Carp Fishing ~ My Spring on Hollybush ~ Brandon Butler

My first ‘proper’ session of the year on Hollybush wasn’t till the back end of April, as I had been working a lot and just doing the odd day session as and when I could. It got to a point where I really wanted a longer session so I decided to take some time off work and get back out on the bank for a few nights.

I arrived at the lake midweek, and it was (surprisingly) quite busy; but after having a good walk round and having a chat with most of the other anglers it transpired that the majority where leaving in the morning and just doing an ‘overnighter’. Consequently, I decided to set up in the shallowest corner of the lake, as I had seen a few fish mooching around and nobody else was fishing this area of the lake.

With fish in the area I really didn’t want to make too make much disturbance, so I flicked out three stiff hinges, each on a helicopter rig to where I had seen fish showing and followed them up with a light scattering of 12 and 15mm boilies over the top of each rod. After that I got everything else set up in double quick time as the daylight was fading away.

I felt confident of a bite during the night or early hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the night was uneventful and I reeled in about 9 as I could see that by now most of the anglers had left and there were only a couple left on, so I went on the search to go and find some fish.

After having a good mooch I found a few fish right on the back of the cold NE wind and I quickly got back to the swim and wasted no time packing up, just in case someone else had seen the fish and were thinking the same thing. Luckily, I got in the peg and quickly found a nice silty gully at about 30 yards out. I also found a nice clear spot down the right hand margin.

I was presenting 2 rods in the silty gully with a scattering of a 15mm custom bait from Active Bait Solutions. I was using Hinged Stiff Rigs over the top, tied with 20lb Tripwire, silt coloured Ultra Skin Stiff 25lb booms (which matches the lake bed perfectly that I was fishing on) and a razor sharp size 6 Covert Dark Incizor. The helicopter rig was tied with the Camflex Leadfree in muddy silt.

The rod down the margin was on bottom bait rig, again tied with 25lb Stiff Ultra Skin, but this time in the brown version and coupled with a Covert Dark Incizor. The lead presentation I chose on this rod was an inline lead and I was crushing up and throwing whole 12 and 15mm boilies.

Within 10 minutes the middle rod was away with the first fish! After the fish had found every weed bed in the swim I finally had an upper double mirror in the net. I was well happy to catch one in such a short time and after getting all the pictures done I slipped the fish back and got the rod straight back out on the spot.

As time went by I hadn’t seen anything in the time since I caught that mirror earlier in the day, but I was still confident that I was in the right place. It was quiet throughout the night and not much was happening around the lake so there wasn’t a lot to move on anyway. I woke up at around 6AM and saw a few fish jumping out and there were fish fizzing on the spot. With all the activity I was sure something was going to happen…

After watching the fish for another hour or so ripping up the spot, the bobbin on the middle rod finally hit the blank and I was into my second fish of the session. The fish was staying deep and certainly didn’t want to be in my net, as it was burying itself into any weed bed it could find. Finally after an extremely intense battle I had a lovely looking mirror in the net, and it didn’t look a bad size either. The beauty went over 28lb on the scales and I was really pleased with my result.

After getting everything sorted out I got the rod back on the spot and put another scattering of boilies out over the top. I ended up with 4 fish up to just over 29lb, all hooked from the same spot.

The next couple of times I was down at Hollybush were just quick overnight sessions, and unfortunately nothing happened. I planned to get home from work early one Friday, and get down the lake for a Friday and Saturday night. When I turned up at the lake I could see it was rammed and were only a couple of free pegs to fish in for the night.

Once again I spoke to a few anglers and once again it seemed like most were pulling off on the Saturday morning. I set up where I felt most confident for a bite, even though I had not seen anything, but the way I figured it was that I was going to be up early doors to move pegs. In fact I was going to try and get back in the swim where I’d caught the 4 fish from during my session in late April.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and watched the water for a while, before deciding to pack the gear away and move pegs. Luckily, I managed to get in the swim that I wanted to be in and there were a couple of fish about and I elected to fish the same spots and with the same rig presentation as the previous trip.

The day was quiet and not much was happening around the lake, but I was still confident as I have caught all my fish from this swim early morning, apart from one which was mid-day.

As I was watching the sun set I saw a few fish showing around the area, so I was sure of a bite before I left. I woke up first light and could see I had fish over my bait as there was fizzing all over the spot. The middle rod ripped off and I was finally into a fish! It didn’t feel very big and was a very energetic fish and I could tell it was one of the smaller fish. After another eventful fight I finally slipped my net under a mid-double mirror.

After that I decided to reel the rod in down the margin and cast it out to where I just caught the fish from, and then I scattered 20 or so baits over the top. I was getting a couple of things ready to take pictures and then the rod I had only just put out went into meltdown and I was in to my second fish.

Luckily someone was walking by and they were able to give me a hand with netting the fish as I already had the other one in the net as well. This one felt like a better fish. As the fish came to the surface I could tell it was one I was after. ‘The Woodcarving’ was finally in my net, and whilst it’s far from the biggest fish it maybe the best looking one in the lake.

We got all the pictures done and I was buzzing that I had captured one of my targets. This is where my spring fishing ended as the next week they started spawning. Roll on summer…

Carp Fishing ~ The Quarry A New UK Adventure (Part 1) ~ by Tommy de Cleen

Tommy is visiting the Quarry pit again this spring, here’s installment one of a two part article detailing his previous pilgrimages to the UK.

In January 2016 I wrote my first article about fishing on English soil that was written about my love and fascination for fishing in the UK and the urge to catch carp on the Island where it all started. England is where modern day carp angling started, so for me it’s ‘back to the roots’ as I have always adapted some English techniques in my own fishing over here in Belgium, and other places I have been to.

The English way has always been kind to me, and has caught me a lot of fish along the way. When I say the English way, I mean rig wise, observation (watercraft) fishing in the margins, wrapping and clipping, feeling the bottom, using a marker and all other stuff. Tricks that overall have made me a better angler.

Actually, fishing in the UK was the natural progression and I did the odd trip years ago, but now I got the UK bug properly and I like it a lot! It’s not easy fishing, like going to France and catching hippo after hippo from a commercial fishery that’s stocked to the brim with chunks. We all like to catch big fish, and so do I, but needs to be a challenge; if it’s too easy it gets very boring and that’s why I set myself targets that will take some effort. Fishing on the big canals over here in Belgium is certainly a challenge and so is fishing in the UK where I like to go to lakes like the Quarry in Essex.

It’s a pretty busy day ticket lake with head of around 270 fish. These fish are a mixture of original fish (from when the Quarry was a syndicate) and new fish that were stocked in the last few years and all of them are fantastic looking fish. After my first session at the Quarry in late autumn of ‘14 (I blanked) I really wanted to go back and fish it again, and so plans were made to return again.

After a walk around the venue in 2015 with my mate Peter van den Star from Holland (when we were fishing at Ladywell) we decided that we would do a session in 2016. Man, was I looking forward to that trip and the chance of catching a UK thirty or even a forty. I was very exited!! But this was only August 015, which was a long way from spring 2016, and as Peter is a self employed builder he did not know exactly when he could get time out to do this session.

After a lot of chatting Ben Lofting (the owner of Cleverley fisheries and of the Quarry we were advised to come around May, as that is a very good time to come, but Peter could not take a week off as he was working hard on a very big project at the time. So he told me if you want to go, but you have to go with someone else as I don’t drive yet myself (which is ‘work in progress’ for me).

I started to ask around guys I know and Vincent, who is also a member of the Benelux Gardner Tackle team whom I met him at a few shows in the winter and had fished together too said he would like to come, so the plan was to fish the Quarry with Vincent for a week in May.

I booked the week via Ben and booked a ferry to sail on 6/7 May to fish until the 15th May. To say I was looking forward to this trip was an understatement and Friday 6th May could not come quick enough. Time passed slowly, and I did some fishing (blanking) on the mighty Albert Canal. These where my first steps on this big canal that I had wanted to fish for years but never had the guts to really give it a go until that point. The UK Quarry trip was on my mind all the time…

Finally, Friday 6th was upon us and it was time to get everything in Vincent´s van. It was an easy drive up to Calais and the ferry crossing was a necessary (boring) evil but as it was the first time for Vincent, so it was kind of exciting as well because it was his first session fishing in the UK!!

I think back on my first ever fishing trip to the UK as being epic and I still have the same feeling after all these years, I just love coming over and meet up with great guys who I have met along the way through Facebook and being a Mainline and Gardner consultant!! So it’s always nice to meet up with some of the guys.

Right this crossing went fine and the drive up to the Quarry on the ‘wrong side of the road’ went great (first time for Vince) and we soon found our way to the gate to paradise. Driving along the dirt track was just magical as you know it’s going to be a great weeks fishing. We drove all the way to the back shallow bay and took out the bed to sleep a few hours under the stars.
I only slept a few hours as it was dawn very soon, and I could hear jumping fish in the shallow bay so made my way down to the lake. The van was up the bank just behind swim 15, and being the last swim on this bank I saw fish jump to my left ,right and in front!

A plan started to form in my head, so I woke up Vince to do a lap of the lake but knew in my mind already of where I would like to fish. The swim son this bank have a reputation of producing some of the bigger fish in the lake. We did a lap of the lake and after returning to 15 I asked Vince where he fancied fishing? I gave him first choice to pick a swim, and he said I would like to fish in here in 15 and that was fine by me, as I was really happy to fish in the Sticks swim next door.

As soon as the rods were ready I did some plumbing around with the marker float and found a few nice spots that were clear of weed, so happy days. The left hand rod was fished to a gravelly spot at around 15 wraps and the middle was fished short of this same area. The right hand rod was fished to the right on a clean gravel area at 9 wraps. I baited a lot on the 15 wrap spot and went easy on the baiting of the close in spot, electing to fire a few pouches of boilies around that area – and that was me almost done. I just set the traps after the baiting up and the waiting game could begin.

Vince did the same and after we sat down with a nice cold beer, taking it all in and enjoyed a nice evening. It was quite busy around the lake, being prime time and weekend so we just did our thing. Bait wise I was using Cell (self rolled at home) and the new Essential Cell in a mix, I had never see this bait I only heard about it so Ben gave my a 10k bag plus the 5k of Cell I had enough of bait for the week.

Vince carefully got up a tree and could see fish close in and started stalking a few spots, but he thought the fish were up here for other reasons other than just feeding. The weather was great so perhaps spawning was in the air!! Ben’s opinion was that it was still too early and I hoped he was right!

Sunday passed blissfully by and I could hear quite a few fish along to the right of me and it made me think about changing the two rods that were positioned at the 15 wrap mark, because I had not seen any signs yet. I was confident that a bite was in the air on the right hand rod and early Monday morning that rod ripped off and this fish started to kite to the right. The right hand side of my swim is full of overhanging trees and the next swim around 100 meters away, which is why the carp love this area as it’s a bit like an out of bounds area! With some side strain I turned the fish around and after a 10 minute battle it was in my net and my first of the session was a fact!!

What a fish it turned out to be, a mirror of 32lb 12oz (writing about it gives me that same tear in my eye) and it was my first ever UK thirty. I was buzzing and my trip was already a success!! Man what a feeling. After the pictures were done I slipped the fish back into its watery home and cast that rod back out onto that spot and put another 5 pouch full of boilies on top.

The rest of the day past in a haze, as I was on cloud 9 and feeling very happy! Isn’t that is what it’s all about? Enjoying your angling and catching a few along the way.

I had a very nice low twenty mirror the night, on the same right hand rod, so on Tuesday lunch time I had a rethink for the other rods, as these where still silent and I had not seen anything out there. I decided that the middle rod was going to be fished on the same gravel as the right hand rod – about a rod length apart – and the left hand rod was going to be fished as a ‘single’ in the middle of nowhere.

That night I lost one on the middle rod on a new rig I tied up that evening, but the action confirmed the gravel area was definitely the place to be, a fact that reinforced a few seconds after losing that fish when I received another take on the right hand rod (the banker rod)!

Once again this fish tried its best to go right along the tree line, but I turned this one as well and she ended safely my net and what a fish again!! This time it was a 29lb common and again a new Uk Pb common. I was buzzing again and forgot all about that lost fish as this one more than made up for it. What a fantastic water this is!!

To be continued… Tommy De Cleen

Carp Fishing ~ Eclipsed on the New Moon ~ Lewis Read

Some of you guys will already consider moon phases as being important when it comes to arranging holiday and getting out on the bank. The debate on whether the moon phase has a direct impact on the fish we angle for has been raging for many years and both sides seem to be able to offer some statistical evidence leaning one way or the other.

Personally I have always erred on the side of their being an indirect link, that given half decent weather conditions, a positive moon phase seems to edge the odds of the big fish making a mistake in our favour. I have difficulty rationalising the logic that there is any kind tidal influence, but we know with certainty how most invertebrates seem to be tuned into moon phases.

Anyway it’s been a while since I have scrawled anything about my angling. It’s not been utterly bereft of any captures, though those few bites I have extracted have tended to be the more modest samples of Welly’s inhabitants, scratching bites on over nighters during a period when the majority of bites have seemingly come mid afternoon is par for the course. If that’s when you can fish, then that’s when you can fish and these patterns are normally only temporary in the broad time scale. All these efforts had resulted in a mid thirty ghostie and a 27lb mirror since I last wrote which was better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

This weekend I had a horrific chore to complete at home – namely tiling my bathroom – so I stayed indoors Saturday day time and cracked on and did as much as I could bear before begging TLSW to let me go, after all by this time in the evening I was as grumpy as her! It was also my daughter’s birthday, but as she had been out all day and had a friend staying I thought it was probably safer to usher myself out the door where I couldn’t say anything that could upset the two wonderful women in my life.

Subsequently, I got sown the lake for 7:30pm after an arduous 10 minute drive (LOL) and the first sight of the car park indicated that it was relatively quiet for a weekend. Rather than jump in a plot I spent the next 1 ½ hours having a little mooch about, but the fish were not showing anywhere so I opted for night in the ‘Up and Over’ in Bramble Bay. It’s a sheltered (warm) snaggy deep corner that tends to hold a couple of resident fish, but also an area that the fish have been visiting occasionally over the last few weeks and I guessed with the lack of fish activity in the main lake it would be worth a go.

During the night I heard a really good fish lump out in the corner to my right and also had the occasional nudge on the slack Mirage, which is always a really good sign that there is a fish or two nosing about in the sediment.

It was getting late by the time I pushed the Barrow into the swim. As I cast out my first rod the light was already going and by the time I had honed the third rig and flicked it out with a 3 bait stringer attached and a 12mm pink Caviar and Cranberry pop up on Ronnie, it was pitch black and I proceeded to fire in about 100 boilies roughly over the middle rod positioned in a silty gully at 35 yards. The left and right hand rods had a few halved boilies dropped close to the hookbaits, all very easy and accurate due to their proximity to the bank.

I woke at about 6:30, after a chilly 5C night under the stars, and slowly started tidying bits away so I could make a hasty exit at 9 when the public are allowed entry into the park. Fortuitously, at 7:30am the middle rod pulled tight and whizzed off taking line of a relatively tight clutch! I had a big tree line over to my right and in the end I had to be quite forceful to stop the fish from making it all the way there, which would have been a good 35 yard dash and would have almost certainly ended in catastrophe!

After that it kited hard right and ended right down in the corner and it was a ‘submerge the rod’ and cajole the fish back down the tree line job! Dear god, I hate the buffered vagueness playing a fish like this gives…

Luckily it never caught up once and a few minutes later I rolled a nice looking two tone mirror into the waiting net! I recognised her as a fish I had captured on my first year form the swim next door (quite territorial one this) and she looked in great condition so I called the Gaskinator could snap a photo or two for me. In the end we elected for path shots that Dave swears blind are ‘carpy’, and as he didn’t have a nasty Jimmy shirt on I just went with it.

The other usual Sunday morning arrivals all turned up including the goodly Dr Dave, Darren Belton and his guest Rob Marsh and I got myself off home to walk my hound, do some more DIY (YUK!) and go out for dinner with the girls. Much later, after enjoying a curry that turned out to be a bit fiery, I arrived back at the lake and just made it to the hut. Dear god I hoped I would last the night even after the contortions and groans that emanated from the throne room!

Another dark set up, and as I readied the rods as quietly as I could I heard a few fish show in the middle of the bay and then a clutch going for a few seconds before a buzzer burst into life animating movement form the bivvy. I knew that ‘Greg’s Girlfriend’ (Darren) was on Daisy and a short while later news came through that he had caught the awesome/magnificent Ulcer Fish at 58lb 12oz! A new PB and to one of the true gentlemen of a super friendly syndicate, it’s always nice when nice people catch.

I finished doing my rods and put the RHR down to Turtle Corner again (I had to, after hearing that chunk in the night) and then putting the left and middle out near where I had caught from in the morning. This time I scattered about a kilo of mixed 20mm boilies out with the catapult, spreading them between the two Ronnies (boom boom).

It was late by the time my chores were completed so I dived into bed around midnight and awoke to a toner at just before 6. Once again the fish went for it, bulldozing over towards the snags over to the right and then right into Turtle corner. Luckily, the super reliable size 4 Mugga did the job and a better fish rolled into the net. I weighed her and settled her in the retainer and messaged Alan to let him know I had ‘one in the slammer’ so he could get to the park a bit earlier for our scheduled video day (media Monday’s as they are known in the office).

Alan arrived at the park in good time – nice and early – and we got the fish safely photographed and returned and set about doing a few product videos.

Late in the afternoon, the legend that is Edwardo Wade arrived and as he did ‘Good Looking Nick’ appeared and I got handed an iPhone. It was Darren and I was dumfounded by what he had to say next. “I’ve just caught Little Big Head, and it’s in the retainer!” Oh my, oh my, oh my…

That was another of the big Welly 4, and he’d braced it that with Ulcer in less than 24 hours! Nick and I popped round and Ed, Rob and Darren were all ready to go so I was happy to goal keep, run and get water and just soak up the magnitude of the capture! She weighed in at 56lb 12oz and the two carp certainly constitute the biggest UK brace ever by some margin. Absolutely mind bending.

Sometimes just being there to help and witnessing angling history like this really blows you away. God only knows how Darren is feeling. Elated I would hazard a guess. The new moon phase had done the whackers again, and both The Turtle and Willow are both still due a capture. Perhaps the next decent moon phase will be the one.

This weekend just reinforced my belief in the Full and New Moons as these phases certainly seem to throw up the monsters at Welly and at most other big fish waters I know.

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…


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