A rod on the ground is worth two in the rests (Entry 138)

It was turning into a warm one. A stark contrast to the previous day that had seen me shivering in multiple layers. I was on my way to a new water, for a quick session only, and there was plenty of people out enjoying the sunshine. The city bars were full of sun seekers enjoying some spirit altering tonics, families in the parks fed ducks, and nearer to the venue, cyclists, ramblers, and even a few hand gliders made an appearance. I was in no doubt that a certain species of fish would be doing the same as us humans. Taking advantage of the suns warm rays and where better for them to do this than in the margins. A place where it would not only be warmest but also where there would be opportunity to find natural food too. Those carp are not daft. Or are they?

Free offerings

There would also be something extra special for these carp to eat. A few boilies and pellets would soon be finding their way into interesting looking and intimate areas. If I was quiet and patient, the shallowness of the water close in, would mean the bulky carp would give their presence away. A tail pattern or a broad back breaking surface. No need to fish blindly. For the first hour or so the lake was pretty quiet. I had never fished here before but I was confident that the carp would eventually behave like carp of other waters. A little faith was needed. And patience; it was still the middle of the afternoon. Time for a cup of tea then. Sure enough as soon as my attention was taken up as I poured from the flask, I heard the unmistakable ‘bosh’ of a flying carp once more entering its domain. The ripples emanated from the other side of a tree to my left. Promising. I drank the tea slowly. Time enough to observe that there was now a carp or two at close quarters a little to my right. Quietly into the bait bucket I reached. A few pellets were sprinkled over an area not six inches from the marginal grasses. The fish came in, creating vortexes as they hoovered up the free food. Whilst watching them, and with shaking hands, I had been baiting the hair with a small boilie. A PVA bag was attached, and once I felt the area was quiet enough, I carefully placed the rig in the water. It was about a foot deep. A few more pellets were offered and I placed the rod on the ground.

Hard to believe big fish will come in so closeI kept well back. Indication would be a rod quickly heading to the middle of the lake so I secured the rod butt under my own. Five minutes passed. It’s in these moments that time seems to distort. What feels like a few blinks of the eyes often turns out to be much longer than that. An afternoon can quickly vanish. It never seems to happen the other way round though. In the interim I had seen no further signs of feeding but I was confident that the fish were still near. After all there was free food around. From nowhere the clutch began screaming and line was stripped from my reel. A carp was hooked and the fight had begun. An unstoppable force. In contrast to this initial run however the rest of the fight saw the fish plod around, trying to keep in the deeper water, past the marginal shelf. It didn’t take too much longer for what looked like a fair sized mirror carp to roll over the outstretched net.

A spring caught, margin mirror carpA near twenty pounder, caught on a handful of bait, in a foot of water, six inches from the bank, on a beautiful spring day. There is something really satisfying about spotting fish, gaining their confidence, and ultimately hooking one close in. Of course, you can do this at range but somehow the proximity changes everything. The intimacy. The almost instant action. The fact that from start to finish, barring only the fight, the fish are within touching distance. Well, almost.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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NorthwestFisherman

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Blank sandwich (Entry 137)

A quick session was in order. To keep the spirit topped up more than anything else. I know I am going to be suffering a fair few blanks over the next few weeks. They’ll be worth it though. In a way they already are. Keeping my appreciation in check somewhat. With the evenings now growing longer there lay a perfect opportunity for a little stalking after a visit to my sister. Not far from her house is a small reservoir. It’s seldom fished anymore. Access is quite a walk but I know from past experience that its worth the effort. There are fish in there. Good ones too. Lovely scaley carp, small tench and big roach. I’ve managed to catch the latter to 1lb 15oz. Agonisingly close but a million miles away. A warm and bright day played itself out and gave way to evening. The shadows began to lengthen. Time to fish. I made my excuses, something along the lines of ‘I need to go fishing now,’ and left my sister feeding the family. Around 90 minutes or so of fishing lay ahead of me. Freelined sweetcorn was to be my weapon. Exciting and simple.

On arrival I did a quick lap, duly spotting a few small carp in the deep margins, and carefully introduced a few grains of corn. This lap was repeated another two times before I had an opportunity to cast. Time well spent. As soon as the bait hit the water a dark shape made a bee line for my hookbait. After it had sank a few feet the sweetcorn vanished. I struck and set the hook. A small, perfect looking mirror gave his best but I quickly won the fight. A beautiful, little clear water gem. No need to mess the fish around too much, just a quick picture as it lay amongst the soft vegetation in the margins. A pleasure as always to watch the fish swim away strongly. But that one fish was the beginning and the end. As if it had sent a secret message to the other inhabitants. Beware of bright yellow freebies. I fed one or two more fish but the moment to cast in never came. A pleasant evening none the less. I must visit my sister more often.

A gem of a mirror carp.The filling of the blank sandwich came in the form of another session after a big tench. Last weeks blank and a cool night forced me to change tactics a little. One rod was fished with a maggot feeder whilst the other one I stuck with a small boilie and pellet approach. I must say it was another enjoyable day. Watching more big carp cruise in the upper layers. A multitude of birds visited the peg, happy to receive the free offerings of maggots. Some of the birds came closer than others. Maybe a little reminiscent of what was happening underwater. Maybe smaller fish were visiting with abandon, gorging on maggots, whilst the bigger fish stayed back suspicious. Unwilling to make a decision. Or maybe I was in the wrong area altogether. Or were my tactics wrong. I guess I will find out once I have a little success. Thats positivity for you.

Now to finish off the sandwich. Another short session in the evening. On a different water this time but again I employed the same tactics. I hoped to spot fish, feed them, and if I was able to, cast. The only difference this time was the switch to bread. As soon as the rivers close I often gorget about bread. This season though I am trying to fish with it more, or at the very least, have the option of doing so. I still freelined, wetting the bread slighting once hooked for a little extra casting weight, watching the line for bites. It was harder on a water with less clarity but I was eventually rewarded with a bite. Just as the sun sank below the trees. Another one chance or bust evening. My bread was taken by another lovely conditioned carp, this time of the grass variety, and it made my evening. I left perfectly set up for this weeks visit in search of those big tincas.

A grassie on the mat

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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NorthwestFisherman

Preparation first (Entry 136)

I had hatched a plan, I’m not quite sure it was a cunning one, but it was at least a plan. An early start was needed if I was to fit everything in. So the night before, all the necessary tackle and bait was packed in readiness for an hour before dawn. I would be heading for my first tench fishing session of the year. I fully expected to blank. And I had something else to do before I even arrived at my intended fishing water. All in the aid of preparation. Effort equals reward, you know.

Sleep felt like nothing more than an elongated blink. No sooner had I set the alarm than it was going off. Up I got, a flask made and some food wolfed down. The motorway was clear as expected and no more than forty minutes from dreaming I was walking around the first venue, dreaming. Of future visits and summer dawns. I wasn’t going to fish here today. This was the preparation part. The venue gets very weedy, in fact the weed growth was already fairly prolific, so I had brought with me a rake. Arriving early allowed me to have a look for feeding fish. Or at least moving fish. There was no visible signs of any tench feeding but I did see on or two carp along one bank. It was quite hard to see anything in the heavy fog. Three ‘tench swims’ were raked in likely looking areas and because I don’t like to look a gift horse in the mouth so were a few close in swims along the ‘carp’ bank. A few boilies were fed in these areas. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get the chance to angle for a bonus carp on one of my trips. But thats for the future. With an hour gone and something already ticked off the list, I made my way back to the car, feeling very excited about the days fishing ahead of me.

As I have already mentioned I was not expecting to see a fish today. So why was I still feeling excited? Tench are traditionally absent for more time than the are ‘catchable’. At least thats what I like to tell myself. Especially on this venue. It’s been a tough nut to crack for me. But I still visit. A clear example that fishing is so much more than simply catching fish. The hours that have slipped by on here not catching must be approaching triple figures. Not one of them was wasted. The birds that abound make a dull moment a rare beast. The crisp smell of pine trees. The earthy smell of last years leaves now brown and crisp underfoot. The mist that floats, ghostly, on cool early mornings. A tench would be lovely but even after the months that have passed by since I last sat here wondering if a hawk-like red eye would see my hook bait, it really wasn’t a necessity.

Thick fogThe fog seemed to be even thicker now. There was no way to look for any signs of fish. Instead I took the predicted weather conditions into account and selected a swim I thought might hold some fish at some point during the day. I had a lead around and settled on two spots. One a marginal spot and the other on a slight bar in front of me. A bed of bait was fed on the bar and I planned to trickle in some bait little and often on the marginal spot. With the rigs cast and the rods set, it was case of taking it all in and revelling in my first real tench fishing dawn of the year. I couldn’t have asked for more magical one. The thickness of the fog made it feel as if I was fishing into a void. Into nothingness. No, not nothingness. It wasn’t empty. There was memories out there. Lurking in the gloom. Waiting to be made. And on the bank as usual there was a angler full of hope.

Out there, somewhere

It took around three hours for the sun to burn through. After which it didn’t take long for the carp to start showing, cruising in the upper layers and in shallow marginal spots. They were fascinating to watch and to feed. Of the tench though, there was no sign. I still had some hours ahead of me. And if not today then certainly next time. Or the time after. Eventually it will happen. A dark green shape will rise from the clear water, a paintbrush tail will slap the surface, and my heart rate will be racing.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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NorthwestFisherman

The staff of life (Entry 135)

With last weeks lesson still bouncing around my mind, I headed once more toward stillwater, keen to employ similar simple tactics in the hope of seeing a bright orange beacon vanish. It was a foul day. A swirling and gusting wind. Gale force at times. The moderate showers that were forecast would no doubt be made to feel much more wintery by the airflow. Raindrops pelted at right angles against the umbrella. Would the umbrella even make it until the end of the session? Bait choice was an easy one today; a trip to the local shop for a freshly baked loaf. Something to put on the hook and something to nibble on in between.

First things first; secure the umbrella down. I picked a swim on the back of the wind, which is not only where I expected the fish to be, but also gave my umbrella that bit more of a chance of survival. Next up was a cup of tea. I fed a few pellets I had left over from a previous session whilst I drank. A quick plumb up revealed the depth and the first cast was quickly made. To my surprise the float stayed in place pretty well, a fluke on my own part when placing the shot. It’s always appreciated when things just work. The wind really began to howl. Cutting through the towering trees bare branches. Hitting the far bank and deflecting downwards, creating all kind of interesting swirls and waves on the surface. I looked back at the float tip just in time to see it stutter a little, glide left and reluctantly dip below the ripples.

The business end of a hungry common

The rod hooped round as it met with the culprit. A carp fought in a typical fashion as it made a bid for freedom. In the shallow water the lean carp explored every bankside obstruction and root before finally succumbing. A really exciting tour of the water. It was a lean common. The fluffy bread proving too tempting to pass by. Just twenty minutes had passed and a fish was on the bank. Another heavy rain shower began to fall.

First fish of the sessionI was really enjoying fishing with the bread. I only left the rig on the water for a few minutes, striking the bread off before reeling in. A way of feeding the swim a little and keeping active. A heavy grey sky made it feel like it would be better to tuck myself at the back of the umbrella and hide away. But that certainly wouldn’t do. I stuck to casting regularly and hoped another carp would oblige. It was interesting, and sightly eerie, to note the absence of any birds in the strong wind. One of those details that goes unnoticed for a time but then once you become aware of, you can’t ignore. Very quiet indeed.

Vibrant winter coloursI did get another take. It took some time but was certainly worth the wait. A mirror carp this time, carrying some beautiful warm orange and red hues. In immaculate condition and fighting every inch of the way in. It was a particularly deep bodied fish. A miniature thirty pounder if ever I have seen one. I admired the perfect row of scales that lined its back and the similar cluster of scales dotted about its flank.

The second and last fish of the dayWith the fish returned I continued to fish on. A gust of wind hit the umbrella. I expected its force to lessen. Instead it grew in intensity. I held on for grim life, expecting to be blown to somewhere in the next county, instead the material parted from the rib. Rain rattled in. The wind followed suit. My enthusiasm began to drop the wetter I became, and without any waterproofs, I cut the session short. It had been surprisingly pleasurable considering the terrible conditions. I suppose it is only right to be exposed to familiar landscapes in less than welcoming conditions. They certainly change in them. Somewhere that can appear a welcoming place can quickly turn into a bleak one. And then turn back again. In the blink of an eye or in the shadow of a cloud.

Thanks for reading this update. You might like to head over to my Facebook page. Once there if you ‘like’ the page, you will get all the blog, twitter and Facebook updates in one place! You can click the link at the end or hit like to the top right of the home page. Don’t forget to share this with anyone you know might appreciate it using the social media buttons below.

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Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman