Short sessions to some anglers might be something like 30 odd hours on the bank. That sort of time for me these days would be heavenly! At present I manage a very quick night three times a month. Literally heading for the lake at 8pm and finding my way home by 10:30am the following morning. With a young family and a shift change at work my time on the bank has been reduced dramatically. However, it won’t be forever and in the not so distant future I’m hoping to change a few things, which will not only enable me to have more family time but also more angling time too, and no, I’m not going on the dole!
So, how do I go about being even slightly successful with only around 44 hours fishing per month? Firstly, and I know you’ve heard it before but visiting lakes is paramount. Walking my dog at first and last light helps me achieve this. Keeping my ear to the ground and gathering as much up to date information as possible is all key to being successful. It has to be that way because turning up blind and not having any time to look around means there is a good chance of a blank, and nobody likes a blanker!
Whilst I’m looking around my chosen venue I tend to trickle in a little bait. Not too much, just enough to get a few spots going and condition the carp into coming in and finding free food on a regular basis. I love watching carp and looking at how the fish feed on a particular lake and on a particular spot. I can then adjust my rigs to suit, again, upping my chances of success.
The lakebed where I’m fishing at the moment is extremely soft with fluffy silt covering most of it. I have caught fish on naked chod rigs, this being the obvious choice. However, I needed to adjust my set up for a couple of reasons. Firstly I noticed them spooking off the highly visible fluoro pop ups I was using, which were mounted on standard length chod hook links. Secondly, I needed to fish with a tighter line for much quicker bite indication. I kept to a helicopter set up but changed over to multi-rigs, which allowed me to present a lower to the deck pop up and I rolled myself some dulled orange citrus specials utilising the Gardner rolling kit and the Polaris mix and liquid additives from Mainline. This new set up worked a treat for me and I landed several carp over my next few over-nighters. The carp on this venue aren’t large by any stretch of the imagination but they are stunning, as you can see from the photos. I think the carp angling world has gone mad for big fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love catching a whacker but carp of any size are more than welcome in my net.
I’ll give you a run-down of the kit I use to tackle this venue. It’s quite straight forward and if you fish in the silt you have a go with this set up, hook-link and hook-bait. It’s tried and tested reliable kit and will take that part of the jigsaw out of your mind, leaving you to concentrate on the other aspects.
The lake itself is fairly demanding on tackle but many of the snags and much of the weed has been removed. The fish themselves cleared lots of the weed by ripping it up and sifting through it after the bait that was going in. They loved a mix of brown crab meat and pellet on top of the anglers bait! There is still weed present and lots of marginal cover including a large canopy of trees, which the fish love to get under. The snags have largely been removed by the owner using a mask, snorkel and some hard graft!
On to the fishing itself. To be successful on short sessions I need to arrive at the lake with everything ready to go. I don’t have time to be messing about tying rigs, preparing bait or walking laps of the lake looking. I’ve already done all my homework and I have a plan before I arrive. Saying that, it’s always worth having a backup and I have been known not to even set up until gone midnight when my original plan didn’t come together! Ten minutes in the right place and all that!
I get to the lake tooled up with reliable kit and bait. I use Gardner Pro XM main line, it’s soft, limp, casts well, sinks, has great knot strength and is very reliable. Basically the best all round main line I have ever used and I can’t rave about it enough! Attached to the main line I use either a Camflex Leadfree or leadcore leader, around 3-4 feet in length. A helicopter set up is the obvious choice and I set the top bead around 8-10 inches up from the 2oz lead. I do this so the lead can sink/settle into the silt leaving the hook-link to gently settle on top. I always incorporate a Drop Out Chod Safety Clip, so the lead can discharge and I stay in contact with a fish should the lead snag on anything. Depending on my hook bait I use either the multi-rig or a combi-rig both around 10 inches in length. I make the multi-rig from the new Ultra Skin coated braid in 25lb and a size 6 Covert Chod hook for use with one of my dulled down orange pop ups. I’ll make the combi-rig from 12lb Subterfuge fluorocarbon, Trickster Heavy braid and a size 8 Covert Mugga hook set up blow-back style. I’ll present a prawn hook bait on this hook-link. Prawn is a very underused bait and it’s a massive edge, carp love ‘em! Just be mindful it’s a soft bait, so long casts and nuisance fish is a no no unless you stalk and can keep an eye on it.
Bait wise I use chopped boilie, usually a mixture of Cell and Hybrid. These half baits flutter down and nestle into the fluffy silt. Whole baits sink in and disappear. Along with the boilie I also use a mix of pellet, again usually the dedicated Mainline Cell and Hybrid. I add Mainline Fosoil to the pellet to give them a nice coating and a short soak just prior to them going in. This creates a nice flat spot when the fish are over the bait alerting me to expect a take at any given moment.
Preparation is everything when time is of the essence so my two rods are always ready to go. I have one spot on the far margin of the lake so the rod is already clipped up from the previous session and the line marked with marker elastic. It’s literally a case of tying on a pop up, checking it in the edge and then pinging it over to the far side spot. I’ll then nip round and check it and add some free bait. My second rod goes down the nearside margin, under a canopy of trees. It’s a really awkward cast and when casting I can’t get it in and under the trees where I want it to be. I have waded it in but to be honest it’s far too risky. It’s a deepish margin, steep sided and very silty. It’s so awkward and risky I think I just ended up spooking the fish out of the area for hours on end, lesson learnt there! I’ve never owned a bait boat, but a bait boat wouldn’t half make life easy. I know the great bait boat debate lives on in the carp angling world. I personally don’t have an issue with them if they help an angler catch a carp. I’ve used rowing boats on large lakes to bait up and drop hook baits and I’ve waded out in excess of 70 yards on shallow lakes to drop a hook bait, so using a bait boat for me isn’t a problem. What is a problem is the price of them! Anyway, back to the point, how do I get the hook bait safely into position without the risk of drowning, spooking them and bankruptcy. Well, the answer is I use a match mans pole with a Gardner Net Float and a Gardner Baiting Spoon attached to the end. To get the hook bait into position I flick the lead part way down the margin to the mouth of the canopy. I then walk down the bank with the pole and find the lead. I attach my hook link via the size 12 Covert Kwik-Lok Flexi Ring Swivel and lay it out on the baiting spoon. I add an amount of pellet and ship it all the way down the margin to my spot. With the pole in one hand and my main line in the other it’s simply a case of turning the pole so the rig and bait fall the correct way out of the spoon. As soon as the lead touches down I quickly get back to the rod to sort the line out and set the indicator. It sounds complicated, but in fact it’s quite simple and I can then sit back, with confidence, and put the kettle on knowing it’s just a matter of time!