A Session at Frisby Lakes with Nick Burrage

It’s well known that people learn in different ways. Some people like to work things out for themselves whereas others need to be shown how to do things – I am definitely in the later camp. My time on the bank is very limited and because of this I just don’t have the time to put into working things out for myself, it would literally take years. There are a lot of opinions about carp fishing tutorials and it’s a subject that seems to divide anglers. In a recent letter to a carp fishing magazine, a reader said that he felt very short changed after a tutorial because the tutor seemingly didn’t give him the attention he expected. I have now done a tutorial with two different carp anglers and I must say that both were excellent. Why have I done two I hear you ask – wasn’t one enough? Ultimately I want to develop my own style of fishing but I want this to be influenced greatly by the anglers I respect the most in carp fishing. Tom Maker and Nick Burrage are two of these anglers so I booked a tutorial with each. Although their results are equally as impressive they’re very different anglers so I figured that I’d learn an awful lot which I could then apply to a wide range of situations and hopefully increase my catch rate across the board. My session with Tom was back in July, the one with Nick was in the second half of September, here’s the report…

I’ve been following Nick Burrage for a while now. He’s currently sponsored by Nutrabaits and Gardner Tackle and was previously a consultant for Nash Tackle. His YouTube channel is excellent and it’s clear to see by watching his videos that he’s a very technical and thinking angler. One of the subjects he covers a lot is watercraft and this is an area that I needed to improve on so I fired off an email to book a slot in his diary. Before long I’d received a reply and after a couple of emails we had a date in the diary. Nick had asked me to write down some of the things I’d like to cover and a list of things I wanted to ask him on the day. Over the next week and a half I wrote down as many questions as I could think of in preparation for the session. Along with theory, I wanted to improve some of the more practical areas of my fishing like casting and feature finding so I told Nick this to ensure we spent the right time in the right areas on the day.

After finishing work at 12:30pm I came home and packed the car. Frisby Lakes isn’t a venue I’d heard anything about previously so I stuck it in the sat nav and set off to make the 2 hour trip. The journey was fairly painless and I arrived at the lake at around 4:20pm. Nick appeared in the car park and after the introductions we had a look at the water and straight away Nick started emptying his head of knowledge whilst filling mine. He had arrived a couple of hours earlier and found us some fish to angle for. Unfortunately this was at the other end of the lake but fear not, we managed to wangle the best ‘barrow’ in the world to take all our gear round there!

Frisby Lakes Trailer
Best ‘barrow’ in the world? Absolutely!

Nick’s bivvy was already up and we decided to share a peg and fish with just one set of rods. The plan was to get the rods out to see if we could nick a bite then get up early the next day and cover all of the theory that I wanted to learn. Whilst setting the rods up Nick went through the various end tackle setups that he uses – believe me this was an eye opener, I love innovation and there were a few cool tricks and tips I’d have never have thought of in a million years! With the rods out I started to set up the bivvy as the sun was setting and I didn’t want to be getting my house in order in the dark. We had a few brews in the dark and chatted about carp fishing which led to covering some of the theory that we were due to cover the following morning. I wouldn’t have been able to take any proper notes as it was pitch black so I tried to retain the information and write it all down the next day – this wasn’t the easiest thing to do as there was just so much info! Nick’s knowledge is very impressive and I went to bed with all sorts of things spinning around in my head. Some of the things we spoke about that evening I’d never even considered. PH levels and water density I imagined to be in the vocabulary of a chemistry teacher, not your average carp angler but I loved every minute of it – this is the stuff it would have taken me years to cotton onto and learn about so I was lapping it up and trying to retain as much as I could.

The night promised more than it delivered, we had a few liners before bed and then another few throughout the night. One of them was so savage that I ran out of the bivvy and picked up the rod! I’ve never cast out in the dark but as we had a chod rig on I was confident that it would present over anything so lobbed it back out and went back to bed. It turned out that it was a bit of a rubbish cast as the line was drooped over some reeds at the side of the peg which I only discovered in the morning when it was light again, DOH! The high pressure meant a very cold night and when we got up early the next morning we had to put coats on to stop us shaking uncontrollably. From 7am  – 3pm we covered all of my questions, the theory I wanted Nick to talk about, rig tying  and baiting patterns. As you might expect Nick’s rigs were very innovative and there were a lot of ‘ah, that makes so much sense’ moments. I took lots of notes and had pages and pages of them by the time we wound the rods in for the casting and feature finding lesson. Unfortunately the fish had moved out late morning so we never got a bite but I didn’t care, it was never about catching fish it was about learning and boy had I done that!

I read all the time in the mags when anglers are talking about their sessions that they have ‘found their spots’. Normally it’s a hard spot the size of a dinner plate in a thick area of weed, a silt depression or a gravel bar etc… I had no idea how to find these spots and even if I did I’d never be able to find them again with my rigs as my casting was so poor! Nick watched me cast and started to give me feedback. I said to him that I was much more interested in accuracy than distance, I don’t fish any lakes where long chucks are required but I wanted to be able to cast accurately to islands etc… It turned out that I was doing more ‘pushing’ which was affecting my accuracy and my distance regardless of how much power I put into it. Within a few casts Nick had got things looking much better. Distance was still relatively short but the accuracy was much better and the whole thing felt more fluid. After a few more casts I was getting further out and was happy with how far I’d come in such a short amount of time. We did some feature finding and talked about why certain spots were good to present a bait. I think just these 2 combined will help my fishing massively but that combined with all the theory I’d learn over the last 24 hours I’d probably knocked about 15 years off of learning it myself.

I thanked Nick, said goodbye and set off on the journey back to Yorkshire. Unfortunately it was rush hour but that meant that I had time to run through some of the things we had covered in my mind. It was a brilliant tutorial and I had learnt a stack of new things.

So, after 2 tutorials where am I now? Well, I’m certainly at a point where I am taking bits from each session that fit most with my style of fishing. I have 4 tried and tested rigs in my armoury that I’m 100% confident in. I have various end tackle setups I can use for different situations and have a good idea about when to use each one. I have a baiting strategy for different types of lakes and have the option to fish a tight or slack line now I know how to set each one up and get maximum indication from each. I am now confident that I can turn up at any lake and either find some fish or apply some theory to it to make an informed decision about where they should be given the conditions on the day. More than anything though I have confidence in what I’m doing because I’ve been shown it by two very successful carp anglers. We all know how much confidence can maximise results and because of the two tutorials I’ve done, I no longer have any worries that I’m doing something wrong.

I’d definitely recommend a tutorial to anybody. Do some research and pick the correct angler for your type of fishing and you’re onto a winner.

Until next time, tight lines…