You may remember the first Manton article that I wrote after just two sessions, I was off to a flyer and managed six fish, four of which were on zigs. This tactic is definitely lethal on this water in the early spring just like it is on many waters, it’s extremely underused and a definite edge. I continued to use the zigs a little but the sessions that followed were about choosing the right techniques that suited both the conditions (with the temps being so up and down) and how the fish were behaving at that exact time.
As the water temperatures rose, the zigs lost their effectiveness and as the weed was getting much thicker I wasn’t too bothered about that. I knew that I would begin to lose fish on this method with the light tackle that I was using to get the bites. The fish seemed happier to take baits off the bottom and I could now use the stronger gear that would bring fish to the net no matter how thick the weed was! Two rigs were to be used from now on; the chod and hinged stiff rig, both of these are deadly and always give me excellent hook holds in the bottom lip. If I know I’m going to have to apply lots of pressure to pull fish clear of weed or snags, I don’t want to hook them in the side as it can cause damage.
I had started to fish over some food bait on the fifth visit, I had moved on to showing fish in a swim called the right bars. After a couple of casts with a light lead, I located the bars with no problem at all. I then attached a marker float to see what the depth was like on the bar compared to the surrounding areas that were covered in weed. It only shallowed up about a foot on the bar but as there was weed around it, I reckoned it would actually look shallower if you were to look at the spot from a boat as the weed was over a foot off the bottom. I fancied fishing the hinged stiff rigs here, there was enough room to get two rigs on this spot.
I didn’t bother causing unnecessary disturbance by casting at the marker with my rigs; I clipped up the marker rod, wound it in then measured the distance to the spot by wrapping the braid around two bank sticks that were 12 feet apart. I counted the number of wraps until I hit the clip and wound the line back on to the spool. I then wrapped my fishing rods to the same number, clipped them up and marked the lines with pole elastic. If you ever need to know the exact distance you are fishing, simply times the number of wraps by four (because there are four yards in 12 feet) then you will get an accurate measurement, this can be really useful.
Anyway, out went two hinged stiff rigs on to the spot, the other rod went further to the island with my trusty chod rig attached. The two rods on the bar brought lots of action this session, I ended up with five fish, the biggest being 23.14 and they were all commons. I had gone through 6kg of food bait this session, I wasn’t putting much in each time, just enough to keep the swim topped up regularly. I really enjoyed it but still I couldn’t get a fish that was bigger than the 25 I had on the first session. I began thinking about my hookbaits and decided that they maybe the problem. I had been fishing dull yellow and off white baits over the freebies, these have been designed to stand out but are not fluoro baits that can be scary to wary carp at times. The smaller fish could be making a bee-line for these baits while bigger fish are either hanging back or enjoying the darker freebies?
I have fished lots of challenging waters in the past, Manton was another but for different reasons. I can get bites by making the right decisions every time I go but getting one of the big fish was proving to be tricky and on my fifth visit they eluded me again! I had seen fish moving in and out of the channel between the island and the bank, the channel is maybe twenty yards across and its reed lined, it looks very carpy indeed! I always have some mixers in the van and I tried my best to get them going, a couple of fish took the odd one then they just melted away either further into the channel or back into the main lake. I set up in the right bars again where I could fish the entrance to the channel, I positioned a single hookbait on the island shelf that seemed to be their preferred path to go in or out of the channel. I managed two upper doubles on this rod by the end of the session, the rest of the lake blanked so I was pleased with a result to be honest.
Before I move on I suppose I should tell you about my little floater fishing nightmare that session. On the Saturday evening a little breeze had picked up blowing right into the channel to my right. There were still some good fish there that had been basking in the sun that afternoon so I decided I’d try to get them going on mixers again and I hatched a cunning plan. I proceeded to catapult mixers out in front of my swim, the wind carried them to my right and into the mouth of the channel. The fish started to take them and after a few minutes, they became really confident and a couple of the lakes larger residents were also getting involved. Perfect! I am partial to a bit of floater fishing as many of you will know but this was difficult as the trees over hanging to the right of my swim meant that I couldn’t get a controller into position.
I donned the chesties and entered the water, rod in hand, bait and catapult in a pouch round my waist and net floating behind me. A couple more pouches of mixers went out, the fish were still taking and I was sure I would have one. I cast the Flatliner long over towards the island, I would draw it back slightly then let the wind carry my bait towards the fish. By now I had an audience on the far bank, anglers that were no doubt thinking “what the f… is he up to?!” The cast was perfect, I mended the line and was slowly drawing the rig back when a pike exploded out of the water and took my trimmed down pop up hookbait that was wobbling on the surface behind the float! All hell broke loose as this thing went mental, tail walking and all sorts only a few feet from the carp. Needless to say, they disappeared leaving me to land the bloody thing that was hooked in the scissors. It was one of those “what have I done to deserve this?” moments but I laughed to myself about it a bit later.
Gardner Covert end tackle components.” alt=”I opted to use my standard “go anywhere and nail em” bottom bait rig using Gardner Covert end tackle components.” width=”397″ height=”300″ class=”alignright size-full wp-image-10991″ />
Right onto the sixth visit! I arrived at the lake to find only five anglers on, Paul the bailiff gave me a nice little update on what had been happening down there while we watched the lake and had a cuppa. Paul seemed to be on fish (it’s rare he isn’t!) but more seemed to be showing towards a swim called the boards which was directly opposite him. I got round there and reversed the mobile bivvy in before anyone else beat me to it, I hadn’t fished this peg before but it has plenty of water and looked great. A couple more fish showed while I was stood there on the platform looking out and I decided that I would put two chods out straight away here without leading around and maybe spooking them. I got a very muffled drop when feeling both the rigs down so I reckoned the weed to be pretty thick out there, long chods will cope with that and the presentation should be ok.
A few hours went by, it got quite warm and the fish began cruising around the lake, there were bow waves all over the place. I decided to examine the swim a little more and settle on tactics that were more likely to catch me a biggun! Early that morning I saw a lot of shows to the left of the swim maybe forty yards out, in almost exactly the same place every time. I had a little look with a bare lead and found an area with much less weed than the surrounding areas, I wanted make sure this spot had a rig on it in case the fish were here in numbers the next morning. I could just about get the line around the marginal reeds to get to this spot and I may need the waders to land fish but I don’t mind that, many others would so it probably never gets fished. I love fishing spots that are too much hassle for most to fish, they often produce really well!
The boards peg also fishes a section of an island on this lake, although this is a popular area to fish to from this swim, it can’t be ignored as it does plenty of fish. A few casts to this revealed clean sand in maybe two and a half feet of water at 120 yards. I could cast to this with my trusty 20lb Hydro Tuff all the way through without having to use a shock leader which was great. I didn’t want a leader knot getting covered in weed when playing a fish as that could cause me serious problems. A 4oz Gardner Flat Pear got me over there nicely and this time I opted to use my standard “go anywhere and nail em” bottom bait rig instead of a pop up rig as I was 100% sure that it was clean enough on the spot.
I decided to bait this area with the spod and put some chopped boilie and tigers on it. I decided to spread the bait around a little as the fish feeding here would normally find tight beds of bait dropped from a bait boat, this was the right hand rod done. The left was past the reeds with 50 boilies spread around it with an off white pop up and the middle went out to another spot where I got a drop with a light lead on a chod with a dull yellow pop up fished as a single at about 60 yards. I was sure that all the baits were presented perfectly and I knew they could last in the water, I intended to leave them out until I got bites so all I could do now was sit and enjoy the surroundings which was fine by me!
Nothing much showed that evening as it went dark but it was in the morning when the fish seemed to be most active and I fancied a bite at first light. At five o’clock the next morning, I was woken by the ATT receiver screaming in my left ear. I burst out of the van and leant into a fish on the left hand rod, the waders were there at the ready but the fish kited to the right and brought my line away from the reeds which was very kind of it. It was a nice two tone common that went 25.10, apparently this fish normally goes 28ish but it’s down a bit after spawning. It was another one nailed on the size 5 Covert Chod hooks and a nice start on one of those mornings where the mist on the water won’t let you see any fish crashing, but you can hear them!
It got warm again that day, fortunately the canopy of trees over the peg protected my bald head from the sun and it was enjoyable just sitting there watching the water. I think it was around six o’clock when I was stood looking at my island spot and a good fish erupted on the surface right over my bait, I looked down at the rod, the tip slammed round and the buzzer sprang into life! This fish felt bigger from the minute I picked the rod up, it was moving slowly in the deeper water trying it’s best to weed me up. I kept it moving though and after stripping me of some line a couple of times in the margins, it was safely resting in the net. I remember looking down over its back and thinking “Jesus, that’s no twenty!” and after I got all my camera gear set up to do the self takes the fish known as “the scattered scale common” was weighed at 30.12 and photographed. Happy days!
Later that evening I had another fish from the spot past the reeds, it was only a 16.8 common but a nice looking one all the same. My first Manton 30 had fallen to a hardened bottom bait, dark in colour and presented on my favourite hook, the Covert Wide Gape Talon Tip in a size 6. My theory about bait colour looks like it might be correct, I’m sure I would still catch these bigger fish on brighter baits but how long would it take if the smaller fish are always around to pick them up first? Bait colour and how it can be used to single out bigger fish is an interesting subject that’s for sure but we’ll see how I get on in future sessions. I’ll keep a note about what I catch on what baits and get back to you on that. Right now I’ve done 6 trips to the lake and had 17 fish, I haven’t blanked yet and don’t intend to but hopefully I can get through to more of Mantons 30’s by targeting them with the darker baits that are put in the right place, at the right time.