After catching the linear I seemed to be on a bit of a roll. It was only two months into the campaign yet I had already banked two of my target fish. I had been fishing every spare moment I could since the start of the season, so to make sure I was still as keen for the autumn I decided a little break would be good. I set aside August to spend a bit of time with my girlfriend and enjoy the summer sun.
With a couple of weeks off work I had a few days spare early on so I decided to try my hand at catching my first barbel. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do but never set aside the time. Armed with a test batch of the Chilli Hemp oil and a few tins of good old luncheon meat I made my way down to a local stretch of the Hampshire Avon.
The way of fishing would be the old classic method of rolling meat. It’s a cross between touch ledgering and free lining and is as simple as casting a big cube of meat out, then letting the current bounce it down river between the streamer weed until hopefully a barbel grabs it as it passes. To give my baits the extra pulling power I wanted I simply cubed some meat up into a freezer bag before pouring in the Chilli Hemp Oil and giving a good shake to coat the baits.
Anyone that’s tried this style of fishing will understand when I say it takes a bit of mastering and I must confess I spent a lot of the first day feeling like I was wasting my time. It seemed like most of the time I was either stuck in weed or striking into thin air. With only an hour or so left of the day I was a little taken back when I felt a sharp jerk on the line and a wild strike was met with a solid resistance! A short scrap later and I was slipping the net under my first barbel. I really was blown away and weighing in at a decent 9lb 15oz I couldn’t of asked for more. The following day I had to have another go, the same tactics as before with a fresh batch of the Chilli Hemp Oil coated meat. It was pretty much a carbon copy of the day before with most of it spent feeling like I was wasting my time until the final hour when I managed to land a small fish of 3lb 14oz and then a beautiful fish of 12lb 4oz.
I’m quite sure I have a long way to go to master the art of rolling so you’ve got to give credit to the pulling power the Chilli Hemp Oil.
September soon came around and it was time to get the autumn campaign underway. I arrived at the lake to find that it had changed a lot in my absence. The summer sun had brought the weed up and it was beginning to shift. The area I had been fishing was now completely different with huge floating rafts covering it, with channels and holes in between. Because of this it did mean that all the anglers were now concentrating on the main lake and the area was empty. It was a hot day and as I stood there it didn’t take long to notice that the spot id been fishing a month ago was clouding up and the fish were obviously still using the area.
There was no way of fishing it as I had done because of the multiple weed beds between it and the bank but I couldn’t ignore the fish. Confident that the sheer amount of weed in the area would hold the fish I waited for the fish to disperse and then set about clearing a channel in the weed.
With the aid of a spod rod and a 4 pronged sea lead I spent the next 5 hours, slowly dragging weed bed after weed bed in until I had enough of a channel to land a hooked fish. With confidence high I set the kit up and readied myself for the night. I loaded the spot up with around 3kilos of chopped and whole XXX plus a decent helping of a mix of Elips and Shrimp pellets bound together with Krill Amino Compound. After such a tiring afternoon I was glad to get my head down for some much needed rest. I can’t say I was surprised when early the next morning the alarm was signalling a take. After coaxing him through the weed I was soon looking down into another net full of carp. A cracking great 37lb carp at that and what a way to be welcomed back. I followed up the next morning with another 25lb mirror before the end of the session.
For the next trip the conditions were completely different. Strong winds and overcast weather meant that the majority of the fish were now holding in the middle area of the lake. Because extreme range is often called for to get anywhere near them it makes sense to get on the back of the wind to gain those extra few yards. With my old 3.25tc century ncs rods I was always going to struggle and had to settle for a fairly respectable 130yds. Sticking with the XXX and pellet approach I got all three rods out at the same range, as close as I could, and then baited heavily over the top. Sometimes when your luck is in, it’s just in, and the next morning a blinding take saw a beautiful 39lb half linear grace the net.
I then hit a bit of a tough spell, with the tackle I had, I was finding the long range fishing a real problem. Anything but perfect conditions in my favour and I was really struggling to get anywhere near where I wanted to be. The old century’s were lovely for close to medium range fishing but after blowing one up on the cast I was forced to bite the bullet and find the money for some new rods.
Now equipped with some 13ft no test curve war sticks I was ready to rock! Or so I thought. It wasn’t quite that simple, but with a bit of help from a mate, and practice of course I started hitting where I wanted to be 130yds became easy and 150 was do-able. Most of the fish were using an area, long, in front of the South bank but as a result it was the place everyone was heading for. You could guarantee if you turned up and there was someone on it would be occupied. The next chance I got at a fish was a few weeks into October; I had turned up to find the fancied area taken. I figured that if I could fish far enough out off the west bank then I could get close enough to where the fish were holding anyway. After a few casts with a bare lead I found a nice smooth area of silt next to a weed bed at about 150yds range. That range was just out of my reach with the spod with no wind assistance so it would be single Northern Specials for now. I needn’t have worried as a nice little 24 common managed to search the hook bait out the next morning.
With the aid of the wind the following evening I managed to get a small amount of the XXX and pellet mix out to the spot and I was again quietly confident. Funnily enough the same time the following morning the same rod was away with another 24 pounder, just this time a mirror. I had probably been a bit unlucky with the sizes for October but the main thing was id located a spot they were using.
For different reasons I struggled for the rest of the month but with the fish still active I was sure I would get another chance at them. It was the first weekend in November and I managed to get into the swim that I had caught the two from in October. A big low pressure had just been in and everything was perfect for one of the big ones to come out. I was literally rubbing my hands together until it dawned on me which weekend it was. Despite the excellent conditions I knew from experience that fireworks weekend was not a good time to be fishing in the area.
It’s quite rural with some big houses surrounding that like to put on some serious fireworks displays. As a result it’s like being in a warzone on the Friday and Saturday nights and I had never caught that weekend before. With confidence pretty battered I fished on with the “you never know” attitude. I put two rods on the 150yd banker spot and then baited with a decent hit of the XXX and pellet mix. The third rod was cast as a single as far towards the centre of the lake as possible. I wasn’t too surprised that the next couple of nights passed without event however enjoying multiple displays was quite a sight in itself.
A bit disheartened I was unsure weather to even stay on and do my last night but decided that as the displays would have all been done, this could be an opportunity. With the spot still loaded form the three previous nights I was happy enough that the bait was still out there untouched and wanted to keep disturbance down to a minimum. Just after dark one of the rods pulled up before falling slack, indicating a dreaded bream. As annoying as it was, I figured I’d be better off resting the rod against the bivy than trying to recast in the dark.
Feeling a tad pissed off I got my head down for the final night. I was woken in the early hours by the alarm once again dropping back. Cursing as I went to the rod I was sure I knew full well what was on the end and felt that that was my chance well and truly blown. I picked the rod up to find it completely solid. “Great” I thought. Not only was I lucky enough to be attached to a bream but a bream stuck in the weed. I put the rod down and fired up the kettle hoping that it may wriggle itself free. After an hour or so it still hadn’t so I had to come up with a plan b.
Fortunately the bank to the right is quite baron so I walked the rod 100 or so yards along it, hoping that I might be able to get the other side of the weed bed and pull the snotty lithe s”#t out . It worked a treat and before long I could feel a nodding on the end. I made my way back to the swim and cranked the mass of weed and bream back to the bank. I was quite surprised to see a lot less weed than I had imagined, but the penny still hadn’t dropped. I chucked the rod on the floor and grabbed hold of the leader and pulled it towards the bank. As I parted the weed I flicked the head torch on and was met with the most enormous pale, whale like carp I had ever seen! Fortunately the net was to hand so without drama I managed to get the beast safely in before he realised what was going on. As we hoisted the creature out onto the mate it was clear this was a very good fish. Upon opening the net and getting a good look at him there was no mistaking the mighty single scale. The feeling was like being stood in a wind tunnel as it suddenly hit me that I was looking down on the ultimate prize! Weighing in at a colossal 57lb on the nose it really was the dream ending to a great year’s campaign.
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