Close Quarters

As an angler there are moments that stick in your head for life, be it a screaming run in the early hours after a night of motionless bobbins and silent alarms or watching a big old carp taking your hook bait from the surface. Over the last few months I’ve been drawn to a new water that has ignited

a new fire inside of me.

I’ve developed a new hunger, maximising every opportunity to the highest level whilst fishing in the crystal clear waters of a lake full of natural food, weed and mussels with colourful lily beds making it a picturesque place to be.

This place has honestly made me think more about my angling and has taken me back to my childhood days, fishing reed lined lakes and catching carp from the tightest of spots with a modern day approach.
Most of my fishing on the lake is short sessions, with the odd over night session. But largely, my approach there leans towards stalking tactics that at present are producing most of my captures. With the water being so clear, it’s really exciting watching feeding fish over your spots and it’s a real eye opener! Having to use my brain to good use in order to trick the fish and taking my angling skills to a new high, the hunter in me is coming out in order for me to trick these wary carp.

After many walks around the lake it has been easy to see a pattern forming with most of the fish spending their time in and around the margins of the lake. It’s a deep lake with deep margins so it makes perfect sense to explore these areas to their full potential when the timing is right. With The information I’ve gathered and logged in my head I’ve come to the conclusion that there are two or three perfect areas to feed with bait and i have watched the outcome unfold over a period of a few weeks. Dropping onto the lake after work to find spots cleared of bait with fish milling around them made up my mind that it was time to set about angling for some of the Wiley old carp that inhabit the lake. To say I’m a bit excited about my latest adventure is an understatement! My first choice spot was a clear patch surrounded by heavy weed which looked perfect for the fish to feed on in confidence. I kept noticing fish in the area and knew it was going to produce at the right times.

I have kept bait to a minimum, this is mainly because I’ve been feeding the fish regularly on large amounts of bait when I’m not there and now Ive started fishing I really want my chances to be minimised to my hook baits fished over a small amount of loose feed on the short sessions I’m fishing. Baiting all three “likely” spots around the lake using only two small handfuls of bait including some 10mm baits, hemp and pellets seems to be enough and I’ve found that this small amount of bait is enough in the area to hold the fish before I make my move. Small PVA mesh bags at this point is going to be my way forward with a wafter hook bait presented by lowering the rig into position on the baited spots. My rigs are simple, with hook links kept short, the reason being that i have found that the fish struggle to avoid getting hooked on a short rig and this gives me my best chance of hooking them, these fish are shy feeders at times and I feel this is the way forward. My rigs are Made up of a soft heavy sinking hook link in conjunction with a wide gape hook set up blow back style, one of my all time favourite setups. I use a heavy lead free leader to get everything all nicely down on to the lake bed, it’s resistance to abrasion also helps to combat the mussels when the fish run down into the deeper water once hooked.

Fishing in tight swims means you need to adapt to the environment around you with trees and bushes making movements hard, I’ve found its best to leave the big casting rods at home and select the nine foot rods, they have plenty of backbone to prevent the fish from getting into the weed but at the same time makes playing the carp an enjoyable experience. Travelling light and keeping my gear to a minimum means i can move onto feeding fish with very little effort. I approach the lake with few rig components, a small amount of bait, rods and unhooking gear which means I can move within two minutes to the next spot and at times this lake can really require that sort of approach.

The fish in this lake are very old mirrors and commons so they have seen most of the tricks in the book and can easily sense an anglers presence so fishing as quietly as possible is key, even more

so when they can see you from the clear margins. Sitting behind trees while waiting for a take is a common sight often only fishing one rod, at most two.

The real first up close and personal encounter I came across was in the shape of a very old black mirror, probably around twenty pounds in weight, the size didn’t matter one bit, the important part was catching a very old scarred up carp from a spot that I’d been baiting enticing the fish to visit on a regular basis. When this eventually happened it provided me with enough excitement to last a lifetime!

Once I’d landed my first fish from the lake I knew this was just the beginning of some exciting times ahead, hours went into days and days went into weeks and my plan started to unfold in front of me.

The little spots started to produce bites on a regular basis with me watching the fish feed in confidence prior to taking the hook baits, freezing on the spot and bolting off into the deep water.I knew it would only be a matter of time before one of the lakes bigger residents would put in an appearance.

The third spot I’d been fishing in and around the margins hadn’t really kicked in, I wasn’t sure why because I had seen fish in the area but no obvious signs of any feeding activity there. I was Confident the spot would produce and I decided to make a change to its makeup by raking the bottom and removing some old branches, couple of old carrier bags and some old weed I noticed that the lake bed was sandy and gave lots of bubbles, this was perfect in my eyes as I knew if fish were to feed there I would see the jetting as they fed. It took me a good few days to get the fish feeding on this spot which was slightly deeper than the other spots I had fished so the bubbles were the sign I’d need to tell me fish we’re feeding in the swim.

One evening I decided to bait the spot and then check it before work the following morning, as I approached the area at first light an old slate grey mirror rolled over and moved right towards the pre baited spot, seconds later I knew she was feeding there because the fizzing that followed was like a jacuzzi and I knew I’d have to be back as soon as possible to take full advantage of the situation I’d created.

That day at work all I could think about was that fish, it was one of the bigger ones so at break time I had my rig gear out and prepared new rigs making sure everything was in perfect order with a little bit of bait ready and waiting.

Work couldn’t finish fast enough and the journey home seemed to take a decade, once at the lake I found myself having to control my excitement, carefully walking down to my intended spot, which was full of fish and fizzing like I had never seen it before in the area. With a small bag of crushed boilies and pellets at the ready, I carefully placed it on the spot. With the rod lying on the floor and the line slack I took to hiding at the back of the tree again, this time I didn’t have to wait long as the clutch was spinning and i was into a decent fish. From the fight I could tell it was only going to be a small fish and as it turned out it was a perfect zip linear. knowing that it might be my only chance from that spot I placed a little bit of bait back in and sat back and watched for any signs. A few small pin prick bubbles came to the surface followed by a big jet, just like how it was in the morning, so with the rod ready to go I lowered the rig back in there for one last chance.

Twenty minutes later and I was in and a battle with what felt like a heavy fish commenced. The fish was moving slowly around the swim and became covered in weed. Suddenly I saw the flank of what looked like a grey fish, at this point I knew what I had hooked, and after a few hairy moments I guided it towards the net where she lay in her glory. Catching carp like this really does take some beating when you are in nose to nose combat. Pushing the adrenaline to the maximum in what can only be described as one of the most exciting ways to catch carp.

Dale Glover

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