Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Down goes the average!
I know that you don't care but I've twisted my back. I did it when I was fishing so it was my own fault and it's not too bad but it has curtailed my trips to the coast this week. Anyway, back to the start. The big carp that I accidentally dropped back in without getting a picture last week would have kept the average weight of this season's carp catches up round the 20lb mark - that is no longer the case.
A few days ago there was a knock on the door and I found my pal Ben standing there and asking if I fancied a spot of carp fishing. Twenty minutes later we were getting our gear out of the cars at the local club lake complex. Before I describe our session I should probably set the scene. Now as I mentioned above, by my standards I've been doing exceptionally well at the lakes this season. Most of the fish (not vast numbers I have to say) have been in the teens or twenties and I've rarely spent more than a couple of hours fishing on each trip. Despite my crude approach to carping (no hair rigs, boilies, pellets, feeders, bolt rigs, etc., etc.,) I have had rather few blanks and generally managed a fish or two on most visits. My approach is simple at this time of the year. I look for patches of floating leaves (broad-leaved pondweed or waterlilies) prog a crust on the good-sized, strong hook, flick it into a gap in the leaves, draw the line until the crust rests against the edge of a leaf, close the bale arm and lay the rod down. I never strike intentionally and simply wait until the rod begins to bend or drag along before I pick it up, generally, at this point the fish is already hooked in the lip and simply needs to be steered through the vegetation into open water - if there is any. Ben does more or less the same as me and recently he has been showing his son how to catch carp off the top in this way.
We had a choice of lakes to fish and we chose to try the one that Ben had been fishing with young Jake - it probably holds the biggest density of carp although they tend to be on the small side (round about 8 to 15 pounds apiece). The water is pretty murky and there are lots of lily patches scattered along the margins. Almost all of these patches, even if they are only a few metres square, tend to hold a few carp. The lake is popular with anglers after silver fish as well as carp so it's not always possible to fish exactly where you would like to. When you find a good, fishable bed of lilies a couple of minutes of observation will sometimes show the position of a fish from the shaking or tenting of the floating leaves. In this case we drop the bait into a hole near to the action. Even if there's no movement it is always worth trying anyway because the presence of a crust will often induce a bit of interest from nearby fish.
We walked around until we came to a spot where each of us could fish on opposite sides of the chosen patch of floating leaves. Out went the crusts and down went the rods. Within minutes I saw my crust being jostled and the line began to straighten. Stupidly, and quite unlike me (I'm usually too slow to catch cold) I grabbed the rod and there was a mighty sploosh as the surprised carp headed for the hills - unfortunately it wasn't attached to my line. Idiot Mike! I suppose it is probably the result of fishing with someone else in attendance as almost exactly the same thing happened to my pal a few minutes later. Of course we both vowed not to do it again but it's easy to be wise after the missed bite. We fished on in the same lily bed and eventually I managed to hook a fish but it wrapped me in the submerged stems and came unstuck. I had a feeling that it was not going to be my day.
As it turned out, before we packed in each of us had a modest common and a variety of 'furtive pluckers'. The following day I had a spare hour in the afternoon and decided to try it again. This time I was more successful and landed two partially scaled mirrors. Neither of them was a monster but very satisfying. As I netted the second one I noticed a line hanging down from the branches of a willow tree into the water. By paddling in and stretching out awkwardly with the rod (my first mistake) I was able to reach the line and pull it within reach of my hand. Still slightly off balance I wrapped it round my sleeve and began to heave (second mistake); it was strong (?15lb) mono and I stumbled over a root as I walked backwards to gather it in. The stumble completed the twist of my back - I really did feel like a silly old sod but at least I recovered the line. Next time I'll be trying for the bigger fish again - back permitting.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org
My common on the first session.
The first fish on the second day.
... and the last one.