Sunday, 15 February 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt2

I was listening to the radio earlier today when the announcer reading the weather stated that we’d had the coldest start to a winter in 30 years!. I didn’t doubt this for one minute, when I banked my first and only double figure carp of the winter so far I actually felt like I’d got out of jail on that trip because the temperatures were so low.

I kept an eye on the temperatures prior to my second fishing trip of the winter and again they were low all through the week. When Saturday came around I very nearly didn’t go because I thought the lake would be frozen over. I always have a back up plan when it comes to my winter fishing so I packed my rover lure bag so I could visit the river dee if the lake did happen to be iced up.

Luckily for me I didn’t need the lures so the pike were safe for another week. When I arrived at the lake it was clear of ice and thankfully there was no fog this time either so I had a good view of the lake. I made my way to my usual swim that covers a large amount of water, the odds were that the carp would be somewhere within casting range so I got myself setup up and cast both of my rigs to what I call my ‘starting spots’, the areas I’ve caught regularly from in past winters. One of these hot spots had done me a carp the previous week so there was always a chance. Whilst I waited for a bite I kept scanning the water for signs of fish moving.

It wasn’t long before my best mate the local robin was being a nuisance again begging for food, I didn’t mind feeding him but he didn’t seem to understand that he wasn’t supposed to crap on every item of fishing tackle I had with me!. I continued scanning the water for most of the day but no carp showed. That might not be much of a big deal on most carp waters but the lake I’m fishing is exceptional and it’s very rare not to see at least a couple of carp roll during the daytime. These carp are so prolific in winter that I’ve even witnessed upwards of 50 shows when the lake has been half iced over!. Today however, I wasn’t seeing anything and it wasn’t until I listened to that radio announcer that I realised just how bad the weather conditions have been this winter.

Cheeky little robin perched on my rucksack!

I continued watching the water for signs of carp right up until 4.30pm when it was time to go home, it had been the quietest winters day I’d ever known on the lake, the temperature barely made 4 degrees all day and with the light fading it was getting very cold very fast. I made haste when it came to spodding bait in my swim and I was finished and on my way home in record time!.

When I got home I could feel my throat tightening and the next morning I succumbed to a cold which stayed with me for most of this last week. I’d recovered enough to go fishing this weekend but the temperatures hadn’t. The lakes had been iced up all week but on Thursday night into Friday morning the temperature rose a little and it began raining. Rain is good news when the lakes are frozen up and I hoped a bit of the wet stuff would get me fishing. I delayed any decision on going until I got up the next morning and checked the weather websites and had a look out of the window.

When I got up I logged onto the internet and had a look at the bbc weather, the temperatures hadn’t come up very much and looking out of the window there didn’t seem to have been much rain during the night. I doubted there was enough of a thaw to have made the trip worth while, there was always the pike fishing on the river but that was going to be my only option and as I’m mainly a winter carp angler I based my decision to not go fishing on the fact the lake would definitely be frozen over.

This brings my winter carp fishing up to date, one freezing cold blank with no carp showing and one abandoned trip due to the lake being frozen over. I hope that announcer on the radio has some better news about the temperatures for next weekend!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Carp Fishing - Winter Carping Pt1

After a long break from carp fishing I finally felt like I needed to be on the bank again so on Saturday 29th November 2008 I paid a visit to the old winter carp water I’d done so well on in the past. This Cheshire carp water is well stocked so there’s always a chance of some action but I hadn’t reckoned on the weather!.

I woke up early on Saturday morning as I wanted to be at the lake in plenty of time to have a good look around. Unfortunately I found myself packing the car in freezing fog. I actually contemplated not going at one point, not only was the fog hazardous to drive in, it’s probably the poorest conditions of all for catching carp, specially in winter!.

I wasn’t going to be deterred, it had been nearly 11 months since I’d banked a New Years Day twenty from the lake and I was ready to renew my chess match with these lovely commons. I drove a bit slower on the way to the lake due to the fog but eventually I pulled into the car park to get my first view of the water. It was certainly foggy, the first thing I looked at was the margins, sure enough they were ice free despite it being freezing cold so at least I could actually get the rods out.

Due to the fog I couldn’t see very much so I unloaded my fishing gear and made my way along the bank to my usual winter carp swim. I’ve fished the lake for many years so I knew the swim well, my new plan was to get the rods into areas I know have produced for me in the past then sit and wait for the fog to lift so I could watch the water and hopefully work out the carps location. The out of bounds bank was about 200 yards straight out in front of me and I could barely see it, I could just about make out the tree line through the fog and that was enough to give me the line I needed to cast on. I quickly put the rods together, tied a couple of new rigs on and dispatched two peparami hook baits along with a small pva mesh bag with a couple of freebies in. I could only guess at the range my baits were cast but I did step into the casts and I gave each rod a good overhead thump, I’m guessing they landed somewhere around 80-90 yards out as I didn’t see either rig hit the water due to the fog!.

Once the delkims were set I settled down quite quickly, I didn’t realise it was so cold, there was ice forming on my monkey climbers and at one stage my main line was actually frozen to the tip rings until i freed it!. The resident robin was on the scene as soon as I arrived so once I’d got everything sorted out I gave him some food. That was a mistake, he turned out to be a real pest and after crapping on my rucksack, chair, flask, mat and bait box I’d just about had enough of my feathered friend!. I stopped feeding him and decided to try and watch the lake, the fog had lifted a little although I still couldn’t make out the colour of the leaves on the trees opposite.

Winter Robin, I made a mistake feeding this little fella!

I was scanning the water for signs of fish when at 11.45am the left hand rod suddenly burst into life without warning, I was quite stunned, these were possibly the worst conditions for catching carp yet the spool on one of my infinity reels was going into meltdown!. I jumped up and hit the rod and it arched over nicely as I felt that characteristic thump of a carp on the other end. I kept the pressure steady and the fish came slowly towards my bank, there was a few bushes in the water down to my right and I did think these might be a problem at one stage as the fish kited over to my right but some consistent side strain kept things on track and after a short fight in the margins I slipped the landing net under my first carp of the new winter season.

Well that was a good start, nothing had showed so I must have pretty much landed in the right area as the bait had only been out for just over an hour. I quickly set up the tripod and camera and got the unhooking mat and scales ready before lifting the fish out of the water. It was a nice common, not a massive fish by any means but most welcome on such a cold day. I weighed the fish at 12lb 2oz which is probably an average sized fish for the water. I rattled off a couple of pictures and released the fish quickly so I could re-bait my rod and get another hook bait back out to the same area.

12lb 2oz winter carp caught in icy and foggy conditions

My re-cast was good and the fog had lifted enough for me to see my rig land this time. The next hour passed uneventfully and I had a brew from my flask and some ham sandwiches I’d brought with me. Around 1pm I caught sight of a fish, it rolled in the area I’d picked my carp up from and I already had a bait there so my hopes of catching another fish rose considerably. Another hour passed when a slow run developed on the same rod, I was on it quickly and as I wound down and struck I expected the rod tip to pull over but it didn’t, I just hit fresh air instead. I checked the rig over and everything seemed in order, I paid particular attention to the hook point and this was ok too so I put another pva mesh bag on and recast my peparami hook bait back to the same area.

As the afternoon wore on the fog lifted enough for me to see the golden colour of the remaining leaves on the trees in the out of bounds and late afternoon the clearer conditions allowed me to spot a couple of carp that rolled in different areas. As it was getting late I just made mental notes of where I’d seen the fish and then got on with putting a little bit of bait in to give them a little taster and hopefully encourage them to hang around my swim.

It was so icy my landing net froze solid!

With my baiting up done I headed for home around 4.30pm I had a hard time packing up as my landing net had frozen solid after the morning fish I’d caught. I’d been trying to get my net dry by shaking it but every time I propped it back up against a tree it would be as solid as a board 15 minutes later. I did manage to get the net back in it’s bag after wrestling with it for a while. The frozen net was an indicator of just how cold it was and I left for home happy that I’d opened my winter carp account and happy that I’d caught a carp with the odds stacked against me.

Tight Lines

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