Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Autumn Carp - Rig Choice

Rigs, there must be hundreds of variations and that's just for carp fishing!  The main aspect of any rig is to present the bait as naturally as possible to give the angler the best chance to hook their quarry.  All anglers will have their favourite rigs that they turn to time and time again, however in certain situations some rigs fish more superior to others.

It was a glorious Autumn morning, the sun was shining brightly as I cast out my second rod, I then removed my fleece body warmer.  I was on the banks of the carp pool and as I fired out my Charwood Baits MPP boilies, I felt confident as the weather had remained mild.

My confidence was boosted within 20 minutes of fishing, I had managed 2 carp on the bank, albeit stockies, both very welcome.  My baiting was the same as in my previous posts and I topped the swims up with about 15 boilies after each fish.  The lake in question has a very soft bottom, a fine silty mud has built up and heavy leads tend to bury themselves in the bed and with it, sometimes the hook bait.  In this situation to consistently catch, a specific rig will give you an advantage over other anglers.  

Ideally the angler is looking for the bait to present itself on top of this soft silt and not be dragged into out of reach from the hungry carp.  Enter the helicopter rig. 

The helicopter rig allows the hook link to run up the line as the lead enters the water, allowing the hookbait to sit on top of the silt and visible to a feeding carp. Its a rig that can also be employed on weedy venues.  For an extra edge I  also prefer to employ a balanced hookbait, as I feel it gives me a better presentation as the hookbait settles more gently than a standard bottom bait.  This has been my first choice rig in silty conditions for many years for the simple reason that it catches fish.  

As this is very much a tangle free rig, I will not add pva bags or stringers to the rig, I will add freebies via a catapult or spod depending in distance.

Due to the lead burying itself in the silt a heavy lead is normally not required and I can fish with 1oz or 1 1/2oz as the extra resistance of the lead being pulled from the silt when a carp takes the bait gives a positive hook hold.

By lunchtime 4 carp had graced my net, the biggest a spirited fighter over 6lb, the bigger original carp were not playing ball today.

Tied correctly the helicopter rig is one of the safest around.  I normally incorporate a lead core leader in this set up, allowing a buffer bead to sit firmly on the leader above the weight and rig.  In the eventuality of the mainline snapping, the buffer bead, under resistance will simply peel off the leader and the carp will be free of the lead, which is exactly what an angler is looking for.

I have been using balanced hook baits more often in recent seasons, especially on silty venues such as this.  As I'm going to the trouble of presenting a bait on top of the silt with the helicopter rig, why then use a dense hookbait.  I like to give myself the best chance of hooking a fish, so I believe a balanced hookbait does that.  Whether its a pop up balanced with additional weight or a bottom bait balanced with a pop up or foam as is the snowman rig, it is important to test the rigs in the margin before fishing, to make sure the bait is behaving exactly as intended.

Generally I am looking for the balanced hookbait to "waft" around when disturbed, this makes it easier for the carp to suck up and hopefully hook itself.  A hookbait with added buoyancy will enter the carps mouth easier, especially on silty venues.  

Carp number 7 fell to the helicopter rig and balanced hookbait and my first mirror stockie from the venue soon slipped over the cord.

A stunning looking carp, one which I would love to see in a few years time, the scale pattern was incredible.

I have been guilty of turning up at venues in the past and casting out any rig without any thought as to the presentation and how the rig will act on that particular venue.  It is something I now take a lot more thought over, whether im chub, barbel, pike or carp fishing.

The afternoon turned cold, as the sun retreated behind the thick clouds, the breeze stiffened, I once again donned my body warmer.  The bites tailed off as expected, I had experienced the bast part of the day, however I angled on until dusk with no further bites.

As I sat waiting for my next bite I noticed a group of large fungi across the field I just had to photograph before I left, Fly Agaric I believe, however I'm not an expert so I would be grateful of a definite identification.

My next instalment will focus on carp location in the colder months, you will be surprised where cold water carp can be found.  Tight Lines

Friday, 24 October 2014

Autumn Carp - Baiting Tactics

With every gust of the chilling wind, leaves departed from the now, almost naked branches of the swaying trees.  Just days after the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo had swept across the country, I realised that my winter carp campaign will not be an easy task and the cold wind continued to make my face ruddy.
Today was a stark contract to the last time I graced the banks earlier this month when the sun shone brightly, today I was met with a fine drizzle and a harsh wind with the morning passing biteless.  On arrival I catapulted about 15 boilies on each of my two chosen spots, my bait was the reliable Charwoods MPP.  

As mentioned in an earlier post my winter carp campaigns begin in autumn and I will visit the venue and trickle bait in whenever possible between fishing sessions, this will keep the carp feeding and searching for food.  My main tactic throughout the year will be a boilie only approach and I will stick with this strategy throughout the colder months, its only the amount of bait thrown in that will change.  These boilies are spread over an area the size of a pool table, on a bigger venue I would spread them over an area the size of a snooker table.  I am hoping to motivate the carp into searching for the next boilie which means the carp has to up end regularly instead of hoovering up a carpet of bait, I believe this also helps with achieving a good hook hold as the carp is constantly moving.  The venue I have chosen has a good head of carp and that is no coincidence, I want to enjoy my fishing when the temperatures drop and give myself the best chance of catching on a regular basis.

Just after midday I had my first run, apart from a few liners earlier on, the left hand rod burst into life as a carp made for the far bank.  It certainly knew its way around the lake and only a firm side strain kept it from reaching the sedges.  After a spirited fight a golden common carp slid over the net, short of my target double at 8lb 9oz a nice fish on a cold morning.

I topped up both swims with another dozen boilies and sat back to enjoy my sandwiches.  A winter flock of blue and long tailed tits darted from tree to tree picking off insects as they went, a true sign that the colder months are drawing closer.

The snowman rig has proved successful on this venue and I always keep a tub of pop ups in my bag especially in the colder months when single hook baits can be a devastating tactic.
I didnt have to wait long for my second bite this time the right hand rod ripped off and I was soon into another carp, this time instantly I could tell it was a heavier fish. Throughout the fight the fish stayed deep, regularly taking line, then I heard a bleep from the left hand rod alarm, the tip arched over and line crept from the spool as a fish picked up the bait.  There wasnt alot I could do, I was obviously attached to a decent fish, probably my target double, all I could do was give the some stick and try to bully it in the net so I could get to the other rod before I lost the fish to a snag.  

The carp continued to fight strongly and my first attempt to net her failed, as the fish turned at the last minute, on the second attempt I made no mistake and as soon as she was in the mesh I dashed to the second rod and lifted into another carp, double hook up!  Thankfully this fish was only a stockie and within a couple of minutes I had two carp in the one net.

I quickly slipped back the smaller and got to weighing the larger of the two which I recognised as a fish that I had the pleasure of catching back in the summer at a weight of 11lb.  A fit strong mirror which had gained weight as the needle proved at 11lb 7oz.  

With my target achieved I was pleased and I fished on until dusk with no further action.  As with carp fishing at this time of the year, all your bites can come in a short period, often the carp have specific feeding times and patterns, this is always worth remembering and keeping notes on as it may save you many biteless hours on the bank and you can fish at the best times of the day and increase your chances of getting a bite.

Before I leave any venue I always top up my swims to encourage the carp to feed and search for food.

In my next post I will go into more detail on my rigs and my reasons for using them.  Tight Lines

Monday, 6 October 2014

Autumn Carp - Preparing for a Winter Campaign

Although my window of opportunity was short it felt good loading the fishing gear into the van, I had been looking forward to enjoying some time on the bank for months.  My rigs were tied the night before and I checked my gear dozens of times however it still felt like I had forgotten something, as was the length of time I was last on the bank.  The last few months have been a difficult time, with me and my wife separating and having to be responsible for my 14 month old son, not for the first time in my life, angling had to take a back seat whilst I sorted a place for myself and William to live and make sure he was looked after as best I can.  Now a few months on myself and William have settled into a new place and my family support has been over whelming for which ill be forever grateful.

So here I was, travelling down the M4 heading for a small carp pool hoping to entice a carp or two onto the banks, what ever the outcome I was going to enjoy the afternoon, especially as the forecast was for warm sunshine.

Although I had not fished here since my last visit in June when I landed the venue record, I had not been a stranger, I had kept trickling in the MPP boilies hoping to keep the carp interested and searching for my bait.  I enjoy Autumn, especially when I'm chasing fish, its a season of change, falling leaves, darker days and hopefully fat fish.  This season doesn't always bring the heavy feeding spells that anglers talk of, however as I have a winter campaign planned on this venue, I will keep depositing the bait in little and often over the coming months hoping to keep the carp interested throughout the short days of winter.  I will always start a winter campaign in Autumn, it gives me an idea of the carps movements and habits and also gains the fishes confidence on my chosen bait, Charwoods MPP boilie.  Its a great year round bait and proven fish catcher in the colder months, being a milk protein it is easy to digest and gives off an attractive candy aroma.  I will go into my baiting tactics for the coming months in future blogs as the winter progresses.

All I required for my session was loaded on my back and carried to the lake and I was soon casting out in the confidence that my chosen areas had recently been primed just the week before.  I was sure to of missed a feeding spell in the morning however I was hoping that the carp would feed again this afternoon in the warm sunshine.  The hours around midday are normally the most unproductive and so it was today with the first couple of hours passing without any action except for a couple of liners.

My first run was a real screamer which found the carp making its way towards the island and managing to tie the line around some under water roots.   The line pinged as I played the fish and both carp and the entangled root came towards me.  It was a peculiar fight, I was not in direct contact with the carp due to the accompanying vegetation, I slowly managed the fish towards my bank and as the fish swam strongly around in front of me the roots hung in mid air clinging to my main line, I leaned out and grabbed them and expected the fish to come adrift as I snapped the roots to free my main line as I came into direct contact with the fish for the first time.  

I could see it was one of the originals as it wallowed below the surface a chunky looking Common soon slid over the net.

An immaculate fish registering 9lb with a stunning colouration and huge tail for the fishes size showing where all its power came from.  I managed another 2 carp, both stockies which the club stocked earlier this year at 2-3lb and both now weighing over 5lb.

Going into my winter carp campaign I have total confidence in the rigs and bait I'm using, which is the most important factor.  This leaves me to concentrate on locating the fish and learning their winter feeding habits.  As I mentioned earlier, I will go into more detail on the rigs I will be using, baits and tactics throughout this winter campaign.  I intend to enjoy the remainder of this mild Autumn we are experiencing before the long  nights take over as I have another session planned in the next few days.  If the rain arrives as they have forecast you may well be reading about me barbelling on my beloved Wye.