Monday, 18 April 2011

It may be shallow, but its still hard work

The first few sessions I had in late February and early March on my new ticket were largely unsuccessful, in the previous year the weed had grown to the surface across most of the lake, and although you couldn't see it anymore after a very harsh winter - it was still there, and there didn’t really seem to be too many noticeable holes or gravelly areas to target.

In all honesty I really didn't fish to the best of my abilities in the time I spent there, and I think I applied far too much bait, which in turn attracted the bream - in fact it became a running joke with a friend that I was a bream fisherman!

The fish that were coming out at this time were very few and far between and were coming to lightly boilie baited areas with single pop-ups, quite often flouro's. In retrospect my particle approach really wasn't the way; especially as it was not something I had tried and tested the previous year.

The other thing that the people braving the conditions seemed to be using was the 'Chod rig' this was really something new to me - although I was aware of helicopter rigs, 'Choddies' didn't exist to my knowledge the last time I was into carp fishing. In my mind I didn't like the thought of not being directly attached to a fish, and the angle that the rig/lead creates was an issue to me.

One thing that I was doing properly in my mind was putting in the time. I think I managed to get at least 10-15 nights on that pit before the end of March, and I had an idea of where the fish were coming out, what times of day were best for a bite, and what the few regulars that were brave enough to fish in the cold were doing. I even managed to catch a Pike at the end of one blank session!

Another thing that was working to my benefit was a side effect of my particle approach and 'bream fishing' I would often return to my old swims and find that the areas I'd been fishing were now hard or silty bottoms, but more importantly weed free! This would turn out to be an important discovery and combined with another revelation and some better weather would play a part in kick starting my season.

A new year, with new opportunities

We lost a lot of the winters fishing to ice cold conditions and rock hard lakes - I also took the opportunity to enjoy a social life in the knowledge that as soon as conditions improved I intended to spend every spare moment behind my rods!

During the winter I'd been keeping an eye on the gravel pit just over the road from my office. Sadly although the pit is a beautiful little oasis close to the centre of Milton Keynes - it is surrounded by industrial units and main roads and is far from peaceful! The place looks amazing with its long reed beds, large gravel bars, loads of wildlife and crystal clear water, I think if the pit was transported into the quiet of the countryside it would be pretty close to a dream lake.

My internet research and conversations with anglers lead me to believe the pit was fairly unpressured at any time other than the summer, and that it has a good head of large carp averaging low 20lb up to just under 40lb. There were also a few Catfish, and some nice tench to go after. However the main reason this pit was of interest to me was its depth - the deepest the lake went to was 6ft, with an average over most of the lake of 5ft, I’m my mind this would make it the perfect winter and spring water because unlike my other deep pit, this lake would wake up far sooner, and respond much better to the sunny days earlier in the year.

I purchased a season ticket in February and I had a new venue to focus on in the late winter / spring until the new seasons tickets were availiable.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Learning to deal with weed

The pit I started to fish in Leighton Buzzard averages around 9-12 ft in the shallower end with a deeper end dropping to depths beyond 20ft. In most of the lake there is Canadian and other weed growing 3/4 of the way to the top, with very few clear spots.

On arrival I tried to approach it like the other gravel pits I'd fished in the past by getting the marker float out and really trying to feature find - maybe I'd find a bar or clear patches - I didn’t really have much luck, the only thing I could find were areas of deeper silt that appeared to be weed free.

I spend most of the late summer blanking there trying to work out how to fish in this featureless weed, there were a few swims in the shallow end that had a clear gravel strip that was fishable - apparently it’s an old footpath that existed before the lakes level rose, this allowed me to present a bait relatively confidently - however the local coots and tufties knew the spot well and I would often catch more wildlife than I did fish, I think I only ever manage a few tench from those spots.

My nightmare of trying to present a baited area properly continued until I discovered a great plateau area in the deeper end of the lake in late September - the near margin dropped rapidly down to 20ft, however at about 30yrs the depth rose up to more like 12ft and more importantly it appeared to be basically weed free whereever i cast from that swim! At last I'd found an area I could fish to with confidence, and more importantly I could lay a bait of feed and recast to it in the dark without fear of landing a few feet to the side in the weed!

I still managed to blank a few more nights in the pouring rain until I finally managed a fish from the spot, it was a 9lb 6oz bream. I'd never seen a bream that large before, and although I normally consider bream a pain, especially on carp tackle because they don't really fight, this beautiful golden brown bream was more than welcome! Finally I got to use my camera to document a fish rather than my surroundings!

The session in the deeps actually got better because a few hours later, after I’d drifted back to sleep I had a screaming run from the deeper patch and I was finally into a fish that was taking line - something I'd not yet experienced at this pit! The fish was quite erratic in it movement, and in the deep water was taking massive kite paths across the swim on a tight line, however due to the lack of snags, the fish finally gave in and rolled into my landing net - it wasn't the biggest carp I'd ever caught (13lb), but I don't remember being happier to catch a carp, especially after such a long barren spell on a new water.

I would like to say that effort = reward, however I think that in this case it was more about location and presentation. The location of the large clear plateau allowed me to present a bait in a way that I felt confident in, and also allowed my rigs to work giving me the correct presentation!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

2011 - a new beginning

Although I really got back into fishing at the end of the summer in 2010 I was mainly cleaning out the rust and getting used to my new tackle as all of my previous rods and reels were stolen in Brighton. It was sad to lose the rods my Dad rebuilt for me, I believe they were 2.75lb amorphous whiskers.

However I must say I am really happy with my new Normark Nirvana 3,25lb - I think they are probably better suited to the waters I'm fishing now, but obviously they dont have my dads initials on them representing the care and love he had poured into them.

My journey began back in Brighton, visiting local day ticket waters. Although it was nice to be fishing the other fishermen I had to tolerate, and the price if the tickets really started to grate on me - there's only so many times you can tolerate people thoughtlessly casting over your lines or having loud parties on the next swim!

To cut a long story short I was made redundant at work and decided to pack my life up and move to bedfordshire to make a new life for myself near my uncle and surrounded by quality specimen waters!

I started out fishing a local pit that was weedy, deep and full of cats. I'd never really fished in such thick weed before and I'd really thrown myself in at the deep end!

Where to begin?

I've been thinking about starting a new blog since taking up fishing again for the first time after taking a 6 year break from the sport. In that time technology really has come a long way, as a result I'm currently lying on my bedchair under an umbrella waiting for my first take of the evening!

I've always kept a fishing diary logging my catches, or more often blanks! I tend to include location, bait, rigs, weather and other important details. The problem with my log book is it doesnt really involve many emotional statements, images or other bit of information that are not directly related to a particular fish capture.

So that's where this blog comes in, it allows me to share some of the emotional highs and lows whilst creating a slightly more multimedia and less clinical account of my adventures!

The beginning of this blog was all written at once to document my fishing experiences since returning to the sport, however it was written well after the events, which has lead to some odd dating.

I felt it was important to return to the beginning before blogging about my experiences as they happen!