Thursday, 7 August 2014

Pioneering Angling

The float dipped within the lilly fringed pond as the rod took on a healthy curve.  A fine rudd, golden in colour, spirited in fight and undiscovered, until now, had taken the bait.  This has been one of many fish caught from secluded, uncharted venues over the years.  For an intrepid angler, the thought of fishing a hidden gem off the beaten track, with only rumour of its inhabitants, stirs emotion and excitement and it’s easier to discover these venues than you think.

With a bit of research, leg work and time you can also identify suitable unfished waters that hold stunning carp, plump tench and a plethora of roach.  If the thought of arriving at a commercial venue competing with dozens of other anglers is not your cup of tea, or the adventurer in you would like to seek a new challenge, then please read on, as I reveal how I have gone about finding new venues and Ill share the enjoyment I have had fishing them.

My first experience in discovering a new water came almost by accident.  I and a friend had planned a hike into a wooded area a few miles from where we lived.  We were in our early teens and wanted to do things properly so perused an Ordnance Survey map of the area.  On the map, within the wooded area was a small patch of blue, a body of water.  Following this discovery, I decided to take a basic fishing kit along with bait in my rucksack.  The day was warm and the hike to the woods was a very enjoyable experience, it was made even better after we came across the blue area shown on the map, which turned out to be a pond no more than a quarter of an acre in size.  Bulrushes surrounded two thirds of the bank; we crept in between the dense undergrowth and spent a couple of hours catching sticklebacks and small roach on a simple float set up.  It was my first experience of “Pioneering Angling”.

Once you have located a potential water, gained permission to fish, it can be a very rewarding experience catching from these unfished venues.  Depending on the size of the water in question, very simple tactics can be employed to land these fish and for the venue to divulge its secrets.  Baits can also be kept simple and quite often natural baits are the most responsive. 

When a new venue is dug out for whatever reason, it normally doesn’t take long for it to be occupied by fish.  Whether that is by natural or unnatural origin, Stillwater’s can be naturally stocked by birds, which unknowingly carry fish eggs on their under body feathers and legs and of course unnaturally by humans knowingly transporting fish.  Many of these venues are on private, commercial land or simply way off the beaten track to make it possible for a fishery. 

Don’t presume that there are no suitable venues near you and make the mistake that any waters would have already been snapped up by clubs or syndicates.  In the last 12 months alone I have come across 3 individual waters, 2 hold carp another tench and all 3 roach and rudd!  I would recommend viewing any waters you’ve found at dawn or dusk when the fish are at their most active, this will give you an idea if any fish are present, however if you do not see signs don’t worry, there could still be fish in the murky depths waiting to be caught, only fishing such places will reveal its secrets.  Most land owners will know if fish have been stocked or are present so you should get a good idea from the first time you speak to them.

It’s not just stillwaters that can be discovered.  Stretches of river that run through private land can be accessed once permission is given.  I know of one particular stretch that is controlled either side by a local fishing club, however the 100 yard stretch that the garden backs onto is privately owned.  A quick knock on the door and within minutes a running water fish haven is opened up to you. 

You must also be prepared for knock backs, not every land owner will appreciate having a stranger on his land in the early hours or at night fishing his waters.  Don’t let this put you off, just gratefully understand and move onto the next one, who knows it may be owned by somebody else in years to come.

Approaching Land Owners
Be polite and friendly.   Remember you are a stranger asking for permission to use their land.  Explain you are fishing alone, don’t go in with big ideas of setting up private syndicates and making them lots of money!  Offer to pay the price of a day ticket (£5); in my experience the land owners will not accept the money anyway.  Always respect their land, closing gates, do not antagonise livestock and never leave litter, this is a sure way of not being invited back!
 Ask their favourite tipple!  Buy them a bottle of scotch for Christmas, that should normally be enough to secure a year’s secluded fishing for yourself.  Most land owners/farmers are approachable and as long you approach them courteously, hopefully you can gain access to a little piece of tranquil fishing.

Personally when it allows I prefer to float fish, perhaps baiting several swims in a day, and fishing them in rotation, this is another advantage of these venues, no other anglers will move onto your prebaited swims!  On larger venues normal feeder or carp tactics will work, again prebaiting wherever possible, this gives you more confidence that you may have attracted some of the residents into you fishing area.  Always look for signs of fish, especially at dawn and dusk when often the water comes alive, with fish topping, bream rolling or carp crashing.

A "Wildy" that fell to the MPP
Natural baits are a good start, worms, maggots or sweetcorn.  There isn’t a fish alive that doesn’t enjoy a worm, especially perch and bream.  Maggots will catch all fish, the only drawback being they will attract the smaller fish which can be unwanted especially if you are targeting the larger species in the venue.  Tiger Nuts are great natural bait, in small quantities fed in prebaited swims, fish a single tiger nut on the hook.  Carp in these waters that have never seen a boilie will often fall for a single tiger fished over a small baited area especially in the margins or snags.  If you are looking for a boilie that the carp, tench or bream will respond to instantly then I can highly recommend Charwood Baits MPP boilie which I have used to great effect.  It is a milk protein bait that smells like candy and has been the downfall of many large carp.  I have used this on waters where the fish have never seen a boilie before and have had instant success using it.

Discovering New Waters.

Ordnance Survey Maps
This is the “Old School” way of searching for new venues, and possibly the quickest, as long as your maps are up to date.  Large areas can be searched quickly, however not all bodies of water are recognised and small farm ponds are often not marked on the maps so potentially, targets can be missed.  Personally I would recommend using both maps and Google Earth, find a venue on the map then look in more detail on the internet. 

Google Earth
Technology has moved on leaps and bounds since I started fishing and Google Earth is a great tool, not just in searching for new venues, but for inspecting venues you’re familiar with.  When looking for a body of water, I start within a couple mile radius of my home.  This does take time; however, if you want to find an undisclosed venue then you have to search over many miles of Google earth looking for a hidden gem.  The beauty of Google earth is that it’s a satellite picture, every body of water big or small is shown, no stone unturned, unlike ordnance survey maps, every aspect of the land is shown. 
Follow river courses, quite often they will have stillwaters close by that have been dug out for that reason.  Take a lot look at Google Earth, you might be surprised just how many bodies of water exists within close proximity of where you live that you never knew where there.

Browse the internet for properties or land for sale with water.  Estate agents promote the features of properties including, lakes, ponds and rivers.  Once you have identified some potential properties, all you can do is knock on the door and politely enquire if any fishing is possible.

Follow up on Rumours
Don’t be afraid to follow up on rumour.  I love to hear stories of big fish and how they were caught.  Does this sound familiar? “I heard a 3lb perch came out from farmer Jones’ pond several years ago” or “My mate spotted large shadows cruising below the surface of the old estate lake!”  Ok most of the time, rumours prove unfounded and result in disappointment, however there is always the one rumour that ends up being true.  Don’t let it be someone else, have confidence in your fishing ability and make an effort to catch the biggest in that venue.    
A carp gives itself away
Even club waters are worth investigating if you have heard rumours of a certain species being caught, especially in the past.  For instance a carp pond on a club book might hold big perch however perhaps no one has fished for them for several years, especially with carp being so popular other species go ignored.  Be a pioneer, you might be surprised what you catch.
Discovering a new venue, fishing it and catching from it is a very rewarding aspect of angling, it is not easy however the rewards can be great, even if it means your not surrounded by dozens of other anglers.  Be careful who you share your new waters with, too many people arriving may change the landowners mind about letting you fish it and you may lose the water forever. 

 I hope this has helped and encouraged you to find an unfished venue near you to go after.  I wish you luck in your search and believe me, once youve found one you will soon be looking for another, Tight Lines.

Scanning a "potential" water for signs of fish