The last time I wrote for The Session it was the beginning of August, the fish had just spawned for a very late second time, and I was very much looking forward to October! Thankfully my fears that the big girls had joined in with the spawning frenzy were unfounded, and a couple of weeks later, everything was back to relative normality.
One of the things I love most about Carp fishing is being able to put together a campaign on a water. I love the challenge of fishing a water for a whole year. I love watching it change with the seasons, the Carp’s behaviour change with the seasons, and being able to adapt my angling accordingly, trying to second guess the fish and stay one step ahead. Just when you think you have it all worked out, and you are catching fish for fun, something happens that throws everything out of the window and it’s back to the drawing board again! I enjoy this aspect of Carp angling as much as actually catching them (well almost!)
This year has been no exception, and it never ceases to amaze me just how much you can learn from spending time at a lake, watching the fish react to certain things, be it weather conditions, baiting situations, or angling pressure. The slightest thing can have a major effect on the Carp’s behaviour, and one thing I do know for sure, every year, I’m still learning!
As soon as the water began to warm this spring it became apparent that the fish were hungry, and that big beds of bait would be the way forward. I opted for the boillie-only approach, using two different sizes: 18’s and 15’s, and it proved to be successful from the start. I would spomb out 5 kilos at the start of a session, and top up accordingly as the session went on. Multiple catches were frequent and I was having the best season I have enjoyed for a very long time. I spent a huge amount of time at the lake, even when I wasn’t fishing; ensuring that I walked it at least once a day with the dog, and keeping in constant contact with some of the other guys that were fishing there.
After the second spawning, I noticed a distinct change in the fish’s behaviour. I was still catching, but only towards the end of my 48 hour session. There was a huge abundance of natural food in all of the weed beds, masses of snails and pea mussels and initially I thought they were feeding heavily on them, and the need for boiled baits had dissipated. I cut down on the amount of bait I was using, thinking this was the answer, and suffered my first two blank sessions of the year! Back to the bait then!
The pattern continued, and initially I accepted the fact that I was going to blank on the first night, and catch on the second. In an ideal world, I would have baited heavily, the day before my session, but the lake was pretty busy, and I had my fingers burned earlier in the year, so this was out of the question. It was more by mistake than design that I stumbled across the answer. I had chosen my swim and baited heavily, settling down for a blank night’s sleep, when out of the blue, one of my rods ripped off. After a tense battle a lovely 36lb mirror was in the net. I was more than happy with a fish on the first night, but when I hoisted it out on the mat, the penny finally dropped.
From the amount of cell that was coming out of this fish it soon became obvious that it had been on the munch. Heavily! It was coming out like paste from a boillie gun. Obviously they were still on the bait as hard as they had been earlier in the year, and my hook baits were probably the last baits to be eaten. I could have kicked myself for not working it out earlier. I needed a plan, and over the next week my brain was in overdrive. I took a bucket of pond water home with me, but the washed out bait idea was not going to change the pattern on its own. After all, they loved the bait and, if all the baits were washed out, nothing would change; my hook bait would still be left until last.
I decided to carry on with the initial baiting pattern, however to every 5 kilos of normal cell I would add 1 kilo of washed out cell. I then set about making some custom made hook baits. Just using the cell base mix, with no additives, and a little white dye, I could replicate the washed out bait. I even made them a little bigger to look as though they had swollen from being in the water for longer.
First session with the new approach and I was buzzing. I chose a swim that had been very good to me in the past, out went 5 kilos of cell, and I then scattered about 100 of the washed out baits over the top, followed by my new custom made hookers. I sat back waiting for things to unfold, but I didn’t have to wait long. Not half an hour after casting out, I was away! It was a good heavy fish that unfortunately buried itself in a thick weed bed and fell off. If anyone had seen me then they would have thought I had finally gone mad as I was grinning from ear to ear. I had cracked it!
Over the next 48 hours I received 13 takes, included in that tally were three thirties. After every fish I topped up with 100 washed out baits, and they kept on feeding. A real red letter, session and one of my most memorable ever.
My next visit the following week saw me in a different swim. I saw a fish roll close in, flicked a washed out hooker as close as I dared, and sprayed a mixture of normal and washed out baits all around the area, one at a time, trying not to spook any Carp. Half an hour later, it was away. A tense battle ensued, with the fish trying its best to gain access to some horrible snaggy bushes, but soon resulted in a large Carp in the bottom of my net. I was just about to sort that out when my other rod was away!
Due to a mistake on my part, (a mix up with weigh slings!) the first fish was initially weighed at 39lb, it was later established that it was actually my fourth 40 of the year at 40lb 8oz! Oops, another lesson learned.
The new approach has worked well up until recently, when all the rain meant a huge influx of water going into the pond via a large overflow pipe. In the spring it was a major draw for the fish as it was warm water going into a cold pond. Now though it’s cold water going into a warm pond, and it hasn’t done a bite for a couple of weeks. I am hoping that when the conditions stabilise, and the fish get used to it, a few bites may be possible, but for now it looks like a hugely enjoyable year may have come to an end.
It’s off to a few runs waters for me, getting a bend in the rod during the colder months is great fun, plus it gives you a chance to try out a few things in readiness for the spring, when battle commences yet again with those pesky Carp! Good luck, tight lines, and I hope you all have a bend in your rods over the festive period. Have a great Christmas.