Rick’s Carp Blog – Spring Into Summer, 2017

Posted by: Trakker on July 3rd, 2017

I did very little fishing last winter due to a combination of both busy work and family commitments, but I did have a social trip arranged with some friends at the end of February, which after a long layoff I was really looking forward to. It made me sort my gear out, load up with new lines, order my bait etc., so it was the just the kick start I needed. While I didn’t catch on that trip, my friend Wayne did, and it was fantastic to see a carp on the bank! When I got home, and with the days getting longer, I couldn’t wait to get back out.

I knew of one venue that is always a decent bet for some early action, even though it is deep and weedy, for some reason it always seems to wake up that little bit before the lakes that surround it do, so I began taking a few after work walks just to get in tune with it. Each time I took a marker rod, and a bag of my faithful Essential B5, and once I was happy with where to start, I began to trickle a few baits in. This was pretty easy to find though, a snaggy bay which was off the cold winds, and had the first warm rays of sun all day. The swim right next door also had a great long piece of far margin, which had some tree cover, and I knew from previous years was always a place that the fish were in residence. I saw nothing on my first few walks, but I gambled on my experience and began to put some bait in the bay and the far margin spots.

One day I took a walk over there, by now it was already March and the daylight levels were hitting 12/12 hours, which I really believe is the catalyst to the fish fully waking. I had been there two days earlier, but had seen nothing, however, as I peered into the snags I saw at least a dozen fish, wandering in and out of the dense branches, several of which were covered in clay on their heads and flanks. It was strange, as if a switch had suddenly been flicked, as the weather was the same as days before, but now they were certainly up and about. I hastily booked a couple of days off work for the following week, and rushed home to sort out my kit. Over the winter I had read so much about this new Ronnie Rig that it had made me research it, and I was keen to try out my own version. I had altered a couple of things, like using it with a very short stiff boom section and fishing it helicopter style, but I have always loved the Mugga pattern of hooks, and my pop-up fishing in recent years had taken me away from using it. However, with this rig I could really see its benefits, and in size 4 coupled with a 16mm pop-up, it really looked good. I had to get my head around using a hook that big, but with the bait sitting above the hook rather than alongside it, the hook size was irrelevant, and it needed weight in the hook to achieve its outstanding hooking properties.

I had also been told of a couple of edges for boosting baits, these went far beyond just adding salt to them, and I was sworn to secrecy about what it is, although when I made up my first batch, I immediately recognised how significant they were. The bait was positively oozing attraction, and with my new rig changes, I was excited about giving them a good go. I fully admit to being pretty one-dimensional in my rigs and baits over the years, and my confidence has always come from simply using what works well for me, and then sticking with it. I had also got Matt at UB Baits to make me up some of my favourite B5 Salami pop-ups in a lovely light pink colour, which looked brilliant when fished over the standard red B5 free offerings.

The new light pink pop-ups looked like winners to me!

I knew the snags in this area of the lake well, so I spooled up with the HD mainline in 15lb, simply the best mono I have ever used for out and out strength and its sinking ability, coupled with two rod lengths of 20lb Mirage fluorocarbon leaders. I’ll never use leadcore again, as I can’t see one advantage of it over the fluorocarbon. If in doubt compare the two under the water, as the clear fluorocarbon is invisible, and lies flat to the lake bed, giving both strength and far more finesse. In the small bay I could use the fluorocarbon straight through, which again gave me the best in a stealthy presentation.

I arrived in the half light of dawn, and within an hour was fishing, the rods cast to the spots, and a few handfuls of bait around each. I saw nothing all day, but as evening came one boshed in the small bay, sending ripples to the bank and boosting my confidence, on what is a water that they rarely show on. At 02:00 I was away on one of the far margin rods, the fish immediately going for the snags, but I steered it away without much difficulty, and soon had it in the net. At 23lb, the jet-black mirror was a great start, but as dawn came the same rod was off again, and this felt better from the outset. This one really went hard, but once it was away from the far bank I knew it was out of danger, and I let it plod away in the relative safety of the deep margin in front. In the clear water I could see it was a lovely chestnut coloured mirror, and a decent one too. It was indeed, 32lbs, and absolutely nailed on the Ronnie Rig, I was especially pleased. It didn’t stop there, as I then landed a small stocky from the bay next door, before the day went quiet as the morning feeding spell concluded. That afternoon I re-did all the rods, not settling until all three were perfect, in anticipation of the following mornings bite time. At 06:00 I was in again, but this one was really powerful, thumping the tip down and trying for the snags, when that failed it kited hard-left towards the bay behind. I powered on the side strain, with the rod sunk and the tip ring was hitting the bottom, until the fish was suddenly out in front. I recognised it immediately by its pale colour, and once again the new bait and rig had done well for me. This one was seriously well hooked, and at 37lbs 8oz another fantastic result, I packed up that morning delighted!

The chestnut-coloured 32.

I didn’t relax until the rods were perfectly done.

37lb 4oz and properly nailed!

 

I was back the following week, this time for a single night. I went up the other end, in a small swim again by a big bank of snags. This only needed two underarm flicks with little 1.5 oz bolt bombs, and again I was rewarded the following morning just before packing up with a bionic 25lb common that really went berserk in the confines of this tight swim.

My first common from the new water was a cracker.

The next trip was with my youngest son, who had a teacher training day, and was desperate to do a night out with me. I had thought about where to take him, as although he only wanted to camp out, but I knew it would be nice to have some action on the rods too. A friend told me of a lake that fitted the bill, but although I had the ticket for, I had never fished, as I really knew nothing about. So the following day after I eventually worked out how to get in and went for a look. It was far better than I had imagined it would be, a decent size of around 15 acres, with snags and plenty of carpy looking areas, as well as being child friendly and safe.

The following week Matthew and I were down, both fitting under my Tempest Air with the new Skull Cap on. I had found a couple of decent spots in a swim that had a nice big bit of lake in front, although nothing had shown, it seemed a good starting point. I had been told there was a few fish to go for, but saw nothing until about an hour before dark, when suddenly the lake became alive, as fish after fish rolled and jumped, all over. Several showed on me, and it was clear we were in for some action. With the boy fast asleep about 22:00., I had a take and soon landed a cracking mid-20 linear, which was followed up with two more low-20s as the night went on, none of which woke Matthew! I was shattered come dawn, but a quick move to the snags that morning gave us two more takes and another two 20lb fish. It was great fun, and we had enjoyed a fantastic session.

The kids got in on the action too!

The lake really got me thinking, it was quiet and a nice bit of fishing, in fact I fancied a couple more trips myself, it was exciting too, not knowing what it held but I guessed from the odd bit I could find out, plus the fish I’d seen, nothing massive, but I wasn’t worried. I did a quick work night that week, and it followed a similar pattern in that come dusk it came alive, and that night I had a 23 and lost another at the net that I got all the way back from 90+ yards! It certainly seemed to be a night water, and while work was really busy, it suited me too with the time that I had.

The next week I had another night, but had made a new plan. It was clear they liked a bit of bait, and to that end I put it all in at the start, with no intention to top it up. I walked all my lines off and clipped them up, before whacking out 5kg in the spomb in one go, ready for the night time productive spell to come. It came earlier than that, within an hour I had a 25lb mirror on the pink pop-up. They really do fight in this lake and added with belting one-tone takes, it was exciting stuff. Soon after that I was doing battle with a powerful fish, and one look showed it to be my first common from the lake, a stunning long one that went 31lbs. This one was absolutely mint, and looked as if it had never been caught before. I had another 4 that trip, one of which was probably the fattest carp I’ve ever caught, the length of a low 20, but weighing in at a whopping 34lb 4oz.

The length of a low-20.

With the fishing going so well, I managed a two-night trip soon after. I bought a fair bit of bait this time, and the first afternoon on arrival I put out 8kg on the two spots. One rod was fished along the margin, and the other two nice and close in the silt behind a small gravel bar, all at nice close ranges. The weather was perfect; dull, warm with light rain, and I was brimming with confidence after the last couple of trips. My legs were covered in bites though, not mosquitos, but this place had these small black midges that bit you in the day, and felt like you’d been cut with a razor. They bloody hurt too!

The margin rod was the most prolific in terms of takes, but the spot out in the lake behind the bar seemed to bring the better fish. This followed that pattern, as I had a couple of 20s from the margin, but it was the other rod that gave me a lovely 31lb mirror. The day was quiet, and after retying several rigs, and loading up with another 4kg of B5, I was looking forward to the night ahead. It was a busy again, and I had another five takes to 29lb, before packing up in the rain for work, tired but happy.

The middle spot produced the bigger ones like this 31.

I knew now was the time to get back over my favourite lake, one that I had enjoyed so much the year before. I had kept in touch with what was going on, and indeed several serious fish had been out. I changed all my kit over, and got the boating gear out, changing my spools to Hydro sink braid and charging up my outboard battery. A few days later I was launching my little boat and heading off full of excitement out into 60-plus acres. I was determined not to set up until I had found fish, which after a 5 a.m. arrival, took three plus hours of hard looking. That morning I saw three fish show, all at similar ranges in front of a swim I had only fished once before. That was all I had to go on, and I spent the day getting everything ready for the following morning, which I hoped would bring my best chance. I was up early again, and didn’t dare take my eyes off the water for risk of missing something. By 08:00 it was clear the fish weren’t here, as I had seen nothing, but soon after a text came through saying they were spawning in the shallows. I’m not one for staying when they’re doing that, and within an hour I was on the way home, but looking forward to a return.

 

Rick Golder

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Rick’s Carp Blog – Spring Into Summer, 2017

Posted by: Trakker on July 3rd, 2017

I did very little fishing last winter due to a combination of both busy work and family commitments, but I did have a social trip arranged with some friends at the end of February, which after a long layoff I was really looking forward to. It made me sort my gear out, load up with new lines, order my bait etc., so it was the just the kick start I needed. While I didn’t catch on that trip, my friend Wayne did, and it was fantastic to see a carp on the bank! When I got home, and with the days getting longer, I couldn’t wait to get back out.

I knew of one venue that is always a decent bet for some early action, even though it is deep and weedy, for some reason it always seems to wake up that little bit before the lakes that surround it do, so I began taking a few after work walks just to get in tune with it. Each time I took a marker rod, and a bag of my faithful Essential B5, and once I was happy with where to start, I began to trickle a few baits in. This was pretty easy to find though, a snaggy bay which was off the cold winds, and had the first warm rays of sun all day. The swim right next door also had a great long piece of far margin, which had some tree cover, and I knew from previous years was always a place that the fish were in residence. I saw nothing on my first few walks, but I gambled on my experience and began to put some bait in the bay and the far margin spots.

One day I took a walk over there, by now it was already March and the daylight levels were hitting 12/12 hours, which I really believe is the catalyst to the fish fully waking. I had been there two days earlier, but had seen nothing, however, as I peered into the snags I saw at least a dozen fish, wandering in and out of the dense branches, several of which were covered in clay on their heads and flanks. It was strange, as if a switch had suddenly been flicked, as the weather was the same as days before, but now they were certainly up and about. I hastily booked a couple of days off work for the following week, and rushed home to sort out my kit. Over the winter I had read so much about this new Ronnie Rig that it had made me research it, and I was keen to try out my own version. I had altered a couple of things, like using it with a very short stiff boom section and fishing it helicopter style, but I have always loved the Mugga pattern of hooks, and my pop-up fishing in recent years had taken me away from using it. However, with this rig I could really see its benefits, and in size 4 coupled with a 16mm pop-up, it really looked good. I had to get my head around using a hook that big, but with the bait sitting above the hook rather than alongside it, the hook size was irrelevant, and it needed weight in the hook to achieve its outstanding hooking properties.

I had also been told of a couple of edges for boosting baits, these went far beyond just adding salt to them, and I was sworn to secrecy about what it is, although when I made up my first batch, I immediately recognised how significant they were. The bait was positively oozing attraction, and with my new rig changes, I was excited about giving them a good go. I fully admit to being pretty one-dimensional in my rigs and baits over the years, and my confidence has always come from simply using what works well for me, and then sticking with it. I had also got Matt at UB Baits to make me up some of my favourite B5 Salami pop-ups in a lovely light pink colour, which looked brilliant when fished over the standard red B5 free offerings.

The new light pink pop-ups looked like winners to me!

I knew the snags in this area of the lake well, so I spooled up with the HD mainline in 15lb, simply the best mono I have ever used for out and out strength and its sinking ability, coupled with two rod lengths of 20lb Mirage fluorocarbon leaders. I’ll never use leadcore again, as I can’t see one advantage of it over the fluorocarbon. If in doubt compare the two under the water, as the clear fluorocarbon is invisible, and lies flat to the lake bed, giving both strength and far more finesse. In the small bay I could use the fluorocarbon straight through, which again gave me the best in a stealthy presentation.

I arrived in the half light of dawn, and within an hour was fishing, the rods cast to the spots, and a few handfuls of bait around each. I saw nothing all day, but as evening came one boshed in the small bay, sending ripples to the bank and boosting my confidence, on what is a water that they rarely show on. At 02:00 I was away on one of the far margin rods, the fish immediately going for the snags, but I steered it away without much difficulty, and soon had it in the net. At 23lb, the jet-black mirror was a great start, but as dawn came the same rod was off again, and this felt better from the outset. This one really went hard, but once it was away from the far bank I knew it was out of danger, and I let it plod away in the relative safety of the deep margin in front. In the clear water I could see it was a lovely chestnut coloured mirror, and a decent one too. It was indeed, 32lbs, and absolutely nailed on the Ronnie Rig, I was especially pleased. It didn’t stop there, as I then landed a small stocky from the bay next door, before the day went quiet as the morning feeding spell concluded. That afternoon I re-did all the rods, not settling until all three were perfect, in anticipation of the following mornings bite time. At 06:00 I was in again, but this one was really powerful, thumping the tip down and trying for the snags, when that failed it kited hard-left towards the bay behind. I powered on the side strain, with the rod sunk and the tip ring was hitting the bottom, until the fish was suddenly out in front. I recognised it immediately by its pale colour, and once again the new bait and rig had done well for me. This one was seriously well hooked, and at 37lbs 8oz another fantastic result, I packed up that morning delighted!

The chestnut-coloured 32.

I didn’t relax until the rods were perfectly done.

37lb 4oz and properly nailed!

 

I was back the following week, this time for a single night. I went up the other end, in a small swim again by a big bank of snags. This only needed two underarm flicks with little 1.5 oz bolt bombs, and again I was rewarded the following morning just before packing up with a bionic 25lb common that really went berserk in the confines of this tight swim.

My first common from the new water was a cracker.

The next trip was with my youngest son, who had a teacher training day, and was desperate to do a night out with me. I had thought about where to take him, as although he only wanted to camp out, but I knew it would be nice to have some action on the rods too. A friend told me of a lake that fitted the bill, but although I had the ticket for, I had never fished, as I really knew nothing about. So the following day after I eventually worked out how to get in and went for a look. It was far better than I had imagined it would be, a decent size of around 15 acres, with snags and plenty of carpy looking areas, as well as being child friendly and safe.

The following week Matthew and I were down, both fitting under my Tempest Air with the new Skull Cap on. I had found a couple of decent spots in a swim that had a nice big bit of lake in front, although nothing had shown, it seemed a good starting point. I had been told there was a few fish to go for, but saw nothing until about an hour before dark, when suddenly the lake became alive, as fish after fish rolled and jumped, all over. Several showed on me, and it was clear we were in for some action. With the boy fast asleep about 22:00., I had a take and soon landed a cracking mid-20 linear, which was followed up with two more low-20s as the night went on, none of which woke Matthew! I was shattered come dawn, but a quick move to the snags that morning gave us two more takes and another two 20lb fish. It was great fun, and we had enjoyed a fantastic session.

The kids got in on the action too!

The lake really got me thinking, it was quiet and a nice bit of fishing, in fact I fancied a couple more trips myself, it was exciting too, not knowing what it held but I guessed from the odd bit I could find out, plus the fish I’d seen, nothing massive, but I wasn’t worried. I did a quick work night that week, and it followed a similar pattern in that come dusk it came alive, and that night I had a 23 and lost another at the net that I got all the way back from 90+ yards! It certainly seemed to be a night water, and while work was really busy, it suited me too with the time that I had.

The next week I had another night, but had made a new plan. It was clear they liked a bit of bait, and to that end I put it all in at the start, with no intention to top it up. I walked all my lines off and clipped them up, before whacking out 5kg in the spomb in one go, ready for the night time productive spell to come. It came earlier than that, within an hour I had a 25lb mirror on the pink pop-up. They really do fight in this lake and added with belting one-tone takes, it was exciting stuff. Soon after that I was doing battle with a powerful fish, and one look showed it to be my first common from the lake, a stunning long one that went 31lbs. This one was absolutely mint, and looked as if it had never been caught before. I had another 4 that trip, one of which was probably the fattest carp I’ve ever caught, the length of a low 20, but weighing in at a whopping 34lb 4oz.

The length of a low-20.

With the fishing going so well, I managed a two-night trip soon after. I bought a fair bit of bait this time, and the first afternoon on arrival I put out 8kg on the two spots. One rod was fished along the margin, and the other two nice and close in the silt behind a small gravel bar, all at nice close ranges. The weather was perfect; dull, warm with light rain, and I was brimming with confidence after the last couple of trips. My legs were covered in bites though, not mosquitos, but this place had these small black midges that bit you in the day, and felt like you’d been cut with a razor. They bloody hurt too!

The margin rod was the most prolific in terms of takes, but the spot out in the lake behind the bar seemed to bring the better fish. This followed that pattern, as I had a couple of 20s from the margin, but it was the other rod that gave me a lovely 31lb mirror. The day was quiet, and after retying several rigs, and loading up with another 4kg of B5, I was looking forward to the night ahead. It was a busy again, and I had another five takes to 29lb, before packing up in the rain for work, tired but happy.

The middle spot produced the bigger ones like this 31.

I knew now was the time to get back over my favourite lake, one that I had enjoyed so much the year before. I had kept in touch with what was going on, and indeed several serious fish had been out. I changed all my kit over, and got the boating gear out, changing my spools to Hydro sink braid and charging up my outboard battery. A few days later I was launching my little boat and heading off full of excitement out into 60-plus acres. I was determined not to set up until I had found fish, which after a 5 a.m. arrival, took three plus hours of hard looking. That morning I saw three fish show, all at similar ranges in front of a swim I had only fished once before. That was all I had to go on, and I spent the day getting everything ready for the following morning, which I hoped would bring my best chance. I was up early again, and didn’t dare take my eyes off the water for risk of missing something. By 08:00 it was clear the fish weren’t here, as I had seen nothing, but soon after a text came through saying they were spawning in the shallows. I’m not one for staying when they’re doing that, and within an hour I was on the way home, but looking forward to a return.

 

Rick Golder

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