Tuesday 22 May 2012

Bax Farm 'Head Banging Session'

I decided to do another session on the specimen lake at Bax Farm on the Sunday just gone, it was the only day I could get out on the bank last week. I'm always a little dubious about weekend sessions because of how busy the banks can get. I gave the farm a call the night before and they said the specimen lake was pretty rammed, I thought I'd try my luck for a good swim on arrival. After arriving there was an awful lot of people packing up having done a night, instantly I got a feeling that the carp could be on high alert due to the number of lines being in and out the water, I didn't feel very confident. I have a firm belief that when a water is pressured the carp can switch off.

I Need A Bigger Car

I managed to get in my usual swim, already I was starting to think that I'm stuck in a mode on this lake because I have been fishing the same swim each time I go. Next session I'm going to try a different one, I've started to see other spots that interest me. I was fishing my grange & monster squid pop up combo on two rods and a bottom bait on my third. My Starmer order will be with me on Wednesday so, for the last time I was using Mistral on the bottom bait rod. I halved one of their new FM boilies and a banana tutti boilie and then combined them on the hair. I like topping my baits off with yellow, it's a colour that proves to be a great attractor. 

The Usual Spots
I had a really potent mix for my spomb, I decided to make the overall mix a little stiffer this time so it breaks down slower on the lake bed. I put five mini spombs over each rod and sat back to wait for bite time. My mate Aid who I met on my club water was coming down to fish the swim up from me, there was a lot of bubbling going on in the back channel where he was going to fish. I felt this was due to the fact so many anglers were in the main section of the lake, I think the carp were grouping up in the quieter part of the water.

The Control Center
My rods had been out for about an hour or so before I got a screaming run off my middle spot, they'd taken the grange & monster squid combo again, they love it down there. The fish was ripping line of the spool like a rocket, Aid was around to take some action shots.

Giving It Some Stick In Stealth Position

Nicely In The Net

She's In Good Hands

A Lovely Proud Little Lady

Not the biggest of fish but that doesn't matter to me, any carp is a beautiful carp, it's the science behind it and the thinking that I love the most. I put my rig back out on the same spot, I didn't feed the swim anymore, I was thinking enough bait had probably gone in the water in the past 24 hours. I decided to make up a few funnel web PVA bags, the presentation would be tidy with the pop up perched in the middle of a little bit of ground-bait.

My Little PVA Land Mines Release A Controlled Explosion Of Flavour

Things went quiet for a while and then the middle rod bobbin pulled up and stopped, at this point I had lots of thoughts racing through my mind .....'Have I Been Done', 'Is The Hook Blunt', 'Is The Rig Sitting In A Snag'. This very rarely happens to me, when I reeled the bait in there was a reed stem through the hook. I put a PVA nugget on it and re-cast. A few hours went by and I got the same sort of run. I reeled the bait back in again, everything seemed fine but then I started to realise that I wasn't fishing a blow-back rig this time around and maybe the carp are picking the bait up and spitting it out. I didn't have any 'blow backs' on me, I used them religiously but stopped a few weeks ago for a while replacing the rig ring with a small section of silicone tubing. After these two weird runs I'm going to stick to my 'blow back' setup because of its anti-eject properties. I am 100% confident in the rig combined with tying a figure of eight knot on the swivel, I feel this makes it very difficult for the carp to do you over.

A Slightly Stiffer Mix For Slower Breakdown 

The day continued with very little action, come 5:30pm the fish usually start to show and move in and around the islands, it seemed quieter than usual, I still put this down to angling pressure. The evening came and went without any more runs. My mate Aid had a run but it took him around the island so he didn't manage to land it. 
Thinking hard about the situation I've decided that I am going to find some margin areas that rarely see a bait, there's three known thirties in the lake that haven't been out for ages. I think that they avoid all the obvious features. The beauty about the farm is that it has so many nooks and crannies it's hard to make up your mind where to go. When you fish a lake, nine times out of ten you nearly always head for the main features, I'm going to go for the unassuming spots, even if it means fishing directly underneath my rod tips.

The Willows Are Tempting Me
As mentioned before, next time around I'm going to try a totally new swim and I think I'm going to stay mobile, any signs of feeding fish, I'll move, I think it's a lesson for all of us, you have to find the fish, it's too easy to just sit in one spot all day thinking the carp aren't feeding.

Monday 21 May 2012

Starmer Baits

I've been interested in the idea of getting involved with a bait company for quite sometime now, not from a 'field-tester' or 'consultant' point of view, I find all of that a load of bollocks. I was thinking more along the lines of looking to get with a brand that I love, have used in the past and have total confidence in.
I have a high quality control about both the tackle and the bait that I use and I would never involve myself with a company that I don't believe in 100%. Having said that I am not massively into the constant plugging of products that we now see everywhere within this sport nowadays and I would never rate a product because I get something for free, I'd like to add that I pay for all my bait and end tackle. Consider this blog as a subtle introduction to a bait company that I have always respected.

Starmer Baits has been around for a very long time and if my memory serves me correctly Ian was among one of the first to develop 'the boilie' bait. Their bait range to me has always remained very different to the rest of the companies out there. The main point being that they have developed a shelf-life bait that breaks down after 72 hours of being in the water and there is no junk or nasty preservatives in anything they produce. Each of their boilie and pellet range, among their other products provide the carp with the valuable nutrients that they naturally require in their diet to remain strong and healthy.

Sweet Birdseed 

Unlike most shelf-life baits, if stored properly, Starmers boilies stay soft and fresh for a long time, once in the water they wash out very quickly. There are advantages to having washed out looking baits, the longer the bait is in the water the more the flavor is drawn into its centre. Not only does it keep its attraction but due to its washed out appearance it can fool the carp into thinking that the bait has been on the bottom of the pond for some considerable time, thus proving safer to pick up. If you decide to soak the boilies in the glugs on offer, you'll find it hard to tell it apart from any of the freezer baits that are currently on the market. 

Many moons ago in my carp fishing infancy I remember purchasing a bag from their Green Lipped Mussel range and I caught consistently through the season even when the weather was freezing, this left a lasting impression on me. The big advantage of using products from a bait company that has been around for a longtime is the fact you know what you're getting has proved the test of time. And when you think such baits as the Bio CP2 Amino has been banking carp from all over Europe for well over a decade "and still continues to", that's proof within itself that something is being done right. You only need to look at Starmers facebook page to see that all the flavors catch continually all around the world.

Green Lipped Mussel Range

There are four ranges of boilies to choose from, Green Lipped Mussel, Fishmeal & Betaine, 60/40 Sweet Bird Seed and 50/50 Milk Protein. All of the above cover pretty much anything that you'd be looking for from a bait. Each range contains the classic blends such as White Chocolate, Monster Squid and Honey Nectar but all also contain flavors that are a very different. With names such as Octospice, Bio Multi Vit and Raspberry Ripple, there's enough to try if you are looking for something unique. I personally like to use a bait that no one else is using, as we know The Cell continues to catch carp everywhere but I have never felt comfortable going into a tackle shop, grabbing a bag of 'the latest fashion' and then heading off to the water.

Milk Protein

As well as boilies Starmer have a vast range of pellets and with the introduction of their new pellet mill it's something that is being taken very seriously. They have two ranges consisting of both high and low oil with an array of different flavors stretching from Hot Chilli Hemp, Bloodworm, Sardine And Anchovy, Halibut and Coconut Fish, amongst others. Once again they all contain natural ingredients that blend very well with the carps natural diet. 

Attractor Pellets

All pellets have a fast breakdown time and pair up perfectly  with the boilies of the same flavor. To go with the pellets you can also get an enhancing liquid that boosts their attraction to provide just that little bit more pulling power. Just like all their products all the Glugs, Liquids and Fish Oils are top grade quality and smell very very potent.

Marine Pellets

Starmer is very much a one stop shop for all bait requirements, this can sometimes put people off because you can get a sense that the company are spreading themselves to thin. This is not the case though with Starmer. All the product ranges have been built up over the years and a great deal of research and thinking has gone into everything that's been produced. Both Ian and Gareth are constantly working on developing new and interesting products and nothing is released until it's air tight and ready to go. I know for a fact that there are a few new plans in the pipeline regarding product development.

Top Grade Fish Oils & Pellet Enhances 

Along with both the boilies, pellets and fish oils there is also a wide range of method mixes. Seeing the popularity of the 'method feeder' being used more and more in carp angling these days, the selection that is available provides you with enough choice to give yourself a nice little edge. Blends consist of Big Fishmeal, Beastie Ball, Red Carp and GLM, amongst others. Once again these can be combined with both the pellets and the boilies of the same flavor. Having used these mixes in the past with success, I can say that they prove to be successful both mixed dry or sloppy, the red carp is ideal for clouding the water when fishing zigs.  

Method Mixes

Along with all the products above you also have the option with the ingredients available to make your own bait. As we know, there's nothing like catching a carp on a bait that you have made yourself. All the four boilie ranges have their own dedicated base mix and there's a huge amount of both flavors and dyes to choose from. There are a lot of flavors that are not actually in the boilies available so you can make a secret blend that is individual to you and you only. These same flavors can be added to both the pellets and method mixes to create some seriously unique scents.

Flavor Selection

In conjunction with the flavors you also have a great range of glugs and dips. The first thing that struck me about these was how natural they smelt. With some boilie dips out there you can get a synthetic quality. All Starmers glugs smell exactly what they're suppose to smell of, white chocolate smells like white chocolate and so on. When added to the boilies all flavors and attractors are enhanced and you can have confidence in knowing you've given yourself the best chance of getting a bite.

Make Your Own

Once again I would like to state that I am in no way stating Starmer products are all wonder baits and that you should rush out and buy it. I understand that bait, just like rods and reels is a personal preference. I am just outlining the product range for you. As we know location and water-craft are the main aspects that put fish on the bank. If you are sitting behind a bait that you have 100% confidence in, it makes the experience of the hunt a little more relaxed. 

Banana Cream
Regarding pop ups, it's exciting times, a super buoyant, ready to roll pop up base mix has been developed that can be made straight from the bag, it can be used on rolling tables of any size or even rolled on the bank for instant results. Used in combination with any flavour, colour, fish oil or additive you have an infinite variety of pop ups. You can simply roll them into your desired size, then boil for 2-3 minutes and your done, the mix is also suitable for microwaving. 

I have used these pop ups on a variety of weedy waters and they perform very well, you can cast with confidence knowing that your bait is presented correctly. One of the main points that sticks out for me about the pop up range is that they look exactly the same as the bottoms baits and they are 100% fish friendly, there are no nasties within the mix such as cork dust etc.

Super Buoyant Pop Ups

There are a few more products that I haven't included but I think you can get a basic overview of what the company provides. My choice to go with Starmer was from the heart and it's going to play a vital part for me on my angling journey. Getting involved with any company works both ways, the last thing it is for me is a first grasp intent to become a careerist angler. If you are looking at some stage to get endorsed, going in to it with "free stuff", in mind is not the way to roll. As I have said before, fish for fishing's sake, not for the incentive of what you can gain from it. 

I see so many anglers hopping from bait company to bait company saying that each is the best they've used, this says a lot about their character, it gets to the point where you can't take anything they say seriously. That side of angling makes no sense to me at all, just like my drumming and music, you have to believe in what you do whole heartily, be it plastering a wall or catching fish. I chose Starmer because not only do I believe in their bait but I also believe in both Ian and Gareth, commitment and honesty are two of the main traits that make an angler, not how many sponsorships they have. 

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Capturing Moments, The Carp Catcher Steven Whitby

Many times on and off through my life I have often wondered how many moments have passed me by completely unnoticed, what is a moment ? is it something we see, hear or feel. Moments to me are feelings, I started to become sensitive to this way of thinking through my drumming, I spent all my time relying on a moment of inspiration to hit me, the most powerful and recent one being the drum beat to the Dogs song "The Cost Of Loving", that came to me as I was walking back to bed after getting up for a short while because I couldn't sleep. 

How many of us let moments pass us by without even giving them the time of day. I use to imagine I had a camera eye and with each blink a moment was captured, put in a jar and stored somewhere deep in my mind. I've spent all my life looking ahead instead of taking in the now, I remember seeing a documentary about Steve Mcqueen and one point about him that struck me was a term he used that "He Could Relax In Speed", in many ways I felt a connection with that statement, I think it's important to leave yourself open for every moment to reach you rather looking over the shoulder of it.

Dogs The Cost Of Loving  
This brings me on to my next little piece, "The Carp Catcher" Steven Whitby, here is a man that has captured so many beautiful and unique moments that it really is an inspiration. There is an essence deep within carp fishing that I believe has been lost as the sport itself has become so popular. It seems it's all about size, how big the fish is, what tackle you've got, how many 20's and 30's are in the lakes, so many times when I've been by a lake and I get a take someone always calls out "how big is it mate", that's not what it's all about, it's about something far deeper than that, Steve Whitby captures the honesty within carping, the very simple feeling of being, living each moment and nurturing the next one. There's a method to enjoyment.

You can check him out here
I highly recommend his Youtube channel.