Tuesday 22 December 2015

Blunts Mere 'Taming Torpedos On Tigerfish' Part 2

"Before I start this blog I'd like to point out that this post is not some hard sell on a supposed "new wonder bait", in my mind there is no such thing. I am simply documenting both my thoughts and the results. Bait is such a strange subject, I would never endorse or write about anything that I didn't truly believe in. I would also like to point out that I don't get paid to plug products, it's all about the angling for me and staying 100% true to myself".

It was about a week before I could get back down to Blunts, once again it was a short afternoon session. My work had been nuts so I had to fit my fishing in whenever possible. Between sessions I'd managed to pop down to see both Ian and Gareth at the Starmer factory, there was a whisper of a potential new bait and as usual I was eager to check it out. Lots of ideas are always being worked on but it's a slow and focused process to get them to the point where they can start to be tested and eventually put on sale. 

Tiger Fish

Trying new bait is something that I love doing, I actually love everything about bait, I find it all very interesting. When trying out something that has no history you have no fixed ideas or expectations, it's your job to get out there and fish well, conclusions and assumptions come later. This is where confidence in your own angling ability comes into play, you don't sit behind your rods wondering, "will this bait catch", you attack it full on and know it's just a matter of time before "it does catch". 

Because I very much believe in, and trust both Ian and Gareth's knowledge on what makes a quality bait, I don't really have to think anymore about it, if they say something's good, then I know it is. This frees my whole mind up to focus solely on the task at hand, which is, putting fish on the bank. I never go over the top with plugging and pushing "said product" by any of the companies that I'm associated with, there's way to much of that happening nowadays, but I do believe you've got to give credit where it's due.

On the day of the session I arrived at the water for about 2:30pm, it was hot and very busy. A vast majority of the swims were taken, I took a slow walk around, chatting with a few anglers along the way. It sounded like the lake was fishing pretty slow, I wanted to try and find a quiet spot, ideally with no anglers either side of me. I chose to fish half way up the narrow channel that leads up to the right end of the water.

Swim Position

This area was free of lines, there was lots of shade and I thought it was going to work as a great ambush point. The plan was to bait heavy and hopefully attract and hold any fish that might be passing through. I've fished this swim in the past and its always been productive. 

One rod was going to be positioned directly in the centre of the channel, the second rod would be positioned just off a sunken bush on the opposite margin. During the session I was going to gradually pre-bait a spot just down to the left of me. The margins are deep and I know that the fish do patrol literally underneath your nose.

View From The Swim
For how hot it was, there were no signs of fish on the surface, I put this down to angling pressure. When you've got bow-tight lines strung across every inch of water, I truly believe it can switch the carp off. Add bank side noise and activity into the equation and I think it can kill a lake outright. This is where your own stealth comes into play, I've mentioned it many times before, but "silence" can be a huge advantage, it's something that I've been mastering for years, which is ironic, considering I play the drums.

On those days where waters are busy, I feel the fish tend to move away from pressured areas, if you've managed to set your traps with little to no disturbance, and you continue your session making an effort to mute your presence. I fully believe this can up your chances of getting a bite, especially when those around you are being loud. 

For example, nothing gives you away more than hammering your bank sticks in, Blunts has a fair few concrete swims so I always take my pod, nine times out of ten I will back lead to keep the lines as low as possible. I will also make sure that I stay as low to the water as I can, turn my alarms right down and be very conscious of every move I'm making. If I'm fishing the margins under my nose, then I'll set my rods up a few feet back from the edge, I also make sure that none of my landing nets are visible over the water. All these little points contribute to mastering your own silence and I personally feel that it's a lost edge in angling nowadays.

Trigga-Link Combi
My rigs were exactly the same as my last session, only this time around I was using my "trigga-link Combi". It was made up of Atomics 'Bare Back' in 15IB and the Nash 'trigga-link' in 15IB. To enhance the spring like quality that the trigga-link provides, I upped the weight of the lead to a 3oz. The hook was a Nash 'Fang X' in a size 6 with a relatively short hair. Both rigs were going to be fished with single boilies, apart from the freebies I was baiting up with, no other forms of attraction were going to be used.   

Once everything was set up and ready to go I flicked both rigs out and then proceeded to apply the bait. I spread it all over both spots, I wasn't too bothered about keeping it tight. Within a few minutes I could see evidence of carp feeding, there were streams of bubbles coming from both of the baited areas. Liners and little knocks were instant, within minutes the right rod was away. As usual I was met with minor chaos, a hard fighting scrap ended in a lovely dark common.

First On The Tigerfish
I was really pleased with the quick result, wasting no time the rod was straight back out again, followed by a couple of handfuls of freebies. The feeding signs ceased from the spot I'd caught the fish from but I could see fizzing coming from the far margin, very close to where I'd cast my bait. It was clear that the 'Tigerfish' was something that the carp wanted to eat, I also had to consider that I'd made the right swim choice as well.

As I sat eagerly waiting for my next carp and observing my own silence, it struck me again how loud the others anglers were. Rods were being cast, there was shouting, spombs and spods flying in all directions. I started to imagine myself as a carp, what would I do if my home was being invaded?, I would find a quiet place to hide away from the commotion. I visualised the water in front of me being a safe haven, and as I sat picturing every carp in the lake crammed into the few meters of water in front of me, my left rod was away.

The fish bolted at crazy speed to the left of me, applying side strain, I teased her back on course and only just managed to keep her from diving into the snags down to my left. I soaked up the fishes movements that communicated to me so very clearly, I let my 'Skorpios" do all the work. The addictive curve and sudden creak of the blank is a sound that never tires. To my surprise, a lovely chocolate coloured mirror surfaced and 'waved its white flag' as the net mesh engulfed her.

A Blunts Mirror 'a rare sight'
I was so happy with this carp, mirrors are few and far between on all the Chelmsford waters, it's a nice surprise when you manage to catch one. Once again, size was unimportant, it was my second quick bite on the "Tigerfish". I repeated the process, the rod went out followed by three modest handfuls of freebies. 

All obvious signs of feeding fish dispersed, I reckon I'd attracted a few whilst they were passing through. I knew it was just a matter of time before "the second squadron" would come and land on my spots. Whilst waiting I focused on my silence once more, breathing calmly, listening to the light breeze that would gently sway the branches overhead, sonically it was very soothing, being by the water can really heighten your awareness, yet again, awareness is another skill that's there to master. 

An hour or so passed before the signs of feeding fish reemerged, the righthand rod in the centre of the channel started to give off a few bleeps, bubbles were cascading to the surface. Bang.. it was away, the fish ran straight towards me, I reeled in like crazy, a monumental fight occurred straight under the rod tip, another little common was soon in the net. It never ceases to amaze me the fight these fish put up.

Tigerfish Victim Three
As I released her back home another angler started setting up to my left, and then proceeded to cast very close to my far margin spot. I didn't feel comfortable leaving my bait there so I decided to reel it in and lower it down onto the third rod spot that I'd been baiting up throughout the session. It was super close in so I positioned myself way back from the waters edge.

A few minutes later someone else turned up to the right of me on the opposite bank, I was starting to feel hemmed in, I reeled my right rod in and broke it down. I decided that I was going to stay until I'd got a bite from the pre-baited area. I didn't see any point staying when lines were now either side of me. Packing my kit away, I left the bare essentials out, my eyes were fixed on my spot, a few bubbles surfaced followed by a savage liner.

Within seconds the rod shot round, I was on it like lightening, giving full side strain to keep it away from the sunken branches, it was totally nuts. The fish tried its best to ditch me in the snag but I managed to hold on and direct her my way. Back and forth, right to left, it was pretty dam exhilarating. When I finally came to net her, I was physically exhausted. 

The Final Torpedo Tamed
I thanked her for the visit and sent her home, I could've carried on the session for a few hours longer but I didn't feel comfortable fishing in such close quarters to other people. As I stated in PART ONE of this blog, Blunts is a water that's great for a bend in the rod, not every session you do has to be an exploration into brain surgery. It's nice to get out there, try new things and have a few fish along the way. I'm looking forward to future sessions on the "Tigerfish".

Saturday 12 December 2015

Blunts Mere 'Taming Torpedos On The Tigerfish' Part 1

This is a two part blog accounting for two short afternoon sessions that I managed up on Blunts mere. The first session I was experimenting with bait application, the second, I was trying out a new bait called "tigerfish". 

There's something about Blunts that always pulls me back, it's one of the more productive waters on the CAA ticket. I've mentioned before in a previous post that "every water has its place", and that's a point that I really stand by. I like to mix my fishing up, all the lakes that I visit are of varying skill levels and difficulties. Be it a water that holds elusive secrets, a large pit, or a small interment pool, it's all relevant in my book and I get a great deal of enjoyment fishing them all. I do however draw a line at heavily fished day tickets and commercial waters, they're just not my kind of places anymore, I love to target good, clean and healthy carp.    

The aspect of Blunts that I love the most is how visual it is, the carp show themselves all the time and fizz up when they've moved in over your bait, there's lots of nooks and crannies for the fish to hide and it's a great venue to try new things. All the fish I've caught have been hard fighting, torpedo shaped and attractive on the eye. Whenever I fish the place I like to scale my tackle down, opting for 2 1/2IB test curve rods and lighter leads, this makes the whole experience of landing fish all the more thrilling. And I have to say that, "you've got to go a long way to find fish that fight as hard as the ones that haunt Blunts."

Having been so focused on Micklem Mere and Braxted Front lake I thought it was about time I had a session where I could pretty much guarantee that the buzzers would be buzzing and the addictive curve of my 'Bruce Ashby Skorpios' would be creaking. I look upon it as a nice rest-bite from some of my other waters, which, at times, can beat you into submission when trying to bank a fish. 

In the current 'carping climate' where apparently "big is best", the humble 'runs waters' are frowned upon by some, but to me, the people that carry this attitude around with them are the ones that are missing out. All these kinds of waters still hold their fair number of surprises. Below is a beauty that I caught on a short evening session a few months back.

A Proper Blunts Mere Common
Whenever I fish Blunts I always stick with boilies, on this session I wanted to incorporate pellets and ground baits, I was intrigued to see if it was going to help or hindered my results. I was going to be fishing fruity boilies over a mix of fishy and spicy flavours. The ground baits and pellets were all darker colours so my idea was to fish a bright bait over the top. I felt the overall combination of different smells and attractors could work in my favour.

Arriving at the water on the day of my session, the sun was out, there was a calm breeze kissing the waters skin and it was lovely and warm, the water looked very much alive. The trees were ripe, all their branches were covered from top to bottom in leaves, there was a thousand shades of green, everything on the bank was reaching for the sun. I sensed that the season was well and truly under way, there was a familiar smell in the air. It's a these times more than any other that I find myself experiencing an overwhelming sense of nostalgia.

Two Thousand Shades Of Green
It conjures up so many angling memories, reminding me of all the long summers me and my mates would spend pitched up on the banks of our local club waters, down in East Sussex. Our summer holidays were whittled away under both the sun and the stars dreaming, and chasing the apparent monsters that lurked within the waters, our waters. The magic number back them was "18", that was a monster carp to us, we'd 'wax lyrical' for hours about the possible secrets that were potentially catchable. We'd be out for weeks at a time, the waters became our home, our identity, the outside world was not important. The only thing that mattered was what could potentially reveal itself at any given moment.

They were magical times, back then carp angling was still very much in its infancy, it was pure. There's part of me that would give anything to have those days back, things change and they do progress, but do they actually change for the better? I don't necessarily think they always do. So many times I feel like a complete stranger within the world around me, common ground is something I rarely find. I believe my angling is really my only form of navigation, it's a compass in an existence that leaves me so many times, directionless.

Back To The Session..

Whilst loading my barrow I could see evidence of carp all over the place, fish were jumping and topping, I could see plenty of feeding going on. I opted to fish the main body of the lake, this gave me lots of options, lovely deep margins, some very inviting tree lines and a variety of sunken bushes. I'd caught well from all these features but this time I was going to fish the open water. The plan was to fish sloppy ground bait in exactly the same way that I did when I fished zigs. The main difference being that I was going to add 'Salmon Marine' pellets and obviously be fishing both baits flat on the deck.

I wanted to have a high level of attraction drifting through all the layers, from what I'd seen, fish were on the top and on the bottom. My plan was to draw them in and hopefully draw them down, if I kept the feeding constant then both the pellets and ground bait would come to rest on the bottom. Over the top I was going to throw a few handfuls of my bright, fruity boilies, I opted for Banana Cream, the ground bait was 'Hot Chilli Hemp'. 

Hot Chilli Slop

Taking into account that I didn't have a huge amount of time in front of me, I got down to business straight away. The slop was mixed and the pellets were added, I got my yard sticks out and clipped all my rods up to nine wraps, I then proceeded to apply the bait. Because the carp in Blunts are so clumsy at giving themselves away, I decided that I would only cast my hook baits out when I could see that some fish had moved in and were actively feeding.

View From The Swim
My rigs were standard bottom baits fished on a 'blowback' with semi-fixed inline leads. Like I've mentioned before, nothing has to be complicated, concealment is a higher priority for me, using lots of unnecessary rig components can detract your thinking away from the job at hand, a simple rig in the right location will always put fish on the bank. 

For newcomers coming into the sport, I can't even begin to imagine how confusing it must be, the best advice I can give is to find a small selection of rigs, maybe two or three that will deal with most situations that present themselves, master tying them correctly and gain understanding of when and where to use them. 

A Tidy Presentation
After about 10 minutes of introducing my loose feed I already noticed evidence of carp feeding, plumes of bubbles were streaming to the surface all around my spot. I eased off the spodding and put the kettle on to have a coffee. It was very clear that they'd responded to the bait instantly, I took a seat and watched the feeding signs increase, the plan was to finish my drink, give the carp enough time to feed confidently and then place my hook bait literally on their heads with a gentle, 'feathered' cast. 

My coffee was polished off, I could feel the caffeine starting to kick in, I picked my first rod up and made the most 'poetic' cast that I could muster. Feeling the lead down gently, my senses were through the roof, surely a bite was moments away. The back-lead was eased down the line, with the rod now on my pod I slowly started to tighten the bobbin up to the blank. Seconds later the bobbin was dancing, literally from out my fingers, the clutch was humming, a huge silt patch erupted just to the left of my spot and before I'd even registered what was going on, I had the rod in my hand. 

Like every carp I've caught from Blunts, the chaos on the fight didn't disappoint, it raced around and was an absolute joy to play on such light tackle. Very slowly, I was "Taming The Torpedo", and when I eventually slipped the net mesh under the fish, I was met with a little dark common, the size was irrelevant, the process I went through to catch it was my focus.

Torpedo One
Setting her free, no time was wasted, I got the rod straight back out, now I could finally get my second rod sorted, with both rigs in position I put another 5 'spombs' over the top. The signs of feeding increased and it really got me questioning just how much the lead hitting the water actually spooks the fish. I feel that if the carp are really feeding hard and competing, they can become almost oblivious to whats happening around them.

Within minutes liners were occurring on both rods, the bobbins were twitching and I knew the next bite was seconds away. Sure enough, the right rod was the next one to whizz off, lifting into this fish, chaos manifested in seconds. It kited left to right, backwards and forwards and seemed to find 'goliath' type strength underneath the rod tip. Eventually tiring, I slipped another dark common over the net, it had a crazy 'paddle' on it, a proper little character. 

Torpedo Two
At this point I decided not to apply anymore bait, I didn't have a great deal of time left, today really was a short session but with the two fish I'd had, it made the journey more than worth it. I could see that there were carp still feeding, I was continuing to get little knocks and indications. Time went by and no bite materialised, an hour or so passed and still no bite, the fish were still there because I could see them kicking the bottom up. 

"Maybe they were getting preoccupied on the small particles and rejecting the boilies". This is a theory that I've had in the back of my mind for a long time, hence why I wanted to experiment with a slightly different baiting pattern today. I started to think that once the pellets and ground bait had been polished off, they might then pick the boilies up. I waited patiently, all the fizzing ceased, now there was just the odd bubble every now and again.  

Everything appeared to fall silent, it was very strange, two quick carp and then nothing. It was in the closing minutes just as I was about to reel in, when out of the blue, the right rod was away. This felt like a slightly better fish, it was powering all over the place and once under the rod tip, it used the deep margins to its full advantage. Finally when she was ready for netting, I slipped another dark common in to my possession.

Blunts Dark Bronze
Even though it was a short session, it was also very interesting, when I've just stuck with boilies the bites seem to build up. As we know, in carp fishing there are so many variables, maybe my combination of baits was a little too confused? Maybe the carp actually do get preoccupied with the particles and ignore the boilies? Was my hook bait acting differently to the free offers? 

This session posed more questions than answers, but it does demonstrate the importance of experimenting, anything that shifts and changes your perspective can only be a positive thing. If you leave a session with no questions then that means you think you've got all the answers, in most cases this just isn't the case. Either way, I was rewarded with three beautiful carp, and that's what it's all about. On my next session I'm going to simplify things and stick to a boilie only approach, then I can compare the two sessions results.   

Sunday 8 November 2015

Micklem Mere 'Fishing For Mysteries' Part 2

After the success of my last session my angling mind was preoccupied with the thoughts of getting back down the mere as soon as humanly possible. Now having found an approach that worked I really felt that I stood a good chance of unearthing some of the better fish. It had crossed my mind that if I stayed focused on Micklem for the foreseeable future then my 'big carp' catch rate would drop off, but that was a sacrifice that I was prepared to make, there was going to be plenty of time left to get back out on my other waters. If I didn't make a concerted effort on Micklem now, I feared that I never would.

Me And Eric On The Banks Of Micklem
I was going to be approaching this session in exactly the same way as last time, the only difference being the make up of both my solid bag and sloppy mixes. The rig was going to be identical and I was going to target the same spots, I'd made notes of the wraps on each rod and the horizon markers that I was aiming for. Recording all these little details would allow me to get the rods out in super fast time and keep disturbance to a minimum.

But.... on arriving at the water it became apparent very quickly that I was going to have to rethink my plan. Pulling up into the car park and looking down on the mere, I could see the trees contorting, the wind was crazy and I could easily make out waves as the whole contents of Micklem was being propelled towards the right hand bank. It was like witnessing the eye of a storm, it was very strange because there was barely a whimper of wind in the car park. This eerie atmosphere only heightened my anticipation so I set forth into the chaos to try my luck.

I decided to make my way up to the same swim I was in last time and fish into the wind. Despite the conditions it was warm and I had a sense that a few carp might be hauled up along the margin to the left of me. My right rod was going to be fished on a solid bag that I was going to lob out as far as I could, taking into account the strenght of the wind. I wouldn't be feeding slop over this bait, it was going to be left on its own, there was no way I would be able to apply the feed accurately. 

My left hand rod was going to also be fished on a solid bag, this would be placed on the silty area in front of the trees to the left of the swim, because I was fishing at short range I felt I could apply the slop without too much problem. Below is a panoramic view of my swim on a much quieter day, it will give you a clearer understanding of the way I've chosen to fish it.

View From The Swim

Prior to casting out I got my mix together, the make up was exactly the same as last time, the only difference being that I'd chosen to use the "Big Fishmeal" method mix. My reasons behind this were simple, I have a vast range of method mixes and I'm wanting to use them all and compare the results. Combining both the 'hot chilli hemp' & the 'salmon marine' blends worked a treat last time, I was curious to see if a 'fish meal' based attractor would make any difference. For those of you that want to know more about my sloppy spod mix and the ingredients used, you can review part 1 of this blog here PART ONE.

Big Fishmeal Method Mix

With both my wet and dry mixes ready I rigged my rods up, I took refuge behind the trees to seek some respite from natures onslaught, trying to tie a sold bag when its contents is swiftly being removed by the wind was an impossible task. Just like last time, I decided to stick with the floating corn and half a 10mil boilie combination. Both PVA bags were finally tied, the right rod was launched into the oblivion before me and the left rod was clipped up to 9.5 wraps and comfortably put on the silty spot to my left. How I managed to get the bags out accurately was an achievement within itself. 

Floating Corn Boilie Combo

The next step was to introduce my loose feed, I clipped my spod rod up to 11 wraps, the plan was to dump the slop a little further out and use the wind to my advantage. Because it was pushing so hard in my face, I knew the slop would drift nicely towards the area I was targeting. I pictured chaos under the water, I had no doubt that bits and pieces where flying around everywhere, and with my slop being introduced into the equation I felt it was just a matter of time before I got a bite.

Using the Wind To My Advantage 
I fed the spot for a good twenty minutes and then decided to give it a rest, I was going to top the swim up every hour. Despite the difficult conditions I was managing to hit the clip on every cast, the key was to really give it some power. I stood firmly by my rods, determined to stick it out, the mere felt like a wild ocean, my rod pod felt like a cruise liner, I was the captain and if my vessel was to sink, I'd sink with it.

It always amazes me how the weather can change the feel of a water, when I think back to what the conditions were like on my last visit, it felt like a totally different world. I started to think about all the waters that I fish as having personalities and each of them having a disorder, 'schizophrenia' sprang to mind. 

On those quiet warm days they welcome you with open arms, the outside world becomes a void that you have no intention of reentering. Then you have the days like today, when it's brutal, it's as if the water has made an unwritten agreement with mother earth to help banish you from its banks forever more. 

Just as I was about to retreat for shelter my right rod blurted out a few bleeps, the bobbin smacked the blank and then dropped back, the rod tip was fidgeting. Lifting into the fish it became clear I'd hooked into another one of Micklems smaller carp and I had no doubt it was going to be a picture of perfection. It felt funny sliding my 42' net under something so small but it's the right thing to do.

Give It A Few Years
Upon returning the fish to the water I got another solid bag tied and cast it out as hard as I could, it pretty much landed in the same area, I was happy. The previous bite indicated to me that I needn't be spodding every minute to draw the fish in, the attraction in the bag alone is enough to get me a bite - this was something to take into account for future sessions.

Within minutes the same rod was away again, I could tell by the nature of the bite that it was another cheeky scamp, gently reeling it in I started to imagine that maybe I had a secret monster on the end that was reluctant to put up a fight. Sadly not, but the quality of the little common that materialised from the waters skin was a fine reward, it was perfect.

Miniature Perfection
With all these small carp that I was starting to catch, Micklems sentences and paragraphs were slowly being written. This is what it's all about, as stated before, this mere isn't a "rent a carp" type water, it's an entity all of its own and I know that in the next ten years it's going to be such a special place. I feel honoured to get in on it early and as I grow older and weathered, so will the mere and all its inhabitants, hopefully they will choose to pay me a fleeting visit in years to come.

The right rod was back out and I felt it was about time I fed my left spot, twenty spods went out. I was going to continue this process until I got a bite. The afternoon ticked by and I continued to feed the swim, surly the effort was going to produce something? I persevered and stuck to my plan. As the day started to fade the onslaught of wind just kept on coming, I was starting to feel like I'd ran a half marathon, all my slop was now in the lake, and in my hair.

As evening came I started to resign myself to the fact that I might have got both the spot and bait application wrong regarding my left hand rod. I reeled my right rod in and started to pack it down, I always seem to draw this process out in the hope the remaining rod might spring into action. 

'No word of a lie', that's exactly what happened, it simply ripped off, the take was aggressive, the clutch was smoking and the rod was bent right round. This certainly wasn't a small resident, if it was, it was on steroids, I lept into action mode, grabbed the rod, instantly I could feel that this was a heavy fish and it was steaming along, I let it run, the initial run was long and I had to just let it go doing my best to keep it away from the tree line. The wind was battering me physically and this fish was battering me spiritually.. but what a feeling it was.

I was slowly gaining ground, there were some serious flat spots occurring where the fish was wallowing around just under the surface. A broad back surfaced, closely followed by a large fanned tail. My legs were shaking a little bit and I was praying that I was going to be able to get it in. It slowly started to tire, closer she came, with net in hand I stretched as far as I could and as the fish came to rest upon her side I raised the mesh around her. I was face to face with a big common, myth had come reality.

My First Micklem Monster
The condition of this fish encapsulated all the reasons why I fish the waters that I do. The longer I've been angling its become clear that I'm not motivated by the amount of carp I catch or the size, it's about the quality. I adore fishing for lovely clean fish, that's my buzz, and releasing them back in the same condition that I catch them is of the utmost importance. I say it so many times but the fish we catch deserve to be respected. 

Once she was returned home I slowly got my gear together, this capture had been the highlight of my season so far. When I think back to the previous season, I couldn't buy a bite, it goes to show that really thinking hard about what you're doing and subtly changing your approach when needed, can be such an important factor. I was going to give Micklem a break for a week or so and come back with a fresh perspective. Next stop was going to be Blunts Mere, I could feel a 'long dark carp' obsession coming on.

I Will Return

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Micklem Mere 'Fishing For Mysteries' Part 1

When I first laid eyes on Micklem Mere I knew that I was in the presence of something special. Located deep in the countryside on the fringes of Chelmsford, it stays hidden, obscured from view. Very little is known about the place other than it use to be a trout fishery, there are rumours that some big carp are residing within it, stocked years ago they've just been left to grow and have long since been forgotten.

The trout have now been removed but the tales of trout fisherman being snapped up by big carp are still prevalent. The meres best days are yet to come and I feel that it's going to be a very special water once a good few years have passed it by. The landscape around it is bleak, there's very little tree cover and there are no real designated swims. For those anglers out there that find mystery a romance, there's no better place to spend your time.

Alone On The Mere
Last season I dipped my angling toes into Micklems waters but didn't manage to bank any carp at all. My focus was very much split between other venues, being my first season on the Chelmsford ticket, I became preoccupied with other venues. Now that my second season is underway I'd made the decision to really try and explore the mere in far greater detail. 

Reports were coming through of mid to upper doubles gracing peoples nets and a good few twenties were materialising, it seemed the myths were becoming a reality. Obviously this got my mind racing and I was eager to unearth what the mere was hiding, other venues such as Braxted and Wicks would have to wait. It was very clear to me that another one of my angling itches was coming on and I had to scratch it sooner rather than later.

The Unwritten
So, where was I going to start? 

When a water is 'unwritten' you have nothing solid to go on. The little experience I have with the place was going to be my starting point, I felt that I had to go back to move forwards. Firstly I was going to drop the boilie approach, I hadn't managed to get a single bite on them. 

My mind regressed back to my old John Wilson book, 'How To Catch Carp', I started to think that an old fashion approach might just be the key to success. It's a water that hasn't really seen high protein baits before and the carp have obviously been feeding on the abundance of naturals that have always been in the water. I sensed that old school baits like corn, meat, pellets etc could do the trick.

"Nowadays it's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that the only bait that catches carp are boilies, I for one will admit that I have fallen into this way of thinking so many times, I think it's safe to say that I'm well and truly a "boilie junkie". I love everything about them and as most of you will know who read my blogs on a regular basis, I don't stick to one type, I use lots of different flavours all made up from different base-mixes". 

Different waters respond to different flavours and I feel chopping and changing gives you a broader scope on what the carp are willing to take. But as we all know, you've got to fish correctly for the situation that sits before you and on Micklem I'd made the decision that I was going to be hanging up my throwing stick for the foreseeable future. 

Micklem Mere 'Time Freezes'
On previous trips I'd had a probe around with both my marker rods, the makeup of the lake is very interesting. It's like a bomb crater sloping up from its deepest point, the margins can be anything from 3ft a good few yards out and then drop right off to around 9/10ft. 

The bottom isn't particularly clear, there's weed that appears very heavy in some places, there's some hard spots, muddy silty sections, and areas that hold lighter patches of weed. If you're prepared to put the time in to find them, there are a lot of interesting little spots to target. I feel both preparation and thought on a water such as Micklem are the two major key factors to success.

After a great deal of heavy thinking I decided that I was going to use solid bags combined with slop fished over the top. The slop itself would contain the same elements as my solid bag mix. The water is fairly large so I wanted to try and draw the fish in, I felt comfortable with the idea of using a spod in the short term. Taking into account the carp probably hadn't come across them much before, in my mind they hadn't yet associated the sound of it hitting the water with danger. 

I had a deep feeling that the spod approach would die off pretty quickly so I wanted to try and cash in on it as much as I could prior to this being the case. I brainstormed a list of ingredients that I thought could aid me in my quest to land my first Micklem carp.

With my thoughts well and truly balanced I was raring to go come the morning of my first session. I went through the usual 'rig-marole' of getting up the A12 as fast a possible, this time around, avoiding the morning rush hour. I arrived at the lake early, the sun was peering over the tree line and the deserted mere sat in silence so very fittingly. 

There was the sound of a commotion going on in the distance as all the bird life that inhabited the mere were discussing their politics, a pair of swans swam in perfect symmetry like two appointed keepers of the water. "It's times like these where I feel that I've been so lucky in my life to have discover carp angling, there's nothing else like it."

Dawn Yawning
After the rather bumpy journey down the track with my barrow, I took a seat on one of the wooden benches and watched the water for a while. If you look hard the carp do tend to show themselves on the sly, the wind was gently pushing up to the far end. The back bank is 'no fishing', from past experience I've noticed that the carp do tend to hold up there, with some sharp observation I clocked a few flat spots in and around that area. I decided I'd head up there to see if I could tempt a bite or two.

It was in this swim that I'd spent most of my time last season, it conducts a lot of water and ables you to fish the mouth of the back bay. The depths directly out in front are fairly uniform, averaging 5ft/6ft. To the left of me sits a clump of trees, in front of them is a large area that's very silty. During previous sessions I'd witnessed carp ghosting around the trees root systems and seeking shelter under the overhanging branches, they were so close in you could almost pick them out the water by hand.

Swim Location

Once all primary tackle items were setup I got down to the very 'scientific' job of mixing up both my solid bag and sloppy spod mixes. The base of both the mixes was a combination of hot chilli hemp and salmon marine ground-bait, to this I added porridge oats, salmon marine "high oil pellets" and some nut oil. The mix for my bags was obviously kept dry with a touch of oil to bind it all together. For my slop I kept all the above ingredients but added some corn and coconut milk. 

The Base Ingredients 

My hook bait was a single grain of buoyant corn topped off with half a 10m pineapple cream boilie, in my mind I had the best of both worlds covered, you had the ever reliable sweet corn with the vague scent of pineapple. This was fished on my standard pop up rig with a 2.5oz gripper lead, I kept the hook link a few inches shorter than normal so it would sit in the bag nicely. When I fish solid bags I leave a very short length of tubing on the line, this is to give the PVA bag something to bind to once its been licked and stuck for the cast.

A Simple Semi-Fixed Set Up

Finally all this gets tidily put into a PVA bag, at the moment I'm using the 'Carp Craze bullet bags'. They have a very slim profile, a draw string to tie the bag off and are a great shape for medium to long range fishing. Another advantage is, they come with very small holes already in them so you don't have to worry about piecing the bag to get any air out prior to casting.

Carp Craze Bullet Bag

Ready For The Cast

I clipped both my rods to 10.5 wraps, this distance put me in roughly about 5ft of water, the weed was slightly lighter in this area and I knew my presentation would be perfect. The spod rod was clipped at 11 wraps, both hook baits were roughly a meter apart from each other. 

Before I started my onslaught of "SLOPPING", I sparked the kettle up and had a quick coffee. Being such an open water, Micklem seems to amplify the elements, there were looming clouds shifting in the sky above, the suns rays would hit you on the face for a second or two, soon to be obscured again. The wind was steadily pushing up towards me, I really felt like I stood a chance of a bite.

With my spod rod in hand, "the game began", I found my rhythm relatively quickly and soon enough I was hitting the clip and feathering the cast as if it was second nature. "There's something strangely therapeutic about the "PING" of the line as it hits the clip, it's a very rewarding feeling"After a few minutes I was starting to get the odd liner, this was already more than what I'd had all last season. I kept the feed steady, semi expecting a run at any moment.

View From The Swim
Twenty minutes in whilst the spod was in mid-flight, both my bobbins lifted to the top and stopped. As I looked at the rod tips I could see they were very gently pulling round, furiously reeling the spod back in, I gently lifted into my right hand rod, I could feel a very dull pulling. As I began to reel in I could feel something was on the end, soon enough I spotted a miniature common with my bait hanging from its mouth. I gently netted it and then lifted into my left rod, the same dull pulling could be felt which soon resulted in a perfect little mirror carp. 

Both these fish were perfection and even though they were small, they still deserved the up most respect, like any fish that graces your mesh, it's a visitor, you greet it the way you would expect to be greeted and then safely send it on its way. I feel some anglers look upon small carp as a nuisance, but we must all remember, the monsters that we're all hunting for now, use to be small once. I had no doubt in my mind that one day these carp would be future kings. I was so pleased to of landed my first few Micklem fish, the approach was working, surly it was now just a matter of time before a larger slice of magic came swimming my way. 

Pure Perfection

On a water such as Micklem it's not about the size of the fish you catch, it's about the journey, and with each small carp caught, a little snap shot of the waters future is presented to you. Micklem is a venue for the long term, it hasn't been stocked to cater for the ever demanding 'big fish' angler, I believe it takes you right back to the essence of what angling is really all about. When you cast your rods out, nothing comes close to that feeling of 'not knowing' what could be on the end of your line when the alarm sounds. 

Shortly after casting back out and continuously applying the feed, I had another three small carp, I was determined to keep introducing the slop in the hope that a few better fish might move in. After an hour or so I was starting to feel slightly fatigued from all the casting in and out, I was now on my second bucket. There was still a part of me that felt I had to keep it up, I'd made the decision that once the bucket was empty I'd take a seat, have another coffee, sit back and let the bait that was already in the water do the work for me. 

Future Kings

Finally all the slop was gone, both my rod and reel were caked in the stuff, my clothes, face and hair had a generous covering, I was starting to look like a horror show. Taking a seat and sparking the kettle up, I kept my eyes firmly focused on the water. A few fish were showing to the back of the swim, a couple of them looked like the mythical doubles I'd been hearing about. I was already happy with the result but I was secretly willing one of the bigger carp to come and pay me a fleeting visit.

The day ticked by and as late afternoon came and went the activity out in front of me escalated, there were a number of shows very close to my spots. I can only assume that more fish had moved in now that the spodding had ceased. I knew there was a load of bait out there fluttering and twirling through the layers, it was now in the lap of the gods. Was I going to get the reward I was hoping for?

From out of nowhere I received a few bleeps off my right hand rod, soon enough it was away. This take was different, it ripped off and the clutch whizzed round, with my heart in my mouth I grabbed it, eased it back and ..... to my surprise, the rod arched round and I was connected to something heavy. I let it go, applying steady pressure, my mind was racing, could it be a secret monster? maybe it wasn't even a carp? I wanted answers to all these questions but at the same time I didn't really care. All I knew was, I was connected to something that felt good from a water I was desperate to understand.

The fish was taking me far left and all the way back to the far right, I kept the pressure steady. As it came closer I briefly saw a bright looking tail, it was a common and it certainly wasn't happy about being caught. Closer and closer it came, eventually leaning up on its side. I eased the net underneath, phheeww!! what a result.

Bronze Beauty
The relief I felt when I laid my eyes upon this fish in my net was nothing short of catatonic, it had an incredible bronze colouration to it, and most probably hadn't been caught before. After a few quick photos I spiritually saluted her as she swam from my sling back into the uncharted depths of the mere. 

I was so pleased with the results of the session, the approach worked and I've finally got my first few sentences of Micklems untold story. Instantly my thoughts were moulding around my next trip back. 

Taking into account the popularity of carp angling nowadays, there's very few unwritten waters, I know a lot of you out there yearn for that 'named fish' but I also know there are just as many searching for the unknown and the untouched. As stated before, Micklem is a water for the future and spending time with it, watching it grow and mature is part of the buzz. 

It's a world that I will be dedicating a lot of time to over the coming months. I doubt I'll land any real monsters 'but' the beauty of a place such as this is .. "you never know", and it's the not knowing that can keep us tied to the banks for a lifetime.