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Carp – A change of mind

Many DVDs, books, articles, and individuals will have you believe there is only one way to fish for carp.  That concept runs from the rods you use, through to the way you bait up for them.  This often includes ludicrously expensive rods, and shed-loads of boilies.  Now, I am not saying they are wrong, far from it, if it works for you, then happy days.  However, I would suggest there is no go-to rig, method, rod, or baiting campaign that works best for any species.  I want to offer up an alternative way of thinking.

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One thing I do know is that on any venue, the fish really don’t care how much you paid for your gear.  Before we had the all singing carbon rods, we were using fibre-glass, cane, split cane and so on.  We still caught big fish.  Izaak Walton wrote 350-years-ago of catching 50lb Italian Commons.  He was using bread-paste mixed with latex and honey and spending days and nights in their pursuit.  We are just reshaping the wheel.

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Alton Game Changer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fishing large pits and reservoirs, primarily for big bream, tench, and “unnamed” carp.  Like many venues that contain specimen fish in this category, they invariably hold a lot of small and mid-sized fish of the same species. The hard bit has always been sorting out the better-quality fish.  By putting in long hours, and trying numerous baits and methods, I’ve developed a few tricks.  There have been some frustratingly difficult times along the way, but anyone who knows me, knows I like a challenge.  Besides, I have found that the harder the venue, the more you’ll learn.

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Posted by on May 3, 2017 in Alton Game Changer

 

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Alton Amazing April

It’s been a long hard winter this year, with daytime temperatures rarely above 8c, and nights often dropping below zero. The cold north easterly had a bigger impact on Alton than I’d expected, and fish location was difficult to say the least.  The best I had to show for my many 48-hour sessions were two or three winter weary bream.

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However, this Sunday (9th April) it all changed.  And boy did it change, with the midday sun bringing a scorching 25c.  This – like many of us – was just what I was waiting for. With the dial reading 23c at 3pm (15:00), I headed for a shallow area I’d fancied for some time and arrived around 4pm on Sunday. With the nearest car park rammed, I made a quick check to see that my fancied – off the beaten track swim – was still free. It was, so I headed back to the car, loaded the barrow, and arrived in my swim at 4:30.  With nearly 4 hours of light, I decided to have a good mark around (depth checking for those overseas unfamiliar with this term).  From a couple of previous visits, I had a reasonable idea of the overall depth.  However, having been plagued by tufted ducks munching their way through my baited area on my prior excursion, I fancied fishing closer in. One thing I have noticed with this species of duck is that although they seem to nonchalantly ignore us, while eating their way through our bait, they won’t come within 50 yards of the bank.

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Posted by on April 11, 2017 in Alton Amazing April

 

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Alton 6 months on

I started fishing Alton Water regularly back in September, and I thought it was time I shared what I have learnt so far.  This article is purely based on my opinion and will hopefully be thought-provoking. I’ve fished virtually every week for 24 or 48 hours, only breaking for Christmas (and a bad back – fully recovered haha). In that time, I have learnt a lot, seen some serious fish – in all species – struggled for a bite on occasions, and managed to snare a few along the way.

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Entrance to Tennis Court Bay and a bite on the right hand rod haha

It is worth considering that I started in autumn (fall), and my opinion is based on fishing at the hardest time of the year. I have no doubts that things will change tremendously during the warmer months. Initially, I expect fish to start moving towards their breeding areas over the next couple of weeks, and then move again once spawning has finished. Similarly, as the water temperature goes up, areas seemingly devoid of fish will change markedly, especially shallow areas in and around the bays. The most noticeable change will see the tench activity increase greatly over the coming days and weeks.  I’ve already had a couple of small fish, and seen an increase in activity, with the revealing pin bubbles in the margins and their tell-tale dolphin role – something I love. In addition, the carp have started crashing out a little more, giving those who want to target this species a good starting point.  The bream have been the slowest, oddly, to start showing themselves, which is something that has surprised and frustrated me.  However, in the coming months, they will be capable of devouring as much bait as you can carry.

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Posted by on March 23, 2017 in Alton 6 Month Report

 

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A quick Alton update

End of Feb 2017

With winter coming to a close and spring not far off, I thought I’d give you a quick heads up on the activity since my last report back in November.

It has not been easy and that’s for sure, and I’ve found myself moving from one area to another.  I think the inconsistent weather, plus not going for four weeks – due to a bad back – has had a significant impact. Towards the end of November, I was fishing the same swim towards ‘tennis court bay’ and had plenty of fish in front of me, mostly Bream I might add.  I think the combination of the sudden downturn in temperatures and, not feeding the swim for four weeks resulted in the fish drifting out into the deep channels. I might add here that from 20-rod lengths out the water is 50 plus foot, so plenty of places for them to go. What also hasn’t helped is the wind, which has been 20mph plus. On top of that, it has been changing direction from one day to the next and the last thing you want is a strong wind blowing in your chops when it is either raining or freezing.  It is one thing fishing this time of year, but to be uncomfortable is too big an ask for an old guy like me.

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I picked the tower stretch for my winter campaign expecting northerly winds, which would have been off my back. Hmm, as if that’s gonna happen with British weather, about as changeable as my hook baits haha.

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Posted by on February 28, 2017 in A quick Alton update

 

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An Angling Photo Diary

Hemingford GreyOften in the shop, I meet parents who are introducing the sons and daughters to fishing, even though in many cases, they are not anglers themselves. I delight in this, suggesting it will teach their children many lessons-in-life, ones that they will carry forward into adulthood. It is not just the enjoyment of angling and pitching your wits against an unseen objective, which they will get pleasure from and talk about for days on end. Importantly, they will learn to appreciate the environment, and all Mother Nature has to offer. A big factor and learning curve are the consequence of stealth. Make no mistake, if you make a lot of noise when angling, not only will you spook the fish, but you’re likely to miss the wildlife too.

For me, second, only to snaring a big fish, are the immense skies you get when sitting by the water. Moreover, if you are like me, and stay fishing for 24 hours plus, you witness the glorious sunrises and dramatic sunsets. One of the things I love is the early-morning mist that hovers over the windless sun-kissed lake. For me, it somehow invigorates my imagination, creating a strangely buoyant mood.  Especially when you hear a splash and seconds later, ripples appear.

Where am I going with this? Well, one of the first things I pack when heading out on another jaunt is a fully charged up camera. By the way, I don’t do expensive cameras; just a standard 10 megapixel is enough for me. So, here is my photo angling diary, oddly not a fish in sight haha… I hope you enjoy, and hey, maybe you’ll get what I am on about 😉 SteveD – Go-Catch – No-Limits.

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Posted by on December 20, 2016 in Angling Photo Diary

 

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Winter Feeding Tactics Carp – Bream

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a stunning English winters sunset

I will try to cover this off with carp and bream being different entities.  That said I have found this time of the year, that if you get the bream in front of you, you’re likely to find the carp not too far away. Obviously, not every venue has bream, and certainly not in sufficient numbers for the carp to swim with them. I say this because, I have found, especially of waters that have a large pike, often the carp swim close to the bream as a kind of safety mechanism. For sure, it is unlikely that there is any pike big enough to trouble a decent-sized carp.  However, the carp were not always of a good size and grew up being frightened of pike.  Therefore, they have this fear in the psyche.

This, I must say, is just a theory and not based on anything other than my own experiences. Often, when fishing venues for big bream I invariably catch carp, much to the dismay of the resident carp specialists.

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Winter Rig Board

Those of you that know me will know the winter is my favourite time of the year. Over the years, the vast majority of my biggest Carp and Bream have come during the colder months.  The water, in most cases, is at its clearest, and as a result, stealth becomes an even more important factor. For sure, there is less fish activity and the location is a vital aspect at this time of the year. I have talked before about fishing during the colder months, but in essence; avoid areas that are continually hit by the cold North, NE, NW winds.

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I have no doubts you all have your own go-to rigs, and I am not suggesting you change your set-ups. The whole idea of this article is to get you, and me, thinking, perhaps differently, or maybe a little left field, either way, sharing our ideas.  Just writing this makes me think of new concepts and ideas. I believe it is too easy to take things for granted. For sure the cliché’ “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is on the money. However, if you are anyway like me, you’ll always be looking for a way of improving things. I am a firm believer, especially on big waters, that we don’t even scratch the surface or come close to catching what’s in front of us. You often hear someone say, so-n-so fish was caught last week, having not been seen for two years… and that’s on a small water.  My point is that I firmly believe we can always improve things. It is nice to have the latest rods, reels, and bite indication, but if the last few inches are wrong, the new gear is pointless.

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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Winter Rig Board Carp and Bream

 

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Bures Lake Suffolk

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London Anglers Association

This lake is owned solely by the LAA, and therefore, the club has complete control over what happens to the surrounding area with regard to trees, swims and so on.   To protect fish stocks, last year the club, at considerable cost, erected an Otter fence. Please be mindful of this and close all gates when entering the fishery. You can park in many of the swims, but when doing so, please leave your car in an area where you will not block access for others.  Because this lake is completely fenced in, the only people that you will see are other anglers and the bailiff.

This lake is picturesque, peaceful, and very quiet, particularly at night. It comes with some notable history, non-least a remarkable catch by Mid-Essex Specimen angler Len Head. In 1975, when a 4lb Tench was considered a special fish, Len had a capture of two fish to 8lb 2oz and 7lb 1oz. This took his tally of 7lb fish to six – more than anyone else at that time. All fish came from Bures Lake.

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There are still more than a few big Tench to target, although one or two of the locals may suggest otherwise. I have been fishing Bures seriously for around five years now and have had some real stunners, with many fish in the 8-9lb bracket and a couple of good doubles. Most of the big fish tend to come during darkness when the lake is at its quietest. That said it never gets busy. The big beds of weed and large lily pad beds put off many people. Please do not allow this to deter you as the fish respond well to raking. There is even a boat for use by anglers to help when raking. When using the boat, please consider other members. In addition, the tallest tree has metal climbing steps, which helps with fish spotting and identifying clear areas.

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Old dark warrior

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Fresh young fish

An average 24-hour session for me normally produced four to six Tench, plus the occasional Carp. (I will talk about the carp shortly.)  For many anglers, the lake fished poorly last year certainly by comparison with previous years.  Many people saw Tench rolling and fizzing in their swims, but reports suggested only a handful of decent fish caught.  I believe this was largely due to the building of otter fence combined with some serious tree cutting.  Last October, the lake started fishing well again, and this backs up my view.  Interestingly, the biggest Tench are not necessarily the old dark warriors and often the young mustard coloured fish show up in the 8lb plus bracket. So, the future fishing in this lake is only going to get better.

 

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A Lumpy Male

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Another old dark fish

Alongside the Tench, the lake holds lots of big Rudd, Perch and a few decent roach. Bream are occasionally seen rolling, but I don’t know of any being caught. It is difficult to access the number of carp present. This is down to two reasons, firstly, it being under fished and secondly, there are so many hiding places. Many carp into double figures have been stocked over the years, most recently in 2004. I have had a number of commons into the mid twenties.  Every fish has been a fin perfect, stunning example of ‘old English fish’ with bright gold scales, and dark backs. I have seen a number of fish into the low 30s, including a couple of very big mirrors.

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One of the stunning commons

Sweet corn, maize, maggots, worms, and small boilies all work well.  My preference is an 8mm drilled pellet combined with any of the above. Being mindful of the amount of Rudd present, I always use a lot of ground bait, which is largely fishmeal based. The fish in this lake respond well to bait over their heads, so don’t be afraid to top your swim up even when the fish are feeding.  In fact, I bait up after every fish. Although many of the bigger Tench show up during darkness, a lot of fish are captured during daylight hours. That said early evening and first thing in the morning are good times to fish.  I’ve found the best place to fish is very close to the lily pads and because of this, strong line is a must. Fortunately, the fish in here are not spooked by heavy line, although small hooks are a must, with a size 10 Drennan Barbel being my personal choice. On the subject of lily pads, you will often find clear areas close to the pads.  There is a channel, which is around 7feet deep that zigzags through the lake. Spend some time with your marker rod and you will find this channel. It is worth the effort because even with no lily pad cover the fish do patrol this area. You can fish the channel from all swims along the riverbank. Every swim is worth fishing and often setting up very close can produce the best results. I often fish no more than 15 yards out.

To give you an idea, I have knocked up a rough map of the lake, with depths and approximate lily pad location.

Bures map

I hope this all helps and please remember, this is only my personal opinion.

Go-Catch SteveD

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Bures Lake Suffolk

 

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Keep control of your feed and the fish in your swim

Keep it tight and your results will go through the roof

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Winter sun

For many years, we’ve used ground-bait to attract fish. When I say ground-bait, I mean quite literally an area of bait to attract the fish, be it a particle, a kilo of boilies, crushed or otherwise, breadcrumb in all its variants and so on. The list is endless. Whichever you choose, there are some things to think about when baiting an area. This is even more prevalent in the colder months when fish are less likely to go bombing from one end of the lake to the other.

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Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Keep control of your feed

 

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