I was reading a thread on the Northern Monkeys Forum the other day about the fishing season and how everyone’s had gone, I didn’t contribute to the thread but it got me thinking about my own fishing and how 2014 had gone for me. I must have high expectations because looking at the highlights I’ve actually done quite well but it certainly doesn’t feel like I’ve been on top of my game this year.
2014 started badly for me with a run of blanks that stretched from New Year into early February. This was mainly down to me undergoing a transition to extreme range carp fishing, the water I’d picked for my winter campaign was well stocked but very big and the fish were holed up at ranges in excess of 150 yards from the bank. I’ve always thought of myself as a competent caster but 4 years on a syndicate using a bait boat had completely de-skilled me and if I’m honest my casting was hopeless. Take no notice of anyone who tells you bait boats don’t affect your casting because they do take your skills away, given that I could reach 140 yards before I got one, the time spent using my boat was ruinous for me because I couldn’t even get near that back in early January. Those 5 weeks of blanking were painful for me, watching fish crashing at range and not getting anywhere near them was hard. I underwent the transformation though, line, rigs, tackle and technique, I tweaked everything and got some practice in and on the 8th Feb I banked my first fish of the year, a low double that came from an area in excess of 150 yards, at the time it was the longest ever cast I’d made to bank a carp but I’ve beaten that by quite a way since then. I’m going back to the lake again this winter and I’ve bought a Go Pro Video Camera so I’m hoping to have some casting footage ready for a piece on long range fishing sometime next year. This footage will be going on my Youtube Channel along with some clips from other sessions I do through 2015, there's not much on there at the moment but feel free to subscribe, it will get busier as I add clips throughout next year.
Things got easier in February once I’d sorted my casting out but no sooner had I done that when it was time to move on. I went back to looking for a catfish and early March provided me with my first real highlight of 2014, my first ever North West Catfish weighing in at 27lb 12oz!. It put up a stunning fight and fell to one of my Winter Carp Rigs, a size 12 Korda Kurv Hook with a 10mm Scopex Squid Red pop up fished kd style with 25lb ESP Camo Sink Link braid. You should have seen the size of the bait and hook compared to the cats mouth, the rig was meant for the lakes small carp but these small korda hooks really do the business, not only did I land a catfish that fought like a demon on them, I’ve also banked a few 30’s and a lot of 20’s with these small hooks too.
March had another highlight and my favourite capture of the year, a lovely old mirror from one of my club lakes, it weighed in at 24lb 4oz and was one of my target fish and my first from the lake too. It was a proper scaley warrior and a stunning looking carp. It took a bit of effort to track this one down and that just made it even more worth while, again it fell to the 10mm scopex squid red popup on a size 12 korda kurve hook.
April saw me visit Cromwell Lake for the first time. We’d booked the lake out for a Forum social and this Easter trip turned out to be the only 2 nights I fished this year. I came out of the draw well enough and got a decent swim for a change. Over the two days I caught a mid double mirror at range on the zig rig and those little 10mm scopex squid red boilies did the business again as I caught my biggest fish of the year in the shape of a 31lb 2oz Cromwell mirror.
After a run of good results I was full of confidence as you’d expect but things went badly wrong in May, I just couldn’t get onto the waters and what should have been the most productive month of the year became a complete blank for me. Believe me it’s frustrating when you can’t get back on a water because it’s full of bivvies, you end up defeated by other anglers with more time rather than by the carp themselves.
I managed to get a decent peg in early June and made the most of it with the capture a 29lb 12oz mirror on a 6 hour afternoon session, it was one of the biggest fish in the lake and a new Cheshire PB for me. To think I've been fishing various clubs in Cheshire for nearly 20 years now trying to catch a club water 30, I've still not managed it but this big mirror is as close as I've been. Things went downhill again after this fish and reluctantly I had to move on again because getting a peg in the first place was just proving impossible.
I spent the rest of the summer back on the catfish lake, the zig rig was productive again but not as good as last year. I discovered the Fox Zig Aligna and this made my zig fishing a lot easier, no longer did I need to tie a hair and manipulate my yellow foam so it was positioned correctly, the zig aligna was perfect for this and it’s found a permanent home in my floater tackle box after proving it’s worth this summer.
The boilie fishing was good in summer too, I can’t speak highly enough about the Scopex Squid Red boilies from Kevin Nash, they are superb carp catchers and they brought me a big run of fish through the summer, I was averaging 3-4 fish per afternoon trip and eventually I banked one of the lakes bigger residents in the shape of a 23lb 8oz mirror, I did a repeat capture of this fish too.
In October I decided to leave the runs water and try for one last decent fish before winter and this turned out to be as big a disaster as May was for me, as the days have shortened and my sessions have been even shorter than normal the blanks have piled up, I guess you have to expect this when you’re a day only angler on waters that even campers struggle on. You really have to have the right mentality to nick a result on harder waters and as far as October and November went, I don't think I had the right attitude to my fishing. I've been far too lazy!, I've just been going through the motions rather than making the effort and hunting them down and that's not good for a limited time angler.
It’s early December now and I’m on my traditional break from carp fishing at the moment, over the Christmas period I’ll be back out again but I’ll be in full winter thermals as the cold weather has really kicked in this last week. I’ll leave my look back at 2014 with a tip for keeping warm during the months ahead and that’s to use a hand warmer. I was put onto the Whitby Hand Warmer last year after one of my mates gave me his to try. It was that good I was straight online to order one as soon as I got home from my trip. Hand warmers run on Lighter Fluid and mine is the ‘Bull’ brand, it can be bought in poundland for £1 a tin or you can get any other brand in bulk on ebay. On a full load a hand warmer will burn for 12 hours and a tin of lighter fluid will do at least 4 fills so you can have permanent heat on a 48hr session for £1 or in my case a month or more, which is 4 x Saturday day sessions.
The lighter people Zippo also do a version and both the Zippo and Whitby Hand Warmers have a catalytic burner which has no flame, you simply light it and once it’s running place it in the velvet bag it comes with, you can keep it in your pocket or if you’re a winter bivvy angler you can put it in the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm all night. All in all they are a cracking bit of kit and come in around the £15 mark on ebay, money well spent when it comes to Keeping Warm In Winter.
That’s it from the North West Carp Blog for 2014, stay warm on the bank this winter and tight lines for 2015.