Monday, 31 December 2012

Chasing big carp in the winter.

My view has been “what’s the point” carp fishing in winter is a mugs game. Come October my carp rods have been put away as I look forward to traditional winter coarse fishing chasing pike, perch and chub. Indeed a few winters ago I spent every opportunity to fish a small stretch of the river Stort in Harlow for these winter species. Ok so the carp mags still have pictures of carp captures in but I was always sceptical, were they really caught in mid December as the article said? No its much better be after the reliable fish. All this changed however when I met Pat. Being the bailiff of a syndicate lake he said he would chase big carp in the winter and was often successful. Another member told me he would always prefer the syndicate lake from October onwards as the weed would be less of a problem.  Surely they were mad. Maybe this said more about my own style of carp fishing. I tend to fish runs waters in the summer when the fish are spread out. I pay only a little time to location and I am not always that quiet. Still I have been fairly successful catching any number of carp into mid double figures. But when winter comes the fish shoal up and you can’t just chuck in anywhere or even to a likely structure. You have to be where the fish are.  Also they will have feeding spells rather than just eat all the time as their metabolism slows and they need less food. And I think that was always my problem I lacked the competency to know exactly where they were or how to fish for them.  

The way Pat went about the business of carp fishing in the winter was all about preparation. He watched the water, consulted weather patterns found and followed the fish. He fed the spots where he found them on when they were not there and somewhere else. He got to know their feeding spells. All this in the days before actually going fishing.  There is an army saying that time spent on reconnaissance is rarely wasted.  His tackle is ordered and neat and he leaves little to chance.

He was quiet on the bank. Carp anglers have an often deserved reputation for being loud, banging in bivvy pegs and shouting to their mates on the far side of the lake.   Not Pat. If the fish were close in he was walking round like he was on egg shells. As Issac Walton once wrote “study to be quiet”.
On the day in question I was amazed that we had two low double carp within a couple of hours of being on the lake. Perhaps fishing for carp in the winter was not such a waste of time.  However, that amazment turned into wonder as in early afternoon Pat landed a superb 26 pound 2 oz mirror carp.

Ok so he really knows the water and lives very close by so can recce it every day. That being said it really shows what can be achieved with some single minded dedication and hard work. Still think I may go after the pike and perch in the winter but carp may come more into the equation now. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Interview with Ian Mouncey

Today’s blog post is an interview with Ian Mouncey, owner of Etang De Vost, a carp lake in France. Recently Carp Talk came to do a feature on the venue that will be in the Christmas edition of the magazine. Out on the 19th December

1) Ian can you tell me a bit about Etang De Vost?

Carp Creuse was formed in 2007 to provide access to one of France’s hidden gems (Etang De Vost). We’ve added over 1 ton of fast growing carp to complement the original stock, with carp to over 48lb
The lake was formed over 30+ years ago and was stocked with a large number of carp, roach, perch & some pike. The lake was privately owned and when the former owner passed away, the lake was not fished for over 10 years. We took ownership in September 2007 We added over 1 ton of fast growing carp to complement the original stock, & we have been working hard ever since to get the lake ready for the Anglers.

2) Owning your own lake is a bit of a dream for many anglers but I suppose there is a lot of hard work that is involved?

Yes you are not wrong their  apart from the normal every day thing that we all do i.e. like cutting the grass, pruning the plants or the trees, you also have the daily task of cleaning the intake & outlet grills of any debris, then you have to keep checking  the water quality PH & oxygen levels, although this is not normally a problem because the lake is river fed so we have good high oxygenated water. Then of course when you do not have any punters (anglers fishing) we also have to feed the fish because we do complete packages where we supply all the gear apart from reels and terminal tackle we also have to keep an eye on all the equipment to make sure it is up to standards we would want if we were fishing ourselves (all rods & bivvies’ up for the job) this is without the shopping runs for supplies, preparing the food and then the cooking and washing up (yes I do the washing up). It can be long hard days but when you have your own business you have to put your all into it to be successful. 

3) How did you get into fishing?

I am from a big family  I had 5 older Brothers & 1 younger sister & my brothers all fished so I got the bug from always wanting to go with them even when I was at the age when It was not cool to have your younger brother tagging along. So in the end I just went with me mates, now my brothers that are still with us want to go fishing with me (R.I.P Barry)

4) I know you like carp fishing in the UK where do you mostly go these days?

To be totally honest now I have the lake I don’t get much time to go in the UK but I   know I can always get a couple of guest visits at my local church Langley carp fishery (Sopers)

5) Have you ever fished for other species?
Only when I was a kid I started on the silver fish Roach, Rudd, Perch & then Tench Chubb, & Barbel

6) What is your most memorable fish or fishing experience?

I have a lot of fond memories on the bank with my Brothers beside me but I think the one that sticks out is my 1st double figure common carp 16lb, I was 17 years old before I had joint the Malcolm barker memorial lake which came with the Bishop Stortford angling club ticket (and I think it still does) me and my brothers had a great day but best of all I caught this Carp on my first home made boilies which in baked instead of boiling so they would float. Back then I just attached to a hair rig a size 6 hook and a large bubble float half filled with water to get the weight for casting.

7) Where can people get more information if they are considering booking a holiday at Etang De Vost?

There is a website or they can also look on twitter ‏@carpcreuse   and Facebook
Or they can call me direct on 01279 451844, mobile 07734448579

Thank you Ian for your time and best of luck with the fishery.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Sunshine Award

I am happy to say that i have been awarded a Sunshine Award for my blog by Hemmie,
I now have to answer some questions below and then award some other good bloggers I know.

What is your favourite Christmas Movie?
Don’t really have one other than Tight Lines Christmas Special

What is your favourite flower?

What is your favourite non alcoholic beverage?

What is your passion?
All types of fishing but most recently i have been Session Carp Fishing and sea fishing from a boat.

What is your favourite time of the year?
Late Spring Early summer

What is your favourite time of the day?
Dawn and dusk as this is the witching hour for fish to bite.

What is your favourite physical activity?
Carrying all my fishing gear to my swim

What is your favourite vacation?
Sandy Balls in Hampshire, a great family holiday for all with private fishing on the fabulous River Avon.
My awards are for the following have a browse around their blogs

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Leaving it to the Last Minute.
I am sure we all know the feeling when we delay finishing a fishing session and go home. That last cast turns into ten last casts. This happens more when it has been a slow day. Match anglers have no such dilemma as you stop fishing when hooter sounds. Pleasure anglers, however, can, within reason, stop when they want to. This feeling is often enhanced when fishing into dusk in the winter. All the articles i have read on fishing for big perch say that leaving it to the last minute and staying put in the swim often leads to the biggest fish as the wiley old big perch feed hard at dusk.  Carp also feed well in the dark which is why so many of us fish for them through the night.

This issue was bought home to be on the recent pike fishing session. The clocks had gone back and i had been by the water all day. The day was drawing in and dusk approaching even though its only early evening. Apart from two dropped runs early in the day my pike float had stayed still. Autumn was spitting some venom at me as high winds blew the leaves across the lake and constantly catching on the line and float. I was fishing with my brother Andy and he was going to go out that evening so wanted to be away. The approaching darkness also said pack up. I had only just started to tidy the area when i looked up and saw my float snaking across the surface of the water.  I struck into a nice size Jack pike of a few pounds which saved me from a blank. It was nice to get my winter predator fishing off to a catching start and leaving it to the last minute is something i will be doing more of from now until spring.  

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Small changes
On the most recent night session I went on I had a nice 12 pounder after spodding out some bait and fishing the method over the top just as it was getting dark.  However, I had more bleeps and one was defiantly a fish that had picked up the bait and dropped it. What added to my frustration was my brother was having more runs than me and having some nice upper doubles. There were defiantly fish in my swim but I was not connecting. With carp fishing there are many variables and sitting watching Thinking Tackle on sky sports it can seem very daunting as there is so much to think about. Line concealment; anti eject rigs, flying back leads, all the paraphernalia associated with carp fishing. While it is clear that small changes and adjustments to the fishing tackle can help I always think it is best to start with the basics. At the end of the session I came to the conclusion that my main problem was that the hooks had become dull. I had fallen into the trap of the lazy carp angler. Rods all made up and did not change the hook length. It’s a school boy error and one which I have learnt from. The lesson is before trying to think about complicated rig set up make sure you have done the basics right.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Sea Fishing in Cornwall
When I go on holiday I like to get a bit of fishing in. These days I prefer to do something different to what I usually do. Back home I have been fishing the lakes of Essex for their Carp Bream and Tench. If I do go out sea fishing it is to the waters of the Thames Estuary where shallower water and strong tides mean casting up the tide and using gripper leads to hold bottom on the sandy sea bed.  While on Holiday in Cornwall I decided to try something different. I decided to have a couple of sea trips in the deep water not far off coast.
The first was trip was a reef fishing trip on Mystique which is a nice big catamaran we went out fast from Looe and went looking for the Mackerel. Took a little while but soon we had enough Mackerel for bait.  Most of the fellow anglers dropped down with slivers of fish for bait but I and one other chap went for Conger rods. Whole Mackerel flappers for bait dropped down into the depths. I hooked into a Conger and it felt like I had hooked a submarine. I managed to bring it up but unfortunately it got off. My fellow angler managed to bring a couple to the boat and they were good size fish. In hindsight I wished I had tried the general reel fishing as some pretty cuckoo wrasse were caught by those doing this style of fishing. I did manage to see an enormous Basking Shark while out which made the trip for me.
I felt like I had some unfinished business so the next day I went into the shark fishing club offices, to see what they had as I wanted another trip. They were able to book an evening Conger fishing trip on the boat the Typhoon . On a beautiful evening the boat left the quay into the open sea. I was the first to get a bite and while I knew I had a fish on I knew it was not a big conger and a ubiquitous common dog fish came to the boat. Only one Conger came to the boat in this short session and not for me I am sorry to say. On the trip back I sat in the wheel house and chatted to the skipper about his life and attitude to fishing and life in general while I told him about carp fishing. The lights of Looe twinkled as the boat moved towards habitation.
Not successful in terms of catching fish but can fishing experiences like this be thought of in terms of success or failure? I loved this style of deep water fishing and can recommend it to anyone and can’t wait to return to the waters of Cornwall.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bream Chase
The jet stream was too low they said. That was the reason that it had rained almost constantly for two solid months. My week off coincided with the Queens Jubilee that was washed out but went on regardless of the weather. I was hoping to do lots of different types of fishing that week. I wanted to float fish for crucian carp, carp fish a gravel pit, and later fish the opening of the river season for chub. In the end all I did was a quick afternoon/evening session on an old lake that is leased by the club. The lake was previously run by a large angling consortium who had taken lots of their fish out when they gave up the lease.  What is left are a few large carp, rudd, pike, perch and some old dark bronze bream.  My brother decided to have a go for the carp that push twenty pounds; I set up a feeder rod, using pellet paste on a small method feeder and a size 14 hook with a quick stop hair and sweet corn for bait or small mini white shellfish boilies. I catapulted a fair amount of pellets next to some lily pads, very soon the tell tale bubbling started to let me know fish were in the area.
Despite this it took a while for a proper bite, a few dibs on the quiver were all I had until a proper wrap around on the tip and I was into a fish. The usual dull fight told me it was a bream the fish when on the mat did not disappoint; it was a nice dark fish almost like a fish from a large Irish Lough than from a small Essex pit. Small drops of rain arrived on the back of my fishing brolly and the ubiquitous rain returned however mercifully it was a short shower. My brothers carp rods stayed still and quiet as he took to watching my quiver tip, which was good as I was looking away and he shouted out that the tip had pulled round. Another four pound, or thereabouts, bream hit the landing net. No one will fish for bream for their fighting qualities but old wiley bream can be hard to tempt even when you have loads in your swim. These are not commercial fishery bream there is plenty of food for them and they can be discerning, it can take a bit to tempt them. A kingfisher traversed the lake, a flash of blue against the foliage.  Evening was drawing in, the water was still bubbling as fish tore up the bottom of the lake to feed. Time for another pull round on the quiver and another bream graced the landing net.  Darkness was not far away and as I packed away the fishing gear I felt that I should have caught more considering the activity in my swim but anglers nearly always are unsatisfied, which is why we always return I suppose.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Getting Afloat

The early morning drive through sleepy villages and twisting roads to the coast is always filled with anticipation. The Thames Estuary and into the north sea is rather unforgiving at times and I would be better off carp fishing if I wanted to be certain of catching. However, there is a special feeling to going out in a boat and trying and be a master of the angle. Walking down the causeway the sounds, as well as the sights and smells are overwhelmingly evocative. The unmistakable ting ting sound of rigging hitting the masts of yachts, the sound of ebbing tide lapping round the breakwater and the high call of gulls, yes you are going sea fishing.   Compatriots arrive to join the wait. Those fellows with whom you will share the adventures, some you know from previous voyages, and some you don’t know. Conversation is slow at first as all members of this happy band want to drink in the atmosphere. Eventually though the inevitable talk concerns the usual topics such as what will be caught, how strong the tide will be and what baits should be tried first. The boat arrives; ruddy faces skipper calls us on, carrying our loads of gear and testing our sea legs we are getting prepared. The draw is made to decide which part of the boat each angler will fish from. The long slow crawl to the fishing grounds allows the anglers to check rigs, tackle up and take in the sights of the coastline disappearing as the boat heads out. 

The skipper stops the boat and puts down the anchor. “Heads”  comes the shout as casts are made. Grim determination dawns as men watch the tip of the rod for a slight indication. A few rattles on the tip and a slow pull and the fish is on. The smoothound fight is strong as you would expect from a member of the shark family. If the fish wants to dive you better let it. Once you have it safely on the boat there is time to admire this wonderful fish. I always return smoothhounds and its great to see them swim away strongly.  The trip home is often full of thoughts as land comes into view. Lazy looking seals bask on the mudflats as the boat negotiates the channels and the skilful skipper brings us home to dry land. I am only an occasional sea angler but even the most dyed in the wool freshwater angler can enjoy the changing pace when getting afloat on the sea.

Friday, 10 August 2012


During the river close season I had visited a local commercial fishery called Timberlands. Now commercials are not everyone’s cup of tea. Many dislike the artificial nature of these lakes that are managed and stocked with a high density of, usually, carp. The match angler often loves such places where each competitor can fish on a level playing field, winning means you have been the most skilful rather than had the most luck as all swims have fish in them. For me they are second best to more wild venues and fish caught in them usually have less value than a truly wild fish from a river. That being said if they are thoughtfully run and are not just carp puddles then they have their place for me. When they are mixed fisheries where you don’t know what is going to be caught next can in itself be fun and is especially good for getting children into angling. This venue has a few lakes and in one they rather, unusually for a commercial, have some rather large bream into double figures and I had been lucky enough in the past to catch them to over five pounds. Like many anglers I go fishing to enjoy the solitude and on commercial fisheries you usually have to fish alongside many others and if they are poorly behaved (loud radio playing shouting casting over your lines) then the whole experience is rather unpleasant. The sound of an angler constantly tinkering with his electronic bite alarm can be particularly annoying and there is a protocol that is while setting the bobbin keep the alarm off until it is set then switch on. Too many anglers ignore such protocol unfortunately. If well others are well behaved then the experience can be at least more agreeable and occasionally chatting with others of the fishy persuasion can itself be rewarding.

 I had heard that the owner had put in some rather large tench so I returned in late June to try for one of these fish. I am not an out and out specimen hunter. Those dedicated men who grimly sit it out for days for one chance at a larger than average specimen becoming more and more obsessive are not a group that I belong to. That is not to say that I don’t treat my fishing seriously because I do. It also does not mean that I do not want to catch bigger fish because I do. It’s just that enjoyment is more important than size and reducing fishing to a numbers game of pounds and ounces seems to reduce my enjoyment and that is not something I want to happen.

An eleven millimetre halibut pellet fished under a float was my choice of attack on this day. The float is a wonderfully sensitive way to fish but when there are so many small fish around it is perhaps too sensitive as small rudd pecked away cause fast dibs on the float and the temptation to strike became overwhelming on occasions and I bought up the rod fast into thin air cursing my own stupidity more than cursing the fish. Its times like this when I am reminded that fishing is a great leveller and a lesson for life. Stupendous success is rare, monotonous half success more common and utter frustration and failure bought about by ones own shortcomings the most common experience of all. In this way fishing magnifies life itself. The real lesson is to at least try and in doing so to grow and learn with the experience.

Eventually I managed to get into the zone. I was relaxed and still and now managing to ignore the pecking rudd and promised that I would only strike on a proper sail away bite. When it came I was almost hypnotised that I seemed to forget to strike. However, I lifted into the fish and the water erupted in front of me. The rod took on a satisfying bend and the reel locked up as I had forgotten to set the drag and was lucky that this did not result in a hook pull. I realised, as the fish slide majestically over the rim of my landing net that this was a personal best tench. The Green slimy tench with its red eye nestled in the folds of the net I knew it was job done for the day. Weighed and photographed he (as it was a male tench with large pectoral fins) was returned to the water. At five pounds eight ounces it was not going to break any records. Because of the late 1990’s explosion of double figure tench gracing the pages of the angling press a mere five pounder does not seem to be so big but in my youth the tench record less than nine pounds and a five pounder was seen as a specimen. To me it was a rather pleasurable catch and a male fish at that which usually grow smaller than their female equivalents. Ok it was caught in a lake on a commercial fishery yet it I was happy with it and the fish was in good condition which showed that despite their poor reputations commercials don’t need to be poorly run. Other anglers on the lake were generous with their praise when I told them of my capture then returned silently to their pursuits, minding there own business and not causing any nuisance to other anglers.  

Monday, 6 August 2012

Night fishing

Being close to nature is a very important part of my fishing as it is for many other anglers. The sights, smells and sounds of nature are essential elements to the enjoyment. These elements are heightened when fishing into the night. As darkness looms the angler becomes more aware of  his surroundings.  Owls, foxes, and the bark of a Muntjac deer add an alluring atmosphere in the gloom.  Pipistrelle bats swoop low over the surface of the lake sipping insects that have just emerged from the water, their dark shapes standout against the glow of the water.  When on a river the sound of moving water seems louder and more defiant than during the day. On a lake the sudden crash of a Carp in close proximity can be as like an electric shock against the night.
Checking all is ok with the rods before turning in for the night can become a ritual in itself, checking the bait runners are engaged, can the line can move freely?  Are the alarms audible? Then laying awake in the sleeping bag, tired yet seemingly far from sleep as you mind is in gear for action. Every sound  is magnified. A leaf drops onto the roof and seems to vibrate the whole bivvy.
Sleep comes but then the sound of the alarm screams into the night and through the musty feeling of wakefulness you realise that it is your alarm. You dive out into the cool of the night. Playing a big fish in the dark is like being on a Ghost train.  Eerie light from a torch or moon can barely pierce the inky blackness. The sound of the reels clutch as it gives line is sweet music and the power of a large carp can feel like you have hooked a juggernaut.  You only really see the fish as you net it and you still have no real knowledge of its size until it is on the unhooking mat. There in the folds of the net you stare at your prize illuminated in the head torch.  Large carp look magnificent in the half light, the scales of mirror carp seem to shine out into night. After the fish is returned sleep seems a long way off as residual adrenaline still pumps around the body.  Small midges, attracted by the light of the head torch  dance in front of your eyes. Back in the bivvy sleep comes eventually and its a sleep of the satisfied man.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Chub at last

Returning to the river Stort in July I decided to stick with bread as bait as it had been successful last time.  Back in the same swim that I had the large Bream in before I was only getting small knocks from small fish. There was nothing large enough to take the bread flake. The evening was drawing on when I decided to try on the side stream where there is more flow. First cast the waggler float disappeared and my fist chub of the season was attached. It graced the landing net and weighed a nice two pounds 9 ounces. Happy with this I return home.

However, I could not get my thoughts away from another sided stream that I had spotted so a few days later returned to the river. To get to the side stream I had to walk along the main road without a path carrying my net, rod, and tackle bag. Not for the faint hearted as I ran the gauntlet of mad van drivers. Eventually I reached a gap by a tree where the stream runs under the road. Baiting up with sweet corn it did not take me long to have a nice plump 3 pounder in the net. Now once you have one chub from a small stream it’s pointless staying on and it’s better to move. Move I did all along the main river without a touch on the quiver tip. Eventually i returned to the swim from the previous session. The thing with chub is if you are stealthy enough you do not need special tackle. And this session was no exception. Kneeling among the head high stinging nettles, hand poised over the handle of the rod every sense in neutral ready to pounce. Not long but it felt like hours the tip flew round and the heavy thudding fight was on. Lots of speed at first but very soon the fish was in the net. A very nice looking 4 pound chub from a tiny stream. It’s a trick that never fails to impress me.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

June the 16th

Opening day of the season on the river Stort arrived with an enormous expectation. An expectation that evaporated as quickly as it arrived. On the 13th I had walked the side streams around Latton Lock weir pool and observed many chub feeding in the shallow clear water. This day, however, I did not see a single fish. I tackled up with a light quiver tip rod and a float rod and fished the weir pool, but without success. In desperation I moved onto the main river and float fished bread on the slow moving water. I had rarely had much success on the main river below the bridge despite it looking the part.  A slow steady dip on the float and I struck into the first fish of the day, a plump pristine roach looking regal, its red fins glistening in the morning sun. A second, just as plump roach hit the landing net a few minutes later like the second pea in a pod and my day was looking much more promising.

When the float dipped again I was expecting the same result but the rod’s arch and feel through the rod blank told me this was a much better fish. A dull but heavy encounter and the fish, much larger than the previously two, glided over the rim of the landing net. A bream and not some insignificant skimmer but a nice fin perfect four pounder.   After I put it back I just stood on the bank and greedily drank in the atmosphere. Warm sun reflected off the water that carried a mere ting of green. My reverie was broken as two other anglers appeared on the bridge. They had caught a brace of chub further “up river” keeping mum about exactly where. I moved to below the lock and had a couple more splashy yet magnificent roach. The roach has been the mainstay of coarse angling since the days of Walton. That is until the rise of the stocky carp waters and decline in river roach populations has knocked this one time anglers favourite off its number one spot. Now many an English coarse angler would rather chase this large brown gold fish weighing well into ten pound plus bracket than chase a sliver and red finned fish of maybe six to ten ounces. I must admit that chasing carp has become a bit of a recent obsession fuelled mostly by my brother’s love for ciprianous carpio yet the roach remains very close to my heart.