Monday, 6 April 2015

Burrows 'A Ghost In Winter' Part 2

With the result I had on my last session I was buzzing for a good 24 hours afterwards, the common I caught was a great way to kick off my little winter stint. I was itching to get back down Burrows, when I think of how many times I've fished the water and how many awesome fish I've had, it says so much about my connection with the place, that I can still get so excited about being on its banks. 

I think one of the main reasons that I buzz so much is because I keep my expectations realistic, thinking about it, I'm very grounded about all the different waters that I fish. Never once do I load my car thinking "I have to catch a big carp", I simply welcome the idea of catching, be it a single, double or a monster, if you keep your expectations realistic then you never walk away from the bank feeling disappointed, once again, it's all about your mind set. I know I repeat myself but consistency is the key for me, if I can remain consistent on all my waters, a special beauty will at some point grace the landing net.

On The Day Of The Session

The alarm clock broke my sleep at 6:30am, I was up like a shot, all my gear was prepared so I could exit quick and make my way down to the waters edge as early as possible. I always amaze myself when it comes to getting up to go fishing, I'm out of bed like a cannon ball, wrecking everything in my path. Getting up for work is a very different test, it's as if I'm stapled to the mattress. Clothes were thrown on, I inhaled a couple of coffees, loaded the car and floored it all the way down the motorway. A combination of adrenalin and caffeine turned my enthusiasm into borderline obsession, I had visions of carp in front of my eyes, long ones, dumpy ones, all kinds of "Cyprinus Carpio" were feeding within the margins of my mind.

The idea of getting this excited after the best part of twenty five years of angling is something that never ceases to inspire me. I had so many ideas of how I wanted to fish the session, this time around, on arrival I wanted to take a nice long walk around the water, think hard about where I was going to fish and basically take it all as it comes, hopefully doing this would tame my excitement. 

I find when I'm really excited I have a habit of going 'through the motions' and don't always consider things as much as I should, I believe that in the past this has cost me a fish or two. It's always important to consider all your options prior to casting out, there's nothing worse than pitching up in a swim when you're not 100% confident with your decision. Confidence grows and stays with you when 'in your mind', you know that you've done everything you can do to get a bite.  

On arriving at the water I left my gear in the car and went for a wander, the conditions were pretty much the same as the previous session, the only difference being that there wasn't much of a breeze, the sky was vacant, their was a strange silence, it all felt fairly tame. I took advantage of this and walked the whole lake, stopping in each swim to see if I could clock any carpy activity. 

It all looked quiet, I was going to have to go on my gut feeling and consider past experiences. I was edging towards going back in the muddy double, there's a spot down in the opposite right corner of the bowl that usually produces a few bites, funnily enough it's not an area that I target during the summer, it seems to always call to me when temperatures drop.  

The Muddy Double 'Many A Moment Shared'
The aspect that really interested me about the area I was considering, was the fact that it's deep close in and shelves down gradually to the deepest part of the lake. In my mind this was a perfect winter holding spot, I visualised the carp patrolling up and down the marginal slope. Even though the water was now pretty much crystal clear close in, there was still enough depth in the margin for the fish to feel safe, 'Well This Was My Theory Anyway'. I find if I can build up a clear image in my mind of what a spot might offer, I feel inclined to follow through with the hunch. It's like drum playing, you can learn so much by listening, if I can visualise how the drum part is being played, I can shift and mould the ideas into my own playing style. 

The Muddy Double - For Obvious Reasons
My chosen bait for this session was Honey Nectar, I was going to fish a cut down single on the hair and literally two or three broken up boilies as freebies, followed by a light scattering of pellet. I was going to walk round before casting out and drop the few free offerings in the rough vicinity of where I was planning to cast. I wanted the presentation to look as random as possible, as if a bit of bait had been thrown in the margin after a session. 

'We all do it', boilie, corn, or whatever we've been using, usually gets pulled off the hair and thrown in the margin in front of the swim at the end of the day. The idea of cutting the bait down was very simple, I wanted to steer away from the usual round shape and offer something that didn't give the carp any reason to reject it. I knew that if some fish where in the area and they were feeding, this approach was enough to get a bite. As mentioned before, I'm not fishing for a big hit, I want to pick the odd fish off. 

View From The Swim
The rig was simple and the same as last time, the only difference being that I was using a slightly heavier lead, I'd gone up to a 2oz inline. I made sure the presentation was nice and stream line and with a feathered cast would rest perfectly on the contours of the lake. My chosen hook-link was Krystons 'Synx' Gold, this steams straight beautifully and sinks like a brick, I kept the coating on the whole link apart from the tiny section under my silicone kicker, this helped to produce a brilliant hinge effect. 

I'm a big believer in kickers on bottom bait rigs, anything that helps to turn the hook when it's picked up is a winner in my book. I don't buy the whole 'closing the gape' theory, as I've explained before, I know there's mixed opinions about this but to me, this is where the "each to their own" element of angling comes in to play, we all have our own little things that we feel confident in using. See Image Below

Stripped Back Under The Kicker Only

Finished Presentation

Once I'd walked round and distributed my freebies into the swim, it took me a few casts to get both baits in positions that I was happy with, I could feel on the drop of both rods that I was fishing in a good depth, each lead landing communicated a dull thud through the rod blank. Once both traps were set I'd decided that I wasn't going to do any recasts at any point throughout the day, I knew what I was doing was correct and now it was just in the lap of the gods if a curious carp was going to investigate the spot. 

As usual I sparked the kettle up, it was coffee time, for me this is like a religious ceremony, there's no better way to welcome in the first few minutes of a session. This time around, instead of focusing intensely on the water like I usually do, I decided to try and let my mind wander, and whilst I sat back and slowly watched the steam streaming from the kettle, I started to imagine that I was releasing old ghosts, I was setting them free to gently drift and evaporate into the ether above, allowing them to reach their destination.

Thinking about it, there's been many times in my life when I've wished that I could just simply disappear, float free, I find this world too much to bare at times, there's so much conflict, too much resentment, war, and if I'm being honest I find I have nothing in common with the majority of people that seem to drift in and out of my life, it use to bother me, but now I except that it's just the way it is. Some people manage to exist in harmony, I unfortunately don't, I've spent my life chasing something that I still haven't found and to make it worse I still don't really know what that is. I think it lies somewhere between the primal energy of the drum and the truth hidden within the written word.

But then I realised that if I hadn't lived my life the way that I had, I wouldn't be here now, sitting like a ghost in the wilderness, trying desperately to communicate with the unseen. I started to think that every single moment and action in my life had to happen for me to end up right here, right now, in this moment. Maybe the world wasn't so bad after all, and as I inhaled the fresh air that the new wind had to offer, I felt such a huge sense of ease. Here I was surrounded by 'infinity', and I was getting lost in the atlas of my mind - "I think next time I should do what I usually do, which is watch the water intensely",  thinking too much can be dangerous.

Back To Reality

A sudden bleep from my right hand rod broke my day dreaming, all of a sudden reality was very real again, another bleep followed. I was sitting on the edge of my chair waiting to pounce on the rod. A minute passed and then it was away, a carpy buzz came over my body and before I knew it I had a hard fighting mystery on the end of my line. The fight was hard, it weaved all around the water in front of me and was very reluctant to show itself, she soon started to give herself up and I proceeded to ease the mesh under a lovely looking mirror, scales fell to 17IB.

17IB Mirror Wearing Her Winter Skin
This fish was again another perfect example of a pure Burrows carp, clean, healthy and hard fighting, it was an honour to have tamed her. The presentation worked and clarified that the spot was worth a punt. I wanted to get the bait back out fast, so I opted for a tiny little mesh bag of pellet, just to give a little added attraction. Hopefully there was the odd freebie kicking around near my left hand bait. I'm sure if a carp had come across it, the rod would of gone off by now. A calm and measured cast saw my right hand bait smack bang on its previous position. 

A Tiny Package Of Attraction

Since my success on both Boreham Mere and Braxted Front lake, my confidence is flying sky high regarding the minimal bait approach. If fish are about, you really don't have to be loading your swim right up, in the summer on certain waters 'baiting with both barrels' is a killer method and I love doing it. But working with small baits has more of a hunting quality about it, you've got to get your location right. I'm starting to feel the more pressured the water is, the less bait I am willing to use. Both solid bag and spodding presentations have a pattern, I feel wiser carp can pick up on this and spook, but broken boilies, the odd pellet and maybe a thin scattering of method mix doesn't create any real obvious pattern, it's random and it's an approach I am eager to take further in the coming months.

So, both rods were out, mid afternoon was yawning into late afternoon and I was still feeling hopeful, the minutes bled into an hour or two and then all of a sudden the right rod was away again. I scrabbled for it and kept the pressure on, the fish was trying to get in the snags to the left of the spot. With some gentle persuasion I managed to guide her my way and I felt such relief when I could see that she was in the open water. I kept her steady and managed to get her in the net with no fuss, it was another stunning mirror, once in the sling, scales fell to 16IB.

A Majestic Mirror At 16IB
After I'd gently slipped her back I took a moment to acknowledge the fact that I'd got everything right, taking into account how moody Burrows can be. It can really have a habit of slapping you in the face, hence why appreciating every capture is so important, each fish caught keeps you going through the sessions where the water plays the blanking game with you. 

As the day started to draw to a close it felt like the water was preparing for temporarily hibernation, and as I packed up and made my way back to the car, I felt pleased that it had been another solid session. It goes without saying that I was already thinking about my next visit and on the journey home, carp were already starting to appear, swimming once again through the margins of my mind. It was going to be a long few days until I could get back down again, angling - it's a beautiful obsession. 

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