Lightening the Load.
For the last few years I’ve been fishing a syndicate lake here in the north west but recently I’ve been struggling to get out due to a back injury. I got to the stage where I had to see a chiropractor to try and sort the problem out so I’ve had a forced absence from the bank this summer. I’ve not fished a single night since the first week of August 2011 and my bank time has been minimal as I’ve struggled to come to terms with the necessary changes to my fishing and my lifestyle. I’m not a person who is easily defeated by anything and during my absence from the bank I had a clearout of my gear, Its not the first time I’ve stripped out all those items of fishing tackle you always seem to take and never use but this time I really went to town to try and get the weight of my fishing gear down to a manageable level. So, ‘lightening the load’ or gearing yourself for ‘short session carping’ is the theme of this blog entry.
I needed to divide my gear up so I could carry what I needed and nothing else, no night fishing meant no bed chair and no sleeping bag so they were the first casualties. My rucksack was a 110 litre aqua that was rather heavy, leaving the contents aside for a minute, the rucksack itself had to go so I downsized to a JRC 40 Litre Rucksack which was perfect for the job, it was small, light and had just enough room for the minimal tackle I was going to carry.
After downsizing to a smaller rucksack I had a look at the contents, I found 3 head torches in my aqua rucksack so only one was kept, a Petzl Tikka 2 because it was the smallest and it had a couple of different brightness settings plus a red led which I find useful for keeping a low profile when fishing into dark. My Reuben Heaton scales were quite heavy and bulky so they had to be downsized too, I bought a set of Sportster Flyweight Mk2 Scales which happily were made by Reuben Heaton anyway. The Flyweight Scales were excellent, very light and compact, 40lb x 1oz divisions and brilliant for short session carping.
My tackle box was quite heavy too and I decided the tackle box itself had to go in favour of a smaller one, I always avoid purpose made tackle boxes because they are such a rip off so I replaced my big box with a small 6” x 9” ‘organiser'. These Stanley Organisers are pretty much a tackle box but they are sold in diy shops where they are used for keeping various things like screws and washers, amazingly they look rather like a fox box but without the rip off price tag, the organiser I got had 12 compartments and cost £3.80, eat your heart out fox!.
My old tackle box had far too many lead weights in it so I transferred just 2x2oz leads to the new box, 2 spare leads meant two spare lengths of Rig Tubing and no more, that afforded one loss of rig per rod, not something that should really happen on a 6 hour session but it does pay to have some cover even if its only a little. I bought a couple of new bits for the box too, some ESP Braid Scissors, a Gardener Boilie Needle and a few assorted Fake Baits I use occasionally to try and get an extra fish on the bank. Things like Hooks I took from my main tackle box but again only really enough to get through one session. The new tackle box looks great, its got everything I need but weighs a fraction of my main tackle box!.
As far as my rucksack goes I pretty much left everything else out, scales, camera and a few bits of tackle was all I needed and by time I’d finished my new rucksack was a fraction of the weight of the old 110L Aqua I’d been used too. This new 40L rucksack has proved to be an excellent purchase as it made walking with my gear so much easier, it’s also easier to pack into the car too!.
Next for the chop treatment was my Aqua Quiver, four rods became two, two Landing Nets became one, no need for a carp sack, no need for a floatation sling, no need for so many banksticks either so they all went too. At the moment I’m looking to upgrade my banksticks to lighter carbon versions but as yet I haven’t found any that will fit my brolly so I’m carrying 2 small adjustable sticks that are aluminium, they are quite light but I still intend to switch to carbon as and when I find them. Lightening my rod quiver didn’t stop there either because I changed my reels too, my infinity reels are fabulous but they are quite heavy so I swapped them for a pair of Shimano Baitrunners, the shimano’s were much smaller and lighter and changing to them made my rod quiver much easier to carry. I did contemplate leaving my Rod Sleeves off too but the thought of exposing my rods and main line to damage gave me second thoughts, particularly line damage in transit, in the end I decided to keep the sleeves but I know a few guys who’ve dropped them too to save weight.
I couldn’t change my rod pod, my original KJB Pod is about as light as you can get although I did cut down from four delkim alarms to two, no point in carrying extra if you only intend to use two rods!, I cut the indicators down too so four monkey climbers became two as well. The only thing left to look at was my chair, I’d been using a Nash Daddy Long Legs Chair which was great for comfort but not for carrying!, I changed the daddy long legs for a Chub Lo-Lite Chair, a nice comfortable chair that was half the weight of the nash chair!.
With my new gear all sorted I couldn’t wait to try it out, the first time I carried my gear to the lake I couldn’t believe how easy it was, having been used to a near full 110 litre rucksack and multi rod setup my newly stripped out gear was so easy to deal with.
I picked a tricky water for my first session back but I found not being hindered by so much gear was an absolute bonus. I had a good walk around looking in every nook and cranny around the lake until I found some carp. Once I’d found my targets I simply sat and watched them for a while, it soon became apparent that the fish were active within a certain area and over time I managed to pick a couple of spots in my swim that the carp were visiting on a regular basis, they always drifted off then came back to the exact same spots, I simply waited for them to vacate the area then under armed a couple of rigs into position. I put Backleads on then pulled my lines slack with my monkey climbers on the deck, half a dozen baits scattered around the shallow area and I retired to a safe distance to see how things would unfold, it was all so simple, back to basics if you like, find them and set the traps.
The lake was like tap water but the lines were well hidden, it took a good two hours before my left hand Delkim burst into life, runs when slack lining are best described as vicious as the fish has usually bolted before you hear the alarm and this was no exception, I looked up to see my monkey climber literally ram into my rod butt!. The fight played out fairly quickly as the fish itself had small fins and a small tail, it was an old ‘character’ fish with very little power to trouble me and I quickly netted a 15lb 4oz mirror.
I was happy enough with that result so I put the rod back out as there was still more fish around. I continued to watch the swim from a safe distance, every tail pattern the carp made gave their presence away in the shallow water and I’d made my mind up to move the other rod to what I thought would be a better position. I got up and took a step towards the rods when all hell broke loose, there was a massive eruption of water quickly followed by my right hand delkim going into full meltdown!. Just as well I never made it to the rods, I was literally a second from blowing this chance!. As soon as I hit it I knew it was a bigger fish and this one took me all over the swim making repeated strong runs. The runs got shorter and shorter and I already knew it was a decent fish. It seemed to take an age to reach the spreader block but eventually I lifted the Mesh and engulfed what looked to me like a breathtaking prize. It was a real stunning mirror and my new sportster scales gave a weight of 23lb 6oz.
It would be an understatement to say I was pleased with both of these fish, specially as they came from a very tricky water, I was equally pleased with the way I’d stripped my gear out too, the new lighter tackle items along with a few bare essetials from my main Tackle Box made walking and moving very easy, I fished on for an hour or two extra to see if I could tempt another but that was it for my bank side return. The walk back to the car park was a breeze and I was equally happy to have completed my return to carp fishing without crippling myself again in the process!.
I know many carp anglers have suffered the same fate as me, sleeping on a bed chair, the cold and the damp, none of it helps you if you have a back problem and you suffer more the older you get. Short of giving up the hobby the best you can do is to make life as easy as you can. Stripping out the gear and going back to basics has been the answer to my problems. I was so focused on cutting weight any way I could I even bought replacement tackle items rather than make do with the gear I had and I‘m not exactly known for chucking my hard earned around!. If you suffer with a back problem like me or you just want to gear yourself for short session carping then I can tell you, ’lightening the load’ and going back to basics is a great place to start.