12 Acre German Mystery - Part 3
Fred Foley managed to get himself a ticket on an old 12 acre gravel pit after retiring to Southern Germany, he had no information about the water but this just made the adventure more exciting...
As I write this it is 3 weeks until the start of my season, and the new ”beast from the east” is about to hit and bring daytime highs of -6 and night time lows of -16! This means the lake will definitely freeze again which is not ideal but is one of the joys of living in the Alps. I had always planned anyway to start on Zigs until the water warmed and then have a go for the newly stocked tench before moving onto the carp.
I am not really sure how I feel about recaptures but for me, because I have no targets and just fish for the joy of catching it’s not a problem. Sure, it’s nice to catch new fish but it’s also nice to see old friends; and it is good to check on any wounds that were treated as well as any weight gain or loss. I think I am the only person keeping a detailed image record and I am the only person talking about repeats. I go fishing to catch fish, any fish. My log shows a third of the fish I caught last season were over twenty pounds, so for me it’s a numbers game!
Where do you start on the subject of rigs? I came into last season knowing very little about carp rigs and really do not know much more now. I think it was Ian Chillcott who said “if you put an acceptable bait in the right area with a sharp hook you will catch a carp", this is true but looking at some of the underwater filming it appears there are some carp who attack baits with reckless abandon and some who are far more cautious. I went through the whole gamut of rigs last season and eventually settled on a basic Hinged Stiff Rig with either coated braid or Fluorocarbon as the boom. I had tried the Spinner Rig, it worked but all that ironmongery just did not feel right. I needed to get comfortable with a basic rig before I stated to play around with hook sizes. I started off small, then moved to big and then back to small which is where I will start this season.
Over the winter I read an article from an old Course Fisherman from the early 90’s, in it the author suggested that a 10” or 12” hook link of supple braid could trick a wary fish. This led me back to something I had seen at a match at Layer in the early eighties. I was pegged on the front bank just past the reeds as it was then and I had caught 3 or 4. One carp kept swimming up to the open mouth of the keepnet and to scare it back down I threw a small nugget of my groundbait into the net. What happened next amazed me, the carp came back to the ball and blew on it and as the casters fluttered down it sucked them in. Now if they do that on the bottom in open water a Hinged Stiff Rig is not going to act normal. During the last few weeks of the season I was fishing tight lines to semi fixed leads and was getting 3 or 4 single bleeps to every hook up. These were not liners, they were getting away with it. If I can work out how to convert one of those bleeps into a hook up I double my catch rate!
Over the close season I have put together the bait rolling essentials. I have found a HNV recipe that looks promising, it has high quality ingredients and so is not cheap to make. I will use this primarily as hook bait and some chops and crumb in a stick, I will make a cheaper 50/50 mix with a lesser food value for the pre baiting. But this is all subject to change depending on results. One other thing, I will not add any flavour to the bait. I am not trying to be clever just different. My baits will be the only ones they see without artificial flavouring. I will however glug my hook baits so that the feeding triggers are released quickly!
The biggest lesson I've learned is that I need to be more mobile, I think it is part of my make up left over from my match fishing days that you draw a peg and what you do with it for the next 5 hours is down to you and that needs to change. There were days last season where I settled into a swim just because I had caught there the day before and sat there for 3 hours watching carp showing over the other side and stayed put because it was too much hassle to move. That will change this year. Top of the shopping list is a carp barrow so I can load everything and move in 5 minutes. Another area that I did not exploit was the hybrid method feeder. Every time I tried it I caught carp but I was only ever using it as a change method when things were slow. When I used it at the back end of the season I caught well, that is until I ran out of 2mm pellets! For those who don’t know this is an entirely different animal from the method feeders of old, done correctly it presents a small parcel of food with a hook bait sitting on top. It is a similar presentation to solid bag but less work to prepare. There is a little bit of work need to get the pellet preparation correct but it’s not that hard. Get it wrong through and one of two things can happen, you either reel back in and the pellets are still in a solid ball or the pellets all fall off on impact. As far as I am aware no one has used a feeder on here so the carp will never have seen it.
I have used sticks before with some success but this presentation with a 4” mono hook link seems to trick them. I will target the reed bed margin swim again but with a more subtle approach and have a spare rod set up with a Heli Rig to cast at showing fish at distance. I doubt very much there is a fishery in the UK that offers such a unique opportunity as this one. Another thing to remember is that all of my fish were caught on day sessions; I don’t do nights...... yet. Well that’s about it, now it’s time to get the gear ready and roll some bait ready for the next season. Thanks for indulging me, and don't forget to read part 1 & 2 of my story!