Small Changes That Make A BIG Difference by Tom Oliver
I recently had a week booked off work and had planned a trip to my southern syndicate lake with the hope of getting amongst some of the larger residents as well as filming a few pieces for Gardner Tackle. I arrived at the lake on Sunday lunchtime and managed to secure a decent swim that gave me plenty of water in a weedy end of the lake that the fish have been spending a lot of time in.
I baited amongst clear areas in the dense weed with a mixture of particles, pellets and different sized Cell boilies hoping to lure any sitting carp from their weedy homes. I stuck to what I had been doing well on rig wise and used combi-rigs with small bright pop-ups tipped with maggots. The rigs were tied with 20lb Trick Link boom sections and 20lb Trickster Heavy at the business end coupled with a size 6 Covert Incizor and a large shirk tube kicker. The finished rig of around nine inches was coupled with a small Micromesh pva mesh bag of pellets and glugged before casting to boost the attraction further.
My first fish came the following morning around 9am when my left hand rod went into meltdown as a powerful fish surged off towards a dense weed bed behind my spot. Constant steady pressure had the fish heading back in my direction and because the lead had already ejected from the Covert Lead Clip the fish stayed near the surface layers away from the weed. After a few hairy moments where the fish became weeded solid close in I was finally scooping my net under my first fish of the session. A nice common of 24lb 14oz was soon weighed and photographed before being released and the day remained quiet with not a lot happening. I topped up the spot again in the evening after doing several circuits of the lake trying to locate any opportunities in the edge but unfortunately I couldn’t find a thing!
I got the rods out and went to bed hopeful of some action come the morning bite time but as it came and past my bobbins remained motionless. There were visibly less sightings too and it seemed as though they had switched off despite the conditions looking good for it. Around mid-day I decided to wind in and go for another walk around the lake but this time with the floater kit as the weather had warmed up considerably from the previous day. I found a decent amount of fish straight away on the opposite bank sunning themselves in the weed and decided it would be worth a go. I steadily trickled 11mm floating trout pellets soaked in sesame oil out with the catty and after around half an hour I had several fish picking off the odd mixer in the middle of the lake. The fish were eating the mixers that had drifted on the weed and were around fifty yards out so a controller float was required to reach the distance. I choose to use the Gardner Flatliner set up bolt style to aid in the hooking process as it was difficult to see with the chop on the water from the increasing breeze. The cast landed spot on and I was in straight away but unfortunately the hook pulled not long after the fish became weeded. The disturbance had put the other fish on edge and despite my best efforts I was soon heading back to my swim with my tail between my legs.
I topped up the spot with a little more bait and got my head down early exhausted from a day in the hot sun. The following morning I awoke to a take on my left hand rod and I was soon stood playing a fish that was intent on reaching the weed bed behind my spot. Luckily I managed to turn the fish just in time and after an explosive battle under the rod tips I soon netted a fish known as ‘The Patch Common’ at 28lb 4oz. The fish continued to feed on my spots until around 1pm but somehow they had avoided capture or I had been done! I wound in and nothing seemed out of the ordinary so something needed to be changed in order to avoid giving them another free meal the following day.
I decided to shorten the combi-rig to around five inches as I was feeding a good amount of particle and thought that my normal rigs may have been too long if they were feeding very tightly to the bottom. I also decided to ditch the maggots as on most occasions they were being pecked off by the rudd and instead went for a snowman hook bait. It’s often little changes that bring in big results and the next day Alan Stagg from Gardner turned up just in time to see my left hand rod slowly pick up before going in to absolute meltdown. A lengthy battle ensued as the fish dived in and out of weedbeds and at times I thought all was lost. I have always found constant steady pressure gets things moving again and I soon had a raft of weed nodding its head as it slowly reached the waiting net. On stripping off the weed an immaculate half fully scaled mirror was revealed and looked amazing in the sun as we did the pictures. The fish was weighed at 26lb 6oz and was soon followed up with a 19lb mirror from my other spot. It seemed the rig change was working and two fish was a good result for the morning especially with the camera present.
The rest of the day was spent filming various technical bits and pieces and I hoped the following day would repeat itself. I received my first bite of the day around midday and played a stumpy mirror of around 22lb all the way to the net cord before one last violent shake of the head caused the hook to pull. I was a little gutted but quickly got the rod back out on the spot with the hope of another bite from the area as fish were still clearly feeding with plumes of bubbles coming up. Around an hour later the same rod was away again and I landed a real character in the shape of ‘Blind Eye’ at 20lb 2oz. The swim soon went quiet and the rest of the day was spent surface fishing on the adjacent lake in order to gain some footage for the cameras. We managed plenty of fish up to mid-twenties and I was soon itching to return to my swim to get sorted for the forthcoming night.
The following morning remained quiet with the exception of a tench but I remained hopeful as the bites had been coming later as each day had passed. At around 2pm it finally happened and I instantly knew I was in to a better fish from the way it fought. I took my time and slowly led a decent size common in to the waiting net and was made up when the needle swung around to 32lb 2oz. It was my first thirty of the trip but that wasn’t important as it was the best looking common I have caught to date. The rod was replaced on the spot and half an hour later another good fish was making ground towards the thick weed at the back of the spot. Everything went well and after a lengthy battle a large framed mirror was coughing water as it slid over the net cord. Upon lifting the fish on to the mat I realised it was another thirty and quickly slipped it in the recovery sling whilst getting everything sorted and arranging a photographer. Once I had the fish on the mat I realised it was a repeat capture of a fish called ‘The Brute’ at a slightly lower weight this time of 30lb 4oz but I cared not as at least I could get a few snaps in the daytime on this occasion.
I managed one more low-twenty mirror before I left and was more than happy with the results and my decision to make a small change to my rig. It seems that they are finally looking to feed for the autumn and I can’t wait to get back down there.
Tying Tom’s Rig
Take a length of Trickster Heavy in 20lb and form a loop for the hair stop. Attach a 12mm pop-up and 15mm bottom bait to the rig and secure in place with a hair stop.
Attach a large Covert Rig Ring with a double overhand knot below the bait so it can blow back once the rig is complete. Slide the ring on to a size 6 Covert Incizor and tie the knotless knot so the ring is positioned on the bend of the hook.
Take a length of 20lb Trick Link and join the two materials using an Albright knot.
Cut a section of Covert Supa Shrink around one inches in length and position over the eye of the hook. Steam the tubing so that it has a long slow progressive curve.
Mold a small amount of Critical Mass Putty over the Albright knot. Slide a Covert Anti-Tangle Sleeve on to the Trick Link before tying a figure of eight loop knot to finish the rig.
The finished rig!