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Monday, 4 April 2016

Micklem Mere 'Fishing For Mysteries' Part 4

A few weeks had passed since my last session, I had a lot of work to do, even though I wasn't physically on the bank my thoughts were. I go through stages where I really do find it hard to curb my obsession, it's hard to strike a balance between work, family and fishing. If I'm not careful my angling has a tendency to bleed into every aspect of my life, when the weathers warm I start getting the itch, I picture the waters in my mind and mill over the spots I'd like to be fishing. 

At certain times of the year I get flash backs to years gone by and the baits I was using at the time. I think back to when me and my friend would cobble all our pennies together, we'd go down to our local tackle shop and buy all the ingredients we needed to make Nash 'Sting Fishmeal'. We'd gone halves on a bait making kit, we use to stink our parents houses out on a regular basis knocking up kilos of the stuff. We'd be furiously rolling, deep in conversation, nattering about the secret carp that lived in our local club waters.

During the summer holidays we'd go fishing for a week at a time, our only connection with reality was when we use to take a trip to the tackle shop or supermarket to stock up on supplies. We use to spend most of our time on a lake called 'Holts', which is now known as 'Stream Valley Fisheries' down in Crowborough, East Sussex. It was on this water that I learnt how to fish, it was magic, located deep within a valley surrounded by trees, it was like another world. I remember fishing it a few years back and I literally got a lump in my throat thinking back to the amazing times I'd had down there. There was a small group of us that use to fish all the local lakes for the carp.

One of my fondest memories was when my mates Dad would occasionally bring down fish and chips and a couple of cans of beer, we'd put the cans in a bag in the margin to keep them cool, we'd secure the bag with a bank stick and as the sun started to fade we'd crack-em open and sit back watching the day end. It seems a shame that I'm not in touch with any of these 'old friends' anymore. But as we know, life happens and we all go our separate ways, I feel blessed to still be fishing and all these great memories will never fade. My angling journey has been so great and I will continue it until the end of my days.

'Holts' 1994'

The day of my Micklem session I woke up early to bright sun and a totally blue sky, summer was in full swing. Opening the window in my bedroom, the fresh morning air came seeping into the room, I took a deep breath and inhaled the new day, exhaling yesterdays remnants. It was a fine day to be alive, an even better day to get out and get fishing. Gone was the calm demeanour of my last few sessions, today I just couldn't get to the water fast enough. I wanted to witness the mere waking up, the bird life, the dew on the grass, everything, the sense of clarity that it all provides is something that I need to soak up. 

All these things might sound rather fruitless to the "non angler", but for me, all these elements are vitally stitched into my journey. My fishing has three separate elements, 'the environment', 'the process' and 'the capture'. All three married together is what makes my carp angling so important too me, it's what motivates me to get out there and get stuck in, it's all about experiencing the finer points in life that are so often lost. It's taking the core elements of what fishing is about, and if you keep them at the forefront of your mind, your enthusiasm is always primed and the flame never seems to flicker. With this outlook, never once have I felt burnt out.     
Micklem's Awake
I pulled into Micklems carp park as the sun was rising, there was dew on the ground, the atmosphere felt so fresh, the bird life on the water, as usual, was extremely active. I took a few minutes to load the barrow and then made my way down to the waters edge, I had the whole place to myself. Taking a seat on one of the handy little wooden benches, I decide I'd sit and watch the water for a while. Just being by the mere at that time in the morning was special, the only souls for miles around were just me and Eric 'my dog'. To be honest, I was so content within the moment that I didn't feel the need to get the rods out at all.

I could feel by the sun on my face that it was going to be a really hot day, I decided to head up towards the back bay area, hoofing it round with the barrow, I started to feel energised, all of a sudden getting the rods out was of top priority, I was excited. Today I'd left the spod rod at home, I was going to focus solely on solid bags, I wanted to keep the fishing nice and clean with as little disturbance as possible. Arriving at the swim the wind was pushing nicely into the back margin, this was where I was going to put one of my rods. 

Micklem Back Bay
The 'make up' of the back bay is very interesting, you've got shallow margins that suddenly fall away to depths in excess of 10ft, there are a few spots that go even deeper. I've found that there are sporadic patches of weed in places, hence why I opt for solid bags, I can sit confident knowing that the bait is well presented.

Thinking back to my previous sessions, I always see fish show in and around this area at varying times of the day. My plan was to fish one bait just off the overhanging bushes that lined the back margin and the other, quarter of the way down the marginal slope, in my mind I'd have two different depths covered. In regards to rigs and presentation, as mentioned before, nothing was going to be changed other than the deduction of the spod.

Solid Bag Mix

My solid bag was made up of both Salmon Marine and Multi-mix pellets, added to this was some Hot Chilli Hemp method mix, porridge oats and a generous 'gulp' of Almond Oil. My hook bait was a single grain of imitation corn topped off with half a 10mil Pineapple Cream match boilie, this combo had pretty much produced all my fish so I decided I'd stick with it. This was going to be fished on a short 'trigga-link' combi, the lead I was using was a 2.5oz gripper, this was going to be setup 'semi-fixed'. As usual, there's nothing complicated, for me the most important aspect is where the baits were going to be placed, it's all about the right location. Images of my rig can be seen here Micklem Mere Part One

Before making the bags up I performed a few measured casts feeling carefully for 'the drops', I wanted a short drop on my margin rod and a slightly longer one on the rod that was to be fished on the slope. My margin rod was clipped up at 13.5 wraps, this put me perfectly under the tree-line, the 'slope' rod was clipped up at the same distance, theoretically I was fishing both bags in line with each other, the only difference between them was the depth they were fishing at. Both bags were tied as close to perfection as possible, each cast landed exactly where I wanted it to, I was happy and finally fishing.

A Neat Bite

A few hours passed and the heat started to kick in, Micklem has a tendency to become a sun trap, even with the brolly up, it's hard to find relief. I took both my shoes and socks off, rolled my trousers up and paddled in the shallow margins. I love doing this on really warm days, it brings back memories of when I use to visit my nanny and grandad down in Littlehampton when me and my sister were kids. 

We spent so many summer days in the sea paddling about, when the tide was out we'd run for what seemed like miles to get to the water, the beaches were empty in them days. I started to sense that I was on my own little sentimental trip this session, what with my memories of fishing Holts. When I think back it makes me feel like I've been on this earth a lot longer than 39 years.

View From The Swim
For the first few hours or so I was getting solid indications that fish were in the swim. Periodically I was getting liners on both rods but as of yet nothing translated into a bite. I was convinced something was going to occur so I just sat tight, I was only going to recast when and if I got a bite. A couple more hours melted away and the sun really started to beat down, I'd spotted a few carp showing towards the back of the bay. There were a number of shows all over the lake. The carp had obviously become active, from past experience, if you haven't had any early bites, chances are some action will occur mid to late afternoon.

Eric Seeking Some Shade

The day was steadily passing, I was still getting the odd knock on both rods, I was surprised that I hadn't managed to even pick up a few small carp yet. I toyed with the idea of a recast but I genuinely didn't see the point, I was confident in my approach, I just had to stick it out. For all I knew some carp had clocked the bait but weren't up for a feed just yet, my hopes were now pinned on late afternoon. To be honest it was such a lovely day, just being on the banks of the mere was a gift within itself, fish or no fish, it's all part of the process.

The day had evaporated, before I knew it, it was now approaching 3 o'clock, I felt the magic hour was a whisker away, the wind dropped, the temperature dropped and a few patchy clouds moved in over head, it suddenly felt pretty dam special. Now with the water like a sheet of glass I tried to clock signs of feeding fish. The binoculars came out and I started to scan around the bay, carefully looking for streams of bubbles, anything that gave me an indication that fish were in the vicinity. Towards the back of the bay I spotted a few patches, there looked to be more than one fish having a poke about.

This got my blood pumping, "surely they were going to come across my bait". I sat pinned to my chair, I found myself holding my breath, urging one of my rods to go racing off. A single bleep shifted my attention onto my left hand rod tip, the tip nudged and then, BAM!! it was away like a train. Lifting into the fish, it felt pretty powerful, this certainly wasn't one of the many scamps, this felt special. I was using my light rods so every pull and tug was translating through the blank directly into my soul, "I love players rods". There was no hurrying it, I grabbed the net and walked just above knee height into the water. I was now well and truly connected to both the carp and the mere.

It was slowly edging towards me but I had to be patient, it topped just a few yards out and I was met with a fleeting fleck of bright orange. I was somewhat stunned and for a split second I was wondering what the hell I'd caught. The shock subsided and I suddenly remembered that there had been whispers about a couple of 'koi' that had been spotted during spawning. If so, it was very clear that I had one of them literally yards from the net. The buzz had now turned from excitement into panic - "I had to get this fish in". I increased the pressure, slowly guiding her my way, inches turned to millimetres, just a little further, as the net engulfed her, the relief and the joy washed over me in equal measure.

Micklem Gold ... Literally 

It was obvious that I'd unearthed one very special jewel, I have no doubt that there are more surprise residing under the meres surface. I know I repeat myself but this is what angling's all about for me, it's the not knowing, uncertainty can be a beautiful thing. Amongst the many small fish you tend to catch, there's sure to be a few surprises amongst them. That's one of the reasons why I've decided to put serious time into the place. I look upon it as a journey of discovery and with each fish caught a little piece of the meres story falls into place.

With a few shots taken, I got back in the water to set her free, it was a pleasure to watch her slowly drift off back into the abyss. No time was wasted in getting another bag tied and back out, if fish had moved in and were now actively feeding, I wanted to cash in on it. With the bobbin now set I took a seat and got the binoculars back out, there seemed to be some signs of feeding in the deeper water, more towards the middle of the bay. I felt there was still a good chance of another fish, in the meantime I sat immersed in the memory of my previous capture, what an incredible carp.

The next bite came pretty quick, this time on my right rod, it all happened so fast, it made me jump. Leaning into the fish, it had already bolted clear of the bay and was heading out into the main body of the mere. Again, this was a powerful carp, it was rocketing along, I adjusted the clutch tighter to try and pacify its momentum. This failed, it just kept on going, it was at this point my mind started fragmenting my thoughts, could this be a secret monster? I was dying to find out. I was now in the water again with the net by my side, the fish had clearly 'blown its load', it was now just a case of gently guiding her my way. Soon enough a lump of common carp was resting in the mesh.

Another Surprise
This common was a proper brute, its huge mouth was full of living natural food. I doubt very much it had been caught before, I was so pleased, two good fish in a day from Micklem was a right result. It goes to show that I didn't need to be spodding bait out to pull the carp in. It also demonstrates that with perseverance comes rewards, I've be very determined about catching some of the better fish and I feel I'm finally 'breaking through'. 

After returning it I slowly packed up and made the long walk back to the car park, everything was calm, me and Eric were still the only souls around. Looking back over the water as the sun started to fade, it looked very different, all of a sudden the idea of hidden monsters was more than just a rumour, it appeared that they were very real, I was already looking forward to getting back down and giving it another go. Locking the gate behind me and preparing for the long drive home, I thanked the mere for providing me with another day to remember.