Thursday, 19 May 2016

Wick Mere 'A Royal View'

I hadn't really been in a rush to get back down to Wick, mainly because, with the woods closed, the going swims were pretty much on rotation 24/7. When I think back to the previous year doing 'days only' I literally drove myself insane trying to bank my first carp, I must of done at least 25 sessions before breaking through. It was really very simple in the end, you had to be on the fish to catch them and because the woods were closed, they grouped up in that area and pretty much stayed there. Two swims gave you access to where they were hauled up, when I managed to get into either of these swims, I caught. For those of you that keep up with my blogs, you'll know that it all came good in the end, but it was a very frustrating journey.

The Day Closing Over Wick 'Summer 2015'
There were some whispers that the woods would open up again once the water had drained so the trees could be felled. No one was certain exactly when this was going to happen, I felt that once the carps 'safe zone' had been taken away, it might start to push them back into actively patrolling the whole water again. Having spent so much time fishing elsewhere I suddenly had a 'calling' from Wick to get back on its banks. Instead of planning a long drawn out session I made the decision that I'd do a half day visit, sometimes a quick, short, sharp, shot does the trick.

One of the things that always gets me excited about Wick is the stamp of commons that it holds. They're dark, long and really hard fighting, actually, as I sit and write this, it's been reported that a 42IB common has recently graced someones net. It doesn't surprise me at all, the mere is fairly large and has so much weed and natural food for the carp to feed on. Give it another few years and I think it's going to hold a very large head of big fish. It's a water that I will always visit and I believe there are still a few surprises ghosting around in its depths.

A Memorable Wick Capture
On the day of the session it was humid and muggy, partially overcast with patchy drizzle. My carp senses were in overdrive, it felt so right for a bite and I couldn't wait to get the rods out. I had a feeling the 50 or so miles ahead of me were going to feel very long. My mind was stitching together so many different scenarios, I was really hoping that one of the 'going swims' would be available, if not I knew I'd be having to fish in 'no mans land'. It's a proper head-ache when the swim you're in is as dead as a dodo, but you can clearly see the carp partying in an area of water that you just can't reach. 

This can be a common experience on Wick, they're not afraid to show themselves, more times than not, they put on one hell of a display as they leap continuously out the water. I've counted up to 30 shows in the space of a few minutes, it's as if they're laughing at you. Times like these I have very little going through my mind other than, Carp-1 Paul-0. Today was going to be different though, I could feel it, and I was going to do my very best to get one of those lovely dark commons in my landing net mesh.

On arrival I was very surprised to be met with an empty car park, it was looking like I was going to have the whole of the mere to myself. The adrenaline kicked in, I proceeded to get the barrow loaded at an alarmingly high speed and headed down to the waters edge. I was afraid that my excitement was going to cloud my judgement so I took some time out and slowly walked the whole of the water. Everything looked so perfect, the clouds were moody, there was a light drizzle and the world around me appeared so vivid. Standing alone with only my dog Eric as company, I really felt like I was stood within a water-colour painting. 

As expected, the carp were putting on a show, a few leapt clean from the water just by the island. I counted four shows along the back end of the woodland bank. It was pretty clear where I needed to be, so I headed round to a swim that gave me access to both the woodland margin and the island. Once in the swim it suddenly hit me just how heavy the weed growth was, this was going to be really tricky, not just getting a bait in but also sinking my line properly without it getting embedded in all the surface weed.  

Swim Position

Before even contemplating getting a bait out I wanted to have a feel around the spots that I was planning to fish. I didn't want to dedicate a great deal of time to this, solely because I didn't have a great deal of time ahead of me. Also, if there were fish in the area I didn't want to be spooking them away. A couple of measured casts later I'd found a few spots where the weed wasn't too bad. Usually in these circumstances I'd fish a 'safe' helicopter system but this time around I opted for my 'pop up claw' rig.

Pop Up Claw Rig
The above rig can be fished on both a rotary system or a 'semi-fixed/running' lead arrangement. Today I was going to use a 'POM' lead setup, this is similar to the 'COG' but without all the 'bells & whistles', simply put, you have a secondary running swivel on your hook-link that connects to a grommet in the lead. The hook-link is a lot longer than usual and I find when fished in combination with a perfectly balanced bait, it presents itself perfectly over low lying debris and weed. 

Secondary Swivel Pressed Into Grommet

The advantage to this setup is simple, if you have to ditch the lead then you're able to do so. I don't endorse ditching leads at all, but on the occasions where it would be detrimental to the fish not to, then I'm all for it. Dropping the lead on every take just for the hell of it, in my mind, is bad angling practice. Due to the amount of weed in front of me I was going to need all the help I could get to land a fish safely. 

The actual claw of the rig is produced by simply steaming a curve into a full length of heat shrink tubing, how aggressive that curve is, is entirely up to you. The final element in my mind which makes this rig so effective is the micro swivel on the hook, this creates what I call "a safe 360" effect. Meaning that whatever direction the carp comes on to the bait from, it allows the hook to spin around and hopefully take hold. 

Micro Swivel In Place Of A Hair

The image below shows the finished presentation from above, if you can visualise the water being nice and murky with weed and debris fluttering around. From a 'carps eye view', it sits proud offering a tasty little treat that any passing fish would find hard to resist. It always takes me a little time to balance the bait perfectly, it's key to get the hook-bait to sink super slowly so it rests on whatever is on the lake bed, you don't want the bait burying itself and disappearing into a mass of debris. Finally this will be fished on a leader, again, I'm not a fan of them but with the amount of shelves and swan mussels that are in Wick, it has to be done.

A Carps Eye View

So, now with all the technical waffle out the way, it was time to get on with some fishing. With both rods rigged up it was now a case of getting them on the spots. The left rod was wrapped 13 times, this put me directly under some overhanging trees right at the start of the woodland bank. Due to the crazy weed out by the island, I found a clearer spot directly out in front of me, 10 wraps placed me perfectly on this. My bait of choice was Strawberry Mivvi, I decided I was going to put out two fairly large spreads. I wanted to try and attract some fish in, taking into account a fair number of freebies would fall into the weed.

View From The Swim
The rods were out, the bait was out and now it was time to sit back and take it all in. There's nothing quite like sitting back and putting your feet up when you're 100% confident in what you are doing. The coffee came out and so did the sun, here I was alone on the mere with a proper "Royal View" in front of me and one of those long dark commons that I always seem to dream of could be moments away from making its presence known.

Too my surprise the left rod flew into action whilst I was enjoying my coffee mid-gulp, I shot up spilling it all over me and lunged for the rod. The fish took off up the margin at crazy speed and managed to shoot headfirst into a lovely thick weed bed. I kept the pressure on, there was a slight jolt and as quick as it was on, it came off. I took the positive "there were fish in the swim". So I brushed myself down and got the rod back out, followed by three modest handfuls of bait. This time I was going to 'lock up', this would hopefully put the breaks on the take, giving me a better chance of avoiding the same thing from happening again. 

Eric Keeping An Eye On Things
The afternoon progressed and the carp activity increased, there were fish showing all along the woodland bank and around the island. My expectations were through the roof, I knew it was just a matter of time before I received a gift. As I sat clocking the activity around me a carp jumped within yards of my left hand rod, it looked like a good fish. I was willing it to find my bait, in preparation for what might occur, I hovered close to my rods, I really didn't want to lose another fish to the weed. Perched, striking hand at the ready pure poetry ensued. The rod arched round and it was away, I was on it like a shot. 

The carp tried to take the same route as the last one, immense side strain stopped it in its tracks. I kept the pressure on, the fish was giving me some serious stick but I held tight adjusting the clutch accordingly. Very slowly she was coming my way, weed was strung all up the line and I sensed that there was a fair clump attached to the end tackle. The rod was creaking, carefully I continued to guide her my way, quarter of the way out, the fish surfaced, I briefly witnessed a long dark back cut through the surface layers. The adrenalin kicked in, I had to land this fish.

The closer it came the thicker the weed, it was 'touch and go' but with steady and gentle pressure I managed to tease her over my net, what a relief!. Parting the abundance of canadian that engulfed everything, I was met with a beautiful dark common, a classic Wick mere specimen. I didn't bother weighing her but I guessed she wasn't far off 20IB. Size is irrelevant, it was once again the process of this capture that interested me. The presentation was right and so was the location, once again, a short, sharp session had produced the goods.

A Classic Wick Mere Common
The rest of the day retired itself to evening, no more bites came but I was more than happy with the result. I made my way back to the car as the sun was setting, the world felt somewhat perfect for the first time in a long while. Now I'd had my 'Wick Fix', my mind was already thinking about where I was going to head off to next. I was feeling that my next trip might be a little closer to home, it appeared that Burrows was now calling me back and it was a calling I wasn't going to pass up.

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