Friday 27 December 2013

Rugby Lake "Finding The Key"

Every so often a water comes along that really catches the imagination, for me Rugby is one of those lakes. It's in a woodland surrounded by trees, it has long reed beds and lovely overhanging branches and bushes. After some marker work I have found it to be very deep in places with a few really interesting little drop offs and channels. The water contains a lot weed and can make presenting a bait some what of a challenge. It has a very impressive stock, with the rumour of five fish in the thirty pound bracket with lots of fish in the twenties.

I do rotate a fair few waters but over the past months I have made the decision to focus my efforts on Rugby. It hasn't really been a kind water to me, I always manage to get at least one bite most sessions but something nearly always happens that prevents me from landing the fish. If I fish near the reeds they always seem to manage to get in them or bury themselves in the weed beds, last winter I managed a real nice looking twenty pound mirror. There was a part of me that always felt like it was more luck than judgement. 

A Room With A View
Once settling on the water, watching and really thinking about how I was going to wire myself into the lakes workings. I decided to eliminate a few things before I started my time on the place. Firstly I was going to avoid the far margins and any of the obvious features, all of these spots get continually hammered and through the years I am positive the carp, at least some of them have wised up. I believe when a fish is caught enough off of a certain spot, it could be very reluctant to continue feeding there. 

There's a metaphor in life that has always interested me and I feel it walks hand in hand with a specific fishing approach - "You can spend your whole life looking to the horizon for solutions, when more times than not the answer is right under your nose". When I think of the amount of times I have incorporated this in to my angling, it's spooky. The amount of good fish I have had out of the near side margins greatly outweighs fish I have had from visible features. 

With all this fresh in my mind I thought fishing underneath my rods tips might just be the answer. The beauty of Rugby is that in some swims it drops off down to a really good depth less than a rod length out. So in theory there is a possible patrol route right under your nose. For this approach to work I would have to set my rods up so they didn't hang over the margin and from arriving at the water I had to be very quiet from the moment of setting up, being silent was something I felt was going to help this approach work. Silence is something some anglers overlook.

Sometimes when I am out fishing it really surprises me how loud other anglers talk, sometimes I can hear guys so clearly and they are fishing way up the other end of the lake. If I can hear them, I am pretty sure the carp can to, learning to be quiet is a discipline, it is ironic really, I have spent my whole life making a huge amount of noise with my drums, angling for me is such a polar opposite. 

Regarding rigs, in the past I had been using long running helicopters, replacing the back bead with PVA cord and making sure the bait sank slowly and was perfectly balanced. After having a think I decided to try something a little different, I took the concept of the Withy Pool rig and combined it with the chod. I got a lot of stick from people when I posted this specific rig up on my Facebook feed. I didn't really understand all the animosity, the great thing about angling is that you can try and experiment with whatever you want to. Once you understand the basics and basis of rig design, it can open up a whole new world of creativity.

My Chosen Rig

As you can see with the rig above, the silicone is long and when it sits up it creates a 'claw' type presentation. The micro swivel on the hook allows the bait to rotate 360 degrees, this means that whatever direction the fish come from, the hook can spin and nail them. Because Rugby is weedy I don't want to spend ages trying to find clear spots, I am confident that this rig will present efficiently over pretty much any lake bed, I wouldn't use it on gravel though. The hook link material is Krystons Snakeskin, it's stripped back to just under the silicone tubing, the hook length itself is very long. On the cast I will wrap a PVA nugget round the hook, this ensures that once the lead has settled, the hook link will stay suspended in mid water, once the nugget dissolves the rig will flutter down and perch on whatever is beneath it. 

How The Rig Sits

View From The Top

The hook I am using for this rig is a Size 8 Nash Fang Twister, the silicone tubing is ESP, the stops are from ACE tackle and the micro swivel is made by Fox. Below is a short demonstration of how a PVA nugget pauses the decent of the rig. The more balanced your hook bait is, the slower it will drop through the water. Doing this allows the lead to settle nicely before the hook bait comes to settle, ensuring that you are giving it the best chance to present properly.

Rig Demo On Entry To The Water

Moving onto the subject of bait, I have been mixing it up a little, baits that have delivered me bites have been Starmers Garlic Sausage, Tangerine Fish, Banana Cream and Honey Nectar. Because winter is starting to set in I'm going to scale down on the amount of bait that I introduce. This time of the year I go for 'maximum attraction', making sure that the solid items that carp can pick up are at a minimum. 

Instead of using beds of boilies I favour fast dissolving pellets and method mixes. Because the carp aren't feeding as much as they were earlier in the year, using this approach can really help produce. Method mixes and pellets breakdown leaving a nice scent on the lake bed, I believe this helps to draw the carp into the area. If there are only a few solid food items then it ups your chances of getting a pick up. If I am pre-baiting a spot then I will use boilie crumb, again, the reason for this is because I don't want to fill them up. I really want to try to keep them active and feeding.

I have a very strong belief that carp feed all the way through the winter but it's just for shorter periods of time. That's what makes location and bait application so important, also during the winter I rarely take my eyes of the water, some days it's as if no carp are in the lake, other days they might give themselves away with the odd bit of bubbling, or the smallest of shows, more times than not the water will tell you everything you need to know, you just have to be listening.

One approach that I often use when I am fishing close in is something I call 'burying the bait', I have covered this in an older blog post. For those that may not of read it I will explain it again. One of the great advantages of fishing close in is the fact that you can be so precise with your baiting. 'Burying the bait' is an approach that I wouldn't recommend for fishing at distance. It's a very simple method of moulding a ground bait or method mix ball around you hook-bait.

I have been using Starmers Green Lipped Mussel method mix with some ground up boilies thrown in, to this I will add some salmon oil and a few whole boilies so my actual hook-bait doesn't stand out to much. The mix itself is relatively stiff, I want it to be solid enough to grip to the bait on entry to the water and on the landing. I find that it slowly breaks down giving off a nice level attraction, once it's fully broken down the pop up just rears its head above the mix. Before casting out I throw a few handfuls of boilie crumb over my spot.

Boilie Crumb Selection

Ground Up For Maximum Attraction

Getting The Mix Right

Mould The Mix Into A Small Circle

Place The Rig On Top

Roll Into A Ball 'Burying The Bait'

As you can see by the above pictures, it's a very simple process, you can make the finished ball as big or small as you see fit. I opt for a larger size because I feel it drops to the bottom at a good rate, I need this for my chosen spot because it's a good 9ft deep, there can be advantages to it breaking down before landing, the spread of the mix would no doubt cover a large area. The firmer the mix the longer it will take to breakdown. You can get as creative as you want regarding what you include in your mix, in the past I have combined Starmers 'Carp Red' ground-bait, tuna, anchovies, anchovy paste, 10mm boilies, crushed sardines, the list is endless.

The rig I use to fish this particular method is a simple pop up presentation, I make sure the boilie is nice and balanced so when the carp come in and start hovering, my bait flies up into it's mouth easily. With all my pop up rigs, I like the bait to be touching the hook, I don't opt for any free movement when using a popped up bait.

Burying The Bait Pop Up Rig

View From Above

Anyway, that's enough of my waffle, I think I have pretty much covered my main approaches, I am looking forward to getting stuck in on Rugby. I know it's going to be a ball breaker but it's fishing lakes like this that makes me feel my angling is heading in the right direction. I know that my catch rate is going to drop but I also know that when I do get a fish, it's going to be something pretty special. I'm looking forward to sharing this new journey with you all.

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