Catching Fish at Last!

No matter how long you’ve been an angler, and I’ve been chasing specimens for over 50 years, a run of blanks saps your confidence. I don’t care who you are, you start to question your competence, your rigs and your baits. You know you’re doing nothing wrong, what you are doing has worked well in the past, but you simply cannot avoid that self doubt creeping in.

For that reason, it’s a good idea if you’re on a bad run to have a session at a relatively easy water, simplify your carp fishing tackle and get a few fish to restore the self confidence. That is what I did yesterday. After six gruelling two day sessions at the big tench and bream water with Alan Lawrence, after which we’d had just one tench and four jack pike between us, I was in need of the sunshine break which my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed in Tenerife.

On my return last week, Alan confirmed that the pit still was not producing and he had left it for a while to have a couple of sessions at a more prolific water to get a bend in the rod. I decided, therefore, to have a dawn to dusk session at a local gravel pit which has a good head of carp as well as some terrific roach, backed up by very average tench and bream. The carp were my target, hopefully one of the four known thirties in the water. But, with a fair head of twenties and lots of doubles, I was hoping for a run or two.

On my arrival to the lake at opening time 6.00am, I was not encouraged by the on-site bailiff who confirmed that the water had been very dour for weeks. The ridiculous amounts of cold rain had raised the water level quite dramatically, causing the fish to totally shut up shop. As well as that, although it was dry when I arrived, by 6.30am the rain was falling. What a summer this is turning out to be.

The swim I selected looked a cracker for a carp or two, where my right hand rod could place a bait off the point of an island under an overhanging willow at 70 yards. The left hand fishing rod would be cast to the same island twenty yards to the left, where there was a little bay overhung with what looked like brambles. In view of the information from the bailiff, I was unsure of how much bait to introduce initially. My plan had been to bait heavily to start with. After a little deliberation, I decided to go with the original plan and fired out about a kilo of 14mm baits around each rod.

By the time I was ready to cast out, it was around 7.30am. Alarms set, I sat back with a cup of tea under my umbrella to wait on events. I never had time to finish it. It must have been less than three minutes after the cast and the right hand carp rod was off to a real flier; I struck into a powerful fish that was kiting right at a rate of knots. By now, the rain was lashing down and that, as well as the oppressively humid conditions making me as wet under my waterproofs as on top of them, it was decidedly uncomfortable. The fish fought well, although it was obviously no monster. Eventually, it was in the net, a really pretty, fully scaled mirror of around 15lbs. Just as I was about to lift it onto the unhooking mat, the other fishing rod screamed off! Placing the net and fish back I the margins, I struck into another fish, this one going at breakneck speed. Immediately, I said to myself that this had to be a long, lean common, and I was spot on as it turned out. It proved to weigh just under17lbs. I had a problem during the playing. I had only set up one landing net, although I always carry two, so I had to jam the rod between my legs, with an angry carp ripping line off the clutch, as I hastily assembled the second net. By the time both fish had been unhooked, released, and I was cast in again I was absolutely soaked. I had fired out another 100 baits around each rod. That had been quite a start and the confidence builder I needed.

From then on until 2.30pm, with the rain virtually non stop, I was to enjoy the most incredible action. In all, that period had produced a further eleven carp, all over 14lbs with the best at 19lb 11ozs, plus three small bream. I would have loved a shot of the 19-11, a gorgeous linear mirror, but unfortunately, when I landed it, we were in the middle of an incredible thunderstorm with mega hailstones. It wasn’t worth damaging my camera and I reluctantly slipped it back and dived back under the brolly.

Strangely, the action then stopped as suddenly as it had started and from then until 7.00pm all was quiet. At around 5.00pm the rain had stopped at last and hot sun broke through. What bliss! It stayed quite hot for a couple of hours, drying my carp fishing gear nicely, and then I noticed further ominous black thunder clouds approaching once more. I had planned to fish until 8.00pm but decided to pack up there and then and get my fishing gear back into the van before it got another soaking. Like all anglers, I suppose, I gathered all the ancillary stuff together first and was just reaching for the first rod when the alarm shrieked and line began pouring off the spool in a blur. As I struck, I felt the first few spots of rain and played the fish as hard as I dare. By the time it was approaching the net cord the rain was getting heavy again and I was soaked once more, but this time I’d already packed the umbrella away. Quickly returning the fish, a mid double common, I quickly folded the rod into its sleeve and then, unbelievably, the second rod was screaming away. In a now torrential downpour, I played in yet another hard fighting common which I estimated at about 17lbs. Minutes after returning that second late arrival, I was making a mad dash for the van, unceremoniously dumping the sodden gear into the back before scrambling into the driving seat. It would have been impossible to have been any wetter and never before has a hot shower been more welcome!

Looking back on the day, it was what I needed. I had not managed one of the water’s bigger residents, but fifteen double figure carp, from about 14lbs to 19-11, makes for an incredible days fishing in anyone’s book. I couldn’t do it too often. The odds against a really big fish are too long but, as I said at the start of this blog, when you’re struggling, action like I’d just enjoyed is tremendously therapeutic. I shall go into my next big fish session with renewed confidence.

 

Alan Yates Sea Fishing Diary Feb 2012

WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING

A trip to Sky TV for the first episode of Tight Lines in February and I found myself in HD – What a shock although Keith Arthur looked wrinklier than me. Tell you what the  sea fishing tackle and gear demos we did on screen came out crystal clear and I predict Tight Lines will become even more adventurous with tackle demos in future weeks.

I had a disagreement with the local South Kent fishermen over the lack of cod in the English Channel – I have only caught one small codling from the shore this year and compared with results of the past when I once record 100 cod over 10lb in a season 2011/12 has been a disaster. I tell you another thing its not down to my lack of angling skill or effort. There simply are very few cod in the English Channel currently and that’s despite the boats producing a few lunkers in recent weeks. A whopping 39lber came out of Eastbourne aboard Deep Blue skippered by Steve Bradshaw.

Hard at work for Sea Angler Magazine I have been finalising the 2011 Penn league results, a tedious job getting all those hundreds of points and surnames in numerical and alphabetical order. Anyway the task is nearly complete and next comes the Final. Whilst I qualified for the final myself this year because its at my Dover home town I am not fishing, I cant have people saying I fixed it to be at Dover when I qualified. Anyway this year it’s a two-day final and as way of a challenge its one day on Dover breakwater and one day on Samphire Hoe, weather willing.

A well know match angler has been caught with fish in his possession before a big southern event and the repercussions around the match scene are still reverberating along the beaches and on Face book. My only hope is the Angling Trust does the right thing and takes action. Lots of sea anglers will not join the AT because they feel they are not represented. This will show what the Angling Trust are made of – Will they wimp out, or if the allegations are proven ban the angler concerned! As far as many are concerned it’s a test case and my membership is in an envelope on the desk awaiting the result.

COMPETITIONS, ETC
Back home from the Irish winter beach championships with more euros than I took, I had a pool or match pick up on all three days. Although no silverware, actually some great crystal vases are to be won at the event. The three day match was won by the Irish with a clean sweep over the top three, well done to David Roe of Dublin for winning two years on the trot. Second was Joe Byrne and third Rod Stewart look alike, Ian Knight. My only disappointment with the event was that it has now become a flounder contest with all three days fishing the shallower flounder beaches – Could it be the Irish have found a way to beat the English – steer clear of venues with lots of whiting, dabs and rockling where the snatchers excel?

Here the winter finally arrived on the eve of the Kent dab Champs which I organise each year from Folkestone pier. The snow hit the entry big time and only 15 managed to get to Folkestone pier on match day despite the pier being sold out. But, whilst the dabs were absent a number of codling, which didn’t count in the event, showed – Is it not always the way. Match winner was Lloyd Page of Sheerness with 4 dabs for 2lb 14oz from peg 40 on the piers inside stretch.

Fancy a trip to Gambia for a one-hook beach match? – I didn’t at first, but the idea has grown on me. Organised by Brit, Bernard Westgarth it’s on the 11th until 9th April – Bait supplied, entry for the three days is £200, flights and accommodation can be arranged. Contact Bernard: bernardwestgarth@yahoo.co.uk. www.fishthegambia.com

TACKLE AND WINTER TIPS
Frozen lugworm is great bait during late winter – the dabs and rockling love it – But here is a tip from Kent angler, Leigh Chapman. He partly thaws his frozen blacks and then pops” them in the microwave oven. They literally “pop” when they are ready for the hook, firm and just like the live fresh thing – Amazing. Only problem I have found is a 13Amp socket on the beach to plug the Microwave into?

I have found the answer to those infuriating pyramid leads which hold bottom great, but retrieve like a sack of monkeys as they bury and bundle in the sand. A Sardinian designed lead with a pyramid at top and bottom which holds well and retrieves smooth. Great when accompanied by a Delta quiver tip outfit loaded with braid or mono.