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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Braxted Front Lake 'The Dying Embers Of Summer'

As I sit down to write this entry temperatures outside are about minus three, it's not great fishing weather but on the plus side it's giving me a chance to catch up with my session blogs. I am finally starting to get up to date, work has been so hectic, Christmas has been and gone and I'm feeling optimistic about the angling year ahead. With a new year comes new adventures and as usual I plan to be out on the bank as much as possible. Like a lot of you out there, spring can't come soon enough. When I have time I do plan to get a few winter sessions under my belt. 

With winter comes solitude and peace, the bank side is baron and it's the perfect time to consolidate your ideas and experiment. Marker work is also high up on the agenda, I want to seek out a few more interesting little spots and keep as connected as possible to all the waters that I fish. This blog entry is an account of a session I did at the end of summer on Braxted front lake. The sun was projecting a very different kind of heat, it was low in the sky and there was a very potent smell of Autumn in the air. This is such an inspiring time to be on the bank, witnessing and feeling the changes of the seasons is a gift that so many miss. Because it stayed so mild for so long the opportunity to land a few carp was still an obtainable desire. I knew that their inner instinct was telling them to feed up for the impending cooler months, we have to make the most of these times.

When I look back on 2014 I had some great sessions and considering it was my first year on the Chelmsford waters I felt like I'd made good head way. I'd built solid foundations that, without a doubt are going to put me in good stead for the coming season. I managed to catch fish from all the waters that I'd wanted to, this year was going to follow pretty much the same theme, to continue to try and understand all of my venues the best that I can. Again, I have no target fish and no real desire to catch 'big' carp, I just want to maintain the consistency that I'd managed to achieve. 

In regards to 'target fish', I don't have any either, any fish in the net is a gift in my eyes. If you can stay consistent then a special carp might just present itself. Reviewing my time on my good old Kingfisher waters, I've managed to keep them ticking over nicely and I am finally starting to find some form up on the Rugby. Every carp I've managed to catch from there has been an honor and it's the one water I feel I've really worked for every bite.

View From The Car Park Swim Back In The Summer
The one thing that keeps me so driven to fish the front lake is the fact it's really not clear exactly what's living in it. That feeling of unearthing the unknown is just an urge that's too hard to ignore, every time I cast out my mind races with the possibilities of what might pick my bait up. Nothing beats this feeling, it's a natural drug, a buzz, if you're a naturally inquisitive person and you just so happen to be a carp angler, then obsessive thoughts about fishing is something you just have to try and manage. Many a time when I'm not physically on the bank, my mind is, it's a beautiful obsession.

For my last Autumn session I arrived at the water for about 8:30am, I wanted to have time to think, set up and 'know' that everything I was doing was 100% on the money. As usual the lake was pretty much empty apart from a few pleasure anglers. There was a lovely light breeze pushing towards the car park, it looked right and felt bang on for a bite or two, my hopes were held high. I had a scout about before choosing my swim, as expected there were signs of tench feeding along the bottom of the near side marginal drop off. Shoals of bream where very clearly holding along the centre of the lake, their unmistakable feeding bubbles were as clear and defined as smoke signals. 

Again, I decided to target the far margins, it's riddled with reeds, drop offs and overhanging branches and I know the carp patrol them. Just like last time I was going to fish singles, my bait of choice was the ever faithful Honey Nectar. This time around I was going to fish a small 'boilie' size PVA mesh bag which basically contained boilie dust. I wanted to up the attraction just that little bit more. It's funny because since scaling right down on the amount of bait that I use "especially here on front lake", you find yourself casting with confidence, there's just something about it that makes perfect sense.

Small Balls Of Attraction

I know fishing singles can sometimes be hard to get your head around, it took me awhile to warm to the idea, I do think it's a great approach, especially on pressured waters. If you were to sit down and logically think about it, the nagging question of "How Is A Carp Going To Find A Marble Sized Ball On The Lake Bed"
may spring to mind, but this is easily answered. You have to let nature take its course, sit confidently knowing that you are fishing for a creature that has incredible senses. It's in the carps design to search out and feed on the smallest of items, be it bloodworm, hemp etc, they will find it and because a single can look unassuming, chances are they're going to take it. It's the same confidence you need when you cast a zig out for the first time. If the carp spots it and they're on the feed, there's a very high chance that it will take it, once again, it's all to do with your mind set, if you are in the right head-space you are more liable to get your rigs out and keep them there.

As usual my presentation was nothing complicated, I opted for two blow-back bottom baits with a nice long hair. My hook-link was Kryston Merlin treated with 'Drop-Em' putty, doing this adds a little weight to the material, this helps to keep it pinned to the bottom. In conjunction with this I coloured the hook-link with some rig pens, because the lake bed is so clear, concealing the rig components is paramount. I was fishing a slightly shorter hook link than normal with a small silicone kicker. Combined with this I set up a 2.5oz 'Carpy Chris' POM lead system, I find these seem to produce savage screamers on the take. In my mind the rig was perfectly balanced, a nice semi-fixed set up designed for the fish to feel the weight the second it mouthed the bait.

Hook-Link Treatment
In the image above you will see a free running swivel that moves up and down the hook-link. When setting up the POM system you simple push it into the grommet that's housed in the body of the lead. This is the simplest way of doing, once again, there's no need to over complicate anything. 

"One point I would like to make very clear is that now with the introduction of the Korda COG system, like the POM, this specific lead set-up is fashionably used to ditch the lead. I don't agree with this, in really heavy weed, maybe, or in a situation where the carp could be at risk, I agree that dropping the lead could aid safe landing, but I don't use the POM for this. I believe when some carp pick the bait up and shake their heads from side to side using the lead to try and ditch the hook, the secondary swivel cushions the impact and releases, giving them nothing to work with, which by this point you're already on your rod and their nailed". 

Swivel Pushed Into The Lead Grommet
When Chris sent me these leads I put them through some pretty extensive testing and I can genuinely say that I haven't experienced any problems with tangles. They cast very well, there's no shudder or shaking whilst in flight and if you get into the habit of feathering your cast you can sit confident knowing the presentation is correct.

The swim that I opted for controlled the body of water in the centre of the lake, I didn't want to limit myself to either end. Setting up central made perfect sense, it's what I call a "Passing Traffic" spot. If the carp are patrolling back and forth from each end I felt there's a much higher chance of them coming across my solitary single, in theory I'm targeting a spot/route that they will pass through. The problem I sometimes have with positioning myself up one end of a water is the fact that the carp might not necessarily be visiting the area on a regular basis, there's nowhere to pass through to, sometimes it's a case of "they're either there or their not".

View From The Swim
It took me a few casts to get the baits just right, there are three drop offs that run along the far margin, I try to get one bait at the bottom of the second one and the other in slightly deeper water. In the summer I've seen fish really close in, now with the temperatures dropping slightly, fishing directly under the overhanging trees just didn't feel right. Three casts later and the baits were in the magic position, you could feel on the drop of each lead that they were exactly where they needed to be. I applied back leads and tightened up so the bobbins were a fraction under the blank of the rod. I wanted any slight indication, 'how ever small' to register, I wanted to be on my rods the second a run took place.

Locked And Loaded
I finally had a chance to sit back, relax and get a strong coffee on the go, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil I kept my eyes locked on the water. The ripples from the wind were strangely addictive and my mind started to picture a possible monster slowly making its way towards my bait. I was mentally urging one of my buzzers to fire off, but I had to be patient, front lake doesn't work like that. It's best to let your mind wander until the silence is broken by the yelp! of your alarm. 

As expected, the hours passed me by, the rods remained silent but I was still strangely optimistic, it was one of those sessions where you just knew something was going to happen. The wind slowly dropped, the light dimmed slightly and I could hear the passing traffic from the distant motorways starting to echo over the tree-lines. It was now officially bite time, "The Magic Hour", there was a moment of total silence and then as if by clockwork, my right rod ripped away and I was on it like a shot. Time momentarily stopped, it was just me and the fish, nothing else mattered. 

It felt heavy, plodding around, my rod bent to breaking point and I just held tight adjusting the clutch, cushioning every lunge, still in control but being as careful as I could. It was a prolonged battle, I was gaining ground, when the carp came close it broke the surface, I was face to face with a hefty looking common and it looked like a good fish. Letting the rod tip do the work, it soon went up onto its side, it was time for me to land my prize. As the net engulfed the fish I could finally start breathing again. Scales sunk to 25IB exactly.

25IB Of Braxted Common Carp
What a fish, it was clean, perfectly proportioned and encapsulated everything that I love about my angling, it was almost a mystery that a creature as majestic as this could be lurking in such an unassuming water. When I set up for the session I knew I was doing the right thing and yet again a single bait had tripped up another of the front lake fish. After slipping her back and slowly packing my tackle away I took a moment to reflect. I couldn't wait to get back out again, I was already mentally planning my next session. I think there's still a few fish to be had because we haven't yet had our first frost. I would like to close this entry with a poem, I caught a glimpse of what I thought was a Marsh Harrier, it was vividly drifting above me in a gentle crosswind, it was strangely poetic.