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

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