Saturday, 4 April 2020

Starmer Baits '8 Years On'

Those that have kept up with my blogs throughout the years will know that I don't follow fashions or trends, as an angler and as a human I do my own thing and I like to form my own opinions through my own experiences. Many will also know that I don't push or plug the products that I use, I don't really see the point, I might mention the bait in the context of the blogs but that's about it, constant plugging and promoting is one of the mind numbing aspects of modern carp fishing and I don't want anything that I do to fall into that category. We all have the right to make our own decisions on what we choose to use, if you have confidence in what you're using then you can apply the whole of your mind to the most important aspect in angling, locating the fish. It goes without saying that this blog is not a sales pitch it's simply a review and write up of all the new products that Starmer Baits have developed in the past 8 years since I've been using them. They've expanded as a business, now producing both wild bird food and aquatic feed but this blog is going to be about the 'fishing' side of the company 

Going Strong Since 1976

Things have moved forward quite a lot since my last bait blog, if you haven't read that one you can check it out here Starmer Baits Part 1. We've seen a few baits disappear, not because they didn't catch fish, all the baits catch fish it's just the simple fact that some of the flavors sell more than others, so over time the poor sellers get phased out. The positive side to this is, with each bait that falls by the wayside another one is added to the range. One of the first new arrivals was a bait called 'TigerFish', the signs were very strong early on that this was going to be a great seller because it caught from the off, new customers were genuinely getting in touch with their catch reports. I can vouch for its effectiveness because I've caught, and continue to catch a lot of fish on it, as do a few other guys I know that have been on it for a few seasons now. I'd like to emphasize that this isn't a "wonder bait", there's no such thing, you still have to use watercraft and put the bait where the fish are. As we all know, you can't catch carp if they're not where you're putting your baits. I'm no bait scientist but the information I can give you is, it's rolled on a 60/40 birdseed and nut base mix and it has a hint of caramel to it, it's a great bait.

Tiger Fish
One of my favorite carp baits from the past was the Honey Nectar, this goes all the way back to the early 90's when Kevin Maddocks produced his own range of boilies. Honey Nectar was the bait I caught my first ever 20 on, all these years later I can still see that bite as clear as crystal in my mind. As time passed, many of the 'old skool' flavors seemed to fall out of favor. When I was looking around for bait companies that still produced some of the classics, Starmer was the one that stuck out. You had your 'Strawberry', 'Peach' and 'Pineapple' but to my extreme joy they were the only ones producing the Honey Nectar. Throughout the past 8 years I used a serious amount of this bait to great effect. A couple of years back due to the 'Nectar' part becoming hard to come by, it got phased out. A new boilie came along to take its place, thankfully still incorporating the vital 'Honey' element. We now have the rather 'sweetly' titled 'Honey Nut'.

An Old Original Caught On The Honey Nut
I jump to different baits like a madman, depending on the time of the year and what takes my specific fancy, but I decided to stick to the Honey Nut for a whole season. I had some awesome catches on it. It's very unique, again it's made on a 60/40 sweet birdseed base mix, to smell, it has the perfect balance between both the honey and the nut and it's a lovely 'unassuming' washed out color, I've found it to be very versatile, having had good results on singles, stringers and large beds, even though I still miss the good old Honey Nectar, the Honey Nut is a great addition to Starmers back catalogue.

Honey Nut
The next bait is literally 'hot off the press', it was released last month, there was a fairly long period of both testing and tweaking to get it just right. It comes under the name 'Monster Peanut' and produced really well during the testing stage with carp caught both here and abroad to over 40IB. I was trialing it this winter and it produced some lovely fish for me. As I said before, you've got to put your bait in the right place to get the take, no bait magically makes fish appear in front of you. It's got a similar look to the 'TigerFish', it's rolled on a 60/40 sweet birdseed base mix and, to me, smells like peanut butter, it's a bloody lovely smelling boilie which I'm going to use a lot this coming season and beyond. If you want to offer the carp something completely different to the 'norm', this might be the perfect bait to try.

Monster Peanut

Moving on to the final addition to the premium boilie range and another bait that I rate highly, Halibut & Tuna. It's made with a fishmeal & betaine base mix and it's black in color, it's very similar to the Coconut & Halibut that's now been moved over to the U.F.B range of boilies - 'I'll explain about the U.F.B shortly'. Despite popular belief, combination fishmeal baits can be really effective all year round, I've caught carp on the Halibut & Tuna in the dead of winter on lakes with dark bottoms when, in theory, a bait like this isn't believed to be effective. Once again it's different to a lot of other baits on the market and worth a go if you want to offer the carp something different.

Halibut & Tuna
That's pretty much covered the new additions to the premium range of baits, now we move on to one of the main developments that got me pretty dam excited when I first heard about it. A completely new range of boilies has been produced under the U.F.B banner, this stands for Ultimate Feed Boilie. These are a slightly cheaper range of bait but they're still high quality, when they first appeared I saw people slating them saying they must be full of cheap ingredients. I'd like to confirm that this is utter rubbish, no "cheap" ingredients are used in any of Starmers products, people are far too quick to judge. I have zero time for bait snobs and twats that slate companies they know very little about. The range may be missing the odd attractor that the premium boilies include, but they more than make up for it in other ways. You can literally customize these baits in any way you want. They've been specifically formulated to be used in conjunction with the glugs & new liquid feeds, they take on and soak up both these elements perfectly - that's what they've been designed to do.

Candy Sweet Cream U.F.B Soaked In Honey Nut Liquid Feed
The U.F.B has a classic range of flavors 'listed below', most notably the return 'by popular demand' of Garlic Mint. If you want a blank canvas to create your own unique boilie flavor you can buy the generic fishmeal & birdseed bait and use them to add your favored flavors to, between both the glugs, fish oils and the new liquid feeds, which I'll write about shortly, there are literally hundreds of combinations and options for you to experiment with. Two of the range that react very well to the odd 'tinkering' are both the Hempseed & the Bunspice. The possibilities are endless, don't be put off by the price, it's proper value for money and I've caught really well on the whole U.F.B range.

U.F.B Flavors

Value For Money 
Moving on, one slight grey area that suffered inconsistencies were the pop ups, this was a factor that everyone involved was aware of. If you're using cork balls/dust or other unnatural ingredients it's easy to get a really buoyant bait. However both Ian and Gareth at Starmer prioritize fish welfare above everything so the challenge was to produce a pop up that contained natural/safe ingredients. I'm happy to say that after a hell of a lot of trial and error, the old pop ups are a thing of the past. There is now a completely new 'buoyant' pop up that is not only safe for the fish, it breaks down after around 72 hours of being in the water, like all the bottom baits do. Last season I fished pop ups 'almost' exclusively due to the weedy waters I was on. They performed perfectly, on the days where the baits had been out all day and a bite didn't come, upon reeling in they still remained buoyant. I'm personally really happy with this development, there's a huge amount of flavors to choose from.

New Revised Pop Ups

Along side the development of the new pop ups a dedicated pop up base mix containing the exact ingredients has been put together that you can purchase and make your own at home. It comes in 4 different blends, Milk Protein, Fish-meal, Sweet Birdseed and Green Lipped Mussel. It has been designed so you can roll it on any rolling table, you can use any combination of flavor, color, additive etc. You simply roll the baits to your desired size, boil them for 2/3 minutes, leave them to dry or put them in the microwave and you're good to go. I'd like to stress the point that you don't need to add extra eggs to this mix.

Pop Up Base Mix

Moving on to another two great products, both 10mm and 6mm pop ups are now available, they come in a range of colors, both 'fluro' and standard. Individually both these sized baits are extremely buoyant, I was really surprised by this when I first used them. I find these great for solid bag fishing, you can create a 'mini snowman' presentation using both the 10mm & the 6mm combined. Not only that but they're perfect for topping off other baits, I personally think the 6mm range is a lovely touch. You have to use your common sense when using a bait this small, two tips I can give you to stop them splitting when threading, is to use the thinnest boilie needle you can get and always make sure the 'hair loop' is larger than usual. This will cure the problem of the bait 'splitting' on the knot of the hair loop ....... I hope that makes sense. Both come in an array of different flavors ranging from tangerine & peach to raspberry and krill.

10mm Mixed Pop Ups

6mm Mixed Pop Ups

That pretty much covers all of the 'boilie bait' developments, add that all to the existing lines and there's plenty to choose from and a lot of what is on offer is different to that of the mainstream companies. So I'd like to move on to one of the products that probably goes down as my current favorite, that's the liquid feeds. This was something that Starmer originally produced way back in the 90's a long time before most, but it never quite took off. Now with the popularity of spombing/spodding and zig fishing, liquids have had a huge upsurge in usage.

Liquid Feed & Sloppy Zigs
The liquids come in a large variety of flavors ranging from Whisky, Indian Spice, Peanut and Pineapple, I've used these extensively and come to notice that as it enters the water it seems to both sink to the bottom and rise to the surface, creating an awesome slick. This is especially good for fishing slop over zigs, 'as you'll see in the image above'. They're PVA friendly so you can inject them into solid bags, glug and soak your boilies, method mixes and pellets, a valid point to note is, they don't dissolve pellets they just make them a little softer. Along with all the above, as mentioned earlier they're perfect when combined with the U.F.B range, you can use a single flavor or add two or three together to create your own unique boilie flavor. All in all, they're a great product and I'm sure many out there will find them useful.

Liquid Feeds

Moving on to another giant step .... pellets, they've come on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of years, they're produced onsite and in-house by a 'mad scientist' machine that both Ian and Gareth designed and built. Once again the use of pellets within carp fishing has surged due to the popularity of spodding. I love to use them in solid bags and PVA sticks, they come in 2mm and 5mm sizes and both low oil and high oil are available. Within the 'attractor' pellet range you have flavors ranging from Coconut Cream, Hot Chilli Hemp and Tigernut & Maple. In the 'marine' pellet range flavors range from Krill, Green Lipped Mussel and Tuna. You also have a 'mixed option' this range contains a mix of flavors and sizes, one of my favorites from this is the black & white Coconut & Halibut pellet. Like all the other product lines there's lots to choose from, I've used all of the pellets off and on throughout my fishing and I find them effective and versatile. Another unique edition to the pellet range is the 'pre-drilled' halibut pellet, these come in 22mm, 17mm and a monster 28mm. Ideal when fishing for catfish, sturgeon and of course carp. These are a lovely product, super smelly and really oily, being pre-drilled there's no problem when sliding them onto the hair.

Coconut & Halibut

2mm Match Mix

  Pre-drilled Halibut Pellet

That pretty much covers the new and latest products, when you put them alongside all the existing ranges you have a very large, comprehensive selection to choose from that pretty much covers any fishing situation. There's a few things I haven't written about but you can always check the website out. Like I stated at the start of this blog, I'm not trying to sell anything here, or trying to tell you that the bait is "the best there is and you should get on it". Baits are a very personal thing and you've got to use something that you feel confident in. In regards to the mainstream companies out there, I've never really been particularly interested in anything they've ever had to offer, not just in fishing, pretty much everything from music to books etc, I've always found myself steering more towards the independent or unknown. I've never really been interested in what anyone else is using or what apparently 'works' and what doesn't. Like I stated at the start of this blog, I'd rather form my own opinion based on my own experiences. If you fancy trying something different and a little 'off the radar' then I can recommend Starmer as a good reliable 'port of call'.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Burrows 'Echoes From The Valley' Part 14

"It would appear that desperate times call for desperate measures and within these desperate times it seems that many people would rather step on your neck than hold their hand out to pull you through"

Observations Of The Outside World

I haven't written a blog for quite some time now, I've been preoccupied with life, work has been busy and I haven't really felt like communicating with the outside world at all. Not only that but 'via social media', something I genuinely try to stay away from, the whole 'modern carp fishing' scene and the concept of social media as a whole has been grinding on me, so much so that I've decided to delete my twitter account, the jury is still open on the 'page' I have on Facebook, not having an actual profile keeps me away from endless status updates, second to that, Instagram isn't so bad, I like the idea of sharing imagery. To me, it appears a vast majority of people out there are trying to be "rock stars", "angling gurus" or "social media sensations". Everyone's an artist, model, creative, dancer, writer, painter, sculpture, song writer and the most perplexing of all, a "Mental Health Advocate".  To me it all just comes across as an egotistical load of complete bollocks. Being so effected by mental health problems myself this "Mental Health Advocate" term seems to be used by people that want to gain more followers because of "their amazing contribution to mental health awareness" which in reality usually ends up with them just continually updating everyone on how bad they feel all the time, thus creating a platform to get the attention they so obviously crave. This 'observation' might come across as harsh, but having suffered with severe mental health problems myself, and still do, it's a subject, I not only have a huge amount of experience with, but it's something I'm very sensitive about. I can assure you that when I was manic, psychotic, chronically depressed, delusional and suicidal, the last thing on my mind was updating my social media informing everyone of my condition. But alas ........ we now live in a very narcissistic and shallow world and people will do just about anything to get that dopamine hit they continually require.     

Habitually Distracted

The way I see it, this continuous obsession with followers, likes and retweets is contributing towards the erosion of rational thought. However hard I tried I found myself preoccupied with the meaningless, I needed that notification fix, it's like my consciousness was split into two halves, one half was in the real world, the other, tangled in a virtual universe that held no baring on reality. I found myself looking for validation off of a bunch of strangers I'd never even met. HASH-TAGS were becoming a new language, all my thoughts had to be edited down to fit into 280 characters or less, my phone became an interface to access a reality that held absolutely no weight in the material world. I personally think social media is a virus within itself, it's a new form of mental illness and since quitting, all of a sudden the 'white noise' has fallen silent and I can, once again, think clearly, not be a victim of social engineering and not deprive myself of reality. Unplugging myself from "the Interface" is a beautiful feeling. These blogs will be my smoke signals to the outside world.

the interface

a vast junkyard of wasted humans,
forgotten geniuses eaten away
by their own genius,
derelict hosts once so nuanced 
prescribed an ‘overdose’
I’m living a counterfeit life
all seems real to an untrained eye,
it’s the era of the ‘death of self’
familiar imagery, thousands
having mastered mimicry
I haven’t heard one true voice

since we’ve wired ourselves
into the interface
we’re forced to participate,
the mob can’t wait to retaliate
to opposing views that challenge
their delusion, I feel the confusion,
it all seems such a waste,
I’ve spent years trying to cut
my connection to the interface,
it’s malpractice, a database
used to debase, a tool
to develop our predecessor
a freedom oppressor

So now I've finally decided to put "finger to keyboard", as you all know, I'm writing to you from a very different world, a somewhat uglier world than it was before, if that's possible. As you're aware, there is a virus, 'which I believe has been released on purpose' that is 'apparently' infecting thousands of people all over the planet. People are 'apparently' dying in numbers and with the help from the scaremongering media, ..... social media being the other main culprit yet again, .... we are now witnessing hysteria at a level never witnessed before. I've always said that "the true measure of the man is how he deals with a crisis", everyone can be a great thoughtful person when everything is going well. But when the shit hits the fan you tend to see people for what they really are. What I'm witnessing by the majority disgusts me beyond belief, the general public are like a pack of jackals scrambling over each other, tearing metaphorical flesh from the metaphorical bone as they strip the supermarket shelves and shops of anything and everything, caring, not one jot for those around them. 

Living in London you tend to see far more 'pond life' than you do if you're living out of town in more rural areas. But right now, human behaviour in every town and city has shown me that disconnecting from the masses and the fucked up social conditions that molds everyone's thought's and personalities has been the right decision to make. It's proven that in a crisis the majority turn into savages who are only looking after number 1. I'm sure there are some considerate people out there but I'm yet to meet them. I have no desire to communicate with those that have no thought for anyone other than themselves. I have nothing in common with those that take the moral high ground only went it suits them, I like people to be real not fake or a different person depending on whatever situation they're currently in. So whilst mankind continues to demonstrate that the distance between the evolution of the amoeba and the human is a lot less developed than one might think, I'll continue to 'stay down amongst' until this all blows over.   

So moving on to more positive things, over the winter I took a step back from fishing more than I'd done for a good few years, to be honest this worked in my favor. Not only did I enjoy my time on the bank more I also had some really productive sessions resulting in some really good fish, most notably the awesome mirror below. I don't know exactly what the driving force was but everything just fell perfectly into place. All my casts seem to be spot on, all my freebies were hitting the target and all the carp appeared to be playing ball. Compared to recent years we've had a pretty mild winter so I'm sure that this played a big part, marry that with the waters I chose to fish, it's no real surprise the bites came along.

A Cold Water Carp

So let us take the final journey back to the last two sessions that I did in the bottle-neck swim, all my recent blogs from the "Echoes From The Valley Series" are focused around this specific area of the water. It was a swim I was determined to make work for me, it turned into a complete single minded obsession. Results started off slowly but with a little persistence it started to fall into place. If you missed the first blog in this specific installment you can read it here Part 1. This blog will be accounting for my last two short sessions before I moved on elsewhere. The reason the last two sessions ended up being relatively short was due to the fact that most of the bites I'd had ended up being between 3:30 & 4:30 in the afternoon. Instead of getting up at the crack of dawn and waiting all day for the bite, it made sense for me to turn up just before bite time and leave once the take had materialized. It became clear to me that the swim was a bite a day if you approached it correctly. I think my first session was an exception, two bites came because it was very clear that carp were feeding there in numbers.

View From The Swim
On the day of my fist session I arrived at the water around 2:30 in the afternoon, the sun was shining, overhead the clouds were broken and there wasn't even a whisper of a breeze. The world seemed pretty dam perfect, fishing this area had now become second nature. I got my alarms and pod sorted, constructed the rods, rigged up and got both baits out with zero fuss. Today I'd decided on a bait change, I was using Tigernut & Maple, it's another bait I have a huge amount of confidence in. Just like all the sessions before, I baited relativity heavy over both rods, with the bait change came a rig change as well. Bottom baits had served me well but taking into consideration that both spots hold a lot of silt I decided to fish a pop up on a 'Withy pool rig', this would be fished on a helicopter system. The 'Withy' is such an underused rig nowadays. To be fair I haven't used it a great deal in recent times, mainly because I'm fishing waters where I don't need to use pop ups, but it's definitely one of my favorite ways to present a popped up bait.

The Withy

Anytime I'm using a Withy or something similar I always set it up so the bait sinks through the water nice and slow, this ensures that the rig will sit over any debris or silt that might be on the bottom. I create my own curves so I have them in a variety of heights and lengths, some are more aggressive than others, basically I make sure I've got options depending on where and what I'm fishing over. Once all the freebies were deposited there was nothing left to do other than wait for that bite to come. Once thing I love about this specific swim is the tree cover you have, it's the perfect place to sit in the shade, and as the wind blows, the leafy branches above gently sway and occasionally create an opening where the sun can fire through. Sitting there with the warmth of the sun on my face made me realize what a multifaceted pass time angling was, without sounding too obvious, it's not all about catching fish. 

It didn't take long for the time to pass and before I knew it 3:30 was upon me and the prospect of a bite was edging ever closer. The breeze started to pick up and just like clockwork, I started to get liners off of both rods, with some careful observation I could see evidence of feeding, mainly over my right hand spot. Just as 4:00 approached my right hand rod sprung into life ..... result, gently lifting into the fish, the rod arched round and the clutch whirled and ticked. This felt like a good one, I took it easy, there was no reason to panic, I let the fish lunge, pull and thrust, gently cushioning each blow. It really woke up under the rod tip and made ample use of the deep margins, as it began to tire I started to see a fleeting glimpse of a lovely looking common carp, it was deep bodied and almost perfect looking. A touch more patience saw it in the net, as I looked down at my prize, it was clear I'd caught another one of Burrows beauties. 

A Classic Common
My hunch about the bite time had been confirmed again, it appeared they definitely seemed to visit this spot to feed later on in the day. I believe the one main point that helped the area remain productive was the simple fact I'd be fishing it consistently over a period of time and a lot of bait had gone in. I didn't see the point in staying any longer, a second bite rarely comes, the plan was to come back the next day and pretty much replicate what I'd done today.

Back Tomorrow
After getting some odd jobs done in the morning I headed down to the water for about 2:30 again. The conditions were slightly different to the day before. There was more of a breeze on the water and it was way more overcast, it felt nice and fresh. I got both baits out straight away, placed the rods on the floor and then proceeded to set both my pod and alarms up. I reverted back to bottom baits on both rods, there was no real reason for this, I was baiting the swim with Tigernut & Maple but I was fishing Green Lipped Mussel on the hook with small mesh bags of crushed GLM and Bio CP2 Amino crumb. Again, there was no real reason for the hook bait change, I just fancied trying something different. There are times when I have a short attention span over a certain approach or bait, I have 100% confidence in all the different baits I use, hence why I do switch them around quite often.

View From The Swim
GLM Hook Bait & A Crumb Mesh Bag 
 GLM & Bio Cp2 Amino Crumb
So just like the day before I twiddled my thumbs until around 3:30 and once the magic hour arrived I sat on my chair watching closely for signs of feeding fish. On cue I started to get liners and I could see streams of bubbles coming up from the right hand area again. After another few minutes of 'fidgeting', the rod fired off, a huge explosion of bubbles erupted from the spot at the split second the alarm screamed. Making contact with this fish I could feel that it was decent, they were slow powerful lunges and it plodded about in a 'hippo like fashion'. As usual, underneath the rod tip was where it really woke up, after a fair tug-of-war I netted a large pale looking mirror. I knew instantly that I'd had this carp before, if my memory served me correctly it was about 22IB. I didn't bother weighing it but I suspected it was of a similar weight. It's certainly not the best looking fish Burrows has to offer but it was appreciated none the less. 

Repeat Capture
This fish signaled the end of the session for me, not only that but it closed my time fishing the "bottle-neck", I was really happy with all the fish that I'd had but I wanted to move on to some different waters now. This whole period of time has shown me that if you stick to a certain area, keep the bait going and plug away, it's possible to get steady results. Taking into consideration I couldn't buy a bite from this swim in the past, I was more than happy with the outcome. 

Mission Accomplished