Sunday, 24 April 2011

Keep Off The Grass.

The warm weather we've had in the last couple of weeks is heating the still waters and bringing the summer species into play. Carp are moving on the top and crucians are coming round the edges. My big coat has been washed and hung on the hook and will hopefully stay there until Autumn.

I did my first night session at Hopsford Hall the other week with my near neighbour and friend Dan Bevan. It was a loosener to remind myself how the shelter fits together and to get back into the rhythm of a night.

I left the screw-on handles to my barrow at home and so had to cart my gear to the swim bent forwards whilst holding onto the barrow frame. I looked ridiculous and my back was aching by the time I settled on a swim. This ensures I will never forget those handles again.

I was still suffering quite badly with the perch bug at the time and so spent until dark fishing for them down the edge. I've caught perch from Hopsford to over two pounds before and was hoping it would offer another venue for later in the year.

I just caught the one, but at two pounds four ounces it was very encouraging.

2lbs 4oz Hopsford Hall Perch.
The carp fishing with alarms isn't worth mentioning. No slight on the fishery you understand, just my inability to get to the point of real confidence with this style of fishing.

A second night last Friday with Pete at Weston Lawns after catfish also found me getting a good nights sleep. I fished a couple of gob-stopper pellets on one rod over a bed of smaller ones, and a suspended bunch of worms on the second.

The worm rig was kindly given to me by Les Lerigo and can only be described as 'hardware'. It is fished on a running lead and once cast out you let out line until you can see the poly ball on the surface, then wind back down to the desired dangle depth. I found at Weston that if I wound the rig down so it was tight to the lead the worms got battered by bream, and if I left them just under the surface they got battered by roach and rudd. I'm thinking of trying it out with a small deadbait in future.

Suspended Worm Rig.
The contrast between loading this rig with ten lobworms and staring at the meniscus of a pole float for a crucian bite has become the norm of late.

Whereas a recent similarity is sitting under a shelter at night almost anywhere and picking up the scent on the wind of weapons-grade skunk.

Once dawn arrived at Weston I had the strong feeling that the best time for a catfish had passed, and that I needed to work at it if I was going to catch anything decent. I did what I do best and went stalking before the day anglers arrived.

Within two minutes I'd found some carp clouding up a margin where the previous evening a guy had chucked in his unused pellets . I dropped a massive lump of breadflake into the coloured water and within a minute the pole float slid away. Stop the clock. This just re-enforced my mindset that I should stick to what I'm best at  for catching carp.

After a good scrap a mirror carp of seventeen pounds five ounces was in the net.

17lb 5oz Weston Lawns Mirror.
I broke down the cat rods and went wandering round the edge for the rest of the day.

Before I knew it I was perch fishing again, and caught a two pound fish which was totally spawned out. Pete had another spawned out perch of two pounds eleven during the day and the change in shape of these fish within a month is remarkable. They both still had massive heads but were bream thin and flabby stomached.

A perch post-spawning. Time to give the sergeants a rest.

I'll conclude with another grass-related incident.

I met up with Andy last Thursday at Snitterfield. He arrived before me and I found him chatting to Jan Porter and his film crew who were making a tackle video whilst fishing the reservoir. Jan's real tree van has to be seen to be believed. Although he must get bothered by plebs like us wherever he goes we found him really friendly and open. In fact after they'd finished filming I saw Jan sit on Andy's pallet and chat to him for a couple of hours whilst Andy stared deeply into Jan's blue eyes.

I was sporting a concrete colour-palette outfit as I was intent on some surface fishing. I did three laps of the lake looking for fish on the top in the hot afternoon sun but couldn't see any close in. I got on the back of the wind and catapulted out some bread to try and force the issue. Once towards the middle of the lake the cruising carp started to take it.

My casting range wasn't sufficient to reach them so I moved round to the windward bank hoping they would be more accessible from there.

After an hour or so of fish occasionally moving through the bread and taking some - and a couple of missed takes - I hooked into a fish.

It came towards me easily and after two sideways half-hearted runs came to the top. I saw it was a grass carp and was on with the net in a flash. I took it onto the long grass at the back and it kicked the crap out of me. I had both arms cradling it beneath and leant over it with my chest on top, my face being slapped by it's tail.

It calmed down within a minute. Andy, Jan and another Keith came round and we weighed it in at twenty one pounds five ounces, a new PB.



Like a massive chub.

Did I tell you I caught a grass carp?


Swam off strongly.
Over the moon, I thought about packing up there and then but as there were carp still taking bread off the top I couldn't resist fishing on. I had one further fish, a common of about ten pounds and that was it for the evening.

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