Sunday, 17 August 2014

Wicks Mere 'New Ways Of Thinking'

This blog is a condensed account of my thoughts feelings and approaches that I adopted on Wicks Mere, it's been a humbling and enlightening journey.

Little did I know that from the first moment I laid my eyes on Wick Mere a new obsession was in its infancy. The minute I took the long walk from the car park down to the waters edge I wanted to unearth it's mysteries and get acquainted with the carpy residents that resided in its vast depths. I was eager to get my head around the place as fast as possible, in many ways that was my mistake, trying to rush the process of learning.

"Some of my views within this post might be somewhat abstract but please bear with me because it should all make sense in the end."

As I have stated in the past, I don't do night fishing anymore, overall my fishing and catch rate has improved because of this. I have learnt that it's not how much time you put in but more about how you use the time that you have available to you. I work and have a family life, I don't want to be camping out for days on end. I find the night fishing approach 'can' harbour a very one dimensional way of angling, basically... you put your bait out and sit on it for three days, this isn't what carp fishing is all about for me, it was once but not anymore.

Afternoon On The Mere
The older I have got there is one aspect of existence that has become very clear to me, that being 'the process'. What I mean by this is, the same building blocks are needed to be fixed into place to get the desired end result, this is relevant in whatever activity you have chosen to do.

My example of this would be the almost perfect symmetry between 'the process' of tuning a drum and tuning yourself to a water. There is no set way to tune a drum, they're all different just like lakes, each drum has individual regions, regions are tuning areas where the drum will sing and resonate perfectly, each drum has a different number of tuning regions. Just like different waters, they all have different feeding areas and hot spots which will produce better than others, they all have holding areas and zones that the carp feel safe in, to me these spots equate to drum regions. Drum tuning is a sense, you know when you've found its sound, just like water-craft, it's intuitive, you start to know when you've begun to suss a water. Both drumming and angling are very different but the process of getting to the end result is the same.

I approached Wick like I was tuning a drum, I had to find its sound and understand it's regions/feeding zones. Because it's very different to anywhere I have fished before I was well aware that for the first month or so I would be operating way out of my comfort zone. I can equate this to tuning large drums, the larger the surface area the more sound there is to control, the only way I mastered this art was by doing it. In regards to the water, even if I blanked, as long as I'd gone away at the end of each day having learnt something, then I knew that I was putting those building blocks in place and eventually I would get the end result that I wanted. Can this process be rushed? No, I don't believe it can, if things are to grow correctly then they must grow naturally.

View From The Bowl End
My first few sessions were based around starting to understand the make up of the lake. I focused my efforts on the bowl end, this is the deeper part of the water. Lots of anglers always seemed to be up the other end of the lake so I thought avoiding the pressure could work in my favour. After having a lead around it was clear that the marginal drop offs were extreme, literally falling down to 10ft a rods length out. I instantly felt, considering the warm weather we have been having of late, that this part of the water could make for good winter fishing. The depths might be to vast to target in the warmer weather. 

Wick has a varied bottom, there's weed, clay, silt and gravel, out in front of me the gravel was at the very bottom of the marginal slope. Being a lover of margin fishing it felt like the perfect place to start. I would adopt my usual tactics, a few handfuls of bait, one rod fished on the slope, the other at the bottom on the gravel. I knew nothing of feeding times so I had to just sit it out blind, I knew my presentation was spot on for where I was fishing.

Rough Layout Of The Bowl End

On my first few sessions I received a few 'ghost runs' where there was nothing on the end of my line. I thought that it might be trailing fish. After speaking to some regulars, it was in fact trailing fish, apparently there are some savages bars towards the island and the woodland area and home to a lot of swan muscles so a lot of fish are lost and left trailing line. I clocked this information for future sessions, especially if I ended up fishing near the woods and island. If I was getting 'ghost runs' then it showed there were some fish in the area so I was hoping for a few pick ups, they never came. A good six sessions were spent moving swims around the bowl to try and get some kind of response from the carp.

During these sessions I religiously watched the water and after a few visits I started to see patterns emerging. The carp would start to show themselves from about 4 o'clock onwards, it appeared that a majority of them shoaled up. Nearly all the shows were up the other end of the lake around the island and along the margin of the wood land area. This now explains why most anglers were up that end of the lake. 

The woodland area use to be fish-able but hasn't been open for a few years now due to flooding. It was very clear to me that the carp knew this was a safe zone, there were only two swims on the lake that you could get a bait to them.

Wick Aerial View

The image above shows where I believe the safe zone to be, it also shows the two swims that allow you to get close to this area, it goes without saying that both swims are nearly always taken. After talking to the locals about the water, it started to become clear that the majority of the fish held up there. A lot of the guys that do nights would catch, this told me that the carp felt safer under the cover of darkness to venture out around the lake. 

I started to feel that during the day on most of the water available to you, you'd be fishing for a bite at a time, hoping to pick up the odd carp that has ventured away from the woodland zone. This was a somewhat frustrating prospect, if I wanted to stand a chance at catching during the day I would have to get myself in either of those two swims.

My next bulk of sessions were focusing on both the margins and the open water. I was slowly moving up the lake and covering the majority of the swims. During this period I'd found plateaus, soft spots, drop offs, channels, you name it, I found it and fished to it. Lots of bait, minimal bait, pop ups, solid bags, stringers, every approach possible, including zigs. 

It was around this time that perseverance turned into obsession, I had to get carp out of this water and I sure as hell was going to find a way. Through all these sessions the anglers that were in the two main swims were catching, this solidified the theory that the carp are hauled up in the woodland area. It struck me that it didn't matter what my approach was if the fish weren't in front of me to catch, the result would continue to be nil. Because I don't have a night permit it was as clear as day that I had to get to where they were. I didn't have the luxury of catching them when they spread out at night.

Realistically I'd done around twelve sessions without landing a single carp and I'd used everything in my armoury. We've all been in this situation, the problem screamed 'location'. I decided to step away from the water for a few weeks and concentrate my efforts somewhere else with the plan on coming back to Wick with a fresh perspective.

The Break Through  

On arriving at the water, there were only a few cars in the car park, I thought I'd get loaded up and make my way straight round the wooded area to see if 'the going swim' was available. Much to my shock and surprise it was, I was buzzing and got myself setup as fast as I could. 

To get right up in the 'safe zone' I would need to cast in excess of about 100 yards, I felt this was doable. My chosen bait was a single Octospice pop up topped off with a small bit of yellow zig foam, I was going to fish it on a helicopter system. From the google-maps image I could see there was weed out where I wanted to fish. Through the winter I have perfected my helicopter rig, I use a very slow sinking pop up, I have found fishing a rotary setup with a balanced bait pretty much presents itself over anything. The other reason I opted for a helicopter system was because I was having to cast a long way and with the weight being on the end of the line, this would lend itself to casting well for distance. 

View From The Swim
The hook-link I like to use for my helicopter rigs is a coated braid stripped off at the point where I put the putty to counter balance the bait. The main points for doing this is, the stiffer materials are less prone to tangles plus the coating helps to kick the hook-bait away from the line/leader.

The Business End
The most important component to make this presentation fool poof was a lead free leader. Take note that this is included because I found out that the carp can cut you off on the bars - that proves the importance of the learning process, without that knowledge I probably would of fished the rig bare. For those of you out there that don't think it's safe to fish a helicopter rig in weed, I would like to point out that I replace the back bead with PVA cord, this alleviates the problem of the bead getting clogged up with weed and not being able to run free in the case of a crack off. 

Rig Marole Lead Free Leaders

It took me a few casts to get the rods exactly where I wanted them, I had to compress the carbon big time, in the end I was hitting the clip and both baits fell poetically underneath the branches. I opted for singles because I knew 100% that the carp would be mooching about. Hours passed and just like always fish started to show along the wooded margin, my baits were in perfect positions so I just had to wait, sitting comfortable with the knowledge that my presentation was correct.

Out of nowhere my left hand rod tore away, I paused for a second because I was almost in disbelief. Leaning into the fish I could feel that it was a lump, I kept the pressure on, easing it my way. I was a bag of nerves, I just hoped that the leader was going to do it's job and protect my business end from the carps usual "get out clause". After what seemed like a year the fish was starting to give up the ghost, I caught a glimpse of a lovely long, black common, weed was strung all up the leader and line, the fish was also caked in the stuff. The game was soon up and I slipped the net under my first Wick Mere carp. I was numb, totally blown away, I had done it, after a considerable amount of blanks I'd finally broken through. Scales sunk to 20IB exactly, what a feeling!!

My First Wick Mere Beauty
Side On
It goes without saying that I was over the moon, perseverance is an art, a driving force that you must work with. I've still got a long way to go though and this fish is just a small piece of 'the process'. I feel that my views on the carp activity are thorough enough and I am just going to keep on chipping away at the place. There is something about Wick, I can't quite put my finger on it but to me it is a very special water and I feel that it's going to take me on one hell of a journey, I look forward to sharing it with you. 

I Will Return


  1. Great to read about your adventures on wicks im going through a very similar process on the water

    1. Good luck there's some lovely fish in there, I don't fish it nowadays it's far too busy