QUESTION: “Whilst I massively value the whole wrap business for pinpoint accuracy, I can’t help but chuckle when people talk in wraps! Also, I really do wish people would keep their spots to themselves. Nothing irritates me more arriving at a new venue for filming or my own fishing and someone feels the need to point out every known spot in every swim. “Yeah mate, 16 wraps to that pylon, Dave put out ten-kilo there three days ago.”; “5 wraps down the margin, John had the big ‘un off there last July!” My fishing is my fishing, I like it all to be my own thought process from what I see etc. I would honestly rather know nothing and learn mistakes the hard way. Maybe that’s stubborn but that’s me. I personally tend to shy away from the main swims and although I never go round asking, it’s always fairly easy to suss out what most people are up to and I like to take that and see what I can do differently.” Joe Morgan
I couldn’t agree with Joe more on this one. I’m exactly the same, I like to do it my way. There’s no denying the benefits of accurately marking up your spots, whether that’s with wraps around a couple of banksticks, markers on your line, or bank space permitting, simply by walking them out a set distance before clipping up at the reels. If you’ve found a spot which is doing the takes then it makes sense to get your rig back on the same spot each time. Good angling, but there’s no need to tell everyone those spots.
I’m all for information sharing between anglers on the same lake, especially the regulars, but when you’re all there with the same prize in mind, there has to be a limit. On another water with no particular goal I’ll happily help out the anglers either side of me without a second thought, but if we’re all fishing for one particular fish then that’s different, my edges are my edges, and I expect that to work both ways. On that type of water I wouldn’t dream of asking someone what bait they were using or where they were casting, not unless it was well after the event once they were done and dusted and off to pastures new. Learning from somebody else’s angling and making use of that knowledge further down the line is just fine, but copying them whilst they’re still on the case isn’t.
I’m not secretive, far from it, but I’m good at recognising when telling one person something has the potential to turn into a telegraph to the world, quickly resulting in the loss of an edge, or in some cases even the loss of what was once a potential quiet water for the future. We all enjoy chatting and sharing info, the problem is not everyone knows when it’s better to keep hush, and as the grapevine today is a far bigger monster than it’s ever been, that can be a problem. Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned, but basically the more familiar and comfortable I feel around someone, the more I open up, simple.
Just like Joe I like my fishing to be my own thought process. I want to do it my way and at my pace. I probably take it one step further than most in that I don’t even want to know what’s been going on while I’m away from the lake. I don’t hassle the bailiffs or other members with phone calls or text messages to see what’s happening, just as I don’t go on social media to read about what’s been caught. That’s how I like it, so when I do manage to drop on the fish through nothing but watercraft, nobody can suggest that I’ve only set-up there because that’s where somebody else caught from a couple of days before. Yes, it’s stubborn, but when I catch it’s the result of my own angling not somebody else’s, and that’s important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very sociable on the bank, my kettles forever on and I probably go through more Yorkshire Tea than anyone else on the lake, but I try not to get involved in all the networking that goes on when I’m away from it.
On the subject of accurate bait placement, where I’ve been fishing at Wasing, bait boats are heavily used, and so rather than clipping up or going by wraps, everything’s done by echo sounder. I’m not going to get into a bait boat debate, some people are comfortable with them and some aren’t, each to their own. Personally I’ve got no problem with them, but then where allowed I’ve never had a problem with lowering rigs into position from a proper hard boat either, or lowering them straight off the back of a 17ft cabin cruiser on the Thames for that matter. I respect anyone who doesn’t want to use one, but certainly at Wasing they’re very much the norm and have been for many years.
Although I’ve used bait boats in the past, I’d never used an echo sounder before, not even on a proper boat on the Thames. I’d never found the need, but at Wasing it didn’t take long to realise that I’d entered a completely different world of tech, and if I wanted to be fishing at the same level as everyone else I was going to need one. Much of the lake is weedy and shallow, like swan-depth shallow (there are generally thirty odd swans on the lake), with deeper gullies and depressions particularly at range around the islands. It took a while to get mine set-up how I wanted, but before long I was able to interpret exactly what the chart was telling me, which made a huge difference. Instead of dropping blind in whichever area you’re lucky enough to see fish, once you’ve learnt how to interpret the sounder it’s possible to get good clean, weed-free drops with perfect presentation every time.
In this case I rarely use markers on the line, instead I try to memorise the last few yards running up to the spot, and also just beyond, so I know when I’m getting near and also when I’ve gone too far, even in big winds and in the black of night on the bait boat equivalent of the Bering Sea. Other than that it’s just a case of making a mental note of your far bank or island markers so you’ve got something to line up with, and once you can see that the boat is nearing the mark, its all done from the sounder screen. Personally I still hold the rod when sending out the baits, feathering the line with the tip down low so as to prevent too much of a bow, and once I’m doubly certain I’m bang-on the mark, I release the hopper and feel for a drop, obviously following the lead down with the tip so as to reduce swing back to a minimum.
Since using the sounder, duff drops are rare, but if it doesn’t feel right I just reel it in again, no different to if I were casting. Drift weed has been a bit of a problem and I’ve had many frustrating occasions where I’ve had to redo the same rod over and over again before I’m able to get the main line down out of harm’s way, but for the most part the boat and sounder has made life a lot easier.
I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea but I’ve enjoyed the change, learnt a lot in a relatively short period of time, and as a plus, it’s been nice not having other anglers marking up and Spombing munga either side of me. I don’t know, as much as I love casting, I’ve got to admit that life at Wasing has been ever so peaceful. It’s the same old thing really, used sensibly boats are great.
I tell you what though, the fish at Wasing definitely know all about bait boats and there’ve been plenty of times where a swim full of carp has soon become a swim devoid of carp soon after sending one out. In fact, in a funny old way I think not using a boat and sounder so much during my opening trips turned out to be a good thing, as it enabled me to watch and take note of the areas they liked to show most without actually disturbing them. It wasn’t planned that way and there were times when I was quite frustrated watching fish showing at range, but because much of my early fishing was short, the long-range signs continued to flow.
There were other things which took time too, like being certain of which water belonged to which swim, of which there are only ten. By the time I’d settled into using the boat I’d already mentally noted plenty of hot zones as well as the best places to fish them from, and the sounder just meant that suddenly I could fish them with accuracy. I can tell you one thing for sure, on dark windy nights at 100yds plus they beat the pants out of wraps, that I found out the hard way.