One of the reasons I am an all-rounder is that I just love all fish. Whatever the species, discipline, venue or tactics, I'm in my element when fishing. I often joke, it's what I was created for. Or maybe that should be a semi-joke! So as the river season came to an end there was no sadness or looking back. I simply couldn't wait to move on. Following a week on holiday where I targeted flounder and dab, I eagerly began my carp campaign for the year.
And although I didn't catch my target species, I did net a couple of tench. They both put up a good fight and although I knew they weren't big fish as in monster carp, it was only when I saw them that the species was confirmed. Fishing the venue for the first time and not having any prior knowledge I was happy with my catch. That's one of the benefits of being an all-rounder. Although I set a target species I am never disappointed when something else turns up.
No carp on session one but tench prevented a blank
I always spend time thinking through my bait selection and was pleased that it worked out as I do put some thought into every session I do. I have a wide variety of stuff at home and I never go into my bait tubs and just pick out anything. I know exactly what I want. Anyway with a couple of tench under my belt it was really a carp I was after. My next outing was on the local canal where carp really are a needle in a haystack job. You hardly ever see another angler and certainly not a carper. But I love the challenge and when it does come together it's a brilliant feeling.
My range of SBS baits for the opening session
I started to fish the canals for carp some years ago now, pretty much on a ‘If they are in here then this is where they will be’ approach. Literally casting into the unknown I will never forget the fish carp I caught. A beautiful wild common that is nowhere near the biggest I've ever caught but is definitely one of the best for sure. And I've been hooked ever since. Blanks are part of the journey, although I didn't actually come away fish-less as I caught a bream . At about 4lb it was quite big for the canal. Fishing a 12mm M2 bottom boilie and a same size M1 pop-up, the bream was tempted by the latter, which had been soaked in whisky link. All SBS products of course.
Corn shaped popper boilie rig that caught the carp
Third session was back to the venue that opened the article. This time though I didn't have the place to myself and so felt a bit restricted. I blanked, but with only one fish coming out all day, it was indicative of how tough the lake is. No fish but there were a pair of gadwall on the water and at one point I had a mass of mating common toads at my feet in the margins. In fact after they broke up I counted 7. As a naturalist I see the big picture of my angling sessions, and while I am there to catch fish of course, the reality is I can appreciate the wider natural world around me.
Mating toads – it’s a sign spring is here
You can see my set-up in one of the accompanying photographs which is pretty standard for carp fishing. My rods and reels at Daiwa, hangers Fox and alarms ATT. I pretty much fished the same way on my next sessions which were back on the canal. The only difference being that each rod was on an individual bank stick. With space at a premium, due to the narrow towpath where I set up, I had to position the rods at an angle, otherwise they would have been a complete obstruction! The limited space also meant my ancient and well-used Fox Evolution provided shelter for the night.
My set up on the lake, which I go through in the article
Getting ready for an overnighter on the canal
I have had it years and as far as looks are concerned, it has certainly seen better days. But I can push I right back into the hedge without any worries of it getting pierced by branches and also the flexible nature of construction allows me to erect it in such a way that it doesn't protrude over the walkway too much. And as you can see from the photo, I tie a carrier bag on the front as well so that when the night cyclists come racing along they have some advance warning. It really is a race track out there sometimes! None on this particular outing though and no carp either - but plenty of chub!
The fish were all small and part from one that fell to a bottom M2 boilie, the others were tempted by an M1 pop-up. And while the day before (and after) saw temperatures hit the high teens, overnight they plummeted sharply to the point where we had a ground frost. You can see the frost on my rod bag in one of the photographs and where I scraped it to show it was reasonably solid. To round off the article I visited a third venue - hence the title of this piece.
Warm days but cold nights – frost on my rod bag!
I was actually there tench fishing but due to the high cost of fuel (not to mention the availability at times!) I am more and more combining species within sessions. So whilst I am still focused I may switch between what I am fishing for. It may involve taking extra gear, and you can only do it on longer outings (this one was a three-nighter) but in these days of petrol prices on a sky-rocket journey upwards, a little flexibility and innovation is the way forward.
So, with a day slot available I decided to target carp. I fished 2 SBS corn shaped boilies on a hair with a piece of artificial corn. Popped up about an inch off the clear gravel bottom, everything was dunked in tutti frutti 3-in-1 turbo dip. I cast out beyond my usual plateau/drop-off location for tench as I know the carp anglers fish further out. Well, about 2.00pm I had a screamer resulting in a solid blue light on the alarm, a single tone on the receiver and line peeling from the reel like there was no tomorrow.
I had connected with my target species and lifting into it, this was confirmed. You know when you're playing a carp! I do know the venue well and so let it go to the right, applying enough pressure to try and persuade it to turn, thinking it was doing it of its own accord rather than me manipulating it. That's the key with playing a big fish really, let it think it is in control! Then when it turned to left I again let it go but applied that background pressure. But then suddenly I all went slack.
It came good at the end with this carp from the gravel pit
Oh no! Was it a hook pull? Or worse still a snapped line! But as I reeled in quickly I realised the fish had respond to my pressure and was actually swimming towards me. By the time I caught up with it, it was about 5 or 6 lengths out and apart from the obligatory defiance at the net, it was then just a case of gently bringing it in. What a great feeling it is to slip a good fish in the waiting landing net, and a great way to kick off my 2012 carp campaign for sure! I don’t always weigh my fish unless they are special, but I would say it was a good upper teen fish and most likely a scraper ‘20’ as it was very solid indeed.
By: Stewart Bloor