Ratchet (Entry 187)

With a warm westerly wind blowing, it was the east bank where I found the carp, some basking in the last shafts of evening sun, others beginning to root around on the bottom, disturbing gasses and clouding the water. A swim with overhanging trees either side of me, but at a great enough distance not to offer too much danger, seemed like the perfect place to begin. In went a palmful of sweetcorn just a rod length out. Even though it doesn’t work on this particular venue, apparently. Often, baits that don’t work on venues, don’t work because people hear they don’t work, so never try them. At least thats my theory.

I retreated behind one of the trees. I’d left my tackle there, well, I’d left my Avon rod and landing net, everything else was in my pocket. A few pieces of quill, some split shot and a packet of hooks. The makings of a classic setup; the lift method. Another palmful of sweetcorn went into the swim whilst I quickly set up the rig. Once complete I re-checked the only knot I’d tied, guesstimated the depth, fed another helping of sweetcorn and cast in. The pleasing plop of a swan shot breaking the surface is one I’ll never tire of. Especially when below the surface lurk hungry monsters. I tightened the line, cocking the float most pleasingly, and time began to tick by. The finches chattered. A buzzard circled above. The ratchet screamed into life. That didn’t take long. I hung on as a powerful carp surged out into the lake, muttering under my breath to the fish, to not come off. ‘Please don’t come off’.

I piled on the pressure. The rods forgiving action tested to its limit. Out in the lake the carp began to arch round, back towards my bank, hell bent on finding one of the overhanging trees. At this point I heard a tiny plop in the margins at my feet. Not enough to warrant more attention but too unusual to miss. I thought nothing of it and the fight continued. The carp had just about made it to the canopy of the tree. I couldn’t allow the fish an inch, and with a grimace and a prayer, managed to turn it, the carps tree-ward arch turning into full circle as it headed back out into open water. This time, though, its run was strangely silent. The ratchet did not scream. For a moment I though the line had been severed but looking down I noticed the ratchet was no longer there. That tiny plop I’d heard moments before. That was my ratchet falling off. And what a time to do it!

It wasn’t the end of the world though. It made playing the fish more tense but a whole lot quieter. Second by second, inch by inch, the carp came closer. The tree no longer seemed within its reach and soon it wallowed within netting range. I steadied my nerves and scooped up my prize. With the fish safely cradled I dropped the rod on the reeds. The centrepin spun. Line spilling off. An ever growing birds nest formed. But none of that mattered now. What a fish I had to admire. What a story. A worthy adversary on light tackle. In fact, this carp could now boast, when back amongst its lake mates, to being a bonafide tackle breaker. A centrepin crunching, ratchet wrecking, brute. In ten minutes the session had been made. In ten minutes the session had come to an end. A great fish had been caught on one of my favourite methods. And on a bait that doesn’t work.

A bonafide tackle breaking mirror carp

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

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You know it’s nearly November? (Entry 164)

Like an absolute lazy beast, I had not bothered to make any fishing plans during the week, and that meant I had no bait. Well, I did, it just required a little lateral thinking. Instead of deliberating about a venue, the time of day to arrive, what species to target and how to fish for them, before buying the bait a few days before, this week I would have to match the hatch. The hatch in question being what I had in the cupboard. Sweetcorn and bread. The match, I concluded, would be the residents of a small farm pond. Tench and carp. That analogy didn’t really turn out as good as I’d hoped but you get the idea.

Waggler

I’d not been to the venue for quite a while but the two things I remembered most about it was that it was hardly ever fished and it was quite shallow. With small beds of pond weed and lily pads scattered around, it was a case of fishing as closely as you could to them, for the best chance of a bite. Fishing at its simplest and most archetypal. On arrival I was glad to see the water looked even better than I remembered. Something that more often than not isn’t the case when revising childhood waters. I went about setting up a stumpy waggler and tying on a small, but sturdy, hook. The fish in here fight like tigers, and despite their size, can put an under gunned angler in all kinds of trouble.

Beautiful small common carp

In went a pouch full of sweetcorn. I wasn’t fishing a great distance but I had a facing wind so the catapult aided feeding no end. The water was little more than a foot deep so a fair amount of line was needed to slow the rig down, preventing the wind from dragging the bait out of the swim, and looking ‘unnatural’. Something my dad taught me when fishing on the canals in my youth “the depth and half again”, he used to say, and it used to be deadly for bream. Today, it was this lovely common carp that was tricked, after fifteen minutes fishing, a frantic and energetic fight played out in what seemed like seconds. Silt kicked up in plumes as the fish burrowed down. A perfect little carp, golden tones laid in perfect rows, and most importantly, a joy to catch.Feed - too much or too little?I had to keep feeding little and often throughout the day. Large amounts of bait seemed to interest the fish for a short time but there was far more activity in the swim, and therefore bites, if just five or six grains of corn were fired in every few minutes. Another small carp followed the first twenty minutes later and then one more, only this time the size of my palm, but still a beautiful fish. Eventually the carp dispersed and I had a run of small tench, eight or ten ounces in size, all dark and classically shaped. None realising it’s nearly November.

Miniature tench

And then the water switched off. I couldn’t get a bite nor could I see any fish feeding signs. I moved swims. Still nothing. I tried altering the rig. It made no difference. I tried drinking cup of tea after cup of tea. This didn’t help the fishing but satisfied the tastebuds. I moved back to the original swim for the last half an hour in the hope that the fish had settled in my absence. But still the float sat unbudging. I’d had my quota it seemed. My memory of the water could remain intact and untarnished. It would be wrong to expect anything further. Time for home.

Thanks for reading and until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Caught in the spokes (Entry 134)

Not long after I’d cast out my waggler rig I had a phone call from a friend. I was after tench, admittedly a little early for the water I was on, so in this instance the intrusion was a welcomed one. The voice on the other end sounded a little jaded. Make that frustrated. My friend was suffering from Fisherman’s Blues. It had lost its sparkle. Time for some words of encouragement. I thought about something I once read. About history being compared to a wheel. “Inconsistency is my very nature, raise yourself up on my spokes if you wish, but don’t complain when cast back down. Good times pass away but so do the bad.” I didn’t quite think it the best time to start quoting from centuries past but the sentiment was certainly one to push.

The remedy? Well, it was natural that we both came to the same conclusion, of course. Time to take everything unnecessary away. Strip it all back. No pressure. Start to enjoy the little things again before placing any ‘extras’ back on top. There was still a laboured almost resigned tone in his voice but I could tell we had hit a chord. All the while I stared at the float tip. There wasn’t any threat that it may carry out its intended purpose and signal a bite. Yet there I sat. Still. Pleasant time passed but not fulfilling time. A wry smile forced its way on to my face as I thought about the now earlier conversation. Where had the day gone?

That evening, as I started my second pint of beer, I received a text message. It turned out to be the friend from earlier. He had gone out, with maggots and worm, and simply fished. A few gudgeon to start. Then a carp. Finishing with a PB of another species. Success! The tone of his message now much more upbeat. I was over the moon. I decided at that moment that it was time to take a leaf out of his book. Starting first thing in the morning.

A lovely spot to get lost in

So the next day, much later than planned and fuzzy head in tow, off I went with some maggots and a rod. To fish for whatever came along. Small roach or perch, maybe a few tiny tench, or a hungry intruder in the shape of a carp. It didn’t matter. It was just going to be a few active hours where time would hopefully pass away in a much more fulfilling way. Feeding maggots regularly and fishing a bunch of them over the top. Maybe even a worm. Perfect.

It didn’t take long for the fish to give their presence away. A series of patches of tiny bubbles. The unmistakable trademark of a tinca grubbing away in the silt. Any moment now the float would have to slip away. But it did not and I had to keep a regular supply of maggots raining through the water to keep the fish feeding. Eventually their confidence was won and one or two perfect palm sized tench dragged the float tip from my world to theirs. Spirited fighters, punching way above their weight, and pretty to boot. Then the swim became quiet. Too quiet for there not to be a fish there. A certain presence to the apparent absence. It had to be a carp. Patiently I waited and hoped the carp would not spook. I knew the worm hook bait I was using would prove too tempting with time. And so it followed. A savage bite resulting in a plodding fight. A quickly duped mirror carp nestling, confined, in the landing net. This was more like it.

Mirror carp caught on the float

I never mentioned that my friend had also turned up. He enjoyed another cracking days sport. By the end of the session he was glowing. Grinning from ear to ear and already talking about his next outing. What a transformation from the empty angler just a day before. Looking inwardly, I found that I had enjoyed myself a great deal. Much more than I would have done waiting patiently for a bite that deep down I knew probably wouldn’t happen. To see and share the joy of simply fishing with a friend was inspiring and satisfying. Now which way are those spokes travelling?

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

More or less river carping (Entry 61)

A short update this week owing to the fact that I have been after river carp again. Without any success I might add. I am certainly learning about the river, and to a degree how to adapt rigs to suit the conditions I’m faced with. Put simply though, I’m just not finding any fish. That is the problem. My pre-baiting doesn’t seem to be working or maybe I just haven’t give it long enough yet. Either way I’ll take you through the week by means of it being a record more than anything else.

IMG_2881These are the kind of swims I’ve been looking for and baiting. A mass of tangled branches, roots and debris. They overhang the water quite a way and therefore allow me to bait an area upstream (towards the left of the photo) and place two rods downstream of this at varying lengths. One rod usually within a few metres of the baited area and the other further away (towards the right of the picture). Usually this rod is placed up the shelf in shallower water. This shallow water is still five feet, the depth in the middle of the river can be anything up to twelve. Anyway, I have been baiting up with a mixture of hemp and very finely liquidised tiger nuts. Some pigeon conditioner has been used to bulk up the mix a little and keep costs down. This has been going on the spots over the last eight days, every other day, during which time I have not fished.

IMG_2889When I have been fishing a swim I have been feeding a small amount of hemp and a few whole tiger nuts. Then presenting a running leger over the top with a critically balanced tiger nut on the hair. As said earlier the bottom can be silty in the deeper areas and choddy in the margins so I’m positive the bait will be resting on top if this and visible to any carp. The rigs have been left in the swim for three or four hours before I head to a different swim and repeat the process one more time, twice if I have enough hours left.

IMG_2898So I have covered quite a lot of ground now and fished a few different swims along this length that once held a lot of carp. They have to be much thinner on the ground than they used to be. In the hours I have been fishing I have only seen one fish roll that was remotely ‘carpy’. It made a large bow wave on the far bank margin. Although I only saw it peripherally the fish had a dark brown back and long dorsal. I’m pretty sure it was what I was after. I tried casting to this fish with a PVA bag and a scattering of freebies over the top but no bite resulted.

I am going to keep the bait going in for one more week and hope that, as I have said previously, I am in the right place at the right time when a carp is feeding on one of my baited areas. Got to keep positive I guess. It will be worth it in the end. If nothing happens in then next week or so I will have to once again put it on my to do list as there’s other species I want to turn my attention to.

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 tight lines,

NorthwestFisherman

Trying to track down river carp (Entry 59)

Something that has been on my fishing to do list for a few seasons is to catch a river carp. I’ve had them from stillwaters and from canals but a river fish has always eluded me. That being said I could count on one hand the sessions I have devoted to them. It was time to put a little more effort in then. I knew what venue I would be fishing, the Weaver near Northwich, and I had a good idea about sections that used to be good for them.

old_HartfordYes, used to be. Apparently these fish were stocked in the late seventies/early eighties and for a few years after the river was full of small carp. In fact speaking to my dad a few days before the first session, he dug out a picture from the early eighties featuring himself and a lovely proportioned little common. Caught on the ‘flat float’ fishing caster down the edge. Anyone who knows the Weaver will not be struggling to work out the length he caught this fish. The dredger length with its blue bridge, still a landmark to this day. A quick search on the internet will throw up divided opinion on just how many of these carp are left. Ever the optimist I decided there must be a least some. Although probably a lot thinner on the ground than they used to be. But still a chance. So three days before my first session I cooked up a particle mix of hemp and pigeon conditioner. Added to this was a little corn corn and the whole lot was allowed to soak in the juices and oils for 24 hours. The morning before the session I baited three areas I fancied and planned to return the next day to fish. I did debate adopting the mobile approach. I’m used to doing it on rivers in the winter after chub but I decided to try something different. Baiting and waiting so to speak. If the first session proved fruitless I would simply bait up on leaving and return in a day or two to try again.

IMG_2817On the day of the session I arrived just before dawn and had a look at the three areas I had baited the day before. The first two areas looked suspiciously quiet. Due to the rivers depth I couldn’t see if any bait had disappeared. I’m guessing that the resident bream would have had a good go though. Onward I walked to the third area I had baited. Within minutes a fish rolled. I didn’t see the fish, just the concentric circles it created. Then, again, another fish rolled. It looked suspiciously bream-like. There was bubbling in the swim too but again, less carp more bream. I didn’t know what to do. Having not done much of this type of fishing it really is going to be a steep learning curve. I decided to head back to one of the other swims and fish that. After all this one seemed full of bream. Maybe the other ones held a carp or two?

I fished two rods. The first one on the edge of the baited area, which had been topped up a little with more particle mix. This rod had double fake corn, one sinking and one floating. The other rod I fished away from the baited area, and even though I was aware this could be bream suicide, I fished small 10mm boilies withIMG_2819 a large PVA bag of chopped boilies and pellets. I cast this rig perilously close to a section of river with overhanging and dead trees. A very nice environment for Mr Carp. I sat back and waited. Two kingfishers regularly flew back and forth, up and down the river. Amazing flashes of blue on an otherwise green backdrop. I’ve often seen one, but two flying so close together was a new one for me. Grey herons hunted small fish in the margins. A shrew tried in vain to pluck up the courage to get near the particles I had spilt when baiting. I got stung in the hand by a wasp. I could have done without that though. Nature getting a little too close. However, the indicators remained motionless. The alarms quiet. Three hours later, I reeled in, and checked the rigs which were fine. I needed to stretch my legs. Taking the boilie and PVA bag rod, and net, I wandered down to the swim where I saw the bream rolling. In went the rig. Rod on the ground I waited for the baitrunner to scream off. Or should that be plod off. Five minutes later the plodding happened and a bream was on the bank. A 4lb fish with peculiar black markings on it.

IMG_2831Another cast and another bream. Yes, there was a good shoal of bream here. Despondent, I headed back to the swim I had been in and fished it out until dark. Before the light went I fed the three swims again and planned to return in two days time. I didn’t see any signs of carp all day, both in the swim I was fishing and on the occasions I went trying to spot them.

IMG_2833Two days later I was back at dawn. The weather turning a little cooler, with a strong northerly wind picking up the night before. It wouldn’t effect the water temperature though. Again I looked at the areas, the furthest swim seemed to be full of bream, the other two as quiet as before. So this time I fished the ‘bream’ swim. Both rods went to either side of the feed area. One with corn and one with 10mm boilie. I hoped there would be some carp on the periphery of the feeding bream shoal. Surely any carp would push them out though? Apart from the odd line bite, which presumably came from wandering bream, I had no fish at all on this session. I left a little despondent but I never expected this to be easy. I’d like to explore this area more so next time I will try a more mobile approach. Unfortunately the carp did used to show themselves often in this section and I just hope the fact I’m not seeing any isn’t backing up the stories I’ve read online. No excuses though and only time will tell. I’m sure its just down to location and a poor river carp angler!

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 tight lines,

NorthwestFisherman

Hardly an update at all (Entry 56)

I don’t want this weeks update to turn into a rant. I’ve not had the best weeks and to top it off the death knell was rung for my pole. Not much fishing was done at all. In fact, probably less than twenty minutes. Firstly let me explain what I was after, and tell you what I caught in those few minutes.

IMG_2741

With not much time to spare I headed for a club water that is very well stocked with roach, rudd, crucian hybrids, brown goldfish and small carp. I was looking forward to a laid back session and hoping to catch a mixture of those species. I planned to fish sweetcorn over a few similar loose offerings and the obligatory micro pellets. I decided upon the swim above and settled in nicely. Plumbing up to fish just up from the bottom of the marginal shelve to my right, under the canopy of the trees, I fed the swim and had a drink.

IMG_2746The first put in produced a bite and good little scrap was underway. The culprit, a little ghost carp of maybe 12-14oz. A good start indeed. Really good fun on balanced pole gear. I fed a few more pellets, too many in fact, as the next few put ins I missed a string of bites. The bottom being churned up by hungry mouths. Preoccupied no doubt by the little pellets, I switched hookbait to a small pellet and immediately connected with another fish. This time a mini common carp, no more than 3oz. Four more followed before the fizzing in the swim subsided. Learning from my mistake I fed less liberally and two lovely plump goldfish/crucian type fish followed.

IMG_2748

I was having fun and was sure that with time and careful nurturing of the swim, the fish would no doubt get bigger. Everything was great. Then it happened again. For about the sixth time in the few years I’ve owned it, the fifth section of my pole gave way on shipping out. Its a horrible sound. A crunchy, gritty sound. The carbon fibres tearing and ripping. It has to be said that this is the worst pole I have ever owned.

I have had it just a few years and I expected, with careful use, for it to last a good few more. I guess the fact the fifth section gave way on the day I received it should have told me something. This section was kindly replaced. It did take a month for the company in question to send it out though. I had to send it back to the shop I bought it from, for them to send it back to the company. The company then sent the replacement back to the shop, who then sent it to me. How efficient! A year later the fifth section went again in the same place. The pole was now out of warranty so I have been wrapping it in carbon every since. Now there is no strength left and its too expensive to replace. Costing a fifth of the price I paid for the pole! Madness.

Anyway, I apologise for the rant but as you can imagine I am pretty disappointed. The company in question definitely wont be seeing any more of my money in the future.

Apologies for anther short update.

Until next time,

NorthwestFisherman

Back on the bank but struggling (Entry 52)

Sorry for the lack of updates the past few weeks. I have been unable to get out fishing due to a major crisis and a small health problem but I can see the light at the end of tunnel for both so back to the bank I go!

Well it’s been hot hasn’t it? I’m sure the blistering conditions would have got the better of me if I had been out on the bank anyway. Thankfully my first session coincided with the wind swinging round to an easterly bringing a slightly, and I do mean slightly, fresher feel. So, as I headed to a club water in search of carp, everything felt pretty good indeed.

01

The water I chose was one I had not fished before. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. By no means a push over, the water seems to always have reports of ‘it’s fishing hard’ from local anglers. But I don’t let that put me off and as I walked the water several times, looking for signs of carp, it wasn’t long before my mind was drifting to what I may catch. Thats confidence for you! In one area I found three carp cruising in the upper layers. I watched them for a good twenty minutes as they took small flies off the surface. I was in no rush to get fishing. I really enjoy watching fish. It’s amazing to see double figure carp slurping down tiny flies trapped in the surface film. It hardly seems nutritionally worth it, but the carp must think so. With a lot of waterfowl on the water I didn’t feed any floating baits. Instead I just left the fish to it.

02

I had a lead around a few swims and found some good depths in a few areas. These areas also had substantial beds of silt. In the end, with no one else on the venue, I decided to bait a few marginal spots with small beds of chopped boilies. Not too much, especially in these very warm conditions, but enough to hold a fish for a while. I then walked between them regularly, hoping a fish would find them. I planned to present the rig (pictured above) if any carp visited. The disappearing bait would be my only giveaway. In one swim this situation began to unfold, within just two hours of the bait being introduced. I took a rod, set the trap and put a little more bait in, expecting the fish to return. I gave it over an hour, but with no action I conceded defeat. By now the light had gone and I packed away in the faint glow of my head torch. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable session all the same and I learnt a lot about the water. I also saw some lovely fish that I will enjoy trying to catch in the coming months.

Mid week I had another trip out, to the river I’ve been fishing since opening day. This visit was made as the river rose following some torrential thunderstorms early the same morning. I was happy to see a swollen river as I’ve never fished this river when it has been so high. I was hopeful any barbel would be taking advantage of the plethora of food items no doubt being washed down to them. Now, if only I could find one. I was confident that they would take my pungent 10mm halibut pellet wrapped with paste. To the gripper lead I also moulded some paste, providing more attraction for the barbel to home in on. I found a few slacker swims out of the main flow before I started fishing, three in total. In each, with a bait dropper, I introduced some pellets. With the swims primed, over the next few hours I tried a number of other swims, lowering my paste based rig into each and giving it 20 minutes or so. Trying to ‘drop the bait on a fishes nose’. Unsurprisingly I had no fish. Around nine o’clock I made my way to the furthest of my three primed swims.

IMG_2346

I presented the same rig I had been using in the other swims. I gave it half an hour in the first, pictured above, and after ten minutes or so I had a confident pluck. It vibrated through the rod blank and up my fingers. It wasn’t debris, that was a decidedly chub-like pluck. Strange for a rising river. The bite didn’t develop and reluctantly, after 30 minutes, I headed to the second swim. This swim however was very quiet. Nothing happened at all. At ten o’clock I headed to the final swim. It looked like a blank was on the cards again. I made my final cast in the dim light. The rig settled pleasingly. After a few minutes I had a confident pluck which encouraged me. Again I toyed with the idea of it being debris. Three more plucks in quick succession. Definitely not debris. As any angler will know, there is something ‘fishy’ about certain indications. I guess it comes with experience but you learn to differentiate between the two. The swim teased me with indications; some fishy, some not. In the end I ended up staying much later than intended but no fish graced the bank.

I hope some crucian fishing will feature in the next update (as well as the obligatory blank on the river!) 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.

Click here to go to the NorthwestFisherman facebook page

Until Next time tight lines,

NorthwestFisherman