Saturday, 5 June 2010

Stockton Reservoir Carp

Friday 4th June, 08:00 - 19:00. Stockton reservoir, peg 58. Hot and sunny, 15>26>23C. Light NW.

Push finally came to shove with the king carp point.

In order to gain a point in the fishing challenge I have with my pals I need to catch 66lb+ of king carp. I've had a few goes at this in the last month or so with results ranging from a fish or two away from success, to getting nowhere near.

Thus far I'd stuck at doing what I do best, fishing either in the margins using light floats and my centrepin reel, or stalking carp off the top at close quarters. But alas 'nil point'.

A week ago I dabbled with a sub-float zig rig at Snitterfield after the hot sun had fried every last ounce of stalking out of me, and once I'd worked out how to get the contraption cast out and fishing properly I had two carp in quick succession. Ally this with Keith Arthur and the weirdly pot-bellied but arm-muscled Danny Fairbrass always banging on about the merits of the method and I figured a dalliance with the other side; i.e. proper carp fishing was the best route to success.

I was on the bank at Stockton by seven amongst the glorious cool of the morning but it took me until eight to get fishing.

Two barbel rods on alarms - whatever next?
This method was all new to me but I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do and so had an agenda ready for the first hour:

1) Find out how far I could comfortably / accurately cast my small spod (set up on a third rod).
2) Measure the depth of this spot accurately.
3) Pick a far bank marker I could easily cast to even if the wind picked up.
4) Set up zig rigs on two rods at two thirds depth.
5) Ensure the rigs were fishing OK (not tangling) before starting to put bait in.

I cast between the telegraph poles.

Looking into the water there was about 6-8 inches visibility down from the surface. The water I was fishing into was only four foot deep and so no sub floats were needed. I used 15lb fluorocarbon hook lengths straight off the lead.

The rigs came out straight on the first few casts and so I started to get my eye in with the spod. There were at least ten other anglers fishing and the pool was so quiet at this time of the morning I felt more than a little self conscious lobbing out the small spod. To compensate for the sporadic bombardment I turned my alarms off and just watched the rods.

Spods away!

Into the spod went a mix of particles, coffee whitener (to create a cloud in the upper layers), fishmeal, salt, sticky sweet particle liquor, vitalin (unground), dry compost and lake water. Testing down the edge revealed some of the mix floated on top whilst the remainder sank slowly leaving a cloud.

As soon as the first spod went in I had carp up on the top picking off the floating bits.

As I said before this was a new method for me and it took over forty five minutes to get the first run. During this time I saw a couple of other guys catch and the 'new method doubt monster' did make an appearance.

One of the reels had braided line on and even before the first run the tip was jumping around from liners indicating the presence of fish.

When the first run came it was a screamer with the fish hitting the surface and spooking maybe ten other carp from the area. It felt good to get a fish under my belt and my confidence was buoyed.

As the day warmed I put out single spods of the mix regularly. My aim improved. I found the best success when I cast the rods first then put a spod over the top of where they'd just landed. At times I saw carp swirling on the surface as soon as the spod hit the surface.

I adjusted both the depth and the baits on the rigs until I found the combination which was most productive. You might not believe me when I tell you the killer bait for the day was....... black foam.

Black foam - king of carp baits!?

Quick change bead and black foam.

Most useful bit of kit this day was the quick change bead between main line and hook length. They allowed me to switch from zig rig to bottom bait in no time at all and also allowed for extensions of line to be added to the zigs when the fish were right up on the surface in the middle of the day. 

As the temperature climbed sport increased. By midday I reckoned I was one fish away from the point. By mid afternoon I'd had over one hundred pounds of carp.

As evening drew in and I ran out of drink I could see the lake bed absolutely fizzing where I'd been putting out my bait. Things quickened around tea time and at one point I had two fish on at once - mental! The bloke in the next peg kindly took one rod from me but not before I had played both fish (with one rod between my knees) to within netting distance.

I caught two carp on bottom baits when things slowed a little near the surface.

Two guys, obviously freshly showered and wearing evening shirts walked around the lake holding ice cold beers at seven in the evening and that did for me. Hot and sticky I packed up and headed home.

A cracking days sport. 151lb of carp by my reckoning.

Eighteen carp for 151lb.

My shadow in the photos moves with the sun.

Here are our challenge scores tonight.


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