Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 10

A few weeks had gone by since my last session, I'd been really busy with 'life' and it was stopping me from getting out. Times like these can be very frustrating and we can all relate to them. You can feel your 'angling' life slowing passing you by and all you can do is observe as the perfect days and evening bite times get replaced with fighting your way through the city streets and the system. Real life doesn't move and pass in the same way as time on the bank, it drags, splinters and keeps you chained to 'the wage'. We're continually being 'tapped' to consume, we're cleverly drawn into the theater of politics and mundane current affairs. We're presented with elections and referendums that are simply an illusion to make us all feel that we actually have some say over our existence. I've come to the conclusion that we don't, so it's up to us to try and create both opportunities and situations where we do. For the 'angler' those times are when we're scoping a water out, deciding where we're going to fish and putting as much thought as possible into getting the end result we want, a piece of the wild both in our nets and hands.

You can't control the wild, it has no race, no language, no system, it is what it is and it will continue to do exactly what it wants. That is why slipping ourselves into it and taming just a small piece is such a big achievement. So as I worked and tried desperately to navigate myself in and out of the everyday, my angling mind was busy hatching a plan. I was thinking back to my Winter down on Burrows and how I religiously stuck to one spot. I started to think what that spot would fish like in the warmer months, out of all the marginal areas, it's a apot that gets ignored a lot of the time. I had a feeling that it wouldn't have seen a great deal of pressure since I was last there. I thought it might just be worth a shot, to be honest my days on Burrows were slowly coming to an end. This blog along with a few that I did later on in the year will signal the end of the journey. There's a number of reasons why, which I won't bother going into now, but for the time being I was eager and inspired to get back down there. 

Now with the warmth in full swing and the days sunny and bright, come the morning of my session, I got out the house nice and early. Days like these aren't worth wasting and it's only in recent years, being alcohol free, do I realize just how many perfect days I've wasted nursing a poisonous hangover. I love the early mornings and nothing beats the sunrise, the air is still and acutely clean, the sky is sharp, free from smog and the morning dew temporarily drapes over everything until it's forced to evaporate into nothingness. Thinking back, one thing I miss from when I use to night fish were the sunrises, I have great memories of peering out my bivy door as the mist rose off from the skin of the water. There was a stillness and a peace that you couldn't find anywhere else. However, I don't miss the extreme tiredness, the damp bivy and the feeling of a new day starting having been awake for nights on end. There's nothing worse than a dawn chorus when you haven't split the night into day with sleep. 

I arrived at the water just as the sun started to appear over the treeline, there wasn't really anyone about, I suspected the handful of cars in the car park belonged to anglers that were fishing the Pollard. As I pushed my gear down the woodland track it became clear that Burrows was empty - result!. As usual, everything looked perfect, it always does and as I made my way down the clay paths to my chosen swim, I couldn't help but stop for a few minutes, just to take the atmosphere in. As I've mentioned hundreds of times before, you've got to go a long way to find a better looking water and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly I get pulled to its world. It obviously helped that I was the only one on the water, it's amazing how the feel of a lake can change when you've got lots of people about. The serine peacefulness can quickly get replaced with the annoying sounds of civilization.
View From The Swim
I wasted no time in getting setup, it was pretty much second nature considering I'd spent my whole Winter in this exact swim. The rods we're clipped up at 12.5 lengths, both the casts saw me kissing the branches over on the far bank. They landed perfectly, I was so confident in their positioning that I wasn't going to recast until I'd had a fish off of each rod. Once the bobbins were set I proceeded to get a good helping of bait out, my short to medium range Gardener 'Skorpion Stick' made easy work of this, the best £8.99 I've ever spent. My chosen bait for today was the 'Sweet Plum Seed', this is a highly effective bait. It's a combination fish-meal that comes in a lovely dark red color, not only that but it smells amazing. Just to add a slight twister to things, I was going to fish a small mesh bag on each rod that contained some crushed sweet plum seed boilies and a smattering of 'high' oil tuna pellets. At first this struck me as a strange combination but when you smelt both the flavors together, the aroma was strangely satisfying. 

Sweet Plum Seed & Tuna Pellets
One of the main questions I seem to get asked a lot is regarding the bait that I use, many people want to know why I don't just stick to one flavor. The answer to this is simple, I have 100% confidence in all the baits that Starmer produce. I know that they all work so I don't have to give it a second thought, there is no magic bait, it's all about how you present it and where you put it. Also I believe that certain waters respond better to certain flavors, this was something that I came to understand years ago. Graham at Crowborough tackle told me about this way back at the start of the 90's and through the years it really has proven to be the case. Going way back, and using my Bax Farm stint as an example, I couldn't get a bite for love nor money on fruity baits. The minute I changed to fish meal I started to catch straight away and there's been a number of waters where this has worked the other way around. Fruity baits dominated whilst fish-meal & spicy flavors didn't get a look in. Through years of chopping, changing and making notes, you start to get an idea and an understanding of what the fish tend to respond to on specific waters.

Regarding my rigs for this session, as usual they were straight forward, semi-fixed inlines fished with a 2.5oz lead, the hairs were long, the material was a semi-stiff coated braid stripped back a few inches above the eye of the hook. To enhance both the 'hinge' and 'shock' effect I placed a heavy tungsten bead where the stripped braid meets the coated section. Once again, this little touch was something else I learnt from Graham at Crowborough tackle. Back in those days, because there weren't any tungsten beads on the market, we'd use a shot instead. I was going through a stage where I seemed to be getting finicky bites, he said the shot on the braid seemed to shock/surprise the carp, thus making them bolt. I know that some might think this theory is a load of rubbish, mainly because all your 'famous' anglers haven't mentioned it, but I can confirm that it works very well and its something that I've been doing periodically for a very long time. So with a bait I have 100% confidence in and a rig that's very effective and simple. It really was just a case of waiting and hoping that the carp would come and visit my 'underwater' dinner table.

The Bolt Bead
So with the technical aspects out the way it was just the 'inevitable' waiting game. It was hard to believe that only a few months ago I was sitting in this exact same swim freezing. The lake was gloomy and bleak with very few signs of life. Today I was in another universe, my brain couldn't process just how many colors lay around me and with existence in full flow. I sensed the time was going to pass very quickly, I'd simply observe the world around me until I received an indication that one of the residence below the surface was willing to pay me a visit. I started to wonder exactly what was going on under the water, does every single carp have a routine?. Do they participate in the carp equivalent of 'the morning jog', or meet up in a certain spot and have a chat about recent goings on whilst sipping on some carp equivalent of coffee. Were there gangs of fish that others feared? maybe there's some kind of postcode war going on, hence why, on occasions the same fish gets caught from the same spot multiple times. Maybe the fish we catch with injuries aren't inflicted by anglers at all, they may have just be victims of 'carp crime', having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whilst I sat there deep in pleasant fiction I abruptly got alerted to my right hand rod, I received two savage liners. The bobbin shot up and dropped right back down twice within seconds of each other. This caused my heart rate to fly through the roof, within moments it was away, as I sprung out the chair my heart literally shot into my mouth. It doesn't matter how many times your rod goes off, it never ceases to send a crazy adrenaline through your whole body. As I lifted into the fish I had a passing thought that, whatever was on the end, had clearly finished its morning jog and coffee and clearly fancied a bite to eat. As expected the fish bolted for the sunken post but I managed to steer it well clear, landing carp from this swim felt like second nature. Like all the carp in Burrows, it kited all over the place and refused to give up, once under the rod tip, it circled and pulled, kicking up the silt in the process. But with steady pressure and a little patience, through the murk, appeared a lovely looking mirror carp.

An Early Bite Came Calling
A few photos were taken and I slipped her back, I hoped that she wasn't going to make her way back over to my carefully prepared dining area and warn all her mates about the potential trap. A fresh bait was carefully threaded onto the hair, the rod was clipped up and a recast was performed. The clip was kissed, I waited for the addictive 'DONK', I was primed and ready for the next fish. At this point all the remaining clouds cleared and the sun came shining down, the water was such a brilliant blue, it was one of those days where you just couldn't imagine yourself existing anywhere else. And best of all I still had the whole lake to myself. Before I let my mind sink back into some kind of day dream, my 'throwing stick hand' started to itch. Considering I'd already had a fish, it made sense to top the swim back up, all in all I introduced about 5 large handfuls, these were spread in a wide area around both of my rods.

 Birds Nest Hair
Over the next hour of two the heat of the day really started to beat down on my back and with the sun high overhead, I sensed that the carp probably weren't spending a great deal of time on the bottom. I contemplated zigs but decided I'd just sit it out, I suspected some action would come towards late afternoon. I've had some success on Burrows using zigs but I feel that the only way to really use them is when you commit 100%. It isn't an approach that you try halfheartedly, not only that but there genuinely wasn't any evidence that the fish were in the upper layers or near the surface. If carp were topping, twirling and showing then that probably would've swayed me. I was happy to just watch the world go by and wait for my alarms to start singing, I knew that they would. I've fished this water enough to know, that if I keep the bait going in then there's a high chance that a group of fish will come across it. If this happens then you can find yourself having multiple takes in a very short space of time. 

Burrows 'A Different Space .. A Different Time
The hours came and went and before I knew it mid afternoon was crawling towards me, the heat of the day started to ease off slightly. A lovely light, cooling breeze arrived, I started to get a sense that bite time was close. It's a very familiar feeling, there's a deafening sense of quiet and everything around you, including the water, has a certain stillness to it. It's as if the world slows down whilst the water wakes up. Come 4 o'clock, fish started to show just down to the right of my baited area, they were super close to the margins. It was 'bite-time', I could feel it in my bones. Minutes later I started to get some small indications, both alarms were fidgeting, I had a sense that more than one fish had come across my bait. Moments later the right rod fired off, I was on 'automatic pilot', I lifted into it and applied steady side strain to the left, as expected the fish bolted sharp to the right towards the post. I steered it clear, it then shot towards me super fast, I was reeling in the slack like a bloody madman. A short intense tussle under the tip saw my net engulf another lovely looking mirror.

Let Bite Time Commence
This fish was very broad, I had a feeling that in a few years it was going to go on to be a very large resident, a 'future sage' of the water for sure. Back it went, I got the rod back out quick, speedily followed by another good helping of bait. If there were fish about I wanted to keep them feeding, if I didn't cash in now I knew the chance of a few more could pass me by. Moments after the bobbin was hung my left rod flew off at speed, I was on it quick, as expected, it bolted towards the post. It just goes to show that the carp know exactly what they're doing. They're masters of their environment and if there's a 'get out clause', they're sure as hell going to know where it is. Another nutty fight commenced and as the fish signaled 'retreat' I netted another good mirror. This was an awesome looking fish, it had clearly been sunbathing, its back and shoulders were a dark 'pastel grey' color with a lovely bronze 'rustic' coloration to its tail. I don't know if it was just my imagination but it appeared to be smiling. 'check image below'

Pastel Grey
The rod went straight back out followed by another load of bait, if I was to get another fish I'd stop topping the swim up. I felt that the area had a few more bites left in it so there was no need to 'overfeed'. Reducing the amount of bait available can speed the takes up. You just have to gauge the situation, when you've fished a water a lot, over time you start to see patterns of behaviour and when you hit a moment in the day where bites are coming fast, you've got to make the most of it, you've got to play the cards right. I finally managed to take a seat, my sleeves were soaked, I now officially smelt of carp. Whilst I was taking a moment to savor the 'stench' the right rod was away again, this was a steaming take, a proper 'blank bender'. It was exactly the same drill as all the previous fish, a fast run towards the post, side strain, and then a drawn out dose of utter chaos right up until the 'white flag' was waved. Peering down into my net, another 'classic Burrows mirror' was waiting for me. This was a dumpy looking fish, a proper little character.

After slipping her back, a clean cast kissed the clip, I held off on the bait. I had about an hour or so left, I knew there was probably enough bait still out there to keep the carp mooching about. Time past, the action had slowed down, I started to pack up the non-essentials, it was during the closing minutes that the right rod screamed off. It was clear as I lent into this fish that it was a larger one, it didn't bolt for the post, opting to take me out into the open water. The initial run was long and slow, this fish was plodding instead of frantically darting left, right and center. Applying steady pressure, I managed to ease her towards me, it surfaced a short way out, it had a serious set of shoulders on it. Soon enough, I slipped the net under a rather unique looking carp, it was another mirror, its back was really broad, looking closely I think I'd had this one before back in the winter. It was good to see it again and in top condition.

The Closing Bite
The moment was savored and the 'release' was performed, this fish signaled the end of the session, I was soaked and the swim was a right mess, these are the markings of a great day. The last few hours were pretty intense, clearly a group of fish had moved in and I'd managed to keep them there. I've had a fair few sessions on Burrows like this, for the time of the year and accounting for the way the water seems to play out. I don't bother fishing for a bite at a time, loading the swim up and working on a 'hit' has always been the way to go for me. This approach doesn't work on all waters, the trick is to suss out which ones respond to it. There are certain factors to take to into account. Are the carp solitary? Do they move around in groups?, waters were the fish move around in shoals tend to respond better to this way of fishing. I got all my gear together, it was a slow packed down, the evening was perfect and I wasn't in rush to wave it goodbye. It had been a great day, 5 bites, 5 fish landed, my curiosity about my 'winter' spot had been pacified. I could now re-enter the 'system' a satisfied man, however I was wondering how long that would last, I knew that somewhere deep in my head another obsession was rooting itself. I guess I was going to have to wait to see where it took me. 


Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Cants Mere 'Head In The Past'

Its been a while since I've had both the time and focus to take a seat and put 'fingers to keyboard'. Now with Spring finally in full form after, what seemed like a very long, cold and miserable Winter, my head is well and truly lost on the waters once again. This year I've joined a new club and I've been totally obsessed with working out the two venues I've chosen to focus on. I managed to get a few Winter trips under my belt, not as many as I would've liked, however I was lucky enough to land some nice fish. When the temperatures really dropped and the snow came, it pretty much killed off all the action. I used this time to get on with work and bury my head in some 'carp fishing literature'. Every so often I have to revisit the past to help me understand how certain things have evolved, not just in fishing, both music and drums as well. Looking back can help you see things in a simpler, less confused way, and because the past is now very much ignored, taking inspiration from it can change the way you view what you're doing in the 'here and now'.    

I found myself reading Kevin Maddocks 'Carp Fever' for the 30th time and getting totally sucked into 'Carp County - Kent and the Evolution Of Carp Fishing'. Both of these books hark back to the 'wonder years' of carp angling and it became apparent, 'as I was getting lost among the pages', it's the distant past of our beloved sport that inspires me the most. I find this puts me in a weird place because, the now over-saturated and extreme commercialization of carp fishing has turned it into a very different beast, one that bares no resemblance to what it once was. You've got to be careful when it comes to 'nostalgia', you can look back through rose tinted glasses and convince yourself that things were so much better 'back in the day'. When in reality that isn't always the case, however I feel with carp fishing, the best days are very much behind us. I consider myself lucky because when I started at the beginning of the 90's, I feel that I experienced the tail end of the 'glory days' and those early years will stay with me forever. 

Those Days Of Magic
I understand 'progress' but like I've mentioned many times before, 'progress' doesn't always make things better. I know it depends on what specific field we're speaking of. Obviously 'progress' in both science and technology has been, and remains to be both unbelievable and invaluable. But in other areas it can tear the heart and soul clean out of the issue. For me elements of apparent 'progress' in carp angling amount to simple 'convenience'. The main aspect that really catches me about the 'pioneers' of the past was the sheer determination and focus to catch. Size didn't come into it, it was simply about getting the bites, if a monster came along in the process then that made it all the sweeter. But the true fundamental was learning the 'craft' of real angling and enjoying the whole experience and journey. 

When you read the two books I've mentioned above, the enjoyment, the journey and the friendships made along the way were on par, if not more important than the fish they caught. Each element fueled the other, there were no distractions, marketing campaigns and a barrage of unnecessary products to pull you away from the essence of what you were doing. Reading about how excited these guys got landing singles and doubles is where the real honesty lies for me. The gear they used was basic, with a vast majority of it being homemade, the clothes they wore were standard, completely unfashionable and usually not up to the job. But none of that mattered, it was about the waters and the fish that lived within them.

Nowadays I think for many, this has got completely lost somewhere down the line. I'm personally having a hard time trying to find inspiration. So many waters are over fished and from what I'm seeing the carp are suffering for it - this is something that I will be touching on in a future blog. I've come to understand, for me to feel inspired about my own fishing, I have to keep my head well and truly out of the 'modern day', and quietly continue to try and walk my own path. Paying too much attention to the 'current carp circus' can really muddy my perspective. I find this leads me to stray away from the 'circuit/named fish waters', targeting places that may only contain a few larger fish. 

But to be honest, I prefer it this way, not only does it make it special when you catch some of the larger residence. It minimizes the stupidity and contact that you can come across when a water is full of big carp and everyone is chasing them. In regards to the magic I once felt back when I first started, I do feel it's still possible to obtain. I just think you've got to put more effort in trying to find it. So, to all you guys and girls out there that love their fishing, who sometimes find themselves void of inspiration. I urge you to dip back into our angling past every now and again, I'm sure you'll find something that will connect with you and help to keep your flame burning bright.

Innovation - Not Imitation
In this blog I'd like to account for an afternoon session up on Cants mere, after my last trip being such a success. I was itching to get back with the hope I could trick a few more carp into taking my carefully positioned treat. After a quick job in the morning I headed up to the water for midday, the conditions were very different to last time. It was warm and bright with a very light breeze, this helped take the edge off the heat from the sun. I was scooting up the A12 with the windows of the van fully open, the further I got from the city, the sweeter the smell. 

As I left London I was clearly inhaling the fumes from a thousand engines, you could see a giant cloud of smog looming over Canary Wharf. There were sirens, car horns and a general mood of frustration, this all slowly melted away when I hit the back roads just a few miles away from Cants. The air was clear, clean, with the occasional 'whiff' or horse manure, if I could blend the smell of 'carp slim' into the mix then it would almost be the perfect aroma. Finally arriving at the gates to Cants, I shuffled the padlock in my hands, opened it and proceeded to drive up the bumpy path to the car park. I was now in a 'secret world' only a few knew of, best of all, I was the only one on the whole complex.

Dumping everything on my 'ever deteriorating' MK11 carp porter, I made my way down to the banks of Cants, passing Blunts on the way, I couldn't help but stop and take a moment to observe the peace. I spotted a few dark shadows just under the surface of the water, I stood there transfixed until they slowly glided out of view. As the first part of Cants came into view, I could see a lovely gentle breeze pushing down towards the car park bank. I made my way around to swim 8, left my gear and then took a slow walk around the lake. Everything appeared to be quiet, I couldn't see any fish in the upper layers which was surprising considering the warmth and scum lines that were developing. I decided to keep it simple and approach the water exactly the same way as I did last time. Swim 8 gave me access to the two bars that ran down either side of the island, they produced for me before so I saw no reason why they wouldn't again. 

Tiger Fish

I'm not usually so one dimensional but considering this was my second session on the place, I wanted to work my way in slowly. For those that may have missed my first session, you can view it here Cants Mere Part 1. My approach was going to be exactly the same as the previous trip, simple semi-fixed bottom bait rigs with a nice spread of boilie over each rod. My hook-link material was my ever faithful 'Trigga-Link' combined with 'Sufix' Camfusion. The hairs were long, fished on a 'blow-back'. As usual I'd opted to use my 5.3mm rig rings, these provide perfect separation and free movement of the bait. I'd run out of Pineapple CSL so I'd chosen to use the 'tiger-fish'. To finish the whole thing off I was going to use small mesh bags containing 'multi-mix' pellets with a sprinkle of hot chilli hemp ground bait. This would not only spice up my hook bait but also add a nice dash of color.

Mesh Bag Contents

A few measured casts with a lead and braided line saw me locate the bars super quick, both rods were clipped up and pinged out with no fuss, I then spread a fairly large amount of bait around both areas. I wanted enough out there to attract any carp that might be passing through, today there was no time for subtleties. Large beds of bait worked very well last time so I was hoping to mirror the success in the short time that I had. I may only be fishing to what amounted to 5 or so hours but I sensed the carp would be up for a fair bit of grub, everything in the 'ether' felt right. Bobbins were hung and the alarms were switched on, I was now officially 'angling' and it felt really good. It seemed like an age had past since I was last out and if there's one time in my life where I can clear my mind and align myself with the world, it's when I'm perched behind 'the carbon', watching, thinking and waiting.

The universe around the lake was buzzing with life, the trees were creaking, every branch was stretching towards the sun, the bees and insects were buzzing incessantly and the continuous politics from the geese and ducks were whipping up the waters surface to a foam.  All these things might seem obvious for some but when you live in a void of continuous bodies and industrial clutter like London, you learn to look, listen and appreciate all the tiny little aspects you're so often starved of. I consider myself very lucky that, literally, just at the end of my road I'm straight onto the motorway, turning right is my escape route up to Chelmsford and turning left takes me right into the heart of 'Carp County' itself, Kent.  

 View From The Swim
Sitting back in my chair, it took all of three seconds for me to get locked into my usual ritual of watching both the water and my rod tips. My focus would move from the waters skin and then to the tip of the blank and back again. I started to get visions of those old 'cat' clocks with the eyes that moved back and forth, no wonder when I leave the water at the end of each session my vision is distorted as if everything appears to be rippling. The reason I do this is pretty straightforward. I don't want to miss anything and there's been so many times when my tips 'nudge' and 'knock' without registering on the alarms. Anything that signals to me that fish are about is valuable information. It turned out that I didn't have to be so acute in my observations because I started to get some major liners on my right hand rod almost straight away.

 The Tips, The Water, And Back Again

Through the next 20 minutes or so the liners kept reoccurring and I had absolutely no doubt that fish were feeding on my freebies, I knew it was just a matter of time before my rod went off. I sat on the edge of my seat waiting for the imminent chaos to occur, I knew I had to be on my rod quick because, for experience, the carp in Cants fire away like rockets. Sure enough the bite came, the rod melted off at such a pace that, even though I was expecting it, it still surprised me. I was on it fast, as expected the rod arced round and the clutch 'whizzed' and 'whirled', I let the fish run and take as much line as it wanted. The first minute or two I let the fish 'blow its initial load', then I started to tease it my way. Due to the deep margins, when it came in close it was powering downwards. There were a few tense moments involving the marginal snags but eventually I eased the fish over my net cords. It was a lovely looking mirror, long with a dark bronze coloration.

Cants Bronze
It was nice to catch a mirror considering they're pretty thin on the ground in most of the Chelmsford waters. It was clean all over and scale perfect, however it did have some mouth damage which was sad to see. I treated it with my Propolis and speedily got it back home. I'd like to use this time to express my concern about the increasing mouth damage that I'm coming across. It really does appear to be getting worse and to be totally honest its starting to get me down a lot. I understand that sometimes it's unavoidable, we all occasionally get dodgy hook holds and some hook-link materials have a tendency to cut more than others, but I don't think that the damage I'm seeing is purely down to that. I think its got more to do with some people having no real understanding of how to 'play' a fish correctly. I feel this is down to lack of education, the mags and DVDs may promote how to look after your catch whilst on the bank but few, if any, actually demonstrate how to 'play' a fish safely.

Side Thought

Nowadays with the mind control-fashion of 3.5 test curve rods, heavy lines, cluttered rigs - and instant anglers, it's no surprise that the fish are suffering for it. In my mind these types of rods are solely designed for distance and maybe solid bags, you can land all sizes of carp on a 2.5 - 2.75 - 3IB test curve rod with no bother. If anything you have more chance of landing it because the blank is far more forgiving so the chance of the hook 'tearing' out is minimized greatly. Not only that but the fight is far more pleasurable and instinctive because you can feel every tug and pull. The whole point of playing a fish is to tire it out, if this is done correctly then the whole procedure of unhooking, weighing and taking a few photos is made much easier. If the carp is tired it wont be flipping about, thus minimizing the chances of it getting damaged whilst out the water.

I find when a fish is ready for the net it will signal this by going up on its side, yanking, hurrying and rushing it in is not the way to do it. Remember that any damage or deformity that you inflict, the carp will have to live with for the rest of its life. Not only that but it spoils the whole 'catching' experience for the anglers out there that want to be seeking out well conditioned fish. I feel that, as anglers, when we catch a fish, the whole point of the procedure is to return it as if untouched. I think that all of us should keep this in mind and aspire to achieve it, when I have a session where all the fish have been returned to their home in the same condition they came out, then I feel I've not only achieved what I set out to do but it makes the whole experience far more fulfilling for, not only myself, but for others that will go on to catch those fish in the future.

Back To The Session 

After a few quick photos I slipped her home and got the rod back out. I held off on putting anymore bait out, I only had a short time left so I didn't see the point. In true angling style, the time was running away from me and before I knew it, it was early evening. Half day sessions can be very frustrating because when you're just starting to get into it, it's time to pack up. I decided to wait it out until later, the chance of another fish was too tempting, even if it meant getting home late. It was a pleasure to watch the day play out and as the sun started to lower slightly, and the breeze evaporating to nothing. The atmosphere of the water completely changed and I had a very strong feeling that something magic could happen.

Closing The Day On Cants With Eric
Last knockings started to crawl towards me but I sat tight, I'd had a few 'bleeps' on my left rod but nothing came from them. Strangely, 15 or so minutes later, my right rod started to pull and knock, the bobbin would gently rise and drop again. I was now completely transfixed on both the water and my rod tip as if, in some strange way my intense concentration might magically make it go off. It just so happened that a few minutes later, it did. The alarm screamed and the rod tip bent tight round, the fish had bolted straight towards the snaggy channel to my right. 

As I picked the rod up it was 'pile driving' towards the snags, I tightened up and gave as much side strain as I could. I quickly found the sweet spot on my clutch so, just as the rod was about to lock up, it would feed off just the right amount of line. As mentioned previously in this blog, no 'yanking' or 'heaving' took place, I didn't want to get this carp in to find that I'd cut its mouth up. Steady, sensible pressure was maintained until I managed to turn the fish towards me, it was a crazy fight and right down to the last second it gave everything it had. The fish revealed itself as it slowly went up on its side to signal defeat, it was a long dark common, easily in the low to mid 20IB bracket.

A Truly Incredible Carp
This was a serious fish and the photo above really doesn't do it justice, firstly and most importantly, the hook hold was nice and clean, it was super long, dark and each scale was perfectly positioned. The sheer power in the fight was nothing short of 'spectacular', last knockings delivered me with a prize that I'd never forget. I took a minute to admire it, got some shots and sent her back home - in exactly the same condition she came out. In my mind I'd accomplished exactly what I set out to do, I packed up slowly and as I made my way back to the van the sun was starting to fade, the heat of the day had ceased and the world was a few hours away from sleep. Driving back down the bumpy track to the gate, I shuffled the padlock once more, which gave me entry back into the apparent 'real world', a place I'm not so keen on. Locking the gate behind me, I had a vision that the time on both Blunts and Cants would simply stop and slip into some kind of strange cryogenic trance, and upon my return they'll wake and everything will spring back into life once again.  

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.