Sunday, 13 May 2012

Scalm Park carp

Having not been out with my pike gear for a while I had a chance to get out with a rod for a relaxing session on a carp puddle, in what turned out to be a pleasantly warm sunny day. Wait, what!? Yes sunny, but I thought our summer came and went in early April? Well my face is actually a little rosier tonight and I have a feeling tomorrow will have me showing off my panda eyes again. Why do I always leave my sunglasses on all day, even when the missus reminded me to take them off? Weather wise it was as much a contrast to recent weeks, as the style of fishing I would be doing was to my usual lure chucking. I think we're all aware of the recent drought we've been having across the country, you know the drought that has left every river swollen and bulging and even bursting the banks in many places. 

Not that I'm fishing it of course, but my bit of river was no exception and reached it's limit recently. The flood was bringing all sorts down stream and watching it surge I had to wonder where on earth the fish could hide. The middle picture was taken from the top of the bank behind where I usually fish, hard to tell but even if I was stood up straight in my peg I'd still be under 5 feet of water easy. The right picture shows where there should be a weir, the water level clearly above it. Watching the water surge through is a bit hypnotic and you just seem to stare at it, then a beer barrel floats by, or a huge tree. Who knows what new snags will be in my swim come June 16th.

But we're far from that date and I've been promising myself I'd have to get out and do something different. I've been fancying a bit of pond fishing for tench, but the ponds I wanted to fish are part of the flood relief for my river so even that was out of the question. Couple that with the shoddy weather and my enthusiasm for getting a rod out has been dampened some what. Then this weekend the sun promised to shine and so I tagged along with my old man and his old man for a steady session on a small carp lake on a caravan site they'd unhitched on for the season. I turned up with a bucket full of different baits expecting a few carp and a nice relaxing day. It's not normally my scene, I've had a bash at it in the past, enjoyed it but moved on seeming to settle only for the adrenaline fuelled action of Esox hunting this past year.

Now I've fished these types of ponds before and have a decent idea what to expect. Go for the maggot approach and you'll end up with a bag full of silvers but I didn't fancy that. In the past I've had lots of fun with floating bread in carp puddles, but it probably isn't warm enough for that right now plus add to that often it can get frustrating while all the small roach etc nibble away at your hook bait and the only feeding carp seem to only take every other bit of bread except yours. They take the piss don't they! I didn't want to go down that route and so decided upon using a method feeder, sitting it out until one of the carp came along to suck up my offering. It all seemed like a decent plan but after a while of not catching I started getting restless. Chopping and changing baits didn't seem to help one bit either. Now I'd already seen my dad catching the day before as I'd nipped out for a quick look to see what tactic was working, but decided against float fished garlic sausage in the margins even though it was seemingly working. Chucking my mixture of goodies out 20 yards with a popped up bait seemed to me at least like it should get a few fish through the day. If only I could find the Savage Gear rainbow lip lure of the carping world I'd bag up.

I was joined by my grandfather. He picked the nearest peg to the caravan because he's not as nifty on his feet as he used to be, but at 79 he's still not lost his appetite for fishing. In days gone by he liked a bit of fly fishing and nothing better than trotting a few maggots down the river in search of anything silvery. He also loved to fish using a center pin reel and the keen eyed reader will notice he's testing out his new toy in the picture. Not the typical set up for a carp puddle in todays modern high tech world but you try telling someone who has fished over 70 years that his method isn't correct. for a start, for him it's not about holding out a pole and then bagging up, it's about fishing and fishing is about enjoyment and part of that enjoyment is using his center pin reels. First thing he did when I got there today was show me how long the reel would continually spin, with the minimal amount of force used. As a kid I used to help him time them with his old stopwatch and if they weren't up to speed, help him clean, polish and lubricate them to make them spin for an eternity. He's probably still got those reels somewhere, all still in perfect working order too. He flicked out a flake of bread and a tiny float and proceeded to catch a few small silvers and eventually bagging a decent roach of around a pound. Not too long later and he's shouting me to help him net a very strong mirror carp. His new reel is now getting a good workout but I think the reel would fair much better after the fight then he would. Having weighed the fish at 10.5lbs, a light shower was welcomed and he used it as an opportunity to get a breather and some lunch back in the caravan.

10.5lb mirror carp -center pin reel with 5lb line

After lunch it was time for my old man to come out and play. Bringing his garlic sausage (wait, that sounds just wrong doesn't it) and nothing else he stuck on a float and cast in the margins. Not too long later he bagged a small common of around four or five pound while I managed to miss a run and leave myself in a tangle instead. Not too long later and my dad is in again but this time it's a mirror and much bigger. It seems, from viewing experience only of course and not catching experience, that any of the carp hooked want to head straight at your feet and into the margins. With only 6lb line on it was a little hairy watching the carp cut through the reeds, debris flying everywhere. My dads net wasn't big enough so I flicked the switch on the rear of my baitrunner and headed to help out with my net. The fish wasn't giving up yet and while I waited I then heard my reel scream as line flew out. But the hook didn't set on it's own and I'd missed my second run of the day. Never mind, may be the fish are starting to feed now anyway another will come along soon. I netted the carp, quickly photographed and weighed it and put it back. The 12.5lb mirror was the largest fish out so far and gave hope that more like that would follow.
12.5lb garlic sausage eater
Full of renewed hope I got back to fishing. Sticking with my method mix, switching baits occasionally and persevered.I wasn't desperate for a fish and was enjoying being sat out in the sun, helping net their fish and waiting for mine to come along. My dad continued to catch, half a dozen or so, nothing quite as big but all gave a good scrap as they headed for the bank right under his feet and all falling to garlic sausage. They were all carp except one fish which was a chub of around 3lb, and in perfect condition too. That one though wasn't quite as big as the one he had the night before which was over 4lb. Meanwhile I continued to sit there catching nothing. How long do you stick at something? How long before you change tactics or even swims. Five minutes in the right place is better than five hours in the wrong one. Wow, thanks for that bit of wisdom inner concious, aren't you the clever one! Yes i knew this already, and use this rule lots when chucking my lures. Today though I just stuck at it and hoped in the end it would pay off. Hindsight is, well it's really annoying to be honest and no it isn't wonderful at all. Yes I know I should have drove off to the nearest supermarket and bought myself some garlic sausage. I should have then chucked it in the margin sprinkling a few tit bits every now and then. I could have then added a picture of me with a carp just like my dad and my granddad. Oh well, so long as I learn from it right!

Well yes I did learn something. As I drove home tonight, tail firmly between my legs having been well and truly whipped by my elders, I realised that I can't wait for the rivers to open again. I enjoyed my day on the puddle despite the fact I caught naff all. Actually, I tell a lie I did manage to catch a single solitary roach for my efforts. But I realised that this kind of fishing is pretty much no longer in my interests at all. I've blanked on carp puddles before and I've also bagged up on them same as any other fishing and my feelings aren't based on one poor session. I have fished them plenty and always had the urge to go back after a blank or a red letter day and always wanted to try and get one bigger or catch more of them than last time. Yet this time, this day on the puddle comes on the back of a solid nine months of nothing but lure fishing and it felt pretty dull in comparison. I didn't get enjoyment faffing around with rigs, trying to critically balance my bait so as to present it in the perfect manner. I didn't feel any tension as I sat waiting for my reel to scream off and neither did I find myself wondering what the carp would be thinking, where they would be hiding or how they would be reacting to everything around them and every little thing I did. I imagine any decent carp puddle angler would however be the opposite. They would enjoy the tinkering and faffing, they'd enjoy the waiting around and they would sit for hours before, during and after a session trying to get inside the mind of a carp so that they could understand and then better their fishing by doing so. For me, it just didn't happen and that above all else is the reason I had a stinker of a session. It wasn't just because I didn't fish the margins when that was clearly where the fish were taking baits, it wasn't because I didn't switch to garlic sausage when it was clearly working as a bait. The simple fact in my opinion on why I didn't catch was because my heart wasn't in it. Yes I did learn something from today, Esox rules ok!

2012 pike tally
 Doubles 11
Total 23
Largest 22.5lb

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