Carp Against The Clock – July 6th

My second outing came on a Wednesday evening as I headed up to feed the fish in my Meadows syndicate lake after putting the kids to bed. I stocked the lake with forty five three year old carp from Priory Fisheries last year, and have since added a handful of mid doubles from Frontfish UK. I feed the fish three times a week to ensure they’re getting all they could want for in terms of health and vitality in their formative years and they have been coming along really nicely over the past twelve months.

Normally I just go up, put the bait in and have a quick mooch around before heading home, though now, with this new series for Anglers' Net in mind, I had my lightweight kit loaded into the car in order that I could do an hour whilst I was up there. If I’m totally honest, I was not actually expecting to catch one. With all the feedbait they are getting they really don’t need to pick up a hookbait for sustenance and as a result, they can be extremely tricky to trip up!

The week previous, I’d finally got around to doing a bit on the float to have a go at some of the young tench and crucians I stocked back in the spring and hit it just right, taking six lovely tench and a couple of crucians to just under a pound each, so my thinking was that if all else failed, I’d enjoy myself having a go at a few of these for an hour.

On arrival at the lake, I lugged round the bait to the first feeding spot passing a swim in the shallows we’re currently developing where we’d cleared a load of sedges and planted up some lovely lily pads. As I’m walking past the spot I notice a boil of water right in the middle of the set of pads just a couple of feet from the bank. It’s a spot I’ve been trickling a little bit of bait into for my own endeavours and as I carefully moved closer behind some bankside cover to get a better look, saw a lovely little Priory mirror of around five or six pounds upended and investigating the bottom as if looking for some more bait!

I quickly backed away and hotfooted it back to the car to get my gear. Two minutes later and I’m back at the swim. The fish has now gone but, having a hunch that it’s not gone too far away, I quickly throw half a handful of maggots over the spot and sit back in the hope it returns. Normally, I’d have just baited up with a couple of maggots, but as I sat there contemplating it, I couldn’t help but think it had been looking for some of the Pink Enzyme boilies I’d last been pre-baiting the spot with. As I’m crouched down in the swim thinking about my approach, the fish suddenly appears from my left. It drifts right by just a few feet in front of me, completely oblivious to my presence as it sifts the bottom heading back to the pads on my right. The maggot tub is back up on the bank just out of easy reach - the Pink Enzyme ten-mils are at my feet – decision made!

Ever so slowly, and with no sharp movements, I select a 10mm hookbait, carefully side hook it, lengthen my float depth and wait for my moment. The key with stalking is not to rush it; you’ll often only get one chance, so it pays to make sure you get it right. For me it’s about anticipating what the fish is likely to do next and trying to get your bait into place just ahead of it to be in the perfect position when it counts.

The fish dropped down again as it came up against the pads, probably investigating the maggots which I’d applied a few minutes previous. I could clearly see its tail wafting just an inch below the surface, and as it looked quite content in its behaviour, I very carefully plopped in the baited line just ahead of it. I made my cast just a foot or two beyond my intended spot and then just pulled the float silently back into position with the bait coming to rest no more than twelve inches away from the head of the fish - perfect.

The hardest part was done – bait in position without spooking the fish, though what’s often harder is trying to stop your pounding heart coming out of your chest as you watch every twitch of the float! I kept my eyes peeled on the wafting tail and waited. The tip of the tail moved slightly forwards bit by bit, inch by inch, to the point where I knew the hookbait had to be within two or three inches of its mouth, and then bingo…

The float bobbed once, swayed to one side, and then ever so gently went under. I gave it the briefest of moments just to be sure it was not the flank of the fish rubbing up against the line and then slowly lifted the line from the water. A split second later the water erupted… FISH ON!

Mirror CarpPound for pound, Priory fish fight well above their weight and on such light tackle the fish gave an absolutely terrific scrap. It tried on several occasions to take me into the sedges, pads and anything else it could think of to evade capture, but thankfully luck was on my side and I was soon able to guide it into my waiting net.

I was made up. It was my first Meadows carp on the float and an absolute minter to boot! I later identified it as one of the smallest fish we’d put in twelve months prior, and on this its first visit to the bank, it had pretty much doubled in size, which obviously made the capture all the more rewarding.

After resting the fish in the edge and watching it slip away, I took a glance at the clock – 24 minutes in… result! With my goal achieved I sat back, applied some more maggots, and float fished for whatever came my way. Before the hour ended I banked a couple of lovely crucians to add to the enjoyment and as the light faded I packed up my gear, fed the fish and headed home in complete contentment.

Second hour-long session and a fish on the bank, you can’t grumble at that.

Let’s hope my next outing goes as smoothly!

Julian Grattidge
July 2011

Crucian Carp