Wednesday 8 June 2016

The Stock Pond 'Restricted Time'

A huge chunk of time had gone by since my last session, I had been working so much, the weeks seemed to mould into one and before I knew it summer was on its last legs. During these periods both the angling and the writing take a back seat, my brain needs to be fully engaged to do both correctly. Over the recent weeks I've become pretty skilled at keeping my angling desires in check when I'm having to work a lot. After a good few weeks away from the water my obsession seems to simmer, I've found the best way forward is to try and find a perfect balance. It's healthy to take a break, it gives the mind enough time to file everything away, which in turn shifts and freshens perspectives.

A Fresh Perspective 
It doesn't take a great deal for me to lose perspective on things, that's why over the years I've become more of a short session angler, and much prefer it that way. In the early 90's once I'd gone through my "coarse fishing" stage and started to focus solely on carp, I would be night-fishing all the time, days would morph into weeks and most of the time I'd be hauled up in one swim just waiting. I found after a few nights I wasn't really fishing anymore, all my energy went into trying to stay awake, I'd be too excited to ever sleep well. It's as if the actual fishing became secondary to 'camping'. Instead of concentrating on catching, my thoughts were preoccupied with, Have I got enough food, Do I have enough water and gas for the stove .... etc. 

I'd turn up to the water in a blase fashion, ferry a colossal amount of gear to my desired swim. Spend an age setting everything up and then cast the rods out to the first predictable place I could see. Then I'd sit there for however many days I had at my disposal and wait. I knew that if I was there long enough a few fish were bound to come my way. When I look back on it all now, I wasn't really fishing, I was just camping out. During this period I wasn't progressing or learning anything, I was very simply standing still. A saying my Dad told me rings so true to describe all this, he said "some people have 30 years experience, others have one years experience 30 times". Take a minute to think about that.

Caught On A Quick 3 Hour Session
Nowadays my longest sessions will be about 13 hours and that's in the height of the summer when days are at their longest. If I want to be there for first light, I'll get up early. If I can only manage a half day then I'll go to a water where I know the fish have a tendency to come on the feed later on. I've said it before, it's not the amount of time you have, it's how you use that time which is key. A lot of my enjoyment now comes in the intensity of trying to workout how my 'chosen water' works in the time that I have available too me. I'm now more inclined to really try and make something happen, because I'm always fishing in short, sharp bursts I find both my perspective and enthusiasm is always primed. 

I do understand that if you target big pits or larger waters with low stock, pitching up camp can be a huge advantage. But I personally feel with dedication and observation you'd still be able to get results fishing short sessions. It just means you've got to put more effort in. When I've had long periods of time without any work and I've chosen to focus on a single water, I'll drive back and forth each day for a week if I feel I have to. Again, if I'm travelling a long way to my chosen venue, it's amazing what thoughts you can have about how you want to approach things on both the journey to and from the water. Living in London, the 'drive' out of the city into the country is inspiring on its own.

This brings me on to my last session down on the stock pond, I had stuff to do in the morning so I headed down just after midday. I'd had a fair result on both my previous trips so,"third time lucky" sprang to mind. It was looking like it was going to be the last session on this water for the foreseeable future. When Autumn starts to arrive I want to focus my energy on my Chelmsford waters. As a whole, the fishing had been pretty patchy for me a lot this year. I really wanted to try and maximise on the big Autumn and Winter feed.

On The Stock Pond Winter 2014

Arriving at the water I was greeted with empty banks, apart from my old friends, the horses and the squadron coots, there was no one around. It was overcast and warm with a nice fresh breeze. As expected, the weed was still very heavy. I walked a few laps of the water, it was quiet, almost too quiet. For this session I was planning on fishing singles with a light scattering of pellet, I was going to keep it really simple. My chosen bait was the ever reliable Banana Cream, when fishing just single baits I always like to fish a nice bright bait.

Visual Attraction

The wind was pushing down towards the front corner of the water, I was going to target the reed line. Picking my spot here would allow me to walk around and drop a handful of pellets over each rod. Most of the weed I could see in this specific area was on the surface, underneath it I could see a clear hard bottom. I was going to launch my baits through the weed, both would be fished on the bottom. I picked bottom baits because when the lakebed is clear, a single pop up can stick out like a sore thumb. I knew that a bright single bottom bait with a scattering of pellet was the perfect presentation. 

View From The Swim  
The rigs were my usual 'semi-fixed' inlines, both leads had a lovely dark finish to them. When fishing over clean bottoms I really try to conceal everything as much as I can. Because I wasn't actively fishing in between heavy weed I wasn't going to use a leader. Instead I opted for a length of translucent green tubing, roughly 46cm long. This would do a perfect job of both concealing and protecting the line. As usual I gave myself one cast, if there were fish sitting in the reeds I didn't want to alert them to my presence. I didn't clip up, I made the cast as measured as possible, both fell pretty close to where I wanted them. As the rigs cut through the surface weed, a few seconds later I received a lovely "DONK" off both rods, I was in the clear.

Regarding the subject of 'concealment', there's this age old argument among some that it makes no difference. I personally think that it does, anything you can do to make sure your rig blends in is only going to help matters. I personally believe that some of the more wary carp can see your end tackle. This might explain why some fish go uncaught for months, sometimes years at a time. Over the years I've seen carp spook off and react very strangely around rigs, especially when using lead clips, I find that lead clips can make the lead sit funny, especially over hard bottoms. 

For most of my fishing I favour inlines because, "depending on the shape you choose", it keeps everything very low-profile. I will only opt for using lead clips if I'm fishing over soft silt where there's a danger that the lead might sink and drag everything down into the junk. Though my rigs might not be complicated I like them to be as covert and streamline as possible. I work on the basis of giving the carp a huge amount of credit, and anything you can do to up your chances of a pick up is a winner in my book. 

The Right Colours For The Job
Due to the surface weed I didn't use back leads, instead I opted for a semi slack line. With both baits now in position I wandered round and threw a handful of pellet in the rough vicinity of where both rigs landed. By this time the wind had really picked up, it was beating hard against the reeds, so much surface weed was making its way into the area. I knew that it was just a matter of time before the odd carp or two came to investigate. Now with the kettle on the verge of boiling, I took a seat, my eyes were fixed firmly on my rod tips. If a bite occurred I wanted to be on it as fast as possible.

In true "stock pond" fashion, time ticked by with not so much as a liner. I'm very familiar with the way it works, I rarely receive any indication that fish are in the swim. The takes seem to come out of nowhere and they're usually full blown 'screamers'. Time continued to pass and as I sat looking way out over into the distance I could see heavy clouds starting to gather. It felt like a new wind was passing through, a lovely cool temperature drop came fleeting over the distant fields, onto the water and through my body. I inhaled deeply, visualising all the 'spiritual cobwebs' within me being blown away. Clarity comes in many forms!

Come 5 o'clock I was still sitting on my hands, couples starting appearing along the public footpath that runs along the side of the water. They were out wandering and walking their dogs, I preyed that none of their four legged friends would venture into the lake. This has happened on so many occasions, they come bounding over, jump into the water and go for a swim. Thankfully they all quietly passed, mid thought, my attention was suddenly drawn to my left hand rod, I clocked the tip violently twitch. The alarm gave out a few 'bleeps' and then it was away, I was on it fast, the fish headed away from the reeds and shot through as much of the weed as it could, I kept the pressure on but it went solid.

My heart sunk slightly, I find the best way to deal with these situations is to just keep the pressure on, slowly pulling towards me. There was a jolt, the rod bent over and the clutch kicked back in, it was out but I still had one hell of a job getting it to my net. The fish was darting, swirling and taking me in all directions, weed was now strung up the line. As it came closer the fight ceased, I'd clocked a lump of weed over the fishes face. Now was my chance to gain some proper ground. I very gently guided her my way, my net engulfed a massive pile of weed, somewhere within it was my prize. 

Embrace The Weed  
Peeling away 'the green stuff', a long dark body revealed itself, I'd caught one of the older mirrors, I actually think I'd had this fish before a good few years back. It was good to see her again, she looked in good condition. There was minor mouth damage which I treated, after a few quick photos I let her recover in the sling for a few minutes before setting her free. I didn't bother recasting, the commotion would've spooked anything else that might've been in the area. 

An Old Friend
Once again, another short session had delivered the goods, on the short walk back to the car I was already thinking about where I was going to go next. Summer was on its way out, I could feel it, the year had passed so quickly and I still had this nagging feeling that I hadn't yet found my 'mojo'. I was hoping that things would change in the coming months leading into the colder weather. Either way, another positive session was underneath my belt and I felt pretty optimistic. Lets see what the rest of the year brings.