It's been a mild November so far, but this month is usually classed as the start of winter by carp fishers, and so I suppose I can legitimately claim the double figure common
I caught today, from the pool I call Hoveland, as my first winter carp of the year. In fact I caught two doubles - but a mirror came in foul-hooked in the flank, and so it cannot count, unlike the common. That fell to a critically-balanced crust rig I've been
dabbling with, with a sight bob as the float.The common took close to the branches of an overhanging willow and, immediately when hooked, rose to the surface with its dorsal raised - most impressive! I only wished the snap I took of it on the mat wasn't so
'washed out". I think my camera has seen its best days..
The fishing, however, was perhaps the least dramatic moment of a somewhat disturbing, even an upsetting day. I
arrived to find I had the pool to myself and, as per usual in such circumstances, I decided to do the rounds, to see where fish were showing etc. The water was quite clear and I was surprised to see numbers of roach in the margins, clearly gasping for oxygen.
Soon I was spotting carp doing the same, then three, then four dead carp..! I looked at the water level and saw it was very low - perhaps 1.5ft down on its usual level - and this is a pool where the average depth normally is just 3ft. I decided not to fish
but to find the lady farmer instead. She was as shocked as me and asked what should be done. I suggested an aerator but she suggested opening the pipe up for an ancient bore hole well and allowing fresh water into the pool. It is fortunate the well was there.
That spring-fed pool is old - dating back to at least very early Victorian times, and probably before then. The bore hole well is evidence of the pool's antiquity. Soon enough water was gushing down a pipe into the one acre pond. One hour later, it was as
if the crisis hadn't happened at all, aside from the floating bodies of a few carp and one or two dead roach. I didn't expect to catch but decided to fish in any case - not least because I'd been dropped off by my wife and suspected she would not appreciate
an early call back. Well, the morning turned to the afternoon. The pool had risen by at least six inches and there was evidence of carp just being carp - clouds of mud, bubbles and so forth. I decided on the pop-up approach because I was bringing back a load
of sticks and leaves on my conventional bottom rig. It was pleasing to fool that common with the pop-up rig, and once it was safely in the net and on the mat, I felt that my decision to stay had been justified after all.
There was a chilly start yesterday to my session at Evesbatch Bottom Lake. It left me wondering how many more carping sessions I have to enjoy this year: before the very cold
weather arrives. The long-range forecast is for a very cold November, apparently, and so I suppose that will be 'it' for me, until the early spring. I used to fish quite heavily into the winter, but I was a slightly younger chap, then, and it still made me
ill! I do miss winter at "The Other Pool", however: waiting in the chill on the island for carp, in their winter-bright colours, to move out from deeper water, under the shade of a goat willow. The bites they gave were often so minscule, it took me a while
to adapt and respond when needed, - to strike those miniscule movements, despite aching hands and arms, due to the chill. Yesterday, at Evesbatch, I soon warmed up as the sun rose, and within 90 minutes or so, I'd fooled a lovely 'Leneyesque' common, weighing
in 10lb 9oz. The bait was floating crust. The fish shown here is not that carp, of course: this in fact was my last fish of the day, which I landed with the enthusiastic support of the the bailiff's friendly black retriever who was running around my legs,
sometimes barking, as I battled the fish in a tight spot by a willow. This carp, which weighed exactly 9lbs, was a wildie-like common: the sort of fish which made the pool well-known, locally: and indeed, there are still those who will tell you that
all the pool's commons are all "wild carp". This is not the case now, really, as many of the commons, including my double yesterday, look more like Leneys. The pool was also stocked with mirrors, a few decades ago, I believe. However, it's good to see, once
again, that there are still wildie-type commons in Evesbatch Bottom Lake. This one was a good-looking fish, despite a slight pop-eye. I caught seven carp in total yesterday, which sounds like a good result, but I really had to work hard for it. I only managed
one carp on the sight bob float, with the rest falling to floating crust, usually close in, and requiring a reasonably high level of stealth and patience. It helped that I had the pool to myself. Herefordshire is still an angling time-warp in places, in this
Carp are not the only species, of course, and I must also mention that I caught a small perch and a small bream too, on sight-bobbed wax worms.
I shall return to Evesbatch in a few weeks or so, but this time in the pleasant company of my brother, David, and my nephew, Steven. I very much look forward to that.
August is a month pretending to be summer, with the first yellow leaves in its hair. I try not to fish Hoveland during early to mid summer, because it can be busy, and the pool
is sometimes afflicted by the great green mushrooms, and anglers with pods and buzzers. I wouldn't mind, but Hoveland is a farm pond of one acre or so. However, all this hi-tech pressure means the fish are getting cagey - extremely cagey. It's almost impossible
to catch one on the float there now - I bumped a good one off today, on floatfished flake; but such occurences are the exception, not the rule. I've written before how it's almost impossible to catch one off the top as well, at least in open water: but today
I had to try. I went fully prepared to use margin crust - which has yielded me some chunky fish there this year; but the fish were not coming close. I had to fish surface baits, mid-water - because the fish were there; but I lost count of the aborted takes
and the number of times my floating crust had already been nudged from the hook - detached from the hook, before the bread was engulfed. As I say, these are educated, crafty fish. Earlier this year I watched a good angler fail with a modern line-controller
that leaves no line at all on the surface - you know the sort of device. I noticed today that serious approaches were made, on the whole, when the sun went in and when the wind was calm. Then the line on the top didn't seem to matter so much. I resorted,
when I could, to using pieces of crust with very tough crusts - the hardest bits, to stand up to all those tweaks and nudges. Every take was a waiting game, and the game was made more difficult by the large amount of ducks and water fowl currently on Hoveland.
However, I'm pleased to announce I managed to catch four late summer carp, all commons to 13lb 9oz. I had an eleven pounder in that mix - a sleek fish that fought the best of all, with real tenacity and spirit. I also lost what I think was a very large fish
- slow and powerful, when the hook pulled. I think I must have only nicked it.
All in all, it was a most enjoyable session: and made all the better because, incredibly,
I had the little pool to myself, and on a Bank Holiday Saturday too! Perhaps everyone else assumed the pond would be too busy?
On Saturday I was again fortunate to fish The Seggy Pool at Dudmaston Hall with my brother David, who is a member of the Kinver Freeliners and who kindly secured a guest ticket
for me. I love The Seggy Pool: it is everything an estate lake should be, being tree girt and mysterious. Indeed, it's a mystery how the carp got into the pool in the first place; but I suspect it was from another Dudmaston lake, immediately above it, which
is "off limits" even for club members.
I was a little worried about how the heatwave summer might have affected the Seggy, which is shallow - and indeed it was down
by 1.5ft or so. We had little choice but to fish from the dam, and even here I barely had 2ft of water in front of me. I picked a spot at the end of a run of bushes, with the idea that any carp cruising under the shelter of those bushes would be intercepted
there. I placed my bait - garlic-flavoured luncheon meat, provided by Dave, in a small channel between the bottom weed: but would the carp oblige? I was using a classic sight-bob rig, by the way, which is ideal for such shallow water.
I was quickly into a carp, which just as quickly threw the hook. I was a little disappointed, but I still had carp in my swim. The water was a little stirred up but I could easily make out their gliding forms
and, at times, I could see carp tails upending near my sight-bob, as they nosed down to feed. Dissolving micro-pellets - also provided by Dave - really seemed to be to their taste, as an attractor. Soon enough, my bob shot away and I was into an almost nude
mirror which, at 10lbs 9oz, turned out to be the largest fish of the day. The fight and the runs were quite impressive, in such shallow water. I managed two more carp - none as large, but I was delighted to get another linear mirror from the pool (having caught
a linear there last year) and a gorgeous looking common.
Dogs jumping in were a problem at times: this is a National Trust pool, with walks all around it; but why can't
dog owners show a little more consideration?
The vast swarms of micro rudd were also a nuisance at times - David noticed how they were even lifting large chunks of luncheon
meat up to the surface! He suffered from the rudd more, and for longer, than me: and, having still manged to catch two small tench on the float, he opted for a light swimfeeder rig to get the bait down quickly. The bait was still meat, but the feeder was packed
with the dissolving micro-pellets. This worked a treat, in conjunction with an Avon quiver tip rod, and he ended up with three stunning looking commons to his credit.
are these carp? They certainly seem to have Leney characteristics: but some commons also look rather "wildiesque". There are some hefty commons in there, however, - leaping and occasionally cruising through. We both agreed at 15lbs plus, for a conservative
estimate - and they may go more than that.
It's a stunning pool: and my thanks must go to David again, who made another great visit to Dudmaston possible.
Margin crust worked well again at Hoveland today, although it was hard going. I could not fish my usual area, which was taken by two friendly-enough chaps fishing PVA bags and
pellets/boilies etc...and doing rather well, - ten carp between them, actually. I fished the "top peg" - meaning the one near the fence and the lane, and where a large willow tree provides shelter for nervous carp. Indeed, most carp seem to stay well under
its branches and shade. But I soon spotted signs of carp in a little mini-inlet, nearby, and I set up the rod rests chair etc, just as Walker advised, and settled back to await events. I didn't have to wait more than one hour before the crust went down and
I was battling a powerful 9.5lbs common. Then it was a long wait for the next action...I took to stalking, presenting surface baits tight up against the branches of the willow; I tried freelining bottom baits to bubblers etc, but it was no use...Finally,
I spotted a stray crust going down, right in the margins and just a short step along the bank from me. What happened next is best described as "improvised margin crust technique" - I lowered a crust where the carp had taken the free crust and then lay my rod
along the slightly sloping bank, so that it was parallel to the water and the line was sloping from the tip ring, down that grassy slope, so that no line at all was on the surface - and this was vital...and it worked! Soon enough the crust was clooped down
and I was attached to a very fast and angry common, just one ounce under 11lbs. I've always thought that special, brief moments are the true appeal of angling - and this occasion was certainly one of those.
A technical consideration: I was using those new Nash "pinpoint" hooks, - barbless. They are designed to stay put, and they really do! I had to use forceps to remove each hook. I'm not quite sure, at present, whether
this is a good thing or not so good. I like a firm hook hold - but perhaps not quite that solid. More thoughts on this later...