Monday 25 November 2013

Burrows 'Nailing It' Part 2

After the success of my last two sessions I had a gut feeling I might be close to getting one of the 20's out. Again my focus was on getting the takes, that was my priority. I set up in the swim I spent my first session in, the day was a lot colder, I turned up at 3:00pm so I had just over three hours to make something happen. 

Today I was fishing with Honey Nectar on one rod and Green Lipped Crab on the other. Just like previous sessions, I got a good amount of bait out along the margin I was fishing. This time I decided I was going to fish one rod on the drop off to the 9ft channel that runs up the centre of the lake. I find I get the runs on the 5ft shelf of the drop off, it falls gradually down to around 9ft.

Because the Green Lipped Crab is a slightly darker bait I decided to top it off with yellow, I left the Honey Nectar bare, being such a bright bait I didn't feel the need to top it off. Regarding rigs, they were the same as previous days, I didn't waste any time getting the rods out, bobbins and back leads were on quickly so I was fishing within about twenty minutes of arriving.

View From The Swim

I am not going to explain in great detail exactly how I was fishing because that was all covered in part one, I was fishing the same setup on both rods - "if it isn't broken, no need to fix it"Like previous days I managed a quick bite that came shortly after casting out, resulting in a lovely mid double common. It put up one hell of a fight, it fell to my Green Lipped Crab rod.

Mid Double On The Green Lipped Crab
After getting her back I cast straight out, I held off from adding any loose feed. Because I was only here for a few hours I wanted to up my chances of getting a take. A little bit of time passed before I got my next fish, this was off the open water rod, it went flying away, I lifted into it and after yet another intense fight, I banked an awesome looking mirror weighing in at 14IB.

14IB Mirror Caught On The Honey Nectar 
I was very pleased with this capture, it goes to show you must never ignore the open water. There is no difference in fishing to an underwater feature or a visible one, other than the fact the feature underwater probably doesn't see as much pressure. 

When I look at any water, I want to find points of interest below the surface, doing this can really pay off. In the carp mags and on the DVD's, marker work is almost being shunned, with the term "Thrashing The Water To A Foam". I don't agree, marker work is an important skill to learn. Even if you dedicate a few hours to it on a day you aren't fishing. Putting a little more effort in can produce on days when the obvious features are not delivering. It's taken me a fair time to really grasp marker work to a level that I am happy with. I generally really enjoy seeking out areas of interest. You start to develop a true sense of the lake make up the more you do it.

Before I managed to get the rod back out, my right one was away, this felt like a slightly better fish and after a quick battle, I slipped the net under a lovely looking mirror, scales sunk to 16IB.

16IB Mirror Falling To The Green Lipped Crab
After returning this fish I got both rods back out and the day slowly evaporated into early evening. I packed down with the view point of coming back in a few days. I wanted to do a couple more sessions before I move on to my target waters for Autumn and Winter. The main two waters I have chosen are hard but hold a great stamp of fish. If I am going to be out in all weathers I want to make sure the chance of a big reward is possible.

My next session was another short one, I have been working a fair bit and I am trying to slot my fishing in whenever I can. I arrived at the water for 2:00pm and had to leave on a job at around 4:00pm, this gave me two hours. I fished the same swim as the previous session, this time I kept my baiting sparse, I wanted to try to produce some quick bites. Once again the action happened pretty fast, about 30 minutes passed before I got my first fish, it was a screamer and resulted in an immaculate 13IB mirror, the scale pattern was awesome.

13IB Mirror On The Green Lipped Crab
The rod went straight back out, pretty much as soon as I set the bobbin, the other rod was away. This resulted in a lovely looking common carp of 12IB, this was taken on a Honey Nectar bottom bait.

12IB Beauty Taken On The Honey Nectar
Once again I got the rod straight back out only putting about 10 freebies around it. The weather turned and it started to get a little colder and dull, I had about an hour of fishing time left.

What happened next was sheer chaos, I got a double take, one rod shot off, followed 30 seconds by the other. It was a very tricky situation, I have had this a few times in the past with varying levels of success in managing to land both fish.

The way I deal with it is try to jam the reel of one rod behind the back rests of my bank sticks. I managed to land the first fish pretty fast, which was a 13IB Mirror, I kept it in the net, luckily the other fish was still on my other rod, I grabbed it frantically and managed to gain control of the situation, I eventually banked a little common. 

One downside to Burrows is that the mud and clay on the banks is a bloody nightmare, I found myself sliding all over the show and where I was taking pictures of the fish, was like a swamp, my feet and trousers were caked in layers of clay, I had to keep moving my cradle and camera into a more convenient position for pictures, which was becoming frustrating. It makes me laugh, more times than not when walking back to the car with my barrow, my legs weigh a good couple of pounds more than when I arrive due to being caked in clay and mud - gotta love the mud !

13IB Mirror - Double Take

Clean Little Common - Double Take

Once the madness had calmed down I got both rods back out, this time I opted for singles, I only had a short time left so I was hoping for a bonus bite. I slowly started to pack my gear away when the left hand rod was off again. This was a real scrappy fish, I eventually slid the net under a fat little mirror, scales sunk to 13IB.
 Honey Nectar Does It Again

I decided to start packing down this rod, leaving my other one out whilst I slowly got my gear together. I pretty much had everything packed away when, out the blue my remaining rod tore off. Once again it was one hell of a fight and I banked my last fish of the session, resulting in another mirror, its autumn colours looked great.

Last Knockings Paid Off
I was very pleased with the result for such a short session, I planned to do a few more trips before knocking Burrows on the head. I did take a trip back down a few days after, planning to do the day but I got rained off, the weather was just terrible, I managed one out but surrendered after getting thoroughly soaked through, it was impossible to stay dry.

A Wet Common

Final Session

So this was going to be my final session for the foreseeable future, my heart was moving towards new horizons. I know I can catch fish from the water and I really want to spend my Autumn and Winter targeting slightly bigger carp. Rugby has been a lake that I have found so hard and I've decided to commit my time and my thinking into cracking it.

For my final session I fished the first double swim, this swim can really produce if you get your baiting correct. This time around I decided to fish both banana cream and honey nectar, I have huge confidence in both of these baits. As I was baiting up and getting ready to cast out, I had no idea of the sheer lunacy that was ahead of me. Before casting I got a good half a kilo out on both my spots, making sure I spread it all over, I wanted to draw the fish in and keep them there.

 View From The Swim

It took about 45 minutes for things to start kicking off, my left hand rod sprung into life and I was in to my first fish of the session. As with all Burrows carp, it put up a wicked fight considering it ended up being in singles figures.

Scrappy Little Mirror
I got her back, fired out another hundred or so baits and then whacked the rod back out, 'on the money'. Realistically the bait had been in no longer than ten minutes before it was off again, this felt like a better fish. The rod arched round and I was battling yet another hard fighting carp, the fish surfaced, it looked like a good upper double. I eventually slid the net under a chunky looking mirror, scales sunk to 20IB dead. I was very pleased, I thought it was about time I had a bigger fish out, it was very deep bodied and stumpy looking.

20IB Chunky Mirror
Once again, I got her straight back, hammered another load of bait in and got my rig out. The next fish came off my right hand rod, shooting off like a bullet train, I scrambled to grab it, instantly the fish was manic, I assumed it was a common, the commons in Burrows are very hard fighters, eventually I slide the net under a perfect looking common, scales sank to 13IB.

Manic 13IB Common
Back she went, a load of bait was fired out shortly followed by my rig. Within no time at all my left hand rod gave out a yelp, it was away again. It instantly felt like another common because it was really giving me some stick, once netted the scales sunk to 13IB.

13IB Common 'Fins Up'
Same procedure as before, slip her back, fire the bait in and get the rig out. What happened next was pretty crazy, after the cast I put the butt of the rod down to get my back lead on, before I even managed the chance to get the lead on, the line flew out of my hands, a carp had pretty much taken the bait on the drop. Sadly I lost it because by the time I managed to clock what was happening and get the reel in my hand, it had managed to get into a snag, luckily I got my rig back. I shot it back out and got a bit more bait in. About 30 minutes passed and then my right hand rod was off again, this felt like a better fish, it had a slow plod to it, soon I was netting a clean looking mirror, scales sunk to 17IB 5oz.

17IBer Taken On The Honey Nectar

Same procedure, pile the bait in, get the rig in and 'relax', only a few minutes passed before I got another take, half way through playing it my other rod shot off, luckily I hooked into a small fish so I managed to get it in the net quick, once done I grabbed the other rod and teased the hooked carp my way, eventually two fish were sitting in the net staring up at me, they were both singles but real clean looking mirrors.

A Slippery Single 

Second From A Double Take
I got both the fish back, shot out another 100/150 baits, whacked the rigs on the spots and actually tried to sit down. It had been lunacy from the get go. I have always known that if you get the baiting right in this swim, you can really clean up, it was safe to say that today was one of those days.

Things started to slow up, to be honest I was a little relieved, I decided that I wasn't going to put anymore bait out. I only had a little while left and I wanted to still try and nail a few. The hour went by pretty quick, I managed to bag another single off of my left hand spot.

A Sneaky Single

I was starting to slowly get my gear together, when my right hand rod fired away, again, it felt like it was another common, it was flying all over the place and it felt like it was about twice the size of what it ended up being. Scales sunk to 14IB.

14IB Hard Fighting Common
Well that was me done, I felt really pleased with how the session came together. I am done with Burrows now for the foreseeable future, I want to move on up to Rugby, I am determined to find an approach that works for me and the quality of the carp swimming around in there is just awesome. I've always managed the odd fish out but I feel it is time for me to really focus my thinking on getting some consistency, it's going to be a 'nut cracker' but I feel I am ready. 

Over the seasons I have had plenty of good carp from Burrows, moving waters now will make me think a lot harder about location and presentation, I am really looking forward to getting stuck in. I have been thinking hard and making various notes about how I am going to approach the lake. I am excited about the prospect of documenting my progress and keeping all of you out there who read my blog, in the loop.

Be Lucky

Friday 1 November 2013

The Clutch And Fish Welfare

In this blog I am going to touch on my feelings about the use of the clutch and certain aspects of general 'fish welfare'. Fish welfare is the main priority for me and it starts from the moment a carp is hooked. There is no excuse for lip damage or any other kind of injury to a fish. Obviously there are so many factors involved in hooking and landing a carp, there are times when however careful you are, small damages can occur. If I felt I couldn't treat the fish I catch with the respect that they deserve, I would give up fishing all together.

The Clutch, maybe a lost art?

I started my quest for carp back in 1990, there was no YouTube, DVD's, Korda etc, and very limited magazines on sale, I have never been one to read the carp mags anyway. I had to learn everything through immense trial and error, Graham, who use to own Crowborough Tackle showed me a knotless knot and the rest I had to explore myself, it took years before I started to grasp things correctly. The beauty of this process was the fact everything was learnt on the bank, it was understood gradually so through the years you developed a broad understanding. 

With the way the carp fishing industry has developed through recent years and with the explosion of the Internet, it's almost like the work is being done for you. Someone else gets out on the bank, films themselves, talks you through what's working and what isn't, how to find the fish, how to apply the bait etc. All from the comfort of your front room.

I feel this puts a hold on your own learning journey. You can't learn watercraft or how to handle a fish by watching YouTube, and you can't develop your own fishing knowledge by sitting at home. The only way you learn is by doing, a boxer can train and train but he only knows when he's ready for the fight when he steps into the ring, on his own. A band can rehearse a song endlessly but they only know if it's any good when it gets released. The best experience is your own experience and that is something that can't be bought.

I remember when I had a little float rod and I'd go fishing with a pot of maggots and my little landing net. I could sit and catch roach, dace, rudd, perch amongst others and I would be so happy. The feeling when that float bobs under was an indescribable sensation. From this style of fishing I learnt how to handle and carefully unhook what I'd caught. The first time I float fished for carp was on a private lake on the grounds of someone my Dad knew. When I hooked into my first carp from the water, the owner would guide me, telling me how to play the fish safely, slowly, and to treat them correctly, carefully unhooking them and placing them back to fight another day.

From that point onwards I felt what I was being shown became inherent within me, the care and attention I gave each fish I caught, resulted in them swimming back with no real harm done. Through the years I can't really remember ever catching a carp with bad lip damage that I'd caused, that might sound crazy to some, but it's the truth, I don't bully the fish, I savour every moment of the fight, we wait long enough for it. There have been a few occasions when the hook hold was weird or when my braid might have made a tiny incision, but that's about it, and all damage was carefully treated. I use a combination of "NT Labs Wound Seal & Propolis", I find both these products to be very effective and I wouldn't go fishing without them. There has been a few instances when I've had a recapture and the carp have been in good shape, the products had done their job.  

Keep It Clean

I stopped fishing most commercial waters a while back because on a lot of them the condition of the fish I was catching was unforgivable. I found myself coming up against the statement "Well What Do You Expect On A Day Ticket Venue". I am sorry but that is no excuse, a fish is a fish, be it a huge pit, a syndicate, small water or a day ticket, they all count and having a blase attitude towards day ticket fish was something that just didn't rub with me. There is no prize for yanking a fish in quickly, bullying it and putting it under unnecessary stress. The fish will signal when it is ready to be netted, you can see it and feel it. And this now brings me onto my point about "THE CLUTCH".

Quick Drag

I have always been an avid user of the clutch, it's one of the most important elements for me along with the line clip. For many years I used bait-runners, I loved my Shimano 6010's and was very reluctant to change, I think it was the 'old school' in me. Through the years they got battered, the clutches were tired and as my fishing progressed I decided to invest in my first set of big pit reels. This would be the first time I was dealing with a front drag. I have to say the difference between the two was light-years, having a front clutch was a dream and it really seemed to put you completely in touch with the fish. You could cater for any tug and lunge, accommodating accordingly. 

When I play my fish I get a sense when the clutch needs to be loosened, it all comes from the tip of the rod, once the tip is bent round, if the carp starts to drag the tip down violently, I will loosen off so the pressure from rod to fish is relieved. Obviously there are times when you have to give them a fair amount of pressure but I keep these to a minimum. Finding a fine line between being gentle but also keeping control is the key. With the ever increasing range of rods that are appearing on the market, test curves seem to be going up and up. With the correct use of the clutch you can still fish comfortably using stiffer rods without the worry of pulling the hook out. It is possible to find a sweet spot between reel and rod that is perfectly balanced. If your reel has a "Quick Drag" facility then you can fine tune even more.

Away She Goes
Up until around last year I have stopped fishing to bad snags or near any feature where the fish could get tethered, the idea of really heaving them out of branches has evaporated, this alone keeps the carps welfare at the forefront. The "fish at any cost" approach only puts the carp at greater risk. Nothing is achieved from dragging a fish through snags, lilies etc other than unnecessary damage, if you can't cast to the spot due to obstacles then you shouldn't be fishing there. I'd rather fish a spot knowing I can land the fish safely rather than a spot that poses the danger of a tethered fish. Again, there are some lakes were you can't see the snags and obviously there is always going to be those days where the fish seem to get away with it or lock you up, that is the nature of the beast.

It's pretty clear to me that as the carp fishing industry grows so does the demand for venues to fish, more pressure on fishery owners to stock bigger and better carp, imported or not. It's as if newcomers to the sport want to bypass the process of growing as an angler and developing both their skills and understanding. There's a hunger to just step straight into the realms of "needing to catch a thirty" - "disappointed it was shy of forty", this attitude alone devalues any fish caught that isn't 'a monster'. Where's the magic gone? and more importantly where has the respect gone?, not just for the fish but for your fellow anglers that share both your waters and this amazing pass time. 

I believe there has to be a certain level of educating, be it in the mags or on the FREE '5 hour' promo DVD's, that educates everyone that's new to the sport about the importance of fish care and using your tackle correctly. A solid message has to be spread that todays big fish will one day be gone and the scamps or 'pasties', that some people seem to call them, will eventually be tomorrows monsters. It is our job as anglers to make sure the carp and the waters they live in are looked after and nurtured so the magic of this 'other-worldly' pass time can continue for years to come.