Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 6

"In this blog, along with the session, I'd like to share my thoughts on bait and baiting application" 

Winter now had a firm stranglehold on the world outside my window, the days were dragging, dull and lethargic. There was a bite in the air that penetrated deep to the bone. I always find this time of the year difficult, I experience a creeping sense of claustrophobia which isn't helped by the fact that, it was during the colder, darker months that I got ill. Even though its been about 6 years 'and counting', I don't believe the memory scars will ever really fade. Mental illness is such a terrible curse and the simplest of things can cause all the bad memories to come flooding back, it's as if I'm forever walking on a tightrope. 

It's really hard to explain, but from September onward until just before Spring, things are always tough. It all just reminds me of the confusion I felt and the hell I went through with both my situation and the NHS. I was dosed up on so much medication that I looked and felt like the walking dead, and the constant visits to the Priory where I had to dissect my thoughts over and over again, were utterly soul destroying. I wish there was a way to erase the part of me that catalogs all these experiences, but there isn't. So I have to try to occupy my mind with other things and create new memories. Thank God For Carp Fishing!

I'd been very busy with work so my angling had somewhat stalled, however, it was never far from my mind. I'd had a fair result up until now but I was starting to think if there was anything else I could do to tempt a few more bites. For some reason I was feeling that a standard boilie approach was almost to obvious. I started to think about both the shapes and sizes of the baits I was presenting. Maybe offering something of a different shape, and slightly smaller than your standard boilie, might just entice the carp into investigating with less apprehension. 

My mind revisited a 'Burrows' winter session from a few years back when I caught an incredible 24IB common on 5 or so boilies and a handful of broken up pellets. It was so cold and the only thing that stopped the water from freezing was the fact the wind was relentless. I threw the bait in by hand into the deep center channel that runs down the middle of the lake. I pictured ominous shadows slowly making their way through the deeper water. By the time the bait had hit the deck, I visualized it landing in a 'non-uniform' fashion. I didn't want it looking like a trap had been set - I wanted it to look as random as possible. Reminiscent of what it must look like when a pleasure angler casually throws his remaining bait, corn, meat, down into the margin at the end of the day before leaving.

5mm Pellet

I saw the pellets as a different form of attraction, firstly, they breakdown fast so there was no chance of the fish getting full up. Secondly, the fine dusting that they leave was more than enough to attract a passing fish. Because there were so few boilies in the swim, I knew I'd created a feeding situation where I'd upped the chances of my hook-bait getting picked up. Taking the extreme conditions into consideration, I felt this was a far more effective approach than just using a handful of bigger baits alone. There have been a number of times in Winter when I've seen fish pass over boilies without so much as a flinch, however, I have seen them drop down on pellet a number of times.
I believe that, depending on the time of the year, some fish don't really know if they want to feed or not. I feel it's our job to make them realize they do. This is where I think that careful thought on what you're offering and how you're applying it comes into play. You can often see how this develops when you fish on the surface, sometimes it can take a hell of a lot of effort to get them feeding and competing. On some occasions, it can start off with the odd one just nosing or mouthing the bait, they seem reluctant at first. However, if you're careful with your application, you can slowly get them feeding confidently. I feel that this can be the same when bottom bait fishing.  
Caught On A Scattering
What I'm going to explain next is open to interpretation, I'm no expert, I'm just sharing my thoughts, try to bare with me.

My thoughts about bait and its application seem to change on a regular basis, and to be honest, I'll be the first one to admit that on some occasions I'm very anal and over think it all way to much. It has a lot to do with the specific water that I might be fishing at the time, the angling pressure it gets, and how others tend to be tackling it. If I see a specific method being done to death, I'll be very reluctant to mimic it. It's just like rig placement, I see no point in putting my baits where everyone else does. I understand lakes have 'hot-spots', but I'm more inclined to want to find and develop my own. This approach may take a while to work, but with dedication and perseverance it usually comes together. I believe through time, the regular known spots simply dry up and stop producing, I feel the same about certain bait presentations.

Regarding both particles and 'spod' application, I'm not a huge fan, but I will use it if I know it can be effective on the specific venue I'm fishing at the time. I realize that back in the 80's and before, the pioneers were using home-made spods and they worked to great effect. For the first time, the spod allowed anglers to present a different type of bait, hemp, corn, etc at range, a range that it previously couldn't be presented at. I feel because the carp weren't use to seeing that kind of feed out at such distances, they feasted on it without a care in the world. But like most waters, the more a certain approach is adopted, through time, it can end up becoming less effective. I believe the carp start to become cautious and will change both their feeding habits and the locations they choose to feed, if both are under constant pressure.

I'm fully aware that nowadays spodding can work brilliantly on a lot of venues, especially densely stocked commercials where lots of fish are competing for the grub. I also get that if you're doing a long stint where you can get away with the disturbance, then it's the perfect approach to take when initially baiting up your chosen spots. However, I'm not referring to those types of places, I'm talking more about the venues where the carp are spooky, weary and solitary. Both Boreham Mere and Willows on the CAA ticket are perfect examples to use. It's on theses waters that I feel a more refined approach can pay off.

On the venues mentioned above and similar, I don't believe that the bigger residence feel comfortable sitting on a big bed of bait for to long. I think they want a quick bite, something easy, so they can grab it and keep moving. Why is it that some big carp go uncaught for months, sometimes years? are they seeing something that the others aren't. From experience, most of my better fish have come off a small mouthful or a single. I've been frying my neural-pathways trying to figure out why this is, is it because a small food package or single doesn't oppose a threat. Nowadays so much bait goes in all the waters, a single stand alone bait might be something that they just don't come across anymore. Are the 'Kings & Queens' of the waters avoiding the larger areas of bait? 

A Boreham Mere Beauty - Caught On A Single
So.. lets think about this - Do bigger wiser carp recognize certain baiting patterns?  

I think it's safe to say that bait spodded out falls in a pretty random way, a lot depends on the depth you're fishing in and the undertow. However if you're targeting a well known bar or plateau that sees a lot of spod mix, do the carp start to avoid it?. I can use my time on Chase back lake as an example, everyone use to go on about fishing at range. There was a defined bar that you could hit from a number of swims, spods would be flying out to it day and night. I personally never saw a great deal being caught, I decided I was going to approach the water differently. I was going to avoid the visible features, including the bar, and fish short/medium range, mainly in the margins. Those that have read my Chase blogs will know that I had great success doing this with fish up to 30IB.

 Bait Boat Presentation

My second example of an obvious baiting pattern is, that dropped from a bait boat, it can resemble a largish rectangle, usually containing everything a carp could only dream of eating - is that point alone a cause for caution. I believe on waters that allow bait boats, the carp are coming across a very familiar sight. I feel on venues like this, a single or a small mouthful could pay dividends. My final example is solid bags, they leave a very recognizable baiting pattern. It's basically a small roundish pile, on some waters they're so effective, others I can't buy a bite with them. Is this because its a method that's been used a lot in the past so the carp avoid the bait pattern a solid bag tends to leave?  

Most of these questions can't really be answered and there's always exceptions to the rule. But I can't help thinking that there might be some truth to what I've tried to explain. Going back to the more pressured spots, if the carp have the instinct to start avoiding them. Surely the same goes for a certain kind of presentation. To sum up, I think that when a carp continually comes across a certain bait application/presentation a lot, and continues to get caught out. Eventually it will/may steer well clear, meaning that thinking differently in terms of what, and how you're applying your bait, in the long term, could really pay off.

To Obvious On Some Waters?
A Simple 'Unassuming' Single
On the day of the session, I arrived at the water for about 10:30am, the conditions were very similar to my last trip. It was bright and cold and the lake was deserted, having been working a lot over the last few weeks. It felt great to be back out, within minutes I could feel my thoughts untangling. It didn't take long for my 'angling mind' to wake up and I started to feel both excited and inspired. After a great deal of thought, I decided that I was going to fish a small cut down piece of boilie on the hair, topped off with a small piece of white foam. Along with that, I was going to squash a handful of boilies and offer them up as freebies. I unfortunately didn't have any pellets left. Due to this change of approach, I'd have to walk around and apply my bait by hand. I felt that trying to put it out by catapult would've been pointless, I wanted to have the bait presented perfectly on my spot.

Presentation Change

Regarding tweaks to my rig, I'd shortened the hook-link to literally a couple of inches and I'd upped the lead size to 3oz. I wanted the carp to feel heavy resistance the second it picked the bait up. As usual I had a nice long hair, 'for separation', which was fished on a size 6 Fang Twister, with a 5.3m rig ring. Some people have asked me why I use such a big ring, I'll explain its purpose at some point in the future. Everything was set up and ready, I wandered around the other side to deposit my freebies. I took about a handful with me, that was more than enough. 

Walking around the deserted lake, branches creaked and snapped under foot. It was desolate, almost eerie, it was hard to picture how busy it tends to get in the height of the summer. Approaching my spot, I crept down, kept low and spread the squashed boilies 'randomly' along the marginal growth. Looking at the area from such a close proximity, I was really surprised just how close in I was getting the bites. It just goes to show that carp will come in close to feed at all times of the year.

Back in my swim with the rods now clipped up, I made the measured casts, both hit the clip with a very satisfying 'PING', my rod tips cushioned the impact beautifully. For some reason my anticipation was sky high, I think this was because I'd put a little more thought into the way I wanted to approach things. I was embracing the feeling when all of a sudden my right rod was away. Slightly stunned, I gently lifted into it, whatever was on the end was darting around like crazy. The tugs were reminiscent of a tench, I suspected that I'd hooked into one of the smaller fish, I didn't care though, a bite is a bite. A short fight saw me slide the net under a pristine little mirror, I had no doubt that he was destine to become a future king. I was very pleased with the quick action.

Welcome Company On An Eerie Day
Slipping the fish back into the crystal clear water, within seconds it morphed out of sight. The rod was once again wrapped and cast back out, 'right on the money'. If I was lucky enough to get another bite, I'd have to take another walk round to add a little more bait. For all I knew the carp I just caught could've eaten most of what I'd put out. With the kettle now on, I sat hunched on my chair, I was feeling the chill, it was all rather 'uninviting'. The colors around me were vivid, it's as if the landscape had been bleached. Winter can be such a strange time, with endless distance both over head and all around me, I still had an ominous feeling of isolation.

Now cupping my hand around a scorching cup off coffee, I paid close attention to the water. The ripples were constantly changing, whatever was happening below the surface was anyone's guess. I started to think about the elements within angling that I love the most. Moving aside the obvious, over the past few months its become apparent that it's the communication. Through rod and line, marker float and braid, we're forever trying to communicate with a world we can't readily see. That's where the art lies for me. Hence why I refuse to use 'new technologies' to bypass the lessons within learning. I fear technology, for me it provides convenience and takes away a great deal of the natural learning process. Why use a dictionary when you can spellcheck? Why write an elegant letter when you can email? Why use a marker float and braid when you can chuck a deeper pro out?.  

All my technological fears where erased as my left rod tore into action, I was on it fast, the fish flew towards me at a crazy pace. I was reeling in the slack like a madman. It was under the tip within minutes, here it decided to wake up, it was tugging and pulling with all its might, the beautiful tip action of my 'Ballistas' cushioned every lunge. All the energy from the fight was passing down the blank and making its way up my forearm. The fish cut the surface, its winter skin looked perfect, implanted within the landscape for a fraction of a moment. Soon enough I was slipping the second prize of the day over my net. It came in the shape of a lovely, plump mid-double mirror.

Draped In Winters Skin
After a few quick photos, back she went, I needed to put some more bait out so I reeled in my right hand rod and took another wander around the other side. Everything seemed to be working out today, I couldn't help but think it was because of the presentation change. Maybe my overblown theories on baiting patterns and application weren't so ridiculous after all. I've been accused in the past of giving the carp far to much credit, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It keeps you thinking, never underestimate anything, overestimation can keep you one step ahead at all times. I scattered another handful of squashed boilies randomly around my spot, time was ticking by now so I was eager to get back to rods and get them straight out.

Back at the swim, the rigs were once again clipped to 12.5 rod lengths, out they went. I was confident that I might be able to tempt another bite, the hours were starting to close the day. There was a drastic temperature drop, and with it came a more defined chop on the water. I decided I'd give it another hour or so, 'I was feeling lucky'. It was too late in the day for a extortionately dangerous dose of caffeine so I got the 'Yorkshire Tea' out, whilst the brewing ceremony was taking place, liners were occurring on both rods. My heart was racing so fast and I was anticipating possible chaos at any second. I just had time to squeeze the remaining 'goodness' within the tea bag into my cup, when, within an instant, the right rod was off. I instantly knew this was a better fish, it careered towards the sunken post. I managed to sway it away, the rod locked tight to the right and the clutch was humming, I had 'synchronicity' in the palm of my hand. 

I was gaining ground, I wasn't going to rush it, if I could get this fish in, then it would be the perfect end to a surprisingly fruitful session. Closer and closer she came, flat spots were appearing as she tried desperately to escape. I lowered the net whilst teasing her ever closer, the mesh engulfed her .. JOB DONE !!. Peering into the net I instantly recognized this fish as a repeat capture, only this time around she was a lot larger. I can't remember exactly when I last met her acquaintance but it was so good to see she was thriving and doing well. Her scales were subtle and perfect looking and her mouth was in really good shape, that's something I always love to see.

An Old Friend
I wished her well and sent her home, maybe we'd meet again a few more years down the line. It was the perfect way to end what I can only describe as a surprisingly productive day. As we know, there's so many variables in carp fishing so it's hard to pinpoint exactly why things happen and why they don't. I'd like to think that the slight change in the way I presented my offering played a part. Before I went home I spread three modest handfuls of bait all around the spot. I had to work the next day but I was thinking that I might come back for literally a few hours in the early morning. I'd be passing the water on the way through to where I was working. 

The next day I got on to the water for 6:30am and within an hour of having my rods out I managed another lovely looking heavy plated mirror carp. It looked like the little brother of the one I had a few sessions back. It goes without saying that I went to work that day with a head full of fish. It's a great feeling, the water is always waiting for you. However hard life gets and however much the system grinds you down, it can never take the water away from the angler. I was looking forward to my next trip.

An Early Morning Jewel




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