Sunday 16 December 2012

The Stock Pond 'Lead Setups'

Despite the gale force winds and heavy rain I thought I'd head out for the day down to The Stock Pond. The lake is blustery at the best of times because it's located in the medway valley. When I arrived at the water it was like being trapped in a wind tunnel. I decided I was going to approach the lake with two different prongs of attack. The first part of the day I was going to move both baits every 45 minutes to see if I could pick off a fish, if this failed I'd stick to my usual spots from midday onward.

As usual there was no signs of any feeding fish and the waves on the water made it impossible to see any signs of bubbles, it really was just guess work. In regards to rigs, I was fishing the POM setup on one rod and a line clip system on the other. In previous blogs I have mentioned that I dropped the line clip out of my fishing a good few years back. After testing Chris Knowlers POM leads I am starting to warm to the method again. 

I was always dubious about how pinned down everything was when using lead clips. After a bit of work and a fair amount of trial and error I have found a series of rig components that allow me to fish with it confidently. Firstly the clips and tail rubbers I am using are the 'Carp Craze, Green Translucent Range'. I really find these blend in well on the bottom of most lakes I have used them on. Unlike a lot of clips on the market, this specific one has two positions you can slide the tail rubber to, both making it easy for the lead to slip off if the fish gets caught up in weed or any other snag.

Riggy Bits

Lead Clip

Position One

Position Two

I favor position one because I feel the lead will release easier, the next element of the system that has always bothered me is the the swivel on the lead, I felt that depending on how the rig landed, the swivel may or may not allow the lead and a proportion of the tubing behind the lead to hug tight to the bottom. I got around this problem very easily, all of Chris Knowlers leads have swivels where the top ring is larger than the bottom one, also it's a thinner gauge so this gives the lead so much more freedom and versatility on the landing. An element of this may sound like nonsense but I feel it's relevant.

Swivel Comparisons
One of the leads that I am using at the moment is a 'Swivel Weed Lead' 2.5oz, the hook link is straight through fluorocarbon, with all these elements combined I feel I have a reliable and well presented rig. After doing rig checks in the margin I am very impressed with how it blends into the bottom, for me this is a major factor. On my other rod I was fishing the new POM lead that Chris Knowler has given me to work with, it's and interesting concept, you place a free running swivel on your hook link and secure it into the hole on the lead.

Free Running Swivel
The POM Lead Is Designed To Take The Running Swivel

Push The Swivel Into The Specially Designed Hole

Once this process is complete you're ready to go, I am still in the middle of testing these leads. The main point that I really like is the hinge effect you get, it casts and lands like an inline, on the take the second swivel can release, if you're fishing in weed or snags the lead can then ditch. I also think that this system could stop the carp from using the lead to ditch the hook.

Back to the fishing.......

Like I said before, I decided to split the day into two approaches, the first approach I would keep both rods roaming, fishing bottom baits with small PVA bags, each bait will be kept in position for around 45 minutes at a time. My thinking behind this was the fact that if the carp were shoaled up somewhere I might be able to find them and pick a few off. I tried to cover most of the lake, the wind was really pounding, I made sure I fished my baits on both the back and front of it.

Casting Positions
I was fishing Starmers White Chocolate on one rod and a combination of Octospice, Bloodworm & Tuna and Bio CP2 Amino on the other, I crumbled the Octospice up and mixed 10 mil CP2 Amino boilies into a funnel web PVA bag, I fished half Octospice and half Bloodworm & Tuna on the hair, dipped the bag in glug and cast it out. I planned to fish the 'roaming' method until 1:00pm and then I was going to fish my usual spots and keep them there until an hour or so after dark.

Octospice, Bloodworm & Tuna Combined

Finished Presentation 

A few hours passed without a single beep, casting was tricky because the wind was gale-force, it was exhilarating being out on the bank in these conditions and I had a gut feeling the effort I was putting in would pay off. I kept very focused on my approach and tried to pick off a fish. The morning came and went without any action, no fish were showing and my roaming approach wasn't proving fruitful.

For the rest of the day I decided I was going to fish my usual spots, re-baiting, putting fresh bags on and then just sitting on my hands, I was starting to feel a little brow beaten but was determined to stick it out. The heavy wind continued all afternoon, I was sure one of my rods was going to produce, even though the weather was ruthless it really wasn't that cold, if it had been a chilling wind I most probably would of thrown the towel in. 

Usual Spots
By this time the light was starting to go, another hour or so passed and it was pitch black, the only light was from my bite alarm LEDS which were firing off with the gusts of wind. The breeze dropped a little later on and things took on an eerie silence, all of a sudden my right hand rod tore into life, I lifted into the fish, luckily I had put my head torch on other wise the dash for the rod would of resulted in me falling in the lake. The fish was powering around and had a fair bit of weight to it. As I got it closer in, a big mirror surfaced out of the darkness filling the shaft of light my head torch was producing, it was a decent fish. I kept the pressure on letting her take line when required, after a fair scrap I slipped a fat looking mirror over my net. I was so pleased I managed to bag one, scales sunk bang on 20IB. I really felt I deserved this fish, it had been a testing day.

Another Stock Pond 20IBer
She had a few old battle scares so I applied some klinic got my photos taken and then slipped her back to fight another day. I was tempted to get the rod back out but the weather was taking a turn for the worst with some rain now starting to set in. The day was one of those sessions where it would of been easy to just stick with one approach and sit it out, I am glad I tried something different and will no doubt take on the water in the same way again. Next time it may bring with it better results. With winter closing in and temperatures dropping things are going to get real tough but I have got to say that I am up for the challenge. There's a lot to learn during the colder months and getting out on the bank is still as important as ever. Carp may not feed as much but they are still catchable.

Monday 19 November 2012

Burrows 'Autumn Colours'

The leaves are turning and starting to fall, temperatures are dipping and the bank side, only a few months ago was buzzing and full of life. It's amazing how quick things change, the lakes are starting to have a stillness about them and with the nights closing in, the waters edge has become very bleak and remote. 

More days than not carp fishing seems to have turned into a riddle rather than a relaxing pass time. I have a fair few lakes on the agenda in regards to winter campaigns, it goes with out saying that Burrows is still high on the list. I have been paying close attention to my bait application and focusing on location, it's paramount this time of the year.

It has become apparent that feeding times seem to now come in short bursts and to maximise on this it's really important to spend a little extra time trying to pinpoint where abouts the carp are holding up. I've taken a few afternoons out to go down to Burrows solely to watch the water, from past experience I have reason to believe that the carp can hold in specific areas of the lake for a good few days at a time, on both trips I noticed a few fish topping up the far end of the lake, this is a part that I am yet to fish.

On returning to the lake I chose my spots wisely, after a bit of searching about with my smart-cast I found a couple of spots that I felt confident in. There was a fair amount of movement on the bottom of the lake and I felt these areas could hold the odd fish.

Bottom Make Up Of My Swim
The way it shelves down is pretty extreme, I felt I could fish a bait close in, when watching how other anglers approach this swim, they seem to cast to the middle, I had a hunch that the carp could patrol underneath the rod tips due to the changes in depth.

Bait Position Of Left Rod

Bait Position Of Right Hand Rod
I kept baiting up to a minimum, I didn't put any freebies into the swim, I thought PVA bags and single hook baits should do the trick, I made sure my bag mixes had maximum attraction. I ground up a selection of fruity baits and then added some Anchovy Paste, this helps to bind the mix together, creating an interesting smell.

Bag Mixes

Keeping my hook baits in a mixture of different glugs can give you a little edge on tougher days.

Instant Attraction

I am testing out Chris Knowlers new POM leads, they're very interesting, I'll go into specifics in another blog, I decided to rub clay over my lead system and hook link for added camouflage, I think this can really help especially if the carp are wary. 

A Little Bit Of Clay Does The Trick

I got my rods out, slipped some back leads on and sat back to wait, I positioned myself back from the waters edge, if carp were patrolling close in, I didn't want to spook them. Some fish showed themselves a little way out in front of me, that was a great sign, I knew a few were in the area, it was just a case of if they were going to get their heads down. Time passed pretty slowly, there was no wind, the lake was really still and silent, it was the first time I'd seen Burrows like this. It was a good chance to spot any signs of feeding fish, there really wasn't any bubbling going on, apart from a few carp topping, the lake was like a sheet of glass.

Time was ticking by when all of a sudden I got a single bleep on my left hand rod. I walked over and noticed my rod tipped was gently bending round, hardly at all, I decided to lift into it. The rod bowed over tight and line started ripping off the spool. I instantly knew I'd hooked into something pretty big because the lunges were very solid, the water is very clear so I got a glimpse of the fish as it surfaced, it was a big looking mirror.

I kept the pressure on giving it line when needed, I eventually slid her over my net, as I looked down on her I was convinced she was going to go 20IB. I got her into the sling, scales sunk to 21IB exactly, I was ecstatic, it's amazing that a single bleep on the alarm could produce such a fish, I felt she was probably trying to eject the hook bait, hence why she didn't bolt off on the initial pick up. I was thinking that my straight through fluorocarbon rig was probably the reason why the bait was taken, it's very hard to detect.

A Much Appreciated Autumn Carp

Self Take Photos Can Be Tricky
I slipped her back and got my rod on to the same spot, the hours ticked by and the alarms stayed silent. There were a few fish topping through out the afternoon but no more bites came. Before I left for the day I put some bait on the 6ft shelf with the plan to come back and fish it later in the week.

During this session I was starting to think about my baiting approach even more, I have primarily been using fruity baits since the temperatures have fallen. I started to feel like this could be limiting my results. I started to think about it systematically and I have decided that when I am using two rods I am going to fish one on fruity and the other spicy. When fishing three rods I am going to fish, Fruity, Spicy and Fishy, I believe this will give me a far broader insight into what works, where and how. With this in mind I wanted to get back down as soon as possible to see if I could get a quicker result.

Thursday 15 November 2012

Matrix Patriot Pod & NBrice Carbon Buzzers

After having gone through a fair amount of rod pods and buzzer bars through the years I have finally found two setups that are keepers. When looking around for new products I find it frustrating because there aren't always reviews on the web. I decided to review both of my chosen setups in hope that it may help anyone who feels they're in line for a new pod or set of buzzers.

In this blog entry I am reviewing the Matrix Patriot Pod and the Carbon Buzzer Setup from Nbrice. I settled on Matrix for my stainless setup because the quality and reliability of their products is second to none. I have the 'slinky' range which is a slightly thinner gauge and a little lighter than their 'rock solid' series. They're both pretty much bullet proof, I went for The Patriot Pod because of its versatility, not only can it be a free standing unit, you can also separate the elements and fish your rods goal post style or with just single bank sticks. It allows options that will cater for most angling situations.

The Patriot Pod

View 2

All of the sections screw tightly into each other and it goes up in a matter of minutes, the picture above shows the pod without any of the sections extended, the bank sticks can be heightened if required and the pod frame can be extended to make the whole setup longer which really does help for added stability.

Below Shows How The Bars Extend 

All of the screws are very heavy duty, in regards to maintenance, at the end of each session I clean and oil the screws because they're quite prone to getting dirt within the threads, a little oil and DW40 keeps everything in good order.

Central Pod Adjustment

The four screws within the centre of the pod section allow you to adjust the angles of the front and back buzzers so if the ground is uneven you can still get your setup level. It's wise to keep this section lubricated so everything is easy to adjust. After use it folds down allowing it to fit perfectly into the carry bag that comes with it.

Central Pod Section Folds Away
Carry Bag

Matrix Snag Ears

Matrix have a range of snag ears 'pictured above' specifically designed to fit on all their buzz bar ranges. I know that there are a lot of different view points about the use of snag ears. I find them essential because I do fish margins to the left and right of me and my lines are sometimes at very tight angles, in the past I've had a good few rods almost dragged in, the Matrix snag ear range is very subtle and attaches to the buzzers nice and snug. In addition to the snag ears they also have a tidy little adjustable section you can screw your hangers in to, this allows you to change the height according to your fishing situation. There are two types of snag ear, one with the swinger attachment and one without.

Bobbin Adjuster
All in all I feel the Patriot Pod offers everything an angler is looking for, it will set you back a fair few pennies but taking into account its versatility and the fact you'll never have to replace it, it really is a great bit of kit for the premium carp angler.

There are a lot of waters that I fish were it's a two rod limit, also there are days when I don't feel like fishing three. For my two rod setup I have chosen the Nbrice carbon range. I had my eye on the Century carbon series but was drawn to Nbrice because they have a slightly thicker gauge, they're build is absolutely outstanding and they're so light.

Buzzer Setup

The screws are very hard wearing and tighten down nice and tight so you wont get the top section screwed on to the bank stick twisting, for extra stability I use two of their bank stick stabilizers, this makes the setup really solid and will prevent anything from falling or being pulled down.

Nbrice Stabilizers

Even though the back buzzers look narrow, they house two big pit reels without any problems. All Nbrice products can be made to your own specifications, all you have to do is give Neville a ring and he'll sort it out for you. Obviously carbon isn't as hard wearing as stainless steel so it's worth baring this in mind before you make the purchase.

Really Tidy Looking

Like all bank sticks and buzzers, the height is adjustable, you can also get the 'Nbrice' Adjustable' range that allows you to lengthen the width of the bars, this obviously helps a lot if your reels are really close together. This range adjusts very easily in regards to height, in the past with other bank sticks I was having problems with adjustments because the nuts and adjustable sections use to jam and stick.

Adjustments Are Easy

If your thinking about a carbon setup, then I can't recommend Nbrice highly enough, it's small, compact, very light and solid, I am very pleased that I chose this specific range. Below you'll see that the range comes in all sizes, widths and heights, they also do a complete carbon rod pod which by the looks of things is made to the same standard as everything else, I haven't seen a carbon pod on the market that comes close. I'd rather pay top dollar for something that is going to last me a life time rather than replacing things every couple of years. I hope both these little reviews are of some help to you.

The Nbrice Carbon Series From The Kent Angling Show

Assembling The Matrix Patriot Pod

On A Side Note

I don't get commission for selling these products, I wrote these reviews to help people out, I know how hard it is to make decisions when it comes to choosing tackle 

Monday 1 October 2012

Birds Green Top Lake 'A Tricky Session'

I am still chipping away over at Birds Green fishery, I left it for a few weeks because the weather was all over the place and the fish just seemed unresponsive. With the weather cooling down a little I thought I'd head back to see if the fishing had picked up a little. Even though I have fished the top lake a lot and had a fair few good fish out I still find the water pretty moody.

Last week I went down for a session that ended up being just one of those days where things just didn't connect properly. I had 3 runs and only managed to land 1 fish. The first fish was a 13IB common, the second fish took me under both my back leads and then came off, the third took my bait when another angler had come round to talk to me, I was distracted and didn't manged to hear my bite alarm in time, the fish had run into a snag a ditched the hook. I always have my bite alarm volume low, in the future I'm going to have to remember to turn them up a little louder.

13IB Common

This session I was lucky because there weren't many anglers on the lake, I took a walk around, it was windy so it was hard to see any signs of feeding fish, I decided to follow the wind and fish in the bottom corner of the lake. This swim can be really productive when the wind is blowing down into it. 

Swim Action 

I was fishing a pop up on one rod, a bottom bait on the second and I thought I'd try something a little different on the third by using a method feeder. I was confident in my spot off the reeds to the left, the aerator can be a little hit or miss, I have seen a fair few bubbles on recent trips around 2 rod lengths out, I was kind of thinking I might be able to intercept the odd fish as it heads towards the corner.

My method mix was pretty simple, I used Starmers GLM ground-bait with some GLM pellets, I then added a tin of Sardines along with the oil they'd been soaking in. When fishing 'The Method' you've got to make sure the mix isn't to runny as it will come off on the cast, if it's two stiff it won't break down so you've got to find a good middle ground, something that's stiff but able to breakdown nicely once cast out.

Stage 1

Stage 2

 A Ball Of The Good Stuff

On my bottom bait rod I fished a small PVA bag, "Carp Craze" 22m funnel web containing GLM method mix 'dry' with a few GLM pellets, I topped my boilie off with a thin slither of yellow foam just to add something a little visual to the presentation.

Simple But Effective

If all goes according to plan the PVA will melt leaving the pop up perched nicely in the cloud of ground-bait, putting it in the PVA dry really produces a lovely cloud around the hook bait, the particles tend to drift around nicely, which adds great attraction quality. 

A Little Bag Of Goodies

Shortly after getting all three rods out, a carp topped straight out in front of me very close to where my method feeder was, I was feeling quietly confident, the wind was picking up. A few fish were also showing behind the wind so even though I was confident in my spots, that got me thinking about a possible move. I thought I'd give it the morning, keep and eye on the water and if need be make a move. I had a gut feeling a fair few fish might be hauling up behind the wind. 

The hours past and the buzzers remained silent, I wasn't even getting any liners. From past experience you usually nail one an hour or so into the session, this then sets you up for the day. Because no take came I was thinking the carp were somewhere else. During the morning I had been firing out some floating pellets just to see if they might have been in the top layers of the water, I didn't get any positive signs. I decided I'd move up along the side of the island where the calmer water was.

Second Swim 

Sneaky Third Rod Position

I got my rods out on my chosen spots pretty quickly to avoid disturbing the swim to much, I felt moving was the right thing to do. I could see carp feeding in the channel in front of me. Because I was now behind the wind, I could see there was a fair amount of feeding going on on the bar running from the island. A few more hours passed with very little action, I was getting a few liners which was a good sign, periodically I was introducing some floating pellets in to the swim and a few carp were starting to show some interest. 

The time was ticking by now and it was around 4:30pm that the carp seemed to start showing and topping. Because so much action was coming off the bar I decided I'd put my left hand rod onto it using a simple 4 bait PVA bag. 

My Bar Bait Position
Another hour ticked by, it was now just past 5:30pm and then out the blue my middle rod flew off with speed, I lent into the fish and it powered off down the side of the island. It was packing some real power, I slowly teased her my way, she surfaced, it was a chunky looking common. As I got her underneath my rod tip she made a last bid for freedom by trying to take me through the reeds down to the right of me, she very nearly succeeded. I kept the pressure on and managed to steer her over my net, I was well pleased, as I stood there staring at her in my net, I felt a massive sense of achievement. Scales sunk bang on 18IB.

18IB Common, Well Worth The Wait
I got her back and got my rod back out, the light was starting to fade and it looked like rain, the carp were still coming up for the floater pellets that I put out earlier, because it was darker they were taking real confidently, whilst I was getting my floater rod setup the heavens opened, the rain was so heavy that I tucked myself under my brolly to wait for it to pass. 

Whilst I was shielding myself from the rain all my bite alarms suddenly bleeped and all three rods shuddered. I didn't really think anything of it, it was only when the rain stopped and I went over to my rods that I noticed my far left hanger had been pulled up to the top, I'd had a take off my bar rod without realising it, a bush was obscuring the hanger from where I was sitting. I lifted into the rod and it became clear a carp had taken the bait and managed to ditch the hook, it was very annoying. The bait had moved a good 15 yards down the lake. This signalled the end of the session, not really the end I wanted but in all accounts it had been a solid, if not testing day.

Next time I go to Birds Green I am going to give the bar a go, from all my previous visits its become clear that the fish are nearly always holding on it or very near it, I am going to just fish PVA bags without any free offerings, I'm looking forward to see what materialises with this approach.

Friday 21 September 2012

Chase Lakes 'A Relaxed Session'

I took a trip down to Chase the other weekend for a relaxed session, no pressure, I love the size of the lake, there's lots of carp in the water and some great features to go at. I arrived at the water at about 11pm. I setup on the point where I have a channel to the right of me and an Island a fair few yards in front. I used a bottom bait on the island rod because the lake bed is clear clay, my middle rod was on a popped up Tutti Frutti because the margins near the reeds where my spot was has a lot of bottom debris. My left hand rod was fished in the channel on a popped up Honey Nectar, I was fishing under an overhanging tree and because of this there is a load of rotten leaves on the lake bed. I put a lot of bait in on all three spots because the fish respond well to this baiting approach.

View From The Swim

Second View

My island spot was tight under a tree, there is a fairly steep slope dropping off the island so I set my rod up with a gripper lead on it. My rig was fished on a blow back with a jelly wire hook link stripped back, a size 6 fang twister, I find this rig is simple but very effective.

Island Rig

I got all three rods out fairly quick, baited up and sat back to wait for some action, it was about an hour before I got my first take from my island spot, it was a screamer. I lent into the fish and it powered all over the place, it started to head towards me at a real fast pace. Just as it was getting close the hook came out. I proceeded to have two more runs off the same rod with both fish coming off. I checked my hook and my rig and there was nothing wrong with it. I just put it down to being a little unlucky.

Things went quiet for a while, I kept introducing a bit of bait every 45 minutes, I knew the fish would come on the feed and I wanted to make sure the swims were primed and ready to go when they did. I was sitting there thinking I might do a recast on my rod fishing under the overhanging tree at the mouth of the channel. Just as I was about to recast, it ripped off. I eased the fish my way, as it surfaced I caught a glimpse of a lovely looking mirror,  I slipped her over the net .. result !!

A Mint Chase Mirror

I slipped her back and got the rod straight back out, I baited the swim back up and sat back to wait for some more action. It didn't take long to come, my middle rod screamed off at pace, I lifted into the fish and started the onslaught of trying to get the carp under control, the island rod is a fair distance out, it was important for me to keep the pressure on because I didn't want to loose this one. The fish came in easily and as it topped I noticed it was a dumpy little common, I slipped her over the net, she was a new stockie and in pristine condition.

A Cheeky Chase Common

It may not have been the biggest fish in the world but it was a pleasure catching her, I mentioned many times before that it really isn't about the size for me, it's about the consistency. If you have steady results everywhere you go, the bigger fish will come. The rod went straight back out along with about another 80 baits.

It really wasn't very long before the same rod went off again, this felt like a bit of a better fish, she put up a real scrap, she came up to the surface a little way out, it was a lovely dark looking mirror. I teased her over the net, at first sight it was a lovely looking carp, when I turned her over I got a bit of a shock. On one side she had some really bad damage, it looked like she had been dropped because she had a deformed side near her swim bladder, it was really shocking to see. I got a photo taken quick and got her back straight away to minimise the stress.

A Dark Chase Mirror Having Been Through The Wars

Keeping Everything Tight And Simple Can Really Pay Off

I got the rod straight back, about 10 minutes passed before my left hand rod shot into life, I lent into the fish, she was coming in fast, I had a sense that I'd hooked into a cheeky chap, as the fish surfaced it couldn't have been anymore than 3IB but looked so clean. 

One Day She's Going To Be A Monster

I slipped her back to fight another day, it was great to hit in to a few smaller fish, it shows the lake is thriving and the new wave of young carp are coming along nicely. I added a little more bait to the spot and got the rig back out.  At this point the day was nearly coming to an end, I slowly started to get my gear together hoping 'last knockings' was going to give me one last run. Just as I was about to reel my rods in, my middle rod shot off. The fish was putting up a fair fight, I slipped another mint looking fish over my net.

Another Clean Chase Common

It was great to end the day with another fish, I really enjoyed the session, it's always fun to catch carp of lots of shapes and sizes. I had a good result considering I hadn't been on the lake that long, it's a shame I lost three fish. 

Chase will be my main winter water this year, I have a gut feeling I can beat my PB if I put some serious time in. Sessions like this are what it's all about for me. You can ruin it for yourself if you put to much pressure on to catch 20's and 30's etc, every carp is a beautiful carp, that's what keeps me tied to the bank, the adventure, the variation and the fact that anything could happen at any time. A monster may not of come today but the real positives are that my rigs are working and my bait and approach is producing, can't wait to get back down there.