I had ended my previous 24 hours session on this day ticket water very pleased to have put lots of ideas into action regarding my baits designs and bait applications. This included the particular version of homemade PVA bag mix, plus free baits, and wafting and sinking hook baits, plus specially-prepared paste. All the baits had been prepared with regard to the 6 to 9 degree Celsius water temperature range and made to function both in the water and within fish to exploit many influences of lower temperature maximisations in mind. The success my different formats of test baits had thus far achieved made me wonder what else might be possible!
The constant rain of the period had lessened and the wind direction had changed slightly since last session ending just 3 days previously. I managed to fish towards the same area, but was still a bit unsure as to how to fish the swim as there were so many possibilities. For instance, I could easily have placed all 3 rods straight out in front of me at around 3 rod lengths out and intercepted fish moving between the bank and an island in front and to my left, or I could have put all three rods very tight into the margin straight in front of me, or maybe put all rods tight against the island, or maybe 6 feet or 12 feet off dependant upon depths and feeling of the bottom there.
Or I could have cast further out straight in front anywhere between 40 and 60 meters out, and aimed to spread the rods out between a reedy point on my right and nearest to the island margin to my left, and spread the rods across this span of water. It seemed to me that fish were sure to patrol between this margin and the island in some kind of depth, either 3 to 4 feet at the edges down to 6 or 9 feet at the deepest part of this span. I deliberately avoided fishing the island margins as I knew that was what 90 percent of anglers do and I wanted to fish hopefully where fish would have been hooked much less in the past, so maybe feed with a little less wariness!
For my first night of this session I chose to fish one rod in the margin to my right adjacent to some marginal reeds in about 3 feet 6 inches depth, and about 4 rod lengths away from me. This meant I was fishing around a corner which went out of my line of site. The usual multiple back leads were affixed. The baited rig was about 5 feet from the marginal rushes to keep me a bit further out as I knew coots could be a very major problem on this area of the lake as one of the main nesting sites was only 15 feet from where I cast!
I placed my middle rod in the clean clay margin under the rod tips. I baited up heavily with a really loose homemade bait mixture literally under the rod tips straight in front of me in about 3 feet of water. It can take a period of time to wean fish onto such a spot so it was really a test spot for one night as my time was limited, I just wanted to see if I could get any liners there due to fish being pulled onto the bait. I placed my left hand rod next to a small reed bed, 4 feet out in about 4 feet of water and I’d noticed a fish had fed their the previous week, albeit while the wind was into that bank and the water was very clouded, still it was a proven feeding spot so it made sense to exploit the little first-hand fish feeding feedback I had gleaned from my first visit.
An initial stage of my homemade PVA bag mix – no ordinary bait!
I had made some new and different baits yet again as I have so many ideas and concepts to test and I know that fish do not require conditioning onto a totally new bait at all if designed with special considerations on the part of fish sensitivities correctly! Great baits by definition work instantly upon fish senses etc! I’d still use the same homemade wafting hook baits and sinkers as previously as I had some left. However I had made up a new homemade PVA bag mix version that differed in some aspects and modes of action to the previously successful one.
This version was a formulation I had put together using CC Moore products but I like to make my baits totally unique, and give fish totally new experiences to strike a particular pathway more, just for my own creative enjoyment really. Therefore, having already enjoyed catching a forty on my previous new mixes I used other ideas I wanted to test. If I had to sum up my perception of my new PVA bag mix, it was maybe the first time you ever tasted a really creamy ice cream on a hot summers’ day, only this bait contained no artificial cream flavour but intrinsically contained many associated ‘smell’ and ‘taste’ compounds of low pH.
I knew the temperatures were due to drop and the wind was set to change, so I also placed a number of large baits out to each end of the island to my left in front of me, plus baited the left side expanse of it and did not bait up the expanse straight in front of me due to my previous experiences with the coots there.
My free baits were made with attention to details of low water temperature action and to fast through-put of bait through fish along with many many other deeper and broader considerations. One of which was to leave particulate matter and bait sediment and bait liquid in the bottom despite any attention from coots. Many anglers use the high-vis tigers etc that CC Moore are renowned for but there are very many options for using particles of many forms in baits of many formats. When you research pulses, beans, peas, seeds, nuts, most have some feature, characteristic, movement, mode of action, nutrient or other substance whatever that is of unique benefit or advantage if you apply it in a certain way, in order to overcome a fishing challenge in a creative way.
Part of my bait this time was simply an expedient way to create a more economical functional bulk free bait which would have added additional special links to pre-condition fish receptors to my hook bait substances and modes of actions etc.
I chose to exploit a CC Moore stick mix ( / PVA bag mix) as a large component in my free baits, with relating individual components within my PVA bag mix, my paste and hook baits. And as usual I really aimed to be fishing over a swim with no solid bait in after the initial break down period, I’d be topping the swim at certain intervals judging by carp responses and wariness etc, and changing presences of smaller fish which I also exploit to pull in the carp and get them competing!
A new version of homemade hook bait powder before I added extra ingredients and additives to make these few hook baits for this trip more resilient against the coots but massively potent, plus still soluble enough to be active ideally in 9 degree Celsius water temperatures!
I don’t think what matters is the texture, colour or tone or many other features or characteristics but certainly the modes of action in pre-exciting fish, and pre-conditioning the fish to the hook bait substances…
As I might have said before, among the most reliable ways to hook big fish is simply to create a situation where the you exploit the pecking order of fish by applying bait so that you are left with just the biggest fish monopolising your free bait or baited area devoid of bait, and this can be very quickly achieved if certain what I call ‘cascades’ and pre-conditioning are achieved as quickly as possible by careful bait design and intelligent bait application specifically in order to achieve this end.
The evolution of carp baits is a wonderfully changing thing, and yet even more possibilities are right in front of us if only we looked at bait from the perspective of fish not as carp anglers. Anglers today think nothing of flavoured dyed sweet corn, or even fluorescent fake sweet corn, yet such things have always been possibilities for those with an open mind and this is the tip of the iceberg… And there was a time when sweet corn didn’t figure at all in carp fishing – like ‘boilies!’
I know for certain that many anglers would be very wary of using something like a chopped Brazil nut instead of a boilie – because they have a ‘carp angler’ mind set, and are not actually perceiving things from a carp perspective. But what is more important to develop in depth and breadth? The deeper secrets of ‘thinking like a carp’ take education, not just observation and instincts. Endless time on the bank or limitless bait does not automatically result in every fish in a lake being caught that’s for certain.
I’ve messed up big-time on many waters by thinking ‘like an angler’ instead of proactively thinking correctly and dynamically creating my own opportunities based on thinking like carp, and I’ve all too often simply expected things to develop when they didn’t! Just because something has been successful previously does not guarantee success – carp are dynamically-learning creatures and anglers’ baits are not merely opportunities but are threats.
I find the less alike my baits are to what has been successful previously, the luckier I tend to be, so creating unique homemade baits is something I have enjoyed doing ever since I was just a kid. These days bait is even more of an issue because not all of us are sitting very comfortably on tickets for the very limited place big fish syndicate waters (or can guest them,) and have to battle with crowds on very busy day ticket waters without restrictions on numbers of anglers, or the negative and highly exasperating behaviours of them in many cases!
So for this day ticket water each rod had the new homemade PVA bag mix, but the left hand margin rod had very minimal free baiting, to help avoid attentions from coots.
During the afternoon the wind really warmed up and fish started to show to my far left, way down the other end of the lake. I cast a rod right over to the far corner, but unfortunately a set of anglers turned up and killed this plan to get on fish at this time. However just as I suspected, due to the anglers setting up and casting out, some of the fish moved out of that area, and one descent fish moved through the left hand span of the island to my left over my free baits. This made me feel sure that although I was off the wind completely a fish would get onto my hook baits that night…
As it turned out after very carefully feeding small baits out into the right hand marginal swim that afternoon, the 9 coots really went for it diving on the area. In some ways this can be great as it can stir up bottom debris and attract attentions of carp and could be beneficial at least later on in darkness when they had stopped diving. There was no practical way I could fish that rod with 9 coots diving constantly even though no bait could possibly have been left. Therefore this rig was positioned only about 2 rods out to my right only 2 feet in from the edge right under some sedges in about 2 feet of water. This was until well into dark, when the coots stopped diving finally! I repositioned that rod, retiring to the bivvy for the night.
About 10 pm that right hand margin rod bumbled off and a spirited fight ensued so it took a while to land the fish playing it carefully as it tended to keep on twisting and bumping the line and though it did this behaviour I felt it would not be one of the largest in the lake. But…
It went just a bit under 30 pounds and was a really clean looking fish! The homemades had all scored in their own ways again – and just a few lessons from bait testing on the smaller fish over the past 6 years had paid off again!
No more action on any of the rods occurred as the wind changed around gradually strengthening more and going from my right round to my left, taking probably nearly all the lakes’ inhabitants the other side of the island to me.
The following day I baited up either end of the island to my left plus the span of water leading from it towards my bank. This was really just to pre-condition fish to my hook bait materials and see if anything showed there as I would not be fishing there at least not unless something really attracted to it, as I like to fish unpopular spots if possible where very pressured fish are not so wary about picking of baits…
I rested the swim until about 5 pm then cast out. I cast one rod to my right hand reedy margin. As my middle under the rod tips rod failed to get any liners the previous night I cast my middle rod about 60 meters on the right hand side of the open water span in front of me nearer the reedy point on my right but 2 rod lengths out from there, in about 9 feet of water. My left hand rod was cast the same distance again but to the centre of the span in 9 feet of water in the siltiest area of the expanse. Again no fish from my left hand margin had given any liners of indication of feeding very close in 4 feet out so I opted for deeper water on instinct as that margin had clear water and not cloudy water of the previous session.
Part of my reasons for these rod positions were that as it appeared that these fish were light sensitive and obviously fed at just before first light, and well into dark at this time, then I’d fish aiming for these times and expect the fish to move toward my rods as part of their regular patrols in accordance to changing day and night temperatures and light changes. I also noticed a few fish had showed themselves on the wind which was going away from me left to right hence another reason I cast further out to get into the edge of the more obvious wind lane there. Fishing into the edge of wind lanes is always something I tend to exploit much of the time even if really off the back of the wind, at least using one rod as fish definitely feed more enthusiastically in oxygenated water.
That afternoon some dramatic weather changes occurred from warm and sunny to a seriously strengthening wind cooling very suddenly and then followed immediately by a massive thunderstorm. This cooled the air down to maybe 6 degrees by 5 pm and left the bivvy walls piled up white with hailstones! I must admit this did not exactly make my day following the very promising warming up of the water that afternoon! In fact the wind dropped completely, the sky cleared totally, and air temperature dropped so much that by 1 am a thick frost had developed. So much for warm nights in the middle of May!
I noticed it was 1 am as I had a sudden 3 bleeps on the rod I’d cast about 60 meters out, in the 9 feet deep span of water between a reedy point to my right, and the right hand margin of the island out in front to my right. I had felt that this obviously silty deep spot might be the best place to get a bite on a frosty night, following such a sudden temperature drop. Being a rusty angler the bleeps I got did not result in a hooked fish. I knew I’d over-angled part of this particular rig, but that was a chance I took and if it hadn’t have happened I would not have known exactly how far that angle could work, before being ineffective. Still it was annoying to miss a fish!
But thankfully as the sun peeked through the tops of the trees opposite me at about 5.30 am, the right hand rod cast closer into the right hand reed-lined margin in just 2 and a half feet of water sounded. I had felt when casting that rod out in the frost during the night that the best option was to get very shallow and hope that the fish would move very tight into the edge against these reeds as they warmed the water as the first of the morning sun came up. I obviously knew it would be very sunny since the frost was so hard!
The fish really took off and I knew from the way I was set up that this could be nearer forty than thirty. This fight took a lot of focus and concentration. Upon giving it a little pressure to slow it down and stop it turning to my left and getting around the island, just like the forty from the previous session this fish came straight in kiting this time and then twisting all over the place close in seeking other lines from rods, on which to slip the hook on.
In fact not finding any in front of me as I’d craftily played the fish 2 meters along the bank from my other rods it powered off to the right and it was hair raising turning it just at the last moment as it dived towards the deck heading straight for my lines which although well back-leaded with multiple back leads could have been disturbed and tangled by this crafty fish. The rest of the fight was about fooling the fish into looking for lines close in front of me and not giving any pressure if it took off towards my right!
This fish did a number of pretences at being tired; coming in and rolling near the net, then suddenly powering off at the last second, with very careful consideration being given to the clutch settings and keeping the rod tip very high up to absorb such anticipated sudden powering offs! Anyhow eventually the fish was led beyond the spreader block of the net laying on the bottom of the lake in 3 feet of water, and as it turned to power off again it found itself turning straight into my raised net. This created a frenzy of splashing into the side of the landing net, and a fun way to end the fight!
I let the fish calm down a bit before taking it out of the water enjoying the anticipation of viewing this fish on such a glorious sunny morning!
After feeling its weight and power during the fight, I was initially disappointed seeing the fish in the net missing the width or depth of a forty, which was a big part of my quest this session, but when a carp looks this good, its weight all too irrelevant.
It was an awesome immaculate, shining bronze 38 plus pound mirror with tail and other features so pristine and classically perfect!
Setting goals dynamically creates the opportunities to land fish like this. If success is a goal achieved then I would say that this fish actually topped my forty from the previous session even though not at the target weight. My point is that goals are like boosters to success but the real success is fully enjoying the process – if you think you failed because you didn’t get your target fish and didn’t enjoy the process, then it’s all meaningless and that really is failure!
I lost an old world record in Rainbow Lake at the boat back in 2006. Between 3 and 3.30 am I had it on right at the surface by the boat just snagged up by a small branch a foot and a half underwater. Each time I lifted the fish half into the net, the boat took on water a bit more, and no-one answered my calls for help. But I went there for that specific fish, fishing the swim and spot in the swim with homemade baits all by design, and I really enjoyed and savoured the process. I really didn’t want the attention anyway – I know that envy and jealously from negative characters is something carp fishing can well do without! You tell me what true success is in fishing – not forgetting that much of the time we are not actually catching but are ‘in the process’ and I’d say it’s enjoying the process. Catches are a just the bonus on top!
After all the goal setting I’ve done in the past I know that catches such as this 38 just don’t get any more satisfying. Following the amount of thought I put into the bait for this kind of fish, my fishing strategy and when you are limited to just a couple of very short trips and the window of opportunity to actually fish is just so limited the details really matter. I of all people should know that setting targets, putting pressure on oneself, is a recipe for massive frustrations, stress and making easy mistakes too as with my error in my rig design refinement.
Also as a result of trying for a ‘perfect result’, I did a bit of videoing of the fish but then forgot to change the camera over to ‘auto.’ Alan Welch very kindly helped me with some video stills, but unfortunately my pictures of this fish will never be of high quality.
This really was such a stunning fish! It was a great privilege, and extremely satisfying to catch it on my home-mades, and not on “the most popular bait” on the lake! This is the entire point of my designing and using unique homemade baits as apparently this fish had not come out for a long time!
Lesson learnt – even with the best bait a lake has ever seen, you cannot expect to catch all the time, especially in such short sessions on a totally new water and I was putting far too much pressure on myself! Being a very rusty big fish angler in practice has put a massive amount of personal pressure on me keen to “walk the talk” as it were as a homemade bait guy. But putting into practice for big fish finally what I’ve have been fishing and testing only on small fish for 6 years, using very crude rigs to make my homemade bait concepts ideas, refinements etc genuinely prove themselves, is really exciting stuff!
Being very short on local waters for a “forty quest” my next new day ticket water bait challenge to test my homemade bait concepts ideas and so on to prove a bit more of what’s in my ebooks and 1-1 personal bait tuition intensives, would be aimed at catching a big thirty as fast as possible without pre-baiting, on a short session, from a lake holding a low number of thirties to 37 pounds. Again this would be a totally new lake to me, so I felt a few trepidations but loads of excitement about the baits I was thinking of creating! Would this rusty angler’s unique homemade baits make all the difference and catch a big thirty on the very first visit to a new water – despite the fish spawning?
Yes but that’s all in my “Thirty Quest” next time! The more I get back into actual big carp fishing (after a 6 year break,) I just need to remember there’s no pressure – just enjoy the ‘process’ and the big fish will keep on coming! Just based on the results on the baits thus far I know for sure that with refined fishing practice, bigger fish banked really are a foregone conclusion when baits are designed to by-pass or especially exploit the conditioned defensive mechanisms and sensitivities of fish!
By Tim Richardson.
Information on bait secrets ebooks and totally unique 1-1 tuition at: www.baitbigfish.com
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