easily, be implemented in a way to dictate and control everything we do - we're pretty close to that being the case already. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware that it has improved so many things within many industries to levels we could only of dreamt of, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the 'tech' that's marketed towards us - the masses. I feel that it's mainly designed for convenience. It's providing us all with an 'instant' fix, we have the world at our finger tips. If you want music you simply press a button and it's downloaded within seconds. If you want 'take-out' you press a button and your doorbell rings 45 minutes later with your order. Virtually anything you could possibly want is just one click away, very little effort and thought has to go into anything when you've relocated your existence into a virtual reality.

The idea of a 'virtual reality' might sound rather far fetched, but think about it. Most people spend more time on both social media and the internet than they do here in the real world. Creating profiles and 'virtual personas' seems to be of top priority nowadays. Some of us are spending more time creating a reality that doesn't always bare any resemblance to our real lives, than actually living in the here and now. Pictures and images are edited, selfies are doctored and filtered, the mundane is presented in such away that it's made to look like some life changing achievement. Likes, retweets and shares seem to have overtaken the want for basic human interaction and conversation. If you're not careful these types of platforms can create such acute 'self-focus' that you can become totally obsessed with self image. I think some forget that looks will eventually fade and what you're left with then is your 'character' and your 'mind'. 

Developing your mind and your character is a huge part of being human, if you've spent your whole life totally and utterly preoccupied with the way you look, what are you going to do when you just don't think you look good anymore?. Current trends would suggest you then pump your face full of BOTOX, it appears that this has become the new idea of perfect looking. Sorry, but I just don't see it, I feel it's just a distorted, visual representation of the 'said persons' frame of mind. The lines on your face show a map of your life, the imperfections can be unique perfections when looked upon by those that have the ability to see what's below the surface. Part of growing and understanding life is to be able to deal with self change and deterioration. The life you are living now can't be cropped, rehearsed, rewound or buffered, it's what you do in the here and now that counts. As time passes and the years fade, the internet will be littered with thousands upon thousands of digital ghosts, including me and this blog. Will any of it really mean anything to anyone living in the real world, I don't think it will. However, who knows what the 'real world' will look like in the next 100 years.

So this leads me to the question - has this form of technology actually improved our lives?. Like everything, I think it depends on the way that you use it and what you're personally wanting to get out of it. For me all my social platforms are really just an extension of my blog with a little bit of music and drumming thrown in. I feel privileged because a lot of people have connected to me through my angling and my writing, we all share a common interest. I'm very conscious of how much time I spend on it all and if I feel like it's starting to dictate any part of my day, I switch it off. The long and short is, if it's used to stay in touch with friends, family or connect with people that you meet along the way who share a mutual interest, then it can be very beneficial and a pretty pleasant experience. It can also be a life saver for those with disabilities or conditions that don't allow them to get out of the house and socialize. If however you're using it to become some kind of internet celebrity that needs constant validation, who adds thousands upon thousands of people that you don't know, who many, you probably wouldn't get on with in real life, then I think it can be very damaging. I don't believe you can use this type of 'tech' to try and fill a void within your real life.

Moving on to the development of 'artificial intelligence', there's part of me that actually thinks both the internet and social media were initially designed to aid the development of this. This might sound like some kind of conspiracy theory, but lets take a closer look. The internet is being used by literally everyone all over the planet all the time, it never switches off. Every thought and action is being logged and recorded, reactions, emotions, habits, languages, it's all data that can be converted and used. How do we know that it isn't being used and harvested to create 'A.I'. There's no better place to go to collect every single element of the human psyche than the internet. You only have to look around you to see technology is getting closer and closer to us all of the time. We started off with huge computers, eventually they went from taking up a whole room to sitting on a desk top. Phones went from cumbersome great things that could just about make calls, to slim, sleek little devices that can pretty much do what most computers do and more. They contain our lives, our location, our habits, our secrets, the list goes on and on.

It's at this point that technology takes another step closer, possibly its biggest step yet. We now have 'wearables', small gadgets that we can attach to ourselves. These are sold to us in a very clever way, they're designed to help us stay fit and healthy, recording how far we walk or run, telling us how many steps we've taken and how many calories we've burnt, I have no doubt they can also pinpoint your movements and exact location as well. I'm interested to know exactly how safe it actually is to be wearing such devices over a long period. No proper research has been done to test what the effects are to the human body in regards to wireless frequencies and any possible radiation they might emit. So whilst many are using these 'wearables' to stay healthy, they could be damaging themselves in other ways. So whilst we're all distracted with our smart watches, phones and VR headsets, A.I technology takes a step closer still. It's now in our homes, the main example being the 'Amazon Echo'. 

Lets take a closer look at this item, "it's capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audio books, and providing weather, traffic and other real-time information. It can also control several smart devices acting as a home automation hub". It's pretty unreal when you think about it, but to me this is just a softening up tool to get us use to both communicating and living with A.I. On one level this is all obviously very helpful but on another, we're not only now communicating with A.I we're also handing certain responsibilities and tasks over to it, all in the comfort of our own home. So whilst we sit on our sofas in the warm where we can shop, download, project a false reality, stream movies, keep an eye on what everyone else is doing and thinking etc ... A.I and machines are starting to take our jobs. 
One example is self service check outs in supermarkets, when I first saw them I though they were pretty useful. I ditched the long cues and sorted my own shopping out. In my local supermarket there are about 15 self service points, in reality that's 15 people that don't have a job anymore. The same can be said for banks, gone are the days of getting in line and waiting for an age to be able to pay a cheque in. Now you simply feed them into a machine, it reads the amount, deposits it and you're good to go, you can do this without even having to look or talk to another person. These are only two examples but other jobs taken over by 'tech' also include switchboard operators, lift operations, film projectionists, bridge and toll collectors, train sales assistants and factory workers, to name but a few. The list goes on and on and I have no doubt that there's more to follow, especially when you take 'driverless' technology and put it in the equation. So where does it all go from here? 

My Vision Of The Future - brace yourselves

I have a pretty grim vision of the future where technology is concerned, I think it will eventually be combined with human consciousness. This is what the whole 'Transhumanist' viewpoint involves. "Transhumanism is the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology". Google & Facebook are two of the main 'players' in the Transhumanist movement. This makes complete sense considering the position they both hold in communication technology. In my mind I have no doubt whatsoever that the next phase will be implanting some form of 'tech' inside of us. This is when I think things are going to get dangerous, I believe it will come in the form of a microchip and it will be sold to us in such a way that it will be almost impossible to refuse. This has already been used on dogs, the next logical step is humans. Only the chip that we'll have will house many more capabilities. I think the initial implant will go in either the hand or the wrist. It will eventually get to the point where everyone will be forced to have one and it will be impossible to exist in the modern age without it.

I believe it will contain all of our information, very similar to our mobile phones. There will be no need for passports or similar 'red tape', you'll simply get scanned as you check in for your flight, transactions will be made by running your hand or wrist over a scanner. This is already the case with both phones and bank cards, forget your PIN number, one swipe and you're done. It's as if you're not actually spending any money, nothing physical changes hands. This is when I think currency will stop being a material item completely. With the introduction of a virtual currency then it will be so much easier to keep track and control of peoples finances. Surveillance will move forward in leaps and bounds, gone are the days of trying to identify criminals by their appearance. Cameras will use the same technology as number plate recognition. Instead of your number plate being recorded, your chip number will be detected and run against a central database that contains all of your details.

Eventually a similar implant will be designed, only this one will have the capabilities to work in unison with our brains. This will enable humans to advance and learn at alarming rates, if you want to master something new then it simply gets downloaded. Practice, study and hard work will be a thing of the past, at a touch of a button you can fly a plane, become a doctor, the sky will literally be the limit. I sense that things will eventually take a very dark turn with half man, half machine type entities. This may sound like something of 'science fiction' but at some stage it's going to become 'science fact', everything is leaning towards this becoming a very real possibility. I think that only the wealthy will be able to afford this technology at first which will increase the divide between rich and poor, even more so than it is today. I know that this is sounding all far fetched and you'll probably thinking I've lost my mind. But this is genuinely the way that I see things going at some point in the years to come. If I'll be alive to see it all implemented, well, that's another story. So let us now move away from my grim 'Orwellian' vision of the future and move on to the lighter subject of fishing 'tech'.

Technology and carp fishing can be a very divisive subject and I feel it's something that isn't going to be resolved anytime soon. I've decided to finally express how I feel about it and I've chosen to keep my mind well and truly open. I've been one of the many anglers to start shouting about the death of our sport through gadgetry and 'tech'. But is it really as bad as all that, I'm starting to think that it isn't. I don't really class myself as a 'purest' when it comes to my fishing, I don't really know what that means. However I feel that there are a series of elements in everything we do that have to be learnt, understood and mastered. I don't believe in short cuts and I certainly don't believe in using technology to 'bypass' or 'replace' any part of the learning process. But I see no real issue with combining or using it to enhance something that has already been learnt and understood.

My Predecessor 'Apparently'
Take drumming for instance, was I at all bothered when the drum machine turned up and I had people joking to me that I'd be out of a job in no time. The answer to that was 'NO' drum machines have their place in certain styles of music, especially electronic. I knew that when it came to bands that actually played their instruments they wanted and required the human element within the rhythm. I also never had anything against sample pads or triggers. When these two elements are mixed in with acoustic drums you can create all kinds of crazy layers and FX. Triggers and sample pads used to enhance standard drums made things interesting. However if you use them to cover up an inability or a bad technique then you are kidding yourself. That's not the way to go and that's exactly how I see technology within carp fishing, it's to enhance, not replace.

A Fine Invention

Lets look at bite alarms, when they first came onto the market many considered them cheating. When I first started fishing I actually couldn't afford any, there I was with two cheap bank sticks and a bright orange 45p bobbin attached to my line. I'd be sitting there float fishing with one rod and ledgering with the other. All of a sudden there was an almighty 'TH-WACK', the bobbin would slam against the blank and all hell broke loose. I have very clear memories of what it was like fishing without them. When I eventually got my first set it felt like a luxury. Now I could happily sit by my rods, let my mind wander and go for the occasional 'call of nature' without worrying that a fish might take my bait undetected and proceed to find its way into the closest snag or weed bed.

I personally think that using bite alarms are a sign of responsible angling, if you're fishing long sessions and nights there's just no way that you can sit inches from your rod watching it every second and waiting for something to happen. Bite alarms not only tell you what's going on, they can also tell you what might happen at any moment. A few liners and bleeps could signal that a take is imminent, this is especially important if you're snag fishing. You can hover over the rod with your striking arm at the ready to ensure, that if a take occurs, you're on it as fast as possible. So in regards to cheating, do bite alarms actually catch the fish for you, do they locate where they are and cast your rod out. Clearly not, they simply alert you when you get a take, and from a 'fish safety' point of view, I think that's very important. 'Just remember to turn them off when setting your bobbins'.

Cheating Or Not?

So moving onto an item that seems to inflame many debate, 'Bait Boats'. I don't have any experience in using them, the only contact I've had a fair few times is when someone sails one straight through my swim and then proceeds to drop their rig and bait over my rods. That highlights the main issue for me, the problem isn't the bait boat itself, it's who's operating it and the attitude they have towards everyone else they share the water with. So can using a bait boat be regarded as cheating? I feel there's many answers to this question. If you haven't developed a casting technique and you're using a boat to compensate for the fact that you can't cast, then I don't agree with them. That highlights my earlier point about using technology to bypass learning. However I understand that there are many scenarios where they can be a great help. Firstly if you have a disability that hinders you from being able to cast then they're a invaluable tool and I agree 100% in their application.

There's A Time & A Place

If you're fishing a big pit or the equivalent of an inland ocean, here or somewhere abroad, where the carp stay out the range of the longest cast. Then it makes complete sense to use either a boat or a bait boat to get your rigs out to where the fish are holding. That's not cheating it's just common sense, what's the point in fishing a venue where there's just no chance of getting your baits to where the fish are, that's just a waste of time. However I don't see the point in using one on your standard sized club water or day ticket. What's the point if you can cast comfortably to any spot on the lake? that to me is just pure laziness. Add that in with intruding into other anglers water, and/or placing your bait on spots where it would be, almost impossible to land a fish from. Then I can see exactly why they rub people up the wrong way. There's a time and a place for bait boats and if they're being used responsibly and in the right circumstances, then I have no real issue with them at all.

So now I'd like to move on to a relatively new product known as the 'FishSpy'. To be honest when this first came out on the market I paid absolutely no attention to it whatsoever. The minute I heard that a camera was involved I pretty much switched off. Part of the attraction of angling for me is not knowing what's going on under the surface. Its always been this magical unseen world that continues to fuel my imagination. I'm not interested in a product that allows me to peek into it. As you sit looking out over the water, you can only really dream of what might be happening below the surface and I believe it should stay that way. However, when I started to research this particular piece I was pretty impressed with what it claimed to do. I haven't used one so I'm going on what I've read and watched.

A Marker With A Difference

Fundamentally what we have here is a marker float with a camera, you use it in the exact same way as a standard marker float but it allows you to take a look at the spot you're thinking of fishing. When you really think about it, that's a pretty amazing invention and credit goes to the guys & girls that came up with it. Can this be classed as cheating? again, it all depends who's using it and what they're wanting to achieve. If you're going to be casting this about like a madman hoping that you might be able to find some fish, then I think you're dreaming. The float weights 96 grams, add a 3 - 4 oz lead to that and you're casting one hell of a weight. No fish in their right mind would hang around for long if that comes and lands on their head. However if you're going to use it in the exact same way you would a marker float, with the added extra of being able to take a quick look at what you're fishing over. Then I think it could be a pretty decent edition to your approach. This isn't replacing a skill, it's simply aiding it and, at the same time, it isn't giving to much of the 'secret world' away.
Fish-Spy Footage
From a curiosity point of view I'd find it pretty interesting to be able to view the spot I'd chosen before casting my rig out. For the first time you're actually getting a visual representation of what you're feeling through the rod blank. This to me could be a real eye opener. The only possible problem I can see arising is if someone wants to try and film fish feeding over their spot or taking their bait. If you're going to leave it out submerged under the water for hours, then I think that's irresponsible. Just say you do manage to film a fish getting caught and it decides to bolt. There's a very high chance it could end up getting tangled in the marker braid, taking the lead and fishspy with it, this could cause all sorts of problems. To conclude, if you understand how to marker a swim with a lead and float and you use the fishspy to have a quick check of your chosen spots. Then it could end up being a very interesting piece of technology.

Love It Or Hate It

So let me move onto the final item and one that has caused all kinds of arguments since its inception. The 'Deeper Pro Plus', when this first came out there was no real middle ground. People either loved the idea or hated it, I totally understand why there was so much negativity. A lot depended on the way many looked at it and how they were planning to use it, for some, it was catering towards the 'instant' generation. As mentioned before, we're living in an instant world. Technology has made us pretty dam lazy, tomorrow just ain't good enough - we want it now with the least effort. So when you take the Deepers fish finder facility into account, it's really not hard to imagine why some are looking upon it as the devil. If we take a moment to move away from the cheating or not cheating debate. Lets look at exactly what it does.

To Sonar Or Not To Sonar

Here we have a castable sonar device that you can connect with wirelessly through an app on your mobile phone. It maps what's below the surface in great detail providing a visual representation of the lake bed. Not only this but it shows you weed, hard spots, soft spots, water temperature and depths, and of course, it has a fish finding facility - however you don't have to have this switched on. When a fish swims under the device it notifies you of the depth it's swimming at from the surface of the water downwards. There's an option to show the fish as raw data or as a symbol, the raw data image can give you an idea of the size of fish. When you remove actual fishing from the equation and just look upon this as a new piece of technology, I personally can't help but be impressed.

But like all the items mentioned in this post, it all depends how you're going to use it and what you're attitude is in regards to those you share the water with. If you're going to turn up to a lake, taking absolutely no notice of those around you and start casting this left, right and center until a fish pops up. Then I think it's not only irresponsible and selfish but it's also pointless, firstly, fish move, and secondly you are learning nothing. You are relying solely on the device, you're ditching watercraft, and in the end I think using it would become a thing of habit. There's a danger that it would end up dictating every session, you'll be spending more time faffing around with it than actually fishing. I personally don't believe the Deeper was designed as a fish detector. In my mind it's an 'overview' item, what I mean by this is, when combined with all the other elements within carp fishing, it's providing you with, just that little bit more information that you couldn't acquire before.

Deeper Display

For example, you can combine the Deeper into your marker work to gain far more useful information. We all know how disruptive casting a float and lead can be. Not only that but 'traditional' marker techniques can only provide you with a limited amount of knowledge. We're acting on a lot of hunches and assumptions. Arriving at a lake and casting the Deeper out a couple of times is not only less intrusive but it's going to provide you with far more insight. Once you've had a few casts and you've spotted some features of interest. You can then get your marker rod out, locate them, get the rod lengths, horizon markers etc, make a note and then you know exactly what you're aiming for on future sessions. If you proceeded to do this in all your favorite swims, it really wouldn't take long to build up a very accurate picture. Once this work has initially been done you wouldn't actually have to use it on 'said-water' again. Applying the Deeper in this way isn't replacing, cheating or bypassing any element of angling, it's simply enhancing it. 

Another scenario, take 'Zigs', if you turn up to a water on a lovely warm day where the carp are in the upper layers or clearly on the surface. Casting a marker float out to get the depth is going to kill the situation before you've even started. A few covert casts with the Deeper would give you the exact depth so you can then target the fish effectively from the get go. In my mind this isn't cheating either, it's just being far more efficient than before, especially if you're a short session angler and you just don't have a great deal of time. So, is the Deeper Pro Plus really cheating? if you're buying this with the mindset to use it just as a fish finder and compensate for your inability to use a marker float or locate carp. I'd say 'yes', you're clearly getting it for completely the wrong reasons. Also if you're buying it in the hope it will shortcut the capture to all the big named fish in your waters, which in turn would get you in all the mags - making you the next amazing ego driven carping celebrity, then I think you're kidding yourself.

Never Bypass The Fundamentals

Without taking the time to learn the fundamentals, you'll only go so far before you've got to go back to the drawing board - there are no short cuts to the learning process. If you're looking to get a Deeper to enhance your understanding of the waters you fish and you use it in edition with all the other disciplines and techniques you've learnt. Then I really don't consider it an issue, it's just enhancing and allowing a greater understanding, and to be honest that can only be a good thing. With all technology it's about using it responsibly and in the right situation, if you want to stick to a traditionalist route then there's nothing stopping you from doing that. If you want to get some of the latest tech to aid you in your quest, then there's nothing wrong with that either. At the end of the day it's all down to personal preference. I'll leave you with one last thought, 'SAT-NAVS' are an amazing invention, they make getting about so much easier but you really should learn how to use an 'A to Z.


Monday, 1 January 2018

JRC Radar CX Bite Alarm Review

"As in all my reviews I'd like to start by stating that I'm in no way connected to JRC Tackle. This is an independent write up that I hope might help you out if you've been thinking about purchasing the JRC Radar CX bite alarm."

I have a real soft spot for bite alarms and through the years I've built up a rather impressive collection, I use them all and will continue to do so. I go through stages, sometimes I get completely stuck on my old DXR's, and as quick as the wind changes I'll find myself digging out my old TLBs or Micron SX's. The main aspect I always look for is reliability, this is far more important to me than endless fancy features that, most of the time, I never really use. I've always swerved the latest fashions and 'buzz' items, opting more for what I personally like the look of, both names and brands really don't mean a great deal to me. Regarding bite alarms, I think it's very easy to get blinkered by the mainstream companies such as Delkim and Fox, that many just don't consider looking elsewhere. I find that overtime 'in any industry, not just angling', the mainstream companies can get complacent with their standards, but they know that on 'name' and past 'reputation' alone', whatever they bring out they're still going to shift shed loads.
This is where I feel that it can pay off looking at what the smaller companies have on offer, they've got something to prove so it's within their interest to bring out something of quality. I've always brushed my eyes over the JRC bite alarm range and the one feature that always caught my eye was the LED bar, I loved the idea of the LED moving in the direction of the line. Would this feature help me catch more fish? - of course not, but it's something very different to anything I'd seen before and I genuinely really liked it. The thing that always put me off buying them was the shape. However when I saw that they'd released a new model, the Radar CX, I was instantly taken with them. Visually they're very understated, and I really liked their unique design. The CX range are slim, sleek and very clean looking, I understand the way a bite alarm looks comes down to personal taste, but for me they ticked all the boxes. 

The RRP on a single head is £49.99 but if you scout around you can get them much cheaper. Both mine, brand new cost £23.99 from ebay and for that price you get one hell of an alarm, even for the original price I believe you're getting a product that equals those of double, even triple the cost. So where do I start? - firstly, the alarm comes with its very own hard case that slips off and on with ease. On closer inspection of the alarm itself, it's all very minimal, on the back you have an 'easy to access' compartment that houses a single square 9V battery. Once the battery is in, the head feels very solid in the hands, it doesn't feel cheap and tacky.

It has volume, tone and sensitivity, the knobs are large, perfect for those with fat fingers, and they're very easy to turn. Its on/off switch is located on the bottom left. Switching it to the right turns the alarm on, you'll get 3 bleeps and the LED will travel upwards. This indicates that the alarm is now functioning and ready for use. If you click the switch to the left, this puts it into 'manual night function', meaning that the LED strip omits a softer light, this setting makes it easier on the eyes when using it in the dark. Having now spent a lot of time out on the bank using them, I've had ample opportunity to mess about with the settings. There's an array of different tones ranging from the very low, through the mid, right up to the high range, the volume can be set to near silent or cranked right up if need be. Taking into account that it's a roller wheel system, the sensitivity is very versatile and more than you'll ever need. On its most sensitive I've found that it detects the smallest of liners and, having recently been braving the banks in the current gale force winds, I've had no issues with false bleeps when using the lower regions of the sensitivity settings.

Slim & Solid

Moving up to the top section of the alarm, you have the LED strip housed on the left, it's very easy to see and even on bright days it's very clear. I've found on some alarms the brightness of the LED can be effected negatively in the sunlight, this is not the case with the CX. The little 'groove' that holds your rod is nice and snug and it has small rubber pads built in, these help to grip your rod. One downside I'd like to mention is the use of snag ears, due to the shape of the alarm around the battery housing, it's not possible to use snag ears with them. To be honest though, you'd need to be fishing locked up and super tight to either your left or right to stand any chance of the rod being pulled off, I personally don't think you need snag ears with these alarms. Moving onto the Radars sound, the clues in the name, it literally sounds like a radar or a sonar blip. I haven't heard another bite alarm like it, for me this is yet another aspect that really separates the CX from other alarms out there. The other thing that I'm really impressed with is the clarity. The sound is super clear, to get this clarity JRC state the alarm has a "Magneto-dynamic speaker with digital amplifier for superior sound quality". I'm not quite sure what that means but I can confirm that the sound is super clear and clean.

Blue - Red - Green - Orange
So now I'd like to move onto the finer details of the alarms indication - bare with me, there's a lot to explain and I didn't realize they were so technical.

Firstly, when the line pulls forward the alarm will sound and the LED will move in unison upwards. If it's just a single bleep, the LED will shoot to the top and stay fixed for 20 seconds. When you get a small single 'drop-back' the bleep is a semitone lower and the LED drops to the bottom, it will then flash for 20 seconds. When you get a full blown take forwards, the LED travels from the bottom to the top and repeats. When you get a full blown drop back the LED travels from the top to the bottom and repeats. It might sound all a little 'overkill' but with all these little features combined, it gives you a very clear indication of what's going on. To my knowledge I'm not aware of another bite alarm on the market that communicates things in such detail. Truth be told, you don't necessarily need all this, I've always said that you know full well when you've got a carp on the end of your line, but it's all very impressive and well thought out. There's a short video below to demonstrate what I've explained in this paragraph.

Alarm Specifications

Designed, engineered & tested in the UK
Traveling colored LEDs
20 second latching LED
Step-less adjustable volume, tone, and sensitivity
Magneto-dynamic speaker with digital amplifier for superior sound quality
Housing made from high impact ABS material
Range of 150m+
Manual nightlight function
All weather proof, double sealed electronic parts
Long battery life
Rubber inserts to keep the rod from sliding
Low battery warning
Operates on 1 x 9V Battery (not included)
Manual power on-off
Power out socket
Rolling code ID function
Prevents interference by other alarms on the same lake


Moving away from the alarm itself, another huge advantage to the CX range is the capability of being able to use a wireless receiver. JRC have designed one dedicated to the Radar CX alarm range. The RRP on this is £34.99 but if you scout around you can find it cheaper, I purchased mine for £26.99. The unit is small, compact and solid in the hands once the batteries are installed, it runs off 3x AAA. It's capable of pairing up to 4 alarms. Just like the CX heads, it's very understated, it has a single volume knob that's very easy to adjust. The on and off switch is located on the top of the unit, if you flick the switch to the left the receiver will beep three times and all four LEDs will flash in unison. This indicates that it's ready for use, on 'volume' mode. Switching it to the right sets it to 'vibration' mode, all four LEDs will flash once to indicate this, the receiver will vibrate three times in unison. When it's set to 'vibration', no sound comes out the speaker. It's very easy to pair up with your CX heads, this is done using the small button that's located on the top right of the unit.

Radar CX Multi LED Receiver

The volume settings are very versatile, it can be set to silent so no sound comes out at all, however the LEDs will signal any occurrence. On those really windy days when alerts can be hard to hear. You can crank the volume level right up, it's highest setting is really loud. The receiver has the same sound technology in it as the alarms so it's super clear and crisp on all volume settings. In regards to indication, I've found it to be spot on. When you get a forward take the tone is high and the LED flashes at a super fast rate. When you get a drop back the tone is low and the receiver gives off a sound that's very reminiscent of an old mobile phone ringtone. When you turn the alarm off, the receiver will notify you with a short sustained 'bleep' followed by a flashing LED. All in all it's a great addition to the CX range.

Receiver Specifications

Designed, engineered & tested in the UK
Traveling colored LEDs
20 second latching LED
Step-less adjustable volume
Magneto-dynamic speaker
Digital amplifier for superior sound quality
Housing made from high impact ABS material
Range of 150m+
Manual nightlight function
All weather proof, double sealed electronic parts
Long battery life
Operates on 1 x 9V Battery (not included)
Manual power on-off
Power out socket
Rolling code ID function
Prevents interference by other alarms on the same lake

Finally I'd like to mention that the alarms have a 2.5mm power out socket. This is so you can use the JRC Radar DS illuminated swingers. I cannot comment on these because I haven't purchased a set. I'm still using my trusted Matrix swinger arms, however, if the design and build quality of the CX range is anything to go by then I'm sure the illuminated swingers would be a reliable edition to your Radar 'weaponry'. So to sum up, I can't recommend these alarms enough, they're spot on in both theory and practice and I have no doubt that I'm going to be using them for many years to come. I've tried to find faults but to be totally honest there aren't any. 


As mentioned before, bite alarms, as with every item of tackle, always comes down to personal preference, one mans gold is another mans tin, it's all down to the individual. If you're an angler that follows the fashions and has to be seen with the latest 'cool' product, then these alarms obviously aren't for you. However if you have your own mind, want something different, and don't care about trends, then the JRC Radar CX range is definitely something you should look into. For the price they really are mind boggling, they're high spec and provide you with more than most alarms at twice the price. I really feel like JRC have nailed it with this product. This might just be the 'coolest uncool bite alarm' to hit the market for quite sometime. The choice is yours but it's a 10/10 from me.        

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Cants Mere 'Find That Feeling'

Feeling 'an emotional state or reaction'

Emotion 'a strong feeling deriving from one's circumstances, mood, or relationships with others'

Awareness 'knowledge or perception of a situation or fact'

How are you feeling? - there are times when I portray this as a trick question, it's complicated. It's only over the last couple of months I've come to realize that if I'd learnt to interpret   certain feelings in more of a direct way, a lot of confusion could've been avoided. I've been doing a hell of a lot of thinking recently and along with that, I've found myself looking back through this blog, it's hard to believe that I've been writing it since the start of 2012. I've noticed that it's taken many different twists and turns and through the years its developed into more than just 'session' accounts. It goes without saying that it's fundamentally about angling, however, now having had the chance to look at it from a distance, it appears, that in equal measure, there's a series of reoccurring themes. 

Mainly, feelings, emotions and awareness. These three things are so very important, it's what makes us human, they're embedded in our frame work, safely housed in the limbic/oldest part of the brain so there's no getting away from them. It's these three things that can cause us the most trouble, and when you really think about it, we're given no real guidance on how to handle them. We're pushed into this world kicking and screaming, squashed and squeezed through a "one size fits all" educational prison. To suddenly find ourselves all grown up in an adult world, you've got to shut up, get in line and feed the system, an inherent system that really doesn't cater for individuals. If you are one, you're going to have a hard time. If you're not careful you can become so desensitize to your own feelings and emotions that you just aren't in touch with yourself anymore.           

 Life Is As Life Does

I understand that everyone responds differently to the world around them, many appear to sail through their lives completely content with their situation. They don't analyse or over think things, they just get on with 'the obvious', have a good time, and by doing this, they're content. On the flip-side though, there are those that struggle, over analyse and find life hard - there's no shame in this. I've been bogged down with both emotions and intense feelings as long as I can remember. However, I was fortunate because my outlet came through my drum playing, I first picked up a set of drumsticks when I was 6 years old. So by the time the dreaded, 'highly emotional' teenage years came about, I'd mastered how to express myself through my instrument, closely followed by writing both poetry and free verse

Through the years my angling also grew to become a major support mechanism. Living in this way allowed me to navigate myself through everyday life, 'still feeling as confused as hell', but I'd created a spiritual release to make it all the more bearable. Through time it became very apparent the importance of 'having your own voice', I don't mean this in a literal sense. I am talking more about self development and expression, you find your way of doing things and you develop and master them, you simply perfect being you. This includes everything that you choose to do, that's what makes you an individual and not a carbon copy. I just don't see the sense in being fragments of everyone else's views and opinions. For me this point is of equal relevance in both my angling and drum playing.
It's strange because I've never looked upon drums as an instrument or a 'time keeper', to me they were always more of a sounding board to communicate both my emotions and my feelings - very similar to this blog, it's not just about carp fishing, it's about everything you think and feel along the way. I've never looked upon angling as just going and trying to catch, it goes so much deeper than that, there's a series of elements that all amalgamate together into one, which makes my viewpoint on my own fishing far more 'panoramic' than black & white. The reoccurring theme always seems to go back to the feelings and 'emotions' that fishing tends to conjure up. It's a mystery as to why some get more effected by these things more than others. I think it's basically in our DNA, certain elements are in our 'general makeup', the secret is learning to except the way you are and deal with it accordingly - fine tune yourself. What does this have to do with carp angling? - bare with me.

Expression Through The Feet
Back when I was struggling to exist I'd regularly see a very unique lady called Helen, she approached psychotherapy in a very different way. We'd unpick the most tangled of my thoughts and piece them all back together again. One question she asked me, which to this day, is something I still can't really answer was - what do I feel when I'm holding a carp?. Obviously this question has so many levels, there isn't one definitive answer - I'd like you to think about this to. Years ago when I was just fishing local club waters and day tickets, it was all pretty basic. I'd feel a huge sense of excitement, I didn't really think about it any deeper than that, it was about the buzz of catching and just getting out there and doing it. 

I rarely thought about the merit of the capture or the style of venue, back then fishing anywhere with bigger fish in was the motivation. I think that you either stick with these sort of venues or you move on to a slightly purer challenge. It's only as the years have passed that the shape of both my fishing and what I want out of it has changed. Of course, I still get a huge amount of excitement every time I cast my rods out. But it now goes far deeper, it's definitely more about the merit of the capture. How much merit is based on what specific water I'm fishing at the time. I've said it many times before but I'd much rather have a nice double from a hard water than a 30 from a puddle.

Expression Through The Hands

Looking at it another way, catching a recently new stocked fish wouldn't conjure up the same feelings as an old one from, say, Boreham Mere. In the same breath, a fish from Boreham wouldn't communicate the same feelings to me as one from, say, Savay - an original or not. My feelings would change once more depending on the method that I caught it on. My first ever 20IB carp was caught on a 5IB line with floating crust. To this day, that fish still means more to me than bigger ones that I've caught off the bottom. Any fish I catch on a zig gives me a far greater sense of achievement than any that I catch on the deck. The list of feelings are endless and it's all down to the situation and the method of capture. So going back to the original question of "what I feel when I hold a carp". I literally feel everything, on a primal level, I feel their life in my hands, their fear, the kick as I release them, but above all I feel alive, more alive in that moment than I ever feel in my everyday life.

Cants 'The Heavens Opened'

This brings me onto my next session, after having a fair old result up on 'Braxted Res' I was feeling optimistic. All the sure signs for my next trip had pointed towards Braxted front lake, but, forever acting on impulse I decided to take a U-Turn and set my sights on Cants Mere. Cants has always been a grey area for me, it shares its space with Blunts and I'd never bothered to fish it because it was a water that had been left alone. It contained, literally thousands of small carp and I'm just not interested in fishing waters like that. Maybe with a float rod or swim feeder, but my head wasn't in that space. There had been a few whispers in the 'club grapevine' that the fishery management team had been working very hard on removing and restocking the fish. From my understanding the plan was to make it into a proper carp lake. I didn't know a great deal about it but, that alone started to fire up my imagination. I felt excited because I hadn't even laid my eyes on the place, so for me it was literally the start of something new.

Blunts & Cants
The first time I walked around the water I was surprised at just how large it was. I'd only ever seen its front half because that was the area most visible from Blunts. Initially I wasn't very keen on the layout of the swims. They were fine for pleasure fishing but I could visualize a lot of arguments if all the anglers were predominately fishing for carp. Many of the swims were bunched up, with some covering the same water as each other. I knew instantly that this wasn't going to be a place that I would choose to fish if it was busy - I can't be doing with stupidity. As I continued my walk up to the back end I started to feel a lot more inspired, there were lots of 'nooks and crannies' with an abundance of overhanging trees and tempting marginal features. My thoughts were already in overdrive, there were so many spots that could hold carp, I just didn't know where to start.

When the day of my first session came about I'd had time to digest the place and I was thinking a lot more clearly. The plan would be to walk the lake once and if I couldn't spot any carp activity, I'd go on intuition alone. The weather was perfect, it was warm and mild, the clouds were heavy and low, spitting out the occasional heavy shower. These conditions felt very familiar to me and I knew that the carp were going to be feeding, I had no doubt about it. Arriving at the gate, it was hammering it down, jumping out and shuffling the numbers of combination lock into place, I felt that I was unlocking the start of a new adventure. As I drove up the water logged pathway to the car park, it was empty, everything felt perfect and I couldn't wait to get the rods out. I waited for the rain to pass, loaded the barrow and hastily made my way to the waters edge. 

One lap of the lake revealed very little, I knew I didn't want to be dumping myself tight up either end, I wanted to target an area that I knew the carp would be moving through at some point during the day. I decided to fish peg 8, I had an island directly in front of me and to my right was a narrow channel. I looked upon this spot as a 'transit route' and thought I'd stand a good chance of intercepting any fish that might pass through. Before I set anything up I decided I'd have a lead about to suss out exactly what I was dealing with. One of my favorite aspects of carp angling is marker work, I love how sensory it is and it helps you to build a picture in your mind of whats hidden below the surface. I don't subscribe to the whole 'thrashing the water to a foam' terminology that seems to be the latest 'buzz term'. I believe learning to find features with a rod and line is an integral part of the art in angling, it can be done in a subtle way.

Learn & Understand
Firstly I wanted to suss out my right hand spot, I wasn't going to go tight to the island, this was far to obvious. If fish were going to pass in front of me I sensed it would be in the slightly deeper water. I cast the marker out past where I was planning to fish, I didn't get a distinctive 'DONK', it was a fair drop though. Feeding the line out slowly, the float cut through the waters skin at 7ft. I wound the float back down to the lead and proceeded to gently drag it along the bottom. I take my time with this, I want to try to feel everything. When I go through this procedure my left hand is on the blank and the rod tip is pointing to exactly where the lead and float are sitting. I then picture a 24 hour clock face, I wind down at 12 o'clock and pull the lead round to 9 o'clock. Then I feed the float back up through the layers to get the depth reading, this process is then repeated until I've covered the area. I'm wanting to get as much information as possible, I've never seen any sense in rushing this process, pulling the lead along slowly and in small increments gives me an acute sense of what's going on. I'm feeling for distinctive changes in the texture of the lake bed and any lumps and bumps that might be there.

Marker Float Movement 'Repeat'

I repeated the process 'explained above' a couple of times until I've found an area of interest. It became apparent that running down the point of the island was a hard bar, it had little to no weed on it. I did a few test casts, followed by a depth reading, there was very little change in the depth so it wasn't really raised. This was were my bait would go, I'd position my rig half way down the bar. The spot was perfect and I was positive that the carp would visit it when and if they move through the area. I went through exactly the same process for my left hand spot and found it to be the same kind of layout. The only difference, the left hand bar had low lying weed on it. My plan was to fish on top of the weed, quarter of the way down the bar. I now had a very clear image of the swim in my mind. Obviously you can never be 100% correct unless you can physically see it. But what I'd managed to find out was good enough for me.

View From The Swim
My chosen bait for the session was Pineapple CSL, now with the water temperatures rising I felt this was the perfect flavor to offer. Along with this I was going to fish small mesh bags with some 'low oil' multi-mix pellets in. I was going to bait up heavily with boilies, everything in the atmosphere and ether was telling that this was the way to go. As usual, my rigs were nothing fancy, I opted for my standard 'semi-fixed' inlines with relatively long hook links. Both would be bottom baits fished on the 'blow-back' with my favored 5.3mm rig rings. The weed on my left hand spot didn't bother me and I was pretty sure I could get away with fishing a bottom bait on top of it. I wrapped the marker, my right hand rod was 10 rod lengths, my left hand rod was just shy of 11. Both rods were rigged up, wrapped and cast out, a heavy 'DONK' came from my right rod, the left rods drop was slightly cushioned. I proceeded to spread a good helping of freebies around both spots, I didn't hold back. I wanted enough bait out there to pull any passing fish in.

Pineapple CSL

Multi-Mix Pellet 
Now with everything set I took a step back to take it all in, I felt 100% confident that I'd set the swim up correctly. The spots were perfect, the presentation was spot on and I knew what I was offering up for the carp was going to be hard for them to turn down. Above my head, moody skies were rolling in, I got the brolly up, packed all essentials underneath, took my seat and got the kettle on. I felt inspired, here I was alone on a new water and I had a feeling that anything could happen. I had no idea what could be swimming around below the surface, I felt like I was at the start of a new journey and as I sat staring out over the 'unfamiliar', I instantly knew that I was going to spend a fair amount of time on these banks. I'd connected to the place straightway, I think the fact that it was empty helped. I felt that there was a fresh, new future to be written and a past, to one day, be remembered, that started today, now, this very moment.

Eric On The Look Out
Staring out at the water in front me, tiny specks of drizzle were making tiny indents on the waters surface, the wind really picked up. Those tiny indents very quickly turned into bullet holes, they were pelting down like rapid gunfire. Someone had obviously cut the bowls of the heavens, I squeezed myself to the very back of my 'fibreshield' and watched as the world around me started flooding, a dense steam started to rise from the surface of the water. The rain was hitting my rods so hard that the alarms were randomly firing off. At this point Eric - 'my dog' had decided he'd had enough and proceeded to run and jump up on my lap, completely soaking me in the process. The conditions were madness but I was loving every minute of it, after a rather tense 15 minutes the chaos eased and we were back to a fine drizzle. I was now getting liners off both rods, it clearly wasn't the rain. Seconds later my left rod was away, the alarm was screaming and the rod tip was 'yelping' tight round to the left. 

I ran for it slightly stunned that a take had occurred so fast, picking the rod up, I was connected to a ferocious amount of power, I loosened the clutch off slightly and just let it run. It had been a very long time since I'd been met with such violence. To be honest, I couldn't do a great deal with it, I adjusted the drag and held on, doing the best I could to keep the fish under some kind of control. There were flat spots, boils and swirls as it ploughed from left to right and back again, I started to gain some ground, the minute the fish was at medium range it started darting left towards the overhanging trees and branches. There were a hell of a lot of 'get out clauses' close in, I started to feel minor panic, I really didn't want to be losing this one. Closer it came, surfacing for a second, it was a common, long, lean and golden, it looked to be a very good fish. I was literally holding my breath, every pull and tug put the fear of god up me, in an instant the net was out, I 'gracefully' lunged ..... RESULT!  

My First From Cants
This fish was a beauty, a proper powerhouse, clearly built for speed and guaranteed to creak the toughest of carbon. If this was an example of what could be hiding deep in the depths of Cants then I was feeling pretty dam inspired. It was very reminiscent in both shape and color to those I've caught over on Wick, all the Chelmsford waters contain some seriously good looking commons. I slipped her back, got the rod clipped up and flicked it back out, the dull thud on the drop told me I was back on the spot. I topped the swim up with 5 large handfuls of bait, it was clear by the quick bite that they were up for some proper grub. The rain came back, the heavy clouds hung low overhead, I was certain a few more bites were on the cards. I don't care about the rain or the wind, if I know the conditions are right I'll venture out in any weather. I remember years back there were a good number of occasions when I'd break the ice to get my baits in the water. When I've 'got to go fishing' there's nothing that is going to stop me.

It wasn't long before I started getting a few knocks off my right rod, I watched carefully, the bobbin would tweak, the tip would jolt. I knew that something was going to happen. I waited, watched then as if planned, the bobbin flew up striking the blank and, within seconds, all hell broke loose. The rod was literally pulled off the rest, I leapt into action immediately, I was connected, only this time it was dead weight. The sheer power that this fish was exerting was something else, it tore sharp and tight to my right. The communication from the fish to the blank was acute, I could feel everything. I applied more pressure, tightening the drag as I went, I managed to turn it back my way but it was clear the fish wasn't having any of it. It careered through the water in front me and proceeded to pull so hard to the left. Just like the fish before, it was trying to get under the marginal branches, I applied more pressure, the rod was literally locked up by this point. I was counting the seconds, more pressure was applied, finally I managed to turn its head, now under the rod tip, I waited it out, waiting for the fish to signal 'retreat'. Finally ready for the net, I slipped another beautiful common over the cords.

A Worthy Reward
It was clear that this carp was a good twenty, as I held it up for a few photos I paid close attention to what I was feeling, relief being the obvious thing, amazement that a creature such as this, deep within the depths, can hone in on my marble sized bait, but most of I felt honoured. Honoured that I could hold and witness such an amazing creation. It's back was wide, all its fins perfect and its scales were prehistoric, placing it in the sling and lowering it back into the water. I paid close attention to its gills, it took in a few large gulps and then just rested as if caught in some kind of trace. Its gills were now moving and expanding in a slow rhythmical motion, suddenly it jolted. I sensed its trance was now broken and within seconds it kicked and gently glided back into the murk, a single flick of its tail, and it was gone. The rod was wrapped back up and cast out, closely followed by 5 large handfuls of bait. Both spots were ready and primed, I slide back under the brolly, put the kettle on and went back to watching the water.

Seconds After The Rain
The rain came and gave everything another good soaking, the mix of damp and humidity made the air feel heavy, it's a very familiar feeling and from experience I know that I can always get away with baiting heavy, so for good measure, I introduced more bait to both spots. A few hours past, I'd had the odd knock, I'd seen a couple of carp show in between both of my rods. I knew it was just a matter of time before a another bite occurred, I didn't have to wait long. It was my left rod that was away, it was another aggressive take, the rod flew out the back rest and the reel slammed up against the alarm. I was on it within seconds but the fish had already careered off to the left. As I composed myself, something clearly didn't feel quite right, I tried tightening up but a strange weight was dragging the line down. Reeling in and trying desperately to properly connect, I spotted a stick that appeared to be sailing across the water. It suddenly became clear that the stick was connected to a bloody great branch.

This suddenly made the situation very awkward, I tried my best to make direct contact with the fish but it wasn't easy. It was steaming around super tight to the island, I could see and feel that it was another big carp. I was gaining ground slowly but with each sudden movement, the branch would rise and fall ominously, it became clear that it wasn't coming off so I'd have to try to ease it closer and then remove it by hand. I applied slow steady pressure, each time I connected directly with the fish the branch rose up, when I gave line it would sink and pull back down. I decided to approach it another way, I held the rod tip up high and started to walk backwards, I'd then reel in tight whilst lowering the rod and repeat. The carp was tiring and with each step back the branch was edging ever closer, after what seemed like 'forever', it was finally in touching distance, I grabbed it, fumbled around and managed to untangle it. Now free I kicked it well out the way, Eric saw the commotion and thought it was a game, he proceeded to grab the branch and tried to run off with, growling as he went.

Finally I had the fish in front of me, it still wasn't giving up though, it continually pulled tight to my left, trying to edge itself closer to the snags. I lowered the rod down under the water and applied as much pressure as I thought I could get away with. I was close, just a few seconds more, surly this brawl would soon be over. Finally, and very reluctantly it went up on its side, that was the signal I was waiting for. After what seemed like an eternity I finally lowered the net and claimed my prize. Pheeww !! after the 'branch debacle' I really felt like I deserved this one. Peering down, I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing, this was one very special looking fish. It was long, dark and as clean as they come, never before had I caught such a majestic looking common carp. There are moments within angling that you never forget and I was experiencing one of them right now. I decided not try to understand what I was feeling, my emotions were all over the place, the word 'bipolar' sprung to mind.

A Fish I'll Always Remember
The rain came back overhead, I released the carp, clipped the rod up and got it back out. By this time I was well and truly soaked, my hair was a right mess, 'nothing new there', and with every step taken my boots made a 'squishing' sound. None of this bothered me though, I was relishing every moment. I took a seat and got the kettle on again, I'd earnt it after such an epic battle. It had been a crazy day, I'd made up my mind 100% that it was definitely worth putting some time in on Cants for the coming season. I sensed that once the word had got out about the quality of fish in the water, it would get rammed, my plan was to cash in before this happened. A few hours past by, the clouds remained heavy, spitting out the odd heavy shower. I was now in full day dreaming mode, however this didn't last long, my right rod tore off at a crazy pace. Everything happened simultaneously, the tip looped round, the bobbin slammed the blank and the clutch 'whirled', all this seemed to happen in a single second.

I picked the rod up and lent back, like all the previous carp, the power and speed was immense, I genuinely haven't come across such hard fighting fish before. It was powering around in front of me, twisting, turning and throwing itself everywhere. I held on for dear life, its as if I had a 'bucking bronco' on the end of my line. The fishes back cut through the water, it was long and dark, its fluidity reminiscent of a subsurface missile. Like all those that came before, it was desperate to get into the snags down to the left, I wasn't going to let that happen though. Side strain pacified its lunges and I soon had it a few yards away from me. It was now trying to get under the margin directly beneath my feet, I just let the rod do the work. The formidable action of my Bruce Ashby Lucifer soon tired it out, it came up on its side ready for netting, I made a smooth measured scoop, result, she was in. I found myself looking at yet another amazing common, this was really turning out to be a session to remember.

Another Cants Cannon
I popped her back and got the rod straight back out, closely followed by another 5 handfuls of bait. Time was starting to tick by now but I still had a feeling that there was another bite to be had. The late afternoon infused into early evening and everything had gone quite, I didn't spot any signs of carp in front me anymore. A few had jumped up towards the middle of the lake and this got me thinking that maybe they'd moved on. Thankfully the rain had stopped so I took the opportunity to pack away all the non essentials. I sat it out until last knockings with no action, I reluctantly started to break down my right hand rod, dragging the process out as long as possible. It was a good thing I did because the left rod sprung into life, it really took me by surprise. As I connected I knew this was yet another big fish, it wasn't going nuts, it just plodded around steadily, slowly taking line at a measured pace. Half way across a large flat spot appeared, followed by a flick of a huge tail. My legs started to shake, I knew, whatever was on the end of my line was special. Closer and closer she came, I lowered the net and sunk it, teasing the fish my way, I was now holding my breath again .... just a few more inches .... she was in! 

A Perfect Fish To Close The Session
What a way to the end the session, to be honest I was speechless, never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd catch this quality of fish. A huge amount of respect goes out to all the guys that work in the fishery management division in the club. They clearly know what they're doing and it's clear that Cants is now a water of the future, I believe it's going to produce some pretty special carp in the years to come. In regards to my session, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into to place. I think that taking a bit of time to understand exactly what's under the surface in front of me helped a great deal. When I step foot onto a new venue I can't just 'chuck for luck', of course, you can fluke some fish doing this but I'm not interested in flukes. I want to understand as much about the place as possible, in regards to marker work, this can be a huge advantage. I think the secret is to do it as covertly as possible, don't go chucking a float and lead about for hours. Define in your mind the areas you're interested in and try to get the information you need in a few casts.

I was pretty dam tired and totally wet through, I was looking forward to the drive home, it would be the perfect opportunity to dry off and let the days activities ferment in my head. Clambering back to the van with Eric in tow, my gear caked in mud, I felt very much alive. I realised that today's session was one that will live with me forever, another amazing angling memory will be filed away somewhere in my head with all the others. To be recalled upon in the years to come as a source of inspiration or discussion. I've said it many times before, angling allows you to create your own history, to perfect an alternate reality. In a world where everything is so instant, short lived and artificial this is very important. Those that fish live two different lives, the one their forced to live and the other that they 'choose' to live, that's the difference between us and the rest, we've always got a route out, an 'exit'. This is a very important thing to have, next time you're feeling beaten by the system and the monotony of the 'everyday'. Understand that when you get the chance to cast your rods out, you are released.