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Friday, 24 January 2014

Burrows 'Getting Back In The Groove'

So it finally looks like winter is on the way out, and what a long one it has been. I persevered through the colder months and surprisingly had a fair amount of success. The bleak and sometimes brutal banks are slowly starting to sprout new life and with a new season comes new dreams and possibilities. I forgot what a pleasure it is to be on the bank without thermals and about five layers of clothing, I love the change from winter to spring, you actually start to feel alive again.. just.

My new membership for Kingfishers has come through and I have joined 'Bardag Angling' who run The Chase over in Dagenham, I have my sights set on a few different waters this year and I am really looking forward to getting started. Plenty of homework is required but to me that's all part of the process. I think it's important to keep a variation in your fishing.

Before I brave new ground I thought I'd pop down Burrows for a few sneaky sessions, Burrows is a water I will fish off and on because I really do love it there and the lake holds a stunning stamp of carp. The place is really thriving, it seems a lot more twenties are visiting the banks and a few new scamps are gracing landing nets, all the fish are so clean, be it a twenty or a low double, it's a total joy to bank any Burrows carp.

Before I went on my first session I popped down to have a walk around, obviously with the change of temperature rising a little a few anglers have been out and about. After having a chat with some of them it seems the water has been very slow and not a great deal had been giving itself up. I think the crazy weather we have been having over the past months is playing a role in this, I personally don't think the fish know whether they're coming or going. Baring all this in mind I planned an afternoon session, now the clocks have changed it's great to be able to stay out later and obviously this gives you longer on the bank and a higher chance of a bite. 

I had a rough idea where I wanted to fish, I have pinpointed a fair few spots I know I can catch from in varied conditions. I kept my rigs very simple, I was fishing a 'blow back' but I had replaced the ring with a tiny bit of tubing, I was using a size 8 fang twister, supernova braid with a small piece of tungsten putty a few inches away from the hook, I feel this adds to the shock when the carp picks the bait up. My lead was a Carpy Chris Inline pear which was 2 1/2 oz. My chosen bait was Starmers reliable sweet bird seed mix "Strawberry Mivvi" topped off with some fake corn, visually I think the red of the boilie blended in with yellow gave a great presentation.

Simple Rig

My Swim Choice
I arrived at the water around 1:30pm with the view point of staying until around 7:00pm. I opted on keeping the free offerings to a minimum relying on the fact my baits had been dipped in glug to help release a little more attraction. I was going for the opportunist take, I felt piling the bait in wasn't the right thing to do, taking into account the water had been pretty quiet over the past few weeks.

The hours started to pass pretty fast, there were no signs of any fish anywhere, it was very quiet. Instead of recasting for the hell of it, I just sat on my hands, I knew my rig positions were good, the bait was spot on, I had a sense that if I was going to get a take it would be a little later on in the day. 

6:30pm came and the wind had calmed down, the lake turned into a sheet of glass, it felt like the witching hour.. 'bite time'. Sure enough 6:45pm came and my right hand rod ripped off at pace. I lent into the fish that seemed to be racing towards me because there was no real resistance, I thought that I'd hooked into one of the scamps. When I got her in close that was when she really woke up, it felt heavy and was powering around, my barbel rods where being stretched to their limit. The fight went on for quite sometime and when I eventually got my first glimpse of the fish I knew I'd got a real nice chunk on. Eventually she tired, I eased the net under her, a lovely looking mirror laid there staring at me, scales sunk to 21IB 5oz, I was overjoyed and a little surprised.

21IB 5oz 

I got a few snap shots and slipped her back, it had just gone 7:00pm so I decided I'd pack up with the plan on coming down in a few days time. I wanted to get a few solid sessions in before moving on.

Day 2

My mind was starting to work over time because I just had this niggling feeling that the carp might be spending their time in the mid to upper layers. When the carp are hard on the deck you can pretty much gauge a take 45 minutes into the session, I was starting to think about putting a zig rig out. I came to the decision that I'd fish another day hard on the bottom and if I'm still getting the same feeling I'd fish a zig on my third session.

I opted to fish the same swim but this time I would fish Strawberry Mivvi on one rod and Octospice on the other, both would be topped off with fake corn. Octospice is a pretty special bait, Starmer originally made it for the french market, when I was down their work shop last visit, Ian gave me a small bag to try out and I caught on it instantly everywhere I took it. My spots were the same as the day before but a little tighter into the bank.

Starmers Octospice 'An Interesting Blend'

This day turned out to be a real tough one, the bobbins stayed static with not so much as a single bleep, a few fished jumped down where the underwater fence was but that was about it. I was now convinced that I was going to try fishing a zig on my next session.

I have never tried zigs on Burrows and it might just be the approach that could get me a bite when times are slow. I stuck it out until the bitter end and in the last few minutes of the session my left hand rod screamed off, 'last knockings' had delivered once again like it has so many times in the past. The fish put up a great fight, I slipped a lovely looking mirror over the net, scales sunk to 12IB, Octospice had tempted one on a tough day.

12IB Mirror

Back She Goes

Day 3

The conditions on session three were very different to the previous days, it was very sunny and very windy, there were waves on the water and trying to cast out was a bloody nightmare. I opted to fish one on the bottom and one on a 2ft zig. The 2ft zig was placed where I'd seen fish cruising mid water during the winter. The bottom bait was put in my usual marginal spot, I was using Starmers banana cream mixed with strawberry mivvi, I had both flavours chopped in a carp craze mesh bag and I was fishing half and half on the hair.

Half And Half Hook Bait

Finished Presentation

My zig rig was tied using the new Rig Moral specialist mono, with a size 6 Nash fang uni, I cut down a banana cream pop up to use as my hook bait. Instead of using a lead clip system I favour one of my small light inline leads. The lead was made specifically for me by 'Carpy Chris Knowler' to use with my solid bags but it comes in useful for other things, if I was fishing a zig over 3 1/2 ft then I would swap to a lead clip system so I could drop the lead if need be.

Rig Marole Specialist Mono

I am very impressed with the above hook link material, it goes near invisible in the water and has great knot strenght. If you steam its straight before using it, it keeps it shape very well.

'Carpy Chris' Solid Bag Lead

My little solid bag lead is a small flat inline that casts lovely, lands with little disturbance and is light enough to use with a short zig rig.

Simple Zig Set Up

You can see in the above photo that the hook link material is very hard to see, when the sun shines on it it turns translucent. When approaching zig fishing any little edge you can give yourself is helping to contribute to the effectiveness of the presentation.

When I arrived at the lake I decided to fish the same swim that I'd been in previous, my bottom bait was cast nice and tight into the margin with a bag of chops and a few freebies thrown around, my zig was put just off the deeper shelf that runs a rods length or so off the opposite bank.

Rig Positions

The day proceeded as expected with very little indication of fish anywhere, I felt really confident in my positioning so once again I just sat on my hands. When fishing zigs I make an agreement with myself that I am going to commit 100%, that's the only way you're ever going to know if the method is effective, I have used them in the past with varied success. I have decided I'm going to focus and explore them a lot more this season, if done correctly they can really add another dimension to your overall fishing.

The wind continued to batter the lake, afternoon bought with it showers and blasts of rain, it was starting to look pretty doubtful that I was going to bag a fish. All of sudden out the blue my zig rod bent round and I lifted into a hard fighting carp, the approach paid off and I was thrilled that I'd managed a take. The fish really put up one hell of a fight, as the water was broken by a straying dorsal I clocked the view of a lovely looking common, I eventually teased over my net, scales sunk to 13IB.

13IB On The Zig

I was so pleased to catch on a zig, I think I am going to incorporate them into my fishing a lot more, the secret to zig fishing for me is total coviction, if I choose to put one out then it stays out. Because the concept is a little weird sometimes you feel inclined to reel it in after a few hours and whack a bottom bait on but at the end of the day, you don't know until you try.

That was the only take I had all day, I did pop down a few days later for a few hours and had yet another take on the zig but unfortunately it took me into a snag and spat the hook. For the future I am going to start to work with adjustable zig rigs, many times have I been on a lake when I've seen fish cruising just under the surface, I have come up with a pretty reliable system which I believe will be effective.

Adjustable Zig Setup

The setup is really very simple, I will be using a Fox pike float fished upsidedown so the swivel can slot into the black tubing provided, the lead system will be pretty much the same as how you set a marker float up. Now doubt I will keep track of my results in future blogs, I am feeling optimistic, it might just be the key to those days where fishing hard on the deck just isn't happening.