Welcome to the third blog of my journey “Back to school-The water shot”. This session sees me on a spring fed complex of ponds where the resident wild carp are not an easy quarry and many local anglers can have many blank days before they land a fish here. At the request of the owner I cannot share the location of this fishery but Beechwood Baits have talked their way onto this complex for all the right reasons. These fish are up to 20 years old and maybe older and know each pond and snags inside out. The fish go to 19lb and there is also a rogue Ghost carp which was banked once in 2016 but often seen cruising, much to the frustration of the local anglers. So you get the picture, again I have chosen a tough venue to tackle but i believe the rewards for effort are worth my time and, lets face it, who doesn’t want to catch a 15-year-old Northern 10lb+ common or mirror?
For a novice carp angler I really am making it difficult for myself, and to set the scene for you, on this session the water in Gin clear, it’s absolutely throwing it down and i have no clue where to start. I have no insights because the owner doesn’t fish, and my only visit for a wander, no anglers were fishing. With that said I had this crazy idea to map the place out for myself, naming all 6 ponds and naming some key pegs within each pond, this way I begin to build up a real healthy rapport with this water and strangely it makes me feel closer and more personal to the fish. Stupid right! ha ha
My biggest learn from Blakemere Fishery on my last outing is that on a tough water where you have limited insights, you cannot serve two masters, its course tackle or Carp tackle ….. so i am armed with just 2 carp rods, Beechwood baits and a trusty pint of maggots.
It was on this trip that i wanted to try solid bags for the first time and after some great chats with Gav Astley who put me onto his own solid bag blog Liquid PVA bags which is very much worth a read if you fancy having a go, and also a Fox PVA bag maker, that was another school lesson ticked off my ever-growing list of tactics and methods to try, all aimed at helping me achieve my goal. Add to that the approach I took which was so very different to what I am used to. I arrived at this location at 8am, I didn’t go back to the car to get my gear until 9.45am and this was a massive change for me. I walked this complex several times and looked for signs of fish, likely snag pegs with sunken trees or overhanging bushes, reeds moving, noted which way the wind was blowing, calm spots and places that get a ripple, what pond gets the sun first, what the ducks were doing, you name it I noticed it.
The three pools i fished in this session I have named from left to right : 1- Robin 2- Two trees 3- sunshine for my own reasons that are not too difficult to work out. Having had a chat with a local angler who popped down for a walk, it was pleasing to know that in these three pools I picked the right places to fish! That was a real motivator for me and absolutely lifted my spirits on a damp dull and cold day, but more of that meeting later.
OK now to address solid bags, a method designed to fish for a bit , instant attraction that a passing fish can’t resist, and not a lot of feed in the bag except maybe your hookbait. The debate goes on around bait in or out of the bag, and having chatted to loads of carp anglers (how lucky am I) I get the feeling it’s simply personal preference, and both methods catch. So in my mind in or out, why not try both, which I did! having watched videos on solid bags and a how to guide for the fox PVA system, it occurred to me that on this particular venue where I didn’t have to cast on a single peg I fished, it was a simple drop in and walk the rod back to the pod, there was really no need to be so fussy as to stick the corners down because it was not being cast any distance, I didn’t need to be as streamline as possible because the most i was doing was a gentle underarm lob. Made sense to me. In the bag I used The Mussleberry stick mix a few maggots and Hemp oil. On the hook I had a pop up on 1 rod and a hard hooker on the second rod. Making the bag with the Fox system was easy enough and towards the end of the day I had massively improved the end result taking into account the quantities and process.
So what did I learn on this trip? Was not catching a fish disheartening? had I completely messed it up from start to finish? Did I add some valuable experience to the memory bank and will I be better equip on my next visit? The answer I can share with you all is this :
Let me explain …… out-and-out carp tackle wont get you as many bites, but course gear wont land the fish, so I have to find middle ground, a hybrid approach that critically balances the tackle to get bites and land fish. To do this I will be preparing tackle to suit this venue on my next visit, taking all I have learned into account which is a massive step forward, add to that the bait insights I gleaned from a local angler and some other insights around pegs and approaches which need to be very brave. I am super excited to get back there with this hybrid approach and get closer to banking a fish and getting that magical water shot!
Thanks for reading my journey and tight lines.