Sunday 23 February 2014

Burrows 'First Trip 2014'

With 2013 evaporating into the corridors of my mind I felt it was time to start fresh and welcome 2014 with open arms. It just didn't feel right not checking in down Burrows to help get proceedings under way. 

The fishing had really slowed up towards the end of last year and I have been clocking up the blanks. None of which bother me, blanks have their place in the process and I know that I am not doing anything wrong, it's just the way it is. With each blank I pick the positives and understand that some days it really doesn't matter what you do, the carp just aren't having none of it. The way I see it, if my bait goes in the water each time, even just a few handfuls, it's still fishing for me even if I am not physically on the bank.

Back In The Summer
It's been a fair few months since my last visit, it's exciting times, Starmer have had a new bait in development and I've finally received the finished product. I don't know much about it, it's a nice dull color and smells like it has a hint of onion in it, it's called Mexican HempMy plan is to introduce it moderately and consistently in to a few of my waters, I feel that Burrows is the perfect place to start. I will not be fishing with it until we have slightly milder weather because it has a high oil content. I may well rig it up on a few future sessions but I want them to get a taste for it first.

Starmer Baits Mexican Hemp

With the colder weather kicking in the carp really aren't giving themselves away, I find I have to go on instinct rather than visual signs when it comes to trying to locate them. I have to be prepared to move every few hours, fishing for liners, anything that gives me a sign that fish are in front of me. As I have mentioned before, I believe the fish feed all through the winter but the spells are a lot more condensed, that is why it's important to be right on them. In the past I have seen evidence of carp cruising around under the ice as if it's summer so I believe they're still active, just not "actively" feeding.

Regarding my presentation, I have modified it slightly, through the recent blanks I have been trying to think how I can entice the fish to bite. There's something about the straightforward bottom bait approach that has been niggling away at me. For this session I have decided to use critically balanced pop ups with a slight difference. My chosen baits were Banana Cream and Caribbean, I have a huge amount of confidence in them both.

The rig I was fishing was a 'Fox Illusion' 'Super Nova' combi, the reason for this is due to how clear the bottom is and I wanted to make my rig as inconspicuous as possible. I seem to get great hook holds on this specific combination, there's something about the rigs mechanics that makes it hard for the carp to detect.

My Combi Rig
I treat the pop ups by washing them out in lake water and glug, this turns them into wafters and you can then doctor the presentation accordingly. To add a fraction more buoyancy I use a slither of zig foam underneath the bait. I want the bait to hover with the hook sitting up just underneath it.

Hover Presentation

I put half a PVA nugget on the hook when I cast it out, because the hook point is resting on the lake bed I tend to only fish this over soft clay and shallow silt to avoid any damage to the hook point. As I have mentioned in the past, the nugget on the hook slows the decent of the bait. I have had consistent success with this presentation.

View From Above
My thinking behind presenting a bait like this was to raise it just above ground level in hope a passing fish might just stop by to investigate it. This time of the year I want to make it easy for the fish to spot a bait and even easier for the hook to fly up and trap them.

Bait application for this session was stripped right back, I put about thirty baits around each spot spreading it a good five meters. Usually the water around this time of the year is very clear but because of all the rain we are having, it's still very murky. This is being created from all the surrounding farmers fields being so waterlogged and the excess water running into the lake. Because of this I decided I was going to fish the exact same spots as I do in the summer, usually I wouldn't be able to do this, the darker water works in my favor.

View From The Swim
Even though the winter so far has been pretty mild it has had a clear effect on the fishing. Baring this in mind I didn't have any fixed expectations for the session. I got both rigs out on my chosen spots and kept my eyes on the water, having fished Burrows so much, I know that if I don't get any action in the first forty five minutes or so, I either have to move or sit it out and wait. The day was full of scattered showers I decided to just sit on my hands, I know that carp visit both of my zones, I just had to have a little faith. 

It was a good three hours before I got my first take, it was on my left hand rod, a carp had fallen for the Banana Cream once again. The take was a ripper and the fish put up one hell of a fight, just as I netted her my other rod was away. I scrambled for it and lent back into another fish, it felt like a pretty decent size, after a modest scrap I very gently eased her into the net. From total silence I'd had fifteen minutes of utter mayhem that resulted in two lovely looking mirrors.

Double Take

16IB Mirror

The Second Beauty At 15IB
After slipping both fish back and getting the rods back out, I paused to take a breath. I was so pleased with the result specially for this time of the year. The day ticked away and both my rods remained silent, I packed up shortly after dark with the plan to come back down over the next week or so.

Session Two

I have been very busy with my work so it was a good few weeks before I could get back down again. When I arrived at the water it was still murky, windy but very mild, there were a few short moments when it felt like spring was on the horizon. I adopted a slightly different approach this time, firstly I upped the amount of bait that I introduced. Before casting out I dissolved some Strawberry Mivvi pellets in a little lake water, ground up some boilies and added some GLM method mix, this was mixed up sloppy and spread lightly over my chosen spots.

Strawberry Mivvi Pellets

Green Lipped Mussel Method Mix 

I baited up four zones with the plan to move my bait on to each one throughout the day. I felt confident that there would be carp holding down my section of the lake, I wanted to try and find them, getting four spots going made perfect sense to me. This is an approach I have used on and off in the past and it's worked very well.

View From The Swim
After both rods were out I made sure I had my binoculars at hand, this way I could keep a close eye on all my baited areas. The wind was heavy but it's pretty amazing what you can spot when you look hard enough. This time of the year I will literally move on a single bubble or the slightest of flat spots.

After two hours or so I moved both rods to "spot 3" and "spot 4" 'in the picture above'. I didn't bother introducing anymore bait, there was more than enough out there. Again, after another couple of hours I put the baits back to their original spots. It was shortly after doing this that I got my first take, it was off of spot 2. The fish came in with no fuss at all, it was a nice little mirror in the single figures. 

Little Scamp
It certainly wasn't a big fish by Burrows standards but was awesome none the less. I got her back and got the rod back out on the same spot, introducing around twenty baits. The hours started to pass and it was very clear that the fishing was slow. I decided to recast my left hand rod into slightly deeper water, just as the sun was going down the rod tore off. This felt like a better fish but really wasn't fighting at all. I eventually slipped my net over a perfect looking common, I didn't weigh her but I was guessing she was around 12IB.

Cold Water Common
This fish signaled the end of the session, the light was fading fast. It goes without saying I was pleased with both sessions, it certainly wasn't easy. It goes to show that you can still get away with a fair amount of bait even at this time of the year. Obviously it doesn't always work on all waters but I know Burrows enough to know pretty much what I should be doing. All in all it was a solid start to 2014.

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Rugby Lake 'Picking The Lock'

In this blog I am going to be getting down to business quick, I explained my approaches in my earlier Rugby post, there is a link to it later if you haven't read it yet. It covers the finer details and my general thoughts on how I am going to tackle the lake. 

My first session was a rough one, I arrived for 9:00am, the wind was ripping along the water, there was a light rain and it was overcast. Theoretically the conditions were perfect, I fumbled around to get my brolly up, piled everything under it and perched underneath so I could watch the water for a while. I have found in the past that usually the rougher it is on the bank, the better it is for fishing, I always seem to do well on days like this. I had a sense that something was going to happen. 

50/50 Milk Protein Boilies

I love the baron feeling that harsh weather conjures, when you have a lake to yourself it's as if you are the only person alive and time becomes meaningless, evaporating. It's almost like you can sense the ghosts of the past. There's something exhilarating arriving home after a day of being battered on the bank by the elements.


Eventually the rain paused, I quietly got my tackle setup and arranged my swim, keeping low to the water whilst I got my baits ready. Rigs were tidy, bait was fresh and I had my spots sorted. Because I was fishing so close in I could literally lower both rigs with no disturbance at all. I had to concentrate on being silent, if I wanted the fish to come in close I didn't want to be doing anything to spook them.

20IB Mirror From Last Session
I was fishing up in a swim called the trucks, the pressure in this part of the lake comes from the far margin and the reed line. I decided I was going to fish my near side margin and concentrate on this specific area through the coming months.

I was fishing both rods down to the left of me, when you climb up the tree next to the swim, especially in the summer, you can see the bottom. The reason I picked these spots is because a little way out from my near side margin is a tall thick weed bed. I was thinking I could pick a few off as they passed through the channel between the reed line and the weed.   

Birds Eye View From The Swim
For all those that might not of read my blog about the approach I 
am using on Rugby, you can read it here: FINDING THE KEY 

My chosen hook bait was Starmers Honey Nectar, both rods where fished with critically balanced baits, some GLM method mix, Banana Cream chops along with a few mixed boilie flavours. Visually it's nice and bright and the blend of baits give off a lovely sweet smell. I am a big fan of the 50/50 milk protein mixes especially this time of the year.

Honey Nectar - 100% Confidence 

Both rods were out, back leads were on, now it was just the waiting game. Periodically throughout the day I climbed the tree to see if there was any signs of fish in and around the swim. It all appeared pretty quiet and it stayed like this for the majority of the day. Every hour or so I would lightly sprinkle bait in and around the swim. I didn't want to over feed but at the same time I wanted to keep a certain amount of attraction in the water.

Mixed Shapes And Sizes 

Late afternoon came and I was starting to get a few twitchy liners which indicated that something was occurring down in the murky depths. My right hand rod was starting to come to life and I could see very gentle knocking on the tip, all of a sudden it was away, the tip bent right round and the buzzer was screaming. I rushed up and lent back into the fish, the rod arched round and away the drag went, ticking in that very addictive manor, something we all love to hear.

The fish was lunging for the weed bed, with a bit of side strain and a calm temperament I managed to steer her clear, it wasn't long before I had an awesome looking mirror staring up at me from the landing net. I was buzzing and shaking a little, this fish meant so much to me, like I have mentioned before, Rugby is far from easy. I have always managed to get the takes but have been very unlucky in actually banking the fish. This time it all came good, scales sunk to 22IB. The fish was in tip top condition and a beautiful chocolate brown color.

22IB Rugby Mirror

This fish really meant the world to me and was a great start to my journey on the water, getting any fish out of this lake makes me feel like I am heading in the right direction. I want to challenge myself, especially in regards to presentations. I know I can deal with clay, silt and gravel, I want to welcome weed and I want to know I have enough ideas in the armory to do so. 

The rest of the day came and left and as the sun went down the rods remained silent. I was really pleased with the outcome and was planning to come down in a day or two to get the rods back out on the same spots. My viewpoint is to keep working that section of the lake, keep the bait going in all through the winter and then hopefully the carp will start to associate the spot with food. 

I am going to be baiting up with lots of different flavors, pellets, ground boilie, method mixes, all sorts of shapes and sizes to keep the fish guessing. The secret will be in the application, I don't want to go piling it in like a madman, subtle and consistent amounts should do the trick, little and often.

Session Two

The conditions for this session were pretty much identical to the previous day, the only difference was that the wind had really picked up. The lake suddenly looked like a bleak lifeless landscape, I was determined to find some form of life, hopefully big, scaly and wearing its winter color. Below is recap of the rig I have chosen to use.

The Claw Effect

The approach was exactly the same as last time, same rigs, same bait and same spots. I attempted to climb the tree to see if I could spot anything milling around, I gave in half way up, if I had continued I would of ended up head first in the lake, it was way too breezy. 

I got the rigs straight out, back-leaded right under my rod tips, threw a light scattering of bait over the area and once again quietly sat back. I felt that I was really starting to master 'silence'. To my surprise I started to get a few liners pretty quickly, my confidence was sky high.  

Rugby The Beach 'Locked In Time'
The rods must have been out for about two hours before I got my first take, the right hand rod ripped off, I was in slight disbelief, I really didn't expect anything to happen so fast. I raced for the rod, gently lent back into the fish and held on for dear life, it was shifting gears. I gained control pretty quick, letting the rod cushion every lunge, it was very heavy, it was really wanting to get in the weed, I was doing my best to stop it, when I got it in close she surfaced and it was a big fish, over twenty easily with a very broad back. 

Minutes felt like hours and there was no let up, she shot down deep again and I was giving it as much as I could, suddenly she tore back out into the weed bed and it went solid ..... NO! I kept the pressure on but it was still solid, I could feel that she was still on. I decided after a while to slacken off to see if she would find her own way out, I wasn't getting anywhere.

I left it for a good 10 minutes and I could see my line twitching and very slightly coming off the spool, I picked it back up applied the pressure and was met with my rig flying back towards me .... gutted!! I just stood there looking at the rig, I couldn't believe that I had lost one and it looked pretty dam special. Before casting back out I made a coffee and tried to focus my mind, I was starting to think that was my chance for the day, blown.

Coffee And Contemplation

Once my thoughts were gathered I brushed it off and got the rod straight back out, topped the swim up with a little more bait and sat back to contemplate. The positive was the fact I got the take, she took the bait. I need to be very aware in the future that they can ditch me in the weed, even at this time of the year when it's partly died back.

The hours passed and my hopes of another take were fading, the light was starting to go. As the sun set the breeze dropped, it was 'the witching hour', I started to feel like I could be in with another chance. Sure enough I started to get the odd liner, this time on my left rod, something was going on below, it twitched and then to my surprise shot off at speed. 

This time I was on it quick and I refused to let the fish take control. I kept the pressure on, stuck with it, teasing the fish away from the weed bed, it was frantic, after a fine fight she eventually tired, I ended up slipping the net under a nice chunky looking mirror. Two takes in a session, my mind was blown, scales sunk dead on 24IB.

24IB Of Old Rugby
It goes without saying that I was over the moon with the result, I finally started to feel that I was making progress on a water that is by far one of the hardest puzzles I have had to crack. It shows applying your mind fully to something really does pay off. Maybe all my previous sessions that didn't work out were for a reason, maybe it was forcing me to sit up and really listen to the water. 

I have said it in the past, the water will tell you everything you need to know - you've just got to be listening. I am really looking forward to future sessions, I know it's not going to be easy but anything worth having never is.