Sunday 6 November 2016

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 1

Echoes From The Valley is going to be an ongoing series of blogs accounting for all my future sessions on Burrows. It's a water that I find myself returning to time and time again. Regular visitors to this blog will be aware that its pretty much a 'main stay' among all of my writing. It's the one water that I feel so connected to, its location, along with the quality of fish it contains makes it a perfect escape. Through the years I've told many tales about the place, its always got a story to tell. 

Some who fish the Paddlesworth complex down in Snodland might describe it as a runs water, a few years back it might have been, and depending on how you fish it, it could well still be for some. For me though, it's not about the number of fish I catch, it's about trying to suss out how to pick off the solitary lumps that tend to ghost around in-between the shoal fish. During summers passed I've spent hours watching large dark shadows move around in ones and twos. It's those fish I'm desperate to meet, I may well of met some of them already, but I just can't help thinking there's still a special few I'm yet to greet. 

If you can manage to tempt one, they're very special, the commons come in all shapes and sizes and some of the mirrors are so unique, it still amazes me the surprises it manages to reveal. To put it into perspective, the Pollard, the main big fish water is literally yards away, it has a heavy head of 20's, 30's and at least one 40. But I have no real interest in fishing it, I'm sure at some stage in the future I will and that will then become one of my new stories. At the moment though, unearthing what Burrows is still hiding is my main focus. 

I've said it so many times before, a water is like an unwritten story, it has a beginning, middle and an end, the end comes when we choose to write it. Sometimes we'll rewrite whats already been written, 'pitching ourselves up again on a venue we long left behind' but I'm in no rush to move on, I like to write the story of my waters slowly, accurately, carefully stitching the paragraphs together, understanding what's being hidden between the lines, and familiarising myself with all the characters. In regards to Burrows, I'm not even half way through the book. 

Summertime In The Valley

I think when you move onto a water with the single mission of catching "the biggest fish" and then moving on. It's as if you're writing the last page of a story that has no beginning or middle. Nowadays I find that there's way too much focus on "size", and it's not just in angling. We now live in a world where big is best, success is measured by the size of your house, the price of your car, how many 'likes' and 'followers' you have on 'anti' social media. This bares no resemblance of reality to me. My reality is watching the sun rise over the water, witnessing a carp leap from its world into ours just for a second, and most importantly, continuing to be who I truly am despite what life throws at me. 

This blog is going to account for an afternoon session I managed to tuck in between work. I have to admit the 120 mile round trip to fish my Chelmsford waters is something I can't always bring myself to do. Especially when the traffic is really heavy, there are times when it feels like a days work rather than a relaxing fishing trip. My last session up at Braxted was such a success, it felt right to check back in down Burrows, if only for a short session. It's usually this time of the year that the better fish start to surrender themselves.

Winter was now well and truly on its way and over the last couple of weeks the chill had really started to lower the water temperatures. I knew that the carp would be on the feed and I was eager to get out fishing. My work had been really full on, but I made it a priority to carry my tackle with me, on the off chance that I could sneak a few hours in. Having finished everything I had to do, by early afternoon I was racing down the A2, I stopped at the garage to stock up on a few supplies and use the van as a temporary changing room. I was so excited to be getting the rods out, during the remaining journey I managed to pack away my 'working' head and firmly engage my angling mind. 

Autumn Waking In The Valley
It's all about the 'mindset', thinking the right way can make or a break a session, I had no fixed ideas or expectations. I was going to get to the water, gauge the situation and then take it from there. Arriving at the complex and taking the drive up 'the green mile' to the car park, I was surprised to see the place deserted. One of the many beauties of fishing this time of the year is the fact a lot of people start to hang their rods up. You now become one of a few anglers that stick with it, come rain, shine, snow and ice, the same familiar cars will always be parked up. 

I can't imagine hanging my rods up, winter on the waters can be a productive time, I do however change my approach, opting to stay mobile. The 12ft rods now go down to 8.5ft and all the essential items stay firmly on the barrow, 'sitting it out', becomes a passing thought. Now with the water to yourself the world can feel like your oyster, staying active, priming little spots and moving on any shows that might occur. This trip would be the last static session before I would become the traveller. Upping sticks and going to search for my carp rather than waiting for them to come to me.

Wheeling my barrow down the ever bumpy pathway, I walked straight into a living portrait, the water and the woodland surrounding me was drenched in golden and rustic yellows and browns. It was like I was superimposing myself into a still life painting, flurries of leaves were falling, there was a chill in the air, it felt so dam right for a bite. The wind was pushing down towards me, I usually stay clear of the pressured swims but 'the muddy double' looked like the place to pitch up. Instead of targeting the 'obvious spots' I thought I'd fish both rods down in the dirt. There's a lovely deep margin spot that I've always favoured over 'the obvious'.

View From The Swim 

For this spot to work you have to get really close to the over hanging branches. The deep run I'm wanting to hit is directly under them, a few measured casts later and I was clipped up and ready to place my bait. It was important that I hit the clip and feathered the rig perfectly, anything less than this and I wouldn't be able to sit comfortably knowing that I was fishing effectively. Nothing beats that feeling when you hit your spot 'bang-on'.

My bait for today was going to be something a little different, I wasn't going to put anything out there. I only had a few hours and I wanted to maximise on my chances, I was going to combine both the Honey Nectar and the White Chocolate together. A few weeks back whilst out on a job I had my first crunchy chocolate bar for quite some time. It got me thinking about bait combinations, what carp could resist a 'Honey Chocolate' treat? To give the white chocolate just a little bit more kick, I'd soaked it in tangerine fish flavour. 

Honey Nectar & White Chocolate

I rate citrus flavours when the waters get cold, the plan was to fish a single on the hair and have a nice little mouthful in a mesh bag containing a combination of both boilies crushed up. It smelt so good and the fleck of both the white and the orange was sure to catch the eye of a passing carp. I find if I can blend two baits together that not only smell good but visually look inviting, I feel I've got all bases covered. I'm really not into generic mainstream 'buzz baits'. I want to try and offer the fish something a little different.

A Tasty Little Package

Both rods went out with little fuss, I was more than confident something was going to occur. The air was now biting and the wind was pushing gently towards my spots. It was already 3pm and I knew if I was going to get a fish, it would be in the next hour. I took a seat, put the kettle on and sat back to watch the almost silent theatre that was playing out around me. The low winter sun made it feel like the sky was closing in, every leaf on every tree looked as if it was clinging on for dear life before finally falling. Their journey was going to be short, some would be lucky enough to come to rest on the soil, prolonging their life for just a little while longer. Many would perish below the depths like forgotten carcasses, soon to rot down and become the future silt I would attempt to present a rig in.

The cycle of life and existence has always intrigued me, not just human life but almost every living, and un-living object we see. It's surreal when you really think about it, we're all just temporary passages on this spinning globe. We live, we wear out and eventually we're all buried beneath its earth, we go from inhabiting, procreating and trying to scratch a life on its surface, only to end up prisoners below its ground, 6ft down. Everything has a shelf-life, but I'm determined to try to live and fish well past my alleged 'sell by date'

There I was deep in thought, contemplating my own fate when suddenly I felt very much alive as my right hand rod ripped into action. The globe was still spinning, my heart was very much beating and I was battling a creature from the deep. The fight felt good, the carp was clearly not happy with its decision to pick up the tasty treat I had offered. Closer and closer it came, a fleck of grey haunted the flat spot as it cut the surface. The net was primed, ready for the scoop, any moment now ... RESULT!

My Prize Awaits
Looking down at the slate grey mirror in my net as my marble size bait rested hanging from it's mouth. I felt like I'd uncovered another one of Burrows jewels, just for a few hours I'd delved into the wild and won. The spot once again produced and my sweet little bait combination had worked perfectly. Over the next few months it was going to be something that I would experiment with. I wanted to stick to the old school flavours, fiddle like a crazy scientist to see if I could create a few more unique smelling mouthfuls.

Slate Grey
After saluting the fish 'farewell' I decided to get my gear together and head home. The spot is usually good for one bite and to be honest my 'carping obsession' had been quenched for at least the next 24 hours. The 'Echos From The Valley' series is going to be full of sessions, some short, some long, maybe just a few hours. But it's going to be a continuos story that I'm really going to enjoy sharing with you. There's nothing like truly connecting with a water, a place you go to get away when you're worn out with the system, or seeking a proper escape, a stretch of openness that you always leave feeling just that little bit better. Have you found a place like this? if not maybe you should start your search.