Thursday, 15 August 2019

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 13

"This blog will be accounting for two separate sessions in the 'bottle-neck' swim on Burrows towards the end of summer in 2016".

First Session September 8th 2016

Since my last documented session I'd made two undocumented trips that resulted in blanks. One was completely uneventful, the second is going to be a session that will haunt me for a very long time, let me explain. I arrived at the water mid morning and got both my baits into the usual positions. For some reason I had this feeling that, at some point, I was going to land one of Burrows bigger carp from this area of the water. Why did I think this? - because the swim sees very little pressure, on the day of the occurrence I'd loaded both spots up with bait, even more so than I'd done before. The day was meandering along like normal until around mid afternoon, I got a blistering take on my right rod. As I lifted into this fish I knew instantly that I had something special on the end, it was a dead weight moving at such a pace. I knew I had to keep the pressure on because it was driving towards the sunken posts that were hidden in the water a little way up to my right hand side. I tightened the clutch as much as I thought I could get away with, the rod was locked on its 'maximum curve'. None of this made a blind bit of difference, the fish powered into the posts and ... PING! the line parted. All of the above happened in the space of about 45 seconds to a minute, when the line parted I felt complete and utter sickness leak through my body and take refuge in the pit of my stomach. I knew that I'd lost one of the "big" carp that, for all these years, had evaded my capture on this specific lake.

I know we all have that default setting inside of us that when we lose a fish it's always "the big one", "the monster". Only this time around I knew it was, it took me a good few weeks before the frustration subsided. I think I played the scenario out in my head thousands of times visualising what I should of done and how I could of prevented the fish from getting to the sunken posts. With this occurrence at the forefront of my mind I got back down to the waters edge the following day in the hope that, if I catch another fish, it might just take the sting out of the lost monster. Reviewing the times that the bites had been occurring I decided to head down to the water for midday and fish the afternoon into early evening. A pattern was starting to emerge, bites came mid afternoon, it appeared that the carp had a tendency to pass through the bottle neck later on in the day. My approach was going to be exactly the same as my previous trips, I wasn't going to be changing anything during this little "bottle-neck" stint other than the bait. Today I was back on the tiger-fish, the only slight modification from my last session was a brightly colored fake maggot, a little touch I'd included on my first trip, only today I was going to fish a different colour on each rod. Along with that a small PVA mesh bag with some crushed boilie and a stringer would be slipped onto the hook for the cast.

Colour Combination

Small Mesh Bag & Stringer

Having arrived at the water bang on midday both rods were out within half hour of arriving, due to my previous sessions, I knew exactly where I wanted to place both baits. Setting up and casting out was becoming quite mechanical, both rods went out perfectly and the cushioned 'DONKS' from both casts indicated that I was in the silt. The only hard sections where running central between me and where I'd cast both rods. I saw no sense in positioning both rods on the hard stuff, past captures have show that they clearly like to grub around in the silt. In regards to 'hard spots', I've never quite understood the obsession some people seem to have with them. Just because you find a hard area it doesn't necessarily mean it's a feeding spot. I believe a lot of the time it's got more to do with the fact that hard spots 'in the mind of many' are easy to present a rig on. This is obviously correct, personally, 'unless your fishing a gravel pit', if the silt, clay and weed isn't the nasty stinky stuff, I'd rather put my bait in it, or at least near it. Lots of naturals can be found in those three substances and where there's naturals, the carp aren't usually too far behind. Secondly if everyone is always fishing the hard areas, avoiding them 'could' produce more bites - it's all down to personal preference.

View From The Swim
With both rods and the bait having been deployed there was nothing left to do other than set up the rest of my swim and wait for some action. Sitting there looking over the water my mind kept on replaying the loss of the previous session. I know it sounds stupid but I felt that I'd blown my chance at hooking a 'potential monster' from this swim now. My instinct was telling me that I'd get one chance and one chance only, I'd made up my mind that I'd continue to fish these spots for the next month or so and then I'd head back up to some of my Chelmsford waters. The day ticked on by like any other, the same breeze pushed down through the swim and on towards the muddy double. I knew it was just a matter of time before the fish would follow. Periodically I'd fire a few fresh baits over both rods, I wanted to keep the bait going in. There was part of me that felt that I couldn't actually over feed this specific swim. My attitude towards the baiting was pretty 'Gung-Ho' but I knew that approaching it this way was going to get me results.

Everything remained motionless until around 3' o'clock, I started to get some indications on both of my rods. The bobbins start fidgeting and the alarms where spitting and crackling like encrypted morse-code. They were clearly trying to tell me something, if I was to hazard a guess they were saying, "Paul get into your strike position, a bite is imminent". I got my binoculars out and scanned around the area, I could see clear signs of feeding, mainly over the left hand rod. Just like last time, concentrated streams of bubbles were rising to the surface, when you looked closely you could see the clay/silt intertwined within them. My heart started pounding and as I sat perched on the edge of my seat, waiting, the patches of bubbles started to intensify, it was now very clear that a number of fish had moved in and they appeared to be hoovering up. My eyes were now firmly on the water, occasionally my attention was swayed as my bite alarms gave off a 'crackle and 'hum'.

Morse-Code & Smoke Signals

Second by second the feeding was clearly moving closer to my hook bait, there looked to be a fish literally on top of it. The bubbles inched closer and closer and then they stopped, time stood still and then 'BOOM', the left rod was away like lightning. The 'battle procedure' commenced, the rod hooped round and the clutch started ticking. The fish bolted at such a rate that all the silt and clay around my spot whipped itself up, the mix of the dark silt and emerald green of the water blended together to make a 'chocolate milkshake' like consistency. The fish was ploughing along the shallow margin, propelling itself down towards the muddy double. My line was seriously tight to the left, I had to try to pacify it quickly otherwise the line was going to be at such a tight angle it was going to come in contact with the tree branches down to my left. I tightened the clutch as much as I thought I could get away with, sunk the rod low in the water and applied the pressure. This seemed to work, very slowly, I managed to turn the fishes head, with each 'pull & wind' the carp edged closer. Once under the rod tip it used the deep margins, careering left and right around in a circle and back again. This 'last gasp' lasted for a few minutes before a solid scoop saw the fish engulfed in the net mesh.

This was a beautiful looking mirror, once again the left hand spot had produced, each fish from this specific swim had been unique in its own way. I'm not sure if this was just coincidence but there was a part of me that felt the swim was producing the better fish because they're not really use to being fished for much in this specific area. Looking at the time the bite came, it fell in-between 3:30pm & 4:30pm, that was in the same time frame as the last bite I had off of that rod a couple of sessions back. A few shots were taken, the fish was sent on its way and I got the rod back out for the remainder of the day. As expected, nothing else came along, the aim was to get back down as soon as possible, but it worked out, due to work commitments, it was going to be nearly a month before I could get back again.

Second Session October 5th 2016 

Over the past few weeks work had taken up most of my time to the point where fishing had become a distant memory, it worked out around a month later that I finally had a day to get my rods out. A lot had changed in that time, the remains of summer was now just simple fragments in yesterdays wind and the looming claw of Autumn was starting to scratch the surface of the landscape. Arriving at the water it all became very clear, the leaves were thinning and the familiar shades of brown and bronze were starting to show in the foliage. I do enjoy my Autumn fishing but more times than not I find myself struggling with my mood, some lakes can be inspiring to fish as the colder months move in. However, there are a few waters that I find depressing to be on, I have to choose wisely. When the clocks go back and the dark starts to creep in come 4pm, it feels like the nights last forever. Summer seems to fly by, Autumn and Winter seem to last an age. So with all this mind I sorted my rods out, finished setting up my swim and cast both baits into the 'colder' looking blue. Everything was exactly the same as last time, same rigs, same spots only this time around I was using Green Lipped Mussel as bait. A small mesh bag of crushed boilie was put on the hook for the cast along with a 3 bait stringer. 

Mesh Bag & 3 Bait Stringer

View From The Swim
Both rods went out perfectly, with the slight chill in the air and moody looking skies above. I decided to put my umbrella up, chuck all my kit underneath it, push the chair as far back as I could, spark the kettle up and observe the world from the safety of my shelter. There was a very light breeze on the water, other than that everything looked pretty ghostly. The atmosphere changed greatly as midday arrived, the sun started to poke through the clouds and the slight chill of the morning lifted. I was still reluctant to come out from underneath my brolly, just like all my last sessions, I wasn't expecting anything to happen until mid afternoon. Thinking about it I was putting my money on another bite between 3:30pm and 4:30pm. There definitely seemed to be a pattern emerging, the carp seemed to move through this section later on. That's one of the aspects that I like about fishing the same swim for a certain amount of time. If you stick to the same approach, after two or three sessions, there's a very high chance that you'll start to see a pattern emerging. I was seeing a very clear pattern within this swim, gone were days of wondering if I was going to get a bite, it was a question of 'when' - and to be honest I could pretty much predict when.

Waiting For A Blue Light

After a couple of hours staring at the water I felt like I was under some strange hypnosis, occasionally the odd bleep of a bite alarm would snap me back to reality. Only for a short while though, then, not before too long, I'd be staring into existence once more. It's a strange sort of concentration, I was getting a weird buzz from the copious amount of caffeine that was coursing through my veins. But the buzz was dulled by the remnants of prescription medication - 'downers' that were still haunting my system. All in all I was feeling rather strange, I guess it adds to the escapism that I seek in my angling, 'F**k' the real world, I can do without it. Give me slight disorientation and the prospect of a fish any day of the week. Come lunchtime the sun was bright and beaming down through the trees, the prospect of Autumn that came with the morning felt like a lifetime away. It was around 1:30pm that I decided to apply some more bait to both spots, I wanted everything primed and ready come the magic hour between 3:30pm & 4:30pm. 

Nearing 3pm I decided to get my binoculars out and start scanning the area, everything seemed pretty motionless. Just as 3:30pm approached, completely out the blue, a carp suddenly appeared on the landscape as it jumped clear of the water, literally over my right hand rod. It didn't just show once, it showed multiple times, it cut through the waters skin so smoothly, there was serious "THWACK" as it collided back into the water. I knew that a bite was imminent, there was no way it was going to miss my carefully placed offerings. Five or so minutes past, then ten, as I got my binoculars back out and focused carefully on my spot I could see the bottom was getting churned up. My heart was now in my mouth, checking the time, it was 3:45pm, we were officially within the magic hour, something surly had to happen. As the feeding bubbles intensified and moved closer to my hook bait, the fish surfaced again only this time it wasn't a jump. It looked to cut the surface sideways and then dive straight back down to continue kicking the bottom up. A few liners crackled through my micron DXRs and "BANG" the right rod was away.

View From The Swim Two
As I lent into the fish there was no doubt in my mind that the carp that showed itself was the one that took the hook bait. These poetic moments don't tend to happen a great deal but when they do it's like a strange alchemy of circumstances fuse themselves together. The fish had swam towards me at speed and was using the deep run down the center of the swim to its advantage. Clutches were ticking and rods were creaking, as the fish came in close and started circling it definitely appeared to be the carp that jumped, it was a pale looking common, short and dumpy with a fair bit of depth to it. A minor tussle under the rod tip soon saw it in the net. As I lifted the mesh up a very unique looking carp came into view, yet again this swim had produced another 'grade A' bite. This fish was very strange looking, it was rather short, stocky and circular with a very high back and small mouth. If anything it reminded me of a crucian, it never quite ceases to amaze me the variety of fish living in Burrows. I've fished the place for near on a decade and it still has a habit of surprising me.

The Odd Ball
After returning the fish and checking the time, now true to form, the bite had come exactly as expected. It appeared 3:30/4:30 was definitely the magic hour, I had no doubt. I got the rod back out even though I knew it was going to be uneventful, sure enough nothing else occurred. It didn't matter how early I got here or how late I stayed, it appeared that 9 times out of 10 this was a bite a day swim at most. I'd already decided on my next session that I'd get down for 2:30pm and make sure everything was set to cast out for 3pm sharp. I saw no sense in arriving at the crack of dawn to wait all day for the bite to come when I knew mid afternoon was when the 'transaction' would take place. Come 5pm the feeling of Autumn started to creep over the hills in the distance. The sun died and a chill embedded itself in the air, I decided to stay an hour or so after dark. It was hard to believe that winter was literally a matter of weeks away. I planned to get down for my 'micro-session' in about a weeks time. 

The Art Of Darkness