After a great week teaching at FLE I headed towards the Ringwood valley to spend the weekend at my syndicate lake. I had not been able to fish for a while due to the recent comps so was buzzing to get back after recent successes. After a few laps of a fairly busy lake I decided to drop in a swim that was in the middle of the lake hoping to pick fish up as they passed through from one end of the lake to the other being very active at this time of the year. My approach was to find a clear area where I thought they would be passing through and bait it with around 5kg of pellet and mixed size Cell boilies with a little particle all from the Kent Particles stable. The fish had recently spawned so I figured they would be looking for some food after working up an appetite. I used a bright pink 12mm Cell pop-up as a hook-bait on my favoured combi-rig with a size 6 Covert Incizor and boosted it by dipping it in Cell boilie glug before casting. These tactics had done me proud on previous trips and it has reached a point now where it is confidence in a bucket! After a busy week teaching I was shattered and decided to get to sleep early so that I could be up to watch for signs of showing fish the following morning.
It was a beautiful morning and the warmth of the sun was felt beaming in to my swim as I made the first brew of the day. I lost a fish that morning due to a hook pull after the fish being weeded on several occasions. I replaced the rod and hoped another opportunity would not be too far away as it was still early. As the morning drew on my hope was dropping with the increasing temperatures and more signs of fish on the surface minute by minute. The day remained quiet as the fish spent their time charging around on the surface enjoying the sun. I played around with zigs for most of the day but despite my best efforts the carp did not want to play ball. I had seen a few fish moving around close in to the margin around twenty yards up the bank so I decided to start introducing some pellets and boilies on to a small clear spot the size of a bucket lid in the weed. I used a mixture of sizes with both the pellets and boilies and also introduced a few chops to keep the fish occupied. I returned to my swim and managed another fish not long after casting that was simply stunning; although not the biggest fish in the lake at 18lb 12oz and what it lacked in size it certainly made up for in beauty. I topped the area on up with some more bait before dark on the margin spot as fish had been visiting throughout the evening and had cleared me out. I made a decision to put in 5kg of the pellet and boilie mix as I expected the fish to visit the spot throughout the night and if they could feed happily all night I hoped they would return again in the daytime where I could take full advantage.
I caught a small 14lb 8oz common during the hours of darkness from the spodded spot in my main swim and I then lost one just as it was getting light. After no more action I checked the margin spot around 10am and was greeted with the sight of a spot now four times the size, completely devoid of bait and fish regularly dropping in to see if it had been replenished. I could not believe my eyes and decided to wrap my kit away and just set up a single rod with the bare essentials for stalking. I topped up the spot before doing so however in the hope it would give the fish time to notice it and start feeding upon it again. I set up a single rod with a 2 foot Plummet leadcore leader and 3.5oz Gardner Flat Pear inline lead fished drop off style with a size 8 Covert Swivel. My rig was extremely simple and made from 4 inches of brown 20lb Trickster Heavy tied with a knotless knot to a size 8 Covert Continental Mugga. I used a small piece of the Covert XT Silicone Tubing around 3mm in length to trap the hair to the bend of the shank. I baited the rig with a 14mm Cell bottom bait and tipped it off with a pink Cell pop up that I had trimmed to around 6mm in size.
When I returned to the spot there were several fish feeding and others circling the area as they knew a tasty feast was close by. I had to be very quiet and wait for the feeding fish to move off to lower the rig in as I didn’t want to spook them. Everything went well and I soon had a rig in place and fish still visiting the spot totally unaware. The odd fish kept coming in and dropping down and before long a group of five fish were hammering the spot with confidence. I was sat watching them as still as I could be and it was nerve-racking stuff! All of a sudden a small common tensed up and bolted sending bow waves in all directions. The fish was stripping line at a rate of knots and after a spirited battle the common was safely in the net and weighed 17lb 12oz. It was a huge rush of adrenaline and after releasing the fish I replaced the rig and waited patiently.
It took a while for the fish to come back but after two hours of baking in the sun they finally did return and gradually more and more. My next opportunity arose when a group of nine fish were all on the spot feeding with confidence. Five of the fish left after a minute or so but the others just kept feeding including a rather large common. They were totally unaware I was there, so I was starting to doubt my presentation as time slipped past when all of a sudden the large common froze and shook its head violently causing the inline lead to release as it tore off in to the lake. I saw the pink topper hanging from the fish’s mouth as it was ejecting the lead and upon lifting the rod I felt its sheer power and a lengthy battle ensued. The fish was adamant on charging around the snaggy corner to my left and I ended up having to get wet to keep the fish under control. A friend came to my aid and helped with the netting after turning things back in my favour and confirmed my thoughts that the fish was well over 30lb. We weighed her at 32lb 14oz and she was identified as “The Box Common” and looked stunning as we did the pictures. Before long and after a few water shots I was lowering her back and left to soak it all in as packed away.
Fishing up close and personal is far more exciting than fishing out in the middle and something I will be paying a lot more attention to this year. I liken stalking to floater fishing as the more you can build the carp’s confidence by allowing them to feed without the presence of baited rigs, then the easier they will become to catch. The capture of that fish was after two days and nights of careful baiting and waiting. There were several other occasions where I could have lowered a rig in but by biding my time the fish became very confident and as a result much easier to catch.
How to tie Tom’s Stalking rig.
What you need…
Step 1 – Cut around 8 inches of Trickster Heavy from the spool and tie a small loop in the end. Put the boilie and tipper onto the hair and fix in position with a boilie stop.
Step 2 – Cut a small section around 3mm in length of Covert XT Silicone Tubing and thread this onto the braid. Take a size 8 Covert Continental Mugga and thread it through the Covert Silicone XT Tubing as shown.
Step 3 – Position the Silicone on the bend of the hook and make sure the bait has a small separation from the hook of around 5-10mm and tie a knotless knot to secure the hook.
Step 4 – Tie a figure of eight loop knot in the other end so that the rig finishes at around 4 inches and attach a tiny blob of Critical Mass Putty in the centre of the rig.