Friday, 24 February 2012

An afternoon's stalking

I managed to blag an extra hour off work today so at just after 11am I headed to Asda for supplies and onto the water. There was nobody else fishing, much as I expected, and I approached the bridges stealthily. I was travelling light, barbel rod, small reel loaded with 8lb line and the large unhooking cot loaded with tackle, camera etc.

Just after the bridges I spotted a carp on the far bank, not a big one but a carp nonetheless. I watched from behind a bush as two more fish joined the first one. I climbed back up the bank to the top of the swim and set up the floated rod as best I could with shaky hands. With a nice piece of crust impaled on the hook I made a gentle cast in the direction the fish were headed. As they approached my heartbeat got faster and almost popped as they sniffed the bread and carried on without a care in the world. I continued in the swim for half an hour and did have a couple more fish look half interested, but still no takers.

I decided to move on in search for something else, but with those previous fish so close to the bait but not taking it was obvious they weren’t hungry.  I got to the snag tree I usually see them at but all was clear. The next swim along was the surprise package, a small glowing gravel spot just off the swim front held three carp, just sitting there, not feeding, just sitting motionless. From my vantage point 30 feet up the bank and with the aid of polarised glasses I could clearly see that two were commons and the third, a bigger fish, was a mirror I put in the mid double category. The issue was how I was to present a bait to these fish without spooking them. I pondered for a while and opted for good old luncheon meat, free-lined. With everything ready I crept as quietly as possible down three steps and dared not move any closer. With a gentle swing like flick the slither of meat kissed the surface, all the time cringing at the thought these fish would clock me a scarper,  and I watched as it fluttered down and landed 4 inches in front of the mirror. It was almost like slow motion as the fish crept closer and closer, opened its mouth and swallowed the bait. I struck and the fish charged off with me, the rod and the net following it. A few minutes of me trying my best to steer the fish away from the snags culminated with me netting it and letting out a little cheer. A wonderful fish at any time of year, my estimation was about right size wise, around low to mid doubles and it was showing off the most wonderful winter colours.

I did the best I could with the self takes in a very tight swim and released my prize. The strange thing I noticed was that all through the fight the other carp followed it around, chasing it, almost playing. With this in mind I had the feeling that it wouldn’t be long until the other returned to the spot. I scattered a few handfuls of sweetcorn and a few chunks of meat onto the spot, set the rod up with a standard bolt rig, laid it on the spot and loosened the clutch. I then returned up the bank near the top and waited for their return. I sat for an hour but there were no more signs of carp.

I figured that I would have to get on the move again so returned to where I’d spotted the fish on the surface earlier. There were still a few fish there but they were dangerously close to the stumps on the far bank and the snag trees. With the rod switched over the surface tactics with a controller flat and size 6 Drennan Conti I leant it against the tree and from the top of the bank watched the fish for a good half an hour. I noticed that they would leave the big snag tree to the left, swim through a gap with next to no snags and into the stumped area, the hookbait would have to go in the gap, a tight cast with foliage above me but imperative if I was to intercept the fish and avoid any loses.

I made my cast just on time for a passing coot to force me to reel in and try again, that first cast was spot on too!! The next couple of casts weren’t as good and probably didn’t do me any favours as the fish disappeared for five minutes, I really thought I’d blown any chance of another fish but they were soon back.  The next cast was a good one and a couple of moments later a swirl appeared under my hookbait and it vanished into mini whirlpool. I struck and gave no line as I endeavoured to play the fish out in mid water away from danger. As it was the fish wasn’t big, streamlined and fast but not overly powerful. But what it lacked in size it fully made up for with looks, almost jet black across the back with the most gorgeous chestnut and chocolate flanks. I’ll never tire from catching carp if they all look like this one............

With a couple more awkward self takes achieved the fish was returned and I climbed the bank to assess the situation. I had around another half an hour of daylight left, the best time of the day in my eyes and with fish still visiting the s]area I just knew there was another fish in it for me. Out went the controller float and it landed bang on the money. It was only there a few seconds until it slid down the throat of carp number three, only this one felt a bit bigger, it was a real struggle to keep in touch with it, more like the fish dragging me around, but eventually I had it under control and I netted it at the first time of asking. I peered into the net and couldn’t believe my eyes, or my luck, yet another great looking carp, dark, well proportioned and up around 16lbs.

After the pictures were taken and the fish slipped back I decided to call it a day, a fantastic afternoon stalking I wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Now, where to go tomorrow?

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