The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of carp fishing.
(As featured in month’s issue of Talk Carp Magazine)
Location – Airfield Lake
Hours Fished – 71 hours
This week, I had the opportunity to start my three nights earlier than normal – it was Half Term and the wife was off work. We should have been camping in Wales and what lovely weather it would have been, just perfect! I arrived just before 10 am and it was going to be a hot one, hopefully not as bad as before, only up to 22 degrees. The pressure was still high, but the carp have to feed. There will be no let up in the weather for the next 2 weeks. The cool breeze was still about, but nothing like the winds of last weekend, which didn’t make much difference to me as I blanked.
I had put a lot of thought in since my last session and I felt the bottom lake (being the deepest) was my best option. I’ve switched back to the Catalyst, which had served me well on this complex. The clarity of the water on this lake is like tap water, unlike the shallower ones. The bird life (Tuffted Ducks) is a bit of a nuisance so a darker bait was called for. I’d also opted for 10mm freebies and no particle added, just Catalyst soaked in the food dip since Monday and the hook baits would also match the darker colours.
The complex was very quiet when I arrived, just two cars on the first lake and 3 in the last car park. One was a day angler and I think one had set up on the Middle Lake. After a good walk and a bit of a drive around to the far end of the complex, this spot contained the most carp. So, it was now about attraction and how to get them away from the safety of their favourite area – the far margins under the overhanging tree. I wasn’t going to cast to close, that would just be a pointless exercise in how to lose carp. After reviewing the Deeper lakebook recordings, I had the marker float on the spot and baited 2 kilos over a nice gravel bar. I’m sure they must move along it when they come through the gap, they are always under the tree. I’d just have to draw them out with that lovely aroma the Catalyst has.
The right hand rod just had to been near the gap, I think they must have been hammered there over the years, but just along 10 ft may work. I don’t think you can ignore that area, it’s just finding the perfect spot. I only put out about 1/2 a kilo, I’m sure there has been a constant flow of bait since we arrived back. Both hook baits were going to be Catalyst wafters, and are also very dark. I just didn’t need the wildlife homing in on them. During the day, I may stick a pink pop up in the gap out of interest tomorrow, just to see if the visual option works.
As evening was underway, I had decided it may be a good option to have an alternative spot. I got the Deeper out, was just about to flick it out and connect it to the phone before I whacked it out into the lake. Before I could finish doing this, the right hand rod ripped off and I grabbed it straight away but I didn’t stand an chance. I walked backwards into the swim, the carp was under the overhanging tree, I thought they where a good way off. I wouldn’t have stood a chance at night. With this in mind, I would leave that until tomorrow and concentrate on looking for another spot in an area I was aware of a feature, but I hadn’t looked for. As luck would have it, I found the 6 foot humps around an area of 7 foot straight away and put a few spombs of the Catalyst there with a re-done rig.
I needed to map a lot more of this part of the lake over the next few days. The night drifted by with no other action, there were plenty of carp crashing all over the complex. It was going to be another warm day on the bank and I need to diside if it’s possible to find another spot near the gap, but it needs to be further away from the trees to give me the opportunity to get the fish in the net.
Grrrr! Just lost a carp on the open water rod – to a hook pull! I just don’t need this at the moment. Time to dig deep and focus on the positive fact, I’ve managed to get two takes in less than 24 hours and move forward. The bait was back on the spot, there’d been a couple of fish crash near the other spot, which is also good to see.
Just before noon, I baited the spots again with 1.5 kilo nice fresh wafters and whacked them back out on to the spots for the night. Hopefully I may get another chance to get one or two in the net tonight. Just after 01.30, the right hand rod ripped off into a carp who was kiting out into open water. This one found a boulder or the line was pulled under one, after much patience on my behalf the line gave way. I was gutted this is probably the worse start to a session on this lake and was getting pretty ridiculous to be fare and a bit silly. Either, I’ve been incredibly lucky in the past or something has change. I need to look back over past seasons and address this situation soon. Don’t think I’ve much option on this trip, but will sort something out tomorrow morning.
Just after 0500, the same rod buzzed into life, they really scream from here without any warning. This one was also kiting out of the bay, but found no boulders in its path. I was soon in the water up to my knees, giving side strain and hopefully stopping the carp from going around the end of the point to my left and into another bay. My efforts paid off, the carp was under control in the margins. It was time to play it out and get it safely in the Nsr, which I did must to my great relief, success at last. I often say that a lost fish is better than a blank as you have got the location, bait application right and it was unfortunately that you didn’t bank the fish. If you only get one peace of the jigsaw wrong, its better than all of the pieces scattered everywhere!
That will do me! 19lb 15oz Common
With wet shorts, I was over the moon.
I proceeded to get the rod back out with a fresh 15mm Catalyst wafter and got a brew on. I would probably drift back off to sleep at some point. I hadn’t even got the brew into the cup, the left hand rod screamed into life with a wild and angry Airfield Lake Common. This fight lead me even further out and nearly around the corner! There was a close call with the overhanging tree, I had to bury the rod under water and pump the fish towards me. I was hoping all the time that I didn’t make contact with a branch. Once the fish was safely around the corner, I could relax again and play the fish out under the rod tip.
15lb 11oz Common
Another cracking looking carp from the wild water. The bait was soon back out and I’d taken a sip of my luke warm coffee when I had an amazing drop back on the right rod just after 0730. There was nothing on the end if that one, the rod was straight back on the spot after checking the hook point. This is one thing I’m very keen on – the sharpness of hooks, as sticky sharp as I could. They are sticky, because of the way they just stick to your fingers without even trying. I’m quite happy to sharpen my hooks and don’t feel the need to put a brand new one on every time. A good hook should be sharp out of the packet and have the capabilities to be sharped a few times without affecting the performance of the hook.
After having another drop back, I had to conclude that, there was a carp trailing line, which is a very unfortunate situation.
I got the other rod out again after checking the hook and got another brew on. Just after 0830 the right had rod ripped off and I was happily playing the fish back towards me. The hook pulled out again! I was still holding the rod thinking over the situation and the other rod ripped away! I quickly grab that and pulled into another carp which was kiting left and I need to get wet again (joy) and keep it away from those trees. It did make me wonder what on earth I would have done if I hadn’t lost the other fish. I continue to pump the carp in to avoid any possibility of hooking up with the branches underwater, it eventually made it round the corner and into the Nsr50.
The Nsr system is absolutely brilliant once you have netted the carp. Let the line go slack and the fish will drop to the bottom of the net. It’s just like a retainer and it will happily sit there, as you get the camera kit etc all sorted.
A lovely 15lb 15oz Common
And back she goes to fight another day.
A fresh bait was back on the rod and on the mark again. I rebaited the area with another 3 kilos of 12m Catalyst boilies at just before midday and then headed around to a friend’s swim for the afternoon – social distancing of course. There was no way I was spending another afternoon baking in my swim and it was a pointless exercise. After 1630, I headed back and clipped on the rigs I had all set up and also had decided (with some discussion this afternoon), I would put my rods closer to the bivvy door and a lot higher up. Hopefully, this will combat the boulder issue and convert more carp in the net.
Just after 22.30, the left rod tour off and I was safely attached to what felt like a lump. I was slowly gaining ground and then the hook pulled out. Once I’d reeled in, I checked the hook and it was perfectly needle sharp. I don’t know if the powerful take made the hook dislodged, he same rig earlier banked me a fish. I’d had to use my forceps to remove the hook as it was well in and perfectly hooked in the bottom lip in the middle. So, why this time it’s choosing to pull out?
The Ronnie Rig does get you more pick ups than other rigs, but this is getting worryingly I need a fix to this issue pretty soon. I can safely say this is doing my head in and has given me a lack of confidence in the rig. I’ve had high regards for it over the past few years since moving off the 360 onto the Ronnie. My thinking cap needs to be on and do some fine tuning, if this doesn’t fix it, it may be time for a change. This has gone on way too long on over the past six months. I think I’ve fixed the issue and I then get a weekend like this, I’ve finally found where the carp are held up, get 8 takes and only got 3 in. It is pretty frustrating for me. Confidence in your ability is a key factor in carp fish and you have to be careful it doesn’t get undermined, by a situation like this. I think that knowing that this was a better/bigger carp hasn’t helped. The trouble with this place, is the make up of the lake bed over the 3 different areas you can fish, it dictates different adjustments to the rig and I need to get all the pieces of the puzzle together and fix the issue tonight.
With the bait back on the spot, I could hear the carp crashing, there is certainly confidence to be gained from the knowledge that they are feeding on the bait and my location and thoughts about their movement were spot on.
I’m certainly hoping for better results over the next few hours to even the score board out. About 04.00, the same rod as before was screaming off, this was a nice wake up call and a pretty straight forward battle played out. The carp was into the net. Much to my surprise, it didn’t head for the left hand tree and was well behaved. It was also a relief after the hook pull in the night, which we are not going to talk about anymore. I counted out the wraps to the spot, put a fresh Catalyst 15mm wafter on and fine-tuned the hook. I was soon back out on the spot and looking forward to my next take.
15lb 11oz Common
I was a very happy angler.
I thought I would add a couple of photographs with my underwater camera, just to give you an idea of some of the leftover rubble we have to contend with.
The bottom shot shows a very large lump in the middle of the screen, you can just imagine what would happen if your line get dragged anywhere near it.
The time was 05.30 and the left rods was away into another wild carp from the Airfield Lake. This one took me so far to the right, it nearly beached itself in the margins, but was soon back in front of me and off around the corner. The smaller fish are a nightmare on here, after a close call with the overhanging tree, it was all over and done with.
And back home safely and another lovely 13lb 14oz Common.
My original plan was to do three night’s and the wife kindly offered the opportunity to stay another night, which was lovely of her. However, after a lot of thought on this matter overnight, I have decided, it’s best to head home this morning. I’m pretty shattered from the heat, the takes through the night and not being able to sleep in the day due to the baking heat. I wouldn’t be functioning at 100% and when you’re fishing, I personally believe you have to give 100% to maximize your ability to catch carp. The last thing I need to happen is to lose a good fish due to being exhausted. So, I’ll be heading home just after 09.00, which gives me a couple more hours and a chance of another carp. It’s been a hard ride of emotions over the past 3 nights with plenty of ups and downs and I hope this comes across in my writing. I feel it’s more realistic to the every day anglers out there and losing carp is an integral part of the learning process within all aspects of fishing. I’m hoping with the few tweaks I’ve made, there is a good possibility that my landing ratio will increase on here and I can get amongst the monster more over the coming months.
This trip has been my best for some years and I can’t complain at that. I try my best to look on the positive side of life as much as possible. This can be tricky at times and more so at the moment, with the current situation, you have to make the most of it all and take the good things that come with it and brush away the negative.
Life is all too short and we should enjoy the moment. What could be more enjoyable than spending 3 nights out on the bank with the wonders of nature all around you? Fishing is such an amazing opportunity to be outdoors.
07.30 the left rod was away again and this fish did the same as the last one. Kited away to my right and then happily let me play it out under the rod tip again, absolutely awesome.
22lb 8oz Common
With reel-in time was just over an hour away. With nothing happening on the right hand rod, I moved them both on to the same area to my left which had produced 3 takes in the last 3 hours. Not wishing to be greedy, but there may well be time for another bite, I might just have to stick about for another hour, as I have also yet to start sorting out my kit ready for the barrow trip to the car.
That was that in the end. I’m well happy with 6 carp land and 4 or 5 lost fish is a bit unfortunate, but my best trip on this lake for some years by far. I’m looking foward to my next session.
Until next time
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