I started to think about my bait application, I felt like this was where I was going wrong, I was using far too much. I started to feel like the fish I managed to have out was more luck than judgement. I had to put the 'less is more' approach in to practice, it worked for me on Boreham Mere, I saw no reason why it wouldn't work here as well. Instead of piling it in I felt I needed to spend more time on finding my spots and scaling right down to singles or stringers.
In regards to the make up of the bottom of the lake, I have mentioned it before in my first Braxted front lake blog, it's clear with no weed, apart from the marginal features there aren't any visual targets. I've had a lead around, on the right hand side it shelves right down to 10ft about a rod length out. On the left hand side it seems to gradually drop to 10ft with a least three shelves that step down progressively. The end nearest the carp park was the zone that I was interested in, taking in to account that when I arrived the wind was gently blowing down to this part of the water.
Car Park Swim
The tree line in this swim looked very tempting but I had a feeling it probably sees a lot bait, I decided I was going to fish slightly off from the overhanging branches, about one and a half rod lenghts. Like my previous sessions, I stuck with my semi fixed bottom bait rigs, I opted for the imitation weed leads to help make everything look as inconspicuous as possible. I chose 2.5oz inlines, because of the material that's used to make the imitation weed, the leads were perfect for soaking in some flavouring. Because my plan was to fish singles, I glugged both leads heavily. Doing this follows the "maximum attraction with very few solid food items" theory, I carry this approach on through the winter. The bait I'd chosen for this session was Raspberry Ripple, this is a milk protein blend and its proved to be a very effect boilie, its produced everywhere that I've taken it.
Once I'd set all my tackle up I put a coffee on, I didn't feel the need to cast out straight away, I took time to watch the water, by this point the wind that was pushing down my way was nice and warm, a lovely scum line was starting to develop and it looked spot on for a bite. After some focused observation I managed to spot a carp top right over in the corner opposite me and it looked like a good fish, 10 minutes later it showed again slightly closer to the tree line. I wasted no time and cast a single as close to the trees as I could get it, a meter or so down from where it topped. Literally minutes later the rod was off like a shot, the observation paid off straight away. The fight was spirited and the fish had me holding on for dear life, as she surfaced I could see it was a lump, getting her in the net was a pretty smooth transaction, scales fell to 23IB.
23IB Common, Gave Herself Away
23IB Common, Gave Herself Away
Once again this goes to show the importance of observation, if I hadn't have clocked her showing I doubt I would of caught her. It happened so poetically, two shows, one cast, one fish on the bank. I was very pleased with the quick result, I put the rod back out and made the first cast on my left hand one, just a few rod lengths in front of me.
View From The Swim
Rig-wise - one point that I would like to bring up is the everlasting debate of "Closing The Gap". This term seems to have found a place in rig discussion over recent years, now I am not sure why this is, I think it's just an extension of the circus that is 'modern day carp angling'.For those of you that are not familiar with the "Closing The Gap" argument, it's basically all based around the heat-shrink tubing that you can add to your rig to help create an aggressive angle on the hook. "Please see picture below"
Aggressive Silicone Kicker
You'll notice in the picture above that I have an aggressive silicone kicker coming off the eye of the hook. People would class this as 'closing the gape', I look at it as extending it, I go from the point of the hook up to the end of the silicone. In theory when the carp picks the bait up the kicker will aid the hook in to turning in an aggressive nature, upping the chances of getting a solid hold in the bottom lip. Now, I know there will be a lot of people reading this thinking 'that I'm talking crap', and that might be so, but every fish I catch using a bottom bait rig has a big silicone kicker on it and more times than not I have to use forceps to get the hook out. Either way, it works very well for me and I'm confident in continuing to use it.
Back to the fishing.....
With both rods now cleanly in position it gave me a chance to sit back and soak up the surroundings, there wasn't anyone else on the water. The Braxted complex as a whole has a great atmosphere about it, the front lake is very much an unknown element and since spending time on it I really haven't come across many other carp anglers, usually I am sharing the water with pleasure fisherman, which makes a nice change.
I've heard a fair few carpers tell me that they get bothered a lot by the bream and tench that live in front lake, so that puts them off fishing it, I can understand that especially if they're spodding pellet and particle. I think if I continue with the 'single bait approach', the carp will beat both the tench and bream to it. In waters with mixed species, I find myself steering away from everything other than boilies. When you know the water only holds carp, then ground baits and pellets come in to the equation.
The Water Will Tell You Everything If You Listen
The day was passing by at a relatively slow pace, there weren't any signs of fish down my end, but that doesn't mean they're not lurking. I quietly sat by my rods staring into the depths, it must have been about 6:30pm when my left rod started twitching, it soon developed in to a full blown run, a stream of bubbles came from the spot the rig had been placed on. I lifted in to the fish which seemed to be trying really hard to get under the trees too the left of me. Applying side strain I kept it away, under the rod tip an immense fight resumed, I could see that it was another good looking common. It took along time to tire, eventually she was in the net, 23IB 5oz, what a result.
23IB 5oz Of Pure Perfection
Two 20IB carp in a session as opposed to zero, which was my tally on my last few trips. It really goes to show that rethinking your approach can make a huge difference. It also goes to show that no two waters fish the same and fishing each one in the same way as the other, can not only effect your results but can also turn you in to a one dimensional angler. You don't learn anything if you're not willing to experiment and change in accordance with the angling situation that stands before you. It's all about learning and putting what you've learnt in to practice, it's like that with everything in life, the more understanding you have in what you do, the more of a human you become. I am looking forward to spending more time on the front lake. Below is a 17IB common I had adopting the same tactics on a short afternoon session a few days later.