Quick change.

I’m hoping my readers will not mind my HEADER change. It’s something I’m going to do from time to time, just to jazz things up a bit. Maybe it will reflect my current fishing each change, right now, stalking!

My recent trip to the A1 pits on pit 5 resulted in rather a disappointing day, I simply couldn’t find any fish moving. I baited several spots and found all margins very deep, so next trip I will have to do  bit more looking without a rod, or maybe just some determined feature finding close in. I’d hope to find some bars or other features.

Also it rain all day big time, I’d taken an umbrella and thought maybe I’d just fish a swim for a few hours, but what one? It’s a big pit, over 15 acres I’d guess, so making fish finding all the more important, to me anyway? I could pick a swim and be 200 yards away from any fish. No, I’d stick to what I’m doing and keep looking, sadly just one of those days.

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Lets go stalking.

I’ve always done carp stalking one way or another most of my life. At times its been with a float, or just free-lining, bread or worms. Being able to watch big fish feed is so exciting especially when your hook-bait is close by.

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Spot the red topped float in the margins. I’ve always stalked carp in close.

When I arrive at the lakes its early morning, but the sun is up and on the water. There is no point stalking carp too early in the day, as you simply cannot see them until the suns up, and the fish are moving. In just a short time being around theses lakes, I know the movements on two of the lakes carp, and a little on the bigger one. Five and six are strangers to me as yet, but in the coming few weeks I’ll catch up on five, six will take a full season I’d guess.

I leave all the stuff in the car, change into my comfortable walking boots grab the sunglasses, wide brim hat, bait tub and set off walking. All I’m doing is looking for carp cruising, returning from their nights foraging. They mostly work the same margins they have done for years, the sunny side, where is just a little warmer. Sometimes they feed all way back, dropping down in margin hot-spots, or hopefully where my tit bits are positioned. On a new lake is just guesswork, but you do find areas even in the margins the carp like better than others. These become your banker swims, and ones you visit first each trip to trickle bait in, over again. If things are going well on the day with catching, I’ll feed these swims but not fish them, simply getting the carp’s confidence up in that spot to feed. But on hard days they can be the only places you have a chance of catching on? Often I’ll put the bait in a position that cannot be fished due to snags, or risk to the carp. It’s only when I know they are feeding hard, that I’ll put some more bait in a fishing position. This maybe only a yard away from the original spot, but it will give me a much better chance of landing a big fish.  (I will cover a Stalkers kit requirements in another post, maybe when the fishing is slow in the colder months?)

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26lb Italian mirror taken on a float under the rod tip, on a very wet day.

Once back at the car, I take out the rods and reel, then long cast the main stalking rod with a Gardner twist buster lead to reduce any line twist or curls in the line. During a day I doubt there is any more than 15 meters of line used at any time, it’s this that gets the wear. Also 20lb line is a bugger for twists and jumping off the spool when you don’t want it to, like when you hook a fish. Then its loaded back on the reel with care, and the leader checked for cuts of nicks. I’ve gotten into this routine now, so it’s second nature, but it’s so important to re-do all knots and just be sure all is 100%. Then I will load up with all I need for a few hours stalking. In summer its without a chair, substituted by a home made camo cushion. Everything I need is in my unhooking mat, including two mini stainless rod rests. One has a snag type head, the other a screw fitting for the camera. Another rod 6′ sawn off for floater fishing, in close, bait, hand towel. A very small ruck bag on my back has camera, and maybe a drink. Spare leads, hooks, and some small bits and pieces. Everything else is back at the car, including my tea making kit with teapot and real tea and china cup.

It goes like this, if I catch a fish, it’s back to the car for a celebration cuppa and a think.

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I fish for the bigger girls, but sometimes the teens jump in when your backs turned!

9.30 am. The first swim I visited was empty, but the second had fish tails up feeding, a sight you never get tired of seeing. The swim had no room for anything apart from my rod, so I sit well back with the rod placed on my open landing net that just hangs over the banks edge. This keeps all the line off the ground away from twigs, stones, leaves, general crap. The rod tip is over the waters edge by maybe 10”. A car drives up the lane past me, another angler looking for fish? In the car? It’s what they all say to me any-way! He doesn’t see me and carries on. I glance back (the whole sequence having taken just a few seconds) and the rod was off the net and in a fighting curve as the 17 pound common tries to get under the near tree branches. Fortunately the gear was too much for it, so when it turned my net was ready. I’d guess it took more time to sneak in position, than it did to catch the fish, but that’s stalking for you.

I’ve found if bites don’t come within ten minutes on feeding fish, something is wrong. So I’m in a habit now of using very small leads, recasting after 15 minutes, or moving on. It could be the first cast you get a hard landing, but the short hook-link is hidden, or sticking up. I’ve had times when a second cast brings a fish within seconds, so now every cast has a small bag attached, just to stop situations like this, but they do still occur on the odd occasion? Some folk don’t believe you can go fishing for 8/10 hours, but only wet the line for an hour or so. It’s true, it is all about finding fish,  knowing you’re not wasting any time. Many times during the day, the carp are simply not feeding, it’s those times when they are browsing, a little tit bit might tempt a big old girl. When not feeding a large bed of bait is pointless, but a single tiger, or two grains of corn can work.

I like to carry the little sawn off loaded with 12lb floater line. It’s a just in case situation, like what happened a few trips ago. It was hot and all the fish were under the trees and bushes, out of the sun. I was between two large trees overhanging the water, when a nice carp swam into view on my left. He sat there just mouthing the air (under the tree) as they do when it very warm. No way could you get a bottom bait in the spot, but a little piece of bread, or floater? Understand the fish was about eight feet away, so the sawn off was ideal. I put two floater baits directly on the size 8 wide gape x hook, then simply lowered it in slowly onto the carp’s nose. Without any fear, it took, I struck, but oh!!, too soon. The hook caught in a branch, the carp bolted, I cursed. That chance would not have come without the 6′ swan off. It’s a 3.5lb so ideal for the job of knocking fish off balance and straight into the net, before they can get going. Also I can free-line bread, crusts, floating pellet. I cannot remember how small it goes, but it gets lost in the unhooking mat.

Fish two came from a deep nearside bank that had no snags as such, but rushes and lilies   the carp would shake as they feed. Only the odd underwater flash and rocking reeds gave their presence away. I cast to my right and almost hit my own bank, but it was still 6/8′ deep. Then the rod was placed in the rest and as I sat back the line dropped right back, then picked up and traveled to my left, the little lead doing its job. This 13 ponder was again landed quickly, but I gave myself the luxury of allowing the fish to take a bit of line, once the danger as over. Both fish today were commons, back for another cuppa at the car and maybe a bite to eat? What will the afternoon have for us?

In the past I’ve had my blanks, not just at the A1 pits but most places. It’s a method that takes time to adjust too, and you have to learn about the carp, and the lake itself. Contours, deep margins, shallow close in bars, solid tree lined banks that are un-fishable, but the fish hide in safely. Popular swims that have always bait in them, unfashionable swims that you cannot get a umbrella in, all you take in and learn.  You walk a long way, some days not seeing hardly any fish at all. However you do get to know the fish, where they are at specific times of the day, what the big one does in the morning he/she will be doing next day, and the next and most importantly when they feed best.

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An earlier time when this 14 pounder found free-lined lobworms irresistible.

It’s not something you can do with two rods, alarms, a big umbrella, television, or barbecue. Those that have spent thousands of £s on three rods, a spod rod, marker rods will have to put them in the attic and forget about them, you just don’t need all that stuff for this game. I must tell you a little tale of something that happened to me last week.

I’d been baiting one of the lakes for a few weeks, in a weedy but accessible spot. The swim was unpopular and had no real features you could see, but I’d seen carp they’re most trips. I was just getting the gear out of the car when a chap pulls up and said he fancied fishing in just that spot. I told him I had feeding carp on a spot, but he seemed determined to fish there. Apparently he had just done two nights and blanked, so wanted a move and a fish. So I took him down to the spot, showed him exactly where I had baited (minus the carp) and said fine, the fish are right in the margins. He thanked me and I moved to another swim, just around the corner.. About half an hour later, I saw fish moving across the lake from his direction, past me and onward. So I walked back around to see what was going on? He had moved his car to the waters edge, put up his brolly, 5 rods (honest), kettle and everything just ten feet from the FEEDING spot? I simply walked away and thought what a waste of a prime spot. I genuinely thought he was going to just drop a bait in the edge and sit back for a few hours, this was after all morning, he had all day and night to set up camp? Maybe stalking is not for everyone, I hope he caught as he seems a nice chap, but totally clueless about water craft.

I think some folk have a blockage, they see carp fishing as 5 rods, a big umbrella, and overnight stays. For me thats camping with the fishing thrown in, anything that stops you catching is a hindrance. They have so much gear, and bait goes in so quickly, they see it as an investment they cannot give up. I’ve told many people over the years when I’ve seen moving fish at a reasonable range, cast-able range. They also tell me things, so why not be generous, but I can count on one hand the number that have moved on that advice. I even had some fish on-top just 50 yards from one guys swim that were taking my floaters, would he move, no he was on “bottom baits” today? “Well you can only take the horse to water?”

Stalking, getting it just right!

I’m really excited writing this, as I have such a lot to tell you about my recent trips and the fish I’ve managed to catch. So let’s get started. I had a full two days this week, Monday and Tuesday, these seem to me to be the least busy days as regarding fishing pressure. However its still very busy, even on quiet days, fortunately most people get set in a swim and don’t move once settled.

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This week I choose pits 1 and 2 both have nice fish in to around twenty pound or so. The weather on day one was difficult, cloudy, rain, and a cooler east wind pushed across all the lakes. When the sun did poke its head out, fish could be seen, and would feed in the margins. I have been using a few crushed tiger nuts, maybe six along with a single one and my hook bait, the smallest I can find in the tin. Along with a pinch of hemp and maybe an odd 2/mm pellet. Thats it, the amount would just cover the palm of my hand, or half fill the mini pocket rocket (yellow) from Gardner.

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Most anglers use far too much bait when fishing for carp, I plan just to catch one fish out of the edge at a time, that’s a simple mouthful. The fish then continue to look around the  swim for more food, then move on, returning over time. If I managed to get my one fish I can repeat the feeding all over again. With such tiny baits the carp are not frighten, do not see it as a dangerous situation, and take the bit will great confidence. It means you don’t have to use complicated rigs, in fact I don’t balance the tiger nut anymore. I prefer the bait to remain heavy so the fish has to really suck at the bait. If I want a balanced bait, I’ll use plastic corn to sit just on top of my free offerings, at times a bag is more suitable.

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I like a supple braid hook link if possible, four inches long. A tiny bag the size of a golf ball (not a tennis ball) really that small, full of the items mentioned attached to the hook, saves me thinking about tangles after casting. I cannot over stress the need for neatness and small amount of bait, think one fish at a time. I use a small hook, size 8s x strong. Attached to this is a 40lb Nash supple leader 6′ long that sinks quickly, and is abrasion resistant,  a 20lb main line, with my 3.5lb 9′ Century CQ rod. It allows me to fish in places others find difficult, like near snags. Every swim gets a review for fish safety, if you’re quiet and bait as I suggested, fish will move out of the snags to feed. Too much bait and you’re buggered, I really don’t know just how little amount of bait you could feed, but they know form yards away it’s there.

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Anyway, day one and I found some fish moving along the margins. I dropped some bait in to intercept them and before too long fish were on the bait, looking for more. Crushed tigers are such a puller for big carp, just a few nuts crushed and two whole will work really well. I don’t use a rod rest set up as many do, the rod just lays across the grass or most often, my landing net. Takes are aways savage, with the rod being pulled towards the fish in a fighting curve, the clutch begrudgingly giving line. The first fish a nice common of 15lb did mange to get under the trees, but the CQ rod was too much for it, and it was landed and released after having its picture taken. The second fish came after I’d been baiting and waiting some time, I thought the carp had gone when all of a sudden, the tip was under the water and the clutch giving line. After pulling it from the rushes, the second time a nice 17lb common was landed and returned. The second day was like a re-run of the first but the fish just a little smaller 11lb 13lb, but from another one of the smaller pits.

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I cannot tell you reader just how much fun and productive carp stalking can be, you have to get into it and do it right, and it takes a few trips to work it all out. But once it all comes together, you don’t look back. I really don’t know how long this will keep going as it gets colder and the fish slow down, but they still have to have their autumn feed yet?

Stalking can be difficult at times!

Thursday saw me stalking once again, but conditions were really difficult. Wind, cloud, intermittent rain, and low light conditions, but oddly I did find some fish, and at one time thought I’d catch one. A little corner on one the pits has some extensive snags, I believe now that this is the home of some of the lakes carp. They seem to be around this area most times I visit, but it’s not where they feed, even though I tried to tempt them into it. I baited lightly with some crushed Krill boilies, corn, and the odd tiger nut, those fish were interested, but not one would drop down and feed. From my elevated position, I could watch the carp swim over the bait constantly during the day, but the swimming was quick and nervous, as if they wanted the food gone from that place.

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Nothing much is being caught on the lakes despite much angling pressure. It’s funny to watch, when someone leaves in the morning having fished maybe a night or two, then in the afternoon someone else drops in the same swim, for another few night. Not-one angler I’ve seen, just casts out a single hook bait, just to see. They all just pile it in, knowing they are staying a night or two. I find that odd, as just thinking about it would it not make sense to think one fish at a time, after all why put bait in when the fish could be on the bait from a few days ago? Longer term anglers often say the fish come on the second or third days after heavy baiting. I expect they see older bait as safe perhaps it’s been inspected several times, maybe even tested?

 

Doing just days sessions as I am, I see this coming and going all the time, maybe more than most doing longer stints. Everyone seems to talk to me, knowing I’m just stalking the edges. They tell me all about the lakes, the contours and fish they have seen, I’m loving this stalking lark.

Anyway, I did a fair amount of walking again (very good for my recovery) and watching carp is always interesting. The spots I bait from the week before are always cleaned off, this could be water birds, swans, or maybe great big carp? Once it gets cooler, I plan to bait some difficult to get in spots with boilies every week. Trying to build up a few well baited areas the fish will visit regularly to feed in confidence. I’d be happy not to fish them for several weeks. However, there really is a lot of bait that goes into the pits on a daily basis, so adding to it could not work! I’ll see in a few weeks just how busy the place is, then decided about the pre-baiting plan?

I only got to fish the one day this week, with a hospital appointment and my dearest wife being away for a few days. I’ve a cunning little plan for my next trips, so stay tuned and see whats going on. I really must get a fish soon, it’s been four trips without, and the landing nets a bit dry right now!

Oh yes, I’ve brought a nice little tea making kit (mini gas stove, gas bottle, cup and real tea) so I can have a fresh cuppa rather than out of the old flask. The flask is fine when you have nothing better, but nothing beats real tea made fresh. Also, the break gives you time to re-think your plan if it’s not working. I’ve seen a little toasty maker for cheese toasted between to slices, cheap too. Maybe I’ll treat myself soon.

A1 Pits carp fishing.

IMGP0378If you haven’t been to these pits, I’ll tell you a little about them. Six pits ranging from about an acre in size to the biggest often referred to as the Ocean. All contain carp to around 40lb+ and you can fish them for the price of a day ticket, night fish too. All are deep even in the margins, and the carp are very well fished for in all the pits. It’s rare the  pits are not full of anglers so popular is this place.

Currently its very weedy in all of the pits and making the fishing difficult, we’ll getting the fish out when weeded, I should say! One chap on Facebook is getting fish weeded up almost every hour, and calling others for help, di-k head.

I fished pit three and found it not too busy, but the weed was difficult. A small carp and tench was my reward, you have to think outside the box when it’s like this, and fish a bit differently to others. I fished a very light chod with an ounce lead on-top of the weed, maybe a foot down. Well, it seemed to work, twice anyway, a few baits spread on top where some would sink others hang in the weed, just where the fish were hiding out. A few carp would bosh out from time to time, but not enough to move on. I packed at dusk, as the day ticket is justs for that, the day.

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Day two.

My next trip was for a two day stint, going home between trips, as a bed chair is simply a no-no for my back these days. I chose to have the days simply stalking and getting to know the pits in a bit more detail. Pits one and two were challenged the first day, but rain, dull conditions, along with a 20 mph wind made sure carp spotting was very difficult. It’s really the wrong time of year to start stalking, the summer months of high clouds, windless days and hot conditions are better suited. But if you gain anything about me from this blog, you will know I’m anything but conventional! I may even stalk right through the winter months until spring is around. It just has to remain a mild winter and who knows? It was a much better day today, less wind and only thin cloud keeping out a decent warm sun. Not fish basking weather, but nice, only a short rain spell spoilt the other wise decent day.

I found several fish in some snags at the bottom of one of the lakes. They were big fish too, some over twenty pounds. Where I had scattered some baits the day before was now a clear patch, as all the bait had gone. This patch in the margin was just a rod length form the snags, so I’d guess those fish were the culprits. I scattered some more bait, pellets and chopped boilies on the spot as carefully as I could, then walked off for another tour round the lakes. I was surprised not to find more carp in the edge, as it was fairly free of another anglers. But I’m learning about the place on every lap, plus the other anglers seem very helpful when they know you’re simply stalking. A few fish had been caught during the night they told me, making me think night stalking could be fun, if only I could stay awake long enough, Ha! I do love my bed!!

I returned to the little patch by the snags during the afternoon, but the fish were still in the snags. Maybe they had enough food, or they had seen me approach. I sat and watched for about an hour, the fish milling around moving towards the baits, then disappearing again, only to re-appear in the snags. It seemed they could cross the divide without me seeing them. The water being just too deep to make them out, until they moved over the clear patch, or in the snags again.

As I’d not seen any carp on my travels, plus I was completely knackered after hours of walking, I decided to fish it anyway. A pair of small tiger nuts fished KD style on a size six curved hook, was attached to a supple hook link and swung into place. The 3oz lead was changed to a 1oz to reduce the splash, but it still landed like a brick on entry.  Behind the lead I had a soft sinking leader about 6/7 foot long from Nash, this sinks really well and allows you to lay the line along the bottom out of sight. But after maybe 30 minutes it was clear the fish had moved off, out of the snags from the other side. Next visit I’ll investigate where they come in and leave, then maybe I could trap them at both ends, depending on what they’re doing?

Now we are into September the gates close at 7pm, so I was packed and home in-time to watch a bit of TV with the Mrs., Boy did I sleep that night, and next day my body felt like I’d run a marathon. But it’s what I need to help get over the Cancer the Consultant tell me. Only got the one day next week, but I’m really into this stalking now, what a rush.

 

Flipping.

I’m flipping about right now, one place to the next with no real plan, and I hate it. The reservoir fish are playing dead, no-one is catching and the water is full of an algae bloom. While I mentioned this was a good thing because it was killing off some of the weed, plenty is still about if my last trip was anything to go by.

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I simply hate flipping?

I arrived just after lunch, the Misses needing the car for the morning shopping. I fell in the spot I’d been fishing and baiting previously, it seemed a good bet because a fish boshed out in front of me at 100 yards plus as I was setting up. Out with a chod type rig some 90-100 yards in the right direction. It sat there until I packed in the dark, when I pulled back a ton of weed around the rig, I doubt the fish even saw the pop-up. Feeling for a drop at 100 yards is something I’ve not yet gotten the skills for! The other rod was on a cleanish spot some 40-50 yards range with a slow wafter on with a long hook link of nylon, well you have to try something don’t you? Must have spooked the fish on arrival, as nothing happened during the seven hours fishing. Speaking to one chap that in the past has caught, toelling me it was really slow, and felt October would be the first real chance we would have, when the fish were beefing up for winter.

So I’m planning a trip this week to a local venue we’ll know as A1 pits. They have six lakes all with a decent head of fish, some very large indeed. I’ll be on one of the smaller lakes in the hope of just one bite. As usual I will keep you all posted?

Algae solves weed problem, well almost!

My trip back to the lake was really interesting. A decent wind was blowing, and the sun was constantly in and out of low lying cloud, so I was expecting/hoping to see some fish boshing about. I’d taken a rod with me to test various areas for weed, in the hope it had died back a bit with the heavy algae bloom. I was partly correct, the water was still cloudy and you could see the suspended algae in the water, visibility was down to around three feet. Some blooms can be really thick and dangerous, both to humans and dogs that swim in it.

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During a long slow walk around the lake nothing moved, the wind on this water is really odd. It seems to funnel down a valley and you can never be sure (until you arrive) what direction it would be, today due to the bank configuration it was pushing in three different directions! Only three people were fishing and none had seen any activity of any kind. I stuck on a three ounce dumpy lead and immediately found a nice clear area some 9/10 wraps out near the car park. It was maybe the size of a half a tennis court, any weed was short and well fishable with a pop-up or PVA bag. However it was not like this all around the lake, some places were still very heavy weeded, but not as high as before, maybe 12”/15” but thick, so some form of fishing would be possible?

This clearer area made me think. Just before I pulled off the lake last time I’d watched one guy spodding and area from the ‘dug out’ or ‘tench swim’ as we call it. I was in a line over the other side of the lake and marked just where I thought his bait could be going, ( as any sneaky bugger would do) a little step in the bank give me a mark to focus on. He spodded for what seemed like hours, only to pack up early. Now maybe he had a plan to come back, but I didn’t see him next day so really wondered about it. Now suppose he was coming back and doing it again from that same swim, from the place I’d plumbed (the little step in the bank mentioned before) I could easy reach that area, as it was around a 10 wrap cast for me. Possibly he had been baiting there, but pulled off due to the weed, or lack of fish. Or maybe he could only fish at weekends, either way, that spot was clearer than the rest of the lake I’d plumbed and I was about to take advantage of it. I would not be fishing his baited swim, I’d be at a different angle and some hundred meters from his swim. Had he been fishing with pellet or particle, it would keep the fish busy for days that amount of food each time.

Anyway I baited with boilies (mixed sizes) about a kilo spread all over the area, I did not want a patch, but wanted any fish searching about for food. That way I could get away with a slightly longer hook-link,  PVA bag, or simple pop-up well off the bottom, as this area still had some low lying chod on the bottom. I can’t get in the morning, so will try the afternoon and evening tomorrow, if nothing else it will give me another chance to pre-bait. But for the rest of the week, I’ll give some early mornings a try as evenings have not been over productive in the past. Not that I’ve really given it a proper try before, so must not pre-judge the situation from just a few blank trips.

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Think I’ll start off with PVA bags, still baiting with boilies, and some plastic corn as hook bait. If the fish are looking for food, a one mouthful of mixed pellet should pull them down where they will find a nice pile of grub, and my hook bait. Sounds like a cunning plan to me? Another thing of interest is most of the 30/40 swans have gone? Lake of food maybe now the weeds dying back? Who knows, but it’s a good thing for anglers anyway they dig up so much of the weed, and then it floats off all over the place.