Well my plan was simple, attack the margins and try to get them on the surface out in front. Did it work, not really but I kept at it! I’m a bit baffled really, both last Sunday and the Sunday before were some of the hardest fishing I’ve done on commercials in a long time. They just didn’t want to seem to feed.
The venue I was at is lovely, very secluded with great looking lakes that have tree lined banks with a bit of a wooded area around the lakes. So the setting was great and the fishing looked like it could be awesome and I am sure that it can be. As someone on a booked lake had a 25lb, 28lb and 30lb carp; so it must be good at times.
On arrival I looked around and saw definite signs of feeding the margins, so I baited up with some groundbait and sweetcorn; looking out over the lake there was nothing showing on the surface. So I set up a small 3BB float set up with bulk shot pattern and also a controller float. I did this far away from the bank so as not to spook any fish in the margins.
Once set up I dropped my bait in the margin and waited and waited. I kept the feed going in, little bits nothing too crazy with a ball of groundbait about the size of a golf ball every 30-45 minutes. I changed depths, shot patterns, baits in short, I did everything I could think of to get them going but nothing seemed to work.
While doing this I kept sending about 4 floaters out into the middle to coax them up onto the feed, in my swim there was a nice large patch of lilies out in front to the right. So I was putting them in just off of the lilies with the wind blowing them into there. It took a long time but around 4pm they started appearing. So I took in the margin set up as it was going no where and started putting the floater set up out. It took a few casts to get the feel for the distance but once I had I was putting the bait just off the lilies.
An hour passed with no real interest in my bait, they were up but they are canny fish at this venue. They stuck hard to the middle of the lilies, so I increased the free offerings on the edge and made more casts. My logic being that the noise might draw in some inquisitive fish. It did the trick, I started getting a couple coming up around the bait, again the fish showed that they knew the game being played, eyeing up the bait and not taking it. Now we all have our opinions on the intelligence of fish, but these carp were very clued up; it defiantly seemed to me like a pressured water for this style of fishing. What I mean is I think they have seen this tactic so many times that they weren’t going to be fooled twice.
So what to do, how to get around this was a difficult prospect. I don’t like using bread any more for floating bait; it comes off too easy at distance and can quickly cover a lake due to this; which is not fair to anyone else fishing. So hiding the hook in there was out of the question, I needed to figure out how to hide the hook in a dog biscuit. One method I’d seen was to insert a BB weight in the opposite side to the hook; this flips the hook over and lays it on the surface. Sounds good but in reality it would be very easy to snag up on the lilies and what happens to the weight? Does the fish eat it, is that good for them; I don’t think it would be. So what I did was bury the hook inside the floater so that none of the hook was showing. It was a risk because the carp might just suck the floater off the hook leaving me with no fish; the floaters I’ve got though are very soft, so I was confident that I’d be able to hook one. The added bonus of this was I could cast into the lilies and carefully pull the bait into open patches of water inside the patch of lilies. It was a dangerous tactic, it would very easy to get snagged but that’s where technique comes in when playing a fish.
So the trap was again set, slowly the carp started approaching my hook bait; weary at first but soon they were feeding confidently and I started to get close. I missed 3 or 4 fish, being at distance and not in open water it really played havoc with the self hooking properties of the floats I was using. So it was a case of timing it just right which at about 20 meters is not as easy as 5 meters. So on it went, until finally at around 6pm after being there from 10am (couldn’t make it any earlier, disgraceful I know) I finally hooked one. My back was already aching, so too was my shoulder from the constant casting to a far distance and this fish went off like a train! I’d hooked it tight in the middle of the lilies, so I kept the rod tip angled as far down as I could and pulled with the clutch set to the tightest it could go and then wound down and repeated. What I was trying to do was to keep the fish deep, my reasoning being that the lilies would get harder and thicker near the surface and would be soft and supple in deeper water. Therefore by keeping the rod tip low, almost in the water and pulling and winding in as I brought the rod back in front of me would bring the fish through the bottom of the lilies and be less likely to snag up and not be able to be brought out. Finally after a good 5 minute tussle it came free and into open water. It was still up for a scrap and took another 10 minutes to tame.
When it finally came in the poor thing was knakard, it was hooked in the corner of the mouth so I unhooked in the water to save it the stress of coming out onto the bank. I would have got some pictures but the poor thing was so tired that it wouldn’t have been fair to it to put it through that for pure vanity. I did quickly weigh it though in the net and taking the weight of the net off it came to 19 3/4lb of lovely common carp. By far my biggest fish of 2017 so far and agonizingly close to the 20lb mark I’m aiming for!! It was a lovely looking fish, one that in Autumn would have probably packed on a few more pounds as it was really long in the body with plenty of room to grown. On releasing it I held it there for a good 3-5 minutes before it got the power to swim off. Well fought my friend well fought!
So all in all it was a very good day, very hard going but one of those where persistence, patience and experimentation won the day. We all like a day where we bag up however those days where you battle for every bite and then get rewarded like I did are what fishing is all about. Figuring out what’s going on, what’s going to work and how to get among them is why I go fishing, if it was easy all the time I’d get bored.
So that was my Sunday session. With it being a Bank Holiday this weekend I might have a weekend off as that seems to be when the one day a year fishermen come out. I don’t mind a busy fishery but I don’t think I want the hassle. I might throw some lures about in the morning on Sunday, get up for dawn and go on the attack. I have found however a secret water, I can’t say anything about where, what it looks like or anything else right now as I’m under orders from the land owners to not tell anyone about it. They have however given me limited rights to fish it, meaning I can fish it but I can’t just rock up. It has to be prebooked, fine by me! The only thing I will say about it is that Mr Crabtree would jealous of me fishing this place!!