A Stop Start Winter

Since my last Fishtec blog in autumn, my fishing became very disjointed from October onwards and only really came back to normal in February. The main reason was a succession of health issues within the family, which saw me missing a lot of fishing and only going locally for a few hours when I could get out. Consequently, I was never able to get a proper campaign underway and the results suffered as a result.

The main target of my river fishing was the upper Warks Avon near my home, principally because it is so close and I could be home quickly if need be. Unlike the middle to lower stretches, the chub and barbel of the upper river are fairly modestly sized, 5lb chub and 10lb barbel not being that common, this looked to be the perfect place for a few short coarse fishing sessions. So I made those two weights my initial targets and would go from there. My first few trips produced a few barbel to just over 7lbs and chub to about 4lbs, but the fishing was very slow at times. Blanks were common. Then, in late November, I had my biggest Avon barbel of just over 9lbs plus a chub of 5lb 4ozs ten minutes later. Obviously, these are quite modest fish by Ouse standards but I did feel that I was getting somewhere. Over the next couple of weeks I had another two small barbel, but struck a purple patch with the chub, taking three more five pounders on the bounce. That made four 5lb plus fish in a few weeks and, according to regulars who have fished the stretch for years that is very unusual.

Just after Christmas, I was fishing the lovely crease swim where I had taken my most recent 5lb chub. A large near bank rush bed projects five yards out from the bank, throwing the main flow across to the far bank and creating a really pronounced midriver angled crease. At a steady 5ft depth and smooth gravel bed it is a perfect set up for chub and barbel. I was fishing an 18mm boilie, with a PVA bag of broken boilie pieces impaled on the hook on each cast. My first cast was made around midday but it wasn’t until nearly dark that I had my first serious indication. I don’t count a kamikaze 12oz chub that nearly choked itself on the boilie in mid afternoon! A vicious pull had me on my feet and I soon realised that this was another chub, but what a beauty. It weighed 5lb 7ozs, another very big fish for the Upper Avon. It was my biggest Avon chub by a couple of ounces.

Ten minutes after the recast, I was in again and this time it was obvious that I was connected to a big barbel. That fish gave me a memorable scrap, making the clutch scream more than once, and I was soon netting my first Avon double figure barbel. It weighed 11lb 5ozs and I was absolutely over the moon with it.

After those fish, with all family worries now behind me, I was able to resume my love affair with the Great Ouse. Like waters everywhere, it was painfully low at the back end of the season, and four trips to a stretch where bites are always few and far between, but the fish are big, saw me averaging but one bite a day. And a day means fishing from about mid morning until well after midnight. The previous season I had taken my 7lb 13oz personal best chub from the same stretch, and I was never able to come close to that this time. In all, I landed eight chub, which comprised a baby of 4-12, four more five pounders to 5-15 and a top three of 6-1, 6-2 (featured below) ands 6-6.

Most pleasing was a final session barbel of 13lb 6ozs, my first barbel from the stretch for three years following the attentions of otters.

As well as the chub fishing, I also had two sessions at the perch stretch where my 5lb pound fish was taken in 1999. Sadly, that has also been badly affected by otters and, although there are still big perch to be caught, the numbers have been drastically diminished. Apart from a solitary small perch, all I caught on my lobworms were average chub and a small pike.

I can look back on the season just ended as one of the most difficult I’ve ever experienced, for several reasons, and in some ways I was glad to see the back of it. Now, after two weeks off, I’m planning some tench and bream fishing, commencing next week. The water has produced tench to 11lbs plus and bream to over 16lbs so I’m hoping for some exciting fishing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

The annual Brighton Pollack Challenge saw me aboard Paul Dyer’s charter boat, Brighton Diver as part of the Sky TV crew at Brighton Marina in Sussex. I had a very enjoyable day with a best pollack of nearly 12lb although I didn’t get amongst the trophies. The fish caught were generally big and a 17lb 3oz specimen for, Dave Dudson aboard Brighton’s, Osprey won the day with three others over 16lb proving how good Brighton is for pollack currently. Read all about the competition in the next sea Angler magazine or watch it on Sky’s Tight lines in the coming weeks. It was noticeable at the event that the usually productive red and yellow Sidewinder lure, the Rhubarb and Custard was not quiet as deadly as it has been with silver, glitter, white and yellow amongst the best lure colours.

The plaice continue to show from the beaches throughout the English Channel and the general consensus of opinion is that it’s the reduced quotas for plaice imposed on the commercial fleets that is the reason. It’s certainly a change to see plaice, but I do despair of anglers showing pictures of ten or more dead fish on Facebook. Are we as bad as the commercials – YES I think some of us are!

I have not landed a ray yet, not even tried, although several have been reported in my region of Kent. With the current weather they should show from the shore any minute and it won’t be long before I try a frozen sandeel and Bluey fillet wrap. A good tip is to buy your frozen Blueys now because if you leave it until the rays show the shops will have run out, they did last year here in Kent.

COMPETITIONS, ETC

By the time you read this I shall be in the Gambia for a weeks deserved break, I am fishing a match for three days of the holiday but it’s the break from work I am looking forward too most. Lots of anglers think my life is one long fishing trip, but I spend hours working on a PC and getting out of the office is heaven sometimes. For last minute info on the Gambian three-day beach event contact Bernard Westgarth on: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk.

Or check out his web site:  www.fishthegambia.com

I am also off to fish the Magrini in Sardinia soon. This International competition in the middle of May is real continental light line fishing, last year my 10lb bs snoods proved too heavy in daylight so this year I am down to 5lb after those mini weavers and breams. However, I must admit I look forward to the company and craic at the event more than the fishing which is considerably different from here at home, makes you appreciate dogfish fishing in the Med!!!!!!!!

My next task is to arrange the Penn Final and it’s on the weekend of the 23rd/24th June at Dover. I have qualified for the final myself although as main organiser I shall not fish. One problem regarding the final which is scheduled to fish Dover Breakwater and Samphire Hoe over the two days is that the motorboat which ferries anglers to the breakwater has ceased. In fact its been sold. Dover Sea Angling Association are in the process of solving the problem with another boat, so its fingers crossed. All enquiries about the Penn final to me on: alankyates@aol.com

TACKLE AND TIPS

It’s time to return the summer tackle to your tackle box. A set of feathers for mackerel is standard summer gear, but also add a set of mini feathers with the shrimp and tiny Sabiki designs great for catching sandeel, herrings etc that can be used as bait.

A couple of floats can also help you get out of jail when the sea goes flat and clear and only mackerel and GARFISH are around. Slide a float down your main line after casting fishing metres deep and catch a few gars – great fun as they leap out of the water when hooked and another bait for the freezer or the hook.

At this time of year anglers fish a lot with a single large bait and the Pulley Pennel rig which is without doubt the most efficient terminal rig to use for the larger species, especially when you want a big bait put at long range, however, there is much debate about using two hooks or one for species that are going to be returned. My solution is to stay with a two hook Pennel rig for the larges baits, but to choose smaller barbed hooks. There are a few of the modern hook patterns that are sold with micro barbs and these are perfect for catch and release especially when you are using the large sizes for bigger species. It’s a shame Fox discontinued their Uptide Power Point FA pattern because they are a superb catch and release hook with their micro barb.

Of course an easy answer to this problem is to crush the barb on your hook so that it can be removed more easily.

Several additions to the TF Gear fishing tackle range including two new three-piece beach casters. I am particularly pleased with the quiver tip version, the all rounder. See them both plus a whole range of new tackle in the latest TF Gear 2012 catalogue.

Get a copy from your local tackle shop or contact us at: TF Gear Sea Fishing, Unit 5 & 6, Ffrwdgrech Industrial Estate, Brecon, Powys. LD3 8LA

Tel, 0871 911 7045

Web: www.tfgear.co.uk.

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Jan 2012

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

I have been out in Kent after the gales over the night tides without catching a cod – its whiting city from the Kent shore with the thousands of small hungry mouths eating other species out of house and home. So my advice if its cod you want is to go and fish somewhere else other than Kent – The Bristol Channel being worth the drive!!!!!

Meanwhile in Kent it’s a bite a second with the whiting and last week my son Richard fishing in a Deal 1919 Angling Club beach match weighed in 38 dogfish – no mean feat in three hours. Most hate dogfish, but in a match they can be hectic, the clubs in my region give you 500 grams C & R per dogfish which is a great idea although some say we should cull them.

I did well in a couple of pier events at Folkestone with lots of big fat sprat dabs, whilst the only open I fished was the British Legion open on Hythe Ranges over the holiday and I packed up early fed up with the undersized whiting.

Currently the weather is hanging on and the freezing conditions have not yet got a grip but they will and then its going to be even harder although we have the rays to look forward because they arrive earlier every year with some big thornbacks around from March onwards.

COMPETITIONS, ETC

I have not been to Gambia for a couple of years – The championship organised in November had become stale with close pegging and duff venues deterring me from going again. BUT now I see Bernard Westgarth who has a house and angling guiding business in the Gambia is putting on an event in April so I am interested in returning for that although the one hook idea I am not keen. Going on a fishing holiday I want a maximum chance of catching and one hook is not that – Better would be two rods with one hook or one rod with two hooks. Anyway the details are.

THE GAMBIA BEACH CHAMPIONSHIPS

Pegged Match Series to take place on selected beaches in The Gambia, West Africa 15th to 19th APRIL 2012. Match days are Sunday 15th , Monday 16th , Tuesday17 th and Wednesday, 18th April 2012. Presentation & Prize Giving: Thursday, 19 April.

Limited entry of 30 anglers on a first come, first served basis.
All venues will be pegged and zoned (depending upon numbers).
Matches will be based on a point system with each species being awarded a set number of points.
All fish exceeding 3kg being awarded 10 additional points.
All matches are to be one hook.
Only bait provided by the organisers will be permitted and will be distributed on each match day.
Flights and accommodation can be arranged if required.
Transport to/from match venues is included within match fees.
All interested parties must be registered and fully paid by 31 January 2012. For those interested details of costs and a full set of competition rules can be provided by contacting Bernard Westgarth on 01325 720113 (evenings).

e: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk | www.fishthegambia.com

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS

A number of anglers have commented on my rod rest light – It’s a Speleo headlamp, which I have bolted to the top of the rod rest so that it shines up the rod rings. It’s a really effective way of highlighting the rod tip. I have enhanced the whole set up by adding a set of luminous insert rod rings to my original TF Gear Force 8 beach caster.

Its spring clean time – don’t you just get the urge to sort out the tackle box, I do. A purge on the rig winder/wallet will see all my winders go in the dishwasher for their annual shower. It’s a great way to clean off the lug crud, weed etc (thanks to Heather Lindfield for the original idea) But don’t forget to let them all dry off before you put them back in the wallet. Leads are always in need of some maintenance – Don’t know about you, but I think Breakaway wire has gone down hill – wires on their grips never used to snap so easily? Anyway I take the time to redo the wires of my leads and the bonus of this is that you can choose the wire type and length you want.

I have also sent several multipliers back to the service centre for an overhaul, repair etc. I shall be switching to the multi tip and fixed spools in coming weeks, rockling matches are looming, so the next few months is the time for so reel TLC. Make sure you pack them securely and send by registered post or courier with a list of the problems – AND don’t forget to include your return address – you would be surprised how many anglers send reels in for repair etc and don’t include their address!

Alan Yates – Sea Fishing Diary

TF GEAR Alan                       Yates Diary 26 20/9/11

WHAT I HAVE BEEN DOING

I nipped down to South Wales to make the latest TF Gear Sea angling DVD which will be out FREE with Sea Angler Magazine and the TF Gear catalogue soon. What a great decision to head for the coloured water of the Bristol Channel because the fish showed up from both the boat and shore. I am not going to spill too many beans except to say that we caught cod, bass, congers and ray despite some pretty foul weather. We fished aboard Steve Jones charter boat Indiana out of Cardiff and from the shore at Penarth and Friars Point amongst others. Just a word of thanks for the bait and advice that was supplied by Newport tackle dealer, Clive Vedmore. (Tel. 01633 855086) Clive’s shop supplies great tide booklet of the region that includes lots of advice on fishing tackle, tactics and venues.

Back from South Wales I fished the British Championships at Deal and Walmer in Kentand the event suffered from it’s usually summer heat wave with clearing water sending the fish to the deeps as the anglers arrived. The entry of 220 came from as far as North Wales and many blanked and only a shoal of dabs that turned up on match morning provided action at the Sandwich Bay end which produced most of the prize winners. There were also scattered dogfish which proved a bonus catch and they mostly came from the patches of rough ground at Sandown and Walmer. The Championship winner fishing from peg 20 in Sandwich Bay, was in form Deal angler, Saul Page who came home from the SAMF Versus Belgium match on the Saturday night where he won the individual prize, to take the British Champs title and £1000 in cash. Saul landed 20 fish weighing 4.340kg including a bonus dogfish, four whiting and 15 dabs fishing white ragworm at long range. Runner up and very close to getting a hat trick of British Championship wins, was Martyn Reid of Folkestone who fished at Sandown over a patch of rough ground to land 5 dogfish for 3.600kg, he hooked three on his first two casts and then had to wait until the last hour for the other two. Third was Bristol angler, Kevin Daly with 2.440kg. The £1000 prize for the biggest fish went to Leigh Chapman of Canterbury with a 1.230kg bass he landed on his very last cast. Junior Champion was Davis Morris and Ladies Champion, Shelley Bassett both of Deal. I finished a creditable 12th but was well please to have predicted the top two and the biggest fish winners in the local press the week before, perhaps I should take up book making!

Good news for sea angling following the recent campaign and petition against plans by Rother District Council to ban angling from the shore in the Bexhill and Pevensey Bay region. Rother District council have decided to back the anglers after being bombarded with complaints against the plans and the realisation that angling provides an important all year around revenue for the region. Of course the real reason is that they simply cannot ban fishing from Crown Land (sea shore) because it’s a public right that dates back to the Magna Carta that only Parliament can change.

COMPETITIONS, TACKLE NEWS AND FISHING TIPS

I am organising the Dover Sea Angling Pier Festival on the 29th.30th/31st October. Its being fished from Dover’s “Concrete boat” the breakwater were some excellent catches are the result of being marooned each day of the three in the centre of Dover harbour. Lots of cash and lots of tackle prizes are up for grabs with the event sponsored by Sea Angler Magazine amongst others. Late entries will be accepted at the draw on the 28th from 7pm at Dover Sea Angling Association HQ 14, Priory Road, Dover Kent. CT17 9RG. For info on the event ring me on 01303 250017. or e mail alankyates@aol.com Whilst making the latest DVD in south Wales I got my hands on the new SMAG multiplier – It’s a one piece aluminium frame 56C multiplier. The field casters will love it with its larger magnetic control knobbly, but it also includes a larger diameter free spindle which makes the whole reel assembly stronger. This version is a proper fishing reel that will cope with dogfish and cod hauling and there will be a special power handle option available.

CARP, TENCH AND SPANISH CATS

Since my last feature, I’ve been back for one last session atHorseshoeLake, reverting to one of my favourite swims, Choppy’s onWinterBay. Once again, though, my timing was poor. Why is it that I’m always told that, “you should have been here last week etc?” I know I couldn’t have fished any more effectively, having carefully located a nice clear gravel bed in the middle of silkweed and baited it accurately. Although I did catch a couple of tench, they again were only average fish up to just over 6lbs. My searches for a really big tench have been constantly thwarted this season.

I’ve also been back to my local carp fishing water for a day session, taking seven more lovely carp, all good doubles and had several exploratory sessions on the upper Warks Avon, which is close to my home. The signal crayfish situation on my beloved Great Ouse has now reached plague proportions and I have to say that the fishing is no longer enjoyable at times. Summer fishing is now a real trial, the damn crays are on the baits in minutes. Even the usual tricks of encasing in mesh or trying to lure the crays away with tins of cat food or tethered fish are not working very well. There are simply too many crays. What the river needs is an injection of a few catfish in each affected section. They will soon thin down the crayfish population!

On the Avon though, I can still find peaceful fishing. I’ve been on the extreme upper reaches, which have no real form for anything other than average chub and barbel, but I do feel that there may be a big fish or two to be discovered. Apart from one very accessible section, the river receives little pressure and I’m very hopeful of uncovering something exciting. So far, barbel to only 8-12 and chub to 4-10 have rewarded my efforts, but I do know of genuine 11 and 6 pounders respectively. so, the search continues, which is great fun in itself.

Early August saw me back on the Ebro system in centralSpain, fishing the river’s tributary the Segre at Mequinenza with Catmasters Tours. The fishing was as much fun as ever, although a little slower than previous trips. Apparently, a combination of an extreme heat wave and late spawning had resulted in many of the bigger fish not being in the usual areas. Fran and I were joined by two father and son combinations, Paul and Patrick Reed and Paul and Zach Sparrow. Patrick, who is 21, had never before landed a catfish and on the first night landed one of the biggest cats ever caught by a Catmasters customer, in fact one of the biggest cats ever caught anywhere, at 224lb. For good measure, Zach, 15, also had his first ever cats, his biggest being 182lb! Both lads were teased about their golden appendages for the rest of the week!

Compared to those two monsters, my catches this year were quite modest. My best was 126lb, well short of my personal best of 186lb caught last November. I also fluked a 28lb common on a catfish rod, as well as dropping a carp in the margins that looked every ounce of 40lb plus. That was the only 100lb plus fish I had this year, although I did manage two very hard fighting fish of 83lb and 84lb.

If you get the chance you must give it a go. You do not need to be an experienced big fish angler, as the guides do all the important work of selecting the swim, rowing out the baits, baiting up and so on. They also are on hand to advise on playing these immensely powerful fish and landing them for you. As Pat and Zach proved this year, anyone can catch a monster, even the most inexperienced. So you cannot take it too seriously as it is certainly no measure of angling skill. What it is though is bloody good fun and I can thoroughly recommend it.

 

 

Samantha’s Fishing Tackle Choice

I was peacefully staring out onto my local lake waiting for a bite a couple of hours ago now, when a group of younger lads appeared in my swim. They were asking all the usual questions about the lake and what fish had been out, when one of them noticed my set-up.

I then spent the following half hour explaining my choices to them and why I had opted for these rods and reels etc. I even ended up reeling one of them in for them to have a go casting! Now I have put my rod back out and re-baited the others I thought I would put this little blog together explaining why I have opted for the setup I have. After using 3lb x-flites + for a couple of years, which I know many people have their own opinions on, I highly rated them and they served me well.

I wanted my carp rods to be just as effective for me so I opted for the TF Gear TSI 12’ 3lb rods. I have used them now for about 2 years and they’re still going strong, it would take some amazing new rod to make me change them. What impresses me most about these rods is how thin they are yet how much control I have when both casting and playing a fish. I have also noticed an increase in my casting distance since using them with ever increasing accuracy.

I have recently opted to team these rods up with the new TF Gear Delta GT 10000 reels. I love the design of them and they certainly look different on the bank. Many people have quizzed me on why I have chosen them. I was instantly impressed with how well the line lay on them and the smoothness of casting with them. Being big pits they are perfect for the big lakes I often choose to fish, I have even been influenced to take them down to my local beach to give them a good old test.

Glimmer Bite a

I decided it wouldn’t be right unless I completed the look with a set of TF Glimmer bite alarms. Now those that fish with me would back me up when I say that I am extremely fussy when it comes to alarms. The first things I take into consideration are the look of them, the ease of use and how effective the bite detection is on them. I love the way I can alter these alarms to suit different situations especially between the day and night. Having a receiver with these alarms is also a big plus for me as I like to keep my alarms down low and use the vibrating function only at night.

Well that is just some of my reasons for using the fishing gear I have with me today. I’m still waiting for a bite and hopefully now the weather is cooling down a bit the fish will be on the feed. Hopefully next time I write a blog I will be able to report news of a fish or two from Linford Lakes when I compete in the BIG FISH 2011.

Tight Lines Samantha

 

Fishing Around Weed

Fishing in and around weed is an aspect of carp fishing that some may struggle to come to terms with.

I appreciate that a lot of waters, particularly commercial waters with a fair stock of fish will not end up looking like a football pitch, as do some of the lesser stocked, big pits I have fished over the years and this in itself can present more of a problem. After all, if you are not used to dealing with any weed at all throughout most of the year then, in the middle of summer, when you suddenly start pulling it in by the bucket load it can sometimes be a bit daunting.

Personally I love weedy lakes; I think that it gives you more of an idea as to where the fish will feed, which way they will travel and what areas they will like the best.

Weed comes in many different forms and each type can tell you something about the lake bed, depths and what type of clear areas you can expect to find nearby.

If you have a lake that is not generally weedy and only small patches or areas of the lake start to ‘green up’ in the summer then these areas will be very interesting to the fish, not only will they harbour a certain amount of natural food but the fish will find shelter and cover in and around the weed and any substantial amount of weed will have it’s own little eco-system based around it.

Firstly let’s look at marginal weed, weed that attaches itself to the slope from the bank downwards which is often the shallowest and warmest part of the lake.

The most common of these is Canadian Pondweed which, in the right conditions, will spread right out and cover acres of the lake bed. It is very hardy and grows in extremely dense patches, leaving little or no clear areas between the stems, luckily though it struggles on the harder ground and this leads to the more fishable areas remaining clean. Finding them becomes easier the longer the weed grows as you can obviously see the gaps.

Canadian tends to grow quite uniformly in length so if you see a gap it’s very often going to be a gap on the bottom as well, and not just a shorter section of weed. I have never done particularly well fishing actually in amongst the stems of Canadian Pondweed and I always try to find a clear piece of bottom to present the bait.

Donking a lead (without a marker float) using a braided line is the best way of feeling for a clear area but the actual ‘drop’ of the lead is just as important as the ‘feel’ as it hits the bottom. By trapping the lead on the surface after the cast you can control the drop and you should feel for any slight knocks or pulls on the line as it sinks, if you feel any resistance on the way down then you know you are through the weed rather than next to it.

The same goes for pulling the lead back to see if it is clear, you should always stop at the end of the pull and lower the rod tip back the way it has just come. If the lead then sinks and hits bottom again it stands to reason that it must have been off the bottom at the end of the pull, this will be the line running over the weed and lifting the lead up, the length of the drop will give you the length of the weed. If it’s a true clear area than the lead should stay in contact with the bottom as you slowly pull it across the bottom and not re-sink when you slacken off.

Another common weed that likes the margins is Silkweed; this type of weed only really flourishes in shallow and well lit water and is often a lot more manageable than it first seems. The problem with Silkweed is that it looks so terrible when you reel it in, the reality though is that you are ‘gathering’ the individual stems and releasing the water that holds them apart as you lift your rig from the lake, this makes it look a lot thicker than it actually is on the bottom. I have caught hundreds of fish by fishing on silkweed, just let the rig fall into it and NEVER pull it back in the slightest. As long as the weed is not ridiculously thick your bait will be presented to a degree that the fish can still pick it up. Using longer than normal nylon or fluorocarbon hooklinks will help but the main trick is to trap and lower your bait making sure it stays where it falls.

Silkweed out in the middle of the lake is a bit like a ‘magic marker’ as it always denotes a change in depth and bottom make up, like a bar, plateau or shallow hump and, more often than not it is associated with sandier or gravelly lake beds areas, giving you an perfect feature to fish to.

The easiest way to check it is truly clear is with a rig, as the hook will gather the weed every time so, if your hook comes back clean you have found what you need.

Milfoil is another form of weed that is fairly common in our lakes, it can sometimes be mistaken for Canadian but it is actually very different indeed. Whereas Canadian has quite uniform short leaves, Milfoil has a thicker stem and supports little sprigs of three or four leaves all spaced in clumps out along the stem. It also grows easily in deep water and is, without doubt, my least favourite weed of the lot.

Milfoil can totally choke whole areas of the lake and it cuts down light dramatically, it also attracts and collects algae and particles of all sorts creating a murky environment which, I believe, the fish do not particularly like so I never fish within it. I always look for large clear areas nearby that I can be sure are well fishable. But this type of weed is only usually present on lakes that have a good head of mixed weed so, for lightly weeded lakes it is not usually a contender.

Whichever type of weed you may encounter the one thing that will dictate successes or frustrating failure is your level of accuracy when placing your bait. Try to use the reflections on the lakes surface, tree line shapes, line markers, clips and everything else at your disposal to ensure, once you have found a spot, that you can confidently keep placing the rig on the same area, close enough is not good enough when fishing in and around weed.

Simply substituting bottom baits for pop-ups is no guarantee of success and, although I have seen it written a thousand times, casting a solid PVA bag into thick weed has never, not once, done me any favours whatsoever!

I think a good way of mentally dealing with weed is this; imagine the bed of the lake totally barren, the fish can feed wherever they want and you can present a bait anywhere you wish, perfect, or is it?

Now imagine 70% of the lake bed covered with weed in which you cannot present a bait at all, to me that has just made everything so much easier as I am now only looking for the right spot in 30% of the total area, surely that’s easier than trying to find a feeding area somewhere out there with no clues whatsoever.

So, what of rigs, is it necessary to completely re-think your approach to weed, personally I don’t think it is. Unless you have massive weed beds that can really effect the strength of your fishing tackle then most standard set up’s are more than adequate and, if you have found clean spots to fish then bottom baits are also fine.

The one thing that will help is to have a decent lead release system that comes into play when you hook a fish as a lead on the line can cause no end of problems if a fish makes it to the sanctuary of a sub surface weed forest. I would strongly recommend that, whatever lead clip you choose, it is one that pins to the swivel otherwise weed will force the whole clip, complete with lead back up the line, causing the lead to stay put and travel back on the leader and cause no end of problems.

Simple is important in weed, as a complicated rig that relies on sliding rings, and balanced components, can easily become hampered by the smallest strand of weed and less effective as a result.

I have touched on the subject of accuracy with your rigs in weed but what about baiting up, is it necessary to get every single bait you put in, onto the clear area?

Personally I think it works against you and I deliberately scatter some baits into the surrounding weed, although it is hard for you to fish in the weed it is not hard for the fish to feed in it, and this helps to increase the size of the areas as they rip up the weed as the root around in the stems. By breaking up boilies you change the sink rate of the bait and its ability to work its way to the bottom where it might lay hidden from view, bits of broken bait hanging at various levels in the weed is a good attractor and will help the fish home in on your clearer baited area.

If you fish a clear spot regularly and keep the bait going in you will probably notice that the spot just keeps getting bigger, a sure sign that you are getting everything right and the fish are regularly feeding and uprooting the weed in your swim.

 

The Heat is On!

High temperatures and bright weather aren’t my favourite conditions to be carp fishing in, but I’d booked the Friday off work so Thursday night – with car packed – I was off to my syndicate water in Herefordshire. A stunning estate lake with some of the best-looking carp I have ever seen. Thursday night was quiet, just a good tench of 8lb 6oz and a new lake record (which was very pleasing but not exactly what I was after); the rest of the night drifted by quietly. Friday dawned calm and hot, and unfortunately some of the lake’s residents had started to spawn! Talking to the other members on the lake, we all thought that with these conditions it was going to be a struggle.

I walk around the lake and climb a few trees to see what’s happening, and find a group of carp feeding well away from the spawning fish;  clearly, a move was in order. My TF Gear Chill-out bivvy is soon moved to my new swim, rods cast out just as the late afternoon sun is starting to lose some of its bite. The lake is crystal clear and one of the most important bits of tackle I have for these conditions is the Tfgear Secret Trap fluorocarbon main line, which is almost invisible in the water. Having a  higher specific gravity than water it sinks really well, and on slack lines it is almost like having backleads on – which helps not to spook any of the fish in the area. Within 10 minutes of setting up in my new swim, one of my TFgear Glimmer bite alarms screams into life and the left hand Tsi rod cast close to the far tree line is in action. The fish comes in to about 30yds quite easily – making me think it was maybe one of the smaller fish in the lake – when suddenly it banks to the right and a slow solid run that’s impossible to stop takes 50-60yds of line off me in one go. The fish now kites even tighter to my right and my line is now going through the tree branches. The forgiving tip on the Tsi rod cushions the carp lunges, but with the line now precariously caught up there’s only one option – into the water I go! 10 to 15 minutes later and I’m slowly making some ground on the fish, it rolls out about 15yds and the action of my 3.5lb Tsi is great even at this close range. A couple more minutes and I slip my net under a very large common, but its not till I try to lift the net from the water when I realise I have the lake’s biggest resident; a stunning common that sends the scales round to settle on 40lb 8oz, a new lake record.

40lb 8oz Common – a new lake record.

Pictures taken and congratulations from the other guys, and I settle back down with all rods recast. I retreat to my Comfort-zone fishing bed chair, looking back through the pictures on the camera to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, before drifting off to sleep. I have a few liners in the night so fish are still in the area, but a quiet night overall – not that I’m too bothered. Up early and Saturday is much the same, hot and sunny. I sit out watching the lake wake up, kettle on for an early morning brew when suddenly my middle rod is away. After a very hard fight I slip the net under another stunning common, the scales settle at 30lb 4oz a great result and another lake record falls – the largest brace ever taken on the lake, it really can’t get much better this!

The second Common, yet another lake record

I have to recast all 3 rods after playing the last fish; with all the commotion I was not expecting any more action, so I sit back down to finish boiling the kettle and make some breakfast. The fish have other ideas, and incredibly I’m in again after a good fight as a stunning 25lb mirror comes to the bank. What a session – after 5 years on the water, and many blanks in what seemed perfect conditions, a couple of days I thought would be tough tough turn out to be a record session. I slowly pack down and make my way home, and I think only another angler will know the feeling of satisfaction you get when it all comes together in a session of a lifetime.

25lb Mirror, last catch of the session.

Margin Fishing

How many of us inspect the margins when we arrive at a lake?

You might want to, if you want to improve your catch rate. Fishing for carp in the margins can be extremely productive if you find the right places and apply good angling tactics. How many fishermen/fisherwomen ignore the margins when fishing? They see all that water out in front of them and think that the fish must be out there. I often see anglers using three fishing rods with all of them cast out to the far bank. With so many anglers casting out far it makes the margins a safe place for carp to hang out. In fact, the margins can even be the best places to target the bigger carp in the lake.

Fishing in the Margins

As long as you’re quiet when setting up and fishing, you can take fish from the margins in most lakes. Carp have great hearing and will be able to pick up vibrations from the surrounding bank, so you do need to be as quiet as possible.

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

When it comes to margin fishing I tend to use a small 8ft rod and centre pin reel; this allows me to fish in-between trees, and other places where it would be hard to use a 12ft rod. It’s best to wear dark green or brown fishing clothing, or better still, use camouflage clothing, as you can blend into the surrounding. I like to find the more subtle features rather than the obvious ones such as overhanging trees, island banks, etc. I like to look for features like undercut banks, posts or trees sticking out of the water, small bulrushes, bushes, lily pads or inlet pipes all these can be ideal feeding spots for carp.

Carp taking bait

I like to use a small float, 8lb fluorocarbon line and a size 10 hook partnered with good quality bait. One of my best methods is to wrap paste around a small boilie, many fish have taken using this approach, as the carp are not wised up to these methods. So as the weather starts to warm up go out and have a go, this is a very rewarding way of catching carp guaranteed to provide a good fight whatever size fish you’ve hooked into.

Landing the Carp

All the best and good fishing!

Fantastic result!