In my own fishing I tend to take a while to get going on any water, a bit of a slow starter you could say. Despite fishing Farriers last year with some success, I stayed away from the water during winter, and approaching the new year I put all of the information about spots and location to the back of my mind as I firmly believe everything changes year on year and the inhabitants of any lake will not follow the rules completely. I like to build up my information first hand and treat it like a new venue, I don’t like fishing the usual or old spots and nothing bugs me more than being told the wraps to a spot, which can and does happen on lakes. You may pick up a fish or two from those areas but over the years a smaller, newer spot will always produce more fish in my opinion. Invariably the more a spot is fished the more it grows through fish tearing the bottom up and stray spombs falling short, so I do my best to stay away from these ‘potentially’ blown spots.
Using an extended kicker mimmicked the Ronnie rig, but allowed me to switch the weight from the hook eye to just below the kicker.
I headed down to the lake on Monday morning, subsequently it was a bank holiday so there were plenty of anglers pulling off the lake, and a few fish had been caught too. Fortunately for myself I work four days on and four off, but had also made the decision to take a couple of days holiday to give me a lengthy session should I choose. I like to keep in contact with the lake anyway and a few friends who all keep each other in the loop had informed me of captures from all over, including fellow Wychwood angler Duncan Arrandale’s capture of a mid-thirty the day previous. I’m quite mobile on the lake and often move off showing fish if I feel my chances are better elsewhere, but I settled into a car park swim for my first night, which had done a few fish three days previous, but crucially the angler in the swim had one minutes before leaving telling me they were back in the area. I don’t like to go onto a water with pre-conceived ideas but with fish clearly there as I’d seen them with my own eyes, and the swim also commanded a great view of the lake should I be in the wrong area.
Always watching, and importantly, always prepared to move.
Finding an ultra-clear spot isn’t something I look for, as long as I get a drop, albeit over light weed or the likes I will still fish it, and that’s exactly what I found when casting out towards the fish I’d seen in the swim. A polished spot is too far gone in my opinion, if it’s small in size it will peak my interest but anything of size just tells me the carp have already worked the spot heavily. I clipped up and made a note of the distance and before long I was fishing two rods on the spot. A few hours passed but nothing had been drawn in by my singles. I knew there was still a chance so waited until an hour before dark to put any bait out, six hours after getting the rods out, and I only opted for a few spombs of bait too. Fishing a little different to others has rewarded me on Farriers. The lake is fished by some very good anglers and it also sees a good amount of particle, the perfect bait to help create feeding holes in the ever-present weed the venue is known for. I have chosen not to use particle but get the same weed-clearing effect with boilie. I will only feed for a bite at a time this time of year and by finely crumbing, halving and adding some whole DNA NuttaS boilie I create bit baits that will sit in and among the throngs of weed, around the edge of a tight spot, pulling the carp down in the water and feeding at all levels on the way with boilie as the prize at the bottom – much like a particle approach. Adding a food liquid and then a hemp oil further enhances the pulling power of my mix, but crucially, it gives me a visual marker of fish presence. The initial flat spot will drift across the lake from baiting but when that slick spot hits the surface eight, ten or even 15 hours after spombing you’re on the edge of your chair waiting for the take as you know there are fish in the area.
Watching the water is integral at farriers, and i often move off fish if I think an area is more prominent with carp.
Semi-slack slugs allow me to gather information on the fishes whereabouts from liners.
Having fished the Ronnie Rig throughout last year I was very confident with the hook holds almost locking into place, despite the barbless hook rule that I abide by on the water. Time and time again I’d get a phenomenal hook hold but this year seems different. Having lost a few fish I took action and changed to a much simpler rig, which has very similar, almost identical hooking properties to the Ronnie but replacing the metal for a longer shrink tube kicker which extends the hook shank considerably. Over-weighting the pop-up with shot makes it harder for the carp to deal with causing the hook to always fall in the direction of the bottom lip when the hook bait is sucked in, which I felt could be the difference between landing a fish with a barbless hook or losing my next fish too. I think we give carp too much credit sometimes, but equally I believe they learn how to ‘deal’ with stuff through association. If you burn your hand on a kettle you might then burn it on the steam or even the kettle again perhaps a handful of times, pardon the pun, but eventually you will learn that doing so is dangerous, so I fully believe the survival instinct after being hooked causes the carp to learn how best to get away with it.
I received a few liners through the night, and with both rods on the same spot my slugs were merrily dancing on multiple occasions and I fully expected one to roar off in all honesty. The bobbin pulled to the top a couple of times but settled almost as quickly without pulling the line from the clip, but you can imagine my excitement at that alone. I fish with semi-slack lines so that I get these types of indication and it’s information like this that can help you adapt and change to get the bites. A slack line would still sit proud between the peaks of weed anyway so I prefer to fish for these indications to give me as much information as possible. Fishing two rods slightly spread can even give you a rough idea of the carp’s location if they touch each of your lines, calculating the time between the liners, but then you have to take into account that the fish could be travelling at any speed too.
As the morning light came over the water I sat watching the water when on three occasions a carp broke the surface. Couple that with flat spots breaking the surface ripple on multiple occasions too I knew I was bang on the money and it surely had to happen. I had a really good feeling as subtle pin prick bubbles streamed to the surface, and we’re not talking jacuzzi-bath tench bubbles from the resident tinkers but very small dots that I was certain were from carp.
There's something incredibly special about bringing a big girl ashore after all of the trials and tribulations.
A big flat spot came up once more and the rod, to coin a phrase, melted off – can a rod actually ‘melt’ off? Either way, I lifted the rod from the screeching alarm and a hard-fighting battle ensued after the culprit had already stripped yards of line from me in the few seconds it took to react and grab the rod. There are some huge carp in Farriers, and a lot of them too, but the bigger residents I’ve been lucky enough to catch have ticked off slowly, so in that split second of first contact with the fish I was shocked to feel a weighty competitor on the other end and I knew I had a battle upon me. The fight got hairy when the fish picked up the other line. Fortunately opening the bail arm allowed me to inch the fish closer to the net and I could see it was a decent one now ensconced in my net. A couple of the lads across the lake had noticed the commotion and were giving it the classic big fish, little fish gestures to see what I’d landed – I was absolutely made up after my recent trauma on the lake.
My first fish of the year after a disastrous start, I was made up to finally have one in the retainer.
Taking the strain of a big farriers common.
Speaking of trauma, I’ve done 15 nights on the lake to get that first fish in my net, and along the way I’d managed to lose four fish, including a big’un a rod length from my net. Two were on zig’s which you kind of have to accept when fishing barbless hooks but two on the Ronnie caused me to re-think my use of the rig. It’s sole destroying at the best of times but when I’d seen what was on the end and been so close to landing it it really knocked my confidence. Confidence is a massive part of my angling and I really feel like it helps me on the bank. Second guessing my rigs, location and everything in between seriously hampers my fishing and I will never fish as effectively as when my confidence is up. Landing my first of the year from the venue, especially being one of the forties has settled all of that now and got me back on track, remarkably that brings me up to just the second day of my 5-day session so I’ve already took the pressure off after just one night. As I’ve sat recording this feature the water has erupted a few times at the opposite end of the lake with fish jumping clear, so I’m sure it won’t be long until I’m on my toes and walking the lake at the very least, if not barrowing my wares to have a go for the showing fish.
A cracking Farriers 40lb common, and not a moment too soon after the early season struggles...
Footnote: Mark moved to showing fish just 6 hours after catching the 40lb common in this feature, despite flat spots continuing to rise from his baited area. He went on to catch two more fish of 31lb and 34lb within 24 hours of the initial capture, reason enough to stay mobile no matter how good things have gone for you.