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 ~ Shake, Rattle and Roll ~ Lewis Read

  • carp fishing shake rattle roll

Let me ask you a quick question squire. What do you think of when you think about all matters related to the rig concealment?

No doubt the first thing that you would think is obviously the visibility of everything from the rod tip down to the terminal tackle (not forgetting keeping a low key bank-side profile in terms of sound, light and vibration).

Sometimes the difference between getting a bite or not on a tricky venue is the carp’s frame of mind. If they’re on edge it makes everything harder and they will take longer to drop their guard and start having a relaxed feed. This is the why! This is the crux of deception we’re trying to hood wink the fish with. If they don’t know we’re they, and don’t realise they are being fished for, then our life is so much easier as carpers.

Screaming clutches, bleeping buzzers and bendy rods. In other words ‘living the dream’…

A covert bank side presence cannot be over stated. Make no bones, it is as important as all the other considerations and setting good habits at the start of your carp fishing journey will inevitably hold you in good stead for a lifetimes angling (whatever species you choose to fish for).

No stamping about, bright lights moving around in the swim, loud noises (throw your mallet away!) or blatant positioning of your carp hovel right on the bankside by your rods – unless the fishing situation dictates you do then you have to be mouse like and discreet – and always look away from the water when you have your head torch on. In other words treat each and every scenario as if the fish are there, just out of view down the marginal shelf and you won’t go far wrong.

We are all willing to go to pretty extraordinary lengths in order that we achieve the desired devious and surreptitious trap, by camouflaging almost everything that could give our game away. Slack lines, heavy leaders, added weights and almost every other imaginable means of pinning everything down to the lake bed, hopefully avoids the fish from feeling the lines as there when they are mooching around, browsing on either naturals or our bait.

Natural looking lead coatings and dull covert finishes applied to hooks, rings and swivels to reduce any chance of glare in clear water only add to these ongoing efforts to make sure that the rig and end tackle blend in seamlessly to the area. No effort is too great and rightly so too.

But are we missing something?

Am I the only person that asks whether there are any other areas of tackle concealment that we have missed? Another consideration in terms of making sure that the fish are not aware that they are being angled for?

Call me potty, but I’m starting to think that there is…

So, what am I going on about? Where’s this going? Let’s start by thinking about the physiology of a carp. What are the senses they use and how would they identify impending danger?

It’s logical that all fish are hard wired to flee when they sense imminent danger – and if you think about it that’s not at all surprising really. After all, as a small fish in a big pond this is the only mechanism of surviving to maturity in a wild world surrounded by potential diners that are hungry and want to eat you…

Obviously the stand out one is sight/vision, and I would say that we have that covered to a fair extent already – so tick that box, and let’s move on…

Touch is also hugely important by largely covered by our efforts to pin down the line and end tackle. There are subtle variations that may be of benefit in situations where your line is held up by weed just shot of the spot (based on the premis that they will inevitably bump the line at some point) and that’s where specialist products with a natural feel like super soft and smooth Camflex Leadfree comes into their own. Again an area that is already well documented and well understood.

The next is the highly complex sense of taste and smell that is the carp’s olfactory system. Ever since I can remember, bait anglers have been taught to rinse their hands clean before touching bait or terminal, just to nullify the slightest chance that something on our digits could potentially taint the bait with an odour that would be sensed and turn a feeding fish away from the sucking in the hookbait.

Certainly after filling a Coleman or rolling a fag it would be an eminently wise precaution measure to rinse off your hands. Why advertise your presence if you don’t need to – and just as all animals have a distinct individual odour, we as a species must have our own too. Common sense dictates this. I think that rubbing liquid attractors into leaders and the like may not do a great deal in terms of attraction, but if they mask our smell then perhaps that is just as important and yet another step forward in catching the carp of our dreams. So, I think we can say another box ticked and you never know, it might be another couple of percent gained in terms of attaining our aspiration of angling as efficiently as we can

That leaves one key sensory area – vibration (which also crosses over into sound which is just a form of vibration) and though anglers think about it in terms of their own presence I’m not sure if I have ever read about it as a consideration related to terminal tackle!

We already know all too well that noise and vibration travels amazing efficiently through water – and this means that the carp can be aware of our presence due to the slightest tremble transmitted through peaty ground, or a twig breaking, or even a raised voice.

Anyone that has done scuba diving or snorkelling will be aware of just how acute (almost amplified) even the slightest under water sound becomes. Fish feeding amongst coral or rooting through course sand make easily audible sounds that even a human ear can perceive – so just imagine the cacophony that a fish that has evolved for millennia are aware of.

All those crunchy baits aren’t successful simply because of the texture – the sound arouses interest from other fish and this in itself is quite possibly a greater competitive feeding stimulus than any magic dip or powder. Competitive feeding is key in so much angling, and this is another way to stimulate that response…

From that point of acceptance, of a fish’s finite and amazing perception of its environment and its ability to pick up the faintest sound, then it’s only a tiny cognitive step to recognise and accept the key point of this piece.

Is it not utterly logical that the fish could ‘hear’ the rattle of metallic components rattling about as they disturb an area? Even a careful carp, gently browsing around over a baited spot will displace enough water to cause a rig like the 360 to rattle about like an old chain.

As I said to my mate Gav recently (whilst cogitating on this possibly paranoiac topic) and whilst I stood rattling one of his rigs around next to his ear, I said something along the lines of “If we can hear it, they bloody too can Gav!”. That encapsulates the issue perfectly…

Do you think that’s mental?

I don’t… It’s just another element to consider in terms of tackle concealment. And although it may not matter most of the time – if you get just one extra bite in a campaign, it could end up being from the wariest and rarest, most prized fish in your lake. Wouldn’t that make considering the rattle factor worth a moment of reflection? Hell yeah…

Carp Fishing ~ Rolling with the Punches ~ Ian Lewis

So, we’re well into Spring now; temperatures are soaring and the days are getting longer. Things are starting to come together nicely with a good few fish under my belt.My fishing started in earnest this year around mid Feb, I decided to stay local, in search of a few bites just to get back into the swing of things after a few months lay off due to combination of a long cold winter and family commitments. It started slowly but equally steadily; catching some lovely commons along the way and I really starting to get the buzz back to get out on some full bore angling after getting in tune with the lake and its inhabitants. This can be a key period of time, getting my carping head back on, building confidence, initiating ideas and putting plans into action.
March arrived and I felt a return to the syndicate (Swan Valley) was on the cards. It had produced a few isolated fish in milder weather and I wanted to get started, getting into the swing of it all and to try and get something going. My basic plan for the year was to stay mobile and do my best to seek my remaining target fish.
Well, on the first session I managed two bites. Unfortunately the first one came adrift due to a hook pull, but fortunately the second was safely banked and the subsequent battle had revealed the reason why I had lost the first chance. It turned out that that there was some really old tackle tethered under the treeline I was fishing against. Luckily the old line broke free and ended up hanging around the top of my Camflex leadcore leader.That first fish was a lovely dark mid-twenty mirror, still very much in its winter colours and leeched up that suggesting it had not long woken from a deep slumber over the freezing winter. The first bites came to a bright S4 pop up attached to a short ‘Multi-Chod’ fished over whole and crumbed 15mm ABS MGM. In all honesty, catching on my first night out was a pleasant surprise, a first for me on there!

Over the next couple of weeks, I worked my absolute socks off actively searching for fish or trying to stay on fish. I was keeping noise and casting to an absolute minimum, even placing subtle traps with the bait boat, but the lake was fishing slowly and bites were still hard to come by. I didn’t give up and kept plugging away and I was about to have a change of fortune.

After arriving down the lake at first light and doing a lap, looking for signs of carp, I found myself in the furthest point of the horseshoe shaped venue watching an absolutely awesome display. This well and truly got the juices flowing.

A friend (and bailiff) named Marco, was packing away from in the area of the lake where the carp were showing. Although he hadn’t caught anything overnight and I didn’t really want to jump in behind him, ‘you can’t look a gift horse in the mouth’; so I quickly barrowed my gear round and got quietly into position in the vacated swim.

Initially I just cast a single hook bait out towards the shows but another friend named John had seen what was going on and positioned himself in the next swim slightly further into open water. After that the fish started to show tight to the treeline, so I decided to reposition the hookbait and fish tight onto a couple of spots I had raked and kept clean over the winter in preparation for spring.

I opted for my custom bottom baits fished with a new rig using Ultra Skin Stiff and size 4 Covert Dark Chods, coupled with heavy 4oz Bolt Bombs to suit the clean hard gravel spots.

Only 10 minutes had passed after positioning the rod and the ATT sounded a violent take. I was on it in a flash and was bent into a nice common. After landing it we took a few pictures and quickly weighed in a reading of 22lb and back he went, no worse for wear.

Just after getting both rods out my phone rang and a friend had just landed one of the lakes jewels and required some assistance with the weighing and photographing. Of course I was only too happy to help even though I felt certain the swim had another morning bite in it. Oh well, never mind, I’m a believer in karma and that one good turn does another and all that.

After picturing the epic looking ‘Korda fish’ at 38lb 8oz I returned to my plot and put the rods out till lunch. With no more action forthcoming I wound in and went for a wander looking for any other opportunity.

After a couple of laps, I decided I was best staying where I was for the night and as luck would have it just before darkness fell I had another bite – only this time I was doing business with a hefty chunk of angry Mirror. I clamped down and gaining some control, dipping my rod deep into the margins and doing my best to keep it off some marginal snags, the pressure took its toll and slowly but surely a big Mirror rolled over the cord of my waiting net. I peered excitedly into the net and it looked very similar to a carp known as the ‘Snow Fish’ which goes about 42lb, so I put out the shout and my mate Will came around and lent me a hand caring for the fish whilst we did the pictures and weighing.

He instantly recognised it as an un-named mirror and he said this one’s gonna beat you up! It was indeed a really angry one, so with this in mind another member named Simon helped out and after a bit of pacifying and careful cradling a mighty mirror of 37lb 14oz allowed me a few pictures before being returning it back home.

By the time I’d readied the rod again it was pitch black, and despite others egging me on I decided to put the rod out at first light through fear of ending up in a tree or positioning it nowhere near the relatively small spot I had prepared. I still had one rod fishing so not all was lost.

That night I sat back and enjoyed the buzz. On first light I re-positioned the rod, and just like the first morning I was away again within minutes, this time a repeat capture of a 21-14 Mirror which is a really old gnarly fish, but a right ‘character’.

My time was running out, I generally get about 24 hrs a week, however I decided it was time my lad Stanley did his first night as the weather was mild. After some reassuring and persuasion my Mrs allowed us another night and despite not receiving any more bites he absolutely loved it! Since then he did another night on that was followed up by an afternoon’s Rudd fishing on a small pond that I first fished around 1989 as a young boy desperate to catch anything that swam with scales. It’s safe to say he caught a great deal more than me in 1989! We had around 50 small Rudd and he now thinks he’s like Bob Nudd on the pole, bless him.

Well the search continues for the big Common, my dream and desire is still very much alight.

Till next time… Tight lines

Carp Fishing ~ Session of a Lifetime (number 3) ~ David Gaskin

This week I arrived at the lake mid-afternoon, which was a bit of a nuisance because it meant that the early morning Sunday arrivals had already filled the main areas, leaving me with a restricted choice of swims. Given the options I opted for the last of the main open water swims, called ‘The Grassy’, which fishes towards the end of the island where I had enjoyed a successful trip during the previous session a few weeks back.I put out singles on the basis that there was a strong possibility of a move in the morning when other swims would hopefully become free. Within an hour of casting out a carp had taken a liking to my special little pink pop up that I had positioned close to the sunny island margin and I found myself doing battle with the first carp of the session. It turned out to be a football shaped ghostie of 45lb 08oz. It may not have been the most desirable carp the lake has to offer, but an excellent start to the session.

The next morning saw me move into the infamous ‘Hole in the Bush’ swim next door where I felt more confident, simply because I could fish previously productive spots that I was sure the carp were regularly visiting and confidently feeding on. Once again I cast out singles on a really effective setup of a size 4 Ronnie Rig tied to the new Invisi-Link as a boom, primed with a 12mm special hookbait. Shortly after casting out I received another quick bite, and after a scrappy battle the result was an angry common of 24lb.

After this I decided to put a kilo of CC Moore Odyssey XXX boilies on a couple of spots, with the idea to fish them through the night. The theory being that the fish would have the whole day to get confident on the spots, feeding without a line or rig in position. The plan couldn’t have worked better!

Just before dark I put fresh rigs on the new spots and again it didn’t take long before one of my rods was in meltdown. As I ran to my rod I performed a face palm cross summersault losing a trainer in the process! Stumbling about with one shoe and mud in my eye I got control of the fish and it instantly felt like a much more powerful creature on the end. After a lengthy fight a huge common rolled into the net, it was certainly one of the highly sought after A-team. It turned out to be the Small Tailed Common at 51lb! This one is a fairly infrequent visitor to the bank, and a new fish for me too, so I was absolutely over the moon.

I baited up the following morning with the intention of leaving the swim free of commotion for the rest of the session. It wasn’t until 2am when another spritely common of 32lb 4oz took a liking to my hookbait whilst browsing on the XXX.

carp fishing dave gaskin with the linearConditions were quite mild at this point so I was confident of another bite before leaving in the morning. I repositioned the rod and was woken up at first light to the little ATTs in meltdown! It felt like an age to get the fish in because it seemed to hold its ground and just waddle in really slowly and heavily. The size 4 Covert Dark Mugga held firm as always, and I knew exactly what carp it was as it rolled over the net cord. It was The Linear! A fish that was right at the very top of my wish list. With a fish like this, size was irrelevant, but at 50lb 06oz it certainly made the capture even more special.

I had enjoyed yet another truly splendid trip, catching two more of the amazing Welly A-Team using tackle, bait and tactics that I have 110% confidence in and enjoying the great atmosphere on this very special venue…

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