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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 10

A few weeks had gone by since my last session, I'd been really busy with 'life' and it was stopping me from getting out. Times like these can be very frustrating and we can all relate to them. You can feel your 'angling' life slowing passing you by and all you can do is observe as the perfect days and evening bite times get replaced with fighting your way through the city streets and the system. Real life doesn't move and pass in the same way as time on the bank, it drags, splinters and keeps you chained to 'the wage'. We're continually being 'tapped' to consume, we're cleverly drawn into the theater of politics and mundane current affairs. We're presented with elections and referendums that are simply an illusion to make us all feel that we actually have some say over our existence. I've come to the conclusion that we don't, so it's up to us to try and create both opportunities and situations where we do. For the 'angler' those times are when we're scoping a water out, deciding where we're going to fish and putting as much thought as possible into getting the end result we want, a piece of the wild both in our nets and hands.

You can't control the wild, it has no race, no language, no system, it is what it is and it will continue to do exactly what it wants. That is why slipping ourselves into it and taming just a small piece is such a big achievement. So as I worked and tried desperately to navigate myself in and out of the everyday, my angling mind was busy hatching a plan. I was thinking back to my Winter down on Burrows and how I religiously stuck to one spot. I started to think what that spot would fish like in the warmer months, out of all the marginal areas, it's a apot that gets ignored a lot of the time. I had a feeling that it wouldn't have seen a great deal of pressure since I was last there. I thought it might just be worth a shot, to be honest my days on Burrows were slowly coming to an end. This blog along with a few that I did later on in the year will signal the end of the journey. There's a number of reasons why, which I won't bother going into now, but for the time being I was eager and inspired to get back down there. 

Now with the warmth in full swing and the days sunny and bright, come the morning of my session, I got out the house nice and early. Days like these aren't worth wasting and it's only in recent years, being alcohol free, do I realize just how many perfect days I've wasted nursing a poisonous hangover. I love the early mornings and nothing beats the sunrise, the air is still and acutely clean, the sky is sharp, free from smog and the morning dew temporarily drapes over everything until it's forced to evaporate into nothingness. Thinking back, one thing I miss from when I use to night fish were the sunrises, I have great memories of peering out my bivy door as the mist rose off from the skin of the water. There was a stillness and a peace that you couldn't find anywhere else. However, I don't miss the extreme tiredness, the damp bivy and the feeling of a new day starting having been awake for nights on end. There's nothing worse than a dawn chorus when you haven't split the night into day with sleep. 

I arrived at the water just as the sun started to appear over the treeline, there wasn't really anyone about, I suspected the handful of cars in the car park belonged to anglers that were fishing the Pollard. As I pushed my gear down the woodland track it became clear that Burrows was empty - result!. As usual, everything looked perfect, it always does and as I made my way down the clay paths to my chosen swim, I couldn't help but stop for a few minutes, just to take the atmosphere in. As I've mentioned hundreds of times before, you've got to go a long way to find a better looking water and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly I get pulled to its world. It obviously helped that I was the only one on the water, it's amazing how the feel of a lake can change when you've got lots of people about. The serine peacefulness can quickly get replaced with the annoying sounds of civilization.
      
View From The Swim
I wasted no time in getting setup, it was pretty much second nature considering I'd spent my whole Winter in this exact swim. The rods we're clipped up at 12.5 lengths, both the casts saw me kissing the branches over on the far bank. They landed perfectly, I was so confident in their positioning that I wasn't going to recast until I'd had a fish off of each rod. Once the bobbins were set I proceeded to get a good helping of bait out, my short to medium range Gardener 'Skorpion Stick' made easy work of this, the best £8.99 I've ever spent. My chosen bait for today was the 'Sweet Plum Seed', this is a highly effective bait. It's a combination fish-meal that comes in a lovely dark red color, not only that but it smells amazing. Just to add a slight twister to things, I was going to fish a small mesh bag on each rod that contained some crushed sweet plum seed boilies and a smattering of 'high' oil tuna pellets. At first this struck me as a strange combination but when you smelt both the flavors together, the aroma was strangely satisfying. 

Sweet Plum Seed & Tuna Pellets
  
One of the main questions I seem to get asked a lot is regarding the bait that I use, many people want to know why I don't just stick to one flavor. The answer to this is simple, I have 100% confidence in all the baits that Starmer produce. I know that they all work so I don't have to give it a second thought, there is no magic bait, it's all about how you present it and where you put it. Also I believe that certain waters respond better to certain flavors, this was something that I came to understand years ago. Graham at Crowborough tackle told me about this way back at the start of the 90's and through the years it really has proven to be the case. Going way back, and using my Bax Farm stint as an example, I couldn't get a bite for love nor money on fruity baits. The minute I changed to fish meal I started to catch straight away and there's been a number of waters where this has worked the other way around. Fruity baits dominated whilst fish-meal & spicy flavors didn't get a look in. Through years of chopping, changing and making notes, you start to get an idea and an understanding of what the fish tend to respond to on specific waters.

Regarding my rigs for this session, as usual they were straight forward, semi-fixed inlines fished with a 2.5oz lead, the hairs were long, the material was a semi-stiff coated braid stripped back a few inches above the eye of the hook. To enhance both the 'hinge' and 'shock' effect I placed a heavy tungsten bead where the stripped braid meets the coated section. Once again, this little touch was something else I learnt from Graham at Crowborough tackle. Back in those days, because there weren't any tungsten beads on the market, we'd use a shot instead. I was going through a stage where I seemed to be getting finicky bites, he said the shot on the braid seemed to shock/surprise the carp, thus making them bolt. I know that some might think this theory is a load of rubbish, mainly because all your 'famous' anglers haven't mentioned it, but I can confirm that it works very well and its something that I've been doing periodically for a very long time. So with a bait I have 100% confidence in and a rig that's very effective and simple. It really was just a case of waiting and hoping that the carp would come and visit my 'underwater' dinner table.

The Bolt Bead
So with the technical aspects out the way it was just the 'inevitable' waiting game. It was hard to believe that only a few months ago I was sitting in this exact same swim freezing. The lake was gloomy and bleak with very few signs of life. Today I was in another universe, my brain couldn't process just how many colors lay around me and with existence in full flow. I sensed the time was going to pass very quickly, I'd simply observe the world around me until I received an indication that one of the residence below the surface was willing to pay me a visit. I started to wonder exactly what was going on under the water, does every single carp have a routine?. Do they participate in the carp equivalent of 'the morning jog', or meet up in a certain spot and have a chat about recent goings on whilst sipping on some carp equivalent of coffee. Were there gangs of fish that others feared? maybe there's some kind of postcode war going on, hence why, on occasions the same fish gets caught from the same spot multiple times. Maybe the fish we catch with injuries aren't inflicted by anglers at all, they may have just be victims of 'carp crime', having been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Whilst I sat there deep in pleasant fiction I abruptly got alerted to my right hand rod, I received two savage liners. The bobbin shot up and dropped right back down twice within seconds of each other. This caused my heart rate to fly through the roof, within moments it was away, as I sprung out the chair my heart literally shot into my mouth. It doesn't matter how many times your rod goes off, it never ceases to send a crazy adrenaline through your whole body. As I lifted into the fish I had a passing thought that, whatever was on the end, had clearly finished its morning jog and coffee and clearly fancied a bite to eat. As expected the fish bolted for the sunken post but I managed to steer it well clear, landing carp from this swim felt like second nature. Like all the carp in Burrows, it kited all over the place and refused to give up, once under the rod tip, it circled and pulled, kicking up the silt in the process. But with steady pressure and a little patience, through the murk, appeared a lovely looking mirror carp.

An Early Bite Came Calling
A few photos were taken and I slipped her back, I hoped that she wasn't going to make her way back over to my carefully prepared dining area and warn all her mates about the potential trap. A fresh bait was carefully threaded onto the hair, the rod was clipped up and a recast was performed. The clip was kissed, I waited for the addictive 'DONK', I was primed and ready for the next fish. At this point all the remaining clouds cleared and the sun came shining down, the water was such a brilliant blue, it was one of those days where you just couldn't imagine yourself existing anywhere else. And best of all I still had the whole lake to myself. Before I let my mind sink back into some kind of day dream, my 'throwing stick hand' started to itch. Considering I'd already had a fish, it made sense to top the swim back up, all in all I introduced about 5 large handfuls, these were spread in a wide area around both of my rods.

 Birds Nest Hair
  
Over the next hour of two the heat of the day really started to beat down on my back and with the sun high overhead, I sensed that the carp probably weren't spending a great deal of time on the bottom. I contemplated zigs but decided I'd just sit it out, I suspected some action would come towards late afternoon. I've had some success on Burrows using zigs but I feel that the only way to really use them is when you commit 100%. It isn't an approach that you try halfheartedly, not only that but there genuinely wasn't any evidence that the fish were in the upper layers or near the surface. If carp were topping, twirling and showing then that probably would've swayed me. I was happy to just watch the world go by and wait for my alarms to start singing, I knew that they would. I've fished this water enough to know, that if I keep the bait going in then there's a high chance that a group of fish will come across it. If this happens then you can find yourself having multiple takes in a very short space of time. 

Burrows 'A Different Space .. A Different Time
The hours came and went and before I knew it mid afternoon was crawling towards me, the heat of the day started to ease off slightly. A lovely light, cooling breeze arrived, I started to get a sense that bite time was close. It's a very familiar feeling, there's a deafening sense of quiet and everything around you, including the water, has a certain stillness to it. It's as if the world slows down whilst the water wakes up. Come 4 o'clock, fish started to show just down to the right of my baited area, they were super close to the margins. It was 'bite-time', I could feel it in my bones. Minutes later I started to get some small indications, both alarms were fidgeting, I had a sense that more than one fish had come across my bait. Moments later the right rod fired off, I was on 'automatic pilot', I lifted into it and applied steady side strain to the left, as expected the fish bolted sharp to the right towards the post. I steered it clear, it then shot towards me super fast, I was reeling in the slack like a bloody madman. A short intense tussle under the tip saw my net engulf another lovely looking mirror.

Let Bite Time Commence
This fish was very broad, I had a feeling that in a few years it was going to go on to be a very large resident, a 'future sage' of the water for sure. Back it went, I got the rod back out quick, speedily followed by another good helping of bait. If there were fish about I wanted to keep them feeding, if I didn't cash in now I knew the chance of a few more could pass me by. Moments after the bobbin was hung my left rod flew off at speed, I was on it quick, as expected, it bolted towards the post. It just goes to show that the carp know exactly what they're doing. They're masters of their environment and if there's a 'get out clause', they're sure as hell going to know where it is. Another nutty fight commenced and as the fish signaled 'retreat' I netted another good mirror. This was an awesome looking fish, it had clearly been sunbathing, its back and shoulders were a dark 'pastel grey' color with a lovely bronze 'rustic' coloration to its tail. I don't know if it was just my imagination but it appeared to be smiling. 'check image below'

Pastel Grey
The rod went straight back out followed by another load of bait, if I was to get another fish I'd stop topping the swim up. I felt that the area had a few more bites left in it so there was no need to 'overfeed'. Reducing the amount of bait available can speed the takes up. You just have to gauge the situation, when you've fished a water a lot, over time you start to see patterns of behaviour and when you hit a moment in the day where bites are coming fast, you've got to make the most of it, you've got to play the cards right. I finally managed to take a seat, my sleeves were soaked, I now officially smelt of carp. Whilst I was taking a moment to savor the 'stench' the right rod was away again, this was a steaming take, a proper 'blank bender'. It was exactly the same drill as all the previous fish, a fast run towards the post, side strain, and then a drawn out dose of utter chaos right up until the 'white flag' was waved. Peering down into my net, another 'classic Burrows mirror' was waiting for me. This was a dumpy looking fish, a proper little character.

Dumpy
After slipping her back, a clean cast kissed the clip, I held off on the bait. I had about an hour or so left, I knew there was probably enough bait still out there to keep the carp mooching about. Time past, the action had slowed down, I started to pack up the non-essentials, it was during the closing minutes that the right rod screamed off. It was clear as I lent into this fish that it was a larger one, it didn't bolt for the post, opting to take me out into the open water. The initial run was long and slow, this fish was plodding instead of frantically darting left, right and center. Applying steady pressure, I managed to ease her towards me, it surfaced a short way out, it had a serious set of shoulders on it. Soon enough, I slipped the net under a rather unique looking carp, it was another mirror, its back was really broad, looking closely I think I'd had this one before back in the winter. It was good to see it again and in top condition.

The Closing Bite
The moment was savored and the 'release' was performed, this fish signaled the end of the session, I was soaked and the swim was a right mess, these are the markings of a great day. The last few hours were pretty intense, clearly a group of fish had moved in and I'd managed to keep them there. I've had a fair few sessions on Burrows like this, for the time of the year and accounting for the way the water seems to play out. I don't bother fishing for a bite at a time, loading the swim up and working on a 'hit' has always been the way to go for me. This approach doesn't work on all waters, the trick is to suss out which ones respond to it. There are certain factors to take to into account. Are the carp solitary? Do they move around in groups?, waters were the fish move around in shoals tend to respond better to this way of fishing. I got all my gear together, it was a slow packed down, the evening was perfect and I wasn't in rush to wave it goodbye. It had been a great day, 5 bites, 5 fish landed, my curiosity about my 'winter' spot had been pacified. I could now re-enter the 'system' a satisfied man, however I was wondering how long that would last, I knew that somewhere deep in my head another obsession was rooting itself. I guess I was going to have to wait to see where it took me.