First Session of 2015 at Brandesburton 3&4

Sat on the sofa in my pyjamas with an episode of Thinking Tackle on in the background you’d think it was a normal Sunday evening in the world of Mr Northern Carp Angler. You’d be wrong though, because I’m actually sat here buzzing after a great session at Brandesburton 3&4, only 6 hours ago I was at the side of the lake packing away my gear.

My friend Gaz and I started fishing Brandes in early 2014 on a day only ticket and in all honesty we struggled. With the venue being a 3 hour round trip we only did a handful of short sessions and although I lost one on my second session, it took until August to catch my first fish (which you can read about here). We decided to apply for night permits and do some longer sessions this year to see if we could crack it. This weekend we had a rare opportunity to do a 48hr session so we grabbed it with both hands, booked Friday afternoon off work and headed East. We arrived just before 3pm and with bucket in hand, started the usual walk around the lake to see if we could find any fish. The first peg we came to was Grassy Bank where a chap was doing a day session. He’d had 3 takes and there were still signs of activity in the swim so he recommended that we moved in after him. We decided that it was a good option as we’d fit the 2 bivvies in and there were enough likely looking spots to allow us both to fish a couple of rods each. We still had a quick walk around but in all honesty we’d made our decision so we were always going to go back to Grassy.

As we returned to the peg after our walk around, the chap fishing there had a take. It came off after only a few seconds but it was confirmation that we’d made a good decision. He was kind enough to offer that we bring our gear round to secure the peg and was happy for us to sit with him while he finished his session – this gave us a good opportunity to pick his brains about a few spots to give us a starting point. After a brew he started packing up and we got our bivvies out – we normally get the rods out first but the heavens were about to open and we wanted to avoid a soaking! We let the rain calm down a bit and then started setting up the rods. The far margin was the order of the day and we covered 4 nice looking spots with a couple of rods each, there are a lot of lilies and snags near that margin but the spots we chose felt clear so confidence was high.

The first night was uneventful other than a few liners. The rain hammered down all night but I was lovely and warm in my new Fox Ventec 5 season sleeping bag. The thing is huge but dear me it’s toasty in there! Well worth looking at if you’re in the market for a winter bag. I never sleep too well in the bivvy but I was in the land of nod at 6:50am when my left-hand rod screamed off. I ran out into the damp morning to play what felt like a good fish. Unfortunately it managed to let go of the hook and I was left feeling disappointed but also pleased that I’d had a take – there was still 30 hours to go so this gave me confidence. Within 40 minutes I’d had 3 takes and 3 losses – the confidence had turned to frustration and I feared that my chance was gone. An hour or so later Gaz had a take but he was smart enough not to lose it, the problem was that it was a bream! A big bream granted but a bream all the same and on the day not our target species. Not long after returning it though he had another take and this time it was a carp which turned out to be a single figure stocked fish. He was over the moon as it was his first Brandes carp so size didn’t matter. It all went a bit quiet so we got on with drinking some tea and putting the world to rights.

Grassy Bank in which we found some productive spots.
Grassy Bank in which we found some productive spots.

Early afternoon and Gaz had another take, this time by something much bigger. He said that he’d never felt anything as heavy on the end of his line and was determined to see it in the net….. yep you guessed it – he lost it! Of the 6 takes so far that day only 1 bream and 1 carp was landed – both by Gaz, the pressure was mounting… I did see some more action before the end of the day though and managed a small carp and a bream. With the action we were getting it was a no-brainer where we were going to fish for the night. All rods were carefully cast until we were 100% happy with their positions and we just managed to get them in place before dark, although I did manage to walk into my buzz bars and knock all 3 of my rods off after spending so long getting them perfect, idiot! It was dark by then so there was no way I was going to redo them so I kept my fingers crossed and hoped that I hadn’t disturbed the rigs. Not long after nodding off (midnight), I had a take on my left-hand rod – I just new that one would go with how happy I was with the accuracy of the cast. I soon realised that a small bream was on the end which was frustrating as I had no chance of getting it back on the spot so I was one rod down for the rest of the night. After returning the fish I got back into bed and was out like a light until 6:14am when I was woken by a screaming run. This was definitely a carp and it tried to take me into some snags, I piled on the pressure and after a short fight the longest carp I’ve ever caught was sat in my net. Because of the length I thought it might be bigger than what it weighed but to be fair it didn’t really have much of a belly. I was still over the moon though with a lovely mid-double common.

As you can tell by the hair (well, what’s left of it) and the bags under my eyes, I’d just got out of bed!
As you can tell by the hair (well, what’s left of it) and the bags under my eyes, I’d just got out of bed!

Shortly after casting back out to the same spot I had another take, again it felt like a good fish but this one also managed to stick 2 fins up at me and it got off. The rest of the day passed uneventfully and come mid-afternoon we started packing up. It was a great session with 12 or 13 bites between us in total and although we only landed 6 of them (and 3 of those were bream), we’d learnt an awful lot. Gaz had broken his Brandes duck and I’d broken my Brandes PB – not bad for a weekend’s work.

So, what did we learn I hear you ask. Well the first thing is bite times. Fishing day sessions last year and having to travel from Leeds we were missing the early morning bite time – the most productive time of the day by far based on our new found knowledge of the place. The second thing we learnt was how the fish move in that particular part of the lake and some of the spots you can catch them from. Pictures were taken and bite spots were marked – next time we fish that peg we’ll know exactly where to put the rigs to increase the chance of us catching. Other things we learnt was that the fish there don’t spook on tight lines and they’re bloody wise – they know exactly where to go if they want to get off of your hook!

It will no doubt be a few months before we’re back but we’re already looking forward to it. After all, we need to catch those monsters we lost this weekend…

Until next time, tight lines…

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Get My Useful Tight Line Spreadsheet

Tight lines or slack lines? How about semi-slack lines? Heavy bobbins, light bobbins, swingers, springers, cords and chains. How confusing bite indication can be! I mentioned in this blog post on this very subject that I’d built a spreadsheet to help me work out how much of my line is likely to be off of the bottom when fishing with a tight line. I regularly hear the words ‘the line will be on the bottom near the lead’ when speaking with anglers fishing tight lines. The thing is, how do they know? The depth of the lake and distance you’re fishing will mean that in certain circumstances they will be right, the line will be on the bottom near the lead but at other times they could be very wrong.

The spreadsheet I put together shows worst case presentation and assumes a bow string tight line. If you use a heavy mainline or leader your presentation should be better but the tool does give you an idea to how your line would potentially look to a carp. I said in the post I linked to above that I’d share the tool with you lovely lot and here it is. I’ve also included a step-by-step guide on how to use it. To get free access to the download link and instructions, simply tweet or share my blog with your social followers – this just helps me to spread the word of this blog and you get a clever fishing spreadsheet – everyone’s a winner!

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Click here to get the spreadsheet

How to use it

The spreadsheet is really easy to use and quite self explanatory. Simply specify how far out you’re fishing (in yards), specify the depth (in feet, where your lead is) and then how far back from the lead you want to see how far off the deck your line will be (in feet).

All very simple stuff but I hope it’s useful and will give you a bit more of an insight into your presentation.

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Until next time, tight lines…

 

2015: Year of the Carp

I can’t believe it’s been three months since my last blog post, where does time go? I haven’t really fished much over the winter, probably 5 or 6 hours in total at my local lake – unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of carp to share as a result! I have though received my night pass for Brandesburton 3&4 which I’m really pleased about, I love the place and being able to do longer sessions should really help me to start unlocking the secrets of the water. You may recall a blog post from last summer about my first ever carp at Brandesburton 3&4, I’ve only fished there once since so I can’t wait to get stuck into the place.

The only fish I’ve ever caught from Brandesburton 3&4 – now I have a night permit though will this be my year?
The only fish I’ve ever caught from Brandesburton 3&4 – now I have a night permit though will this be my year?

As well as fishing BB3&4 I also plan to have a few more sessions at Raker Lakes. The booking system is a bit of a pain but it really is a lovely place to spend a session chasing big fish. I want a 20lb carp this year and I think Raker is my best chance of that. I’d love for my first 20 to be captured at BB3&4 but I also need to be realistic with the time I have available so I won’t be too disappointed if it’s from Raker. I do have other targets and goals for 2015 and I thought I’d share them with you in this post. Some are quite obvious ie ‘catch a xxlb carp’ but some are a little different, see what you think.

  1. Beat my PB of 14lb 6oz – from Brandesburton (update – DONE! Read about it here)
  2. Catch a 20lb fish from Raker Lakes
  3. Catch a fish on my home rolled boilies
  4. Catch a carp on the fly (I fly fish for trout and grayling so in theory should be quite straightforward)
  5. Streamline my gear so that I can be more mobile in my approach – I want to feel like I’m on fish all the time

Now you might laugh and be surprised at my mid double PB but remember that I get to actually fish only a handful of times a year and I haven’t been doing it for long – I’ve been fishing since September 2010 but only last year did I start to carp fish properly. Don’t worry though, come the end of 2015 and I’ll have smashed all my targets and will have a more impressive PB to quote, hopefully!!

Back to Brandesburton, I recently went for a walk around to see how they’re doing with the otter fence that’s being built. It looks like a lot of trees have had to be cut right back to get the fence in and the place looks very bare because of it. It’s such a lovely lake normally so I’m hoping that it will start to grow back soon. I’ve included some pictures below, unfortunately I don’t have any ‘before’ shots but when you were stood in one of these pegs you couldn’t see any of the other pegs. Now you can see all 4 of them. The trees did need a bit of trim as casting was quite difficult in a couple of the pegs and I know that room had to be made for the fence but the place does look much less scenic now.

The fieldside pegs, much more exposed now than before – let’s hope for a quick recovery.
The fieldside pegs, much more exposed now than before – let’s hope for a quick recovery.

DIY Boilies

You’ll have seen that one of my targets for this year is to catch a fish on my home made boilies. I’m a bit particular when it comes to boilies and I can only get anywhere near to what I’m looking for with a combination of Sticky’s Krill range and the Nash Crab & Krill. When I say ‘what I want’ I mean 12mm baits, 12mm popups with matching and coloured versions, 10mm baits and 10mm popups. I like small baits and not many bait firms offer both 12mm and 10mm boilies. SO, the only option really is to roll my own. After some research I’ve decided to use the DNA Baits DIY packs which come with base mix and liquid food. With only eggs to add even I should be able to produce something half decent. I haven’t decided which boilie my bait will be based on but the current front runner is the SLK. Here is what I plan to roll:

  • 12mm natural coloured baits
  • 12mm red coloured baits
  • 10mm natural coloured baits
  • 10mm red coloured baits
  • 12mm natural coloured popups
  • 10mm natural coloured popups
  • 12mm red coloured popups
  • 10mm red coloured popups
  • 12mm coloured popups – white, pink, yellow
  • 12mm natural coloured wafters
  • 12mm red wafters

I need to buy some equipment to get going with this so the cost of the bait for my first season is quite high. Here’s how it breaks down:

boilie making1

To buy 10kg boilies rolled for me and 9 tubs of hook baits would cost around £140 so it will cost me around 50% extra but from the second season onwards I’ll only have to buy the DIY kit as I’ll probably have popups and wafters left from season one.

If you have any boilie making tips for me please let me know via the comments, I’ve never done it before so need all the help I can get!

Anyway that’s it for this post, a bit of an insight into what I’ll be doing in 2015. As always I’ll do my best to keep you updated on progress and come the end of the year I’ll do a post on achievements vs targets to see how successful I was.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Carp Fishing Holidays UK – The NCA Guide

If I said to you that I was going on holiday to do a bit of carp fishing you’d probably ask if I was going to France or Hungary. A 3 or 4 night session is normal for some anglers in the UK so a week might not feel that different. For a lot of us though, a week’s fishing whether in the UK or abroad would definitely be classed as a holiday – especially as the longest session I’ve ever done is 48 hours! I wanted to look into carp fishing holiday options in the UK and thought that I’d share my findings by writing a mini guide. Although there are northern waters in the guide, there are also others further south. After all, if you’re doing a week, why not travel a few hours in the car or van to get there?

Let’s start with a northern water though and one that gives the possibility of banking a fish to rival the weight of some venues across the channel.

Please note that you should contact the venues mentioned below directly about your specific requirements before planning anything, I cannot accept any responsibility for incorrect information or ruined holidays!

Erics Willows Lake

Willows is fast becoming a well-known big fish water by anglers across the country, not just in the north and there is talk of a potential UK record being broken there in the next few years if the fish continue to grow at the rate they are doing. The current lake record stands at a staggering 58lb and there are 16 known 40’s swimming around this 25 acre lake. The lake is very rich in natural food which is a result of the extensive weed. Weedy lakes can put anglers off but because of the cover and food it provides for the carp it means that you can fish for these monsters without having to wait years to get your name down. The lake was once run as a syndicate but the owners made it day ticket a couple of years back to fund an otter fence. There are 350 fish to go at and the peg has 20 pegs but the management only allow a maximum of 15 anglers on at any one time which means you still have plenty of water to go at and if the fish have moved, you have a good chance of moving into a peg closer to them. Although you can’t book the lake exclusively, you can book in advance to ensure you get a peg and they do a Sunday to Friday deal at £100. You do need to call the management to book this and a one-off membership fee of £50 is applicable but that means that you can fish it at any point after you have joined on a day ticket basis. There are boats on site which you can use for finding spots, baiting up and netting fish caught in weed but you will need to take your own life jacket which is required to use the boats.

http://www.ericswillows.com/prices/

Richworth Linear Fisheries

Probably the most famous of UK day ticket carp venues, the Linear Fisheries complex is home to 8 day ticket lakes with carp to over 40lb. There is something for everybody at the complex – Brasenose 1 and 2 for those who like to fish for big hits to St Johns for those who want to target bigger and particular fish. St Johns is home to the Big Plated which I’m sure needs no introduction. Because the tickets are transferable between lakes, you could split your holiday up and spend a few days targeting a biggie and a few days seeing how many you can catch. The complex is very impressive with some great facilities. The first thing I noticed about the place was how well maintained it was and everything was well thought out. Most well-known carp anglers have fished there at some point and a lot fish there regularly. Some of the Korda Underwater series was filmed on St Johns so is worth a watch if you’re planning on going there for your holiday. Linear do an offer for those wishing to holiday at the complex with a buy 6 and get a 7th night free deal. The complex is close to the Oxfordshire town of Whitney where you can call to stock up on essentials if you need to.  Like the Willows, you can’t book a lake exclusively but would you want to when so many options are available?

http://www.linear-fisheries.co.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=main.holidays

Yateley Pads Lake

The two venues above don’t come with the option of exclusive use but Yateley does. This historic 4 acre carp venue holds no less than 32 fish over 30lb – that’s almost a third of the total stock! As mentioned above the lake can be booked exclusively for a maximum of 10 anglers so if you can get a good group together it could be quite cost effective. Yateley might be a bit of a drive for those of us based in the north with it being in Hampshire but it will probably be quicker than going to France. Plus, I’ve driven from Leeds to Oxford and back in a day for a few hours fishing at Linear so stop complaining!

http://www.yateleyangling.co.uk/social/fishing-venues/lakes/yateley-pads-lake

Elphicks Fisheries

Elphicks claim to have the modern angler in mind. By this they mean that access to the swims is easy and the car parks are close by. For some this might sound a bit commercial but isn’t a holiday supposed to be relaxing! A lot of French venues are similar to this anyway. There are a number of lakes on the complex, some of which contain some absolute monster carp. The biggest fish in the North Lake is 62lb 8oz, West End 52lb 12oz and 46lb on Pullens. The lakes are available to book for exclusive use and as recommended with all the lakes featured on this page you should speak with the management about your specific requirements.

http://www.elphicks-fisheries.co.uk/

Churn Pool

Churn Pool isn’t the place to go if you’re looking to catch massive carp but it’s certainly setup to accommodate anglers looking for a UK carp fishing holiday. Facilities include a toilet block, gas

Up to 5 anglers can book the lake for exclusive use and there are carp to target up to 37lb. Some of the fish are really old, scaly warriors so if you’re looking for some stunners to add to the album then Churn Pool could be the venue for you. You can buy a range of Baitworks boilies on-site should you wish to save some room in the car. Churn Pool might be a good option if you enjoy a bit of stalking in the summer and a lot of carp are caught this way at the venue.

http://www.churnpool.co.uk/carp-fishing/

UK Carp Fishing Holiday Tips

So, you’ve decided on the venue, what next? Preparation of course! You should do as much research as you can about your chosen venue. Before deciding on the venue you should have at least found out how the lakes fish at the time of year you’re planning to visit. It’s no good booking a week on a lake in a month where it doesn’t tend to be very productive. Read their website, speak with the owner, read forums and try to speak with anglers who fish there regularly if possible. Also, try to find out what methods the fish respond to. Ever spodded slop over zigs? If not and you’re planning on a doing a week on one of the Brasenose lakes at Linear in the summer then you might want to have a read up on it! Bait too is a consideration; if a certain bait dominates on a particular water then you may want to take some with you even if you don’t start off on it. I have to admit that I’m a big fan of Sticky’s Krill but if I was due to do a week on a Cell dominated water then I’d take some with me just in case I started to struggle – if you can’t beat them, join them and all that! You will want to have options but this is where your research comes in.

Another thing to consider is the gear you take with you. If the swims are a long way from the car park or the terrain is tough to push a barrow around then you might just want to take the essentials so that you can move more easily if fish are showing in a different area. If you can park next to your swim then you might want to take all the tackle you own just in case! Sitting there wishing you had brought an item of tackle though is the most frustrating thing in the world so this needs careful consideration.

It’s important to ask yourself what you actually want out of your holiday, is it to catch the biggest or most amount of fish or is it more about a good laugh with your mates? I’ve been guilty of pitching up next to friends for the social and then moaning about my results. If you’re hoping to catch as much fish as possible then the social aspect should come second to getting on the fish. Different people want different things from fishing holidays though just like any other type of holiday, some like the beach, some like hiking – take from it what you want and plan accordingly. Regarding peg choice, you might find that a few of your group want a particular peg and in that scenario it’s probably best to draw for them. Hopefully that will avoid a few arguments!

It’s important that you speak with the management about the facilities on site or nearby so that you take enough food and water to last you the week. Some venues have more facilities than others and whereas a lot of French holiday venues offer catering packages it’s likely that you’ll be using the stove at your peg when session fishing in the UK.

The last thing you should plan is the travel. Fishing in the UK (mainland anyway) means you don’t have to worry about ferries and passports but it still requires some planning. Think of all the gear you take and then times that by the number of people in your group and all of a sudden there’s an awful lot of gear you need to fit into your van/car. A Transit (not Connect) sized van has 3 seats and should conformably take the gear of 3 anglers. If you don’t have a van then a trailer might be an option but this will require a tow bar and you’ll need to look into what you can legally tow on your driving license. The advantage of going in a group is that the fuel costs can be split and it’s a good opportunity to talk tactics on the way and you can share the venue research you have done to give you all a better chance at making the session a successful one.

So, what are you waiting for?!

Hopefully this guide has given you the inspiration to look further into a carp fishing holiday in the UK. The venues may not contain 70, 80 or even 90lb carp but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a session here in Blighty. We have some stunning waters here and some great carp living in them so before arranging your next French trip just consider how enjoyable a holiday could be a little closer to home. Your mates might take some convincing especially if they’ve fished abroad in the past but they might be surprised about what the UK has to offer and in the case of the Willows and Elphicks they might even beat their French PB with an English one! Nine times out of ten when I see an angler being interviewed and the question comes up “UK 40 or a French 70” the answer is the UK 40. English carp are a bit special so have a think about targeting them on your next holiday.

Until next time, tight lines…

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Erics Angling Carp Night 21/11/2014 – Report

Attending an event and then writing about it afterwards feels like a very ‘blogger’ thing to do, unfortunately I had to buy a ticket like everybody else and didn’t receive a guest invite so my stature as a carp fishing blogger clearly needs some work! One day eh, one day…

When I read on Simon Crow’s Twitter feed about the Erics Angling Carp Night in Doncaster I just had to get a ticket. Crowy is one of my Northern carping heroes, I’d never met him in person and he was launching his new book which I’ve been reading the odd tweet about over the last few months. To top it off Rob Hughes was doing a talk on the findings from his diving sessions on carp waters around the UK. I read his articles in Carpology but to see him talk live would be awesome. The night seemed to come around fairly quickly after booking the tickets and before we knew it we were driving down the M1. We set off at 6pm which was the earliest time possible because of work, the doors opened at 6 but I’d Tweeted Simon earlier in the day and he said that the talks would start around 7:30pm so I was happy that we wouldn’t miss any of it.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived was how busy it was, absolutely packed! We got a raffle ticket on the way in which we exchanged for our entry tickets. After a drink and a quick walk around we took our seats and waited for the first talk – Crowy’s. Northern carping just doesn’t seem to get the coverage in the monthly mags that the Southern scene gets so anything that is specifically about the Northern scene interests me greatly.

carping_in_the_north_simon_crow

Being a member of Hull & District Anglers Association I was particularly interested in the slides on Tilery and Motorway. Although I don’t fish them because of my love of Brandesburton 3&4, I plan to give them a go eventually once I’ve cracked Brandes (which could be some time…) I loved Simon’s description of Tilery “a real man’s water”, I understood what he meant when he said that it can be a 45 minute walk to your peg lugging all the gear – ouch! He covered 6 or 7 venues, some in Yorkshire, some in North Lincolnshire and we got to see some stunning carp along the way. All the venues he covered were open access, either syndicate or club waters. One which I’d love to join one day is Tyram Hall although I think I’d probably struggle to get value out of it with the limited time I have available to fish.

At the beginning of the talk Crowy said that the talk wouldn’t be a technical one and there was only one picture of a rig in the whole presentation which was actually quite refreshing!  He keeps it simple which was something that was hammered home in Dan’s story of the Les Genets lake record; he caught the 59lb 9oz monster on a standard knotless knot and some maize on the hair. One thing that stood out throughout the talk was that actually there are some lovely looking carp in Yorkshire and some big ones at that, also that if anyone can catch them Crowy can! After the talk finished I bought a copy of his new book which he kindly signed, it looks like a great read and there’s even a section in there about the Brandesburton ponds – bonus!

simon_crow_the_adventures_of_a_carp_angler_book
A Northern carping legend – and that’s Crowy on the left 😉

In the last few days, Carp Talk have uploaded Simon’s talk to their YouTube channel, enjoy.

Up next was Rob Hughes and his underwater slides. He interacted well with the crowd and asked a few questions which got everyone thinking. There were some real gems in the presentation. Did you know that red boilies actually look grey in deeper water or that the realtree camo outfit you bought in certain light conditions make you stand out like a sore thumb? No I didn’t either!  One key takeaway for me was the colour of silt; I have to confess that I use black leads, clips and tubing when fishing over silt but Rob said that the colour of silt will vary depending on what the colour of the local stone. There are two layers of silt and it’s the bottom layer that is black, the top layer will be the colour of the local stone. In some regions this stone can be almost yellow, couple this with the fact that during the day the water takes on a light green tinge and with added weed, that bright yellow pineapple popup you’re using might not be as visible as you think…

After Rob’s talk was the raffle draw. I only had one ticket which I was given when I first went in. Erics Angling were giving away 20 winter tickets to their Willows lake, a water I’ve read a lot about but never got round to fishing. Anyway, guess what – I won one! Ticket 207, lovely stuff. A couple of days later I received a call from Tom at Erics and I booked my first session on the lake which is in the next couple of weeks. With winter truly in force I felt I needed to upgrade my Trakker Big Snooze for something a little bit warmer so as we speak I’m awaiting delivery of a Fox Ventec All Season bag.

So, the Willows – big, muddy, weedy, spotty but full of monster carp. I don’t think I have much chance at having the big un’ (58lb!) or even one of the 13 x 40lb’ers but I’m not bothered, a single 20 will do me just fine and I’ll see that as success. It will certainly be a learning curve and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

Until next time, tight lines…

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