A carp in the snow? (Entry 37)

I only just about managed to get out this week with the country once again being brought to a stand still by large amounts of snow and freezing temperatures. I really am wondering if there will be a springtime at all this year. It was a tough choice deciding where to go and what to target but in keeping with my last few sessions I made up my mind to keep on the carp trail and see if I could tempt one in these bitterly cold conditions. More of a challenge to myself than anything to be honest.

IMG_1592 copyThe scene that greeted me was a picturesque one. A windy, cold and largely white one that was more in keeping with a session after chub. As I trudged over the field to the water I made up my mind to fish very simply today. The water temperature could not have been much above freezing and I assumed that the fish would be in a torpid state conserving as much energy as they could. They certainly wouldn’t be in an active feeding mood so my best bet would be to fish a single hookbait and cast fairly regularly,  searching as much of the water as I could in the hope of landing the bait within distance of a carp. I had put a few pink and yellow 10mm Pop Ups in a small tub to glug at the end of last weeks session, just for a bit of added scent to hopefully stir a fish into taking the bait.

IMG_1593Not long after setting up the snow began to fall fairly heavily. The wind blew it from all directions and the conditions conspired to make it hard for me to keep the motivation needed to search the water. I did though, in between warm cups of tea, of course. I left the bait in position for no longer than 45 minutes. I have a pretty good picture of the make up of the lake bed after fishing here a few times now, so I can largely avoid any problem areas of dense rotting leaves. Problem only in the fact they hamper presentation somewhat but this could be rectified by fishing a chod rig. Today however I chose to avoid these areas instead.

IMG_1596The first bite came within ten minutes of the second cast and was a small crucian hybrid. Quite how this fish can be properly hooked on a 10mm Pop Up is a mystery to me but they certainly find a way fairly often. When fishing bags I think they accidentally take just the hook when picking up the pellets around the hookbait but this obviously disproves that point as I wasn’t using bags today. Anyway, one for me to ponder and as always I was quite happy to have got a bite considering the weather. As I cast, and recast, the 45 minutes in between seemed to get longer. Time seemed to be slowing down. The cold felt bitter and was made even worse by the relentless easterly. I feel like I have wrote the last group of words a lot in recent updates and its because I have. I can’t wait for a warm southerly to bring the temperature up a notch.

I had no other fish during the session, though I had to endure the line freezing in the rod rings (a little glycerine cured this) and numb fingers finding it harder to deal with boilie stops and such like. I made my way back to the car just before dusk. I was cold enough and the lure of a warm bath and some hot food was too great. I have some time off work coming up so I can hopefully fit a few more sessions in the next few weeks. Now if only the conditions will read the script. I’ll leave this short update with a final picture of the crucian I caught in the resting margins where he stayed for around 20 minutes after me returning him. It was nice to have a little company.

IMG_1599Thanks you for reading and if you have enjoyed it why not follow my blog, either on here or on twitter @NorthwestFish. That way you will be notified when I update which incidentally is every Saturday morning. Tight lines.

Until next time,



Trying a new venue for carp (Entry 36)

A change of venue for this weeks update but not for the species I targeted. With the rivers now closed I have decided to focus my attention on fishing a few waters for carp until I feel the weather is suitable to start my tench campaign. I’m really looking forward to that but I know its going to be hard even before I begin so the next few weeks fishing will be relatively laid back. Having said that I’m still not an angler who will sit motionless on the bank without changing my rig a few times or moving to find fish, and its a good job really, if you read on you’ll find out why.

IMG_1570The fishery I headed for this week was Field Farm Fishery near Sandbach. I had it in my mind to fish its specimen pool to try and tempt some of its bigger residents. With it being open to the public, and a busy water, I imagined it would be hard going. The weather had decided to turn very cold again, and overnight, heavy snow fell. Thankfully on my arrival to the fishery just after dawn, it had all but melted, with just a light scattering left. My approach today was going split between the two rods. On one rod I would fish with maggots flavoured with turmeric  a winter carp favourite, and on the other rod my usual bright pop-up fished KD style and cast around to any features in an attempt to try and find a feeding fish. I assumed on such a water the fish would see a lot of bait so fishing one rod with a natural bait and the other as just a single hookbait might give me a little edge. As you can see from the picture the swim I settled into gave me a lot of options admittedly over quite a small section of water but it seemed like the swim had a lot of potential. My right rod was fished to open water where I managed to find a small silt bed. Here I Spombed out a small bed of maggots and fish a simple maggot rig over the top. My left hand rod was my ‘searching’ rod and I began by exploring along the bank of hawthorns to my left, leaving it for around 30-45 minutes before recasting.

IMG_1579 copy

As I expected the session began very slowly. I watched the water during dawn and not once did I spot anything move. No carp, no silvers. Nothing at all. A few other anglers had arrived whilst I set up and they all seemed to be feeding fairly aggressively. It being my first visit I thought maybe the fish might react to a bit of bait on here. Surely they couldn’t, it just didn’t seem right to me so I stuck to my guns and waited to see who would catch first, if at all. Turns out it was this little guy who would get a bite before any of us as he wolfed down all the maggots I could throw to him. I love how tame robins become if you offer them a little food. He was a cheeky little thing and grew so confident he didn’t need me to throw the maggots to him by the end of the session and instead, perched on the side of my bait tub, and helped himself.

IMG_1575After a few hours I had my first indication. It came from my left hand rod a few minutes after casting to a different area, just off the marginal slope by a bed of dead reeds. It was clearly a line bite but an indication none the less. There were some fish in the vicinity. It didn’t develop into anything so I recast to the same area but this time on top of the marginal shelf. A line bite often means the fish are closer than you are or higher in the water. I had a hunch that they were patrolling in and out of the dead reed stems where the water was now being warmed by some weak sun. With that rod in position it was time to recast the maggot rig, threading another bag of maggots onto the hooklength and casting out. I put another mini Spomb of maggots over the top and sat back. I admit I have a tendency to try to push things in these situations which can sometimes be to the detriment but on this occasion I reigned those thoughts back and waited. Midday came and went with still no signs. No body on the lake had caught. There are apparently some lovely fish in the venue however and I do not doubt it. I can’t wait for a little mild weather to have a serious go on here. I soaked in the atmosphere and watched the small, colourful birds busy collecting soft looking items from the bank, no doubt preparing nests for batches of eggs. Spring will soon be here I kept telling myself.

IMG_1589Around three o’clock with still no signs of action, I had a wander around the lake to see if I could spot any fish. I took my rod, alarm and net, unhooking mat and camera. There was only one other person still fishing at this point so I wasn’t going to be disturbing anyone. I was so glad I made this decision, as in a shallow bay sheltered from the wind and bathing in weak sun, I found some carp moving in amongst the reeds. On went a cut down yellow pop-up with a small bag of pellets soaked in flavour. I cast the rig out and felt it down. A clean landing. I set the rod on the alarm resting the but on the bank behind me. Sat on my unhooking mat I decided to give it half an hour. It took less than ten minutes for the bobbin to lift deliberately and I hung on as a carp bored hard for the sanctuary of the reeds stems. I applied a steady pressure, not exactly bullying the fish, just enough so that it didn’t gain any line. Eventually the fish turned of its own accord and made its way to open water. I thought I had the fish beaten a few times but each time it found renewed strength. I don’t know what the fishery owner supplements the fish with but I would certainly like some! This was one fighting fit fish.

IMG_1587A lovely conditioned and chunky common carp was my reward for not sitting on my laurels. Probably a scraper double it wasn’t one of the waters bigger specimens but on such a hard day I really couldn’t care less. I returned to my swim and fished until the gates closed at 6pm. Ideally I would have loved to stay into dark but rule are rules. I’ll be back for sure once we have a more mild conditions. Filed Farm Fishery is a well laid out complex with very comfortable pegs spread over four lakes. It is also a stones thrown from the M6 so very easy to find. The fishery owner, Chris, is a friendly guy and will try to help you out as much as he can.

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Until next time,


(wind + snow) + carp = still possible (Entry 35)

Carp were again my target this week as I headed back to the venue I fished last week. The conditions facing me were completely different however with Britain once again in the midst of an icy grip. There were probably much better options for a days fishing, chasing some chub on a small river or maybe trying to find some pike no doubt gathering in the shallows and getting ready for spawning. I chose to stick with my original plans however, and see if I could once again tempt a carp from the freezing water.

I arrived at the venue, which is usually a busy one with overnight carp anglers, to find just one brave soul there from the previous night. His bivvy was still closed up tight against the elements . I decided not to risk disturbing him and had a wander around the lakes on the complex. Set on an old estate ground its picturesque to say the least. But there was no time for pictures like that today, I kept my hands firmly in my pockets as I wandered the banks, trying to keep them from the biting north easterly wind that was running wild across the fields.


With a quick surveying of the waters done I headed back to collect the tackle and made my way to the quieter end of the lake, a little more sheltered from the wind than the rest, and luckily also where the deeper water is. A quick lead around with a light lead, so as to cause as little disturbance as possible, and I had located the marginal slope, from 18 inches to a little under four feet of water over the distance of around six feet. An inviting, gradual slope that I decided to fish halfway up or down, depending on which way you want to look at it. Not too far down though to avoid the leaf sediment that is prevalent on this water. I felt confident this was a good starting point.


I fished the exact same tactics as last session so I wont go into it again but if you want to have a read the link is here. The only difference this week is that I added a generous helping of glug to the PVA bag mix of pellets a few days before the session to add to the attraction. Enough for any passing or nearby carp to hopefully be interested in having a munch and with all the rotting leaves I felt I needed bring a strong smelling element to the presentation. That and a bright colour to attract attention. A lot has been written about bright pop ups in cold weather I really have a lot of confidence on the them. I sometimes trim them down a bit in poor conditions but today I decided to leave them as they were.


The first fish fell on the second cast after roughly an hour and half of fishing. A small crucian hybrid of maybe 10oz but a very welcome one considering the very harsh conditions which, by the way, started to take a turn even worse with a generous helping of light snow starting to fall. Not to be put off though I re-baited and recast slightly further out but on the same line. Maybe the fish were further away from my bank? The water was a little clearer than last week. I sat back down and waited. Sure enough as midday approached, a slow, lethargic take began. The bobbin raised slowly and I lifted into a fish. It felt much better than the first fish as it plodded around without any real pace. In fact it felt like quite a decent carp. I played the fish carefully, I didn’t want to rush what could be the only carp of the day. The soft action of my rod soaked up any sudden lunges under the rod tip. After a lovely little fight I netted a chunky common that I was sure would be a mid double, maybe 14lb or so.

IMG_1540It weighed less than I thought at 11lb 9oz but I’m sure you will agree, a lovely conditioned fish. It certainly warmed me up and I became immune to the cold wind for a time. Its funny how we can forget about out own comfort when we catch a good fish or some such. We’reIMG_1566 fickle creatures for sure. I returned the fish and watched it swim off strongly. Deciding to have something to eat before casting out again, I sat watching the water, trying to spot any signs of fish, which was easier said than done in 40mph winds. Suddenly something caught my sight moving on my unhooking mat. On closer inspection it turned out to be a caddisfly larvae which had no doubt been swept up in the net as I landed the carp. I’ve never seen one in the flesh before, and quite honestly the case or shell that they make and live in, from bits of debris and stones from the bottom woven into a silk like substance that they produce, is amazing. I tried to capture it on my camera but with it being so small I struggled. I’ve included it none the less for anyone interested. In terms of fish action there wasn’t much more for the rest of the afternoon. It took a lot of will power to stay until dusk and just a little either side of it but there was no reward from the fish. Just a lovely sunset that I couldn’t take a picture of as my camera told me it was too cold and wouldn’t turn on. Technology!

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A change of scenery from chub to carp (Entry 34)

I fancied a change of scenery this week having been on the river the majority of weeks for the last month or so. Come the spring, which really isn’t that far away, I will be trying to up my PB tench, and hope to land a fish of 8lb plus. So for the next few weeks before that begins, as well as getting all the end tackle tied up and ready for that campaign, I fancy fishing a few waters that hold some smallish, but beautiful carp. Hard fighting common and ghost carp to mid double figures. The majority are single figure fish, so landing a double will be an achievement. A good fish for the water you’re fishing and all that.

With the air temperature getting a little warmer in the days preceding my trip, my confidence was boosted. The nights however were still cold, with cat ice forming on surrounding waters. I didn’t see the need to make an early start so I arrived just before midday and had a quick walk around the waters. Luckily none had been frozen that night although the temperature hovered around freezing. The hazy sun that was filtering through the clouds was certainly raising the temperatures. I decided to fish the shallowest pond on the complex, hoping the water would warm up quicker and spur any hungry carp to have a mooch around, and with it being relatively small, if no bites were forthcoming, moving to try and find some fish wouldn’t be an arduous task.


I settled towards the shallower end as I have fished it before and could vaguely remember where any weed beds were. Sure, they are not visible at the moment from above the water, but underneath they are still attractive areas to fish. I had a quick lead around and found an area which gave a nice thud as the lead landed and came back pretty much free of any sediment. Small leads and an underarm cast was all that was needed to reach the area, and allowed me to keep any disturbance to a minimum. It is a shallow venue after all. I fished a simple rig, which I have annotated in the next picture, and decided to introduce feed initially only through small PVA bags. Bright coloured, but small, hookbait sitting near a little pile of attractive pellets. If there were any carp nearby I was sure they would respond.


I decided I would leave the rig in position for about 45 minutes maybe leaving it a little longer once a few piles of pellets had been deposited from previous casts. I didn’t want to overdo the feed as the fish would still be pretty lethargic. My first cast was not rewarded with a fish. I didn’t expect it to be. Reeling in I checked the rig, dried it, threaded another PVA bag, re-attached the hooklength, and made my second cast of the day to the same area, maybe slightly further to the right this time. The rod had been in the rest for about ten minutes when the alarm screamed off, I dont think I have had such a violent take from a carp before, even with slack lines it was so aggressive. Unsurprisingly the fight matched the take, for a high single figure fish, it put up a tremendous account of itself. Something about shallow water and fighting fit common carp that almost guarantee a brilliant fight! Eventually I netted the fish, and lay in its folds was a lovely brown/gold late winter common. Perfectly formed and I was really thrilled to catch it. After a few pictures I returned the fish, fighting fit, to the water and watched it swim strongly off.


It was approaching two o’clock now, and I was happy the way the session was going. A few silver fish started topping towards the other, deeper end of the pond, I felt sure that it might be worth moving and having a look if the swim didn’t produce another fish after another hour or two. But the longer I stayed in the swim, the more bait went in with each cast, until I started to get a few slow, deliberate line bites. I didn’t know if they were from carp or from a shoal of a crucian/goldfish hybrids that are aplenty in the water. I decided on this occasion to stick it out in this swim and hope it paid off. Around 4 o’clock I had another run, not as violent as the last, more of stuttering series of bleeps as apposed to a one toner. Lifting into the fish I could tell it was a crucian/goldfish hybrid. I played the fish in carefully and treated it with the same respect I would any fish. Just because it wasn’t my intended quarry doesn’t mean that its any less welcome. To me a fish is a fish and they will never be a nuisance, and as it turned out, turned out to be a lovely fish of around 12-14oz.


After returning the fish I had one last fleeting think about moving to try the deeper water but I managed to put it to the back of my mind. I would leave it for another day. Besides I was confident of another bite as darkness fell and if not then, then an hour after it or maybe two. I sat it out until about 7 o’clock, the temperature dropping quickly once soon as the sun set . No further fish were caught in fact after that last fish, the line bites stopped and in the deeper area the silvers stopped topping. I was happy enough, a lovely carp and hybrid in a few hours fishing. It was a change from the river as I said in the opening paragraph and I enjoyed it immensely. Maybe I’ll head back next week and try the deeper section or maybe a different lake. Who knows? That’s the beauty of angling, the mystery. I love it.

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Trying to find the chub (Entry 33)

More cold weather. Hopefully this will be the last really harsh spell we have before spring begins. I say hopefully as last year in just twenty four hours we had a temperature change of something like 17 degrees, and this was towards the end of April. We just cant predict what is going to happen, but one thing is for sure, I will always be out trying to catch fish. After scraping the frost from the car I made my way down the motorway having decided to head back to a familiar stretch. With the temperature dropping so significantly, I needed to give myself the best chance of a bite or two. But a bite from what? Chub were going to be my target, on many occasions they are a most obliging fish in far from ideal conditions.

I arrived at the river around midday and, as I usually do, walked the bank dropping a few helping of cheese paste in any likely looking spots. Of course, I have a few swims on this stretch now that I rate above others, but it is surprising how many of my PB’s or memorabe fish have come from swims that ‘usually dont produce.’ So its best to fish everywhere that looks right, regardless of past events. As we all know, fish sometimes forget to read the rules.


The first swim I fished was a section I had never fished before. I always knew it was a slightly deeper section from the steadier water there. Not a sign of a boil or shallow gravel bank. IMG_1455I decided to give it an hour here, all the while trickling in a few tiny lumps of cheese paste. After twenty minutes of motionless tip, I reeled in and re-baited my hook with a section of spicy sausage wich got an almost instant reaction, and as the line pulled tight over my fingers, I struck into a lively fish. At first I thought it was a trout, but once the fish held deep in the steady flow I knew it was my target species. The first fish of the day is always played extra carefully and thankfully was netted without circumstance. Weighing in at 3lb 10oz its not a huge chub nationally, but for the river I am fishing, and certainly where I am fishing it, a very good chub. Happy with that fish and the little bit of information I had learnt about the section, I headed for more familiar territory in the hope some fish had located my pre-fed cheese paste offerings.

After a good twenty minute walk I arrived at a swim. The rig needed some adjustment for this swim. I wanted the bait to flutter underneath a overhanging tree, so I lengthened the gap between link and hook. I use a short section of fluorocarbon pulled through two float stops. This allows me to fish without any knots direct to my mainline but also to change the length of the tail to suit conditions or situation. Today a tail of about three foot seemed to be best. After moulding some cheese paste over the size 8 hook and taking an SSG shot off the link, I crept into position, and gently flicked the rig into position. I held the line tight just as it hit bottom thus allowing the shot and hookbait, hopefully, to pull round an end up somewhere under the overhanging tree. Its worth pointing out if you do fish like this and get a bite keep that rod low, even plunging it under the water, so the line doesn’t become tangled in the branches. What is a haven for a chub is certainly not for your line!


All of a minute went by before the line tightened and another angry chub was hooked. This fish was a little smaller than the last but still a welcome fish on a cold and blustery day. After returning the fish I trickled in a little bit more bait and had a cup of tea, allowing the swim settle. Another cast was made a ten minutes later an another chub was hooked, in fact another lovely fish at 3lb 9oz.


I tried a few more swims after this one and not one produced a bite. One of them usually a ‘banker’ swim too. Every swim fished allows you to build up a picture of what mood the fish are in. Today any swim that had a little bit of pace and/or less depth seemed IMG_1481devoid of fish. Slacker or deeper water produced a bite almost instantly. The fish were obviously trying to conserve as much energy as possible and laying up in steady water. Based on this knowledge I made the last swim a tiny but deep back eddy which I had found on my last visit. It didn’t produce that day but would it today? It took around five minutes for a bite to develop but eventually I hooked another chub. It fought extremely hard but I successfully netted the fish, even after it had dived for cover in the nearside brambles and vegetation, as they often do. Another 3lb plus fish and a happy, but cold, angler.


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