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.