Monday 28 October 2013

Burrows 'Nailing It' Part 1

In between fishing my other waters I have been doing a few sneaky days down on Burrows, I feel a big girl is due a visit to the bank soon. I have done a few sessions on the main lake at Hoo and up on Rugby, I am averaging one take a day on Rugby but always seem to lose them in the weed or reeds, once the leafs start falling I am going to dedicate more of my time to the water, there's some good fish in there. The main lake at Hoo is another tricky one, I have also decided I am going to be putting more time in on this as well, both are challenging but I am up for the fight, I have sorted my presentation out on both of the venues, I am confident I am doing the right thing.

I like to rotate the waters I fish, it keeps you thinking and keeps you motivated, my aim is to be consistent everywhere I fish. My focus is to get the takes, big fish are neither here or there, with consistency they will eventually come. There is a tiny part of me that enjoys the process of catching more than actually netting the fish. Once you've cast out and settled down, it gives you the time to read, write and watch the water, the anticipation of the take is a far greater drug than any legal/illegal high. It's hard to explain but those of you reading this with carping in their blood, will know exactly what I mean.

Beautifully Baron
On Burrows there are a number of spots I know I can catch from, I just wanted to relax into it and see what I could bank. I have been rotating baits on the water and trying a few of the different mixes Starmer knock up. Green Lipped Crab and Bio cp2 Amino have been doing very well and their White Chocolate and Monster Squid have also been nailing a good few, I have caught on approximately 19 different flavors, but for me Banana Cream and Honey Nectar are the ones, these baits really seem to do the business, not just here but everywhere I take them.

"The 50/50 milk Protein boilies are based on a medium protein neutral base mix, which takes just about any flavour readily and is very digestible its dry base form, accepting any concentrated fish extracts and palatant enhancer."

Banana Cream

Honey Nectar

"Green Lip Mussel extract is a highly concentrated powder extract originating from Green Lip Mussels are harvested in the tidal regions where the fresh water meets the sea. These mollusc are filter feeders; filtering out impurities in waters around New Zealand. When the mussel is harvested the lip of the mussel is separated and this is the part that is dried and concentrated. Its own natural high betaine level combined with vitamins and amino acids becomes the vital attractor to carp."

 Green Lipped Crab

Bio Cp2 Amino

On all my sessions I have been trying out a new lead that 'Carpy Chris' Knowler had sent me. It is a Hexi POM lead 2 1/2oz. I was looking forward to using them, the Hexi leads are designed for distance, they're a joy to cast and look real tidy when rigged up. 

I am a fan of the POM system, it creates a great hinge type quality and all the runs have been brutal screamers, also with the secondary running swivel on the hook link I feel it helps to stop the carp from using the lead to shake the hook. When the carp shakes hard the secondary swivel will pull out the lead turning it into a lead clip system, if it tries again, the lead will/can ditch. I am not a fan on ditching leads, I never actually have, but the option is there with this lead setup.

Carpy Chris Hexi POM Leads

My chosen hook-link to use with this system is Suffix Camfusion, it's a strippable braid and has awesome colouring that blends in perfectly to almost any lake bed. I strip off a few centimetres behind the hook and then keep the rest of it stiff, leaving the coating on. My chosen hook is a size 6 Nash fang twister, my hair length is as long as my thumb. I also use a large rig ring, the hook link itself is also long. Because the hair length is longer than normal I use a tiny piece of a PVA nugget to lock it in place, this stops it from tangling on the cast.

Suffix Camfusion

Hair Roughly The Length Of My Thumb 

Tiny Nugget To Lock The Hair

I find with this setup it creates a massive amount of 'free movement' which I feel helps to get stronger hook holds. I have tried and tested nearly every combination when it comes to hair length, hook link length and lead size, there are endless conflicting opinions about it. I have no interest in what the "mainstream" carp fishing media has to say about these things. I go by my experiences and experiments, that is the beauty of the sport, you have the freedom to do what you think is right, I can't emphasis this enough.

My first session was just for the afternoon, I had around 3 hours fishing time. I went armed with the Bio Cp2 and Green Lipped Crab, I chose a quiet margin spot that doesn't seem to see as much pressure as the others.

View From The Swim
I got a nice spread of bait out and cast directly in the middle of it, I separated the baits to each rod but switched my hook bait, so I was fishing a single Bio Cp2 over Green lipped Crab and visa versa on the other rod, both baits were topped with yellow. I was fishing really tight to the opposite margin, almost under it. There are small spots that seem to be snag free and over the years I have sussed out where you can get away with fishing really tight, and actually land the fish. The carp in Burrows are almost genius when it comes to ditching the hook using some kind of branch or root.

Once cast out it didn't take long for the action to happen, I got a take on my left hand rod, it sprung into life and I was in to my first fish, the fight was awesome, all the fish fight really well in Burrows, scales sunk to 17IB.

17IB Burrows Mirror
I slipped her back and got the rod back out, it was on the money first cast. I set the bobbin and sat back, about half hour went by and the same rod shot into life again, after a heated battle I slipped the net over a lovely clean mirror, scales sunk to 13IB.

A Lovely Clean Mirror
I got a few shot and then slipped her back, just as I was about to re-bait my rod, my right one shot off, the carp was frantic, it felt like a common to me. The Burrows commons are bloody nutters and really do put up a great fight, whatever size they turn out to be.

12IB Common Caught On The Green Lipped Crab
The remains of the day went quiet and I decided I'd get my gear together and leave, the sun sets fast this time of the year and I seem to have lost my head-torch. Many times have I been caught out stumbling with the barrow in the dark trying to get back to the car, usually ending up in a hedge. I planned to do a few more sessions, I had bits of work scattered about so I didn't have the time to put long solid sessions in on my other waters.

Day Two

I arrived at the lake for midday, I wanted to fish the muddy double swim, when the ripple on the water is just right and blowing down this end you can really end up having a few. I basically 'match-fish' this swim. I bait up really heavily, get the rods straight back out after each fish, I top the swim up religiously. After a few hours of doing this then I reduce the bait I put in, this can speed up the takes if done right. Today I was using White Chocolate and Monster Squid, once again I was fishing really tight to the opposite margin, you have to get it just right to get the runs, literally Cm's can be the difference between having and not having a fish.

View From The Swim
My end tackle set up was the same as my last session but this time I didn't top my baits off with yellow, I just left them bare and I changed the style of one of my leads, still keeping it on the POM system. Both casts were bang on first time, I sat back semi expecting to get a take quickly. Nothing happened for a fair while, I continued to add more bait, then the action started pretty fast. It was the White Chocolate that pulled the first fish in, I banked a lovely 14IB mirror.

On The White Chocolate
I got the bait straight back out and added around another 70 baits making sure I spread them a good few meters. Within minutes the same rod was away again, this resulted in a lovely low double common.

Second On The White Chocolate 
Again I got the rod straight back out and topped the swim up. From past experience you can get a good few fish in a short space of time from this specific swim, then it seems to trail off and go quiet. My aim was to hold them here for as long as possible.

After a slight pause in the action, my right hand rod soon shot into life, this was on the Monster Squid, this fish put up a real good scrap and I ended up slipping the net over a another spotless looking mirror, scales sunk to 12IB.

On The Monster Squid
Before I even got a chance to cast the right back out, my left hand rod shot off, this resulted in a right scrappy little mirror. I got her back quick and re-cast the rod.

Third On The White Chocolate
I only just got the bobbin on before the Monster Squid was off again. It's obvious the fish were now holding around my baited areas and as long as I kept the bait going in I felt that I could keep catching them. I believe you can get the carp into a feeding rhythm where it gets to the point that even the casting of the rig doesn't phase them.

Another Low Double On The Monster Squid
After the last fish I decided to re-rig both rods with fresh hook-links before casting back out. This time around I didn't add anymore feed, time was getting on and I wanted to try to produce a quick take. Both rods were cast back out and straight on the money. Ten or so minutes later I had another fish on the Monster Squid, an awesome mid double mirror.

A Triple On The Monster Squid
After a few shots I slipped her back, it was getting late now and the swim started to quieten down. Usually I would move up the lake but I decided I would call it a day. I felt I pretty much had everything that was available to have. In my gut I really felt like one of the big girls was due a visit to the bank so I made the decision that I was going to give Burrows a few more sessions, after which I want to move on to other waters. It was very clear that the seasons were changing and if I was going to be out on the bank in all weathers I wanted to be going at some bigger fish.

To Be Continued In Part 2

Thursday 24 October 2013

Chase Back Lake 'Baring The Brunt' Part 2

After the minor success of my last session I felt inspired to do a little bit more searching. I spent a few hours one afternoon feeling about in a few of the less popular swims, I found a few features that I liked the feel of. The main one being a 4ft plateau about 25 yards out, the swim was pure open water. To the right was a steady drop off down to 7ft which led into a corner. The drop off and the majority of the bottom that fell into the corner swim was soft sand and silt. The margins were predominately gravel with the exception of a few small areas, the margins shelved up close in.

I really liked the look of the gravel plateau and in the past have seen fish topping at the sort of range it was situated at. I made up my mind I was going to concentrate at least two rods on this spot and it was going to be a 'slow burn', a long term concentration. In regards to baiting approach, I decided I was going to fish a single over a fairly large bed of free offerings. I wanted to pull the fish in and get them digging around and in future sessions, even if I wasn't fishing this spot I would make sure that I'd add at least a kilo of bait to it. I wanted it to become an area the carp associate with food.

The Spot

I had a slightly more in depth search about and when I finally reeled my marker in I had a pretty good idea of what was in front of me. This is a process I have to do when starting a new swim or a new water. As I have said in the past, I can't just "Chuck For Luck", I have to feel that I am fishing correctly and have a better understanding of what I can't readily see.

The basis of my approach on this specific water was pretty systematic, I would keep two of my rods on the main spot and then have the third as a roamer, with the roamer I wanted to search out other areas in the swim, I was basically fishing for a bite at a time. If I started to get takes off the main spot then I would cast the roamer on the edge of the area. If the main spot was slow, I would remove one rod and have two roaming. By doing this I felt I was giving myself the best chance possible to pick a fish off.

View From The Swim

The baits I'd chosen for this session was Garlic Sausage and Honey Nectar, amongst them was a light scattering of Green Lipped Mussel Crab. I was fishing two bottom baits on the main spot and a pop up on my roamer, the areas I was recasting to with this rod contained a fair amount of debris on the bottom, popping my bait up gave me piece of mind that it was sitting proud.

My pop up rigs have gone through a few changes over recent months, I wanted something that was quick and easy to tie. My chosen hook for my pop up rigs are the size 6 Nash Uni, I really like this hook pattern and naturally starting using it for my pop ups. I have ditched the rig ring for rig tubing, it can be really fiddly trying to get the hair length right. I like to have my hook bait touching the curve of the hook, this ensures the carp is nailed the second it mouths the bait. 

The problem I found with using silicone to pin the hair down was the fact it would split on the take. Carp Craze rig tubing solved this issue for me. I don't use leaders or lead-core, I never have, I am a big fan of tubing. Carp Craze has a selection of three, Camo, Translucent Green and Silt, not only are these very versatile as a rig component but they are great on the hook to trap the hair. My favoured one is the translucent green, this is softer and slightly more flexible than the other two. 

Carp Craze Tubing

The diameter fits perfectly on a size 6 uni pattern, it grips just right and still allows the 'blowback' effect to happen when a carp picks the bait up. Because the material is a lot more resilient than the silicone, it will last until the rig/hook is dead.
Rig Tubing Replaces The Ring On My Pop Ups

Back To The Fishing

Once I was happy with the spread of bait, I marked my rods up to the main spot and got them bang on the money. My roamer rod was cast at short range in the margin. The wind was blowing straight in my face so I was feeling pretty confident that a few fish might be following it. It didn't take to long for some action to happen, my left hand rod shot off like a bullet on!! after a modest fight I banked my first carp of the session, it was a pristine little common. The size was irrelevant, the capture signified that the spot had the potential to produce. 

A Scrappy Little Common
I got the rod straight back out, topped the swim up and sat back to wait, the weather took a turn for the worst, it started hammering down and the wind really started to pick up, about an hour or so ticked by and the same rod took off again, I banked an awesome looking little mirror, it gave a great account for itself.

Serious Scales
I topped the swim back up and got the bait back out, I thought it was about time I gave my 'roamer' a recast. I moved it to more of a medium range position, this time I chucked a handful of boilies around the area. Another hour passed before I got some more action, this time, off the middle rod, I lent into the fish and it was kiting all over the show, I had a feeling I had hooked another scamp, after a short fight I netted myself another perfect looking common.

Munching The Honey Nectar 
Once again the size was irrelevant, it was about banking some fish and working with the spot I had found. It felt great because in the right conditions they are obviously confident in feeding in the area. 

On my next cast I decided not to put anymore bait in, I felt there was probably enough kicking around out there and I wanted to see if I could get a quick bite. Shortly after setting the bobbin my other rod was away like a rocket. When I hit into this fish I instantly knew I was onto something a bit bigger. It was really giving me the run around and there were a few times I thought that I was going to lose it in the 'invisible Chase snags'. Luckily enough I managed to land her, the result being a chunky 22IB mirror.

22IB Chase Lakes Mirror
I was really happy with this fish and I was also happy with the mixed bag I was managing, I must admit that it's always nice when a surprise picks up your hook bait.

When the weather turned I was starting to get a lot of false bleeps from the wind, I had turned my sensitivity settings way down but I was still having problems with false alerts. Whilst I had my head down sorting my rig out, the receiver in my pocket started reacting very strangely. I didn't really think anything of it, assuming it was the wind. But as I turned around I noticed that my roaming rod was absolutely screaming, line was being taken at such a rate that the bite alarm signal to the receiver couldn't register it. I dived for the rod, lent back and the blank just arced round like a whip, the weight and power was crazy and something I have never experienced before, before I could compose myself ...... PING!!! the blank shot up straight and there was silence. I couldn't believe it, it had tethered through 25IB braid, I was gutted, I don't know what the hell it was but it was big, maybe a catfish. I just stood there for a few minutes thinking about what I may of lost, that sick feeling came over me, it signalled the end of the session.

I started to break my rods down one at a time and then .. bang ... the middle rod went, the fish put up a great fight, the fair scrap resulted in another spotless little common, I was pleased but still kept thinking about what I'd just lost.

Consolation Common

The positives of the session out-weighted the negatives, the bait was working the spots were producing and I felt like I had broken through a little more into the workings of the water. I feel the wind played a huge part in the results. The fish do tend to follow it and I had a feeling if I was to fish the same place when the wind is behind me, I could be dealing with a tumbleweed of a swim. Like I have mentioned before, back lake is a 'slow burn', I want to chip away at it and get to the point where I have a series of swims that I know will produce in different weather conditions.

side note

You will notice my hat changes in the photos, this was because there was broken sun and heavy downpours, I am very specific about my head wear : ).

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Chase Back Lake 'Baring The Brunt' Part 1

This blog entry is part one of two, I have been spreading my wings a little on back lake with some interesting and yet frustrating results. I have not been able to get on my favoured spots because an angler has been doing a 10 week session, 'and counting' in the opposite swim. The commotion being caused has put my plans on hold regarding this part of the lake. I am going to explain a few different approaches that have been helping me put fish on the bank. Back lake isn't as easy as you first might think and you are faced with a huge body of water, I am slowly weaving myself into the lakes system.

We have been experiencing some lovely low pressure of late, I for one am really happy to see the back of the summer, I love Autumn and Winter fishing so much, the bank side thins out and you are left to get on with what you need to do. As I recall this years summer has been one of the toughest in regards to banking carp, the heat has been up and down like a yo yo and there were times when, whatever I tried just didn't produce. During these periods I find I review certain approaches and consider little tweaks to my presentations. The reward for this effort usually starts to show itself when the carp start to feed up for winter. Even in theory if you're not doing anything wrong, the little extra thought you put into what you're doing when suffering a blank, can shift your perspective on the situation in front of you.

The Expanse Of Water
The more I have fished the place the more I wanted to explore it in a little more detail, I love marker work and I decided I'd have a quick feel about in some of the swims I was interested in fishing. The first thing that has started to become very apparent is how snag ridden the whole water is and worst of all you can't actually see any evidence of them, they're everywhere and in the past I have lost good fish to them, it doesn't matter what you do or how much pressure you give on the fight, they seem to find something to get around. 

It has been so frustrating because you take time to find something of interest only to fall at the last post trying to net the take. From the power and weight of some of the fish I have hooked, I am thinking a few of them were something special. A few weekends ago the weather had really turned, the wind was heavy, it was overcast and raining. Through past experience I have come to realise that these are perfect conditions for this specific water. It was Saturday afternoon, I grabbed my gear at around 1:30pm and got down to the lake with the intention of leaving at sunset. 

As expected the lake was deserted and I quickly had an idea of where I wanted to fish. As I have mentioned before, I tend to shy away from the main visual features because all these areas get hammered 24/7. It's the stuff that I can't see that really interests me. The swim I chose was one of the more popular ones, it's a double and two islands sit directly in front of you. 

The wind was blowing really heavy in my face, instead of going at the island, I decided I was going to fish the channel between the bank I was fishing and the island itself. I wanted to try 3 PVA bags, one long range, one medium range and one close in. In my mind I thought that it would be pretty hard for any fish making their way through to not come across one of my baits. My bait of choice was Starmers 'hooker pellet', these are dumbbell shaped and have a lovely soft centre, the flavor was Salmon Marine and I had glugged the lot in pure Salmon oil, they stunk real good.

As I was only down for a short time I didn't put any loose feed out, I concentrated on making my bags as attractive as possible. They consisted of green lipped mussel and monster squid pellets, to these I added some crushed hooker pellets, crushed Bio Cp2 Amino Boilies and some dry hot chilli hemp method mix. I tied the bags big and tight, they looked pretty clumsy but I had a feeling they might just do the trick. Before casting out I attached a small stringer round the end of the funnel web, this had a mixture of fishmeal based boilies on it.

The Blend

A Big Bag Of Stench

Regarding rigs, I was fishing the blow back with a size 6 Nash twister, my hook link material was Rig Marole Hydro Link Micro. Those that follow my blogs will be aware I shift and change my hook-link materials on a regular basis. There are a few key ones I like to stick to, it all depends on the situation. I like this specific one because it's slightly stiffer and still has a suppleness to it, it comes in a pale green and is very abrasive resistant, I will add a few flecks to dull the colour with a rig pen if I feel I need to.

Hydro Link Micro

To finish off the presentation I cut a tiny slither of yellow zig foam and top the bait off with it, I find it adds a nice little visual effect. In places, the bottom of the lake is pretty much black so anything to help catch the carps eye is always a good idea. On certain lakes I tend to shy away from imitation corn, I find it can be a little bit to blatant. On occasions I sometimes rub a little mud into the foam just to dull it down a little. Because sweet corn has been used to catch fish pretty much since the beginning of time, I feel there is almost something inherent within the carp that attracts them to the colour. 

Just A Slither 

I tied up my three bags and whacked them out making sure I have the range of the channel covered. By this time the wind was really kicking in and I had a feeling I wouldn't have to wait long for a pick up. The average depth of the water out in front of me was 5ft, it was a mix of soft black sand with very fine debris on top. I would usually use a pop up in these situations but because the blend in my bags was so potent I decided to stick with bottom baits. 

View From The Swim
Once all three rods were out it didn't take long to get my first take, it was about 30 minutes in when my middle rod tore off . It came in pretty easy, it was only a scamp of about 5IB, I didn't bother taking a picture, I got her straight back, chucked the rod back out and within minutes of it hitting the water it shot off again, resulting in a carp of a similar size. The size of the fish was irrelevant, the important thing was the fact the approach was working. A little bit of time ticked by and then I got my third take, again off the middle rod. This felt like a much better fish and when I eventually got her in, I was pleasantly surprised to be face to face with a nice long common, I weighed her, scales sunk to 19IB.

Long Common On The Hooker Pellet
I was really pleased with this capture and it confirmed that in the right conditions and the right location my chosen approach works. I wouldn't opt for using it if I was fishing the open water. On this lake big beds of boilies seemed to be the way to go on open spots. By this time a couple of anglers had turned up wanting to do a night in the swim so I packed up and went home.

Short Session Thoughts

One of the advantages of being a 'short session' angler is how you can make the process of trial and error a lot shorter than if you're doing regular long stints. On short sessions I like to try an approach and maybe a spot that I usually wouldn't go for. If you are adopting a specific approach for only a couple of hours and it works, you can then incorporated it into the longer sessions you do. Also when you have limited time I feel you become a lot more proactive in your ideas. For me a fresh and clear perspective can be the difference between catching and blanking. The minute I feel I am losing perspective, I have to pull off the bank-side for awhile, it gives your brain time to process things and then you can get back down with a fresh set of ideas and a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

Part Two To Follow Shortly