Looking back at my angling in 2012 there have been many less than productive periods along with times when everything has gone to plan. One thing that has been consistent throughout the year though is that I have enjoyed my fishing, which is, to me, what it’s all about.
The earlier part of the year was spent on Dinton Pastures. I’d had my best ever season on there and, although slow, had enjoyed the winter. With it being such a mild winter the Carp awoke from their torpid state earlier than usual towards the end of February. With it being show season I didn’t manage to fish quite as much as I’d have liked. Working weekends in Essex, Coventry, Farnborough and in Holland at the Zwolle show meant that some of my angling time had to be spent at home.
I enjoyed some success between then and the culmination of the season at the end of March. Pop-ups fished amongst a scattering of between 30 and 100 14mm Cell freebies just seemed to keep the bites coming on a regular basis so there was no call for a change of tactics. The venue was still extremely weedy, as there hadn’t been a great deal of cold weather to knock it back. Despite this I was pretty lucky and only lost one fish but managed to land six during the month. The pick of the bunch were Paw Print at 39lb 7oz and, at a little over 36lb, Son of Triple Row.
Angling time was at a premium during the spring as work took precedence and I didn’t do much fishing at all. I managed to get out a couple of times though. I enjoyed a trip to Manor Farm on Linear’s Oxfordshire Complex to shoot some videos with Mainline Baits in terrible weather. Well, not bad fishing weather but terrible from a filming point of view. The next trip was with the Greys & Chub Academy at Kingfisher Lake in Lyng, Norfolk filming for some video footage for The Session and our YouTube channels.
Whilst both of these sessions were enjoyable I was keen to get on with some of my own angling. Having decided to pull off Dinton I had joined a number of clubs and so had an awful lot of venues where I could angle. I fished a couple of these waters but really wanted a target fish to go after and finally settled on a venue Near the New Forest. I really did enjoy fishing this lake but the presence of Otters on the lake niggled me. The water is heavily coloured so spotting the one fish that I really wanted to catch was next to impossible. The last capture I was aware of was the previous November, which was surprising for a six times a year fish.
Although I didn’t feel close to catching the lakes biggun, I caught a few fish. Again, I found success using pop-ups over a wide scattering of bait. There are some lovely looking stockies in the venue and, along with a couple of the older fish I was kept busy and had a great time fishing this really interestingly featured lake. I decided to give it my best though as I thought there was every chance that it had been killed by the Otters. I’ve subsequently been informed of two captures so I was mistaken there so I plan to have another go for this cracking Carp soon. There aren’t that many really big Carp around that are as scaly as this one and I would like to catch it.
My next stop was another club lake in the south. From the moment I stepped onto its banks I felt comfortable and wanted to spend some time fishing it. I could see at first glance that it was my type of venue as the amount of weed was apparent immediately. There’s always something exciting about the first session on a new venue and this was no exception. I opened my account on my second night after a move landed me with a 31 pounder.
The next few trips all brought bites and fish on the bank. The very same tactics as I had used on Dinton and the New Forest were working well. On several occasions I caught following a move and it all seemed to be falling into place. Not only was I catching regularly but I was getting amongst the bigger fish with a couple of 38 pounders and a couple of other 30’s. The lake holds a variety of strains from several stockings over the years, including some very old fish.
I suffered a couple of blanks during October. On the second one the weather was really rough but I did manage to get on some fish for my last night. I went into the same swim on the next trip in, again severe southerly winds. Following the two blanks I had decided to put a little less bait over two of the rods and keep one with ½ kilo, as I felt that the Carp were maybe beginning to slow down a little with the onset of winter.
That session yielded four bites and four Carp with all three rods and varying amounts of bait producing action. The four fish were from across the spectrum of the strains of Carp with the most rewarding being one of the very old originals. This was an extraordinarily long common of over 41 pounds.
There seems little point in looking back over the season unless one considers the lessons learnt. There is always something to discover within this sport and things are constantly changing on the venues that we fish. Analysing my year there are a number of things that I think I should have done differently. The first one that springs to mind is that I ought to have stayed on the New Forest lake for a bit longer. The Otters that I witnessed had not taken the Carp I was after and there was no evidence to suggest that they had. I found it all too easy to assume that they had and cut short my campaign at a time when the Carp was due to be caught.
On the southern club water I’ve fished a similar number of nights at each end of the lake, mostly on feeding fish and yet, I’ve caught the vast majority of them from one end in particular. Quite why this is so I don’t know but the Carp, most certainly, seem more willing to make a mistake in one half of the lake and that will have a bearing on where I fish in the future. I’ll not avoid the less productive part but it will influence my swim choice when the Carp are evident in both areas.
Had I organised my work better I could have released more time to get some angling done during the spring. I should have got some of this done during the less productive winter giving me a bit more time when the Carp were more willing to feed.
Looking at the positives, the things that I consider have helped me to catch, are as equally as important as the negatives. The way I have been fishing for the last few years seems to work almost everywhere and has certainly been successful on the three venues I have spent time on during 2012. My default tactics are to fish 14mm pop-ups over a fairly wide spread of bait. I will make alterations to the amount of bait that I introduce dependent upon stock levels, conditions etc but, in essence, I change very little.
On all of these venues I have caught from a number of different swims and feel that locating fish is paramount to me catching. Several Carp have been banked after a move so mobility has been key to most of my captures during the year. The one thing that I believe catches me more fish than any other is that I present my traps where the fish are. I rarely spot fish these days. Using a marker to locate a gravel patch near to where fish are showing is all well and good but I feel far more comfortable casting to where the fish actually are.
Confidence is something else that has helped no end. I use extremely sharp, strong hooks and tough hook lengths, which give me the utmost trust in my end tackle whilst my rods and mainline are capable of extracting big Carp from the numerous weed beds that I encounter. My bait, The Cell, has been more than acceptable to the inhabitants of every venue on which I have used it and my home made pop-ups give me an edge. All of these elements, as well as others, combine to give me confidence in the way that I fish leaving me free to concentrate on location and bait application.
Overall, despite the fact that there are one or two things I would, with the benefit of hindsight, have done differently, I am happy with my angling since the New Year and delighted with what I’ve been lucky enough to catch.