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