Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Zigging for Carp

Carp rigs have become more complicated since the explosion of carp fishing decades ago. Rig systems that dump the lead on the take, hooks that swivel 360 degrees and the Wyre Rig! 

You can be sat behind the ultimate bottom rig of all time, however if the majority of carp are cruising\feeding in the higher layers of the water, your chances are greatly reduced - Enter the Zig Rig!

When I first read about the Zig many years ago in a carp monthly, I quickly turned over the pages to read about the latest bottom rig, dismissing the Zig as something the experts used when they had time on their hands! I did not realise the effectiveness of the Zig until a few years later when I realised it is a worthwhile tactic even for day ticket waters.

The rig is easy to tie, an inline lead set up with the leader tied direct to the swivel making sure the lead will come free if the mainline breaks as with any safe carp rig. I generally use a lead of 3oz, I dont use lighter leads as I believe the heavier leads on a long leader give a better hook up. For the leader material I use 8lb in snag free waters and 10lb in weedier waters. The hooklength I use is a Kamasan sub surface trout leader which I have found superiour to normal mono due to its lower density. Always use a wide gape hook, this helps with a good hook hold as the baits are buoyant and dont act like a boilie. My favourite hook bait (tied knotless knot style) is a piece of dark foam on which ive had most success. Other anglers have had catches on bright pop ups, fake sweetcorn, however I can only comment on what ive caught on and its been dark subtle colours. As a bit of added confidence I pre-glug my bits of foam half hour before I cast them out, glug them too long and they lose their buoyancy.

This will obviously depend on the fishery, however I have found about that 2\3rds to 3\4 quarter depth is a good start. On a recent trip the area I fished was 6 foot deep and 2 foot of weed I fished a zig at 5 feet and had instant success. Watch the water for signs of cruising carp and dont be afraid to try something different from the other anglers.

Carp will be cruising about in the warmer upper layers taking in particles as they come across them and with no hands to feel "baits" they have only their mouths to test food items and sometimes your hook is attached to one of them!

The Zig Rig will work on all waters whether they are gravel pits, lakes even commercial fisheries and the best part about it is, the rig is simplicity itself. Every carp angler will have a tub of pop ups rattling around in their tackle bag and wouldnt think twice about casting out a pop up when all else fails. However when faced with de-rigging a bottom bait for a zig, many anglers confidence is low and will stick with the bottom baits hoping the carp will "switch on". When you see carp cruising the upper layers and the bottom baits arent producing, I recommend you go for it and swap over to a Zig Rig, it could save your day.

The Zig can be used all year round, however my experience of zigs are in warmer weather, normally spring and summer as my colder weather fishing is dedicated to other species.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Fishing the Unknown - Carp & Rudd

High pressure had moved in meaning that the next few days were going to be warm, so I decided to make the most of this and fish a short overnight session on a local stillwater.  The venue in question is bit of an unknown quantity, it holds plenty of rudd and small carp that have recently been stocked, however there have been rumours that it may of been stocked several years ago with carp.  I can never resist tales of uncaught fish so I had to give it a go, nothing ventured and all that!

I was going to edge my bets and fish a rod for carp and the other for rudd, I wanted to try and see what the rudd potential would be from this lake, and after doing a bit research it seemed my best chance for these would be after dark.  I had to wait until my wife got back from work so I could hand over the baby sitting duties, then id be off, hopefully fishing by 7pm.  As I worked 5 minutes from the venue I could be packed up and in work the following morning for 8am.

It was a glorious warm day with bright sunshine and as the I pulled up to the gated field it had clouded over, still very warm, in fact improved fishing conditions, im not a fan of fishing in bright sunshine.   I was travelling light, no cooking equipment on this overnighter just sandwiches and a few bottles of fizzy drinks.  A quiver with 2 rods, my brolly, bedchair with thermal cover, no heavy sleeping bag, a bucket of bait, medium holdall and landing net.  I was loaded up like a pack horse, thankfully the route to the lake is all down hill.

I was the only one on the venue, I fed some bait into a few likely areas and set the rods up.  My rigs on both rods were identical, a medium feeder fished helicopter style with a 3-4 inch nylon hooklink, size 10 hook, one with a piece of foam and sweetcorn the other a hair rigged boilie.  I was catching rudd from the start averaging 6oz, I had a run on the boilie rod, which I did not connect with.

The rudd kept biting however they were not exceeding around 6oz, perhaps the bigger ones would feed after dark.  It was a beautiful evening and as the sun sank behind the hills, the boilie rod burst into life, this time I connected with what was obviously a carp, one of the stockies judging by the fight and I soon had a plucky common on the bank.  As soon as dusk fell the rudd bites stopped instantly, I never landed any rudd during the dark hours.

As I stated earlier, fishing on this venue is a bit of an unknown quantity, theres no hard evidence that other fish have been stocked in the past and if so how long ago or what species were stocked.  I do enjoy a bit of pioneering, trying to unlock a venues secrets, who knows what swims beneath the surface.  

For after dark I put a Charwood Baits 12mm fluro pop up on the boilie rod and im glad I did, at 1.30am I received a proper take, line being ripped from the spool, I jumped off the bedchair and lifted into the fish, it instantly felt heavier than anything else id hooked from the lake, my barbel rod absorbed the carps lunges as he made several bids for freedom, it was very dark as the sky had clouded over blocking the moonlight.  As I played the fish by torch light I had a feeling this was not going to be one of the recent additions, however I was yet to see the fish until it neared the bank, then I got a flash of gold, it was what I had came for, one of the original fish or offspring of the originals, I estimated it around 6lb, until it was safely in the net upon which I revised my estimate to getting on for 10lb!

It was a stunning Common with bronze back, dark edges to his scales and vivid orange on the tail, what a result.  I was over the moon, it didnt matter what weight it was, but for the record the scales went to 9lb 14oz, just short of the double.  I felt I had taken a gamble, followed up on a few rumours and it had paid off.  The carp was immaculate, it looked like it had never been caught before and probably never even seen a boilie before.  The Charwood Baits MPP is a great boilie, it has a track record for producing on a variety of venues and the fish seem to find an instant attraction towards it, if you havent tried it before give it a go on your water.

I retired back to the bedchair but couldnt fall alseep, I was still buzzing from the carp.  I must of drifted off and was woke again by the boilie rod with another stockie at 4.30am as it began to get light.  The dawn chorus was like none I had heard before, it was a plethora of song from several species bird, so much so I could not tell them apart, this lasted for an hour, it was a tremendous melody.  
As I returned the carp, I looked up over my brolly and spotted a fallow deer walking along the tree line of the meadow in the dusky half light.  As the Doe neared, she spotted me and instantly pranced across the dew laden meadow with a series of jumps until she was out of sight. 

After that last carp I did not go back to bed, I enjoyed the next couple of hours, listening to the birds and watching the sun rise, upon which the rudd started to feed again.

A ghostly mist passed over the lake as another rudd came to the net.  I felt my efforts had been rewarded in this short session with an unknown carp falling to my rod.  

One thing I will point out is that unfortunately I did forget my unhooking mat, however I can assure everyone that the fish went back just as it came out, the area is on low ground being very wet and the grass very soft under foot, ill make sure I dont forget it on my next session.
Its exciting fishing a venue that has an unknown stock, who knows what swims beneath the surface.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Small Stillwater Fishing - Carp & Rudd

As the van made its way along the rugged path, the sun slowly crept above the fertile hills of the rolling Monmouthshire countryside.  With the river season still 6 weeks away I decided to try a sample of intimate fishing on a small yet mature pond in search of Carp and Rudd.

On arrival I baited a few margin spots which I intended to fish later in the session and give the carp a bit of time to move onto them.  The venue has only recently been stocked with carp so I could only expect fish upto 3lb, however on light float gear im sure they would put up a spirited and exciting fight.  My set up for the rudd was a simple waggler float with shirt button style shotting pattern as I was expecting to catch fish on the drop.

I fired out some sweetcorn with the catapult, baited my size 14 hook with a single grain and cast out, within seconds I struck as a fish took the bait on the drop and I soon had my first rudd on the bank.

Easily 4oz it was a stunning looking fish with bright red fins, canary yellow eyes and golden flanks which glistened in the morning sunshine.  For the next hour I steadily caught rudd upto 8oz including a beautiful golden rudd (below) which sported firey orange flanks and blood red fins.

As my PB rudd currently stands at only 1lb, it is one I am keen on improving so I set up the quiver rod with a light feeder, my reasons being perhaps the bigger rudd would feed nearer the bottom away from the smaller fish closer to the surface.  Although the average size of rudd I caught was bigger on the feeder (ave 6oz) I could still not tempt any over the 1/2 pound mark.  The fighting qualities of the rudd is understated, these fish put up a good contest on the appropriate tackle and a much larger rudd would certainly give you the run around.

I decided that my margin spots I baited on arrival had been left long enough, so fished one of my favourite styles, the lift method.  Its about as simple as it gets, a light float with an SSG shot about 6 inches from the hook which sits on the bottom.  After finding the right depth the float is fished half cocked and when a fish takes the bait, the float will either slide away or rise up and sit flat on the surface, if either happens you strike immediately.

A few more grains of corn went in both spots before I positioned the float 18 inches from the bank.  This time my size 10 was baited with 2 grains of corn.  It takes alot of confidence to fish this close to the bank especially on a small stillwater, however over the years I have learnt that the carp love to patrol the margins and feed near any features, including reeds, overhanging trees/bushes or old landing stages.  It took a little longer before I received my first bite this time, and 5 minutes later I was playing a lively common carp which darted back and forth  trying to bury itself and shed the hook, I kept it on a tight line as the float rod took on a healthy curve as I slid the net under target species number 2 of the session.

I decided to rest the swim for 10 minutes so baited up with a pinch of sweetcorn and fished the feeder rod, this time casting towards an overhanging tree on the far bank.  It wasnt long before I had a "proper" pull on the tip, this was no rudd.  Another scaley hard fighting common carp came to the net.

I switched back to the float on my margin spot and again waited no more than 5 minutes for my next bite, which saw the float sail away along the bank.  When fishing venues such as this it is important to use the appropriate tackle, a medium float rod, 4lb line straight through meant that I could enjoy the fight, sometimes I had to give a little line when the carp made a powerful run you dont want to be just reeling the fish in on heavy tackle, wheres the fun in that!  This particular carp took several minutes to land, powering around taking line, it proved to be the biggest of the day at almost 3lb.  The carp have only been stocked recently with the biggest being around 2lb so the fish have almost certainly put on weight this spring which is a good sign.

I caught 5 carp in total, 4 falling to the lift method close in.  Im sure I can improve on my rudd PB from this venue, the feeder seemed to pick up the better fish so I have an idea how I might be able to winkle out a few of the bigger rudd over the next few weeks.  Overall it was an enjoyable session before I start my river campaign after barbel and chub.