Sunday 21 September 2014

Back On The Rugby 'Intravenously Connected'

Over the past months my focus has been very much on my new waters, acquainting myself with new puzzles has injected me with a huge amount of enthusiasm. My old haunts have taken a back seat during this process, then out of the blue Rugby starting calling again and I accepted her request. Now with the summer fading we are being blessed with such a low sun and the idea of witnessing the Autumns arrival from the beach swim was too much to turn down.

Rugby is a very special water for me, I've never had it easy on there and every session I have had to be so focused, there are some special carp that reside within its waters but I find them very hard to extract. I guess this is one of its main endearing qualities, it's from now on-wards where things get interesting. 

Not only are the carp starting to think about feeding for the colder months but the atmosphere at the waters edge has a certain romance to it. All that surrounds the lake are excepting their certain fate and as the temperatures start to fall our environment will become just that little bit more ruthless. For me this is a big buzz and as an angler I feel as if I am "intravenously connected" to the changing of the seasons, it's as if you develop an acute sense to all that surrounds you. Far away from the cities it allows you to interconnect with a truly grounding force.  

It's Good To Be Back
Before setting up I took a while to scan the lake for any signs of activity, there were a good few streams of bubbles kicking up at about 25 yards. I paid close attention and waited, once they'd dispersed they would then show up a few yards away from their original position. It was clear that something was down on the deck feeding, the bubbles didn't seem to be Bream or Tench, I was sure it was carp. This was a positive sign and as I slowly got my rods set up and made sure my swim was tidy 'military style'. I pondered over the exhausting question of "where to place my baits". Having only opted for fishing two rods as opposed to my usual three, my spots really needed to be correct.

Rugby has a lot of weed and every time I try to picture the bottom I have visions of a dark tangled jungle, I wasn't to bothered about locating clear spots, I just didn't want to be fishing in really heavy weed. My chosen bait for this session was my faithful Honey Nectar, it's nice and bright and stands out in the murk from the depths. Both baits would be popped up and I was going to doctor the rig so that the bait would sink as slow as possible, ensuring it would come to rest comfortably on what ever lies beneath it. I decided I was going to fish a helicopter system, long running so I'd have no worries about it being pulled down into any weed.

My chosen hook-link for this session was Rig Marole 'Hydro-Link', for those of you that are not familiar with this, it's a very versatile material that has fluorocarbon running through the center of it, the outer coating is an abrasive resistant braid. It's great for creating hinges and mimicking the mechanics of a combi link. It's very workable and steams out nice and straight. 

Simple Rig Components

Just to make sure the hook-link really sinks I treat it with Krystons "Drop-Em'. By doing this you are leaving a very thin layer of Tungsten putty on the outer coating of the hook-link, I have to say that it really does make a difference, especially on super supple materials that have a tendency to 'bow' up when they come to settle. 

Inner Coating Of The Hydro-Link

I favour a stiff hook-link material when fishing a rotary setup. I find by leaving the coating on the majority of the link and only stripping it near the bait end. The stiffness acts as a natural boom, add an anti-tangle sleeve on to the swivel and you can pretty much guarantee the elimination of any tangles. I have 100% confidence when fishing this rig and I favour it over the Chod. 

Rig Business
To finish this rig off and to ensure it casts nice and gracefully, I use a light riser lead. There are a few reasons for this, firstly the riser casts so well, because of its shape it slices nicely through any weed and finally it rises up quick on the retrieve. This stops you getting caught up in anything if you are fishing near or over big weed beds.

Rise Above

Once both rods were rigged up and double checked for the ultimate presentation, I decided to fish both of them straight out in front of me. Near the zones that I saw the feeding bubbles coming up from. My hope was that if there were a few carp in the area and they were up for a munch, then they might just be tempted by the sweet Nectar. Because the main features get so much pressure I thought that placing my baits unassumingly in the open water might just do the trick.

Rugby, compared to most lakes can start to get you fishing in a very one dimensional manor if you're not careful. I am starting to feel like the marginal reeds and overhanging trees have really had their day, those spots are almost too predictable and I think the carp are wising up to these zones in regards to their feeding habits... I might be wrong though, but I just don't feel confident targeting a spot that sees so much angling activity.

View From The Swim
Both rods were out, I added a very small spread of boilies around both rods, I didn't want to go over the top with the loose feed. I watched the water for a while, made a coffee and sat back to soak it all up. I knew I was going to be in for a long wait, it's always the same, of course there's a chance that nothing would materialise at all, but I find the more I 'will' something to happen, it usually does.

I proceeded to get stuck into my book, 'Seductive Poison - A Jonestown Survivors Story Of Life And Death In The Peoples Temple'. I highly recommend it to those of you who are interested in both cults and mind control. In between each chapter I was keeping my eyes on the water, the hours were ticking by and I started to feel, if I was going to get a fish, it would be later on in the day. 

There is a magic hour on Rugby and after a morning and afternoon of strong coffees and heavy reading I was starting to wonder if I was way off the mark in my approach today. But my hope swayed into excitement when I started to see a heavy stream of bubbles kicking up very near to my right hand rod. It was fizzing and moving closer to my spot, I got a few bleeps and then the rod was away, it shot off like a bullet train, I grabbed my rod and held on for dear life. The fish felt heavy and was giving more than it was getting. I kept the pressure on, slowly tightening the clutch to try to pacify the situation as much as I could. I was gaining ground, the fish kited in close and I caught a glimpse of a chunky looking mirror, it looked a good 20IB, my heart was racing, more pressure was needed, nice and steady, she retired to her side, I went at her with the net... result!

24IB A Rugby Jewel
With the scales slipping to 24IB exactly, to say I was over the moon was an understatement. The fish was perfect, proud and spotless, after a few pics I got he straight back. The trip had been a success and coming back to Rugby after so long to be met with one of her prizes was a gift within itself.

In my blog posts I speak a lot of connections, connecting with your environment is one thing, but connecting with an awesome carp is a different ball game. It's as if you have been given just that little bit more of a chance to understand the greater good. As I packed up and drove out the gates of the Paddlesworth complex, I had a sense, another itch that I had to get out on the bank at the next available opportunity, I had a feeling that something special was on the horizon. 

I Will Return

Sunday 14 September 2014

Braxted Front Lake 'Time Changing'

The morning that my alarm clock went off to wake me for my first session on Braxted front lake I was up like a shot. I proceeded to throw two coffees down my neck, packed the car and drove way over the legal speed limit to get to the waters edge. I had walked around both front and back lakes before my sessions on the reservoir, I instantly connected to the atmosphere of the waters and was eager to wet a line. Both front and back are not easy but the rewards are in there if you are determined enough.

New Memories

I have read a fair amount about the Braxted complex and the general consensus is that 'it's not what it use to be'. I think we can safely say this about pretty much all the lakes out there now. The world is constantly changing and time is something that we can't stop, however hard we try, the clock just keeps on ticking, there is never enough time when you are on the bank, at work the days drag, at the water they evaporate frustratingly.
Time eventually ends up taking us all, desires, clarity, the people we love and of course the carp that we've grown to admire. History fish are few and far between now and I know a lot of anglers out there want to catch something that really means something and represents an element far greater than just its size. The saving grace though is that there is a future and with a future develops a past and all waters will grow to hold something special once again. 

I find the older you get the more time you can spend chasing the feelings from the past, the first time you cast a line, that magical moment you lay your eyes on your first stretch of water, catching your first monster. I have come to realise that you will never be able to replicate any of the emotions you felt at those points in your life, memories change and get filed in the mind under 'experience', they season with age. We must learn to welcome time and not resent it for the way it has changed the things we once loved. For me Braxted is new, I am yet to experience it in its summer skin or stripped of its life in the depths of winter. I have a clean slate and that is something that excites me, I have nothing to compare it to, its 'hey day' may of passed but for me it's yet to come.

A Clean Slate
When I arrived at the water it was pretty quiet, no one was carp fishing, there were a few pleasure anglers transfixed on their wagglers and quiver tips. It was very warm, I had a scout about to see if I could see any carpy activity. There were no obvious signs so I decided I was going to fish the left side bank and fish underneath the rod tips. The margins had lots of reeds, overhanging trees and small clumps of grass, I thought the fish must get up tight to all of these features. For this to work I was going to have to be very quiet, something that is now a solid rule within my angling. 

The first thing that stood out for me was how clear both the water and the bottom of the lake was. With polaroids I could see right down in the margin and the lake bed looked very clean, apart from on the really shallow shelf beneath my feet. I was going to have to take this in to account when choosing my rig components. I have mentioned it a lot in my previous blog posts that I think camouflage is very important regarding your end tackle. I know that a lot of people don't think it makes a great deal of difference, I do, subtly disguised rigs could be the difference between that monster carp sensing danger or accepting the bait. All my rigs have to look right and function correctly prior to casting out.

Subtle End Tackle Choices
My components included a short length of Carp Craze translucent green tubing paired with one of their dark green tail rubbers. My lead of choice was a Carpy Chris Weed Inline 2.5oz and my hook-link was 15IB Jelly-wire. I used my rig pens to dull down the hook-link so it was literally undetectable on the lake bed. My bait of choice on both rods was Tigernut & Maple, both rods were fishing bottom baits. Because this is my first session I have no previous clues as to how the carp respond to bait so I decided to pile it in over both rods. The more sessions I do I will start to make notes on what is working for me.  

Simple Camo Rig Presentation
I find it takes me a good 6/7 sessions on any water to start painting a workable picture of the way the lake works. I have never seen the point in regularly going to a lake and doing the same thing or sticking to the same swims, you learn nothing by doing this. Through a process of elimination you should start to be able to gauge what works and what doesn't. 

All in all it's about how systematical you are with your fishing. Once I find a few ways in to a water, the first thing I will change is the bait. I learn a lot from bait rotation, after a few months of chopping and changing you start to get a feel for the baits that work the best on certain waters. It can be argued that swapping baits around doesn't allow you to establish any regular food source, but that's my intention, I want to keep the carp guessing. 

No Visible End Tackle
Before placing my rigs I had a little lead around, I could feel from the drop that there were at least three shelves that slowly sloped down. These were very close in so I decided I would fish on the shallow shelf and one in the slightly deeper water. To my surprise as I was getting set to cast out, three really big commons came swimming past right underneath my nose, I could of literally touched their backs. This was a very good sign, I got both rods out with the least amount of disturbance, topped both spots up with a good few handfuls of bait, set the bobbins and sat back quietly to wait in anticipation.

 View From The Swim
As the afternoon progressed the sun really started to beat down and I was feeling so hot, fish were showing just under the surface out in front of me. I was hoping that I could pick at least one of them off if a few were making their way along the marginal areas. Because it was all new to me I really was blind to any apparent system that the lake might have. I find in these moments it's all intuitive, I have to lock on to my confidence and understand that I am fishing the best that I can under the circumstances.

Sure enough just as afternoon was turning to evening, a few bleeps occurred on my left rod. It stuttered and then it was away, I connected to a fish that felt solid, the rod arched around and the clutch was singing. I kept the pressure on, a long common appeared determined to shake me off, a little more pressure to maintain control..... just a little more and then....., Bingo! she was in the net. What a result and it looked like it could go twenty, it might have even been one of the three carp that I spotted under my nose earlier. Scales sunk to 22IB 5oz, I was so pleased especially as it was caught so close in. I got a few trophy shots and gently slipped her home.

First Braxted Common 22IB 5oz
I was very pleased to of grabbed one especially on my first trip, I have got a lot to learn about the water but this was a solid starting point. The approached worked but there's no guarantees it will work the same again. I think because it was a hot day the carp were obviously milling around in the shallows. At some point I want to get a marker rod out and suss the bottom out, I will opt on doing this when there aren't so many other anglers around.

I only plan on fishing the water blind once. Understanding the typography of the bottom will open up a load more options for me on future sessions. I plan to start to map out my favored swims and then I can start to stitch it all together. On all the waters I fish, the ultimate goal is clarity, with clarity comes consistency and with consistency comes a very good chance of bagging a real beauty. 

Friday 5 September 2014

The Cut 'Acres Wild'

Nestled deep within the Medway valley sunken into the landscape rests a water called The Cut. It is overgrown with no swims and at first glance you'd think that you were looking at a stretch of wild river. I know that it contains some carp but there's no real record of how many there are or how big they go. There's been some rumours of a few big commons lurking, to be honest neither of these points matter to me when approaching a water like this. The Cut is like an unanswered question and it's a question that I am determined to answer. This blog is going to account for a series of short sessions most being on consecutive days. I won't go into huge detail, taking into account my last few blogs have been long and pretty heavy going.

The Cut
In the past I have done my time here but I never really got into the groove, I wouldn't class it as easy fishing, I have managed a few fish out and both were lovely and dark, scraping double figures. It's a very strange water, it's clear, weedy and very shallow in places, I have found that the fish very rarely give themselves away and it's easy to think that no carp are present. It took me a long time to unlock but every minute I've spent on its banks has been an utter pleasure. It's as if time just evaporates into the ether and the outside world is decades away. 

At first presentation was a bit of an issue due to the amount of naturals that the water provides, I found that steering away from modern baits and going back to basics proved successful. Fishing peperami topped off with buoyant corn seemed to attract the carp. Any time I fished boilies I would get inundated with tench and bream. 

This got me thinking on how I could mimic peperami by using a boilie, to achieve the same presentation I opted on using a salmon marine hooker pellet heavily glugged in Garlic Sausage flavouring. The hooker pellets are a dumbbell shape and if you trim them down you can get almost the same aesthetic as peperami. 

Hooker Pellet vs Peperami

I replaced the buoyant corn with half of a yellow Avid zig dumbbell, these are super buoyant and allow the bait to sit nicely up on the bottom. It's similar to a KD presentation but without the KD whipping. I call it 'The Savoury Rig' and it has accounted for a fair few carp in recent years. The secret to the rig is to get it balancing perfectly so the bait is hovering and the hook sits flat, this allows it to sit nicely perched on any debris and goes into the carps mouth very easily allowing the hook to catch hold.

The Savoury Rig

You will see in the above image that I use a long hair, fixed just under the bait are two Atomic tungsten sinkers with a small piece of tungsten putty moulded around them. I have found this rig to work very well using a stiff material for my hook-link, I currently use Krystons SYNX for my stiff rig setups, I highly recommend it, it steams nice and straight, sinks like a brick and is very abrasion resistant.

View From Above

On my first session I arrived at the water for 2pm, by this time the sun was cooling off and I had time to get my baits on the right spots before bite time. I had chosen to fish a very narrow stretch of water. To me I call these kind of swims "Passing Traffic" spots. This is where you are fishing an area where you feel the carp will be patrolling back and forth to get to other areas of the lake. I had a lovely set of reeds to go at and a fair amount of surface weed, my plan was to get tight to the reeds and fish under the weed. Because I was so confident in my bait and presentation I decided to stick with fishing singles.

View From The Swim
As expected things were slow, I got a few liners but there really weren't any signs of carp in the vicinity, then again there never really is. I think about an hour went by before my right hand rod took off, it was a spirited fight and through the crystal clear water I could see a lovely dark mirror racing around. I soon netted her, scales sunk to 14IB, it was so perfect looking without a mark on her. It was by far one of the best looking carp I'd caught in terms of its proportions.

A Perfect 14IB Mirror
I got the rod back, I knew it was a long shot if I was going to have another, as expected the session evaporated away with no more action. I packed up just before dark with the plan on coming back the next day.

Session Two

Just like the day before, I arrived mid afternoon and decided to fish the same swim. I knew both spots were good for a bite, this time I put a light scattering of bait over both rods to see if I could tempt more than one carp. My first take came really quickly, this was off my right hand rod, it tore away and the fish was taking some serious line. I was desperately trying to keep it away from both the weed and the snags. I didn't bother weighing her, she was long and lean, maybe touching double figures.

A Dark & Lean Cut Common
I slipped her back, because the take had come so fast I felt confident that I could nick another before leaving. The rod went straight back on the spot with a few baits scattered. The next bite came off my left hand rod, the fish kited down the channel, with a bit of side strain I managed to lead her back, once again the fight was hard, she soon tired, it was another perfect looking mirror once again weighing in at 14IB.

A Fish Off Both Spots
After putting her back I gave it about an hour or so and then packed up, I was very pleased to nail two. My plan again was to come down the following day, because that zone of water was working for me I decided that I would stick to fishing it.

Session 3

Just like the previous session, rods were out by mid afternoon, because the conditions have remained consistent throughout the week I really didn't see the point in changing anything to do with my approach. The rods were quickly out on the usual spots, this time around I went back to fishing singles. 

The baits had been in the water for about an hour before I got my first take. It was the right hand rod, this one was fished especially close to the reeds. It was another great fight and at the end of it I was surprised to be sliding the net under another sizable mirror, it was spotless and didn't even look like it had been caught before.

14IB Of Uncaught Mirror Carp
Once back the rod was straight out, again I managed to get it really tight to the reeds. Time ticked by and all had gone quiet, again it was a good hour before my right rod suddenly sparked into life. This fish gave me a run for my money, I soon slipped the net under what can only be described as a bar of gold. 

A Bar Of Solid Gold
Even though this common was probably the smallest I'd had from the cut, I thought it was a pretty special fish, it was long and slim and I think one day it's destine to become one of the kings of the lake.

A Future King Of The Lake
This common signaled the end of another good session, I was planning on coming back one more time. I wanted to do a short burst of sessions on The Cut because I was wanting to continue with my main focus, that being the Chelmsford waters. I have to say that my hunger has somewhat labored regarding Kingfishers lakes. 

I really want some new challenges and I love what Chelmsford have on offer, I am finding that I really am connecting to the atmosphere of their lakes and they're stretching me in terms as an angler. I will always fish KAPS lakes but I think I need to pull away for a while to help me gain perspective and nurture a new enthusiasm. I find myself blowing hot and cold on some of my waters, hence why I fish so many at once, I need to keep thinking, changing and moving, me and my mind don't like being absent of a focus, complacency is something that I can't bear.

The Final Session

The conditions on my final session were very different to the previous ones and it had been at least three days since I was last down. It was a lot cooler, overcast and breezy. From past experience the fish don't seem to respond very well in these specific conditions. I decided I was going to fish a different stretch of water that was a little more shielded from the elements. 

View From The Swim
I picked a spot that I've always liked the look of, there was a bottle neck that looked like the perfect ambush point and a tasty looking margin to my right. Things happened very quickly once the baits were on the spots and the left hand rod literally went off minutes after setting the bobbins. As the take occurred the water exploded and a huge patch of silt and bubbles covered the area from where my bait had been placed. 

As I lent into the fish there was nothing, no fight at all, at first I thought it was a bream. As the rig came back through the water I could see a huge pile of weed on my line and hidden underneath I could see a carp, I literally just netted it straight away. As I began to clear the weed I was shocked to find a nice fat mirror buried underneath and it was a fair size. It went 18IB 5oz on the scales, I was pretty shocked to say the least.

18IB 5oz Of Perfection
This fish encapsulated what these kinds of waters represent, it was perfect in every way with no one signs of damage, fin perfect, the mouth was huge and most of all it was a real surprise. If there's an 18IBer swimming around maybe the old tales of big commons aren't so far from the truth. At some point in the future I will head back down, but for now the itch that the cut was giving me has been temporarily scratched.