Friday, 31 July 2015

A Tale of Two Halves


Due to finances and other arrangements I was unable to visit the wild carp of Wales this weekend, this of course saddened me, but with a full weekend of angling before me, the blow was softened somewhat. This morning I was up at 4am, flask filled, car loaded and I pulled up at Soake pond at around 5am. Sunrise wasn’t until a little before half 5, which gave me plenty of time to get set up and ready to begin. The lake looked amazing; it was a cold start, only 5 degrees and mist steamed all across the lakes surface.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 450)Image

I began fishing and quite quickly had bubbles fizzing all over the swim, it looked just perfect. I peered at the little float tip through the mist and noticed it slide away, soon I was into what was quite obviously my first tench of the session. I was targeting the big roach that reside at Soake, but I can happily catch accidental tench all day long. It was a classic Soake tench, deep dark green, ruby red eyes and delightfully chunky.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 471)Image

The next couple of bites produced roach, smallish ones around 8 - 12oz, but they were fin perfect and each one brought a beaming smile. The bites weren’t quite as frequent as the weekend previous, but then the conditions were completely different. Last Sunday was mild, overcast and I sat most of the day in the rain. This day was cold, and thinking back I don’t recall ever catching too much when heavy mist rises from the lake.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 549 x 800)Image

As the morning opened before me I was greeted by an incredible day, clear blue skies and that early chill soon made way for a warm and gentle breeze. The sunlight caused the mist to intensify, columns started off circling low, close to the lakes surface soon to be drawn up in shafts reaching high culminating in being detached from the lake and evaporating shortly after.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 450 x 800)Image

More bubbles rose, I knew there were tench there feeding on the pellets I’d been regularly feeding. The float tip kept rising out of the water like the Sword of Excalibur; I struck the lifts and hooked roach almost every time. Then the float dipped, rose again and disappeared out of sight, this strike connected with a tench, I was now savvy to which bites were from which fish.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 452 x 799)Image

The battles from the tench were awesome; they certainly knew where the weed beds were and used them to great effect. Although I was using a 2.6lb bottom, I still managed to extract the tench from the weed, with steady pressure and by keeping the fish moving they posed me no problem and soon another beautiful emerald tinca was lying gracefully on the mat.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 506 x 799)Image

The morning got warmer and brighter, regular dips into my flask were welcome and some fruit gave me much needed energy, it was a very early start and not the best night’s sleep. The bites began to get farther apart, things were slowing up. Some more roach came on the drop, but once more I found myself frustrated slightly at the lack of better fish, the ones I’d come for. The tench however, provided me with great sport throughout the morning keeping the rod arched and the adrenalin pumping.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 501 x 800)Image

By 10am the bites were very fickle, and I was missing a lot. I decided to go for a wander, to stroll the pan handle and see if I could locate a carp or two. My findings were fruitful, carp were present, not in great numbers, but I felt sure I could at least find a chance or two to go at. With my base broken down I loaded most of the kit into the car and headed with the bare essentials to see if I could snare myself a carp.

This part of the day didn’t go to plan at all. As the wounds are still fresh I’ll not elaborate too much on the events, but a prĂ©cis will give you an idea of what occurred. First I found 3 good mirrors at the very head of the handle, one was just half a rod length from the bank feeding among surface weed. I hooked the fish quite quickly, played it out well and found myself with the fish jammed into a wedge of weed just out from the bank. I’m still asking myself why I went in with the net tail end first. The net touched the carp’s body; it bolted and broke the line. It was easily 20lbs and dark and scaly.

Next up I happened to chance upon The Daddy, the largest carp in the lake at over 30lbs. I spotted it through a gap in trees; it was clearly feeding on a silt patch between weed beds, feeding then coming up to chew, and repeating the process. I couldn’t get a rod to it, there was no way I could angle for it. I watched a while and in the end walked away. Then, to top it all off, I had the Classy Common, an old fish around 25lbs, feeding on dog biscuits, only for it to approach the hook-bait, have a sniff then turn and waddle off, never to be seen again.

So there you have it, a wonderful morning, quite possibly the perfect morning, followed by a lousy couple of hours chasing canny carp. It isn’t the first time carp fool me, a it certainly won’t be the last.

Zoom in (real dimensions: 800 x 450)Image

Monday, 27 July 2015

Soaked at Soake

With a week off work looking after and enjoying my time immensely with Jessica, the wife was back and Sunday was my day of rest. A day pool side angling for roach at one of my favourite local haunts, what could be better? Well, the weather couldn’t have been a bit kinder for a start!

Yes, rain was forecast for pretty much the whole day. Now I’m one of those anglers who can quite happily sit in the armchair and watch the weather report, see a few rain drops over the area and think “Yeah, they probably have it wrong. Besides, I’ll have my brolly”. So with everyone telling me I’d be better off staying in I ignore all the good advice and go anyway.

The morning came, I had all the kit ready the night before, all I had to do was make the sarnies, fill the flask and load the car. Brolly, don’t forget the brolly, and once in the car double check I’ve packed the brolly, we might get some rain. It was dry when I left, in fact, it looked like the perfect summer morning, slightly overcast, warm and very fishy.

I arrived just after 5am, there were no other cars in the car park, unusual as it’s a popular carp venue, I thought at least there’d have been a few overnight anglers still there, nut I was all alone. I carted my gear to the swim, set everything up, including the brolly just in case, and began feeding the swim. 3 or 4 rod lengths out I found a clear area amongst weed and with a depth of around 5 feet I was confident that one of these big roach would at some point through the day pay me a visit.

It has been an ongoing campaign that I am yet to realise, a 2lb roach. Ideally there are 2 targets, firstly to catch one from a Stillwater, and then flowing water. Obviously a 2lb river roach is the Holy Grail, but for me, a 2lb roach is a 2lb roach. I started angling just as the first of the drizzle came. The water’s surface remained flat calm making float fishing a joy. The bites were coming thick and fast and roach in the 8 – 10oz bracket were plentiful.

As the morning wore on so the rain increased its intensity. Although the pool as peppered with raindrops I could still fish effectively, see the bites and hit most of them. I even saw the bubbles rise, tench bubbles scattering the swim rising all around, and then the first of the day was hooked. The surrounding weed posed little problem, even with a 2lb bottom, and after a spirited tussle I slipped the net under a magnificent male tench, all fit and angry with find sticking out all over the place.

The roach action continued with a smattering of better fish thrown into the mix. The first fish that looked over a pound was unfortunately attacked by a pike just before gliding into the net. The pike hung on for a while but let go once it got caught up in some pads. It looked somewhat bedraggled after that, had a few wounds but I felt sure it would pull through, if it managed to vacate the swim that was. A few times I released roach into the margins, only for a violent swirl to appear. Such is the circle of life I guess.

The next better roach landed was a fish I weighed at 1lb 6oz. A big roach in my book and one that made me smile through the raindrops, which by now were coming straight down and bouncing back up some. Just before lunch I caught my second tench and after releasing it and whilst tucking into a sarnie the rain stopped. The clouds broke up and even a patch of blue appeared. I ate my lunch, drunk a few cups of tea from the flask and just as I made my first cast the sky darkened and the rain returned. This time it brought wind with it, and this caused the swirling effect that makes everything get wet, whether under the brolly or not. Couple this with the fact that my tea towel was wet and slimy now, the brolly being old was starting to drip on me, and the chilly wind as well…I was beginning to get ever so slightly fed up.

Having said all that, the fishing was excellent. The best roach of the day was safely brought to shore and weighed 1lb 12oz, and a few more tench were caught too. It was really superb fishing, I ended the day on 6 tench, countless fin perfect roach and a single rudd. I was soaked to the skin and moaned and cursed whilst packing away and driving home, but once everything was put away and I had changed it was rosy again. I finished my dinner, looked outside and saw blue skies; it remained dry for the remainder of the day too. Typical.


Monday, 6 July 2015

Carpathia Unleashed!!

With a couple of hours to kill and another gorgeous evening I had to grab Carpathia and head towards Fareham, just 15 minutes drive I have access to 9 great stalking waters all within a stone's throw of each other. Spoilt for choice, yet, sometimes that can prove to be an issue. My recent run of fish from Funtley almost saw me head there, but being a Saturday night I swerved it due to it more than likely being busy.

Instead I headed for Sultan, hardly fished and with recent sightings and captures. I could be in my element with the weed and, hopefully, the place to myself. I arrived soon after tea, had a quick batter with Mark and began my search for something old, dark and chunky. The moat was looking unbelievably pretty, all overgrown and very carpy.

I spotted a couple of carp along the 30s stretch but they were moving through with pace, obviously needing to get somewhere and certainly not on the lookout for grub. Along the 20s stretch I spotted a fish acting oddly, swimming high in the water angled upwards, it was most peculiar. After a few minutes I continued on my jaunt and completed the tour of the moat without seeing any more carp. I left the 40s alone as there was a match on till 7.

I opted for a gentle crawl along the far wall, just to see if anything was lurking tight to the far bank cover. One fish spooked off as I got there, but it was a good sign. Further along past the pads a found a small common amongst some bream, but after a few minutes it appeared to lose interest in the bread I was feeding it and left the scene.

I sat on the bank a little further along, flicked a few mixers into a gap between some pads and some bushes and prayed a group of decent carp off to the right would venture my way and find them before the ducks and swans did. As they drew closer I realised there were 2 small commons and a bigger mirror. As they reached the spot they started troughing, sucking in the free offerings with gusto. I swung out my double mixer hook-bait and got the line caught on a branch!!

With the fish still clooping below me I threw some more free baits in and set about untangling the line. Next cast got caught on the brambles below me, I was having no luck. I managed to keep the fish there regardless of my inability to get a hook-bait in the water, I finally did just that. Up came a pair of lips and over went Carpathia, we were in.

Conscious of the pads and snags close by I applied a little more pressure than usual, and was stunned when the beautiful mirror splashed around on a tight line and flipped straight into the net. It was over in seconds, man and rod working as one. I couldn't believe it was actually the mirror, and after all the false starts. It was the dark, old, chunk I hoped for, ever so dark.

Next up I visited the 20s bank, flicked out some mixers and sat once more. Out to the left I saw the odd mirror coming my way. As it approached it tipped upwards and began feeding. Intrigued I flicked my hook-bait out which was soon scoffed and a strange but still feisty battle took place. One of, if not the oddest carp I've caught. I'm told its been that way for a couple of years, so is obviously none the worst for its oddities.

I returned to where I caught the dark mirror but all was clear. I crept along a little further and deposited some mixers near a spot I've caught from in the past. I retreated and sat on my hands. Sure enough a few minutes later swirls appeared under the baits as carp began to schlurp mixers off the surface. It was past 9pm by now and getting dusky, but I could still make out the hook-bait and when it was taken.

Another short intense fight took place and I was equally stunned to find yet another drop dead gorgeous dark mirror in the bottom of my net. I took a quick self take and left for home absolutely buzzing. Carpathia had really shown her true colours as a versatile all round carp tamer. I simply cannot wait to flex her muscles again.