Saturday, 25 January 2014

A Musical Angling Life Part 3

Through the next 10 years or so I was just locked into doing what I had to do to get on, I was still managing to fish a little, I joined Cranbrook Angling Club and got stuck in to their waters when I had the time. The Cranbook lakes held no memories for me, they were there to make new ones, I didn't want to sit on my old waters, forever thinking about the glory days of the past. Fishing once again became ingrained in the blood, because of the extreme opposites that living in the city and escaping to the country provided for me, casting the lines out was more inspiring than ever and I got so much from doing it.

I remember this time in life very well, the years of struggle were starting to take their toll, for as long as I can recall I was just locked in a rut of working, playing shows, rehearsing, recording and keeping on going with no regard for myself in any way. I have a strong memory of one night in particular. I was fast alseep only to get woken up by a vertigo attack, my eye balls were literally spinning, I was vomiting. I would spend the next thirteen months of my life "DIZZY", basically I was running myself into the ground and I wasn't listening to my body, I thought I could just carry on like a robot. After having tests done it was confirmed that I was pretty much on the edge of collapse, it was really serious, the diagnosis was referred to as 'derealisation'. I took time out of everything, I had to really reevaluate my existence. 

Back On The Burrows 2014

I guess in some strange way the timing was perfect, the house we had a room in was going to be sold and whilst I was resting up I managed to find a flat for sale in SE London, Charlton. Because my time in north London had been so strained I wanted to get as far away as possible and start a new life. And that is where I am now as I sit and write this blog entry. I'd like to say that it was all roses, but it became clear that I really hadn't taken anything from my past experiences on board, mainly regarding my relationship to self

I may have moved miles away from where I was but the music industry was the same from anywhere you went at it. After a few months to adjust I found myself working shitty jobs again and rehearsing most nights until about 1 am. Same story, different faces, after another six or so years on the same road and the same process, I just didn't know what the hell I wanted anymore.

It was funny because it was at this point I really started to think about my angling again. Somewhere deep inside it was registering that due to my total commitment to my music I had pretty much forgotten how to live a normal life. As I have mentioned earlier in this post, my angling is the place I have always gone to meet up with happiness. This was when I joined Kingfisher Angling society and made sure I got out as much as I could. The clarity I felt back on the bank again was pretty surreal, it was where I was suppose to be at that time and space.

A Simple Bar Of Gold
Not really knowing exactly what my fishing gave me, it was very clear that it filled a void inside, a space that couldn't be filled by anything else. Running unison with this was the ever infected musical journey that was slowly killing me. Within the first few years of the move I had already been chewed up and spat out by B-Unique Records and put through major stress and disappointment with a set of showcases for pretty much every major label in the UK. From this it looked like my life long ambition was finally going to happen, only for it all to be whipped away in the final moments. 

I had a few pretty big offers come my way around this time but I was totally committed to the band DogsI believed in Dogs more than anything I had ever done before so I wasn't willing to go and be a synthetic 'drummer' for some commercial plasticine act, Dogs was real, we had a natural chemistry for writing music. The ride was chaos with a fan base all over the country and around the globe. 

The gigs were utter carnage and playing for fans that adored the band was an incredible feeling. But with time I just didn't feel like I was getting what I needed and like every band you end up joining, it starts off with the right intentions but when you see the same patterns and problems beginning to show, it's very hard to keep a level head, I think by this time my flame had finally flickered. When I decided to leave Dogs, that was when the slippery slope really started.

Dogs 100 Club
With an illness that shows no physical scars you don't know if you are repairing, you just have to have faith that your system will come home and time will eventually stitch all your pieces back together again. For me my angling is a thread and a very strong one a that, I believe it will carry me through and one day I will wake up to a peace that at the moment is still long forgotten.


Times have changed so much and we are living in a very instant society, now with the internet everything is conducted by the push of a button. It's easy to buy, sell, communicate and as we've all seen via platforms such as facebook...., it's easy to abuse and put down others. The most valid point I would like to make, especially regarding social networks is - don't judge someone on 'how you see them' and don't be so quick to shoot a knee-jerk reaction their way that may cause upset or unhappiness. You have no idea of their situation or what they might be living with or going through.  

As I have already stated, in carp angling as in all walks of life there is dispute, people hellbent on creating failure for others. There is no need for any of it, carping is something we all participate in, we are all in it together and each and everyone one of us plays a vital roll in it's future. 'the subject of otters is for another day'

Get out there and breathe the air, feel the minutes, welcome the seconds and make the most of the time you have on the bank and on this earth. Enjoy what you do and take everything you can from it, if you feel the magic has gone, create your own and keep it close to your heart. 

I wish you all the best of luck on your journey not only as a angler but as a human. However hard it gets there is always a way through, there is always hope glimmering on the horizon line, set your sights on it and go for the grab.

I would like to deeply thank everyone that has taken the time to read this post, and I hope you can draw at least some inspiration from it.

Be Lucky !!!

A Musical Angling Life Part 2

I will never forget when I first laid my eyes on a small local pond down in Crowborough where I grew up. My mind was racing, the float sat static in the water, below was an unseen world that I wanted so badly to take a peek at. The feeling you got when the float started to rock and bob wasn't like anything I had ever experienced before. That is the feeling that I find myself chasing, just like the first magical pull of a cigarette when you wake up in the morning, every drag after that throughout the day is just trying to relive that first fulfilling tug. 

One memory that always comes back to me was the walk from the car park up on to my first club water, I will never forget it. Having just passed my driving test, a whole new angling life presented itself to me. The lake was called Holts - now known as 'Stream Valley Fishery'. It was on this water that I really learnt how to fish. I remember the lake looked so big and daunting, the reed lines and the woodland that surrounded it looked like a watercolour painting. There were rumours of a few monsters lurking in the deep, and the beauty was that I had absolutely no idea how to go about catching them, so for a long time I didn't even try. I started on the float, doing this allowed me to slowly soak up the simple joys of fishing and grasp how I was going to attempt to fish for the monsters I occasionally caught a glimpse of.

The Dead Season
I could sit for hours happily catching Roach, Rudd, Dace, Perch, anything and everything that went for my little red maggot. The whole concept of ledgering was something I had no idea about. A year or two went by before I started to fish with a second rod, I would have one on the float and the other on the bottom. 

I first was shown the knot-less knot by Graham who use to own Crowborough Tackle. I remember practising how to tie it thousands of times and then trying to suss out how to set up a safe and effective rig. This took me a long time because there was a lack of components available on the market and there wasn't a great deal of information kicking around. After immense months of trial and error I finally came up with something that seemed to work. The biggest problem I had to overcome was tangles, they drove me crazy and the concept of the bolt rig really confused me. I was under the impression that when the carp felt resistance they would drop the bait, I just couldn't get my head around the point of it hooking itself on the bolt.

I spent days mastering the cast, rig tying, knot tying, everything that I could soak up I grabbed on to. Back then there wasn't a huge amount of bait kicking around, I remember Kevin Maddocks boilies, Mistral, Mainline were very small, Nash, Rod Hutchinson, Richworths and of course Starmer, who I am lucky enough to be fishing with now. The first boilie I ever used was the Tropicana Pineapple and I caught a 3IB mirror, they smelt so amazing, just like today, I got massively into my bait.

After sometime I started to make my own, I used a Solar sweet birdseed mix and hand rolled 'The Quench', 'Wild Strawberry' and 'Caramel'. It was a great feeling when you caught on stuff that you rolled yourself. To this day I still have fond memories of Salmon Supreme, Meaty Mix and The Sting. When I look back and see how far bait development has come, it's pretty incredible, I would never have second guessed it would become a multi-million pound industry. The good old classics will always catch though, and they're the ones that I still like to use. That's one of the  reasons I like Starmer so much, they have all the classics mixed in with new innovative ideas. Back then there wasn't really heavy marketing regarding the boilie bait so you just went with what smelt the best, such simple times.  

In regards to tackle development, I feel now more than ever tackle is sold more from the 'what's in fashion' point of view. The market is so overstocked with items that personally I feel I just don't need, it's too easy to fall into the tackle trap. Too much focus is put on "what the best bite alarm is""what's the best reel and rod". Again this is a prime example of just how commercial everything has become. To be honest I feel that watercraft and fish care are the main areas people should be investing their time and energy in to. Without that, it really doesn't matter what you are sitting behind on the bank because if you aren't on the fish then you aren't going to catch them. If you can't handle them in the correct way then they aren't going to live long, prosper and continue to provide enjoyment for those who fish for them in the future. Our sport is all about preservation, in more ways than one.

After a while the float rod was hung up and I got myself two carp rods and some bait-runners, this was where the love affair with carp started. There was a group of around eight of us that carp fished, we would fish the day tickets and the different clubs around East Sussex. Tanyards was our local haunt, this was before it was established and they didn't have the third specimen lake dug. We pitched camp at Pippingford Park, Barden in Tonbridge, the ballast pit, Frant Lakes, the rivers, the list went on. We were covering a load of waters and starting to get some good results. 

During this time I learnt so much about carp and the different methods I could use to catch them. All the waters I fished were different, some were really weedy, others big with a low stock, silt, clay, gravel, it was perfect because it really got you thinking. Funnily enough my first twenty was caught on floating crust and a 5IB line, this was the Crowborough club record at 22IB 5oz. Thinking back, one of my best seasons was just simply using a rod, reel, line and hook, I surfaced fished all the way through until winter and managed to catch all the big fish from my club.

We all slowly progressed to night fishing, that really started to change things. I loved the sense of escapism, we'd go out for 4 nights at a time and really get lost in the waters that we fished. They became worlds, meeting places where mates would spend time together, laughing, joking, smoking and chasing monsters. It's this time period in my life that will stay with me forever.

It's funny because through the years I stopped doing nights, when I really started to apply myself fully to my angling I felt the periods I spent under the stars weren't as productive as I first thought they were. I got more into the escapism factor and pitching up a tidy camp for days, more than actually concentrating on my angling. I was so tired after a day or two that I spent more energy trying to stay awake than actually catching fish. My catch rate and perspective has improved so much since I have been sticking to days and short sessions.

My Old Setup

There was a period of time come the late 90's where I moved up to Manchester to play in a band. I took my fishing gear with me, I didn't live that far away from Lymm dam so I would pay regular visits to the place when I wasn't busy rehearsing and playing shows. The water was huge and there were some very big carpy residents haunting the place. It took me a long time to start to catch them because I had never fished a water so big. From my time spent at Lymm I landed fifteen fish ranging from 20IB up to 28IB. I will never forget those times and how special those carp were. 

Time passed, the band fell apart so I headed back down to East Sussex again. Upon arriving back, adjusting and getting back out on the waters, it was at this time when I first noticed a huge difference in the angling scene. It appeared, gone were the days of great mates alone on the waters building a creating fishy memories. Now it's as if every man and his dog had suddenly discovered a bivvy and a bite alarm, as I started to visit my old waters to take a look and reminisce about the good times, everyone fishing was turning around and staring at me like I was a piece of shit, it was like this on nearly all of the lakes. It was such a strange atmosphere and there was just a feeling in the ether that had somewhat changed things. After sometime it became clear that this time shift was the beginning of the end of carp angling as I knew it, it felt like the magic had somewhat faded. My old carping mates were falling by the wayside, the summer days and the winter nights so very reminiscent of 'A Passion For Angling' would become ghosts.

It was this point in time that I really felt a jolt in the sport, it's so hard to describe it in the right way, a very important element had died. I didn't spend a great deal of time in East Sussex anymore and I didn't feel like fishing any of my old waters. I moved up to London in another band and pretty much spent my days sleeping on peoples couches, rehearsing and playing shows. My carp angling took a back seat for a while.

A Musical Angling Life Part 1

This is a three part blog in which I would like to share with you my thoughts on both my music and my angling and the role they have played in my life. It's amazing how they have blended so well together. Both are tightly stitched and it has always interested me that nestled within everyday life there is nearly always a fishing metaphor that slots in so perfectly, marrying the two. When approaching my waters and just like piecing together drum parts, I work a lot with metaphor, I tend not to look at things in a literal way. 

From a very early age I always knew that a drum kit was the perfect sound board for emotions. That's why some drummers stand out from the rest, what's being played might not necessarily be the most technical but it communicates in such a way that it connects with the listener. This is something that you can't really learn, it's either in you or it isn't.

I wanted to be progressive as a musician but I fell into the trap of never giving myself a break and never allowing myself to feel any kind of achievement from what I was producing. My drumming was my anchor but after years upon years of disappointments and let downs this anchor that had grounded me all my life, without me really realising, was actually pulling me down, way down.

Old School 

This is where my angling comes in, the times I spend and have spent by the water are the moments where I have always felt a different form of freedom. The water is a release and a form of escapism that I couldn't find anywhere else. It's such a hard thing to explain but with the water came endless possibilities and a process that just felt so right and seemed to balance the mind.

I think a big part of it for me was the fact that when I was on the bank I didn't have to rely on anyone else. When you're in a band you put a lot of trust in the people that you work with but if their commitment and in many ways 'ability', isn't the same as yours, you can find yourself being held back. On the bank it's just me, my thoughts, my ideas and my rods and I can take it anywhere I feel it needs to go, that is why I prefer to fish alone.

Remote Lands
The idea of this blog hatched when I was going through a very difficult time, I think the endless focus and struggle to succeed as a musician finally caught up with me. I won't go into the finer details but what I have been through, I wouldn't wish on anyone and it was very nearly the end of me, everyday is still a struggle and I am doing everything I can to try and heal, I fear I still have a very long way to go. 

This blog isn't just a platform for me to share my fishing, it's a demonstration of how strong and resilient the human spirit can be. It's about getting out there and making things happen, experiencing the beauty of the moment, chasing dreams, myths and standing tall however hard life gets. It means a great deal to me and the interest so many of you have shown in it is nothing less than unbelievable and I'd like to thank you all for that.
Times Are Changing

With the increase of social media, magazines and DVD's there is a big part of me that feels that Carp Angling as a sport is losing its way. Actually technology as a whole is changing everything around us and I don't necessarily think it's all for the better. I really feel that within the next 10 years so much great art will be lost among the wires and Internet connections that are slowly binding us to screens day in and day out. Never did I think that 'writing a letter' may one day be a thing of the past. 'It's slightly ironic that I sit by my computer glued to the screen writing this',

I find technology very claustrophobic and in regards to both fishing and music, the markets are now so painfully over saturated it's hard to see the wood through the trees. The internet provides a convenience and makes it easy for anyone to jump on any bandwagon. Everywhere I look there are bedroom bands, bedroom bait companies, tackle companies, clothing companies - the list goes on and on, everyone is wanting a slice of the pie, it's all about the money and a chance of fame. This makes me ask myself, where has the magic gone? and where has the enjoyment gone?.

Burnt Wood - Cranbrook Angling Club
For me the essence of fishing is being buried under this increasing desire to be a 'careerist' angler, this has become clear from a fair majority of those around me. Now don't get me wrong, people are entitled to do whatever they choose, but for me, when I started fishing it was a totally different world, carping was an element of the bigger picture, it wasn't really a specialist sport as such and when you took to the bank it was about the hunt, the fight and existing right in the heart of your surroundings.

I believe you have to fish for fishing's sake, poets and writers don't write with the intention of selling millions of books and most bands and songwriters don't write music solely to get a record deal to become 'famous'. When I have been asked through the years how I construct my drum parts, I have always described it as 'controlled madness', inspiration doesn't come when you think that it should, sometimes it doesn't come at all. 

I have always looked upon creativity as a form of illness, a visitor. I believe real musicians, artists, writers, painters and in many ways 'anglers' are driven by something embedded in their genetics that is far greater than themselves. A lot of the time you aren't thinking about what you could gain from the work/fishing that you do, you just do it because it's in you, it's something that you have to see all the way through to the end. You are driven by a desire and a feeling that you just can't put to rest. 

In regards to angling, I think if it is woken within you then it will be something that stays with you for the rest of your life. It is such a misunderstood pass time and those who have never been exposed to it will never understand why,'us' the 'angler' can disappear for days and even weeks at a time in search of something we can't see or readily touch, or even know is there. There's a fine line between sanity and madness that keeps us all chasing a myth that is invisible to all of those around us.

Tanyards 2000
For me it is important to always hold on to that feeling and reason as to why I first picked up a fishing rod in the first place, and a pair of drum sticks. I find if I am not careful and involve myself within the current 'modern' scenes too much, I lose perspective on the path that I have chosen to walk, I like clarity and I like original thought. I have always felt very strongly about trying to do things your own way, like music, angling is another way of expressing yourself. There is no fast or simple route, you can't learn the practical side of it sitting in front of the computer. Once you understand the basics then it really is all open to your own interpretation and this leaves you to take it anywhere you want to.

I am finding that the modern carp scene is breeding a lot of hate and jealousy, it's infecting something that initially was so pure. We are now living in the age of 'the instant angler', everyone wants to land the biggest fish, bank as many big carp as their ego allows, not everyone out there has this attitude but a fair few have. It's a fish at any cost mentality and in some cases there is no regard for the creature or the other anglers that share the lakes with them. 

We are experiencing a boom within the industry. It's now so massively commercial with day tickets stocking big fat foreign carp for any level of angler to go and catch for an overblown fee. Magazines and facebook feeds are full of day ticket '20's and '30's caught from waters that are usually so painfully overstocked that there really isn't a true sense of achievement when actually banking a fish. I believe you have to work for your pick ups, be it a mid double or a high twenty, I want to earn every one of them. The trophy shot is the last thing on my mind, it's the process, the romance of the hunt. Now don't get me wrong if what I have just mentioned is the sort of angling you're into and you enjoy it, that's totally fine, I just don't see it that way anymore.

Feeling It 

Part Two

Friday, 24 January 2014

Burrows 'Getting Back In The Groove'

So it finally looks like winter is on the way out, and what a long one it has been. I persevered through the colder months and surprisingly had a fair amount of success. The bleak and sometimes brutal banks are slowly starting to sprout new life and with a new season comes new dreams and possibilities. I forgot what a pleasure it is to be on the bank without thermals and about five layers of clothing, I love the change from winter to spring, you actually start to feel alive again.. just.

My new membership for Kingfishers has come through and I have joined 'Bardag Angling' who run The Chase over in Dagenham, I have my sights set on a few different waters this year and I am really looking forward to getting started. Plenty of homework is required but to me that's all part of the process. I think it's important to keep a variation in your fishing.

Before I brave new ground I thought I'd pop down Burrows for a few sneaky sessions, Burrows is a water I will fish off and on because I really do love it there and the lake holds a stunning stamp of carp. The place is really thriving, it seems a lot more twenties are visiting the banks and a few new scamps are gracing landing nets, all the fish are so clean, be it a twenty or a low double, it's a total joy to bank any Burrows carp.

Before I went on my first session I popped down to have a walk around, obviously with the change of temperature rising a little a few anglers have been out and about. After having a chat with some of them it seems the water has been very slow and not a great deal had been giving itself up. I think the crazy weather we have been having over the past months is playing a role in this, I personally don't think the fish know whether they're coming or going. Baring all this in mind I planned an afternoon session, now the clocks have changed it's great to be able to stay out later and obviously this gives you longer on the bank and a higher chance of a bite. 

I had a rough idea where I wanted to fish, I have pinpointed a fair few spots I know I can catch from in varied conditions. I kept my rigs very simple, I was fishing a 'blow back' but I had replaced the ring with a tiny bit of tubing, I was using a size 8 fang twister, supernova braid with a small piece of tungsten putty a few inches away from the hook, I feel this adds to the shock when the carp picks the bait up. My lead was a Carpy Chris Inline pear which was 2 1/2 oz. My chosen bait was Starmers reliable sweet bird seed mix "Strawberry Mivvi" topped off with some fake corn, visually I think the red of the boilie blended in with yellow gave a great presentation.

Simple Rig

My Swim Choice
I arrived at the water around 1:30pm with the view point of staying until around 7:00pm. I opted on keeping the free offerings to a minimum relying on the fact my baits had been dipped in glug to help release a little more attraction. I was going for the opportunist take, I felt piling the bait in wasn't the right thing to do, taking into account the water had been pretty quiet over the past few weeks.

The hours started to pass pretty fast, there were no signs of any fish anywhere, it was very quiet. Instead of recasting for the hell of it, I just sat on my hands, I knew my rig positions were good, the bait was spot on, I had a sense that if I was going to get a take it would be a little later on in the day. 

6:30pm came and the wind had calmed down, the lake turned into a sheet of glass, it felt like the witching hour.. 'bite time'. Sure enough 6:45pm came and my right hand rod ripped off at pace. I lent into the fish that seemed to be racing towards me because there was no real resistance, I thought that I'd hooked into one of the scamps. When I got her in close that was when she really woke up, it felt heavy and was powering around, my barbel rods where being stretched to their limit. The fight went on for quite sometime and when I eventually got my first glimpse of the fish I knew I'd got a real nice chunk on. Eventually she tired, I eased the net under her, a lovely looking mirror laid there staring at me, scales sunk to 21IB 5oz, I was overjoyed and a little surprised.

21IB 5oz 

I got a few snap shots and slipped her back, it had just gone 7:00pm so I decided I'd pack up with the plan on coming down in a few days time. I wanted to get a few solid sessions in before moving on.

Day 2

My mind was starting to work over time because I just had this niggling feeling that the carp might be spending their time in the mid to upper layers. When the carp are hard on the deck you can pretty much gauge a take 45 minutes into the session, I was starting to think about putting a zig rig out. I came to the decision that I'd fish another day hard on the bottom and if I'm still getting the same feeling I'd fish a zig on my third session.

I opted to fish the same swim but this time I would fish Strawberry Mivvi on one rod and Octospice on the other, both would be topped off with fake corn. Octospice is a pretty special bait, Starmer originally made it for the french market, when I was down their work shop last visit, Ian gave me a small bag to try out and I caught on it instantly everywhere I took it. My spots were the same as the day before but a little tighter into the bank.

Starmers Octospice 'An Interesting Blend'

This day turned out to be a real tough one, the bobbins stayed static with not so much as a single bleep, a few fished jumped down where the underwater fence was but that was about it. I was now convinced that I was going to try fishing a zig on my next session.

I have never tried zigs on Burrows and it might just be the approach that could get me a bite when times are slow. I stuck it out until the bitter end and in the last few minutes of the session my left hand rod screamed off, 'last knockings' had delivered once again like it has so many times in the past. The fish put up a great fight, I slipped a lovely looking mirror over the net, scales sunk to 12IB, Octospice had tempted one on a tough day.

12IB Mirror

Back She Goes

Day 3

The conditions on session three were very different to the previous days, it was very sunny and very windy, there were waves on the water and trying to cast out was a bloody nightmare. I opted to fish one on the bottom and one on a 2ft zig. The 2ft zig was placed where I'd seen fish cruising mid water during the winter. The bottom bait was put in my usual marginal spot, I was using Starmers banana cream mixed with strawberry mivvi, I had both flavours chopped in a carp craze mesh bag and I was fishing half and half on the hair.

Half And Half Hook Bait

Finished Presentation

My zig rig was tied using the new Rig Moral specialist mono, with a size 6 Nash fang uni, I cut down a banana cream pop up to use as my hook bait. Instead of using a lead clip system I favour one of my small light inline leads. The lead was made specifically for me by 'Carpy Chris Knowler' to use with my solid bags but it comes in useful for other things, if I was fishing a zig over 3 1/2 ft then I would swap to a lead clip system so I could drop the lead if need be.

Rig Marole Specialist Mono

I am very impressed with the above hook link material, it goes near invisible in the water and has great knot strenght. If you steam its straight before using it, it keeps it shape very well.

'Carpy Chris' Solid Bag Lead

My little solid bag lead is a small flat inline that casts lovely, lands with little disturbance and is light enough to use with a short zig rig.

Simple Zig Set Up

You can see in the above photo that the hook link material is very hard to see, when the sun shines on it it turns translucent. When approaching zig fishing any little edge you can give yourself is helping to contribute to the effectiveness of the presentation.

When I arrived at the lake I decided to fish the same swim that I'd been in previous, my bottom bait was cast nice and tight into the margin with a bag of chops and a few freebies thrown around, my zig was put just off the deeper shelf that runs a rods length or so off the opposite bank.

Rig Positions

The day proceeded as expected with very little indication of fish anywhere, I felt really confident in my positioning so once again I just sat on my hands. When fishing zigs I make an agreement with myself that I am going to commit 100%, that's the only way you're ever going to know if the method is effective, I have used them in the past with varied success. I have decided I'm going to focus and explore them a lot more this season, if done correctly they can really add another dimension to your overall fishing.

The wind continued to batter the lake, afternoon bought with it showers and blasts of rain, it was starting to look pretty doubtful that I was going to bag a fish. All of sudden out the blue my zig rod bent round and I lifted into a hard fighting carp, the approach paid off and I was thrilled that I'd managed a take. The fish really put up one hell of a fight, as the water was broken by a straying dorsal I clocked the view of a lovely looking common, I eventually teased over my net, scales sunk to 13IB.

13IB On The Zig

I was so pleased to catch on a zig, I think I am going to incorporate them into my fishing a lot more, the secret to zig fishing for me is total coviction, if I choose to put one out then it stays out. Because the concept is a little weird sometimes you feel inclined to reel it in after a few hours and whack a bottom bait on but at the end of the day, you don't know until you try.

That was the only take I had all day, I did pop down a few days later for a few hours and had yet another take on the zig but unfortunately it took me into a snag and spat the hook. For the future I am going to start to work with adjustable zig rigs, many times have I been on a lake when I've seen fish cruising just under the surface, I have come up with a pretty reliable system which I believe will be effective.

Adjustable Zig Setup

The setup is really very simple, I will be using a Fox pike float fished upsidedown so the swivel can slot into the black tubing provided, the lead system will be pretty much the same as how you set a marker float up. Now doubt I will keep track of my results in future blogs, I am feeling optimistic, it might just be the key to those days where fishing hard on the deck just isn't happening.

Short Sessions 'Thoughts, Feelings, Tactics'

In this blog post I'd like to share my thoughts and feelings about fishing for carp on short sessions, I'm going to include material from a few different trips I've been on. I haven't done any night fishing for a long time now, I haven't felt the need. I know that there are certain lakes and even certain fish that feed at night, it has been said that the big girls are known to feed confidently under the cover of darkness. Many moons ago before I had my first twenty I'd be out on the bank for 4 days and 4 nights dreaming of the monsters that were lurking in the muddy waters that stood before me. When I get the calling I'm sure I'll get back under the stars soon enough, but for the time being, days and shorter sessions are doing me well.

The Barrow 'A Must For The Mobile Angler'
One thing that has become really important to me now more than ever is staying mobile, in the past I'd get all my kit set up, bed-chair, kettle, Bivvy-table, the lot, plonk myself down behind my rods all day and stay firmly rooted to my spot staring at my motionless swingers even though it was clear fish were very obviously showing and feeding in other areas of the lake.

Nowadays I have all my bare essentials next to me and everything else is on my barrow so if I see signs of fish elsewhere and it's possible to move onto them, then I will, this can change a potential blank into a result. Another thing is not being afraid to experiment in all areas, 'you don't know until you try' is a firm mantra I keep in my mind when the days seem slow.

There are a few things that I have started to do to help me get steady results on a lot of the waters I fish. First and foremost it's bait application, working with Starmer I have the luxury of being able to get hold of a fair amount of bait, at the end and during each session I throw groups of ten boilies around certain areas of the water, most of them being where I haven't caught before, or near underwater features that I find using a marker float. 

When I go home I keep in mind that the carp will be chomping on the bait between sessions and start to identify it as a safe and regular food source. Also if fishing two rods I'll find a spot I like the look of, I call this 'my third rod spot', through out the day I'll trickle bait on to it and then later on during the session I will cast to it, this can produce a quick take especially if some fish have found the bait and have been feeding on it undisturbed during the day.

4ft Shelf Dropping Steadily Down To 9ft
The obvious place to fish in the swim above is the far margin, I've steadily been baiting this area on and off for weeks and it produced a 26IB and 22IB common for me. It goes to show that seeking out and concentrating on underwater features can really pay off. 

One tactic that I have been experimenting with lately and have been incorporating into my margin fishing is something I call 'burying the bait, I have two approaches that I use, I started thinking about this years ago in one way or another. The first example is perfect for margin fishing but I wouldn't recommend it for distance fishing because I doubt it would stay intact for the cast. It's simply moulding your ground bait mix around the hook bait.

Stage 1 

Stage 2

I've been sticking to fairly dry mixes, I've tested all of them in the margin and I've come up with something that seems to work very well as it breaks down. I use Starmers 'Carp Chum', 'Carp Red' 'Green Lipped Mussel Pellets' and the 'White Green Lipped Mussel Method mix'. I make sure the 'Red' and the 'Chum' are mixed tightly and then I add the Mussel mix dry. I have found by doing this when the mixture enters the water the 'Red' and the 'Chum' settle and start to bubble and slowly dissolve whilst the 'Green Lipped Mussel' separates and creates a white cloud which works as a great attracter. As the mix breaks down your hook bait is sitting directly in the middle of a mini feast. I've caught a lot of carp using this in my margin fishing, it seems to trip them up.

18IB Common Caught On 'Burying The Bait'
The second example of this is very different and will probably come across as ludicrous to some who read it but bear with me. Many years ago I use to fish a lake called Scarlets, it was a hard lake because the silt was terrible, you would cast your lead into it and literally have your rod bent double to retrieve the rig. In silt and weed I use helicopters and pop ups, occasionally favoring the chod. 

I have never been a fan of the 'lead clip system' there's something about it that I don't get on with, I know thousands of carp get caught on it everyday but I favor an inline presentation, it's said that in-lines can pull your bait into silt and depending on how they land, crimp your hook link. I beg to differ, I feel if you feather you cast correctly then you can get the inline lead to land perfectly, I love fishing a stiff hook link tied with a 'figure of eight' knot on the swivel, combining these two elements and feathering the cast the hook-link throws itself forward landing perfectly.

The Figure Of Eight Knot On My Stiff Rigs
In Scarlets there was a 28IB mirror that hadn't seen the bank in about 4 years, the owner had a written record of its weight and date of capture, I put so much time into the lake, there use to be a fair amount of action but through the years it slowed up. I think that was due to a lot of fish being taken, it was one of those venues where the front gate was open 24 hours a day. The owner said that the carp became illusive but I think it was more the fact that they weren't in there anymore.... Anyway I wanted this 28IB mirror real bad. I decided that I was going to use a 2 1/2 inline lead with a really short hook-link fished in the really deep silty areas, I wanted to bury the bait. 

For this to work best you need to be 100% accurate with your free offerings. My theory was where I cast my rig deep into the silt I would bait up directly on top of it, as we know carp dig and steam through the bottom when they feed, my viewpoint was if a carp came across my baited spot it would kick the bottom up feeding on my free offerings and in doing so exposing my bottom bait that had theoretically been pulled deeper into the silt. 

All the rig components would be buried so there would be nothing for them to spook off. One early morning at around 5:30am I had a break through, whilst I was just about to take a swig of coffee the water erupted like a bloody volcano and my right hand rod tore off like nothing I'd ever seen before. I rushed up spilling my coffee and lent back into the fish, it was steaming off heading for the snags around the island, I was running along the bank trying to gain control. The fish started ploughing through the snags, half way through the fight the fish surfaced and it was the 28IB mirror, we knew this because of the distinctive scaling it had on its back and tail, I couldn't believe it. As the fish was racing down the side of the island the branches and snags were creaking and snapping, all of a sudden...... ping ! the line snapped. I couldn't believe it, I stood there just staring at the water, the angler who was up from me who had just set up packed up and went home because he had been targeting that fish for ages, after the realism of the situation sunk in I decided to pack up and go home as well, I was gutted.

The positive side of it was the fact my unorthodox presentation had worked but at the time it wasn't much consolation. I know it sounds odd but burying your hook bait in the silt fished under free offerings could trick the most wary carp into taking your hook bait. 

The next subject I'd like to briefly cover is 'casting to showing fish', now this took me a while to cotton on to. I had tried this in the past with very little success, there were days where I found I was just casting all over the place not leaving the bait anywhere long enough for a take. I put a rule in place that I'd only cast to showing fish if they were in or around the swim I was fishing. I use a simple but effective method for this, it's call a 'PVA pyramid' presentation. It's simply putting 5 boilies in your PVA funnel web system in the shape of a pyramid, I tie the PVA very tight so the boilies exploded all around the hook bait once the PVA has melted down.

My PVA Pyramids
I always mix it up a little bit, sometimes with chops and whole boilies, I believe this makes it harder for the carp to distinguish between the hook bait. 

Mixed PVA Pyramids

Just because the carp are jumping doesn't necessarily mean that they're feeding but if you've had very little action during the day, casting to a jumping fish can produce an opportunist take. Below are a few fish I've caught by casting to a jumping carp.

She's A Spotless Beauty

10 Minutes After The Cast

She Fell For My Pyramid Presentation
It shows that casting to jumping fish can pay off, but it's worth noting that if you truly feel confident in the traps you set sometimes it's best to sit on your hands and wait, there are many reasons why carp jump clear of the water, it doesn't always mean they're on the feed.

One last method I'd like to include is 'using the lake bottom to your advantage'. When possible I've gotten into the habit of reaching down into the margin and taken a big handful of the bottom you can learn a lot from this. I know that lake bottoms vary, taking into account gravel bars, silt pockets, weedy areas. A fair few waters I fish have clay bottoms so I use a very simple tactic to give me a sneaky edge. I simply rub the clay along my hook link and over my lead and tubing, this colors the whole rig allowing it to blend into the lake bed making it very had to detect, yesterday on a session I moved onto some feeding fish and had two takes in twenty minutes, I felt 'using the lake bottom to my advantage' played a big part in this.  

 Get Your Hands Dirty

Coat The Rig Components

There are many more approaches that I put into practice when fishing shorter sessions, I'm sure they'll be covered at a later date, only today when I was out on one of my regular lakes I came up with another idea and approach that could work really well, I'm going to work with it for a little while before I spill the beans, I'm feeling confident though, it involves getting your hands dirty again.

Now I've got to get blogging about some recent sessions, I'm a little behind, get out there and catch some fish, let me know how you get on.

See you on the bank sometime..........