16 Days Later

I’m back, having moved and survived, albeit a little bruised and battered. As per my previous post I’m adamant that I’m never moving again, and if I do I’ll be selling everything and starting afresh. What a nightmare.

We’re a very small family and help is in short supply. My dad has really bad knees, my mum is 4ft nothing and my step-parents are poorly, out of the country or both. I have one reliable friend and he’s poorly too… so then there’s me and the wife with three kids in tow.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway, onto fishing and happier things.

16 days without a rod out and, as you can imagine I was game as a march hare in speedos tonight when an opportunity to pop down the lake arose. Lots of rainclouds were looming, but to be honest nothing was going to stop me getting some me time.

I raced to the tackle shop around 3 to find that it was (worryingly) closed, so I ended up having to drive to the next town to get some bait. Maggots and dendrobenas collected, I arrived at the lake around 4.00pm to find it bereft of kids, despite the summer holidays, and that my usual peg was free. All going according to plan so far. Now all I had to do was remember how to fish.

I started in my usual manner by little and often feeding off to the side of the lilies, feeding sparingly with maggots and using dendrobena on a size 12. I started picking up small F1s which for the first hour and a half was fun, but pretty much nothing else was making an appearance. The reeds at my feet, however, were buzzing with lots of movement and fry scattering everywhere.

I replumbed, doubled up on the dendrobena and popped the float out at the tip of the rod. Within a few seconds the float shot under and I had a handsome 2lb perch in the landing net.

After 30 minutes of no further takes, I began loose feeding next to the adjacent set of pads on the right of the swim and after a few minutes switched to that area. Within seconds of the worm dropping in, a huge carp surfaced and my float screamed straight through the pads, with little or no chance of me holding the fish back. Try as I might I couldn’t get the bugger to budge, and shortly thereafter it rose in the reeds next to the bank and flicked its head, snapping my line completely.

My favourite lucky float sat forlornly in the pads, bobbing the wake of the rising fish. Mercifully I could get a rod tip to it and gently tapped it back to within landing net distance.

Phew. Lucky float is now on life #612. I may have kissed it before sliding it back up the line.

Round 2.

Back to Plan A. I returned to the spot where I caught the perch and decided to give the last hour to that area, knowing that there were fish moving. I pulled in a few eels and a few skimmers but no further perch, then about 7.30 the float gently started travelling across the swim and I struck into a pretty mirror of around 3.5lb. Then the swim went crazy. Larger carp appeared to be descending on my groundbait and within an hour I’d taken the mirror, two 6lb commons and an 8.5lb common, as well as quite a few F1s and smaller commons.

And then I got a birds nest and I ran out of worms.

Time to go home. Great night though and lots of fun catching these hard fighting carp on relatively light gear.

Wet nets!

Matt.

 

Moving

We’ve finally moved. The last box was dragged lethargically off the van at 11pm last night and I then proceeded to collapse in a heap on the floor.

Never, ever again.

Ever.

Back at work tonight on a 24hr shift. I can guarantee my legs will be fine as I can’t feel them (unless I stop moving).

No fishing for me until at least Monday. Can’t wait.

Review: Shimano Tribal Compact Carryall

As promised, here are my thoughts on the Shimano Tribal Compact Carryall I purchased from Angling Direct last week for £33.74.

This isn’t a sponsored review, by the way – I just think it’s helpful if detailed reviews are presented in isolation sometimes, rather than being lost in a torrent of ‘Amazon didn’t deliver on time – 1 Star’ or, ‘Absolutely rubbish. Broke the first time I dropped it from the 17th floor – 1 Star’.

On to the review.

shimano xtr compact carryall

In short, it’s a fantastic piece of kit for the money and well worth it if you’re planning to spend a decent amount of time by the water, and have plenty to carry. It was delivered promptly the next day by Angling Direct (despite me selecting free standard delivery – thanks!) and arrived in a branded box, so it’s nice if you want to give one as a gift too!

My only real criticism of the product is to do with its size. ‘Compact’ it certainly isn’t, being more like a large gym bag in size rather than something you’d put a few small tackle boxes, a few reels, some accessories and some bait. This is a hefty bag. Yes, I know, the size is stated clearly but I don’t think that you can really appreciate size until you pick a product up. Such are the perils of buying by mail order.

Regardless, I won’t be sending it back. It’s a really well made product and its inherent rigidity (something I was a little dubious about) is very good. I scratched around in the shed looking for things I didn’t need to fill it up with, just because I didn’t want it to bend, but in the end, and only half filling it, it retained its shape extremely well. I also used it to rest my go to tackle box on top of and it remained perfectly flat.

It’s very comfortable to carry, having the option of handles or a very cosy shoulder strap with a pad. Compared to the seat box I’d been using it was a joy to walk back to the car with at the end of last night’s session.

Everything about the Shimano Tribal Compact Carryall feels well made, from the stitching to the smooth action of the zips. You know when you’ve bought a good product and it just feels right. This carryall is definitely that, and if the rod holdalls are of the same quality I’ll definitely be getting one.

Wet nets!

Kicking the bucket list

Here in sunny Wales each year we are forced to endure something called the ‘Velothon’. For one Sunday a year, almost the entire road network is closed and everyone, except for cyclists, is massively inconvenienced. This meant that my planned trip to the lake and much needed therapy session had to be fast forwarded to this evening.

I couldn’t get away particularly early as the electrician was working on my kitchen, so it ended up being a 5.00pm start. No matter, I wanted to christen my new bag anyway.

I picked my usual peg and popped out lob on both the float and the feeder. In the first two hours I battled against the floating balsam and had to cherrypick clear spots, sadly all to no avail. A reasonable carp in the first few minutes on the float was closely followed by a tiny perch, and then the swims went dead. The only things I could seem to pick up were small eels.

I considered packing up for the evening but decided to move both rods in close for an hour when I noticed the balsam clearing.

The feeder picked up a small carp but then went quiet, and fearing that the perch weren’t in the mood I downsized my hook to a 12 and decided to have some fun with the roach on maggot. The float went under and ironically I picked up a decent carp first cast.

Something was evidently amiss with the feeder, so I swapped it for a 1/2oz bomb and fed directly over lob hookbait with maggot as I was running low on groundbait.

The rod tip bounced gently and straight away I was into a fish. Not just any fish either…

… I’d caught my first ever tench!! I genuinely almost wept. This little 1.5lb fish was 30 years late but more than welcome. The first thing I noticed was how placid and calm natured it was, and it felt amazing in my hands. Fantastic!

Back went the tench and, as I’d now run out of worms I popped a bunch of maggots on the running ledger. The carp came thick and fast and weirdly the quiver started out-fishing the float. In all honesty I tend to use the quiver as an ‘also’ rod and don’t give it the attention it deserves, only going to it when I get a solid wrap around. I should really have a session on it solely to get more practice in.

Around 9.00 I baited up with a more maggots (red, white, red, white, red… always) on the quiver and threw out against the pads in the vain hope that I could pick up a decent perch. Lo and behold within 10 minutes I’d snagged a decent 2lb fish.

Disaster had been avoided.

All in all a bit of a rollercoaster of an evening, but well worth the initial stress. I‘ll pop the bag review up tomorrow.

Wet nets!

Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag (Soon)

I don’t buy new stuff very often, mainly because I’m tight.

Lately though, my trusty old plastic Shakespeare Team seatbox has been feeling a little clunky. I’ve had it for well over 20 years and it’s still in amazing condition. The hinges still work and it’ll still take my portly girth without creaking (much), but it’s noisy when it clips the ground or a gatepost and it rattles when I waddle.

I bought a carp chair back in 2015 and I haven’t used the seatbox as an actual seat for at least two years. Nowadays I use it as a table next to the chair. It’s ideal for bait and my go-to tackle box, makes a great butt rest and…

… I appear to be re-selling it to myself. Deep breath.

Basically, there’s nothing ‘wrong’ with it, I just feel I’ve outgrown it. It’s just not practical any more for the style of fishing I’m doing and a bag would serve me better, especially considering I’m looking at doing more river sessions later in the year which will invariably involve more walking.. However, should one of the offspring want to join me, it’s always there.

Today I ordered a Shimano Tribal Compact Carryall. It looked pretty reasonable for the price and the size appears to be what I’m after.

shimano xtr compact carryall

Hopefully it’s as good and handy as it looks. It’s noted to be rigid which is what I’m after, as well as something that’ll help me organise my tackle a little better!

Once I’ve used it, I’ll put a review up.

My next purchase is going to be a new holdall as my 80s leatherette one is slowly giving up the ghost. Providing it’ll fit a tube or two made up rods, an umbrella and a couple of bank sticks, it’ll do. Any suggestions?

Wet nets.

Sweet cerebral flatulence

I needed to brain-fart badly.

We have the keys to our house and work is well underway in terms of turning it into a home. There’s a lot more to be done than we at first thought, but it’s doable and shouldn’t be too expensive. So, at 4.00pm today I left a very dusty wife wrestling with some artex that she probably shouldn’t have started picking at and headed to the lake. It’s been manic week thanks to the move and, being alone at work hasn’t helped.

Commence farting.

To be honest, sitting at the water’s edge was what I needed more than anything. Catching would be a bonus. I’d also managed to find some lob in the new garden so was anxious to christen them on a few fish.

I’d settled on a shady peg a few up from my usual so this was virgin territory. With a hawthorn overhead, no pads and reeds to the left and right, it looked really perchy. My lucky float had a few close calls tonight, once up the hawthorn and twice in the reeds. It’s only a matter of time…

I started by feeding some small halibut mix balls, chopped worm and maggot against the reeds around a rod length out and began picking up small F1s and commons. The action was steady with a few mediocre perch around 3/4lb but nothing noteworthy.

The margins were swarming with late spawning carp today alongside copious amounts of fry. No doubt the perch were far more interested in them than my worms.

Around 5.30 I picked up a nice 2.7lb perch on the float, though I did lose a pretty large one to the reeds (and almost lost my float). I also managed to bag quite a few commons, the best of which was the 7.5lb fish shown below.

It was pretty quiet at the lake this evening. A nice chap walking his dog happened by whilst I was playing the above fish and was adamant it was a tench, whereas I was wishfully thinking it may be a large perch. Five minutes later we were both shaking our heads and laughing as the carp eventually came to the surface to show it’s colours.

I would have happily settled for a 7lb perch (lol) or a 7oz tench. Both would be pbs!

Wet nets.

Attic be damned

I’ve spent two days up there. I think I’ve lost a stone in sweat alone.

Tonight I announced to the whole house (my wife, a small child with headphones on and a dirty cat) that the attic could ‘do one’, and that I was off to the lake and I was taking my sweat rash and dirty fingernails with me. To be frank I was expecting some resistance, but none was forthcoming. So, Kato-like, I leapt through the front door, brandishing my car keys in a dramatic fashion and back-flipped my way to the kerb before anyone could sense I was missing.

On the way to pick up worms, I called a friend that I fish with¬†occasionally to see if he’d like to join me. Apparently I woke him up. He mumbled something about ‘maggerts’ and ‘sleepy’ and finally showed up two hours later without his gear. This is why I love him. The sad fact is, he’s my only real friend and I don’t get to see him very often, but being a solitary type anyway, this arrangement suits me fine. He’s miserable too.

I arrived at the lake to find my usual peg free of piles of gear, ducks and serious looking overnight type carp fishermen. Excellent. I’d seen two of them rigging up their barrows for transit in the car park and as soon as they spotted me unpacking my gear, they hightailed it to the gate. Unfortunately for them (but fortunately for me) they didn’t realise that barrows won’t fit through the stile, so when I arrived at the gate they were hastily unpacking them to try and squeeze them through. I smiled and said ‘Hi’, walking to my peg whilst musing about the tale of the hare and the tortoise.

My rod was in the water by 5:00pm but the tow on the lake prevented me from fishing more than a rodlength out without going heavier on the float. The peg I fish at is only around 3ft deep close in, but there seemed to be some activity so I opted to fish right off the rod tip.

Conditions for perch were definitely not ideal tonight with the weather changing literally every five minutes from sunny to windy to overcast. The promised thunder thankfully, however, stayed away.

To start I went for double dendrobena on a size 10 wide gape and picked up a nice 2.5lb fish within the first hour, along with a few small commons and F1s. The roach were voracious, and in the shallow water continued to batter my worms relentlessly, even when shotted down. With this in mind, I switched to a size 12 around 7:00pm and decided to clear the swim of roach, then switched back to worm.

One particularly funny moment occured when my friend almost got stung by a hornet whilst netting a large common for me. Well, I laughed anyway.

Unfortunately the swim went dead after that, so for the last hour I hugged a very small patch of lilies to the right and fed the last of my groundbait and some chopped worm into the very perchy looking margin.

After a few minutes the swim went bonkers. Carp descended from everywhere and I ended up with several nice fish, the best of which was just over 9lb, along with a small mirror which was so prettily marked, I felt it warranted a photo. The large carp was a fun and protracted fight. Using 6lb line and with only a size 12 on I was on and off the drag for a good six to seven minutes. Luckily the plump little female didn’t attempt to dive for the lilies, but kept her head down and bolted for the middle of the lake. She wasn’t particularly long, just very chunky.

The more I ‘accidentally’ catch carp, the more the fascination that carp anglers have with them is revealed to me. The variation in morphology, colours and temperament is incredible and I have to admit, I definitely have a soft spot for mirrors. The little one above was only pushing 2lb, but it fought like buggery. There aren’t many in my lake, so catching one is always a bit special.

I think I’m going to add carp to my fishing bucket list. Nothing too ambitious. Maybe a double figure fish to start and see where we go from there.

Kato, out.