I’m no spring chicken at 53 but I know that if you don't get out there and do it whilst you can there will come a time when you can't. For me life is all about family, health, work, fishing, biking, gigs, shows and so much more... Sometimes I feel I am on a never ending treadmill but you know what I wouldn't swap it for anything else. Join me now for a look back at what has been going on…
The Green Stuff
The big issue on many of my waters has been good old weed which has really taken hold this year. A mild winter and spring meant it never actually really went away on some waters. As my Dad always says "it is what it is" which means dealing with it or choosing another water. Having fished places like Savay, Drax and Tilery when they were really weedy believe me the stuff some people were moaning about was nothing to worry about. The first change was from fluorocarbon on the reels to D-Cam in 15lb and that stuff can pull trees off islands I can tell you. It took a little while to get used to but once I'd gone from two to two and a half ounce leads I could start to feel the bottom easily enough. The new lead clips are superb and the soft nature of the tail rubber means as soon as a carp runs into weed that lead will pop off. The difference is amazing and touch wood I have yet to drop a carp once that lead pops off. Funnily enough one of my waters has now made pinned lead clips compulsory now having seen what advantages they give safety wise. Running leads, helicopter rigs and all that are just a liability in weed in my opinion!
Bigger Is Best
I've made no secret that I am a big fan of what I call 'Mush' which is usually a combination of Key Flake, Slicker Hemp and Tiger Nut Slush. It did me proud at the start of the year and if I wanted to be up catching tench, bream and carp it’s ideal. Doing overnighters after work means the last thing I want is interrupted sleep unless a carp is sounding my R3. Having had two punishing nights in a row it was time to rethink my strategy if I wasn't going to age prematurely.
Next trip I left the mush at home and instead fished over 15mm Key boilies. Five carp and a few bream meant I was on the right track. So I changed from 15 to 20mm freebies and immediately the action from tench and bream stopped and when the buzzer sounded it was carp and carp alone. Initially the 20mm freebies looked huge compared to what I was using normally but when you look at one compared to the mouth on just a low double there is nothing to fear. I am using the 15mm Cultured Hookbaits size which are actually around 25mm with the Culture skin surround and the carp have been loving them (apart from ending up with a Size 5 Twister in their gobs, obviously…). It really surprised me how strongly the carp fed on the bigger free offerings and it certainly made baiting up a lot easier. Anything that keeps the nuisance fish away gets a double thumbs up in my book, especially when it is a work day the next day.
Little Things Count
Having got back into the groove of overnighters it’s amazing that no matter how much I think I’m prepared the more I go the more efficient I have become. Fishing odd sessions means you never really get to grips with things but doing three nights every seven to eight days really helps. Just little things like not taking too many tent pegs, having the free offerings already soaked and so on has made my life a lot easier. One little trick to save time in the morning is making up a flask of coffee just before I turn in so that the cooking gear is away for the morning rush and if I just want a slurp of coffee during the night when I’ve been up for the night it’s there for me. Key freebies have been coated in Key Liquid Bait Soak and then dusted in Key Stick Mix so that when I fire them in evening time they are already ultra potent. The Air Lite SS2 has been a revelation and the more compact size and reduced weight is saving my old bones from punishment. In the tighter swims I have been fishing under my Scope Recon Brolly and it’s fully covered – brilliant!
Liking it on top
Am I really the only one who has more confidence surface fishing than sitting behind zigs? Although I have caught plenty on zigs compared to surface fishing it’s just not in the same league. No matter how short my sessions I always fire out some Risers and Slickers on arrival to check for surface feeders. Whilst I have been catching my breath and deciding where to place the bottom rods the surface baits have been doing their magic. In fact on two occasions I have not even bothered with the bottom rods but instead stuck to the one rod with a Bolt Machine. Believe me multiple catches off the top are a lot easier than off the bottom. Having pre tied hooklengths and a rod already made up makes all the difference. The Risers are Spombed out and once I see action I simply top up with Slickers to avoid them getting cute with the hookbait. Once they are taking confidently (I call it the point of no return) you can sometimes even play the carp through the others without spooking them. As soon as it’s in the net then I fire more Slickers out to keep them going and then sort out the self timer shots. For anyone on restricted time this tactic of using floaters to your advantage is probably your biggest edge!
From Issue 1 I have always had a strong link with Crafty Carper magazine and since 2007 have written a monthly piece without fail. One of the joys of being a monthly columnist is that a couple of times a year the editor will join me on a session and shoot enough shots to cover my planned articles for a few months. As a lone angler there are only so many shots you can do on your own so thank you guys, it makes the world of difference.
First trip out saw Tom Morrison join me on Lakewood to shoot some overnighter shots. It didn't get off to the best of starts with me getting a puncture lakeside and Tom not having his tackle for a night session. With the carp in the mood to spawn a take looked doubtful but the good old white pop up over Key Flake saved the day and Tom got the playing shots done. The second trip was to shoot a short session piece and this time it was Tom suffering the puncture whilst I dashed from work to beat the promised rain. Arriving in a suit made him smile but luckily I was prepared. Three swims were baited with Slickers and one close in with the Key Flake/Slicker Hemp/Tiger Nut Slush combination. Before I could get my bottom rod set up they started to take off the surface and eventually after forty five minutes of getting them to that point of no return I managed two in quick session. Eventually the bottom rod was in position and Tom got the shot of the rod tip whipping round. Well nearly... he wasn't quite quick enough and missed it.... With rain starting to fall he shot off to watch the England game and I went to bait up my syndicate on the way home.
As ever it’s been a busy old time with my family starting with a lovely meal in York to celebrate my sister Alison's 50th birthday. Dad paid so it was even better. A few trips out with Dad to air museums and tank shows and then a gig up at the Middlesbrough Empire watching the amazing Vintage Trouble with Roz's family. Driving an hour and a half on the motorway each way after work and then going for a day session fishing at 5am tests your dedication believe me..... And then I flipping blanked...... good job the gig was good !!!!
As a consultant for Nash it’s something I take very seriously and if I can promote the brand positively I do so. Social media is brilliant as it allows me to answer questions almost immediately whereas in the good old days you had to wait for that letter from me. Add to that plenty of shop days and as you can imagine it’s been pretty busy. Chapman’s Angling in Scunthorpe was good fun as well known local carp angler Jimmy Hibbard has a great carp section there. Tying up rigs and giving them away went down a treat and so did the coffee and biscuits too, thanks guys. With more coming up all the way through to late October it’s really worth keeping an eye out for ones near you. I am particularly looking forward to the Tackle Up open day in Bury St Edmunds with the gorgeous girls who run the shop.
Carp In The Park 2 was fun and a great concept too which will only grow and grow I am sure. The Scope range was massively popular and certainly is proving a big hit with those of you (like me) who have limited time and want to avoid taking the kitchen sink.
And Coming Up
Well of course lots more carp fishing and with many anglers dropping off due to weed it offers me more opportunity when it comes to swim choice. They certainly are on The Key big style and now that I have got the 20mm baits going in perhaps I will have fewer bream and more carp. Close range fishing is definitely the way forward in weed and I have moved from Twisters to Fangs as they are slightly thicker in the wire which is important when hook and hold fishing. I have just joined a new water purely to surface fish it so that looks promising too. Gig wise it’s Ramblin’ Man Fair in Kent in late July with Whitesnake , Europe and Thin Lizzy so that’s a must. Add in a trip to the Trent for a river carp and some canal work in the evening and it’s a full itinerary I guess..... again!
Look forward to seeing some of you bankside but if not then keep in touch via social media whenever you want.....
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