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...
Richard Walker was an angling genius; but you have to follow his advice, often to the very letter, to realise how good he was. He was, in fact, a technical genius; - rarely have
I followed his guidance to find myself disillusioned or disappointed, for the fact is, he had so much to say, concerning so many angling situations, no-one today is quite at his level. Yes, things and times do move on: but I had Richard Walker to thank for
the two carp I caught today at the farm pond I call Hoveland Pool. In short, I used margin crust technique: straight from the Walker hand book; I've used the method before, but always with 'tweaks' - a Shimano Baitrunner perhaps, to yield line, and so
on. Today, I did not have the luxury - just one of my old AKN 116's, designed by Kevin Nash, and a Mitchell 410a, and two rod rests...So why is Richard Walker a genuis? Well, he clearly offered advice because he'd been there, done that, as modern parlance
has it. The carp today were inhabiting a pool that, because of the recent rains, was almost bursting its banks. In fact, most of the decent carp I saw were moving through floating grasses in the margins, and that is where I lowered my crust. I sat about six
feet away from the margins and I allowed around ten to twelve inches of slack - just as Walker (way back in the 1950's) recommended - between the closed bail and the first rod ring. Now, and this returns me to the subject of Walker's genius: before I tried
this, I assumed the line would fall back onto the surface, due to gravity, - but it does not.
Walker had the set-up absolutely right. The line falls ever so nicely from
the rod top to the margin crust, and no line touches the surface; no line at all. Walker must have discovered this by trial and error, and he was generous enough to share the technique. This way, I was able to fool a nice common of 14lbs today,
and another, rather more hard-fighting common, of 9lbs 9oz. So what? - you might say...Well, I think the result is signficant because I simply could not fool any surface carp while line was on the surface. Even more remarkable: a good angler fishing
opposite, using hair-rigged dog biscuits with a modern "bolt machine" line controller, failed to fool any surface carp while I was there: although he did, I am pleased to say, catch three carp on ledgered boilies. This chap, Rob, was kind enough to take the
picture you see.
So what am I saying? The point I think I'm making, about surface baits, is that margin crust - some sixty plus years on, is still an amazing method when
conditions are right. I have no doubt, no doubt at all, that Richard Walker would have taken Hoveland apart - (again, to use modern parlance.) This speaks oceans for his influence and his still valid legacy.
PS: Please excuse the pained expression on my face! Hoveland carp are the slimiest I know - and this one was particularly wiggly!
When is it right to "go in" for a carp? The answer must be - always, proving the water isn't too deep - when the carp is tethered. Yesterday at Woodside I found myself stripping down to my undies and going in for a carp
for only the second time in my life: while praying that the water would not be too cold, which it wasn't. I'd hooked a carp on the edge of an extensive bed of dead reeds, with another inlet 'just round the corner' as it were. Despite full lock, full bend and
low stretch specialist surface line, the carp went round the corner into this other inlet as soon as it was hooked, with an impressive burst of speed. With my line going through the reeds, I was out of direct contact with the fish which, I could see, was near
the top and tethered. I had no choice - pushing my way through trees, a little way along the bank, I made the water then tested the depths by using my landing net pole. About four feet out, in the middle of the reed bed, it was really shelving away: but luckily
I could reach my line with my landing net pole and was able to draw the line to my hand. Finally, hand-lining, I was able to draw the fish to the net. It was all quite a pantomine - but looking back, despite the possible risks, I think it was the most enjoyable
part of my day.
Woodside has extensive shoals of rudd, and they were literally drilling bottom baits into the mud yesterday. I caught four carp - each one off the top, and only by casting to visible carp - going
for a take before the rudd could get to the bait - because the rudd were ravenous on the surface too! The best carp was the one I went in for. I thought it might go double, but it was long and rather lean - accounting for its speed - and weighed in at 9lbs
1oz. I was happy with that: having endured four miserable blanks in a row during the winter. It's nice to feel the rod bending again!