Golden Dale Pt1 - Tom Smith...
Early April 2017, after some relationship and family difficulties, it was fair to say I’d hit rock bottom. I had a week off work organised already, after a holiday to Spain had to be cancelled. I’d been sat at home for weeks prior to this, not in the best of minds. However, I didn’t know at this point that my week off would be one of the best I have ever had.
The weekend before, I awoke on the Sunday morning to a banging at the door and several missed calls from a friend, Ethan, who had been keeping a close eye on me at the time. Still absolutely hanging, I answered the door to Ethan standing there suited and booted, looking like the kid version of Terry Hearn. “Get your things ready for the week. We’re going down the pond.” At the time, this was the last thing I wanted to do; I just wanted to be left alone. However, Ethan eventually got me down there Sunday afternoon, after a kick up the back side.
I didn’t fish that night. Ethan had opted to go on the far bank and our other friend, Phil, had opted to go in a little corner by the pads. I’d decided to set up smack bang in the middle of them, on the far bank where the sun first comes up. I didn’t want to be there. But here I was, under my open 60inch brolly, bed chair, kettle, tea bags and booze, looking up at the stars and drinking myself into the abyss.
I awoke in the morning to the sound of a Nikon shutter button. Ethan had landed “The Big Fully”, his first fish off the pond. I stumbled around to see the fish; it was stunning. The fish screamed memories. All the fish in the pond have individual stories behind them, which all the locals know.
After a brew and Phil’s burnt bacon sandwich - on a ‘Ridge Monkey’ which hadn’t been cleaned for the last two years - I wandered back around to my camp. “I want one”, I said to myself. It was now around 12pm; the weather the night before was perfect, but the forecast had given out scorchers all week. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I knew why Ethan had dragged me down there.
The pond was as clear as tap water; there were three cars sunk in the margin and tons of pineapple weed which can cut you off like a hot knife through butter. After examining a few spots, I watched a big mirror circling a clear area of the lake. Perfect. I had 5kg of Synergy with me for the week. I put around 2kg on the spot where I’d seen the big mirror. The lads all thought I was crazy; I was told orange doesn’t work and I was fishing for bream with the amount of bait I had put in. But I stuck to my guns and put 2 stiff hinges on the spot with orange tropical essences. Later that day another friend, Ant Kent, dropped on for the night. Ethan and Phil had gone home due to work. The pond isn’t the nicest place to be on your own at night, so the company was appreciated.
The sun started going down, the temperature dropped and my alarm indicated I was away. After a long hard battle, I landed one of the biggest fish in the lake at the time. It was “Thumbprint” at 28lb. I was buzzing! Ant kindly took some photos for me and we slipped it back. What a way to get off the mark! After phoning Phil and Ethan, night time quickly fell, which went by uneventfully. We always had a little theory that the pond would only do one bite every 24 hours. There are only around 13 fish in the pond and it is under 2 acres, so bites were few and far between.
I woke up to terrible conditions - it was red hot! Ant had packed up and gone home uneventful, and I was walking around with a cup of tea looking for possible stalking spots or surface chances. With nothing to get excited about, I went back to my shelter and rang a close friend who I knew from a lake I had fished previously, to come down to me for some company. I’d always put myself down when it came to my angling ability, even though I’d always achieved my targets. I consider Kev to be a good mate; he had always helped me in moments of need in the past and then was a perfect time to speak to him.
He eventually arrived and we sat and had a long chat and a bit of banter as the day passed. I decided to leave my rods in; I didn’t want to keep making recasts if there was no need to, however, this rod had been in from 6pm the day prior and it was now 6pm on the Tuesday. The rod had been in for 24 hours without a single bleep. Timing couldn’t have been any better. Kev was halfway around the pond on his way home when I went to lift my rod up to recast for the night. The rod burst into life, just as I was about to reel it in. Kev came running back around to net it for me and Ethan had just arrived to drop me some supplies off. It was the “Baby Big ’Un”, a low 20lb common. It was my second night, with two fish in the bag - I was over the moon!
It had been another quiet night, but this came of no surprise to me as both my bites had come in the late afternoon before dark. It was becoming a bit of a pattern, so I planned to put another kilo on my spot at midday to prime it for the afternoon. After a bit of stalking during the daytime, I came back to my peg and put the rods back out for bite time. I can remember sitting there that night, looking at what I had left to eat for the rest of the week; I had two pot noodles, a chocolate bar and a bag of crisps and I smelt like Bear Grylls’ big toe from all the walking around the lake in the hot weather. Luckily that night, Phil and Ethan came to rescue to me with a takeaway and Ethan ended up doing a quick overnighter with me. I was so confident of another bite, but nothing happened before dark. I sat there until it was late. The sky was lit up like a Christmas tree with the stars; the water was flat and calm with the reflection of the stars and the JCB factory behind me. All was silent, until the unspeakable happened. Not one, but both of my rods melted away. A double run was almost unheard of on the pond, however, with both rods on the spot, I wasn’t majorly surprised. After a long battle, the first fish was in the net. A dark mirror, low 20’s. I had my clutch locked up on my second rod, so only a small amount of line could peel off. I lifted into the second fish. All through the fight of both fish, I was shouting “Ethan” but with no reply. Eventually, he heard me and helped me to net a small common.
We peeled the net back off the fish; it was one of the Dinton stocks which had been put in a few years prior. Another low 20lber and another one off the list. The first fish, however, was probably the most elusive one in there at the time, which didn’t come out very often - the “Book Fish”. What a carp! Again, it was a low 20 but another big history fish with a brilliant story behind it.
At this point, I was very happy with the week I was having. I smelt like a tramp, I had no food, only tea bags and a few little bits Ethan had left for me. That day, I was alone and was curious as to how much tea I had actually drank. After looking through the bag, I counted around 107 tea bags. I was making Mark Pitchers look like Joey Essex after the carpy state I’d gotten myself in.
I needed to make something happen in the day. I went in search of a stalking spot and noticed a corner where Phil had been previously fishing. I put a handful of Synergy on the spot crumbed up, and out of nowhere, like a goldfish in a tank, “The Linear” came in and ate the lot. Excited, I ran back to get my stalking rod and lowered a bait on the spot. I knew the fish was a high 20 at the time, so my heart was bouncing around in my chest when I saw it come back in. He nailed it. My 10fter just couldn’t stop it and it sent me straight into the Canadian pond weed. I eventually retrieved my rig, but with nothing on the end. Gutted.
Later on that day, I spotted another chance. It was a fish called “Single Scale” and it was tearing up the spot right next to one of the cars. I knew after losing “The Linear”, this wasn’t going to be easy, as this was a bigger fish, close to 30lb. I decided to lower in my 12ft rod this time, as the line and leader was a lot stronger compared to the setup I had on my stalking rod and it would save time tying another rig up. It was now 4.30pm. I knew Ethan was coming down any time after work. As he walked around the corner, it was away. I made sure to keep it away from the car and I put it in the net without a problem. It was exactly as I expected - “Single Scale” at 27lb. Ethan took some photos for me and we slipped it back. My week seriously couldn’t have gotten any better after this point.
Phil came down to us that night, armed with a pie that Phil’s wife had made for me in a big pastry dish. I ate all the pie to myself, as Ethan and Phil just sat there and laughed at me. Later that night, Phil mentioned recaptures. He predicted that I will have a certain ‘pet’ that I will keep re-catching. Surely enough, later that night I had a repeat capture of “Thumbprint”, this time at 29lb. That was pretty much my chance gone for the night. Although it wasn’t a bad fish to have recaptured, it was frustrating, as bites are hard to come by on the pond.
The Final Day
After the week I’d had, I was very happy. It was the first time I’d ever fished this venue and what I’d caught in a week, it would take other anglers a full season to catch. However, it wasn’t a secret that all that week I was adamant “The Dale Common” was due out. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’d always doubted my angling capability - I knew I could catch fish but I have always struggled when it comes to catching the bigger fish.
It was Friday morning and I was ready to go home. I had no food, water or bait left. My back was killing me and I was exhausted from all the heat. Despite this, I decided to fish the day, even in the hot, sticky weather. All week, I had fished over a baited area with matching pop ups and with the odd bit of stalking. That was until I saw it. The Common. All I can remember seeing is a big boil on the water and a scabby tail slap the surface. “What do I do?”, I thought. I’d already tied two fresh stiff hinge rigs up, without baits on. Still to this day, I don’t know what possessed me, but I put a yellow MK2 on. I’d been catching on orange all week – “Why yellow?”, I asked myself. I positioned the rig in the rings of where I’d seen the fish show. I placed my rod on the alarm and drifted to sleep in the morning heat.
I was rudely awoken an hour later - the yellow MK2 was away. As I lifted the rod and felt the rod butt dig into my elbow, I knew it had to be “The Common”. I was terrified, shaking like a leaf. I’d heard stories previously and knew that “The Common” has always been known for giving a good account for itself. As I pulled the fish in, it boiled on the surface, halfway out - no doubting myself now, I had a big bit of history on the end of my line. I was on my own, looking for anyone to come and grab the net for me. Absolutely blown away, I put “The Common” over the cord on the net. After an intense battle, I looked over into the net and there it was - “The Goldendale Common”.
After I saw “The Common” in my net, it came to me. The Monday before, I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to fish and I didn’t want to see anyone or talk to them. The Urban Pond had made me forget about everything that had been going on in my life. I put “The Common” in the sling, sat down and cried for around 10 minutes. I’d been through hell in the couple of weeks before, but then I felt like I’d won the lottery.
After I stopped being a soft git, I rang Dean Scarratt. He knew I’d been down the pond all week and I was expecting a nice and welcoming answer. Instead he said, “Mr Smith, you better have a very good reason for waking me up this morning.” He was not happy but grumpy and tired from rolling little balls. However, with my reply of, “I’ve got the common”, he said “Okay, I’ll just pop my pants and boots on and I’ll be straight down with the camera.” Just to clarify, he did also put his trousers and coat on.
We weighed the fish and it was 29lb. It was the first time the fish had gone under 30lb in many years, but I didn’t care – I’d just caught “The Common”! Dean took some brilliant photos for me and then we released it back into the pond, ready for the next angler to make some memories.
When I’ve revisited the pond since, I’ve caught “Thumbprint” for the third time. After that, I couldn’t bring myself to go there again. There was nothing more that the pond had to offer me, which it hadn’t given me to me already. Was it luck? Was it good angling? Or was it fate? A bit of all three go into our angling; we remember the good memories and how they were made. But, sometimes we forget why we go fishing. Over the last 10 years, fishing has become more competitive than ever. Everyone wants to be sponsored or to catch the biggest fish in the lake and to be in the magazines or all over Facebook. To me, it’s how it started out. It’s a hobby, and one I can say I have some great memories with friends doing, and that’s all it should ever be.
Horton Continued... Part 4 - Mike Deakin
Fast forward to July 2018 and scenes of flip flops and Viagra littered the house, with a lads holiday only a few days away I needed to ensure I had everything in order. A good friend of mine kindly dropped off his travel sickness pills, blue Viagra. I hadn't heard of them before be he assured me they would keep me going on the plane but advised I stay seated, Thanks Richard!
Everything checked and doubled checked I was ready to sip sangria. With 3 days to spare I had enough time to squeeze two nights in at Horton before take-off. As midnight struck I'd had enough, wide awake from packing I loaded the car and made the long journey down the country. There is always that air of excitement when travelling down for first light, whilst the world sleeps you get to enjoy the raw beauty of nature, Pigeons on the M6!
3.30am and my entry was logged in the register, I had officially arrived. For those of you who have never seen the lodge at Horton the most important feature in this relaxing environment is the kettle. Amongst all the mod cons it is the one item that some periodically forget how to use, whilst I have become very proficient in the use!
Quietly making my way out the lodge door onto the steps leading down to the lake i sat listening to the birds sing their morning choir. For a moment my concentration lapsed, where I should have been watching the surface ripples flowing in my direction I was to absorbed in the dawn break. A quick check of my focus and I was back in the game but this time staring at a large, dark backed mirror breaking the surface out in front of a swim called Scooter.
For the readers amongst you who are familiar with the Church Lake you will know the fish can regularly be seen in front of Scooter but are difficult to catch from there. That said I took these signs with a pinch of salt and headed off down the south bank to see what else was on offer. Feeling the sweat starting to drip off my forehead I looked at my watch to see it was only 4.30am, it was going to be hard work to produce a bite in such warm conditions, or so I thought. Continuing my lap of the lake I arrived in Scooter, the swim I had seen the huge mirror break the surface in earlier. There is only so many times I can ignore such blatant signs before I find myself running (lose term) off to the car to grab my rods. On return the mirror was nowhere to be seen, typical I thought but he couldn’t have gone far.
The first rod was out of the bag and set up in double quick time, a High Attract MK2 pop up from Impulse Baits tied on and out she went. For anyone looking for a hook bait that they can be assured works on the lake in question then take a look at the Mk2’s. You can order them online direct from the website. That's my plug out of the way back to the fishing! Clipping the bobbin on the line I felt confident of a quick bite even with the heat. Two minutes was a little quicker than I had anticipated though as the one rod was already bouncing up and down on the alarm.
Grabbing for the it I could see the line rising in the water pointing directly at the offending carp. A powerful first run resulted in a blurry ten-minute battle where my only thoughts were it was the big mirror I had seen on arrival. You have to understand that there are several 50lb plus fish on site so when i use the term big I mean big!
Safely scooped up in the net I could see it was one of the bigger residents, a fish known as Alfie. The huge back was unmistakable and I was quite certain it was the fish I had seen. Knowing that Alfie usually goes 46lb plus I was interested to see what the post spawning weight would be.
A healthy 39lb 10oz stared back from the scales and I was a happy, if still a confused angler. Everything happened so fast it took a while for the mornings events to sink in. With so many big fish to angle for its easy to see why some can become accustom to 30lb plus fish regular. For me everyone is special no matter the size, with Alfie it was more a case of I hadn't had him before and it was another fish to tick off the list.
Still Not Blanking!
Until Next Time
In recent years the Mere has grown in popularity, its easy to understand why with all the effort and hard work the club and anglers have put in. Creating a water that boasts an excellent stock and pleasant surroundings.
This is where i first came across the most unlikely of characters, kind of shaggy looking with that laid back ora around him. Gripping the handle bars of a well used mountain bike that Noah himself rode around the Ark, you couldn't help but like him. You meet numerous anglers in the trade on a daily basis and occasionally, for what ever reason you instantly warm to one or two of them.
Unloading 15 kilo of Northern Mere and various tubs of pop ups from the car i did wonder how my new two-wheeled friend was going to get it all home. That was my first mistake, assuming he had a home other than the Mere itself. A couple of trips from the car park and the bait was safely in his bivi. The same scenario played out a number of times before i felt like i had enough courage to question the mans life and generally be nosy! things soon became clear though.
With no transport and living close it made perfect sense for him to concentrate his efforts on the Mere. Over the years i have put the extra effort in where needed to ensure i kept my buzzers singing, however having to constantly walk too and from the lake with a loaded barrow week in week out takes some doing.
A little over a month after Sonny Cockaine and myself first met i received an email with 16 fish up to 30lb, all caught using the Northern Mere. I was shocked at first, this kid could actually catch them. From that point on i paid close attention to what was going on over the Mere and reports of Sonny catching well kept streaming in. However not from Sonny himself, he was very quiet until the the first few days of each month, when like clock work i would get an email stuffed full of fish land in my inbox. It turned out that each month Sonny would use most of his new data allowance on his mobile contract to send the images in, hence them coming all at once.
As the months rolled by the catch reports kept on coming, The Northern Mere really does work well on Astbury. Numerous anglers have followed suit and seen the rewards in the bottom of the net. For those of you tackling Astbury this year you might want to take a look.
If you have followed the catch reports through 2018 you will have seen a number of posts from Sonny. A few months back he sent in another set of catch reports that sadly i hold my hand up and say i missed. Therefor it is only right that i display them now, including the last two 30lb plus fish Sonny had for the year.
It had been a few weeks since my last session on Horton where I had caught Scar,Deco and Bantam, i had decided to let the fish get their annual spawning out the way before heading back. On my return i found the shallow end of the lake had been closed off, the waters a little shallower and if there were to be any fish still spawning this is where they would be. A wise move i thought by the management!
The summer was starting to really heat up and at times the temperatures were unbearable but never the less the fish continued to feed. Arriving on a late Sunday afternoon to find only 3 anglers dotted around the lake instantly boosted my confidence. Having the option to move on or with the fish as opposed to slotting in where you can does that to you!
i have often wondered exactly how many miles i have walked around the lake in search of its residents, its one of the reasons i cancelled my gym pass, ok that's not entirely true! ive never had a gym pass but i do drive past one every day so surly that counts ?
Arriving in the gate swim i could clearly see a few bubbles hitting the calm surface now and again until eventually a fish broke. Most of the indications were out in front of another swim called the Slope which so happened to be vacant. A hasty walk round saw me dropping my bucket at the entrance to the Slope in double quick time! After watching what the fish were up to for a short while i continued my lap and soon found myself in springates looking out towards the Lookout Swim only to see the resident angler bent into a carp. By the time i arrived in his swim the fish was already in the net. One that goes by the name of The Little Leather, down in weight it was nice to see she had managed to release this years spawn and in general was looking healthy. A few clicks of the camera and a good check over then off she swam back to her watery home.
After a brief chat i learnt the angler had also managed to catch Fingers the previous night at a weight of low forties. That was enough for me, despite seen the bubbles in the slope i couldn't ignore that the fish were happy to be feeding in the Look Out. Now i have to admit that the Look Out isn't a swim that i particularly like, for no other reason than you would need at least 6 rods to cover all the features it offers, i am to old for major decisions like that! Despite this an hour or two later i was all setup ready to feed the waiting carp.
If you have read my journey so far this year you will be aware that i like to ensure i have enough bait to keep the fish in the area should they turn up in numbers. More often than not this has accounted for multiple bites. With that said i started with roughly 6kg of mixed particle and Synergy boilies whilst fishing a Mk2 pop up over the top. I'm not one for plugging products however the MK2 pop ups from Impulse Baits are different gravy and the Horton fish seem to have taken a liked to them. Who am i to argue with a carp !
As dusk turned to dawn and the bobbins lay motionless i started to contemplate the choices i had made. To this point i hadn't blanked all year, so you can imagine the thoughts running through my head. However i am not one to quit and the fish seemed to be present still so i decided to stay put.
Now most people would refrain from topping up the swim with bait, especially with no action through the night but with the fish still in the area i wondered if i had been done over. Another 3k of Synergy bottom baits were spread and the rigs replaced, a quite day followed but at 4am the next morning all hell broke lose.
With the rod bouncing and the Delkim screaming i couldn't get my boots on quick enough! Scrambling for the rod i finally managed to wake up enough to realise this was a better fish. Again i would like to recount tales of 50 yard runs and snag dodging maneuvers but the reality was the fish came in fairly steady, with most of its energy exerted on the entail run.
Safely in the nest i peered in to see a fish known as Cossack looking rather empty. Normally a fish that is 40lb plus but once on the scales a spawned weight of 36.4 was recorded. To say i was happy would be an understatement, not only another big resident ticked off the list but my run of fish had continued and my choice to stay put paid off.
When you're on a roll !!!!!
Until Next Time,
Arriving to find a busy lake never fills you full of joy, such is the way over on Horton and a situation you just have to deal with. That said the swim I first favoured for this trip was actually free when I did my usual laps of the lake. A swim known as scooters, luckily for me the chap in the opposite swim called the one up had given the carps location away with his two lost fish. Scooters it could be then or should I go Captors …. Ohh the decisions!
With a cold North Westerly wind blowing steadily towards me in Captors I was a little unsure at first, never the less the fish were certainly not too far away so it was time to feed them. Spombing out around 7kg of mixed particles and Apex boilies wasn’t easy in the wind however each spomb landed perfectly at 85 yards out, couldn’t do that again I thought!
Waking at first light I swung my feet out of the bag hoping to see carp jumping all over the swim, that wasn’t quite how it was but I could see that the grass carp had moved in which normally signifies the bigger fish are in the area.
As midd morning arrived so did a blistering take on my left hand rod, with little activity to report at the time it caught me by surprise. At this point I have to admit I have caught my fair share of Horton carp over the years and you would think I had got used to playing large carp without my knees knocking together, thankfully the excitement has not left my old bones juts yet.
That could quite possibly be down to looking at my other rod only to see the bobbin slowly tighten to the blank, double take now that’s rare for me. Quickly but mindfully I scooped the first carp into the waiting net and fired out instructions to my good friend stood with me to grab another net.
Now as you can imagine I needed to collect my thoughts together, from a period of no activity to totally carnage in 60 seconds was enough to make my head spin. Peering into the folds I recognised an old friend that has visited me a few times in the past, a fish called Scar.
Hoisting the sling onto the scales they registered a healthy 47lb, it may have been a recapture but the smile on my face was still as wide as the first time we met. The other fish was a beautiful apple sliced mirror known as Deco and weighed in at 24lb 6oz. I caught Deco last around 4 years ago at 14lb, an original Horton fish grown on from eggs by the late Del Smith, a true legend in every sense.
Del’s legacy will echo the banks of the complex forever, not just for the man he was but also through the stock he introduced. To fill Dels shoes is a task that not many could live up to, however we are lucky in that Vince has taken over from where Del left off and so far is doing a sterling job of securing the future.
With the proceedings over my attentions turned to the next bite, I was due to leave the following morning and was unsure if to top the swim up with a little more bait. Knowing that the fish wouldn’t hang around without any food on the deck but also considering the disturbance I was going to make I carefully weighed it up, MORE BAIT PLEASE!
A further 7kg was prepped and dispatched to the area, this time I have to admit a few spombs shall we say were “not on target” but I blame the mild breeze that was blowing at the time. Again the hours of darkness passed without so much as roach fart to report and the repeated watching and waiting game started at first light. Thoughts of an 11am bite entered my head as well as I need to be leaving soon to travel the many miles home. 11am came and went and my mind started to drift to getting myself together. Although one more wouldn’t hurt and at 11.30am I was netting a fish known as little billy. One of the characters of the lake you could say with his easily identifiable two tone colour. Dark rear and a golden shine to his front and at 21lb he is certainly one to keep an eye on.
There is more to my Horton adventure but for now I will leave it there. We have considered putting a Horton History video together with the help of the lads at Impulse, who knows maybe next year hey!
The history of Horton on video …… Now there is a thought.
When One Isn’t Enough!
By now most of you would have seen or heard of Baden Hall and be aware of the big fish it contains in the Quarry Lake. Some people can be forgiven for thinking it is an easy venue however with usual day ticket restrictions, the amount of angling pressure and the constant supply of bait can make for difficult angling. You also have the added pleasure of Weed and plenty of it during the summer months, finding the clear areas can be tricky at best.
For those who pay their money and take their chance I applaud you, it takes a certain type of angler to endure day ticket carping week in week out. That all said, most would be achieving a life time’s goal by banking a 30lb carp!! So to have more than one show up in the net is what dreams are made of.
Dean Palfreyman went in search of a bite but came up trumps with two 30lb commons during his session using The Apex Formula. I would like to recount all the skills dean used to bank these two great looking fish but if I’m honest I would hazard a guess he pub chucked them, lay on his bedchair and waited for things to happen. That’s in-between eating and putting the kettle on of course! Maybe next time you will help me with YOUR freezer mate and I may tell a better story of your capture. I think this makes us even. Congratulations fella, I’m made up for you as you know
With the start of the river season around the corner, I found myself taking my first river recci of the year. After locating some fish I started to introduce the bait in an attempt to keep them from moving off before the 16th.
A week past and my first night was upon me, I always set myself a little target for the season when it comes to the river, that being a northwest 20lb plus river fish. One that Iv not managed to do for the previous two seasons.
Come first light I woke and became disheartened that the rods had not done the river dance for me. Now normally if pack up and leave before the boats started but in this instance I decided to roll over and get some extra sleep as it had been a long week in work.
I was awoken to a few Beeps of the left hand alarm and seeing a rower going past I instantly thought he’d caught my lines, upon realising he was going down river and my line was heading up river. I watched the tip slowly pull round and the alarm go into melt down.
Little did I know my luck was about to change. After what I can only describe as going 12 rounds with mike Tyson, I saw a good fish roll over the net cord, taking a look instantly knew I had my river 20.
Going 21.12lb it was a new PB river common, any fish from the river is special. But a 20lb northwest river fish is that little bit extra special.
Time to up the target and go for that elusive river 30
Ryan Morgans ~ Apex Formula.
We mentioned in yesterday’s post the importance of consistency and how it applies to all areas of our angling. The same can be said for the regularity in which customers order their bait and what bait they chose each time.
With so many options available anglers pay too much attention to the latest craze which can lead to swapping and changing all the time. You only have to look in some bait bags to find numerous companies products stuffed in there. Variety can be a good thing at times but in most cases it just adds extra reasons for anglers to blame their blanks on.
When looking at the frequency in which our customers order you can see a distinct pattern. The angler who orders 10k of the same product regular (once a month or so) tend to have a more consistent catch result than that of a customer who swaps and changes but orders the same amount. There are of course other factors but as a whole this is a clear pattern.
We can’t answer exactly why however if we had to guess we would suggest it’s down to their consistency as an angler. Consistently using the same product and applying it to the lake in the same manner, carp are after all creatures of habit.
Ryan Morgans is one angler that we have noticed falls into this category, you can almost call it to the day when his order will land in the mail box. Each time his request is pretty much a repeat of his last, Apex Formula 15m and Mk2 High Attracts. As regular as his orders so are his catch reports and you start to notice over time that his consistent approach to both bait and his angling is producing steady results.
Relate the same situation to other customers and it becomes clear that consistency is playing its part in putting fish on the bank. To any of you reading this that feel you swap and change bait regular our advice is to STOP! Find one reputable company that supplies the range of products you use and select one bait from that range and stick to it. Consistency and Location will increase your catch rate far greater than the latest fashion.
As we mentioned Ryan Morgans kept things just as they should be and the picture that follow are testament to that. Apex Formula with a High Attract Mk2 pop up fished over the top has accounted for a high number of fish for Ryan. We have selected only a few of his catches from this year to show you what staying the course can produce.
Stick with a quality product, fish well and the results will soon follow!
Northern Mere Continues To Produce!
Consistency and Quality are two factors in carp angling that can lead to success on a regular basis. In every part of what we do you can apply one of these two words, Consistent baiting, Quality of the products you use etc. To relate these two words to our Northern Mere range you have to look back many years to when we first opened as a business.
We began with two baits in the range, Choc Banana Nut Mix and one which many of you may not have heard of, The Enigma. The Choc Nut is a firm favourite of many anglers to this day and continues to catch both in the UK and Europe ‘Consistently’ But What Happened to The Enigma?
The days were numbered for this black spicy fishmeal bait, which is sad to say as it did produce several good catch reports during its short life span. However times change and so does “fashion” but that’s a topic to be saved for another article. Northern Mere now sat proudly amongst the range, a red fishmeal with an aroma of stinky feet, how could it not be a winner!
The main focus was to have a product that could hold its own when fished in a lake containing high natural food content, such as the weedy/silty meres of the North West. Waters of this nature will certainly have a time of year when the fish don’t seem interested in an anglers bait. One reason for this is natural food such as planktonic crustaceans, insects, fish eggs and larvae. Carp can switch their diet according to the food sources available, add silt and weed to the equation and you have a lake full a food that in most cases is more interesting than our boiles.
Attempting to compete with natural food sources was never going to be easy however we believe the Northern Mere is as close as you a likely to get. With a blend of fishmeals, Milk Proteins, CLO, Liver Powder, GLM and an excellent belachan extract it is easy to see why. One additive that has featured in many recipes over the years is Robin Red, another ingredient that is included in the Northern Mere as you will see from the deep red colour of the finished product.
Don’t be tricked into thinking all advertised Robin Red baits on the market actually contain Robin Red, you will be surprised at how many contain Paprika instead! Still, a good ingredient however a fraction of the cost and in our opinion less effective than RR.
With the finished article released to the public it wasn’t long before the catch reports were following daily. With Uk fish to over 50lb rolling over the cord and numerous 30lb plus we knew we had made the correct decision. As the years passed the results never slowed down for the anglers using the Northern Mere and to this day it is still as effective as when we released it, Consistency and Quality leading to success.
Luke Halsal-Hart is no stranger to our catch reports this year and has managed a number a 30lb plus fish whilst using the Northern Mere, including the 34lb common known as the MAG COVER fish from Kingfisher lakes. Testament to the Quality and Consistency of the product.
Mag Cover Fish - Kingfisher Lakes - 34lb
Sunshine Gold – Baden Hall.
Day Ticket venues are scattered all over the country giving easy access to some excellent fishing for anyone wishing to pay and play. There was a time when such waters were a rarity and the likes of Cuttle Mill were starting the path the way, especially in the Midlands/Staffordshire area.
Cheshire and Shropshire have forged there place into history when it comes to big fish and credible waters, however sitting as a close neighbour to both Staffordshire has always fallen short in terms of big fish day ticket venues. That was until Baden Hall started to make the headlines over the last several years.
There are several lakes on the complex but the main attraction seems to be the Quarry Lake, understandable with the number of big fish on offer up to 50lb.
Alex Woodcock and Dan Gibson are just two of the many anglers to try their luck at the bigger residents. With temperatures in the high 20’s and clear skies for the last several weeks you could be forgiven for staying at home and firing up the BBQ!
Consistently hot weather for sustained periods very rarely produces good catch results, you find yourself dehydrated sitting under a brolly wishing you were anywhere else…..and don’t mention packing up !
For those who do brave the heat and work hard to produce the bites the rewards are there.
With fish to 31lb and temperatures to match it is hard not to be impressed by the efforts put in.
Alex Woodcock – 31lb common
Dan Gibson – 25lb grass carp
The Quarry - Essex.
Well known Day Ticket venues seem to be littering the catch reports at the moment, this one is no different. Formally, The Quarry was a private syndicate for over 20 years and held some of the countries most sort after carp. That was until it became available to all anglers on a day ticket basis in recent times.
Now I have to admit, personally I’m not a huge fan of day ticket angling and on the rare occasion I do venture to the dark side I’m quickly reminded why I’m not so keen. That said The Quarry is unlike any other D.T venue I have been in the past for a number of reasons.
Firstly you only have to walk around the lake to see it is very mature and in places a little overgrown. There seems to be a trend in recent years where fisheries offer manicured grass, lit walk ways and even WiFi! To me that’s a holiday park, without the Butlins sign hanging over the door! Thankfully the Quarry is a far cry from that with its weeping willows, great oaks and snag lined margins.
If the view is not enough on its own you have to be impressed with what swims under the surface. I would hazard a guess that some of the carp are older in years than a proportion of anglers fishing for them, including myself at only 21...cough cough!
Each year we arrange a company trip and exclusively book the lake for 2/3 days at a time. I say company trip as the majority of the lads attending are part of Impulse but we do take the odd stray, you know the ones that only a mother could love! This year was to be no exception with good friend and SAE sponsored angler Rob Fonad joining our merry group. I sometimes question my sanity but as it turned out I couldn’t have been happier for the old dog, a trip I don’t think he will forget in a hurry!
One of the huge advantages of booking the lake exclusively is the choice to use a boat during your stay. The Quarry can be exceptionally weedy some years and having the option to go and retrieve as apposed to pulling the fish through it is always the better way. This year surprised me some what when I arrived, I did expect to see the weed up to the surface due to the water level been down. This was certainly not the case; yes there was weed present but no where near the amount there had been in previous years.
Some anglers shy away from fishing weedy lakes, i find it easier to track where the fish are moving too and from and by what route when you have weed beds present, leaving only my rig placement to worry about. On a lake that you only visit once a year for a few days it’s difficult to build up a clear picture of the fishes movements, weed has always helped me in that situation.
Pegs drawn and rods out I was feeling quite confident that between us we could produce one of the originals we so dearly sorted after. Over the last few winters the lake has had several stockings of young fish which is great to see as planning for the future is vital. It does mean that on occasion you can be a little busy if they decide to move over your baited area. However who wouldn’t be happy catching doubles with great friends around to share it with, right!!! Ok that’s what I have to type but the reality of it is every single angler there wanted to catch a better fish. If I had heard the name Orion once I had heard it a thousand times leading up to the trip from a lot of the lads, it does have a habit of showing up in the net when we go mind.
With events now in full swing and a few fish starting to get caught everything was looking promising. I mentioned at the start about Rob not forgetting this trip in a hurry, it still makes me laugh as I sit here and type! Rob is an exceptional angler that sadly hasn’t had the opportunities to fish waters that hold a number of big fish, so to that he has waited a long time for the 30lb common that graced his net on the Saturday morning.
As my phone rang with news of his capture I grabbed the camera gear and made my way around to his peg. I could see his little face was beaming with smiles, he mentioned it could be a high 20 but was unsure if it would go 30lb. I don’t know who was more excited to find out Rob or me. This moment had been talked about over hundreds of hours of tea drinking in his kitchen, Robs hunt for a 30lb carp.
I could feel that school boy excitement building up as he lifted the retainer from the waters edge. It looked a chunky fish that you could tell, however Robs fairly old and unfit so his cherry faced puffing seemed nothing out of the ordinary!
The scales spun around and there it was for all to see, 30lb 12oz of Quarry magic!!!
Finally, he had done it …. And it true style!!! I keep saying Rob won’t forget the moment but what I really mean is I won’t forget it. There’s a handful of captures by friends that over the years have stuck with me more than others, this will be one of them. For the last 10 years if I could have willed a 30lb plus carp onto Robs hook I would have tried, as effort should defiantly equal reward in this case.
The moment couldn’t have been more fitting, big cheers and great laughs by everyone whilst in the back ground the dawn broke to reveal a misty lake and the odd carp topping out. This is where it got a little interesting; imagine, the cameras are snapping away whilst Rob is in the water and I’m standing back taking it all in. I notice a little twitch on his right hand rod and at first I thought it might have been Simon as he was doing the pictures but it twitched again and again! Now I have a moral dilemma going on in my head, I was taught disturbing people whilst busy is rude but in the same instance it could be another 30lb common attached to Robs rig. Do I shout up or do I just hit the rod???? There is really only one right thing to do of course, that’s hit the rod and laugh at your mate standing in the margin hugging a common unable to do a thing. As it turned out the unknown 30 was actually a tench, never the less we laughed as I swung it in and Rob scooped it up for a double bubble picture. What a moment!
The lake continued to fish fairly steady with Chris and Steve helping themselves to a number of fish up to 24lb from the shallows. Simon Williams even got in on the action with a couple of stockies. It was clear to see that one side of the lake was producing bites where the other seemed completely void of fish. I suppose it was lucky I just so happened to be on the right side of the lake.
Just before dawn on the Sunday morning I received a couple of bleeps, clicking the head torch on I could see the tip of the rod knocking slightly. That was enough for me to be investing what was on the end and sure enough it was a carp. The fight was that of a spawned out fish and after realising it had a bit of weight I held back, more guiding what was attached than actually pulling it in. Spring time can be hard on the fish even after a period of recovery so to that I find its always better just taking it easy. In the early morning light I could just make out the fish going over the net cord, peering in I could see it was a chunky fish…. And an original!
As day broke the lads gathered around to help with the picture and weighing, still not 100% sure which fish was in the net. Once on the mat it didn’t take long to figure out exactly which fish it was, the mighty Orion! After all the discussions about it been due out and would it have spawned were about to be answered. Usually Orion weighs in at upper 30’s and the year previous we had caught her at 38lb, well I did say she likes to show up when we go!
Looking as though spawning hadn’t been too much of an issue she weighed in at a healthy 36lb, I was simply blown away. To catch a creature older than yourself and that could tell more tales than an Irish sea dog was humbling. Add to that I got to share a chunk with good friends… I can say that now!
The trip didn’t end there as right on the last knockings Steve Brietsprecher was cheeky enough to bank a 30lb mirror; it was certainly worth having his rods on the deck whilst packing up, never give in!
There was one last thing I wanted to touch upon and that is boat work, by this I mean how and when to use one, or rather in Craig’s case how not too!
Imagine my horror when at 5am as the lake is perfectly still and silent you hear what sounds like tribal war drums beating. Clunk Clunk…..Clunk Clunk ? It took me a while to relate the sound to an action but eventually I pinned it down to someone hitting the side of a boat! I thought that was strange as I couldn’t see anyone out in a boat and at 5am bite time there was certainly no one crazy enough to do that on this trip…. Then it appeared…. Like all my nightmares as a child rolled into one. I couldn’t believe what my eyes were sending my brain to process, it couldn’t be possible but it was!
Through the morning mist came the drone of clonking against the side of a boat as Craig rowed backwards in a pointed bow boat! Yea, that’s right, backwards!
However that I could handle but it was the incessant clonking of the paddle against the boat with each stroke as he attempted to move forward that got me. As I watched the fish vacate both his, mine and Simons swim I didn’t know if to laugh or cry! I have to say though after some ruthless banter about the whole thing Craig took it extremely well. Well done mate, you made us laugh !
I’m not sure he will be boating again at bite time mind!
Club Lake Carnage #MK2's
Generally you will find there are three types of waters on offer to the modern angler, Day Ticket, Club Lakes and Syndicates. All offer excellent sport and the chance of a large carp or two but in this short peace we are going to look at club lakes.
Angling clubs/communities have held their place in fishing for many years, providing reasonably priced access to venues within the local area. In most cases the waters on offer will be made up of park lakes, reservoirs and small privately owned pools. With relatively inexpensive leases available it’s easy to see why clubs jump at the chance of adding these types of waters to their portfolio. The average club ticket can cost anything up to £120 for a full 12 months, giving you access to several waters in most cases. When compared to the other options of day ticket and syndicate its great value for money.
The few points I am going to mention won’t apply to everyone so please try to keep an open mind and remember this is more a generalisation peace not hard fact.
If I was to outline the journey of an angler’s progression it would be the following
Most anglers begin by trying to keep costs low, meaning they venture to waters where catching sometimes may not be consistent. Unless you count shopping trolleys, umbrellas and condoms!
After been disturbed by police sirens, local chavs and every dog walker known to man at the free pond new anglers often move onto day ticket venues in search of better fish and surroundings. Over time the costs start to mount and the ability to get the peg you want reduces. This leads most anglers to look for cheaper alternatives that offer similar amenities.
The next step in an angler’s journey is the good old faithful club lakes. Now I say next step but I would hazard a good guess that most of the syndicate members reading this still own a club ticket or two. Club waters tend to be good sport, easy access and very sociable, making it hard to give the ticket up. Add to that it is always worth having a back up water for when the syndicate is busy. For the more regular club angler the social side of things can be a big part of enjoying the fishing and also influences how many years an angler can stay on a water. I’ve seen many times over lads who have caught every roach swimming yet still stick to the same venue.
After mingling with the masses and catching every carp that swims in the club lake, some anglers look for a syndicate water where this fish tend to be a little bigger.
For me that’s the general path anglers take in terms of progression, not everyone of course but as I said this isn’t a factual peace. The point you have to really notice about the above is that no matter what type of water an angler fishes, once they have held a club lake ticket it’s hard to give it up. There is that little part in everyone’s mind that weighs up the cost Vs enjoyment, not just in fishing but in life as a whole and club tickets normally win!
In the future I will do a in depth peace on my thoughts about club lakes, both good and bad but for now I think David Barlow sums up what’s on offer for very little money perfectly with these 2 x 30 plus commons to 33lb. You have to admit that very impressive for a club lake.
David fits into all the above categories, he has worked at a day ticket venue, angled with the crowds at bluebell lakes and caught consistently on the club waters he visits. Been able to adapt your approach to fit all types of venues and still produce regular fish is something that not every angler can do..
Luke Halsall-Hart - Different Gravy
Most catch reports we receive normally include a small write up of how the events unfolded on the day. Luke’s report, as always included two detailed articles that we shall put up in the media section shortly.
This catch report will be slightly different to the usual, I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly talk about Luke as an angler and the interesting relationship we have had over the last few years.
Some years ago I started to receive email orders from Luke on a regular basis. At the time I wasn’t aware of Luke’s age, this wouldn’t have made any difference to our business but I genuinely thought he was a lot older than his years. The way in which he conducted his emails made its easy to process his requests with no issues, until one day! An innocent mix up on Luke’s part generated an incorrect order, at this point I have to point out Luke is a very straight forward person. If he has something to say he will say it and make it known to the right people.
Once he had given my ears a good going over with regards to his order we soon got to the bottom of the problem. As our conversation ended I remember been a little unsure if we would see Luke again. Less than 15 minutes later the phone rang with an apologetic voice greeting me on the other end.
Anyone who makes an error and has the balls to call back up like Luke did grabs my attention. I suppose you could say he gained my respect without having to know him to well, I did keep a close eye on him after that I have to admit, in a positive way as he ended up joining the company.
A few months passed and the orders continued to roll in, Luke certainly had taken a liking to our Northern Mere and apparently so had the fish. I can remember the first time I met Luke at one of our drop off points on a Thursday night, young and fresh faced. I was actually amazed that he wasn’t in his late 20.s, with such an old head.
It quickly became apparent his desire to catch carp was immense, the stories he recounted included passion in his voice that made you feel as though you lived in the moment. With every bait collection the stories would flow and smiles would appear, they still do to this day and with the same degree of passion. He is infectious, you can’t help but be pulled into his positive nature and carpy world!
To me, the weight of the fish you catch does not dictate your ability as an angler, consistency however does. Luke has both, the ability to catch consistently and big fish at that. It’s easy to see why when you get talking to him, every little detail is checked and doubled checked with no room for error. This never changes, consistency in his baiting, rigs, watercraft and catch results all match up.
It has been an interesting journey so far watching Luke grow both in his angling and as a person. I can’t be sure but I think I spotted a picture on social media where he had a hairy caterpillar on his top lip whilst at a music festival, I think the young ones call it a moustache? Careful of strong winds Luke!!!!!
I have no doubt that this lad will continue to grow in the angling world, good things come to those who work hard and have the right ethic.
That just leaves me to mention a few of many fine carp that Luke has caught in recent times, Including 3 x 30lb plus fish, with a brace shot of a 29lb mirror. This lad knows how to catch them and how to get the best out of our Northern Mere range that is clear.
It is a pleasure havening you with us Luke, even though you do verbally abuse me on occasion, it wouldn’t be you if you didn’t though, until my next ear bashing, take it easy.
30.13 Mirror brace
29lb Mirror brace
Ben Bond - Special Moments.
Low stocked, big fish waters are hard at the best of times, add angling pressure and the time of year to the equation leaves you with a head ache, it was no different when I arrived last Thursday.
I had been following the weather closely leading up to my session, I don’t like to have preconceived ideas about where the fish may be before arrival but I do like to know where I need to start looking for them. Never forget to check the weather!
With conditions looking prime for a “certain area” I was a little disheartened to find another angler firmly wedge in that peg, always the case I suppose. The next 3 hours were spent climbing every tree and peering through every little hole in search, in the end it was clear to see the fish were sitting directly in front of the angler just mentioned.
With a little luck and great timing the angler started to pack his gear away, leaving room for me to slip in behind him. As old Micky Grey would say, “How’s Your Luck”! …. On point this time I would say Micky, Thanks!
With a high percentage of the lakes stock now in front of me, which isn’t that many, it was time to quietly get the first rod out. After a few discussion with the lads at Impulse Baits I had decided to switch over to their Northern Mere range, I liked the idea that the bait was designed for waters that hold quite a lot of naturals.
Bites are never forth coming on this water and you really do have to pay attention to what you are doing, so image my surprise when only 10 minutes after casting out the clutch started to tick away. How’s Your Luck indeed! With an angry carp doing its best to head for any snag it could find I had no option but to jump in up to my chest and steer it clear, which turned out to be the right move. Laying in the bottom of my net was the most perfect mirror I had ever had the pleasure of catching. Terms such as, Stunning and old Warrior are often banded around, to me this fish was just perfect.
The routine phone calls were made and the time shared with good friends, in hein site it’s not only the fish that made the moment but also sharing it with people who appreciate the capture just as much as you do. Thanks lads! I suppose I should mention the mirror weighed in at 25lb but that’s just a number compared to its looks. With my swim upside down and everyone vacated I spent the next hour floating around in a bit of a dream world sorting things out. A friend was due to join me that evening so we opted for a BBQ to celebrate the day’s events.
Sitting back watching the flames of the BBQ lick away whilst listening to the sounds of the lake I could feel I still had that stupid grin on my face. However was that grin about to get even bigger! Our conversation was interrupted by a huge eruption which looked to be over my right hand rod. The Neville signalled out 2 bleeps, which was enough for me to investigate the offending rod. One again my luck was in, the line had come out of the clip and the fish was kiting to my right.
I would love to tell you a detailed story of how the fight was spectacular but in reality it was a short lived affair and Lewis had soon netted whatever was on the end of my line. I think we both had suspicions it could be a better fish, grabbing the head torches and peering into the folds confirmed just that. We just looked at each other and both had that stupid grin upon our faces.
Phones calls were made and the moment was set, last year she weighed in at 32lb which is low considering she is normally over 35lb. She looked big now though, certainly bigger than 35lb. As we all gathered around the scales eagerly awaiting the numbers it was tense, or for me at least.
37lb 5oz, that will do me.
Until Next Time, Thanks For Reading
Horton Hauling - Mikes 10th UK 40.
Arriving at 5am it was no surprise to see the plateau swim had got another anglers bucket already firmly placed in it, a swim which the fish had been frequenting a lot. The second option, which so happened to be free was the swim next door, named One Up.
After assessing the situation I felt I needed to stop the fish prior to them reaching the plateau, bait was the order of the day, and plenty of it! In the past I had found the point at which the gravel bar meets the plateau and rises to around 4ft in depth, Ideal for ambushing any passing carp.
The area was baited with around 9 kilo of Apex Formula and Synergy boilies mixed, topped up with a little hemp to keep them grubbing around for a bit longer. I didn’t expect too much to happen the first night with all the disturbance but just over 24 hours after arrival my net had Frosty at 31lb resting in it, I have to say I was pleased to pinch a bite so early on and the pressure was off.
With fish this size there is every chance they can clear your spot without you even realising. With no signs to go off it was time to make my area a little more attractive. 20 kilos of mixed bottom baits and hemp was scattered around the 4ft area. Sitting back chatting away after a heavy spombing session you can imagine my surprise when the left hand rod signalled another take. Adding to the surprise was the fact that I had hooked the resident grass carp, all 39.6 of her, that’s one huge fish!
With the fish seeming to move off towards the Plateau swim and it now been vacant I decided to move. It had been nearly 10 days since the last fish had been caught out of the swim, with most falling to single pop ups. Time to mix it up a little I thought! Returning to the onsite freezer I grabbed another 15 kilo of Apex and Synergy mixed along with another bucket of hemp.
The first night past with not so much as a bubble showing, the fish must have been thirsty that morning though, no sooner had I put the kettle on the stove my left hand rod was away. A dark looking carp appeared out in front of me and I could clearly see I had Zippy, a great looking zip linear with dark characteristics that went 36.8 on the scales. Things were starting to warm up nicely!
Recasting the freshly baited rod you can image my confidence was booming at this point, but I felt more was to come if I kept the swim topped up with bait. No to be disappointed it wasn’t long before Harpo at 27lb was in my hands been held up for the camera. My time has been very limited the last 12 months so fishing has taken a back seat. What a way to return, several good fish and still time left for another, not to be greedy but when you are on them you have to make the most of it.
As the sun started to rise on my last morning the right hand rod gave 3 single bleeps, enough for me to think there was a carp trying to have me off! Gently bending into the rod I could feel a dead weight, signifying a large fish. The battle was short lived but the prize will be long remembered, One of Hortons bigger residents Rodger was firmly attached to my hook. This is a fish that has done over 50lb in previous years. Hoisted up and doubled check the scales registered 49.6 … a little shy of the 50lb mark but that mattered not, a new Personal Best for myself and great fish for the album.
This was also my 10th UK 40 plus carp whilst been with Impulse Baits.
As always we just have to have one last cast before home, my last resulted in Ziggy a 22lb common, that’s was enough for me.
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