As I pulled up to the front gate I was met with an empty car park, my heart started racing, today might be the day I finally got to fish the water the way that I wanted to, if the theory of EFFORT=REWARD is correct and karma is kind to me, then I am due for one hell of a payout. As I drove down the long and bumpy track I could see that the toilet swim was free .. result!! I wasted no time and got all my gear out, dropped the van back up in the car park and legged it back down to get sorted. The time was 12:30 am and I was planning to leave at 6:00 pm, I didn't have a huge amount of time but I felt confident that I could get a result.
The weather was perfect, it was sunny, overcast and the wind was violent, almost gale force. I love conditions like these, it's so exhilarating being on the bank, it blows all your cobwebs away and you feel well and truly alive. The wind was blowing directly into my face so it was a good job that I wasn't going for a long chuck. This specific swim controls a lot of water, out in front of you are a few scattered weed beds and some gravely areas. To the right you have the mouth of the bay that I was planning to target.
To hit my spot my plan was to wade out and set my rods up in the water, doing this would give me the angle that I needed to get up in to the small bay by the woods, this zone of the lake is pretty much untouched and I knew that the fish held up there, I'd seen so much evidence of it on previous sessions. Fishing from the bank didn't allow you to get anywhere near where I was planning to put my baits. The whole of the woodland bank has been shut off, it's been like this for along time now and I knew the carp were fully aware of this.
I waded out up to chest level, my rods were set up on storm poles so they were nice and high. The cast was a little tricky but perfectly doable. It's a strange sensation wading out to fish, you feel so connected, like being plugged directly in to 'the source' of nature, completely immersed in your environment, it can really change your perspective on things. Being by the water is one thing but actually being in it is a different experience all together.
High On The Sticks
My chosen bait for this session was Honey Nectar, its caught for me so well this season, I was planning to really pile it in, if the fish were milling about the bay area I wanted to keep them there and get them competing for food, the more competitive they get, the higher chance you have of them tripping up on the hook bait. In regards to rigs, as usual I was going to keep it simple, I was going to fish a slow sinking pop up, I decided to fish leaders on both rods to protect my line from the weed and the swan mussels. From past experience I know that the carp are expert escape artists and I don't want to be losing any of the fish that I hook.
Honey Nectar Pop Ups
Starmer have been working on a new 'Ultra Buoyant' pop up that I've been helping to development. I've been putting them through their paces with positive results, close attention has been paid to making sure they look identical to the matching bottom bait of the same flavor. They've managed to get it spot on and side by side you'd be pressed to tell them apart.
Bottom Bait vs Pop Up
I've been experimenting with a presentation where I make the bait hover slightly off the bottom. It's been working very well for me over thin weed and debris. It's a bit of a fiddle to set it up but it's an approach that I am becoming very confident in using. It consists of hollowing out the pop up and replacing it with zig foam, this makes the bait 'super' buoyant, thus making manipulating it a lot easier. As well as performing minor surgery on a boilie it also requires just the right amount of tungsten putty to counter balance both the hook and bait. When carp are actively feeding on your spot I have no doubt that the disturbance causes your loose feed to rise and fall in the water. The ultimate goal with this presentation is to make the hook bait act as natural as possible, rising and falling with the rest of the free offerings.
Hollow Out The Pop Up
Gently Ease The Foam Into The Hole Made
Hollow Out The Pop Up
Gently Ease The Foam Into The Hole Made
Before casting anything out I decided to load the swim up with at least two kilo of bait, I spread it all over my chosen zone. I left it a good half hour before casting anything out. I gave myself one feathered cast on each rod to keep the disturbance to a minimum. I had a gut feeling that the action was going to be pretty instant so my weigh sling, scales, tripod and carp care products were all set up prior to casting out.
View From The Swim
Baits were placed and I stood solid by my rods, the wind was really beating on me and the water was almost pushing up over my chest waders. Within five minutes my right rod shot off, I was on it straight away and proceeded to try and tame what felt like a wild beast on the end of my line. I could see I was in to a long dark common, she fought hard until the end and was pretty dam reluctant to get in the net. Scrambling back to dry land I could see it was a pretty good fish, once in the sling, scales fell to 18IB, what a beauty she was.
A Dark Wick Beast
After I slipped her back I put another 100 or so baits back in the zone and got the rod cleanly out, no fuss, first cast. I stood in anticipation, I really felt like I was doing everything right. Twenty minutes or so later the same rod was off again, this felt like a better fish, taking line slowly, it felt solid as it lunged around, I was using my lighter rods for this session, the blank was pretty much bent double. Slowly she started to tire, I caught a glimpse of another dark common, it looked like a good twenty for sure, easing the net out and teasing her over I knew I'd caught a beauty, scales fell to 24IB 5oz, she was an incredible creature.
24IB Pure Beauty
This fish blew my mind, it was perfect in every way and it was a real pleasure to watch her slowly swim off, it's these poignant angling moments that people that don't fish will never understand. For me the release is as much of a buzz as a capture, as they swim away and fade slowly into the depths you can only wonder where they might be heading.
"Try To Bare With Me On The Paragraphs Below, I Will Try To Explain The Best I Can"
After a moment of quiet reflection I got a fresh bait rigged up and cast it right back on the spot. Again, I topped the swim up with more bait, I wanted to keep it going in. What happened next was a moment of pure madness, thirty minutes passed, my left rod was off again shortly followed by the right, it was a double take and I didn't know what the hell to do, I grabbed my left rod letting the right one run, at one point I was trying to frantically play both fish at the same time, it was actually working in some goofy way.
The left rod felt like it had the better fish on it, I placed the right rod on the rests having tightened the clutch up, this approach seemed to work. It bought me enough time to land the first fish which was placed in the cradle, I filled it right up with water so the carp was comfortable. I grabbed the right rod and netted the fish, it looked about 13IB, I slipped her straight back and went to take care of the other carp bathing in my cradle. Obviously having time to rest, it was full of energy, a minor fish slapping occurred, I got soaked and hit in the face by its tail, it was worth it though, scales sunk to 20IB.
Another Dark Common
I slipped her back, with both rods now out the water, I was eager to get them both back as fast as possible. Before the cast I changed hook-links so the hooks themselves were nice and fresh. One thing I'd noticed, with each fish landed, there was a lot of weed on both the rig and leader. It confirmed that my ultra balanced bait presentation was working a treat. In the image below you will notice that the tungsten putty is sitting a couple of millimetres off the bottom, readying the hook to catch hold easily.
Hovering Bait Presentation
Things slowed up for a while, I landed a small single figured common that I returned straight away, the mouth was in a sorry state. I don't like seeing this, it's completely avoidable, I have a strong belief that if you have to use your Klinic, then you've done it wrong. Of course damage can occur, sometimes it's unavoidable but the mouth damage I have come across in the past is unforgivable really. We have to respect our fish, look after them, play them and handle them with care. That's the first rule of angling for me.
The afternoon evaporated, I had about an hour left, during 'last knockings' my left rod was away, I was on it like a shot, the rod bent double and it felt like I was connected to another special fish, the fight was immense, the fish weeded me up a few times but with gentle, steady pressure I managed to get her out. It wasn't long before I had another bar of black gold in my net, scales fell to 24IB. I was buzzing, the sort of commons I was obsessing about do exist and I have been lucky enough to have a few of them grace my net. After a few photos I slipped her back and watched her slowly glide into the murky abyss.
A Perfect Fish To Close The Day
What a session it had been, it exceeded all expectation and has, without a doubt quenched my thirst for the venue. I knew what I had to do to get a result and I believe Karma had rewarded me for the long run of blanks that I'd gone through. I don't mind blanking, it's part of the process, as long as I am learning along the way. Constant observation is the key, without it I wouldn't of been able to gauge what I'd have to do to get a result. Observation is hard to master, to me it's an important element included in your overall watercraft. I am done on Wick for awhile now, next stop Boreham Mere.