Saturday, 27 May 2017

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 4

Over the past couple of weeks due to one thing or the other I hadn't managed to get out at all. Along with that, the weather had taken on a whole new form, the milder bright days of the past few months had gone. Each morning as I unwound the blinds I was greeted with a very different world, dark looming clouds and icy biting winds had implanted themselves in the 'everyday' and they weren't in a rush to leave. It's all too easy to hide away when the conditions are like this. However, it was not going to make me deviate from my plan, I needed to get out, I was going stir crazy. It's weird because I find that it's the normality of everyday life that gets to me the most. 

When I was active musically I felt removed from the 'normal'. Both your mind and your soul were consumed with creating something, most of the time it seemed to just create confusion and borderline madness, but that was fine for me, I embraced it fully and that became my 'normal'. I had this aching feeling that I was chasing after something, but deep down I had no idea what it was, somewhere inside, I knew the answer was hidden in between the heavy beat of a bass drum and a series of chords and melodies. Living that life felt very natural, it was an existence that I'd fine tuned as the years past. The '9-5' working day was an illness that I found myself always trying to shake off. This wasn't out of laziness, I've always worked hard, but I just couldn't help continually thinking .... surly there's more to life than this?.

Nothing is more confusing to me than the broken system that's forced upon us. I remember feeling this way from a very early age, I've spent a huge majority of my life trying to break through the 'matrix', ... I'm still trying. I think that's one of the major aspects that drew me to angling in the first place, and it still plays a huge part today. It's an ejector seat that can thrust you clean from the shackles of the 'malleable reality' that's continually being reshaped for us everyday of our lives. I truly believe that getting out there on the water is as close to 'actual reality' as we're going to get. It's the one place where outside influences can't eat away at our consciousness, it's a safe haven where we're not continually told how we should think and what we should feel.

I'm not necessarily talking about the packed circuit waters or commercial day tickets here, there's way too much contact on those types of venues. I'm talking about the quiet waters, solitary type venues buried deep in the heart of the countryside ignored by the crowds. Where, father and son, boy or girl, venture out with no preconceived ideas or expectations, all they have is a rod in hand and a head full of dreams - there's nothing like that feeling, we've all experienced it. I believe it's that first moment when you cast a float into 'your' virgin water for the very first time. That defining moment when the float gently bobs and sinks through the waters skin. Nothing quite compares to that feeling, that's what we've all got to try to remember and hold on to, that's reality.
Find Your Own Reality

So here I was, the day was dull, the sky collapsing, but I was on an adventure, off out to find my own little piece of 'reality'. Opening the front door to start 'the tackle packing ritual, I quickly received a side hook and a hefty upper cut from 'JACK FROST'. The season was really packing a punch, I was more than prepared to go 12 rounds though, my desire to catch a carp couldn't be tamed. Arriving at the gates of Paddlesworth, the trees were swaying and everything felt pretty unforgiving. All the preparation of my last session was going to come into play, I'd get the rods clipped up and out quick. The brolly would go up and I'd perch underneath, doing my best to obscure myself from the universe.  

As I walked around the top part of the lake I spotted what looked like a day shelter in the distance, and it looked close to my secret spot. Instead of struggling with the barrow, I ditched it in the 'muddy double swim' and took a wander. All my plans were dashed when I walked around the corner only to see an angler set up to the right of the swim I was planning to go in. My master-plan was going to have to get put on hold, there was no way I was going to setup next to him when the rest of the lake was empty. It was frustrating but maybe it was fate, I took a few moments to gather my thoughts. My target area wasn't going to move, it will be there waiting for me for next time. Because I'd left my barrow in the 'muddy double', I thought I may as well setup there.

I usually avoid this swim due to the constant pressure but the lake had been very quiet recently. I've found in the past that when you're forced to make a last minute change, sometimes it can end up being the best thing that could've happened. You haven't been overthinking anything, you just get on with it. I would take my planned baiting approach and simply transplant it into my new swim. Instead of aiming for the opposite margin, which is the 'go to' spot, I'd target the edges of what I call the bowl area. My left hand rod would be in the clear, my right-hand rod would be fished super tight to the marginal growth. The bottom is littered with debris so I was going to change the rig to a rotary system with a balanced pop up.

Looking at the image below you'll get a clearer idea of what I'm talking about. In my mind, I like to divide my waters up into sections or 'areas', I find that this allows me to think clearer about the 'said' lake as a whole. On that particular 
session 'pictured', I was fishing straight across, I didn't have any luck, to be honest I was more bothered about dodging flying branches, it was utter chaos being out in the storm - strangely I loved every minute of it. There's nothing quite like fishing for carp and fearing for your life all at the same time, it certainly adds a fresh spin on things.
The Muddy Double 'During The Storm Last Month' 2017

'Excuse the tangent I'm about to lead you on, it's all relevant'. 

In regards to my 'rotary/heli' setup, I was going to piece it together myself. I've never really been one to buy 'rig kits', it has been this way since day one, I know it might be hard for some new comers to the sport to believe, but when I started properly fishing for carp, there weren't any ready tied rigs or kits. You had to suss it all out yourself, I'm not ashamed to admit that I just couldn't get my head around any of it to start off with. Casting a rig without it tangling was something that literally drove me nuts. The other aspect that will probably sound crazy, I didn't understand the concept of the bolt rig. I had this firm belief that when a carp picked the bait up and felt resistance, it simply dropped it and swam off. We know now that some of the older wiser fish have a tendency to do this. But I was fishing local club waters, none of the carp were seasoned escape artists.

It goes without saying that when the penny finally dropped it really changed my fishing, I started to make rigs for all situations from random bits of end tackle, all of a sudden all these odds and ends on the shelves down my local tackle shop, began to make sense. Having started at it in this way, however annoying it was at the time, it gave me a complete understanding of rigs, when and why you use them and for what situation. The learning process can be so frustrating but it is of course necessary in everything we do - "don't let other people do the thinking for you". You'll see in the image below that the rig is straightforward, the key element for me is the the riser lead, it's so easy to cast and if you're landing in debris or low lying weed, it slips both in and out with no bother.

Helicopter Rig 'Right Hand Spot'

Back in the 'muddy double', now with both rods ready to go, I took a few measured casts, clipped up and got the baits exactly where I wanted them. Dipping my hand in the water, I was actually shocked at just how freezing it was, all of a sudden the prospect of landing a fish evaporated, I visualized all the carp in the lake sitting in a big group, not moving, practically hibernating. Being so wrapped up with at least five layers on, I genuinely couldn't feel just how cold it was. There was no turning back, so under the brolly I hid, the kettle was just starting to boil. Its steam trails looking like spectres as they gently floated out across the swim, it fitted the atmosphere perfectly.  

View From The Swim

I was slowly settling, knowing deep down that I was probably going to be looking at static rods all day, when to my utter surprise the left rod tore off at a crazy pace. I really didn't expect it, maybe it was an hallucination, lifting into the rod and feeling a very real force, there was no doubt that I had a carp on the end of my line. It kited out into the open water and pulled as hard as it could down towards the margin to my right. I knew exactly what it was planning to do, there's a rough gravel shelf that falls away fast. I knew it was going to try and take me across it to cut the line - how do I know this?. Because a few fish have done me on it in the past, I wasn't going to let that happen. 

Applying some serious side strain I manged to guide her out in front of me, I caught a glimpse of light brown, it was mirror and it looked like a really nice fish. As she came close in I let my rod tip do all the work, I was fishing with my Bruce Ashby Perimeter XPS today. Even though they're a heavier rod, they still have the lovely tip action that's synonymous with Mr Ashbys rod building. Very slowly she started to tire, the fight had definitely warmed me up and as I slipped the net under my first carp of the day. I felt a buzz of electricity jolt through my body, what a result, it looked like I'd picked the right swim. I know that in the 'muddy double', if you get one, there's usually a few more to come.

Warmth On A Freezing Day

Releasing the fish back into the water and watching her swim off was somewhat cathartic. Everything was crystal clear, I could see her gills gently expanding, the tail swaying with a fluid motion. Lots of little idiosyncrasies I usually miss when the waters are muddied up. Having felt like I'd embraced the moment fully, it was now time to clip back up and get the rod back out. The wraps were counted, a short sharp jolt was executed, the clip kissed .. DONK!. The rig was back in position, under the brolly I crawled, hands firmly in my pockets, I really couldn't feel my fingers at all.  Sitting looking out at the desolate and deserted land before me, I felt strangely optimistic.

Now with coffee in hand and 'e-cig' in the other, I proceeded to create vapor trials, long slow draws on my device allowed me to conjure up what looked like more 'specters' drifting in the space above the water. The cold air kept the vapor dense, gently shifting its shape. For a second or two it looked reminiscent of stallions cantering across a murky wasteland. I was determined to try and see the ghostly shape of Richard Walker executing the cast that changed carp fishing forever. Just as I thought he was making an appearance, my left rod was away. The bobbin smacked the blank at such force, it was a real wake up call. Leaning into the fish, I was met with a heavy weight, as the ghosts I created petered off into the ether. I was smack bang in reality wrestling with the wild. 

The fish was moving slowly, there was no shaking of the head, it was eerily calm, gliding from left to right. It came in pretty quick and then proceeded to wake up under the tip. I cushioned its lunges, it surfaced for a second, it was a common, and a good one at that. Draped in its winter skin, it was reluctant to reveal itself to me, I was growing inpatient, I wanted to feast my eyes on the prize. A few minutes passed, she came up on her side. I slide the net under, what I can only describe, as perfection. As she sat sulking in the net, I looked down in slight disbelief, this fish was perfect in every way. The scales were pristine, its fins, mouth, everything was perfect, I was blown away, and with the clouds now breaking overhead, this carp shone as the ultimate example as to why I love Burrows so much.

With the fish safely in the sling I slowly lowered her back into the water, upon doing so, a single kick saw her shoot like a torpedo back into the abyss, there was no hanging around, no fond farewell. I started to wonder where she was off to in such a hurry, maybe she was off to warn her friends to get the hell out of the area. Either way, I was very happy to get another bite, it was obvious they were feeding and I felt that there was a high chance of getting another one. The rod went straight back out, a few freebies followed, I was back under my brolly, waiting for the unexpected.

Clouds were moving fast overhead, they were accelerating, it was trying its best to brighten up, the claustrophobic murk of the morning had finally lifted, I was now met with overcast skies. Occasionally the suns rays would fire down and touch the water before being swallowed back up by a mass of cloud confusion. The wind was still beating down towards me, I was hoping a few fish might just be hitching a ride on the undercurrent. Over the next hour or so I was getting a few liners off of both rods, it was clear to me that I had fish in the vicinity. I was preying that at least one of them would find my bait.

Mid afternoon came, there was a single bleep on my left rod, the bobbin fidgeted, my bite alarm was spluttering, indicating possible chaos. There was a major drop back, then ... BANG!! I was away, on it like a shot, I lifted the rod, eased into its curve, the clutch ticked, instantly I knew I was into some big. It was solid, I held on, it kited to my left and just carried on going. I couldn't do a great deal with it so I just held fast, the heavy clouds above where getting thicker, the sun had gone, leaving me standing alone to deal with a prospective monster. It was nuts, my legs where shaking a little bit, very slowly, the carp started to let me in on the game. Closer and closer it came until I was looking at a series of flat spots and vortexes a few yards in front of me. In all of 3 seconds, I caught a glimpse, it was a mirror and it was big. 

All I had to do was tire it out, ease it over the mesh and I could finally lay eyes on my long awaited prize. The carp started to go up on its side, as I lowered the net in, it bolted, the 'NET FEAR' had given it a burst of energy. It was off again, so was my heart, it was literally in my mouth at this point. Side strain saw it coming back towards me, it surfaced, it went on its side, 'there was a fumble'. The mesh engulfed her ... job done!. Both my body and mind untangled, I let the relief wash over me, looking at the lump awaiting my attention down in the net, it was clear that I'd caught a beast. I decided I'd take the scales to it, to me it looked like a mid twenty, nowadays I only weigh fish if it's clear that they could be something special, 'size wise'. Scales were zeroed to the sling, tripod was up, scales fell to 25IB 5oz. I was blown away, I really didn't expect to catch a lump like this, to be honest I wasn't expecting to catch anything. 
25IB 5oz Of Cold Water Carp
Taking her back to the water, I held her upright until the 'kick of life' came, I made a point of watching her disappear completely. Time was starting to get on now, I was still good for another few hours. Clipping up, I got the rod back out, topped the swim up and put the kettle on, I needed some warmth, lubrication and some time to digest what had just happened. Today's results in such cold weather really throws the 'carp angling' rule book out the window. But at the same time, it was very inspiring. Fate had dealt me a winning hand, I was forced to fish in a different swim to the one that I'd intended. I'm positive that I wouldn't of had this kind of result if I was elsewhere on the water. It was clear the fish were down my end, and it shows that they will sometimes feed in freezing conditions if you can put a bait near to where they're holding up.

The day was crawling to a close now, I decided I'd start packing up the non-essentials. I always draw this process out in the hope a 'last knockings' bite might materialize. Almost everything was packed away, I reeled my right rod in and started to break it down. My back was turned, when all of a sudden the left rod fired into life, 'last knockings' had delivered a bonus fish. What a session this had turned out to be, the fight was spirited and full of minor drama, it put up a great account of itself. After a few tense moments I scooped my closing fish into the net, and what a fish it was, a unique looking mirror with high shoulders. It was the perfect carp to finish with, a proper looking character.

Bonus Fish 'Last Knockings'
What a day it had turned out to be, confusion in the skies, a fleeting sun and a good number of carp caught. It just goes to show how unpredictable angling can be, and you can never really know exactly what's going to happen. Maybe today was one of those flukes, or maybe it was the very simple case that the carp were pretty much grouped up within yards of where I'd chosen to cast. There are no definitive answers to any of these questions, I'm going to put it down to fate. Obviously when I next come down I'm going to be continuing with my initial plan, I really want to commit and follow it through. I have a very strong feeling that it's going to work, but, as stated before, I sense it's going to start off slow. Wheeling the barrow up the clay ridden path back to the car, I felt inspired, I was tired and very very cold. But the thought of getting back out as soon as possible was very much at the forefront of my mind.     

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