Thursday 26 July 2012

Birds Green Fishery 'Lead Testing' and Tactics'

The Olympics is nearly upon us so being able to get up to Essex to fish is going to be an impossible feat, I live only a few miles away from the Olympic site and the blackwall tunnel is a nightmare at the best of times. Chris sent me my flat in-line pear prototypes, I was itching to get out and test them and I thought I'd go to Birds Green top lake for one last time for a while to give them a go. In my previous blog post I have explained how I set them up, all three rods had my semi-fixed conversion in conjunction with a blow-back rig on them.

I arrived at the lake at about 7:30am, there weren't many people fishing so for the first time I was able to walk around to check out for signs of feeding fish. The wind was blowing down towards the water pump and I instantly saw signs of fish topping and fizzing. I have been going to Birds Green at least once a week and the carp have been behaving very strangely recently. 

They all seem to group up in the middle of the lake kicking and bubbling up in a way that has to be seen to be believed. The bailiff mentioned to me that they have been acting like this for a while now and it appears when you fish within them they just don't pick your bait up. There was a day when the lake was nearly full and a fair few anglers were fishing on or close to all the bubbles and no one was getting a take. I want to know what they're feeding on and I am determined to find out, it certainly isn't boilies.  

I chose to fish the first swim where you have a quiet corner and lots of reeds lines to go at.(forgot to take pictures of my swim) I've done well in this swim before and felt pretty confident. There was a calm breeze pushing down and carp were bunching up just under the surface to the left of me. I was fishing with my friend Alex and he suggested throwing some dog biscuits out. 

I got my catapult and shot a few out, instantly they started slurping them up, I was very surprised because the water gets hammered so much, I didn't expect them to respond. I kept introducing the mixers and they kept taking them very confidently. I set up a surface rod using a piece of black foam hair rigged and dipped in tutti frutti glug. Just like my zig rig baits I cut a small line into the foam where you can slip the hook, this is a very effective tactic.

Zig Foam Setup Ideal For Surface Fishing

I didn't leave it to long before casting out, the second my foam hit the water a carp came up and took it and bolted taking line like crazy, I applied pressure to steer it my way but after about twenty seconds the fish came off, it was very frustrating because even though the fish were still feeding off the top, they started to become finicky. I kept feeding dog biscuits but the mallards where now all over them, this ruined my chances for another take. I got to work setting up my bottom bait rods and decided I was going to fish one tight down to the left of me in the corner. 

To get the cast I wanted I had to get into the water knee height to get it bang on, the other rig, I was going to fish under an over hanging tree, the third on the gravel bar that runs from the point of the island all the way down to the pump. To find the bar I used my marker gear and a line counter, these two things combined make finding and hitting your spot very accurate.

I never use a marker float when there are other anglers fishing near me, because I was tucked away I used the opportunity to find the bar and have a root around on the bottom. I cast the marker just over half way across the lake, it didn't take me very long to locate the bar. As I gently pulled the lead along the bottom with my hand resting on the blank, I could feel the soft silt/clay move on to a gravel area that was just over half a rods length in width.

The Bar 

Feeding Bubbles On My Baited Spot

To get my rod bang on my baited spot I line clipped my marker rod and then walk my baited rod out. I wanted to be 100% accurate, I find that line clips on reels in general are very under used, I love to use them for both close and long range fishing. The feature I love about both my marker and spod reel is the fact they have two line clips.

Line Clip Action

Walking Your Baited Rod Out To The Marker Ensures Accuracy

After all three rods where set, I sat back feeling very confident in my spots, my middle rod was very tight underneath an over hanging tree and from past experience I know the carp visit there. The down side is there's a fair amount of junk sitting on the bottom which can interfere with rig presentation. Over the past few months I have been paying close attention to scum lines and marginal areas, because of the way the lead is shaped I feel I can fish over debris with the whole rig still pinning pretty flat to the bottom. 

When fishing close under bushes and under scum I've taken one main thing into account. Chances are you're fishing over a fair amount of leaves, small twigs and branches etc. I am not a fan of the chod rig, I sometimes use helicopter rigs but I am finding that I'm getting solid takes in weed and deeper silt by using light leads and PVA to balance the bait on landing. 

I have come up with a method that not only masks the hook but also scatters the baits in a very random fashion. I have mentioned before that I believe some carp are wising up to PVA bag presentations, I want to still use PVA mesh but in a slightly different way. To ensure that my bait and freebies land perfectly on any debris or deeper silt I simply put 4 boilies in a small PVA mesh bag along with 3 to 4 PVA nuggets, I then compress the whole contents together very tightly.

Compressed PVA Bag

As the bag melts the hook bait is held up by the nugget on the hook and the freebies actually stick to the rest of the nuggets and start to float around. As all the PVA melts it drops the boilies in a random fashion scattering them in a short radius of the hook bait. I feel this makes it harder for the carp to suss the baited hook.

Rig Demonstration 

In the video above you'll see how the freebies stick to the PVA, after a few short minutes all PVA has melted dropping the boilies and leaving a perfectly placed hook bait. I have fished this over all types of problematic bottoms and it works well. There are a few variations of this that I like to use and will go on to explain them in future blog posts.  

Back to my lead testing    All three rods where setup with the same rig on them, I varied my hook-link length, one was on a pop up. When casting all three rods out I paid close attention to the noise of the lead going into the water and I believe it has a certain quality, the shape allows it to cut through the top layers instead of making the splash/splosh sound that most conventional leads make.

1.25oz Measurements
12IB Mirror Caught On The Flat Pear
I got the rod straight back out, re-baited and let nature take its course. It was now late afternoon, most peoples rods on the lake stayed static apart from a few, it wasn't easy. I decided I was going to re-cast my left hand margin rod really tight in, I got in the water and cast right along the reed line to the left of me, it was on the money.  The bait had been out about 45 minutes before the rod shot into life, I rushed to grab it and lifted into the fish. It felt like a bit of a lump and wasn't going to give in without a fight. The fish eventually started to tire and I slid a mint looking common over the net, scales fell to 18IB 12oz, I was well pleased, I felt I had earnt it.

18IB 12oz Beauty 
It was only the previous weekend that I'd managed to bag a 18IB 12oz common from the same swim at the same sort of time, I caught it on Chris's new inline gripper with a single popped up Honey Nectar boilie. I had another four fish that day but it appears I bloody deleted the images instead of downloading them, the four fish were between 14IB and 17IB.

19IB Beauty
Below is a picture of the rig I caught the above fish on, I was using silicone on the bend of the hook in place of a rig ring for this one, this is before I started experimenting with blow-back rigs again.

My Inline Flat Pear Pop Up Rig
Same Rig Different Finish On The Lead
The rig above is what I've been having all my fish on minus the silicone on the hook bend, replacing it with a rig ring. As I've mentioned before, by simply taking the sleeve off the swivel and placing a buffer bead between the lead and the swivel, you have the perfect running rig. The advantage to fishing this 'semi fixed' with the modified tail rubber over the swivel is the fact that when you feather the cast it automatically throws the hook link forward.

A Blend Of Carpy Chris's Leads For All Angling Situations
No other fish came on this Birds Green Session but I was happy with the result, it wasn't easy fishing, my mate Alex managed to bag a lovely common of just under 17IB which I was really happy about. It goes without saying that all of my fish came out on my ever reliable Starmer, I am using lots of different combinations of their boilies and I have to say I have 100% confidence in all of them. That combined with my new lead setup and blow-back rig, it's a formidable group of components. I will be taking this approach down to Burrows to see how I get on, that will be my next stop.

I Can Smell Them From Here

Wednesday 18 July 2012

Carpy Chris Flatty 'Pear In-line Lead' Testing

Many years ago I use to buy all types of swivel leads and hammer them down into different shapes, the reason for this was because I found that when hitting the water some leads would make such a loud splash, I was convinced that this would spook any fish patrolling near to where I was fishing. I moved onto in-lines and started to favour them over swivel leads. I went through a period where I was fishing 3oz swivel pears hammered totally flat, not only did this improve the cast it also lessened the disturbance as the lead entered the water. Instead of it being a big splash it turned into a clipping sound and I found the lead would dig into the silt deeper. 

The lake I tested this on had very clear margins so I would cast literally landing on the opposite bank, walk round and because the water was so clear close in, I could see how the rig landed. A hammered down pear would slice into the silt and depending on how much you feathered the cast the hammered in-line would do the same thing or land flat sinking in a little bit. This was great presentation because everything was pinned tight to the lake bed. 

Because of the shape, when you fish it 'semi-fixed' the hook-link naturally flies forward on the cast, this is due to the short bit of silicone tubing that I slip on the front and then over the swivel, it doesn't allow the hook-link to fall back on itself creating great anti-tangle properties.

My Modified Old School Leads

I got pretty frustrated with the majority of leads on sale, I felt very limited, I was looking for something a little different. Companies started to look into rig materials and components that blended in with different lake bottoms but all the leads were the same sort of design and some of them stuck out like a sore thumb on the lake bottom. I started to think about using small rocks as leads, I made up one years ago which I still use on and off today, I've caught a lot of fish on it.

My Homemade Stone Swivel

When I got on board with Chris I thought it would be a good idea to start thinking about the possibilities of a flat in-line lead based on the one I hammered down years ago. The products he makes are unique and interesting, when I sent a picture through of what I was thinking he got to work straight away. My first set of prototypes arrived today and they're total quality.

Flat In-line Prototypes
I took a sample of clay from one of the lakes I fish and the colour Chris came up with is bang on the money. A few different coatings and colours have been worked on, each will blend in well on any lake bed you'll be fishing on. You can use this lead design as a simple running rig by putting a buffer bead in front of the swivel, or fish it 'semi-fixed' with a small section of rubber tubing. Below are pictures of both examples.
Tail Rubber Modification

Semi-fixed Conversion

The above rig is totally 'carp friendly' the whole setup comes apart, usually on the take. It casts like a dream and I believe lands pretty tight hugging the bottom, this to me is vital, I feel that carp spook off of leads, if the fishing situation requires it I will back-lead. I also believe if carp feel any kind of line or something alien to their natural environment whilst approaching the bait, that can also spook them. I do give carp an awful lot of credit, the big girls are clever and finicky and it still amazes me how delicate they can be when picking up any kind of bait.

Below is a running rig version that still has all the elements and anti-tangle advantages, I am starting to introduce running rigs back into my fishing because I feel some carp are wising up to bolt rigs, some takes I have had recently have been very strange, as if the carp sits on the spot trying to shake the lead.

The 'Running Rig Setup'

I am going out on the bank this week for my first session with these leads, I am going to be paying close attention to detail. I've already got a few ideas how to improve tem but I want to live with them for a while. I'll keep everyone up to date with how I get on.

On a side note

A month of so ago Chris sent me a few of his new inline gripper leads, I have been using them for the past few weeks. Cosmetically these leads are beauties and I've caught a fair few fish on them. I believe they are now on sale and I highly recommend them. They come in different finishes and make the overall rig presentation very compact and tidy, they're great on the cast and enter the water with very little fuss.
Chris's In-line Gripper 

I think this lead is perfect for fishing on steeper shelves because of its gripping quality and after checking it in the margin it seems to embed itself nicely into the clay and thin silt, I have been using the 1 1/2oz version, I think I may well try a 3oz one, I feel this could improve hooking potential. Every take I've had has been a screamer. I am feeling excited at the prospect of using and developing different kinds of leads and I have every confidence in Chris and his products. If you want an edge in your carp fishing then get on-em. ........ onwards and upwards !!!


Thursday 12 July 2012

Back Down The Farm 'Rooting For A Bite'

I made the decision to take a trip back down to Bax Farm Fishery again. I am very determined to get some of the big girls out, I know I've hooked at least one but haven't managed to land anything over 16IB. The lake is tricky, it's really not that big and has so many channels and features for the carp to hold in. The stocking is pretty impressive with an estimated 300 carp in the water. 

I find this pretty amazing considering you can go down for 24 hours and only bag two fish. I have fished it a lot now and I am convinced that the carp shoal up and patrol around the lake in groups, they definitely have a path they follow and can be located on this route through certain times of the day. I've always had most my action mid to lake afternoon, especially around the right hand side of the second island, they seem to move in around 7:30pm onwards.

Getting My Control Station Prepared 

Because the wind was hammering down into the bottom right hand corner I decided I would fish one rod off a small island, my spot was at the bottom of a steep shelf that dropped from 1 1/2ft down to 3 1/2ft, my next spot would be in a channel in between two islands and then the third down to my left underneath a willow tree.

First Rod Spot

There was a nice calm spot off of my island rod, I spodded out my mix tight to the marker and carefully spread it in a three meter radius of my hook bait, my mix was Starmers 'Red Carp' mixed with their 'Green Lipped Mussel' method mix, I added some corn and hemp with Starmers 'Chilli Hemp' glug. There was a lovely slick on the surface of the water as my mix went in. 

Mixing It Up

My Business End
My Second spot was in about 3ft of water, I baited the whole channel with Coconut & Halibut, I was fishing a bottom bait topped off with fake corn with 10 large spombs full of hemp and corn all around the baited area. I cast my bait just off of the baited area. I feel fishing off of a big bed of bait can tempt the fish that aren't comfortable sitting in one place scoffing. I had never fished this channel before and felt very confident that I was going to get a take.

Second Rod Spot
My third spot was just to the left of me fished in the margin tucked under a willow tree, it was near the bridge that divides the lake, I was hoping I could intercept any carp passing through from my side of the lake to the other. I was fishing a popped up Coconut & Halibut boilie also topped off with fake sweetcorn.

Third Rod Spot
I spent a while getting my three spots sorted so it felt good to take a seat and wait to see if my effort would pay off. I felt confident in the positioning of all my baits, now it really was just the waiting game. I sat watching the water and as expected no carp where showing themselves, they always seem to give themselves away around 4:30pm onwards. 

I decided to get a 'fourth rod spot' going, I chose a set of reeds tight down to the right of me, I introduced tutti frutti boilies throughout the day every 45 minutes. Every so often I would crawl over to see if I could see any movement or reeds banging, I deliberately threw my baits in the reeds, this way I'd know if the carp had moved in because they'd been banging the reeds around whilst seeking out the bait.

A good few hours passed with no sign of any carp in or around my spots, I decided I'd continue to sit on my hands and just wait it out, I knew at some stage a group of fish would move through the channel and around the islands, I believe the areas I'd chosen were definitely within their usual patrol route.

Third Rod Business End 

The hours were still passing without any action, the positives was the fact I was getting a few liners, I decided I'd go for a quick wander to see if I could spot any carp elsewhere on the lake. I left my wife with my rods. I only walked a few meters away, it was very windy. As I was checking a few other spots out I thought I heard my alarms but didn't take a great deal of notice, as I headed back to my swim I saw my wife struggling with my rods, apparently the two island rod has gone off at the same time. My right hand rod had tore off and the fish had slipped the hook which was very annoying, my middle rod was still rattling. I lent into he fish and managed to guide it out of the channel, the fish put up a good scrap, after a short fight I slipped a lovely looking common over my net, scales slipped to 13IB

13IB Common
I was really pleased, but slightly annoyed with the fact that I'd gone walking off. First rule "Don't Ever Leave your Rods". I got both my rods back out on my spots, topped the swim up with my mix and free offerings. Two takes at once shows that the carp really do move around certain areas of the lake in a group, this is not the first I've had a double take out of the blue on this water.

My Mix In The Margin, It's Perfect.

The hours ticked by and I started to feel that the fish had been and gone, there were no shows over my spots and my 'fourth rod spot' wasn't giving out any positive signs of being investigated. Late afternoon I decided to reel my rods in and take a walk around the lake to see if I could find any feeding fish. 

I was lucky because by this time most other anglers had packed away and gone home. This gave me a lot of options, I managed to find a group of feeding fish in a small bay on the back of the wind, this surprised me because a fair few lines had been in that part of the water earlier in the day, once the lines had gone they'd obviously moved in. I rushed back and got my gear together with the plan to just lower all my rods really close in the margin.

My Swim After The Move
Before I even managed to get all my rods out my left one had shot off at great speed, I lent into the fish and tried to guide it towards me without disturbing the other carp that were obviously feeding in the swim. I got her underneath my rod tip and let her circle until she was exhausted, then all I had to do was quietly slip her over the net with minimal disruption. It was another common, scales slipped to 11IB.

A Very Long Lean 11IB Common
By the looks of things there were still fish feeding in front of me so I walked the rod back round to the same spot and lowered it gently in. All my rods were now out and I stayed low to the ground, the fish were slowly moving around the channel in front of me. 

Before I knew it my right hand rod rattled off again, I made contact with the fish but there was a big reed stem on the hook-link which unfortunately dislodged the hook. This was something totally out of my control, I felt this could of spooked the swim because the carp darted towards the other feeding fish, I saw a few vortexes from where they all bolted. 

Putting the rod back in position I sat patiently but felt like the moment had passed, also a couple of anglers turned up and started casting close to my spots from the other side of the island which wasn't helping the situation. By this time it was getting pretty late so I decided to call it a day. The move paid off and I am thinking that I will do a mid-week day where I can move swims every hour to see if I can start to figure out the carps patrol route and what spots work at certain times of the day.

Before I left I had an idea, I pulled my sleeve right up and put my arm into the water right in the margin, I could feel that the margin actually goes a good foot underneath the bank, theoretically under your feet. Next time I go back I am going to take my rig and bait and place it underneath this ledge by hand, pretty much burying it into the side, I am very curious to see if this is going to work. I've seen carp moving so close in and this tactic might end up tricking one of the special fish.