A subtle adjustment brings another target fish to Mick’s net.
My time had arrived once again, seeing me heading south on the monstrous drive towards my syndicate lake. The forecast was predicting warm sunny days with very little cloud and light winds for the next couple of days. With the weather info gathered, my mind was soon focused on the bays at either end of the lake as the fish love to gather in the warm shallow water when the sun is high in the sky. Each bay has a safe area the fish can move into. These are unreachable by anglers and, believe me, the fish know when they are safe and when they are being angled for!
There is one bonus, though: when the fish are in the safe zones you can actually get within touching distance and identify each and every one that comes into view. On many occasions this has been vital as I can see if there are any of my target fish remaining in the area so I can quickly make the decision and get the traps set ready for when the fish start to move in and out the bays.
On this occasion, after checking the two bays on my arrival, the decision was made pretty easy as there were definitely more carp present in the top bay. With the swim secured with my rod bag, I popped in to see one of the other anglers pitched in a nearby swim to see if he had received any action over the previous 24 hours. Due to a number of savage liners he’d received through the night, he was amazed he had not caught, but he felt very confident of some action for his remaining night. The information he gave me told me which way the fish were moving in and out of my swim when leaving the bay under the cover of darkness.
With the Titan Brolly erected and everything sorted, I decided to take one last look at the back of the bay before the rods were cast on to their chosen spots. Once perched at the back of the bay with polarising sunglasses on, I could clearly see there were a number of quality fish present and they seemed to be growing in numbers the longer I stayed there. Although I was buzzing with confidence and eager to quickly get the rods on the spots, I decided to survey the swim a little longer and see which way the fish entered and exited.
Let me just say I am no stranger to this swim, having fished it many times before, but I found there are two ways to approach it depending on the movements of the fish. You can either fish it long towards the far reed-lined margin and present your baits at the bottom of the gully, which is a good area when the fish are moving along the back, or you can fish it short on the patrol route if the fish are cutting across the bay from the swim to my left. I decided to fish the swim short, fan the rods out across the front of the swim and present the hookbaits smack inline with the patrol route the fish were using.
In fear of spooking the fish already present, I decided on using a long running chod rig with a light lead as I was unsure how thick the weed was along the route. After a couple of gentle casts I was happy with the drops and I soon had three rods rocking on the spots. Back leads dropped off the tips to keep the line concealed completed the setup.
As far as I was aware the chod rig was very little used on this venue, which was probably due to a leader ban. However, I’ve developed a really neat setup using Nash Tackle’s Diffusion Camo rig tubing and it’s just as effective as any other leader system. D-Cam sinks well, it’s supple so it settles nicely on the bottom, and because it’s colour- and light-reactive it’s virtually invisible. It’s certainly much more user friendly and effective than solid colour tubing that I’ve tried in the past.
Bait-wise, I opted for a 50/50 combination of the ever-reliable Scopex Squid Red and Monster Squid in mixed sizes, which were also halved so they would come to rest in and amongst the weed nicely and be visible to any passing carp when they made their way along the well-travelled route across the bay. Hookbaits were slow sinking pop-ups, a different bait on each rod. I had opted for my trusty fluorescent pinks on the outside rods and a darker food bait with a small fluorescent foam insert on the middle rod just to maximise my chances of a pick-up. I reasoned that the hi-viz baits would hopefully stop them in their tracks and the darker food bait would score once they had had a little feed on the free offerings.
Sitting at the front of the swim I could see the odd fish ghosting over the spots when suddenly the middle rod was away as the fish tried to reach the safety of the Back Bay. With the clutch set tight the fish soon tired and was in the net. A chunky 28¾lb mirror was photographed and returned, and the rod was back on its spot in double quick time with a couple of pouches of halved freebies scattered over the zone for the night ahead.
The following morning saw me up early and bent into another fish which was trying its hardest to break free, again on the middle rod. I could feel this was a bigger fish once I had it under the rod tip, as its movements became slow and heavy but tiring. My second fish was safely landed and I could clearly see he was much bigger than the one I landed previously. This was confirmed as the scales spun past the 30lb mark and settled on 34¾lb. The brute was soon photographed and safely returned to the depths of the lake.
It was quite interesting that it was the middle rod with the darker food bait attached that was receiving the action and the fluoros, sitting only feet away either side, were being totally ignored. I honestly thought it would be those that would receive the most action but this was clearly not the case. I wound in and rested the swim for a few hours in the afternoon, as I wanted to check the back bay to see if there were many fish still present. The numbers had dwindled but there were a couple of chunks in the area that looked up for a feed so the rods were soon rocking on the spots again for the second night.
Due to the lack of action from the fluoros I decided to put the darker food baits on with small fluorescent foam inserts on all rods. Maybe the fluorescent hookbaits were too blatant and put the fish on edge when approaching the area. Whatever the reason, I hoped the change would pay off as I felt I was missing out on the other two rods.
The following morning a single bleep had me sitting up and focusing on my left-hand rod, watching the line entering the water. I quickly slipped on my boots just in time as the line was starting to rip from a tight clutch. This fish felt very powerful from the start and nearly flat-rodded me on more than one occasion, but steady pressure soon had him tiring and he was quickly ready for netting. I didn’t realise what I had actually hooked until I saw the bulk of the fish slip over the net cord and fall into the mesh. Peering into the net I could clearly see he was one of the better ones that swam in this deep pit. The scales recorded a weight of 39lb 10oz, another target fish banked – now I was buzzing!
Looking back at that session, I feel the subtle change of hookbaits had made the difference on the day, and fishing the swim short rather than long had given me the best chance of action. It just goes to show: small changes sometimes bring big rewards!