Thursday 21 February 2019

Cants Mere 'Goodbye For Now'

A month or so had past since my last successful session up on Cants, I'd managed to squeeze in another 4 trips, unfortunately each ended up in a blank. Now with the warmer weather taking hold conditions were changing and more anglers where appearing on the water. I sensed that the word was starting to get out regarding the fish the mere now contained. As usual, when the crowds start to come I find myself wanting to vacate to another venue that isn't seeing so much pressure. Nowadays due to the current popularity of carp fishing I'm finding it harder to track down waters that aren't overcrowded and over-fished, even harder still is finding a venue where the fish aren't beaten up with mouth damage. I'm seriously starting to consider trying to find a nice quiet syndicate, a place where I don't continually feel like I'm trying to escape the ever growing carp angling circus. I'm wondering if a place like that even exists anymore and if they do they usually have huge waiting lists. My early sessions seemed like distant memories, there I was on my own surrounded by 'still life' with only the mallards as company. Now I was finding myself hemmed in-between other anglers lines and dodging spods, I really felt like this was hindering my chances so I decided I'd give the water one last shot and then evacuate quietly.

Me & Eric Waiting For A Bite That Never Came
On the day of my session I was in no rush to get to the water, previous bites had a habit of coming later in the day so I decided to have a well deserved lie in, get some breakfast down me, brew a few cups of dangerously strong coffee, peruse over my tackle and then ease myself into the journey up to the water. As I opened my front door to the world, I instantly felt invigorated as the sun and clear blue sky hung overhead. I didn't want to speak too soon but I felt pretty happy to be existing, I love fishing on days like this. Leaving London and heading off up into the Essex countryside is a necessary escape, I never tire at the thought of casting my lines. I did have a passing thought that Cants might be busy, I was just going to take it easy, get to the water and work with what I had available to me. After a relatively pain free journey, I stopped off at Boreham services to grab a few essentials and onward to the water, I arrived at around 12:30am. There were a few cars in the car park but it appeared most were fishing Blunts.

Before unloading I decided to go and have a quiet walk around both Blunts and Cants, the weather was so warm and the day so bright, it was impossible to feel any sense of urgency. Blunts was fairly busy but it looked lovely, there was a light ripple on the water with some very inviting looking scum lines molding themselves around the margins. On closer inspection I spotted a few dark shadows cruising just under the surface. The carp appeared to be in small groups causally milling around, I sensed they were aware of my presence but they didn't seem to care. Walking up along the path and around to the back channel, I counted at least 15 fish cruising in the upper layers, some appeared to be mouthing at the tiny objects that were resting on the waters skin. It was a pleasure to watch and, strangely enough, I had no desire to try and catch these fish. Watching carp is just as enjoyable as trying to catch them. After observing Blunts I made my way down to Cants, all the angling pressure seemed to be up the far end. Looking at where other anglers lines were stretching, it seemed most the water was sewn up, not only that but it looked completely dead, there were no signs of carp anywhere.

Secrets Revealed
I headed back up towards the car park keeping a close eye on things as I went. It became apparent very quickly that the bulk of the carp were down the front end. Loads of fish were quietly cruising around, I had no doubt they were avoiding the lines, I fully believe that carp know exactly what an anglers presence sounds like. They were clearly avoiding the activity opting for the quieter end of the water. Most were congregating in the open in front of swim 8, I decided that this is where I was going to fish. I'd had most of my bites from this swim so it made perfect sense to give it another go. Loading the barrow up I quickly realized that my auxiliary bag of dog biscuits that I usually keep in the back of my van wasn't there. Not only that but I had no surface tackle whatsoever, this was a real bummer. It looked like I was going to have to wait for the fish to go down - 'note to self, always bring surface baits and tackle'. This was so frustrating but in the same breath I needn't rush in getting my swim set up.

Pineapple CSL & Pellet

All of my previous sessions involved a lot of bait, today I wasn't going to adopt the same approach. I was working on the basis that a lot more bait was now going in the water so the fish might not be so inclined to hoover up a load of boilie. Tiger-Fish had been my bait of choice and I'd done well on it but I decided I was going to revert back to Pineapple CSL. This was the bait that produced the big hit of fish I had on my first ever session, today I was going to keep the baiting to a minimum, I wasn't going to be putting any boilie out as loose feed, I would be fishing single pop ups and feed a single small spomb of pellet and ground-bait over the top. There was no point in setting the swim up for a big hit, it was nearing 1:30pm so I didn't have a great deal of time, not only that, the vast majority of the lakes stock were clearly up in the surface layers. Those that have read my past session blogs will know that, from this swim, I've had all my fish from the bars that run down both sides of the island. Today I was going to try a different spot, I see no sense in coming to a water to fish the same swim in the same way all the time. To expand your understanding you have to be prepared to try new things.  

Minimal Bait

I've always been interested in the island but I've never bothered fishing it, I just feel it's too obvious, however, fishing towards the bottom of the slope that runs down from the island could be an idea that's easily overlooked. I attached a 3.5oz lead to my marker rod and clipped up as close to the island as I could get. I was literally kissing the branches on the cast. I got a nice clean "DONK" close in and as I proceeded to carefully drag the lead towards me I could feel I was pulling over hard gravel. As it started to 'scoot' down the slope I could feel that I was on silty/clay, it slid so smoothly producing a defined line of tiny little bubbles that released and broke the surface. As I hit, what I believed to be the bottom of the slope, the rod started to lockup, I had a hunch that there could be slightly larger rocks and stones sitting directly at the bottom of the drop off. This made sense to me, through the years I'm sure various rocks and larger 'projectiles' had slowly made their way down the shelf. I retrieved the lead and made a second cast to confirm what I'd initially felt, I clipped up as soon as the rod started to lock up - that's the spot.

View From The Swim
I felt happy with my chosen area so I got to work on setting my rods up. I came prepared having pre-tied a few pop up rigs using tigga-link, these would be fished 'semi-fixed' on 3.5oz leads. I was going to keep both hook baits relatively close together, looking at how all the carp on the surface were swimming around in small groups, I saw no reason why they wouldn't do the same when/if they make their way down to feed. I had a feeling that fishing both baits a short distance apart could produce two quick takes. Both rods went out perfectly, as usual I felt a minor feeling of "euphoria" as the clips were hit on each cast. Because I was using rods that were soft in the tip the casts were cushioned perfectly, I never get any 'bounce back', they absorb everything. Once the bobbins were set I clipped the spomb up, my mix consisted of 5mm multi-mix pellets, halibut marine ground bait and a touch of halibut oil to bind it all together. The spomb was loaded, and with a subtle little flick of my spod rod it flew gracefully through the air, delivering my 'tempting mouthful' accurately over both rods. All I could do now was wait for the fish to disappear from the upper layers and make their way down to the depths, at the moment it didn't look like that was going to happen in a hurry.

Trigga-Link Pop Up Rig
There was no guarantee that the fish in front of me would be up for taking a surface bait, but that didn't pacify the frustration of not being able to fish for them, I was annoyed at myself for not coming prepared. I took a seat, the sun was beating down on my back, I was in a strange sort of hypnosis observing the carps activities. I tried to spot a pattern in their movements but they just appeared random, all I could do was watch helplessly whilst these long dark shadows basked in the bright afternoon sun literally meters away from me. The kettle came out and the coffee was concocted, the caffeine hit the spot. The afternoon started to pass me by, come 3:30pm the atmosphere started to change, sporadic cloud came in over head periodically masking the suns rays. A cool weather front clearly started to move in, I literally felt the air pass through me. A change was afoot and with it came a sudden chop on the water, looking far into the distance the clouds looked dubious. I set my brolly up, I had a feeling rain was on the way and it looked like it was going to be violent.

And The Rain Came
Within the space of 15 minutes the cloud had covered the sky and the rain started to fall like lead bullets. I couldn't quite believe it was happening, the day had literally turned into the complete opposite of what it started off as in the morning. The wind really picked up, I sat tucked under my 'fibre-shield' hanging on for dear life. Looking out over the surface of the water it became clear very quickly that the carp were dispersing, this break in the weather might just end up being the event that pushes the fish back down to the bottom. As quickly as the rain came it had gone, the air felt fresh, the world appeared silent, all I could hear was the million and one raindrops falling off all the trees and branches around me. Looking out over the water, the surface was deserted, I couldn't spot any carp anywhere. The 'wait' had now officially begun, I genuinely felt like anything could happen from this point onward. 

The afternoon came and went in no time, it remained cool and overcast, with the sun now lower in the sky it felt like bite time was fast approaching. I was watching the water like a hawk, my right rod gave off a few minor bleeps before roaring off at speed. All the the bites from Cants explode from out of nowhere, I picked the rod up and gently lent back, the rod arched around and the clutch started to 'whirl'. Adrenaline was firing through my veins at an alarming rate, the fish was moving at a serious pace, I held on tight letting it tire itself out. It clearly wasn't going to give up easily, very slowly it began to lose its steam, I tightened the clutch up slightly and let the rod do the rest of the work. It was slowly coming towards me, when it was under the rod tip it lunged tight to my left making a desperate attempt to lose me in the snags. Side strain saw it clear and as it came up, signalling defeat, I slipped a lovely dark bronze colored common over the net. It was one of the slightly smaller residence but you wouldn't of thought that from the fight.

The Fighter
This was a lovely carp that had a subtle bronze tinge on its belly and a nice dark back, a few shots were taken and I gently lowered her home. I checked the hook, it was still nice and sharp, I then proceeded to carefully thread another Pineapple CSL pop up on to the hair, remolded and readjusted the tungsten putty and went to clip back up. This process was abruptly interrupted by my other rod firing away, it caught me by surprise, it appeared my "quick two bite" theory wasn't so crazy after all. The tip of the rod was bent right round and the clutch was melting, I knew that this was a better fish than the one I'd just returned home. I rushed to the rod, lent back and .... "BOOM" ..... the connection I'd made was instant, the sheer power had to be felt to be believed. With my 'players rod' bent double I held tight, vision of hanging on a cable behind a speedboat shot into my mind. 

This fish powered fast to the left and just carried on going, it was heading towards the sunken branches right down in the left hand corner. I started to feel minor panic, I held the rod out over the water as far as I could stretch and sunk it down low. I wanted to keep the line well out the way of any 'rogue' branches, I cupped the spool to try to slow the fishes momentum down. It was working, I decided to apply as much resistance as I thought I could get away with. It was a tense moment, I literally held my breath and steadily increased the pressure, the rod was still bent double. The fish started inching towards me .. result! .. I managed to turn it in my direction. All I had to do now was keep the pressure on and guide her towards the net, I lowered the mesh into the water, the carp was close, inching towards me. Now under the tip it surfaced onto its side ... game over, the mesh engulfed a beautiful looking common. I left it resting in the net to recover, I also needed to recover - what a fish!

A Quick Bite 'Number Two'
As expected, this fish blew me away, it was perfect looking, its scales were the colors of chestnut and it had some serious length to it. Once again Cants had delivered another two awesome fish for me, it started off looking like it wasn't going to work out but with the sudden change in the conditions it slowly all fell into place. It felt great to have a few after my recent blanks, having said that, I don't mind blanking, if I caught all the time I'd get bored. When sessions don't work out it just makes me more determined to get a result, not only that but it can force you to think about your approach. Take today for instance, fishing at the bottom of the slope of the island produced the goods, I might not of tried that if I'd caught on every session. I didn't see the point in casting back out, time was getting on and I had to be up early the next morning. I was going to bid farewell to Cants for the time being, I'd had some nice fish, little did I know it would be two years before I returned. 

Eric Enjoyed His Day Out