It’s Show Time

Hung out to dry!

The winter will be here soon and new carpy challenges await me. I have never done a true winter campaign but intend to this year.

First challenge – the venue.

Taking the advice of Nigel Sharp in a recent Carpology feature, 5 things I’ve learnt about winter fishing. I settled on a shallowish, four ache lake with only a couple of areas of pads, which will die back as the cold sets in.

Having never fished it before the first visit was a short exploratory session walking and watching the water.

As usual, one of the kids came along for the ride and despite my attempts at not being too ambitious, Mel was firm in her belief that we would have three fish!

We arrived at 2.30pm and found a couple of anglers to chat to – nothing had been out all day.

Then bosh, big show to the right of the first fella we chatted to. Being new to the lake and not wanted to piss off a regular by settling up next to him we wandered on, eventually settling on a sheltered bay where there was some bubbling. Plus we could see the whole lake from our swim – No. 7.

Rods out, kettle on and Mel and I settled down to watch and hopeful learn a little about the lake.

Then at 4pm it was Show Time.

One in the left margin, two out front at 80yrds – one of which I could clearly see golden scales of a 25lb plus common but more importantly two over the left rod.
Then the liners stared and we waited in the edge of our seats. And we waited, and as quickly as the show had started it ended and the lake was quiet by 6pm.

With the light fading and cold penetrating our clothes we reluctantly packed up.

Mel had experienced her first blank, but as I said on the way home think of the positives.

  • We saw fish show and good one too, so we won’t be chasing mythical beast next time.
  • We could think of a different bait approach – one of the fellas thought the carp and a sweet tooth. Strawberry, Tutti or Scopex boilies perhaps.
  • The size of the lake means we can be very mobile and on fish quickly so perhaps walking and quickly casting at shows will pay dividends.
  • Also with the liners perhaps a zig rig on one rod is the way forward.
  • Finally, the net is dry so the car does not smell all fishy!

Having seen the matinee, what shows do the carp put on for the morning and evening? That is the carppuzzle which I aim to solve on the next visit.

Tight lines.

Particle Physics

Party mix

I always like to add a few particles to my boilie approach, I think it keeps the carps grubbing around and you’ll often see the water discolour and slick up as they get their heads down. 

In addition bringing other fish to the party will attract a curious carp, much like us, you see a crowd and need to know what’s up. But beside the usual suspects of hemp, tigers, corn, maple peas, grains etc are we missing a seasonal bank side feast?

During the year various trees and bushes around the lake will fruit (apple, plum, cherry, elderberries and blackberries) and produce nuts (cobs, acorns, conkers) and not forgetting rose hips and hawthorn berries, many of which will fall in the margins and be eaten by fish – carp perhaps.

Around harvest time this is especially noticeable. So with all the bait companies making fruity or nutty boilies perhaps some windfall cherries or elderberries in with your Crafty Catcher Black Cherry boilies might be the “edge” we are forever looking for.

Having said that I think this approach is only really limited to the margins.

I’m no Einstein but his theory of general relativity states.

Gravity is a distortion of space-time. Particles still follow the straightest possible paths in that space-time.

Therefore, straight down into the lake and not out into the middle.

So “particle physics” will limit the effective “edge” of this lake side bounty’, that is of course if the carp even ate them in the first place!

Tight lines.

The Links Effect

Hook line and sinker

To tie or to buy your hook links, that is the question.

Well one of the questions for carppuzzle this week. The other being how long should your hook link be, and does a ready tied link put you at a disadvantage – okay that’s two questions.

Various companies offer ready tied rigs – Korda, ESP, Fox, Prologic, Gardner and entering the market most recently [Oct 2016] was Vardis, all using a variety of materials and hook patterns to cater for every carpy scenario.

Or do they?

Looking at what’s on offer, one thing that strikes me why are they all generally 7 to 9 inches long (I am not included Chod and PVA bag links here)? Is that the industry consensus from years of field testing or is it that at that length they conveniently fit into the respective companies rig box?

[Inset your own money making conspiracy theory here.]

I can see the convenience but where do you go to if you are heading for a blank? Different presentation, yes possible, but still the same length? This doesn’t seem like a great alternative.

Reading various articles link lengths vary between 4 to 14 inches. It seems anything goes, so why do manufacturers think 7 – 9 inches are the magic numbers?

As a novice I like to tie my own, from a simple KD to Hinge Stiff rigs and Combi’s – that’s part of the challenge, right? Plus altering the length of the hair and link itself can make or break a session.

Also I think mixing up the manufacturers of the different components is more cost effective, and allows you to cherry pick the best components for your desired presentation.

For example: I use Korda hooks, Gardner braid and BankTackle hardware (swivels etc).

And one last thought; I don’t understand the fashion for having a full rig board for a session. One or two maybe to get started but after that the tweaking should begin if the carp are getting away with it.

So my answer to this weeks carppuzzle is: tie your own as I do; a couple each for maybe three different bait presentations; and the length?

SEVEN inches of course! Just the right size to fit in the rig board!

Tight lines.

[Fish] Meal Time

Quality over quantity?

Changing the carppuzzle logo colours to reflect the Autumn got me thinking. 

Is it better to feed and bait up with fishmeal or cereal/seed/nut based boilies during the Autumn months?

Being a novice and having read various articles there seems to be generally two schools of thought, low protein in the colder conditions is easier for the carp to digest as they are less active; OR it does not matter, a quality bait will always get eaten it’s just about how much you pile in.

But I don’t think (and I’m sure you will agree) it is that clear cut.

All baits will have egg protein, but milk/nuts/cereal based boilies will also contains protein, some to a high degree, eg Sticky Manilla, with its super special proprietary peanut extract. And of course fishmeal will contain protein but much more of it – 75% more by volume for arguments sake.

So, here’s the maths; 1kg of the former with 20% protein by volume i.e. 200g, would be 375g of protein (75% increase) of the latter and equate to 0.57kg of boilies. So, if we’re using 18mm, at approximately 100 boilies per kg we’d only chuck in 57 fishmeal boilies to a packet of milk/nut/cereal, little more than half a packet.

So with fishmeal there is less food (ie boilies) in the lake and perhaps the fish feed over a shorter time and drift off once the boilies are gone compared to the other non fishmeal boilies. Therefore a non fishmeal boilie will potentially hold the carps attention for longer.

Having said that, if the fish like it they will eat it regardless of the quality/quantity [of protein] and it is down to us carpers to maximise catching in this feeding phase during the session.

But there is always an edge to be found, hence people chop and change in the colder months, think particles and naturals – but that’s another blog.

Sticking to boilies, one edge I’m going to explore is independent small batch produces. I’m not ready for home production yet! But I’m thinking don’t go local, go further afield. I’m in the South so a Northern supplier might give me the edge as the bait may not have been seen on the lake, as opposed to the usual tackle shop suspects and local manufacturers.

Having said that, it could be problematic introducing a new bait to a water and turn the fish onto the boilies in the colder weather, but then it could well lay the foundations for a successful Spring campaign!

So I’m back to which type and percentage of protein in my small batch boilie to use. I’m starting to go around in circles and beginning think I’m making a right meal out of this blog.

As with so much in carp fishing confidence is key – if your bait is catching stick with it regardless of the season and leave the maths at school!

Tight lines.

Nutcracker Sweet!

Monster mash-up

Back to the estate lake for a short afternoon / early evening session with Jim and Mel plus a new bait – Dynamite Monster Tiger nut Red Amo boilies, plus matching glug and harden hook baits. 

In for a penny in for a pound!

I picked the harden baits to get 22mm (ers) to hopefully snare the larger girls. I explained to Mel these were designed for ‘monstrous’ carp hence the name.

Either way the bait read well in reviews, in videos online and looked good (slightly washed out) so why not – having said that I could not resist my own edge, Dunn River Coconut Milk, half a tin per kilo.

Now the snag from the previous visit was still fresh in my mind so I set up casting to “the” spot from a different angle and if I got a take the carp should arc left, and by keeping a tight(ish) clutch it should sail passed the snag thereby solving that little carppuzzle.

Out went two different set ups.

  • A Combi Rig with a drilled and cork plugged 22mm bait to help reduce its weight, and
  • The KD (which I have great confidence in), drilled 15mm plus buoyant corn snowman style to produce a gently wafting (natural) presentation.

Then scattered (that’s what happens when a seven year gets her hands on the catapult) 30 or so baits near the spot, kettle on, and then we settled down to watch the water.

The more I think about this lake the less likely I think there is anything over 20lb. It’s quite shallow all over, probably only six feet at its deepest and having chatted to the bailiff, it was restocked about three years ago, high doubles are the most likely outcome.

And finally, that snag is an old fence, posts and all.

Just then the left rod bleeped into life and as predicted the carp headed for the fence line, slowing the clutch with my hand it swept passed the snag and headed for the margin to my left. I had to apply more pressure to get her around the trees and into the net – a good looking mirror. Great to get off the mark with a new bait.

Mel fired out a few more coconut enriched boilies while the mirror rested. Then as I was breaking the net down the right rod left out a solid tone and something was taking line.

Jim grabbed the rod and luckily this carp headed right along the reed line. Unhooking the mirror on the net I was then able to net Jim’s common as it came in easily.

Sweet – two upper doubles but no monsters to match our baits from Dymamite.

Not sure if we’ll be back but I’m confident these boilies will solve the carppuzzle and produce good fish wherever we next visit.

Tight lines.

Pugil Sticks

Stick it to ’em

Korda’s new product launch and Fox’s online retort got me thinking. [Insert Rocky theme music here.]

In the ‘green’ corner we have Elliot Grey from Korda: and in the ‘orange’ corner we have Mark Pitchers from FoxInternational:

Best of three rounds. Ding ding, seconds out.

  1. Functionality – both are straight bank sticks, both black, both have a coloured top which can take an isotope. Korda does win on the isotope housing, some funky grooves on the stick plus the end point that looks like something out of Thunderbirds. Korda takes the first  round.
  2. Record – both have a loyal following and offer the carp angler almost everything. But Fox has the edge with rods, reels, luggage and the like, so you can be well and truly brand loyal. Fox takes second round.
  3. Price – wallop !! Knock out blow by Fox (£8.99), Korda is on the deck (£59.99). Even with the extras on Korda the price is out of whack. Fox takes the third and the bout.

But still, could this least offering from Korda be a hit?

We are all collectors and tackle tarts to a degree but I think these sticks are a bit over priced.

Avid and Cygnet offer something similar with their own twist and bend on the humble stick.

I hope this Korda offering is not the thin edge of the wedge when the trendy marketeers move in on a pastime and make it fashionable for the hipsters, producing the same stuff but at inflated prices all be it with a slight product edge over the competition.

I’m thinking RidgeMonkey carbon throwing stick here. [Ed.]

The resulting surge of interest could see already long syndicate waiting lists grow and with more pressure on day ticket venues you’ll be lucky to get your bank sticks out without tripping over someone else’s or mine, pictured.

Tight lines (between your sticks)

Barrow Boys

Beast of burden

Back on the estate lake for an over night session and the wife insists one of the kids goes along; this time Jim, thirteen. 

An overnighter and an extra body means more kit; bivvy, bags, buckets, bait etc. So to solve this Carppuzzle we invested in a new JRC Compact Barrow . At the lake it is loaded up with everything bar the kitchen sink.

The big girls of the lake are rumoured to be upper twenties and a mythical thirty. It’s just a question of finding them and with the new barrow we easily lapped the lake looking; plus a delight without my ear being bent – “can we stop here Dad, my arms hurt”.

We picked our spot having seen a show in a snaggy corner where the setting sun would cast its last rays, plus the swim gave us a fifty yard cast to the bushes on the other aside of the lake which would catch the morning rays. The forecast was good and this end of the lake would be sheltered if the wind picked up from the south west. Expectations were high.

Having dropped a few boilies into the snags, out went the tried, tested and trusted KD but no pop-up, instead a bottom bait with buoyant corn on top.

I set about casting and counting wraps for the morning spot. Before putting the second road in the margin snags.

A couple of low doubles kept us busy in the early evening but the girls remained elusive.

With the light fading and Jim retreating to his sleeping bag I baited the far bank with boilies, corn and hemp via the Spomb. Out went the first rig closely followed be the second and I too retreated to the bivvy to play cards whilst keeping an eye one the lake.

The night was quiet and in the morning the lake was too. I feared the rigs may be sitting badly, but do I wind in, recast and disturb the spots or wait? This is the Carppuzzle.

Then a show over the spots eased my mind I went for the latter and put a dozen boilies out with the catapult.

Kettle on, sit and wait.

Then a single bleep, a drop back, and then nothing. I waited a few more minutes and still nothing. Lifting the rod and winding down the line appeared ten yards to the left and closer in with something on that them surged and snagged itself fast on something unseen.

I put the rod down and waited – solid – applied some pressure – solid – this carp knew the lake better than me.

Jim was up now and we pondered what to do over tea and biscuits.

Pulling once more … ping … the carp and I parted company.

I counted the wraps to the break and had lost twenty foot of line to a clever carp and a large snag in the middle of the lake.

That, and the time brought the session to an end. Loading the barrow we strolled around to our baited area and dropped a few more boilies in for good measure knowing we would be back another day.

Driving home we decide next time to approach our baited area from a different angle to fool the girls and dodge THAT snag, tweak the kit, and thanks to our new found mobility bring the kitchen sink!

Tight lines.