Well it's been a while since my last ramblings, but now my usual carp and tench campaign has got going, I should be able to give you more regular updates. So let's see what's happened over the last couple of months.
Still getting over the very wet beginning to the year, that made the end of the river season pretty hit or miss, I began having a few sessions at a local club water I've targeted early in the season before.
Holding some lovely carp it's a venue that's always worth spending in a bit of time on, and that's what you have to do, as this isn't an easy water.
But after chatting with my mate Bob who fancied a go, we were going to try a slightly different approach from the usual boilie attack, and go particle, well maggot to be precise.
Our early trips also had another difference in that we were doing days, and not overnighters. This had two purposes with the main one being not to freeze our bits off during the still cold nights(!), and also taking into account the venue had a fair bit of form for giving up a few of it's 'lumps' during daylight.
I know this isn't very 'hardcore' but as most of you regulars to the blog will know I'm not an all year round carper, and when we come to mid-March if I haven't been chasing barbel, chub, or perch, and we're still having a good frost or two, I'll be out with the deadbaits trying to tempt a pike to the bank.
So it's usually the end of March or beginning of April before I blow the dust off the carp rods!
Well the initial trips didn't produce anything, and even though a big bunch of maggots looked good with their movement and their smell, and was different to their usual diet, after half a dozen visits I was starting to play with other baits.
I was still going with the particle theme, but now I was using artificials, trying popped up plastic casters, or a single piece of plastic corn with a couple of maggots on the top. I'd fish these over a bed of maggots (alive or dead) or hemp, and even though I was now getting fish moving in the area, there were no takes, for either of us.
And just to rub it in on one evening as I tied the last strap on my barrow before leaving, there was a huge splash right over my baited area... and when I say huge, it was as if someone had chucked a fridge in the lake!
The following few trips turn into more normal carping, as my other mate Gary returns for a session or two, and we start the overnighters. And of course with Gary being Gary, there's soon an early morning yell and he's into a fish… not huge, but at least he's had one!
He can't get out the next week, and I think I miss a week too, and with Bob not out I'm losing impetus at this venue, so we're now into May and I decide to switch to another local club water.
The other thing that changes is my set-up.
For the last few seasons I've used a leadcore leader and helicopter rig to present most of my baits, but on more than one occasion I'd found my hooklink ending up being tangled around the leadcore when I retrieved it, perhaps it's my very average casting, but I wanted to try a different approach now.
I was going back to tubing and lead clip, using some of Gardner's Covert range. Once their very supple tungsten tubing and lead clip were threaded on I made up a stiff hinge rig to use on one rod, with a straight braided hooklink on the other.
With a 6" length of 25lb Disruption to act as the boom section and one of Gardner's pre-tied Chod rigs attached to the end all I needed was a lump of rig putty to anchor the chod and my hinge rig was sorted.
As water levels at this venue are still very high there's a limited choice of swims, (unless you've brought your waders!), but after a walk round I find somewhere that looks fishable, and as I watch the water a fish tops right in front of me, well that's made my mind up!
This lake responds well to Cell boilies so I'm fishing with a Cell pop-up on the hinge rig and putting a pre-soaked pellet on the other. This is just a way of increasing my chances of a catch, as there's double figure bream, some large cats, as well as the resident carp who might suck up the pellet.
I set up the rods and have a few casts to my chosen spots to get the distances sorted, then I clip up, mark the lines, before returning them to the rests.
The hinge rig will go down the bottom of a drop off that's right out in front of me. There's a thin coating of weed out there, but the pop up will sit nicely above that.
But first a stroll round to the end of the bay I'm in and I push through the branches of some trees to get to the lakes edge and throw in a good few handfuls of hemp and maize just out from the overhanging branches, I'll fish my other bait over the top of this.
Back to camp and I let my spots settle down while I stick up the brolly and get everything tidied up… and get the kettle on the go of course.
The rods finally go out a while later, with a few broken and halved boilies around the pop-up, and the pellet now sitting on it's bed of particles.
Another cup of coffee seems in order, so the kettles fired up again and I break out a bag of peanuts to nibble on, and as the sun sinks slowly behind the tree tops I suddenly remember I've got my hip flask tucked away in the tackle bag!
I end up laying back on the bedchair with different thoughts drifting around in my head, so what is it I actually get from fishing? A bit of peace? Some 'me' time? A chance to pit my wits against another creature? Some time with my friends?
My contemplative mood is helped by the small nips of scotch I'm enjoying as I then organise the last few bits of my camp as the sun sets, and the evening temperature drops, I lay down and look out over the now still water.
Another mouthful of 12 year old malt, Talisker I think, and I'm looking at the hip flask I have in my hand, it was a present from my boys, and is adorned with an illustration of an angler playing a fish with the words 'I'd rather be fishing' written in decorative type underneath, which seems rather strange as he obviously is fishing!
But below that is what's more important, the dedication, which says 'To Daddy happy fishing love always Luke and Joe.'
I maybe getting very mellow now, but laying here alone on the bank you do start to put things into perspective, especially with a little alcohol running through your veins, and realise that all the really important things are actually back at home, and that this is just a break from what really matters. It's good to have these enlightened moments now and again!
Not long after I drift off to sleep.
There's a beep in the darkness, and then silence. Then the alarm screams, a ripping one toner!
I'm up and out to my rods, the right hand one is curving slightly at the tip, I pick it up and disengage the baitrunner and immediately feel a heavy pull as the fish makes for the corner of the bay. I wind hard and put on the pressure to steer it out from the margins, my rod tip is now underwater as I fight to keep it away from the overhanging branches along the bank.
Slowly I turn it before it decides to head for deep water and the middle of the bay, the fights not over but I've got the space now to play it without to much worry. It's about this time that you realise you're only standing there in your socks and that the swims not as dry as you thought!
A few more minutes and the fish rolls on the surface before I slide the net underneath and scoop it up. Pulling it back I reach down and put the rod back on the rest before having that first look into the net, and it's a good size common, I'll have something to tell the boys now.
I then go through the usual routine, on the mat, unhook, weigh, and then its back in the landing net which gets pegged down with a bankstick along the front of the swim. It's 4.30am now and with the common going 21lb 11ozs I wouldn't mind getting a picture. I leave it till 5am then txt Gary who says he'll pop down in the next hour to do the honours with the camera.
The photos are taken and we then have a brew, it looks like we'll both miss the next couple of weeks, but the conversation is soon running along the lines of which swims we fancy when we get out next, and what looks like a good spot to try... funny how quick we turn back into little boys planning their first trip.
The weeks roll by and it feels like ages since we've cast a bait, but we're back out and back on the same lake. Choosing a very 'social' couple of swims, you can bivvy up almost back to back, at the end of another bay where there seems to be plenty of fish moving around.
So we're quickly sorting our rods and picking our spots. Both of us have margins to place baits near and that's where they all end up.
We chat as the kettle comes to the boil, our homes are set up and we can enjoy the last couple of hours of sunlight before turning in. I was lucky enough to get away for a long weekend the week before so there's a few tales of boozy excesses, while Gary tells me he has had to work extra days to fill in for his boss, oh dear mate, but I know which one I'd prefer!
Then as we sit there my alarm suddenly screams and my indicator smacks into the underside of my rod.
Luckily I'm still wearing my wellies, as I've had to put the rod pod in about 4/5" of water as the swims are still flooded, but I'm there and soon playing the fish which heads straight out into the lake, and not long after, into my net kindly held by Gary.
It looks a chunky fish which we both think will scrape 20lb, but once on the scales it only manages 18lb 7ozs. It came on my hinge rig with one of my pre-soaked pellets, even though I was fishing the bait on the bottom it still hooked the carp perfectly.
So with a fish on the bank nice and early we're hoping there's every chance of another run. But as it happens we have nothing more that session, even with fish rolling and splashing through the night.
I seem to be making contact most weeks lately so let's hope we can keep it going, and you never know Gary might even join in as well!