Monday 26 September 2016

Blunts Mere 'Creaking Timber'

Waking up from a deep and sweaty sleep, I stumbled from the bedroom to the kitchen, still in a half comatose state, I opened the kitchen blinds. The wind was howling, the sky looked like it was about to fracture and the rain was beating on the glass. I hadn't planned to go fishing today but the weather was 'spot on' and I just couldn't pass the opportunity up. I've always said that I try to get out when I know the fish will be feeding, whatever the weather. Shaking the cobwebs from my head and inhaling breakfast at an alarming rate, the tackle was soon lined up in the hallway and I was ready to go. Having spent so much of my life either in a state of despair, or too hung over to motivate myself. I seem to now have an urge to start my day within minutes of being conscious, be it work or fishing, I don't want to waste a second of my life anymore.

However, I do find that the medication that I'm on, if you're not careful, can drag you right down to the point where staring at a wall can feel like a fulfilling alternative to doing anything productive. It's unfortunately a lesser of two evils, you have to find a way of dealing with it. For me, the prospect of a days fishing seems to obliterate the somewhat lethargic side effects I tend to experience, add catching a few carp into the equation and it really seems to sort me out. Just as I was about to close the front door behind me, I heard a faint voice coming from the bedroom. It was my wife reminding me, "don't forget you're taking Eric today", I'd obviously forgotten about this, my mind was in a fog, obsessing about big long commons. 

Some waters on the Chelmsford ticket don't allow dogs so my plan to fish Braxted 'was out the window', I decided my new destination would be Blunts Mere, I hadn't fished it for a very long time, I knew I wasn't going to break any records, but it's a great venue where you can pretty much guarantee a bite or two. The rain was hammering it down so hard and the wind was literally pushing the rain drops sideways, my gear was soaked by the time I'd even managed to load the van. It's these kind of days I love the most, I knew the fish would be feeding and the water would most probably be deserted. The idea of being battered and bruised by the elements for the day was a surprisingly inspiring prospect. 

The journey up was somewhat treacherous, the van was being blown all over the place, the windscreen wipers didn't move fast enough to clear the water away. I started to think that I'm either 'super dedicated' or just 'plain bloody stupid', either way, I was getting my rods out and that's really all that mattered. I've mentioned in many of my previous blogs how important it is for me to experience angling in its many guises. Some of the most exhilarating feelings I've ever experienced have been when I'm playing a fish in a heavy downpour. Or simply standing by the waters edge as the wind and rain howl through one ear and out the other. The landscape is harsh, you feel strangely isolated, you're alert, understanding that beneath the chaos on the surface, a carp could choose to take your bait at any moment.  

Cants Mere 'The Heavens Opened'

The further away from home that I got the lighter the rain became, it went from tsunami conditions to a sparse drizzle. Arriving at the gate, the wind was calm and the air was fresh, crawling up the gravel path, the stones grated together underneath the tyres of the van. I was met with an empty car park, it felt perfect, I decided I'd go for a wander, the lake felt lonely, dormant as if it had literally paused in time. I chose to target the back bay, this is an area that has loads of features, I sensed a few carp could be ghosting around under the over hanging branches that hung precariously over the margins. I wasted no time in getting the rods out, there was a gap in the rain, this would allow me to get everything sorted before the heavens opened once again.

View From The Swim

The approach was simple, I'd bait up really tight to all the snags and scatter a few baits around both rods in the open water. I was hoping that I could attract any carp that might be sitting snug in the sanctuary of the branches. I was going to 'bait heavy', it always works well for me around this time of the year. Regarding my bait, I'd chosen to use Banana Cream, come both Autumn and Winter I favour the Milk Protein and sweet birdseed blends. I got a good scattering out and within minutes I could see that fish were already scratching about.

On Blunts in the past, I'd experienced some really odd indications, the bobbin would react in a way that gave me the impression that some carp were getting away with it. I know it's classed as a fairly easy water but its residents are fished for an awful lot, I have no doubt that some of them know how to deal with rigs. Today I was going to try a slightly different setup, I was going to stick with bottom baits but they would be fished on a 'Fox Illusion/Silkworm Combi'. The illusion is practically invisible once in the water and it's lovely and rigid, with the Silkworm being so supple, the combination of them both creates a really effective 'hinge'.

Fox Illusion - Silkworm Combi Rig

With both rods rigged and the rain starting to fall, I got the rods out comfortably, fired a few more baits in and quickly ducked under the brolly. The rain fell like never before and the wind went from a breeze to an almighty gust within seconds. A proper chop had developed on the water, this however didn't obscure the very obvious signs of fish feeding on my bait. It all came together very quickly and I was anticipating that a bite was on the cards. Even though I was huddled tight underneath the brolly, gripping like crazy to both storm-poles, I managed to awkwardly position myself, ready to jump on the rods at the slightest indication.

The left rod was the first to go, it ripped off at speed, I gently lent back into it and as the rod arced over I could feel the carp darting around like crazy. It felt good to be into a fish so quick, the wind had blown the rain clouds clear and 'mid-fight' the rain stopped. As the fish came in close it broke the surface layers, I caught a glimpse of a perfect looking common. It was a really spirited fight and by the time I slipped it over my landing net mesh it had given a great account of itself. I unhooked her in the net and cast the same boilie out straight away.

An Early Visitor
Once returned I loaded the swim back up with bait, cast the rod slightly closer to the branches, set the bobbin and got my first coffee of the day on the go. Ominous clouds started to hang over head once more, the sky darkened and the rain came, this time more violent than before. Colours were falling all around me, squadrons of old oak leaves were drifting onto the skin of the water and instantly setting sail like miniature long ships. Others where getting caught in, what I can only describe as thermals, rising and falling gracefully as if they were desperately trying not to crash land into the water. It's on days like these where it's so easy to be inspired, if anything, catching a fish is secondary.

As I sat there with my nice hot mug of coffee cupped within my hands, scanning the water carefully, I could make out patches of bubbles coming up all over my baited area. This is always a familiar sight on Blunts, and the strange things is, on more than one occasion your rods will stay silent. I was hoping the little tweak to my rig might just catch them out. Time went by, the weather was deteriorating, the breeze was now gail force again, the trees were contorting and the 'timber was creaking'. All I could do was hang on to everything around me and wait for the carp to 'play ball'.

Eric Carp Spotting 

Come late afternoon the light started to go very quickly, there was what I can only describe as a "Blair Witch" feel to things. Before I knew it my only vision was that of the head-torch secured on my head. As I stared into it's very weak beam I couldn't see anything, the foreground had totally disappeared. The trees just behind me were now literally swaying from the root up, occasionally something would snap and fall to the ground. It did cross my mind that a bloody great branch could fall crippling both me and my brolly at any moment 

Suddenly, through the chaos, my righthand rod gave out a few bleeps and then it was away, staggering through the darkness I lunged, lifted into the abyss that stood before me and held on for dear life. The fish felt heavy, almost like an anchor that was stopping me from being blown away, it was nuts, I applied the pressure, the wind raced through the rods rings, creating a strange 'dischord whistle', mid-fight my lefthand rod also tore away. It was utter chaos, here I was alone in the darkness, caught in a void, and I had a double take. I managed to tighten up the clutch on the left rod and hoped that the rod left sat on the pod would do the work for me until I could pick it up. 

I battled with the first fish, it was really giving me trouble, I couldn't rush it, a slight panic kicked in. Closer and closer she came but she was having none of it, the net mesh was in the water waiting but it was as if the fish was a mile away. I briefly glanced at my other rod, the tip was pulled right round to the left, pulsating with every tug from the carp on the other end. The first fish was finally starting to tire, it came close in, I lunged forward with the net ... result! 

I lifted into the other rod preying that the carp hadn't found one of the many snags, side strain confirmed this wasn't the case. I applied heavy pressure, the rod arced right round to my left, the carp had managed to bully its way down the narrow channel to the left of me. I held on hard and tried to tease her back my way, it was 'touch & go' for a minute or two but I was making head way. Soon she was back under my rod tip, literally beneath my feet, grabbing the second landing net, I went for "the scoop" and won .... both fish landed, god knows how I'd managed it.

Double Take

Glancing down in both the nets, I was met with golden armour like scales, they were both good looking commons and fairly large by Blunts standards. It was totally pitch black around me, I tried to get, what I thought would be a good few shots before returning them home, I really couldn't see anything, the flash from the camera nearly burnt my retinas out. The sheer craziness of what had just happened was yet to sink in, who said catching fish was relaxing?

Bite Number 1
Bite Number 2
With both fish safely back the mission was simple, get packed up and get the hell out of there before a tree fell on me. I was scrambling around in the dark, packing down my pod, frantically rolling up my cradle and bagging it up. Everything was eventually thrown on the barrow, I legged it back to the van with Eric in tow. Once behind the wheel I started the engine up and turned the headlights on. I sat there for a minute or two, it felt surreal, the wind was whistling around the cabin of the van, the van itself gently rocked with every heavy gust. 

I was surrounded by darkness, I started to think that I could very easily be the only person alive right now, I hadn't seen a soul all day. It had been a crazy session and it reminded me why I love fishing in Autumn so much, and why it's so important for me to get out there and get stuck in whatever the weather might throw at me. The journey home was peaceful and the closer I got to London, the calmer the winds became, I was already planning my next trip, I was sensing a 'big hit', Braxted reservoir was going to be my next port of call.