Carp Fishing ~ Flitting About (Part 1) ~ Rick Golder

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I did very little fishing last winter due to a combination of work and family commitments, but I did have a social trip arranged with some friends at the end of February, which after a long layoff was something to look forward to.

It actually made me sort my gear out, load up the reels with new lines, order my bait etc., so it was just the kick-start I needed. Whilst I didn’t catch on that trip, my friend Wayne did, and it was fantastic to see a carp on the bank!

When I got home, with the days getting longer, I felt the desire to angle properly again and couldn’t wait to get back out.

There was one venue that is always a decent bet for some early action, even though it’s deep and weedy. For some reason it always seems to wake up that little bit before the lakes around it, so I began taking a few walks after work just to get in tune with it. Each time I had a stroll I took a marker rod and a bag of my faithful Essential B5 boilies; and once I was happy with where to start, I began to trickle a few baits in. This was pretty easy to find though, and I started off prepping a snaggy bay which was off the cold winds, and had the warm rays of sun all day.

The swim right next door also had a great long piece of far margin, which had some tree cover, and I knew from previous years was a place that the fish were always in residence.

I didn’t see anything on my first few walks, but I gambled on my experience and began to put some bait in the bay and the far margin spots. One day in March I took a walk over there, and the daylight levels were hitting 12/12 hours which I really believe is the catalyst to the fish fully waking.

I’d been there just two days earlier, but hadn’t seen anything. However, as I peered down into the snags I saw at least a dozen fish, meandering in and out of the dense snags! Several of them were covered in clay on their heads and flanks. It was strange, as if a switch had suddenly been flicked! The weather was the same as the couple of days before, but now they were certainly up and about…

I hastily booked a couple of days off work for the following week, and rushed home to sort out my kit. Over the winter I had read so much about this new Ronnie Rig and I decided to use it like a Stiff Hinged Rig, using it with a very short stiff boom section and fishing it helicopter style.

I’ve always loved the Mugga pattern of hooks, and my pop up fishing in recent years had taken me away from using it. However, with this rig I could really see its benefits, and in a big size 4 coupled with a 16mm pop up, it really looked good. I had to get my head around using a hook that big, but with the bait sitting above the hook rather than alongside it, the hook size was irrelevant, and it needed the inherent weight of the hook to achieve its outstanding hooking properties.

I’d also been told of a couple of edges for boosting baits that went far beyond just adding salt to them. I was sworn to secrecy about what it is, and when I made up my first batch I immediately recognised how significant they were. The bait was positively oozing attraction, and with my new rig changes, I was excited about giving them a good go.

I fully admit to being pretty one dimensional in my rigs and baits over the years, and my confidence has always come from simply using what works well for me, and then sticking with it.

Matt at UB Baits had made me up some of my favourite B5 Salami pop ups, in a lovely light pink colour, which looked brilliant fished over the standard red B5 free baits.

I knew the snags that this part of the lake held were fishable with the right tackle, so I spooled up with 15lb GT-HD main line, which is simply the best mono I have ever used for out and out strength and its sinking properties, especially when coupled with two rod lengths of 20lb Mirage fluorocarbon leaders.

I’ll personally never use leadcore again, as I can’t see one advantage of it over the Mirage! If in doubt compare the two under the water, as the clear Mirage is invisible, and lies flat to the lake bed, giving both strength and far more finesse and in the small bay the fluorocarbon gave me a stealthy presentation.

I arrived in the half light of dawn, and within an hour was setup and fishing with the rods cast to the spots with a few handfuls of bait around each. I saw nothing all day, but as evening came one swam in the small bay sending ripples to the bank and boosting my confidence on what is normally a water that they seldom show on.

At 2AM I was away on one of the far margin rods, the fish immediately going for the snags but I steered it away without much difficulty, and I soon had it in the net. A 23lb jet black mirror was a great start, but as dawn came the same rod was off again, and this felt better from the outset. This one really went hard, but once it was away from the far bank and I knew that it was out of danger I let it plod away in the relative safety of the deep margin in front of my swim. In the clear water I could see it was a lovely chestnut coloured mirror, and a decent one too. It was indeed, all 32lbs, and it was absolutely nailed on the Ronnie Rig.

It didn’t stop there, as I then landed a small stockie from the bay next door before the day went quiet as the morning feeding spell concluded. That afternoon I redid all the rods, not settling until all 3 hookbaits were positioned perfectly, in anticipation of the following mornings bite time.

At 6AM I was in again, and this one was really powerful, thumping the tip down trying for the snags. When that failed it kited hard left towards the bay behind. I powered on the side strain, with the rod sunk and the tip ring was hitting the bottom, until the fish was suddenly out in front. I recognised it immediately by its pale colour, and once again the new bait and rig had done well for me. This one was seriously well hooked, and at 37.8lbs another fantastic result and I packed up that morning delighted.

to be continued…

Carp Fishing ~ More Highs Than Lows (Part 1) ~ Rick Golder

Once the winter came, I had a few sessions on a local lake with a friend, Adam. It was great to have some social trips, as the rest of the year I never do it; my fishing is always totally on my own. We had some success too with my best at 27lb, and Adam having a stunning 34lb common on one of the colder days of what was generally a nice mild winter. These trips also gave me the chance to try out some new things for the season ahead, some of which I liked and have taken into my angling full time. I had been given a new prototype pop-up hook of the Covert Dark Chod Hooks, and these were perfect for both my chod and stiff link fishing. The tester ones were uncoated, and came in a silver stainless finish, but they had done me well. The colour certainly hadn’t put the fish off, but as I began running low, I couldn’t wait for the new coated ones to arrive, as they are sure to be another edge.

Once mid February came, and the days started to draw out, I began my proper session fishing again. With these longer days, I’m sure we carp anglers think that is it, the spring is here and the fish are all going to be really having it. That is certainly not the case, and a cold spring can be worse in results terms than a bitter long winter. It was nice to get digging out the kit I needed for longer trips like the turkey curry I’d frozen, made with the leftovers of Christmas, but I still kept the thermals and hot water bottle in.

I had a couple of trips to Kingsmead with the knowledge that it had produced a few, and hopefully there was a chance of an early fish. It looked bleak though, and with nothing to go on, I had to make a couple of guesses as to where to start. The first trip was a bit of a disaster in that I lost a good fish. I started off in one swim, on a guess, but in truth it was one of the popular ones, which I vowed not to do! One night in there, on the end of a cold wind I couldn’t get out of, and with stronger winds forecast, I hastily packed the gear at first light and headed round to the opposite side, which was flat calm and in the sun. As the day wore on I could tell things weren’t going to plan, as the wind swapped round, back into me, and a bank of black clouds brought hail and cold rain that made it look and feel like December. I had the rods out well, but as the wind increased, I doubted I could have accurately hit the spot at 70 yards again in what was proving pretty uncomfortable conditions.

That night the wind built up more, with bits of branches falling from the trees and waves hitting the boards at the front of the swim and sending spray right up the bank. Twice that night I had the rods blown off the rests, and when the buzzer on the right hand rod let out another series of bleeps in the early hours and in the absolute height of it, with me hanging on to the brolly, I imagined it was another branch blowing through the lines. In truth I wasn’t that quick to get out, and when I did I found myself attached to a fish that was plodding round out in what looked like the North Sea out there. It was hard holding the rod vertical in the wind, and I got it all the way back, only for it to drop off at the net!

The next trip wasn’t much better either; the first night was one of solid rain, while the second night the sky finally cleared, and it dropped down to -3! I was already getting fed up with poor weather, and the spring couldn’t come quickly enough.

The lake closed in mid-March, but I had other plans for another local lake that I don’t fish much now, but is always good for an early bite, as it seems to wake up earlier than most of the ones in the same area. I had a couple of walks round, each time with the marker rod and a kilo or so of my favourite Essential B5, but I already had a good idea of the first places to look for them. Spring and snags are joined at the hip in my mind, and this lake had a small, sheltered bay full of snags and overhanging trees, off the cold winds but catching most of the sun all day long. I was stood on the high bank looking into the mass of tangled branches below, when deep down, right on the bottom, a good fish glided slowly under them. This was followed soon after by another, and that was good enough for me. They’d obviously only just woken up, as both fish were moving almost in slow motion. This was the place to be then, and I spent a while with just a lead finding something to fish to, wanting to do this when not actually fishing, as I knew I needed to keep the disturbance to a minimum within the enclosed confines of the bay on my actual sessions.

This was limiting too, as there were a number of areas that I could fish, but which would have presented serious problems trying to get anything out, so severe were the snags. Where I had seen the fish was the prime example, as not only were there the tree branches below the surface, but the lake bed was littered with old metalwork too. I wasn’t doing that, and although I was kitted up with strong gear, I was only going to fish spots I knew I was going to land fish from. I remembered a spot from many years ago, one that had produced a couple of fish for me, but it had disappeared over time when I started fishing lakes elsewhere. This spot had produced a very special fish twice for me, its only two known captures ever, and I concentrated my efforts on that first recce trip trying to find it again. This wasn’t easy, as the branches overhead told me that no one had cast out in that direction for quite some time, and my first attempt cracked hard into the woodwork above, meaning I had to get on my knees just to miss them.

About 20 casts in, I suddenly got one to crack down, and on pulling the lead I got the gentle tapping of broken ground that I remembered from all those years before. It was tiny though, and with one slight pull I was off it and in surprisingly thick weed, the legacy of a mild winter. I clipped the rod up and measured it against my rod at home using the distance sticks in the garden, and when I had done another baiting up visit, I was back pushing my barrow fully loaded across the flooded field towards the lake.

I was using the some new line in 18lb, and straight away I knew this was exactly what I was looking for. It was super strong, but with sinking abilities matching a fluorocarbon and a lovely subtle colour – just what I needed in this snaggy situation. Coupled with a nice big size 5 Chod Hook, I had good covert aspects, strong hooking power and every confidence in the strength of it all.

The rods went out well, both with short stiff rigs on with screwed-on pink pop-ups, my now favourite colour to fish over the standard dark red of the B5. I’d boosted up the bottom baits with a coating of Salami glug whilst frozen, and on thawing, the coarse nature of the base mix had drawn it all in. The beauty being with the main spot was you were either on it or not; it was that easy to tell, and after a few attempts I felt a lovely dull thud down the blank as the lead hit solid bottom. I didn’t pull back at all, knowing the stiff boom of the hinge rig would kick the bait well away from the lead as it feathered down. This rig has to be fished helicopter/rotary style to get the best from it, and I find it strange people use a soft boom section, as the bait separation on a stiff mono boom is one of its greatest advantages. With an aggressive curved hook link section, this rig doesn’t rely on the lead for hooking, which meant I could use nice small chod leads that hit the surface with a gentle plop, rather than an almighty splash. I slackened the lines off, and had them hanging vertically down from the rod tips with the bobbins resting on the floor, so all in all I couldn’t do it any better.

I neither saw nor heard anything, which was disappointing, as if they’re in this bay, you generally hear them at some time. However just before first light I had a take on the rod fished on the old spot. It was only half a run, as when I picked the rod up it was already in the weed behind, and with steady pressure it came out, discharged the lead, and I gave it as much as I dared to keep it in the safe open water in front. After a few spirited runs I drew it over the outstretched net. I could tell it wasn’t a monster, but it was a cracking long jet black mirror, a real confidence boost so early, that was well hooked in the lower lip, the strong tackle easily taking the strain. As I held it up for the camera it felt as cold as a block of ice, but I had every faith in getting more from this sheltered bay. I left that morning, but kept the bait trickling in knowing I was back for another single night the week after. The coot population showed interest though, and I wondered if bringing bait to their attention wasn’t a good idea.

To be continued…

Carp Fishing ~ Another UK Adventure ~ Tommy de Cleen

As it is halfway through May and the summer is lurking just around the corner, I thought I’d sum up what has been going on in my own angling. Being a Gardner Tackle consultant means that I have been doing a few shows and open days in the shops around Belgium and also in Holland. I love doing these as it is part of being a consultant, but I am an angler and after a few open days at the shops the water was calling!

Unfortunately, the carp gods where not smiling on me at all, as session after session I failed to catch any carp! To make things sound better, I generally don’t target the easy places, and blanking is what I seem to do best on these kinds of waters. On the flip side, the euphoria of catching a carp from one of these tough waters is awesome and cannot be described!

After fishing 2 sessions on the big lake in February and March, I set my eye on a local canal that holds a few very nice carp, but again I was only catching bream, rudd and in the end a pocket size common (not even a double) but nevertheless I kept at it, as it’s fishing not catching!

You always think you will get lucky the next time, but the weather kept playing yoyo, with high pressure fronts and low temps coinciding with my trips. So after 6 sessions (weekend sessions as I need to work for a living) 11 nights and one very small carp under my belt it was time for my first trip abroad, and as some of you will know I love fishing in the UK.

My first trip was to The Quarry fishery again in Boreham, Essex. Unfortunately, the weather was against me with the wind turning north easterly and killing it for the rest of my week. I caught one common from the Quarry on the Monday (in the early morning) and did not get another pick up after that! I tried and tried but on Wednesday I’d had enough and chilled out as the day after we were going to move to another lake.

The last 2 nights were fished at another lake, but this was not going to be easy fishing either… this weather! On the Friday we (my mate and I) decided to try and stalk one and made our way around to an area of the lake they call ‘The Pipe’. This area is where fresh water comes into the lake via an inlet pipe. We tried a few different spots, both of us with one rod but with no success.

On the last hour of our stalking adventure I returned to the spot I started the day and placed my Chod rig only a rod length out. About 20 minutes later the Bug slammed against the rod and I was in! After a short but hectic scrap my mate netted a cool looking common of about 13 or 14lb but I was made up with this capture. After the common we made our way back to our swim at the back of the wind and blanked on our final night. So it was homewards with only 2 fish caught, but I’ll be going back in September on the New Moon week, to see if I can take some revenge on these UK carp.

As I have been trying very hard to catch carp, I did play around with the Ronnie Rig, a Chod rig and my favourite rig at the moment the Hybrid Rig. These incorporated two hook patterns, which give me the confidence I need to fish these very hard tricky waters, the Chod hook in a size 5 and my all-time favourite carp hook, the Continental Mugga in sizes 6 and 4. Hooklink wise it’s got to be the soft “Ultra Skin” and the new “Stiff Ultra Skin”. I love this stuff and would recommend it to all carp anglers out there without hesitation, its top stuff! Trip wire for all my stiff hook sections, and lately I have been using Slinky in 0.70mm for the boom section on my Ronnie Rigs, man this stuff is stiff as and very strong! I crimp it as tying it is almost impossible. There you go, try the stuff out, I have 100% confidence in all the GT gear I use and it never lets me down (even though I blank a lot LOL).

Just for the record blanking is part and parcel of angling, I still enjoy my fishing and I know that in the end it will all come good!

Next stop is a session in Holland with my good mate and GT team member Peter Van Der Star. It will be a new adventure, as I have never fished from a boat before, and after that its back to the mighty Albert Canal in Belgium for some more home-grown fishing therapy.

Tight lines Tommy

Carp Fishing ~ Beauty Outweighs Size ~ Ian Lewis

Once again I worked like a man on a mission to get the early finish, only this time to do the Thursday night through to Friday morning.
Upon arriving I did the ritual lap, had a brief catch up with a few mates then had a look around. Two sizeable groups of carp, on polar opposites of the lake, were on display, location derived by a warming sun and no angling pressure was my assumption.

So I’d found the fish but really wanted to explore new areas. I wanted a change of scenery and had some ideas I wanted to try, but decided you can’t look a ‘gift horse’ in the mouth and left the area I had in mind for another day.

As the day wore on the lake started to fill up, and I started having doubts about whether I should move as it went really quiet after the rain started. But between showers I started to see the odd one, and my mate and bailiff of the lake convinced me to stay put having seen a large dark mirror make his way back into the baited area.

I fished all 3 rods along the tree line in the bay. One cast with a multi-chod tied with 25lb Ultra Skin Silt to a size 4 super sharp Covert Dark Chod attached to a 15mm ABS custom mix fishmeal corkball pop up. This was cast onto the back of some new weed growth and fished over a spread of 15mm ABS custom mix fishmeals. The other two were placed onto spots with a double bottom bait rig incorporating the super sharp size 4 Covert Dark Chod, 25lb Stiff Ultra Skin, a 4oz Bolt Bomb, 3 feet of 45lb CamFlex Leadfree in silt and attached to the super reliable GT-HD in 0.39mm (18lb). These ensembles were fished over whole, chopped and crumbed boilie.

I waited patiently and during the middle of the night after a much needed dinner, consisting of hot sausage and chips with lashings of salt and vinegar with my mate Josh (nice one mate!), my right hand rod was finally away and after a seriously powerful fight under the rod tip a chunky mirror rolled over the cord.

Fortunately for me, my mate Errol was awake and kind enough to lend a hand with the photos after I weighed the mirror at 28lb 2oz. So following a few pics in light showery conditions I put her back to her watery home no worse for wear, feeling relieved and pleased.

First light arrived and I started receiving lots of liners after seeing a couple of shows over the baited area, then suddenly my left hand rod sounded a take, this time it was a game of patience, keeping the fish moving through the new weed growth and after a very spirited fight a stunning scaley mirror graced my net. Beauty outweighed size ten fold on this occasion.

Despite my efforts to get the rod back out quickly, no further action was forthcoming and it was soon time to pack up and leave the gate feeling fortuitous once again on relatively limited time.

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