What Defines A Good Angler ?
The answer to that question can vary from angler to angler so i admit there is no definitive answer, it is personal opinion. Some will measure in terms of weight whilst others may see time served as the key to been a good angler. All are correct if it is your own opinion as there is no right or wrong answer remember.
If I was to ever evaluate another angler in that way i would look for two key areas, Angling Etiquette and Consistency. Let’s look at the etiquette part first, I sometimes feel that occasionally anglers don’t understand what the definition of the word means. To that let’s look at what Wikipedia offers up.
“The customary code of polite behaviour in society or among members of a particular profession or group”
Fairly straight forward right? Play nice and life will be all gravy! If only that was true, however Facebook is a daily reminder that at times there is a dark side to angling that will always be there. I can’t help but feel that anglers who go out of their way to deliberately dampen the enjoyment of others do so in their daily life as well. I have always tried to surround myself with positive people and cut out the negative, I find the more positive a person is the less likely they are to affect others with their own actions. Etiquette is achieved through the consideration of others and the understanding that they may be different to you. Angling has so many different aspects of enjoyment, some prefer hunting specimen carp whilst others simply enjoy the company of good friends on a weekend. It really doesn’t matter what part you enjoy as long as you appreciate everyone if different and learn to polity share the sport. If you can achieve that then many doors will open and long friendships will be forged, hopefully brining great success with it. One moral I try to live by is to not return negativity to the people who chose to try and bring me down, you’re always welcome when the kettles on despite what you say about me behind my back!
Now we have worked out that the nicer angler generally gets further that leaves just one part of the equation, consistency. You can only ever catch what is in front of you, if your lake doesn’t contain carp to over 30lb then I would say it’s a given you’re not going to catch one! Consistency is not about the weight of the fish your catching but everything to do with how often a carp turns up in your net. A high percentage of carp are caught during the hours of darkness whilst anglers are normally asleep. We have virtually zero control over what fish takes the rig and more hope that luck throws up the bigger residents. However if you’re constantly getting bites the law of averages states the bigger fish will show up eventually, that’s where consistency comes in to it. The more regular you catch the higher your chances, sounds simple. I can assure you it’s far from simple and takes great skill and adaptation to continually catch, luck will only get you so far before ability has to take over. We have all met those anglers who we feel are part fish and can catch even when the lake doesn’t contain any fish!!!!!!! If you do and they have angling etiquette stick by them, in the long run they will enrich your own angling and open your eyes to things you never thought possible.
Dan Richards falls within the parameters I have briefly outlined above, I have known Dan for quite some time and have watched him progress year on year. Not only in his angling but also his attitude towards life and the people around him. Etiquette extends to all four corners for Dan not just whilst out on the bank, however if you have an appreciation in one it normally follows through to the other.
What Defines A Good Angler? As I said at the start its personal choice but I’d rather fish next to a considerate angler catching doubles regular than an idiot catching chunks no and again!
On that note I will leave you with a recent 34lb common that “Good Angler” Dan Richards managed on only his third session in pursuit…. Good Angling Dan and stay humble my friend.
Just The Beginning.
There has long been talk of which brother is more part fish than the other, we refer to North West anglers Andrew and Paul Hargreaves. Both have an impressive record of big fish from up an down the country, including the Long Common, Spitfire Common and the Tatton Common reaching over 50lb.
It wouldn't be fair to compare the two anglers, however it would be interesting to see a head to head 48 hour match for the cameras, something we have debated since we filmed Andrew at Clearwater Fisheries Last year. Leave a comment on our Face Book page and potentially we could convince them its a good idea!
Clearwater fisheries seems to be Andrews current choice of venue which is understandable considering the quantity and quality of fish on offer.
Temperatures at this time of year can be very hit and miss, making the fishing difficult at times. That said there is always that small window of opportunity where red letter sessions can be on the cards as the fish start to move about. Andrew took full advantage of his window and banked no less than 19 fish including one of the bigger residents at 34lb. A combination of Liver 180 soaked pellets with a mixture of different sized Apex Formula bottom baits topped with a NEW High Attract pop up due out this winter was his choice.
Andrew has since returned to Clearwater and notched up a few more fish to add to the tally, however we will save them for another day as this is just the beginning.
The Road to Success.
At times we can be guilty of over thinking the process of catching carp. With an abundance of information now available at the click of a button it is easy to see why anglers get drawn into the latest method, rig or bait. I'm going to talk briefly about my own personal thoughts on bait and my experiences of dealing with anglers over the last 10 years.
When talking daily to anglers across the country about their bait selection you start to see common questions and thought patterns appearing. The most common surrounding fishmeal baits in winter. It’s amazing how many anglers change from a bait that has been catching all year once the temperatures cool because it is fishmeal based. Personally I would pay more attention to location and weather than my balls!
This stems mainly from the old HNV days and refers to the amount of time it takes for a fishmeal bait to pass through a carp, quicker it passes the quicker a carp will eat again. That's a general summary so please don't take that as the whole picture, however most anglers I speak to have this idea firmly imbedded into their thoughts. In short fishmeal’s do take longer to pass through than some but unless you are lucky enough to be the only angler who can fish the lake or every other angler is using the same (quick digesting) bait as you it really makes no difference. You can never account for what other anglers are going to be feeding the fish, you could do everything possible to ensure you have a highly digestible bait but the angler in the next peg could be using fishmeals. As mentioned there is a lot more to it but I briefly wanted to cover what people think, not what the facts may be. Don't ignore the fishmeals, its madness! Carp will happily except them in the winter if presented in front of them.
Another common miss perception is that bolies catch carp.... I can assure you they don’t! Anglers catch carp and that will never change. You only have to look at the amount of fish that get caught using plastic baits each year to see that. No carp in the land will swim from one end of the lake to the other just because you cast a 15mm bait out into 20 acres, I wish it did sometimes! Application and location are what counts, no different to if you were feeding maggots or sweetcorn, the fish need to be there.
Mouldy baits, I hear this quite a lot, anglers who bin their bait once white spots/powder starts to appear. When left out the freezer a boilie will start to "turn" and depending on what base mix it was rolled with you will get a few different reactions. I'm sure most of you have seen your fishmeal baits turning white over time, this is not mould! Enzymes and sugars will start to break down and be released from the ingredients used, leaving your bait highly attractive. Eventually mould will form but this comes from moisture, providing you keep your baits in a dry environment mould will take some time to appear. This is a great time to be using fishmeals, naturally boosted attraction you can’t buy in a bottle. A little known fact, most baits contain fishmeal, even nut based products, make sure you get the best out of them all.
I'm a huge pop up angler and always have been, the way in which the rig is cocked and ready has always filled me with confidence. So much so that I can count on one hand the amount of bottom bait rigs I've cast out in the last 10 years. I'm fully aware I could be missing out on bites but the way in which I fish a pop up and the number of fish I've caught I have never had reason to alter anything. That is always open to change but until that day arrives I will stick with my Mk2's.
What is a popular topic of discussion is pop ups over a large bed of particles or boiles. Generally, most articles on the subject will advise you to either match your free offerings or at least use a bait that sits on the bottom. Now I'm not saying this is incorrect information but it’s not how I fish and not what I've observed in my own angling. I don't tend to use a lot of particle but I'm quite happy fishing over 20k of boilies with a High Attract pop up on the hook. Your average angler rarely gets to observe their baited area from a boat on a regular basis, something I'm lucky to be able to do. The knowledge and speed at which you learn what's going on under the water can only be gained from years of fishing from the bank.
Many years ago I was at a bit of a lose end during summer and decided to have another flirt with catching the only 30lb carp in a local lake. The weed had become fairly thick in places so instead of pulling the carp through it I would simply play them in open water and net them on the edge of the weed using the boat, giving me clear view of my baited area each time. The week leading up to my first night I pre baited with 40k of mixed 15mm and 18mm Apex Formula around the margins of the island. Each night I returned the bait from the previous night would be cleared out, some by the birds no doubt but with the quantity going in there would be enough left when the carp turned up.
The following week I did three 16 hour overnight sessions for 19 bites which I was pleased with but that wasn't the interesting part! Whilst netting the first fish I had noticed there seemed quite a bit of bait still on my spot, another two fish soon followed but by this time my attention was not on what I was catching but what was not been eaten. It appeared that very little of my 15/18mm Apex was been taken prior to me getting a bite. Rowing back to the bank I recalled a conversation Neil McComb and myself had years prior about the way in which our or his at the time High Attract pop ups work in such a way it should be one of the first baits to be taken. That was exactly what was unfolding right in front of my eyes, the fish were switched onto the signal the Apex was giving off but upon closer inspection they couldn't resist taking the Mk2 pop up. The two things I took away from those short sessions was firstly don't be so quick to top up the swim with bait when fishing a High Attract pop up and secondly find what works for you, if that is a pop up over particle or boilies then so be it! Make your own luck and create your own opinions, I have always found that to produce better results in the long term.
The above is just a few points I have come across on a regular basis, the list goes on but I will save that for another time. The last question I want to cover is "what do I use?" , over the last 5 years the Apex Formula has played a big role in my angling, it is a simple fishmeal that continues to catch no matter where I go. Although I have to admit the current test bait we have been rolling and tweaking since last July is quickly taking over. We had a number of good recipes we could have used, however stored away in the archives was a recipe that had caught carp since the early 90's. A savoury fishmeal that has a very unique flavour package that most will have never come across, it is certainly different that I can assure you.
After a little modernisation of the base mix and blending of our own in house flavour I went on to catch several 30lb plus fish during a two month period last year. The results were incredible, not because of the size of the fish but the sheer quantity in which they showed up. One fish for a 48 hour session was classed as a result on a certain water, I was landing 8/9. This continued right up until I pulled off the lake, at which point I did wonder if I had been lucky and right place right time was simply the case? That’s why we have a testing period of 18 months to two years before releasing a product.
Once Neil and myself were happy we had a starting point to work from we opened it out to the anglers in our team. Now let’s call a spade a spade, no one likes changing from a product that they know works to something that in their eyes is untested. The anglers in our team are open to use whatever they like from the range, we don't push them to use new products and would rather see fish on the bank with a smile. I'm pleased to say quite a few of them made the change and the results have been extremely pleasing, I don't count success in weight I would rather measure in volume. Don't get me wrong the new test bait has a number a big fish to its name which you will see in due course but even a blind squirrel finds a nut occasional, just not consistently and that’s what we are looking for.
One angler who I know has great faith in the test bait due out summer 2019 is David Barlow, from our first conversation he put his full support behind it. David assisted in the creation of our short term shelf life version and since doing so has had some impressive results with UK fish to over 40lb. It seems with every order he places pictures of big fish soon follow, I suppose you could say he isn't a bad angler but I won’t repeat that ever again! His latest venture has taken him to a new water where the fish have character and plenty of it. There is no mistaking this 30lb mirror, which looks as though it has been around since time began. I also have to add he took a very nice common on a zig during the same week, it was soaked in our 180 Liver but who cares when you’re catching!
The road to success is not printed in any magazine or sold in a bait bag, it can however be found if you walk your own path and learn your own lessons.
Big Balls for Big Fish!
In the digital age we now live in, it is sometimes hard to separate what is our own thoughts and opinions from those that are drilled into us by social media and advertising. As humans we thrive on structure and patterns within are day to day routine, that’s until it affects us in a negative way. Carp are no different, they may not have the brain capacity of a human but they will learn what's safe and what's not pretty quick!
As anglers we are guilty of making the job of catching carp harder than it should actually be. We are aware that carp can learn to associate danger with certain aspects, yet continually year in year out 15mm pop ups and bottom baits get sold in the tons. It’s unthinkable the amount of times your local carp have come across a bed of these “standard size" round baits we call Boilies.
The words "Be Different" can be found in many articles stemming back to the early days of Boilie fishing, yet 15mm baits continue to be the most requested size. The majority of bait companies offer bottom baits ranging from 10mm to 24mm however the 24mm tables rarely come out for UK anglers. This has nothing to do with the size of carp we have here in the UK, but everything to do with trends and fashion. Over the years anglers have been influenced to use 15mm baits, there are a number of reasons why, including the ease of production. but the more important question is does it affect your catch rate? Unfortunately with so many anglers using 15mm baits, it is a question that cannot be factually answered, the more something is used the more often it will produce.
However like carp we also learn by continually coming into contact with certain situations. Over the last 3 years a number of our anglers have concentrated on the waters offered by RH Fisheries. Renowned for holding numerous big fish it is no surprise that these carp have seen pressure and plenty of it. It was noted that after the first year 18/20mm baits were producing more bites than 15mm. At the start of the second season two of the anglers opted to use 22/24mm bottom baits. By the last year all were using the larger sized baits which coincided with some great angling and unbelievable catch reports. Is it possible that breaking from the trends and offering a meal that is in proportion to the larger carp, lead to it dropping its guard quicker? Could it also be possible that over time carp learn to deal with rigs that have a size 15mm bait attached? Due to continually coming into contact with them. When a carps body shape changes rapidly, the way it feeds changes also, which can lead to it been caught a number of times in a short period or until it learns to deal with rigs again. The same will apply to larger baits such as 22mm and above, the carp do not see it every day so they are not fully equipped to deal with it.
Next time you look at ordering bait consider the size of the fish in your venue and also the fashionable size of boilie used, it could just up your catch rate to go BIG!
Over the last 12 months is has become apparent that one venue in particular favours our Northern Mere in the larger size, that's RH Fisheries. With numerous 30/40lb fish been taken on 20-24mm Northern Mere we are starting to see a bit of trend.
After hearing a lot about Tim Box Snr and the success he had been having over at RH with larger baits it wasn't long before Antony Pulizzi was on the trail. The results of his first weekend out using the Northern Mere produced several fish including 2 x 30,s to 34lb.
Coincidence ? We Think not !
Is Bigger Better when its comes to bottom baits ?
Clear Water Fisheries - Carnforth
It is hard to ignore the many attractions this Northern day ticket has to offer the modern day angler. That said, early last year we decided to film a 24 hour session with Andrew Hargreaves as part of our Northern day ticket section. It was also an opportunity to see the alterations made by the new owners and management team.
As you enter through the security gate it becomes apparent that cleanliness and a professional appearance is high on the agenda. The reception area is welcoming and stocked with a range of angling products should you need them. For the angler who likes fine dining you will find a well-stocked bar and bistro with speed "DPM" dating on a Friday night for those blanking!
No expense has been spared on both the facilities and the several lakes on site, all with the intention of offering you the angler first class fishing within the North. Originally the complex consisted of 9 lakes with a mixed head of fish in each water. Over the last 12 months this has been reduced to 3 lakes with the majority of the stock graded and separated, leaving pleasure and specimen dedicated waters. The carp have certainly benefited from the stocking and feed program implemented with several fish now over 30lb, including a possible 3 x 40lb fish to 46lb.
Planning is an essential part to ensuring the future of any lake, commercial or syndicate. You could be forgiven for thinking the locals are not very friendly when you see the complex is completely fenced off. We can assure you their hospitality is exceptional but one great fear as a lake owner is otters! Fence it or lose it as the old saying goes and Clear Water have done just that! With over 60 acres of land to cover this alone would have deterred most potential buyers. That is where we have to doff our cap to CW and where possible, others should follow suit in protecting the future of their own fishery.
The decked area of the restaurant overlooks the stock pond which contains a number of healthy growing carp awaiting to be moved into the main lakes. English born and bred you will find strains supplied by some of the UK's most respected fish breeders including Priory, Debon Valley and Heather Fisheries.
Over all experience and value for money in our opinion puts Clear Water fisheries amongst some of the best day ticket venues in the country. Not only are the facilities and fish stock exceptional the staff are also extremely helpful, making for a pleasant visit. Take extra tea bags with you, bribery can go a long way in obtaining the information you may need to get that extra bite!
To add to the social aspect, dedicated communal areas have been built over the winter, some even include a fire pit which can make them cold nights a little more enjoyable. Now we wouldn't like to insinuate hard core angler Andrew Hargreaves decided to fish CW over winter mainly due to the fire pits and keeping warm but a picture tells a thousand words! Despite being busy toasting marshmallows Andrew did manage to catch a few fish during what seemed like an extremely long winter. With several fish to midd 20’s and plenty of social gatherings it’s easy to see why he keeps returning.
Check out the video below to see footage of some of the amazing commons that reside in the main lakes.
Sense It, See It, and Suck it.
This is a phrase some of you may have come across, especially the more "old skool" angler amongst you. Besides the typical pun that could be made of the title what does it actual mean in angling terms?
Carp have an incredible high sense of smell/taste, the smallest amount of amino acids or changes in the water can be detected through their nostrils. Water enters one nostril then passes over a section a skin that has multiple folds, each fold picks up any food signals until the water passes out the other nostril. This is just one of many ways a carp “Senses" and locates its food through use of its body, be assured though it’s the first step towards getting a bite.
Vision, how well does a carp "See It". During winter carp form a thin glaze over their eyes which does effect the vision slightly, but not their ability to locate food? Sight is secondary to sense, this becomes very apparent when you consider how many blind/one eyed carp are still managing to locate food and live a relatively normal life. Carp are naturally inquisitive creatures and this is where sight comes into the equation. Having binocular vision allows a carp to see half way down its lateral line in the surrounding water and even a few yards in front of its face. Where it becomes blind is directly in front of its nose and towards the tail. Providing a high visual bait is presented within its field of view there is a good chance the carp will know it’s there and hopefully investigate further.
In an ideal world we would now have a large proportioned, scaly carp hovering over our rig which leads us to “Suck It". There is only one definitive way for a carp to truly know if a free meal is on the cards, which is to suck it in.
There really isn't much to expand on in this area so instead of adding filler information let’s talk about other factors that may need to be considered! In the first paragraph we mentioned a carps senses, it could sound too "Easy". Carp have a great sense of smell so why don't we chuck out the smelliest bait we can find, right?
Sometimes that can work in your favour but more often than not the results are slow. Think back to how many times you have viewed a carp swim right over you baited area only to act as if it wasn't there. Ever lake contains thousands of smells which at times is a lot to process for a carp. Anglers bait contains what we refer to as "food signal" but not every ingredient put into bait is a carp food signal to begin with. Carp need to learn some of the signals they are receiving represent food and one way to do that is to ensure they have a constant supply or at least enough to go around. There are however ingredients included in modern bait that replicates natural food signals instantly, but do they get masked by manmade flavours and other smells in the water?
A lot of venues have numerous amounts of littler scattered over the lake bed, things like reflective cans, bright crisp packets etc., This all adds up to extra distraction from our hook baits. Now, you could be thinking what's attractive about a crisp packet? Besides the visual aspect appealing to the inquisitive nature of a carp it’s more to do what lives under and within the litter itself. Most times when retrieving a bread bag etc from the lake you will find a carp’s natural source of food living with the silt/sediment. If we know it’s there you can be assured so do the carp. Why is this important? It illustrates that it’s not always as simple a Sense it, See It, Suck It, there are still factors to consider when following that process.
Every lake is bursting with natural food signals so when it comes to selecting the right combination of colour and flavour of your hook bait don't always pick the one you like the most, pay a little thought to what your hook bait is competing against under the surface. Try to ensure they can sense it over all other signals. See it over the many distractions and finally present a rig that they can suck in.
James Clewlow did just that when he visited Linear Fisheries during the cold snap. A single Pepper Squid hook bait cast at range provided James with 6 bites in total with this 28lb 12oz mirror been the pick of the bunch. It outlines that getting your hook bait colour, flavour combination and location correct on the waters your fishing can make all the difference.
Ultimate Hooks Bait?
Is there such a thing as an ultimate hook bait when it comes to tempting the most wary of carp? In short the answer is NO! However there are certainly flavour combinations that over the years have continually produced carp from a multitude of waters of varied difficulties.
One of the most noted in the North is the Northern Special pop up, which we are sure many of you would have heard of. During the 1990’s in the North West you would often see small packets of Fizz and Harvest pop ups in anglers bags on the banks of Redesmere, mostly bought from Trevs of Wimslow for a reasonable few pounds. Countless fish were banked from the venue during a 4/5 year period using the fizz and harvest pop ups.
From this, Neil McComb and friends decided to delve deeper into the flavour combination and eventually created what is known today as the Northern Special. Like any method that’s over used eventually the result will tail off. Knowing this, Neil and co decided the only way to stay ahead of the game would be to investigate other combinations and look at alternative hook bait colours.
This was to be the foundations for our range of High Attract pop ups, which at the time would have probably been inconceivable for the anglers involved! As the 90.s came to a close yellow pop ups featured heavily on a lot of anglers rigs therefore a change was in order. Today we have access to numerus carp studies that can help us create a suitably balanced hook bait but keep in mind during the 90’s information was not so ready available.
Meaning the only “true” way to know if the flavour combination worked was to actually spend time fishing and analysing the results down to the smallest detail. This marked the beginning of the PMT pop ups, fruit based but mellowed with a smooth aroma in washed out pink. This was many years before washed out colours we " in vogue". The first night of trialling the PMT's resulted in four bites for Neil's' friend Scott, including two of Redesmeres most wanted, Jurassic and Clint and after dropping in the last available swim on the meadow bank!
You can’t however judge a pop up based upon one night in the right area! Fast forward 20 years to the current day and you will see PMT’s still sit as a firm favourite amongst our customers and account for many big carp each year.
One old school angler that swears by the PMT combo is Mark Richards, Farco to his friends. Our email inbox is littered with catch reports sent in by Farco over the last 7 years, with 99% attributed to the PMT pop ups. We have to call a spade and spade and say that farco could catch on a bare hook in an empty lake! That said he will not leave home without them.
The original question was “Is there such a thing as an ultimate hook?” again the answer is No, but wouldn’t you rather place your trust in a hook bait that has produced carp for over 20 years and continues to do so to this day!
“During the "Testing Years" one combination that stood out more than most was the PMT. It combines dairy and fruit attractors that give off a fruity sweet, yet smooth and rounded aroma. First used on Redesmere where it proved its worth before it was taken to other waters in the North and then the South, where it accounted for numerous carp from difficult waters.”
For some it is the first and only choice of pop up from our range, it continually produces the goods. The 13mm are superb for snow man presentations and the PMT combination complements most rolled baits on the market. A "Get out of jail" pop up at any time of year.
A sections of PMT captures from Mark Richards.
Brighten Up Your Next Session
No matter the fishing situation you find yourself in, the one thing you need to be is confident. In the early days we’ve all been there, where a blank leads to new rigs, new bait and you have little confidence in what you’re using. I always try to advise people to use one or two rigs that they know work and then you don’t have to worry about the end tackle, you can simply focus all your attention on location and the fish will soon follow.
Almost all of my angling is done using pop ups. Due to college I am restricted to how much time I can spend on the bank so when I am lucky enough to get out I need to know that I am fishing 100% effectively and this is where pop ups come into their own. For me they tick all the boxes: They almost never tangle, the hook point will always be presented and they allow you to fish over big beds of bait with your hook bait standing out from the free offerings which I’m almost certain results in quicker bites.
I first became aware of how effective pop ups could be during a session a few summers back. I had been fishing over a big bed of bait and had opted to fish tigers in amongst the baited area. After a frustrating morning of constant liners I knew something needed to change. I decided to switch over to bright pop ups in the hope the fish would home in on my hook baits rather than being preoccupied on the big bed of bait. That session I ended up landing 8 fish with the biggest going to around upper double. This was an eye opener for me and shortly after high attract pop ups became my number one choice.
Each lake is different and I’ve found some lakes can react exceptionally well to a white one whereas on others a light shade of pink may nick you a few extra bites. This is why I believe having a few different colours and shades in your armoury can be a real edge. Also, I personally feel a smaller bait will get picked up more as the carp don’t see it as danger and as a result won’t be spooked by it. Occasionally I use my own little fruity pop ups as I can choose the exact flavours and buoyancy that goes into them however I have complete confidence in using any of the Impulse High attract pop ups, especially a Mk2!
The new super buoyant range is perfect. Even the 13mm pop ups are able to comfortably hold up a big fish rig such as the hinge stiff for some length of time. The flavour packages are also bang on. You only have to open a tub and you will be greeted with a fresh aroma what has big carp written all over it. There is also a variety of colours and flavours to chose from that all have a superb track record so when you cast out an Impulse high attract you know you can sit back and be 100% confident in what you are using.
When it comes to rigs I like to keep things fairly simple but equally effective. I tend to keep my pop ups only an inch or two above the deck. One rig that has been successful everywhere I’ve taken it is the Spinner rig. No matter what angle the fish approaches from it just seems to flip round and hook them in the bottom lip which is exactly what you want. I fish this on a helicopter setup up to ensure the rig won’t tangle and when it’s out there everything is presented perfectly sitting flush on the lakebed.
With it being a new year I’m sure everyone will have new challenges ahead so why not purchase a cheeky tub of high attracts from Impulse to maximise your chances of catching that target fish you’ve set your heart on.
As the old saying goes, never has it been truer than within carp angling. We take such care and time in preparing soaked bottom baits, pop ups and particles ready for the coming season. However, do we pay as much attention to our zig hook baits such as foam?
In a lot of instances simply chucking a zig bait into a pot of your chosen liquid is enough to instil confidence. This without a doubt adds extra pulling power to zigs but can we go one step further in lengthening the attraction time?
During day light hours zigs are often cast around the swim at varied lengths to seek out what depth the carp are sitting at. After a short period of time the majority of thinner liquids would have dispersed from the zig into the surrounding water and moved by any undertow.
With regular recasting and hook bait changes it isn't so much of an issue but during the hours of darkness zigs often stay static. This is where that extra bit of preparation can add pictures to your album. Cured hook baits are a common thing to see in today’s angling yet few anglers apply the same process to their zig foam, which after all is just a peace of foam!!
There are a couple things to take into consideration when building up a coating on your zig foam. The main one been the buoyancy after the process is complete. This can vary so much depending what liquids and powders are used but a little trial and error will soon give you the basics.
What is the best way to cure your zig foam?
There are two main ways to cure your zig foam which surround hot and cold. Liquids become thicker or thinner when subjected to hot or cold temperatures, depending which liquids you chose to add to your foam then dictates which method you use. For example, Enzyme liquids start to thicken in consistency the cooler the temperature it’s exposed to. Zigs soaked in cool enzyme liquid and then placed in the fridge will form a harder, longer lasting glug around your zig foam, add a little of your chosen powder and night time attraction has just been maximised. Heat will have the same effect with other liquids such as our Lzero30, a pot of soaking zig foam left on a radiator for a week until it goes sticky is defiantly an edge you should try!
Preparation is the key and the more time you spend doing so the better your results will be. Paul Hargreaves showed in his last report that using zigs in the correct way at the right time can produce, even from a frozen lake. As spring slowly arrives the carp will be a little more active in the upper layers as they seek out the early sunshine. Presenting your hook bait where the carp are going to be is half the battle won, once again Paul Hargreaves compounded that fact with this incredible common caught over the weekend.
At over 40lb and one of 3 other fish caught that session using zigs soaked/cured in our 180 liver liquid you can see why we favour this method as the carp are waking up.
Zigs & Ice, Is There a Connection?
For some peculiar reason, when water freezes to ice, it floats. This is one of the unusual properties of water. When most compounds change from liquid to solid they become heavier. But not water.
Water molecules become less dense (spread further apart) as water freezes. If not for this unique property of water, lakes would freeze solid from the bottom up, and there would be little if any living things in them.
Before a lake can freeze over, its entire water column from top to bottom, must reach that magic temperature (39.2° F or 4° C). This natural cooling process is called fall overturn. It is a gradual process as the surface water slowly cools down and a larger and large layer of water can be mixed by the wind, reaching a total 4 degrees. It is then possible for a lake to freeze over.
As mentioned the water can freely mix at 4 degrees, prior to freezing the wind oxygenates the water which is then sealed in by the cover of ice. The water beneath this cover is still free to mix and is now highly oxygenated. Any exposed natural food can become lighter in weight than the water surrounding it. This will cause it to rise within the water column and quite possibly be suspended at certain depths dependent on the lake.
We see it many times over in the catch reports, anglers catching from underneath the ice using highly flavoured zigs. Could it be the connection between natural food rising and zig placement that makes this tactic such a viable option when the lakes about to freeze? Paul Hargreaves is one angler that exploited the use of zigs during his recent trip to Bluebell Lakes. With the lake freezing over twice during his trip there would have plenty of oxygenated water trapped beneath the surface. The venue had not producing a fish since last November however well-presented zigs soaked in our 180 Liver produced 3 bites from underneath the ice. Landing them can sometimes be a little bit tricky and it happened to be third time lucky for Paul, with the first two bites making their escape.
There are certainly factors to be considered when it comes to ice covered lakes, the effects it has on both the carp and their natural food source could just be the key to a few more pictures in the album during winter.
Does Size Really Matter?
There lies an age old question when talking about winter angling, does the size of your bait make a difference once the water temperatures have dropped! If so, should we be going smaller or larger?.
There may not be a definitive answer to that question, however a recent trip to RH fisheries for Stephen Bevington showed that scaling down can keep the bobbins moving.
Keeping it small and using a pop up that offers much more than your average off the shelf bait resulted in a chunky winter mirror.
Great Angling Bevo!
A Common Theme - David Barlow.
Anglers often talk about ‘luck’ and how certain individuals seem to have more than others. There are so many factors that come into play in this type of situation to know for certain what percentage is actually luck, I just knew I wouldn’t mind a little of it on this particular trip. The majority of everyday anglers only get to experience a handful of true magical moments or ‘luck’ throughout their time. Every capture is memorable in its own way but there are always those that mean that bit more to you, this is my tale of big commons and lady luck.
Watching your close friends work hard and earn their success is a great experience to be a part of, however it doesn’t quite compare to creating your own moments. Life was about to go on hold for a few days whilst Alex Woodcock and myself laid plans for a trip to Bluebell Lakes. In the blink of an eye we were walking excitedly around the complex like two school boys at a girls only school dance!
With several lakes on site there is plenty of choice dependent on what you want from your angling. Naturally, like most we both had a keen eye on Kingfisher Lake. Known for its numerous big fish over 40lb it is quite hard to walk past that stock level. We walked the lake whilst occasionally stopping to chat to other anglers, you know how it is, one cup turns into two! Eventually we both settled on an area that gave access to the open water but also offered close in features.
Anyone who has visited Bluebell Lakes will know it can get very weedy at times but with persistence you will find clear areas to present a rig on. As the light started to fade we were finally set up and ready to sit back and take it all in. If I was not so tired from the long journey down I am sure that night my eyes would have stayed glued to the water looking for roach farts! Thinking outside the box and noticing what others around you don’t can make all the difference on busy venues, occasionally my bedchair wins the battle though!
The night passed quietly for both Alex and I, unsurprisingly considering the disturbance we made the day before locating the clear areas. Although I was happy to play the long game as long as it was no more than another 30 hours of course. I knew I had to change my approach but to what? The going method of other anglers seemed to be spod to the middle and put a rig on it. During my days as a bailiff at Wyreside it became very apparent that being different could bring quick bites. "If they go long, I go short".
Grabbing the waders I edged my way out to a section of lily pads in my right margin of the swim. I could have just dropped my rig right next to the pads and walked the rod back but I wanted an area that casting to would be possible, but difficult from the bank. A few drops of a bare lead revealed more thick weed with a silty patch running up the side. The silt was far from clean but offered the best chance of presenting a bait. With the rig in place I scattered around a kilo of a new test bait Impulse had been working on. I had requested a 5 kilo batch from Dean in preparation for the trip after seeing his results over on his syndicate lake. No matter what I did I couldn’t shake the feeling I should have brought the Apex Formula with me instead. I have had so many great fish using it and have 100% confidence in it, no matter what the venue. It was a little late by this point as I wasn’t diving in to fish the bait back out!
Thankfully my nerves were soon calmed when an hour later the rod hooped round and the alarm sounded. An intense but short battle followed and it wasn’t long before I was slipping the net under a dark looking chunky common.
With the photos and weighing done I slipped her back with a smile on my face. I have already mentioned the high number of big fish present and whilst respectable at 29lb 3oz there were much bigger commons swimming around. Any thoughts of using the now “second rate” Apex Formula were well and truly out of my head, I was converted!!
Fresh rigs and another kilo of test bait were deployed to the same spot, one thing to mention was the spot felt a little bit cleaner. I could have landed on a slightly firmer spot but at the same time it was possible that more than one fish enjoyed my free meal. Returning the rod to the rest I grabbed my bait bag and put another kilo over the area. With a 29lb common for the album already what did I have to lose. If what I suspected was correct and there had been more fish feeding the extra bait could hold the smaller carp long enough to annoy a larger fish into making a mistake. That was the plan anyway!
Its common sense that the more bait introduced the longer it could take to get a bite so it was no surprise when the rest of the day passed uneventful. Still enjoying the buzz of catching the common sleep was hard to come by that night, add that to the occasional large carp hurtling itself out of the water, it became rather frustrating but exciting at the same time. After finally managing to fall asleep. It wasn’t long before the same rod was blistering away, with no signs of stopping. Scrambling for my boots and head torch like they were the last pizza slice at a buffet I was attached to a carp for the second time.
The lunges felt heavy and I could sense the carp ploughing through weed bed after weed bed but still moving forward. As the weed grew around the line and engulfed whatever was attached the fight started to slow. From there on out it was a matter of carefully guiding it into the waiting net. At the penultimate moment my head torch decided to stop working! With the amount of weed around the line I could quite easily of netted just the weed and missed the carp in the pitch black. Carefully making sure to net anything that moved I lifted and hoped that everything went in.
Confirming the net did in fact contain a carp I grabbed my bivi light and started to empty the contents of the net. With each handful I could see more and more of huge common, big black scales and thick across the back. I am man enough to admit at this point I could have easily lost control of all my bodily functions, Alex would never let me forget that so a calm face like a seasoned pro it was.
With a quivering voice I woke Alex to explain I had what looked like a good 30lb plus fish securely in the net.
Cameras, scales, mats and slings were all at the ready, lifting the carp out of the water Alex got his first look at the size of the common and I will never forget his words “THAT’S A 40”. My head started to spin and what only ever seemed like a dream could now be laying on my mat awaiting pictures. I said at the start of this article that anglers normally only have a few magical moments, well this was about to become one of mine!
The sun started to break and the mist gathered over the lake as we hoisted her up on the scales. The atmosphere suited the moment perfectly and as I intensely watched the needle settle at 40lb 15oz I was complete. I won’t attempt to put my emotions into words as I couldn’t do it justice, however I am sure you all can relate to the immense feeling you get.
Hopefully I haven’t used all my luck up just yet but if I have then that’s fine by me.
Until Next Time...
Linear Fisheries B2
A spontaneous decision to hit the bank for the first session of 2018 saw myself & Jon Deacon heading to Linear Fisheries in Oxford.
Undecided on what lake to fish, we made our decisions once we had arrived, which is always the better option. With a strong weather front hitting the country it made picking a location difficult, as nothing gave itself away.
Eventually we decided on B2 as the lake was completely void of anglers. Jon and I set up in what we felt gave us the best overall view of the lake and the option to move if the carp so happened to give their location up.
Keeping casting to a minimum I quickly found a nice gravel area at 24.5 wraps. I decided to fish 2 rods fairly close together with a kilo of the Apex Formula spread over the top. The third would be a roaming rod fished as a single with the same hook bait on all 3 rods, a Mk2 High Attract pop up.
The fishing wasn’t easy but between us we managed 4 takes, with two of them ending up in my net. January isn’t known for been the most productive month of the year but 2 fish during some very stormy weather and from a lake not producing, I will take that!
Ben Bond - Location & Application.
When the water temperatures are at their coolest carp can often be found grouped together, seeking both security and warmth. On venues with a medium to high stock level it can be a lot easier to locate them and in turn catch them. Having not that many carp to angle for though can make things a bit tricky!
Ben Bond chose to spend his winter on a low stocked pit that has a history of not giving up its jewels at any time of the year. With only 18 fish in roughly 13 acres location and bait application was the key to Ben's' success.
Setup on the end of last week’s storms and dodging the falling trees. Ben kept all 3 rods fairly close in, Hoping the fish would follow the food items being deposited by the wind in the deeper water in front.
The lake is relatively busy regardless the time of year, with that in mind Ben opted to fish small traps with a scattering of Choc Banana Nut Mix over all 3 rods.
Getting the location and bait application correct certainly paid off on this occasion. Ben's reward, the first bite in 3 months from the lake and this incredible looking 28lb 60z mirror in the folds.
Great Angling Ben!
Perfection in Miniature.
Growing up in the North West it was hard not to have come across the phrase “ Specials” in relation to pop ups. Hook baits that back then seamed to catch every carp that swam. I had listened to many stories from the 1990s’ era of a water called Redesmere located in Cheshire, also how credible anglers were turning the water over with these so called home made “specials”.
Were they really that good?
My first encounter with hook baits that date back to the 90s was when I stumbled across Impulse Baits around 2 years ago. Reading all the information on their website i soon made the connection between the High Attract Range of pop ups and the stories I grew up on. As I read on the dots started to connect, a pop range with this much history and continuity in catch results was surely only going to benefit my angling.
Order placed and parcel received i had my nostrils firmly placed in every pot! What stood out the most was their smell and taste, both been strong and deep. Not the usual chemically smell you sometimes find, but a full rich flavour that i hadn't seen in other “off the shelf” pop ups before.
You may notice that a lot of pop ups available in the shops are branded Hi Viz, that is where The High Attract range differs. It is all about the attraction levels first and the colour second. Iam 100% confident that when my rig hits the deck the pop up immediately starts to leak a balanced flavour package. What carp could resist!
It was during a conversation with Dean in the later part of 2016 i learnt that there was to be a new pop up mix labelled “Super Buoyant” i bet that name took a while to think of! The new mix was sourced for two reasons. Firstly the standard pop ups available were only ever meant to be used with light rigs but with the discontinuation of their cork ball range there was a gap for the Chod/Stiff Hinge anglers. That brings us to the current day and I’m pleased to say the gap has now been filed after rigorous testing!
Then you have the NEW range of 13mm Super Buoyant pop ups, which are bar far my favourite size to use. You will see from the images below i have no problems with mounting them on a Hinge Rig or Chod. On occasion i have left my rigs out for up to 48 hours and still found the pop up to be balanced as i like it. I can be quite particular about my rigs, the bait needs to keep its buoyancy and the hook has to be sharp, which i do myself. During winter its common for anglers to reduce their bait size, many feel a smaller bait can produce a bite when feeding isn't necessarily a priority for the carp. You also have the option of using them for zig rigs. How many of you trim down your pop ups when fishing zigs? A fair few i would image!
I believe in adding the percentages up in my angling and if i can do that enough times my results will increase. Having a hook bait that has up to 20 years of catch results to back up the flavour combination is an extra percent, 13mm Super Buoyant hook baits that can be used with large hooks on Stiff Hinge Rigs, that's another percent and so on.
My personal favourites from the range our Tropical Essence and PMT. The fruity flavours seam to suit most of the venues i have fished with yellow been the winning colour. The humble pineapple pop up has accounted for more fish than anyone could calculate and the Tropical Essence takes that to a whole new level.
Out of respect for the other anglers still fishing the waters i visited i won't splash the images for all to see in this article but i will mention that three quarters of one lakes stock turned up in my net last year, their no mug fish either! Fishing with the Tropical Essence really did give me the edge over the pineapple anglers, especially in 13mm.
I have added a picture of a mirror i caught this winter using what i have wrote about above. It is a great looking carp but the point to note is that it came at a time when temperatures were low and the bites weren't forthcoming. Changing over to a 13mm Super Buoyant changed my luck.
How’s Your Luck ?
Andrew Bailey - WINTER ACTION !
You will often find Andy walking the banks of Gailey Reservoir during the colder months, which is a water that can be found on The Prince Albert ticket. With a good head of carp which average double figures it can certainly make for excellent sport. That's not to say it is an easy venue, with its vast size location and correct bait application is the key to success. The pegs are large enough to accommodate most bivis and all be it a little bit of a walk around the path is good barrow terrain.
During his latest session Andy manged to bank no less than 6 carp in some cold conditions. With the average size been mid double you can image how pleased he was to slip the net under this 28.12 mirror.
Sonny Cockayne - Mr Consistent.
Some anglers seam to have that natural ability to catch carp consistently no matter the odds, Sonny is certainly one of them.
Over the last couple of years his results have been nothing short of incredible on his chosen venue. With not been able to drive the odds are really stacked against him when it comes to lake options.
A tacit that has worked extremely well for Sonny is mixing his bait up, in both size and flavor. There is however one predominant bait that he always has to hand and that is The Northern Mere! A bait that is as close to a natural food source as it is possible to get in boilie form.
History of The High Attract Pop-Up Range
By Neil McComb
Having served a “proper apprenticeship” of over ten years, joining Stoke Angling Society in the mid-90s, was where the learning curve took on another steep climb. Redesmere was the premier water in Cheshire, possibly the North West at the time and that fact was reflected by the calibre of anglers who fished it, many were exceptional!
I had joined the club with three close friends and on our early trips we couldn’t help but notice everyone had a little pot of “special pop-ups”. Of course we had our own pots of homemade pop-ups, my weapon of choice at the time was Solar’s Quench mix, sieved to remove the coarse ingredients, and then added 60/40 to Nutrabaits Hi-Nu-Val, added to this was creamy super sweet powder, Hutchies original Autumn Harvest with a dash of Esterblend 12 and some sweet cajouser, all mixed up and rolled around a poly ball. It had caught me plenty of fish and my first Redesmere carp but we were about to receive a few pointers on how to make pop-ups better!
Nothing was given to us on a plate, we had to join up the dots and by that I mean we had to experiment, a lot! I have always said, forget all the scientific crap, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and that meant thousands of hours on the bank sitting behind various concoctions. Due to a closed season still being in place on many of the North West waters, we all fished where we could get on, depending where was open. We fished rivers and canals to park lakes and of course the Meres of Cheshire and Shropshire with the occasional flirt down South. Every kind of venue was covered from large to the tiny, rarely fished low stock to the busy circuit waters. Over the years that followed, through trial and error we had acquired an armoury of several combinations of ingredients, liquids and powders that when brought together into the form of a pop-up would turn the tables in our favour.
It wasn’t the fact of whether or not the pop-up caught fish, many did that. The ones that stood out were the combinations that caught fish consistently while all around caught nothing. The ability to turn up at a venue that had not done a fish for weeks, in some cases months and extract one, two sometimes as many as eight fish in a sitting was something that we became used to. Yes you have to be on the fish, I agree but that isn’t always enough to get a bite. If you had just eaten your Sunday dinner and an hour later headed out for a pint down your local, if you crossed your mate and he offered you a ham sandwich I bet you would pass on it, but if he offered you a piping hot chip covered with salt and vinegar I bet that smell would twist your arm into having “just one”. That’s what I compare our range of pop-ups to, the ability to nick you that one bite, turn an uninterested carp into one on the bank. Many tree-top observations have proved they are often the first bait taken when fished over a bed of bait, likewise when boating back out to a spot having received a take, often the freebies are still in the swim, indicating the fish has homed in on the pop-up.
Every flavour combination in our range of Hi Attract pop-ups has proven itself time and again, way before they were released to the public by Impulse, they were tested, re-tested and used for many years but never with the intention of being made commercially available. However when I helped set up Impulse over several years ago, the range that was in the pipeline at that time I could never have possibly backed, I would have never cast one out in a month of Sundays.
After much deliberation and reluctance I decided to make available my pop-ups, which I believe are like nothing you could buy off the shelf back then and even now. Many English 30s, 40s and several 50’s fell to the combinations during what I’ll call “the private years”, since being made available a lot of big carp have fallen to them from all four corners of the country. Lake records and PB’s smashed, previously uncaught/unknown carp banked, whatever the sort of venue you fish you can cast one out with total confidence!
Simon Williams 30lb 2oz - 180 Liver.
Every year between Christmas and New Year it’s been a tradition of mine that I get a trip in for 48 hours. This year was right before New Year, 48 hours were booked at Baden Hall. Upon arrival I immediately dismissed the main quarry lake as it hadn’t done a fish for a few months and was quite busy. After a walk around the other 2 specimen pools (Bridge Pool and Glovers) I opted for the Bridge Pool as it looked good for a bite with it being quite sheltered from the freezing cold wind.
After 24 hours of not seeing a single sign of fish the following morning I wound in and went for a walk around Glovers. The sun was up and the openness off the lake seemed to be drinking in the sun. I caught something out of the corner of my eye as I was approaching an area of the lake that has a small bay, which had a gentle breeze pushing in to it. Despite the coldness of the wind the sun was shining down on the entire lake and it just felt right, combined with the possible show of a fish it was enough to make me get packed down and re homed in peg 8 on Glovers.
It’s a peg I’ve fished a lot so I decided to place all 3 rods close together. Two off them on short 2ft zigs which had been soaked in Impulse 180 liver which has a strong food signal which slowly leaks into the water layers. For added attraction in the area I spodded a few rockets of sloppy Assassin ground bait that we have been playing around with this winter. The third rod was fished on a supple hinge rig with a super buoyant Mk2 popup.
Half an hour after getting the rods out I was getting the house up for the night when the middle rod tore off. I should point out that me and zigs don’t get along and before this the only fish I’ve actually caught on a zig was a small perch, which probably hit the zig as I was winding in.
All other attempts had seen me lose the fish not long after getting the pickup, so to say I played it carefully was an understatement. Probably 15 mins later I netted what looked like a good mirror. With the scales confirming it the needle spun round to 30lb 2oz. My first zig caught carp was a 30 and in the depths of winter, you really could make it up with my track record of zig fishing. Sometimes it just takes a little time and patience to get things right but what a way to end 2017!
Happy New Year