Wind, sails, knocked (Entry 180)

Angling certainly is odd. I want to get that out of the way. I gave the crucian fishing a rest this week to practice a style that I love but have done relatively little of in the past year. When there is clear water, and the fish are moving, there is no better way to tempt a bite or two than sight fishing. Bait preparation consists of a trip to the local supermarket and tackle can be kept to an absolute minimum. Stalking your quarry is one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting, way to catch a fish. The spotting of the fish, the gentle persuasion needed to get them feeding, the cast and the take. Battles are usually quick and brutal or drawn out and nervous. Each thrilling in their own way.

I arrived at my chosen water late afternoon. The day had been largely overcast but even so carp, and all manner of weird and wonderful hybrids, could be seen cruising in the upper layers. This would be a good day. It had to be. Didn’t it? Well, the first hour was spent trying to tempt a crushing fish from the surface with bread. An hour which turned into two. Frustrating but fun. Even though there was not one point where a carp even looked like it was interested in my bread hookbait, 120 minutes vanished. So much for this being a good method for tempting a bite or two. Nothing in this pastime of ours is set in stone.


It was now clear, after that tremendous failure, I needed to feed a few marginal swims, ones that I hoped would attract the attentions of fish that were actually interested in feeding. Queue the second bait; the humble sweetcorn. A small palmful was duly fed into four different swims. Then it was time for a tea. The perfect time to ponder and muse over what had happened and hopefully what was to come. Time passed and I was soon back checking the first swim. Wind, sails, knocked. The bait was still there! Untouched, unmoved even, laying precisely where the kernels fluttered to a halt at. This did not bode well.

The business end

I checked the second swim. Same result. In the third I spotted a group of three carp, one a ghost carp, move into the vicinity of the baited area. They hung nervously, one fish peeled away and came full circle, back to the rear of the group. The other two remained still. There was zero confidence in these fish. Simple as that. I began to concede that this was turning into one of those days where nothing aligns. Weather and water conditions. Atmospheric and angling pressure. All skewed. Past experience counting for little.

The cherry on top

That group of fish then disappeared into the deep water beyond without even a nibble at the bait. I patrolled between the swims for an hour or more but nothing changed. The bait remained. All hope of catching dwindled. I resigned myself to defeat and another cup of tea. Taking the hook from the retainer ring, a double corn cocktail was nicked onto the hook. I might as well have the bait in the water whilst I drained the rest of the flask. With a thunderous swoosh, I propelled the hookbait as far as its own weight would take it, and watched as coils of line pinged from the spool as the bait sank. It settled slowly. I imagined the sweetcorn coming to a gentle rest on the bottom, out of sight, out of mind. Slowly, I drank my tea and took in the scenery. A kingfisher zoomed past me. Damsel flies darted near to the surface. Even the sun began to poke through casting a warming orange glow over the landscape. Not such a bad day after all.

To complete the picture, as the last of my brew was consumed, the line unmistakably stuttered to life. Coils turned from loops to smooth vectors that pointed to an unseen culprit that had just taken my bait. Out of sight, of course.

Until next time,



Counting on carp (Entry 139)

In between the tench blanks, it’s carp that have been my saving grace. In what little sun we have had its carp that have been encouraged to have a mooch around. In the upper layers, on the surface or in the shallower margins. From small ponds to deep pits you can count on them. And when you can see them it’s exciting fishing. When windows of opportunity are in short supply, wandering around with minimal tackle and trying to spot fish takes some beating. Its simple, yes, but that doesn’t make it easy. Especially when you are as heavy footed as I am. I sure could do with some anti-gravity boots…

One night in the week after work, I headed to a venue I have fished many times before. One of clear water, deep margins and obliging feeders. The fish present are not huge but I really have learnt a lot from fishing for them. Seeing how small groups of fish feed in crystal clear water is invaluable. Especially for the times when you can’t see them and wonder just what is going on in your swim. I arrived to find the place empty, which was not really a surprise, given the moodiness of the water early on in the year. Into three lovely looking areas, ones with plenty of cover and a fairly clean bottom, I fed a few palmfuls of pellets along with a few chunks of bread. I really like how visual the bread is, both to the fish and to myself. It’s buoyant too, taking only the tiniest of slurps, to make it fly at a rate of knots into a fishes mouth. Or so I hoped. I’d been here getting on for an hour and of the fish I had seen no sign. Not in the swims or even out in open water.

Attractive morsels

It had been a dull day, a little chilly on the whole, and I wondered if I was pushing my luck a little. Maybe the fish were just not in a feeding mood. I kept at it though, patrolling from swim to swim until eventually, I caught sight of what I was looking for. A few dark shapes cautiously approaching a baited area. Three common carp and a dark, metallic ghostie. They did a fly by, swimming straight over the bait and back down into the deeper water, vanishing from view with an unnerving ease. I set my unhooking mat down and made myself comfortable. A few minutes went by before the same group of fish came back to the area. This time the three common carp began to pick off the chunks of bread whilst the ghostie watched on from a way back. I’m sure they could smell the pellets but they seemed interested only in the bread. Once gone they dropped back into the depths. Time to re-feed the swim. I really do enjoy this part of the procedure. The way a nervous fish can be transformed by simply feeding, and with no apparent danger nearby, their confidence can be quickly won.

The next time the fish entered the swim, again the commons fed with gusto. The ghostie however continued to watch. They are super cautious fish it would seem. I wonder why this is the case? Still, with the shoals departure soon after, it was time to introduce the hookbait. You guessed it, a large, fluffy chunk of bread. It took an age to sink and settle. The fish took a little longer to come back this time too, but when they did, it was the ghostie that homed straight in on my hookbait. Incredible! Almost out of body, I watched myself watching it. With a waft of its pectoral fins, it came to a halt. The angler poised. It’s mouth extended out, creating a vacuum, and the hookbait had no choice but to do what physics dictated. The angler had no choice but to do what instinct dictated and strike. Into nothingness. A bemused angler and an equally bemused ghostie. With a casual air the fish abled out of the swim. A slack jawed angler look on in dismay. The chance had gone. For the common carp too. Time to re-compose and start again.

Perfect common carpJust fifteen minutes later, and now in a different swim, I was rewarded with a fish. A perfect little common carp sporting exceptionally lovely colours. A second chance served up and taken. Freelined bread over a few free offerings. In the clear water it is always a joy to see the fish swim strongly back to their home. Almost as much as it is to see them make their first mistake; a little too much curiosity for those fluffy white morsels laying temptingly on the marginal shelf. Next time, that ghostie will be mine.

Back homeThanks 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,


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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Until next time,


No time for patience (Entry 103)

I had to stop looking at the clock. Time wasn’t going to suddenly speed up. I was waiting for a delivery. A present for someone. This was eating into valuable fishing but I guess I had only myself to blame for leaving things to the last minute. For now, all I could do was think of the fishing waiting for me, out in the countryside.

The weather was dour. Damp, windy and miserable. For a split second I was almost glad to be sat indoors. Only a split second mind. Time for a brew. I put the kettle on and checked the clock once more. A full four minutes had passed. I thought about the pristine carp and brown goldfish that would be nosing around in the deep, gin clear margins. Looking for food. My patience was running thin. Before the kettle had chance to boil the doorbell rang, and in a flash I was answering it, signing my name (I could have singed anything at that point let me tell you), and ushering the delivery man back to his van. No time to check the package. It was time to fish.

A typical swim fished today

All this waiting around though had made me slightly impatient. There was no way I would be fishing just one peg now. Static. I’d lost too much time for that. Time to be active and make the most of what little time I had left. On arriving at the venue the rain began to hammer down once more. Undeterred, I started to creep into a few swims, looking for signs of fish. Be that actual fish or ever so slightly clouded water. A few small pellets and grains of corn were fed into four swims. I headed back to the car to get the rest of my gear. Namely rod, landing net, unhooking mat and flask. Oh and waterproof jacket.

As technical as it needs to be

A visit to the swim I fed first I could see all the bait still there. I stood for a few minutes and let my eyes adjust. No, there was nothing present here, so I headed to swim number two. On such a high bank I had to creep into position. In fact it almost required a crawl. I really needed to keep off the skyline. It was worth doing though. As I peered through the surface glare, five dark shapes were feeding with abandon. Not huge fish but that was of no concern. This was going to be exciting! I baited my hook with a grain of corn and slid my other rig component, a bit of rig putty, down the line about a foot. Four grains of corn were thrown into the swim which made the carp leave the area. Only briefly though. Just enough time to introduce my rig. I knew they would be back. Virtually at the same time as the hookbait settling the carp were back, dorsal fins bristling as they mopped up the pellets, and picked off the ‘sweetcorn cherries’ in amongst them.

A perfect little common carp

With no idea what was in front of him, this beautiful little common carp vacuumed up my hookbait in around twenty seconds. The fight the fish gave was something else. Only three or four pounds but on light tackle it was a joy to catch. The fight had invariably disturbed the rest of the shoal and it was a case of introducing a few more morsels of bait before looking forward to seeing what was in swim three. The time I had been robbed of in the morning was now a dot in the back of my mind. Funny what a fish can do.

In swim three another lovely little carp came my way, a little smaller than the first. This was a feisty fish, not so much when in the water, but once on the mat it simply wouldn’t stay still. Better to think of the fishes wellbeing in a situation like this so it was returned without being photographed. The next swim produced another fish. A different species than the previous two. When the fish approached the bait it looked like another small carp. However, it was far more cautious. Once within an inch of the bait, it hung in the water motionless, observing the interesting yellow morsel. But would it take the bait? Nope. Several times it backed away from the bait only to return, and stare, before repeating all over again. On around the fourth or fifth time, I decided to move the bait slightly. Hoping to induce the fish into making a split decision. It worked a treat. Instinctively the fish grabbed the bait and I struck. A short, determined fight later, this deeply coloured brown goldfish was posing for the camera. A fish around two pound in weight. Lovely chestnut browns and deep bronzes, with hints of yellow and gold. An often maligned species, especially where crucians are concerned, and I can understand why. But in their own right they are a stunning looking fish.

A feast of bronze, browns and goldWith the rain getting heavier it was time to pack away. Three fish caught in 90 minutes on a method I absolutely adore. I was more than happy with the result. I don’t think I would have fished as actively with more time on my hands, especially given the conditions. Maybe the late delivery man did me a favour. No, not maybe. I know for a fact he did.

Such wonderful colours

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Until Next time tight lines


Freelining fun (Entry 89)

With the last swim fed I made my way slowly back to the first. I had fed it twenty minutes previous and hoped that when I returned there would be signs that some carp had been feeding or at least investigating the tasty morsels lying on the lake bed. It would take me a further five minutes to make my way back to the swim, and I would need to set up the rig too. It should’t take too long to tie a hook onto the mainline though. Oh, and wrap a little tungsten putty a foot back from this. Really you couldn’t get much more simple.

Carp feeding here.

With the rod set up and the net readied, I took the tub of bait from my car, along with unhooking mat that would double as my seat for the next few hours. As I neared the first swim I had fed I became aware of my heavy footing. Herd of elephants didn’t come close. Tentatively I took a peek into the depths but could no longer see the bottom. The gin clear water now cloudy with sediment sent up, I assumed, by hungry carp. This now posed a problem. I would’t be able to see my bait, and perhaps more importantly, couldn’t see if there was any fish still in the vicinity. I thought it best to feed more and move on to the second swim instead. Hopefully a little quieter on my part.

Cheap and cheerful bait

Thankfully in the next swim I saw three carp and what looked like a crucian feeding. They picked up a few grains of corn and then casually sank back down the shelf. Only to return a few minutes later for more food. Perfect. I waited for them to vacate the area, and carefully lowered a double corn hook bait into position, hid as best  could behind the one long grass stem in front of me, and waited for them to return. Tense minutes passed. Tense, fish-less minutes. Had I spooked them? I didn’t think so, they were feeding happily before they ghosted from view. I just need a little patience. There, just where the visible water met the dark, hung a dark shape. I could just about make it out. As it edged up the shelf I could make out its size for the first time. It looked to be a scraper double. A common too. Eyes on the fish, eyes on the bait. The fish certainly knew those kernels were there. It probably knew I was there too. Inch by inch the fish glided nearer when suddenly the hook bait vanished. But the common carp had not flared its gills! And then I remembered the crucian from earlier.

This one certainly tricked me!

Regardless, it was a lovely fish. Not a crucian in the end but some kind of goldfish-crucian-fantail hybrid. ‘Heinz 57’ but the first fish of the day and very welcome. With that swim now disturbed, it was time to re-feed and head to the next to repeat the process. A few minutes later I was nearing it, and even before I had made my way down the high bank, I could see a few dark shapes grazing over the pellets and corn. In fact when I was at the waters edge, they were feeding so confidently, I chanced flicking the rig in before they had moved off. This worked to my advantage as no sooner had the double corn hit the bottom, a plump carp decided to take it. The fish don’t grow that big in this venue but they fight like tigers. I quite honestly have never felt fish fight as hard for their size and they don’t give in. In the clear water, every powerful surge, every twist and turn can not only be felt, but seen too. And what an amazing sight it is. A tiny flick of the tail can propel the fish metres. Effortless in their environment.


The remainder of the session produced another few carp of similar size before fading light drew a close to play. It was more than enough for me though. Plenty of walking and watching. Learning how fish feed and how they spook on various sounds and movement. Also, how once feeding, this same caution abates. I reckon I could have done a jig in neon clothes at some point and the fish wouldn’t have noticed such was their intent of finding every last pellet amongst the gravel. Every fishing trip is a learning curve but some are more eye opening than others. This was certainly one of them.

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