Monday 26 May 2014

Starmer Baits Mexican Hemp Trials

Firstly I would like to say that in my next mini series of blogs I will be documenting my results using the new Starmer Baits boilie called 'Mexican Hemp', it's not actually on the market yet. One thing I will not be doing is over inflating the brand and continually telling you that "THIS IS THE NEXT WONDER BAIT", and "YOU SHOULD" be fishing with it. I am not here for that, just like rods and reels, bait is a personal choice and we all have confidence in different blends, flavors and brands. There's loads of quality bait on the market nowadays and they all catch carp to varying degrees. Obviously it walks hand in hand with watercraft, location and basically being on the fish, you ain't going to catch them if they're not there.

These bait trial blogs will be slotted in between other session blogs, having just joined a new club I am looking forward to sharing with you my journey on a number of new waters. My blog entries have been slow of late due to my workload but I will be doing my best to get out on the bank as much as possible, a "work/fishing/life" balance is very important, the angling flame will always burn. 

I am going to start the process by doing a few sessions down Burrows, I know this water like the back of my hand and it's the perfect place to kick off proceedings, I do plan to progress on to a few newer waters with it. My membership for Chelmsford Angling Association starts soon and I have already picked a few lakes that I want to have a go at and the Mexican Hemp will be one of my primary weapons of choice for these sessions.

I haven't been told exactly what is in it but I will say it's very potent and has a radical touch of spice. When out on the waters I have given passing anglers a good smell of it and it's pretty much like Marmite, you're either going to love it or hate it. I went down to the factory a few times whilst it was in development and Ian gave me a few elements to smell, they stayed in the back of my throat for hours, it's hard to explain but it was pretty heavy going.

Subtle Color

The texture is very coarse, they're oily and a lovely dull colour, perfect for unassumingly blending in with both light colour silt and clay. I feel this could be a nice little advantage because there are so many bright baits out there and I have started to wonder if some of the bigger, wiser carp are starting to suss out the ever faithful yellows and oranges. Having said that I am really interested to know if carp see the same colors as us humans.

Mexican Hemp

Because of the high oil content I wanted to wait for the waters to warm up before fishing with it. I did introduce a little bit here and there through the colder months hoping that the fish might pick up on it and get a taste going for the flavor. I believe with careful application you can turn on waters to any bait, I think the secret is consistent introduction, little and often.

My first session was pretty laid back, I arrived at the lake for around 10:30am. Before setting up I had a bit of a scout around for signs of fish, apart from a few showing behind the sunken fence the lake was pretty quiet. I had a favoured spot that normally produces so I thought I'd give it a crack. My approach was simplistic, both rods were on a bottom bait presentation with free offerings scattered a good few meters around each hook-bait. For this first session I decided to top both baits off with imitation corn.

View From The Swim
Regarding the finer points of my current bottom bait rig, over the past few months I have made some subtle changes. Firstly I have gone up a hook size, I am now using a Size 6, I use both the Nash Fang Twisters and the Fang X for my bottom bait rigs, I happen to think these are a couple of the best hook patterns on the market, for my pop ups I use the Uni pattern in a size 4. In conjunction with that I have upped my lead size to 3 1/2oz, as I've have mentioned in the past, I favour in-lines over lead clips especially on hard lake beds. 

A Nice Heavy Lead

You will notice in the image above that I have left a small 'tag end' on the hook-link knot to the swivel, this is a little touch for my 'piece of mind', just on the off chance the knot might slip a fraction under pressure. For along time I was using leads ranging from 1oz up to 2.75oz, there wasn't necessarily anything wrong with this but I find the fish are really nailed well with the heavier lead and the takes are very aggressive, I think it magnifies the shock effect. 

Finally 'if the make up of the bottom of the lake allows' I am using a stiff hook-link material, I find this is harder for the fish to deal with, there's a high chance that it will reset if messed with by bird life etc and the stiff element helps kick the bait away from the lead, I will strip it back a fraction before the silicone tubing kicker, this helps with the hinge effect giving free movement to both the hook and the bait.

Larger Hooks, Stiffer Hook Link

The current stiff coated braid I am using is the new Kryston 'Synx', having been an avid Kryston users for years I was pretty excited to get my hands on this. The stiff coating has been applied to the braid in a number of stages, this creates a super stiff material, when you strip it back it reveals a nice supple braid. It's well worth a look if you are thinking about a new stiff hook link.


Back To The Fishing....

I got both my rods out on their spots first cast, I was fishing very close to the opposite margin practically cm's off. I got my first take within twenty minutes, the right hand rod rocketed off, I was surprised, I didn't expect a take that fast. After a spirited fight I banked a pristine mirror of 16IB.

First Blood On The Mexican Hemp
I got her straight back and got the rig back out, bang on the spot first time, fired a little bait around the area and got straight back fishing. About an hour passed when the same rod tore into life, I lent in and connected to another hard fighting carp, I ended up sliding the net under a lovely clean common, scales sunk to 13IB.

13IB Common Second On The Mexican Hemp
I was very pleased with how this was going, it's always a strange experience trying out a new bait with 'No History', you don't exactly know how it's going to go. Just as I was sorting my rod out the left one gave off a few bleeps and then screamed off, I hectically ran to grab it, I was into my third fish of the session and I'd barely been here two hours. As usual it was an awesome fight, the commons in Burrows go nuts and you can tell when you've hooked into one. Scales sunk to 14IB, I was inspired, the bait seemed to be working well.

Another Bar Of Gold
I slipped her back and got both my rods back out, I topped the swim up with a little more bait, made a coffee and sat back to wait. The day ticked by and the rods seemed to fall silent I started to think that the swim was done. It happens to me a fair bit, it seems you get into any fish milling around the zone fast and then they obviously move on. Normally I would up sticks and move but because I was still sitting over a fairly modest bed of bait I thought it best to just sit it out.

The rest of the day passed and was uneventful, I was pleased though, three mid doubles on a new bait was pretty good going and it proves that it catches fish. I am looking forward to this whole process. I want to put this bait through it's paces over the next few months and I will keep you all updated. The more effort I make to prove it catches fish, the more confident you guys can be when it eventually comes out on the market and you fancy giving it a go.

The Remains Of The Day
Session Two

I gave it a few days before getting back down, I arrived at the water for 9:30am and decided to fish exactly the same spots and the same rigs. The only difference this time was that I removed the imitation corn from both baits and kept them bare, this way I could prove that the fish were actually going for the bait instead of the corn.

As usual both rods hit their spots on the first cast, I put a little bait out, set the bobbins and sat back, my expectations were high. It was a slow start but I sat on my hands feeling confident in my approach. About two hours in I got a few bleeps on my right hand rod, I could see the tip banging slightly so I hit into it, I connected to my first fish of the session and it was a real battle. I ended up sliding the net under yet another mid double common, scales sunk to 15IB.

Fish Four On The New Mexican Hemp
She was a real beauty and one of the best proportioned fish I had caught in a long while. I slipped her back, cast back out and sat back, semi expecting another quick fish. Time ticked by and it was very slow, the weather broke, it was still dull but a lovely breeze was pushing across the lake, it was proper carpy. Things still remained silent and I was starting to get itchy feet, I reeled both my rods in and went for a wander.

Nice And Tidy

After some careful observation I spotted a few fish feeding a few swims up to the right of me, that was enough evidence so I upped and moved, because I hadn't put a load of bait out I didn't feel committed to my original spots. The swim I was moving down to dropped off very quickly so I felt comfortable literally just flicking the rods out.

View From The Swim Two
Because I was in the open water I decided to really cake the bait in, I spread it far and wide and whilst I was applying it I had already started to get some liners. The sun slowly came out and things were starting to look up. A good 45 minutes after the move I was into my first fish, it was off of the right rod, during the fight I saw a nice mirror break the surface, the moved paid off and it resulted in a lovely 12IB fish.

Fish Number 5 On The Mexican Hemp
Without delay I got the rod back out, soon after my left one was away, this didn't feel like a particularly big one but I wasn't here to specimen hunt, I was here to get the bites, I didn't bother weighing this one, I estimated that it scrapped double figures.

Fish Number 6 Mexican Hemp Style
Wasting no time I got her straight back and recast, an hour or so passed and it fell silent once more. During this time some carp had started to show down the bowel end. I decided I'd move again, it was great because I was the only one on the water so I could pretty much do what I wanted.

View From The Swim Three
No time was wasted in getting the rods in, it was very clear fish were down here and I knew the spots to catch them from. Once again I put a large bed of bait out. After a very short time my right hand rod was away, it felt great having spotted fish and making the effort to move, it goes to show that staying mobile can put more carp on the bank, that's for sure. It wasn't long before I was staring at a perfectly formed mirror carp, scales fell to 12IB on the button, very pleased indeed, it was going well.

12IB Mirror Mexican Hemp Victim Number 7
I just let her go and to my surprise the other rod tore away, I leapt into action and lent into what felt like a better fish, it was kiting around and making good use of the open water, eventually I netted yet another perfect looking mirror, she weighed in at 16IB.

16IB Mirror Fish Number 8
At this point I had both rods out the water, it was frantic, I only had a short time left, I thought I'd get both the rods back in not bothering to introduce anymore bait. Time was really ticking by and I was relying on the beauty of 'last knockings' to provide me with a bonus fish. Sure enough as I was starting to pack up the left had rod gave out a battle cry and I was successfully playing my last fish of the day. It ended up being a stunning little mirror with some awesome scale patterns, I didn't weigh her I put her straight back and unpacked the rest of my kit.

A Closing Carp

All in all my first two sessions were successful and it looks like the bait could be a real winner but there is still loads more waters to go at, different weather conditions, water temperatures etc. I think the most important aspect was the fact I stayed mobile and moved with the fish, this is something that I find can be very productive. It's too easy just to sit behind static rods feeling as if the fish aren't feeding, find them, fish for them and catch them. I am looking forward to future sessions using this bait.