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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Micklem Mere 'Fishing For Mysteries' Part 3

It's hard to believe that as I sit and write this blog another year has passed, it's now January 2016. After months of abnormally mild weather it appears winter has finally arrived. Outside my window looms blackened skies, and that 'dull' sense of 'January' is making the days drag. I find this time of the year especially hard, people start back to work after the Christmas break and the cogs of the system slowly start to turn once more. It's the monotony that gets me down, it always has, I like to thrive on unpredictability 

2015 had been a fairly productive year on the bank for me, but when I look through my note books it wasn't a touch on the previous year. Admittedly I had a lot more work so I didn't have a huge amount of time to fish. But in general my waters were very hit and miss, and during the summer especially, I was struggling to get any real consistency with my catch rate. I've still got a load of blogs from 2015 to complete, but, already I'm looking forward to the 'angling' year ahead of me.

For now, I'd like to take you way back to my third proper session on Micklem Mere, out of all my waters it's the 'unpredictability' that keeps me venturing back. My last session on Burrows was so satisfying, the buzzers were screaming and the carbon was creaking. I knew that this trip was going to be more subdued, but that's just the nature of the water. The priority was to continue to try and get steady bites, it's logic that if my results remained consistent then eventually the better carp would once again pay me a visit.

Between my 'blogged sessions' I took a trip to Micklem with my wife, and by adopting the same tactics as my previous trips, I managed another lovely double figured common. The fish was in immaculate condition and further confirmation that the myths about Micklem were in fact a reality. Once again it fell to a solid bag approach with slop fished over the top, I knew I was on to a winner with this tactic, but this time around I wanted to concentrate my bait into a tighter area, I was going to swap the slop for a dryer mix. 

There was still part of me that felt using the spod was going to lose its effectiveness, because Micklem isn't really heavily fished and spods aren't overused, the carp don't appear to be too bothered by them. I felt it was only a matter of time before they'd start to get spooked, I was going to play it by ear and pull it out of the equation when it felt like the right time to do so.

An 'Un-blogged' Common
The morning of the session was magic, I was out the door by 6:00am, the sky was an abyss of blue, not one cloud was present, the air was fresh and the world seemed quieter than usual. A quick stop at the garage for fuel and coffee was needed, then it was the simple task of flooring it all the way up the A12. I drove as responsibly as possible, trying not to the let the visions of big carp swimming in my mind cloud the speedometer.

The journey up to any of the Chelmsford waters can go two ways, I'm either nice and relaxed or I have a crazy sense of excitement that seems to make the drive last twice as long. On this specific day I just couldn't get to the water quick enough, off the A12, careering through the winding country roads, my head had already cast my baits out and I was sitting soaking up the sights and sounds of the mere, intently waiting for a rod to rip off. I collided with reality when I reached Micklems gate.

Hastily unlocking the padlock, I pulled into the car park semi expectant to see a number of cars already there. To my surprise it was empty, a huge sense of relief washed over me. The mere looked perfect, the morning sun was kissing the waters skin, there were rabbits darting in and out of the landscape, and the very familiar sound of the geese and bird life came calling to me like a twisted fanfare. As I made my way down to the waters edge, it felt like I'd been away for an eternity.

The Keepers Of The Water

It's amazing how isolated you can feel in such a large sprawling environment, it enhances such a sense of 'escapism'. Angling is the ultimate escape for me, it allows me to turn my back on the pieces of the world that I find suppressive. I've mentioned it before but when I cast my rigs out, all my anxieties are cast out with them, this frees up my mind to concentrate purely on my fishing. 

Once at the waters edge I was in no rush to get setup, I slowly walked around the perimeter of the mere, keeping my eyes on the water. It was going to be a warm day so ideally I didn't want to be targeting anything deeper than 7ft. Fish were showing towards the middle but I suspected that they were cruising in the upper layers, if I was to target them where they were showing, I'd be in at least 12ft of water.

A New Rising 
Fishing zigs did cross my mind but I felt if I was applying loose feed into the shallower water and the fish were in the mid to upper layers, I'd stand a much better chance at drawing them down. I continued walking, paying close attention to the back bay area, as stated before, the fish do tend to hold along the 'No Fishing' bank. 

I spotted a small group of carp milling around the mouth of the bay, they were huddled together just under the surface. This was evidence enough that fish were about, I decided I'd set up in the same swim as last time. My plan was to target the water that led into the mouth of the bay. If I could get a concentrated bed of bait out hopefully I could pick up a few as they moved in and out of the "safe zone". I thought about surface fishing but with the amount of birdlife around it just wasn't an option.

Lake Position  
  
On previous sessions I'd kept the bait going in all the time, today I was going to put ten initial spods out and leave it. I would recast my solid bags on a regular basis so a small amount of bait would be left in the swim after each cast. With all this in mind I rushed to get everything set up, then proceed to mix up my spod ammunition. 'Ingredients Below'

Spod Mix

My rigs were exactly the same as my previous sessions, the only difference being that I'd gone up a lead size, I was now opting to use a 3oz, 'semi-fixed' with short hook links. The lead I was using was a flat inline that I got "Carpy Chris Knowler" to make me. It has a super flat profile and slips into a solid bag perfectly.

The bait was a single grain of corn topped off with some yellow zig foam, the foam had been soaking in almond oil. This gave me a lovely buoyant bait that would sit temptingly among the contents of my solid bag. Once again it was all very simple, my main point of focus was making sure that both my bait application and my casts were spot on.

Flat Inline 3oz

Finished Presentation

In regards to tying up my solid bags, it really depends on the angling situation, if I'm fishing at short to medium range I don't worry too much about making them super tight and streamline. The shape of the lead I was using sits from top to bottom in a medium sized solid bag, this distributes the weight perfectly and I find I can get really good distance without worrying if the bags aerodynamic, 'like many things in carp angling, we all have our own little ways of doing things'. 

Lead Placement

End Result

Both rods were clipped up at 13.5 wraps, the spod rod was clipped up to 14 wraps. Both of my hook-baits were going to be fished about two meters apart from each other. I was going to do my best to keep the loose feed going in on the exact same spot, my bags would be fished either side of where the spod was landing, ..... well this was the plan. Ten spods went out closely followed by both bags, the casts were comfortable, they felt right, now I was finally fishing.

View From The Swim
I have to say that it was an utter pleasure being by the waters edge, there was a lovely warm breeze, heavy clouds were periodically covering the sky overhead, temporarily projecting a solemn atmosphere, then within moments they'd disperse and it would feel like summer again. It was a day of 'two halves', I sparked the kettle up and took a seat. 

A few coots had made a beeline for my spot and were diving away, I just left them to it, after all, it was me who was imposing in their front room. The least I could do was let them help themselves to a few mouthfuls of "the good stuff". In the distance I could see that the swans were heading my way, I'd already foreseen this and placed back leads directly underneath the rod tips, I'd learnt the hard way in the past.

Waiting For The Unknown To Unearth
A good few hours evaporated without any action, I was getting a few liners but nothing that translated into a full blown take. On Micklem it does seem that you either get into fish quickly or you're scratching for a bite. I stuck to my plan, no more spods were going to be put out, I would continue to recast my bags every hour or so and just be patient. I had a feeling that things might pick up come late afternoon. 

Another hour passed, I'd just done my second recast when all of a sudden my right rod gave out a few small bleeps. The bobbin had moved up and stopped, because there's a lot of small carp in the mere, you tend to get bites where a really small fish picks up the bait without taking the hook in, and they bolt off, if you didn't know any better you'd think it was bigger carp "getting away with it". On closer inspection though, I could see my rod tip knocking, the movement was very slight. 

I decided I'd lift into it, sure enough there was something on the end, I reeled it in very carefully. If it was a small carp I didn't want to damage it in any way. There was a faint tugging and as my lead appeared out the water so did a lovely little common, once again, I was really pleased, I value each and every carp that Micklem delivers to me.

A Glimpse Of The Future
Slipping her back I launched another solid bag out, this cast was feathered perfectly and as the line hit the clip, it felt very satisfying, "nothing beats a perfect cast". The bobbin was set and I was back in waiting game, I was surprised at how slow it was fishing, my mind was already questioning why this could be. Maybe the initial spods spooked the fish away? maybe I'd put too much bait in from the off? maybe there just wasn't any fish in front of me? I was thinking that they might just be holding in the upper layers. There weren't any definitive answers to these questions, again, that's the beauty of angling. 

Just as I was starting to resign myself to the fact that I'd got the approach all wrong, my left rod gave a few beeps and the tip started nodding. I suspected it was another scamp, just like before, I reeled in very carefully. Soon enough I was met with a lovely little mirror, its scale pattern was perfect. Looking at this fish I started to think again at what Micklem was going to be like with a good few years behind it, when all the smaller carp had grown on, I seriously believe it's going to be a pretty special water, all it already is.

A Picture Of Mini Perfection
I loaded up another solid bag and whacked it back out, the hours were now whittling away, the breeze had dropped right off, the mere was like a sheet of glass. Fish started to show in the back bay and very close to my baited area, it appeared I was approaching the 'magic hour', I honestly felt like something special could happen. It was at this point when I felt cemented to my chair, my eyes fixed firmly on the water, I was willing something to happen, anticipating chaos, it felt like time was accelerating all around me. 

Before I knew it late afternoon was now touching early evening, the carp were continuing to show, it was very obvious that they'd become active. What happened next was something that I will never forget, it was pure poetry. Four fish showed directly over my bait, they came up all together, it was reminiscent of a synchronised swimming manoeuvre, one fish out of the four looked like a lump. Within seconds of this happening both my rods were away, the right rod was obviously a small fish, the tip was knocking but the drag didn't kick in, I didn't think it was big enough to be able to shift the lead, however the left rod was ripping off at a crazy speed.

I left the right rod and lifted into the left, instantly I knew this was something special, the rod arced right round and the fish was stripping line like crazy. Conscious of the fact that whatever was on the end had probably not been hooked before, I loosened the clutch and let it run. I didn't want to cause any kind of mouth damage, 'if I was in the process of landing perfection, I wanted it going back in the same condition'. Slowly the fish started to tire, I was more than eager to witness her but I had to be patient. 

Very slowly she started to wain, the heavy pulling became less frequent and as she came my way I witnessed a very broad back and dorsal cutting through the water. I waded in to net her, otherwise she would of grounded out in the shallow water. As the net mesh engulfed her I knew I'd caught something very special, I let her rest out of respect. This fish encapsulated angling for me, before I'd laid eyes on her, she was part of a myth, something that may or may not have existed, it really was a perfect carp. Leaving her resting I reeled in the fish on my other rod, it was a tiny little mirror, a pound at most.

Another Micklem Secret
I waded into the water right up to my chest to set her free, it was a special moment, just for a second I became a part of her world, just as she'd become part of mine. That's one of the many beauties of carp angling, it's full of fleeting moments, many great memories that get filed away in the mind, eventually all these memories ferment and become 'nostalgia'. 

I slowly got my tackle together and as I made my way back to the car I felt so lucky, lucky to have angling in my life. It takes you to so many places both physically and mentally, you get to witness things that the masses will never experience, it's our own private world. Once again, another blank Micklem page had been written, the lines and paragraphs were continuing to come together, even more than before. I feel grateful to be part of its story, it's a story that I'm going to continue to write, there will be no ending. 

Micklem Mere Summer 2014