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The little things, 2012 highlights

The little things, 2012 highlights

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Well 2012 passed with the blink of an eye and as per normal I have looked back on the year and analysed my season.

Obviously there are things I wish I had done differently but there is also a lot of things that I have done that I am more than happy with and that were definitely the right thing to do given the situation.

It’s a well-known fact even ringing the smallest changes in your approach will raise your percentages slightly and without a doubt they all add up – and carp angling is certainly a percentages game as I am sure many will agree!

So what have I changed? In the big scheme of things not a lot to be honest but if you put all the things together it certainly ups your chances.

I have paid a lot more attention to the sharpness of my hooks, I cringe at the idea now of just taking one out of the pack, tying up a rig and casting it out. Back in my youth I shamefully admit that I would quite often use the same rig for weeks on end banking loads of doubles – I can’t help but think that if I had applied as much care to my hook points as I do now then maybe I would have had a much fuller album of me covered in acne holding up some very special fish.

Another thing which I have made a lot more effort with is my time on the bank, in years gone by I have been guilty of just turning up at a water, finding somewhere that “looks good for it” and chucking the rods out. However these days I have found myself doing several laps of a 40 acre pit and quite often going home if I haven’t seen a show or something to go on, I’m sure some of you will be saying “well, you can’t catch them at home” and I agree completely but if I am not confident and happy why bother being there, I have found that the more confident I am the better I have angled and spent my time on the bank – I’ll be up before dawn watching and listening for something to give the game away and will stay up well into the early hours in case I hear something roll out into the darkness, it’s amazing how much a show can boost morale especially in the depths of winter which is actually probably my favourite time of the year to be on the bank.

The following words charter a few of my favourite sessions of 2012, it’s not full of big fish but on the water I was fishing at the time where plenty of the members had done 20 nights without a fish I seemed to get something right pretty much from the off.

I began my year on a water just up the road from home in February and after a slow start due to the water temperature my results began to pick up as the weeks wore on and I was fortunate to land some very nice fish as well as making some lifelong friends – however, once the warmer weather arrived I began to enjoy myself less and less.

The lakes were stitched up week in and week out and before long I just ended up “camping” wherever I could fit in, this I couldn’t handle.

After exploring my options I decided to visit an old haunt for a few sessions, it was on one of these sessions that I decided to have a walk round the Pit next door.

I had just made my way halfway up the far bank when a good common crashed clear out of the water about 60 yards out, I froze on the spot with my eyes fixed to the water and a mere 10 seconds later the fish repeated itself – it was easily 35lbs +, my heart was pounding and all I could think about was phoning the bloke who I was meant to be meeting to sell some rods to and telling him I had chopped my legs off in a freak lawn mower accident and couldn’t drive, but I needed the money so decided against it and carried on walking.

I had gone about 100 yards up the bank and a dark shape in the water caught my eye, it was cruising in the near margin so I followed it as quietly as I could and eventually I found it resting under an overhanging tree.

It was a big mirror, very wide and had massive shoulders – I couldn’t take anymore so after a few minutes admiring the beast I crept away back to the van and headed for home.

Once home I told the wife about what I saw and she told me that I should have a go for a night next weekend, her words were “you’ve got the rest of your life to chase myths!” I agreed and with a week off work booked I planned to get down there the following weekend, which I did and banked a cracking little mirror on my first night before heading off to do some social fishing with my best mate Pete in the Ouse Valley and few days later down in Oxford, we caught well and had a giggle but the whole time I was away all I could think about was getting back down to the Big Pit.

My first week at back at work following my holiday couldn’t have gone any worse and by Friday afternoon I was ready to throw my computer out of the window, thankfully the clock struck 5pm and saved me the hassle!

After a quick change in the toilets I was soon on my way out of the door with colleagues shouting “Go and calm down, good luck!”

The journey down to the pit was surprisingly quick and before I knew it I was pulling off the main road and heading down the bumpy track and at that moment my anger had been forgotten and calmness had descended once again.

A few minutes later I was driving through the gate and towards the top of the pit where I was hoping would be quiet, but I needn’t have worried as there were only 2 other anglers on the lake with the nearest one being about 400 yards away!

After a quick walk up the bank I went over and stood in the swim I had fished since I began on the pit 2 sessions ago, I rolled a smoke and sat down on the bank with my eyes fixed to the island margin and after a few minutes I noticed some serious fizzing begin – something was seriously having a go!

Before going and getting the kit I noted a huge raft of floating weed between me and the island which would have made getting a decent line lay all but impossible, “that will have to be dealt with first” I thought!

With the kit fetched from the van I set about clearing the swim by tying a 3oz lead to the end of my mainline and flicking it just past the raft and after about an hour or so of “flicking” I soon had a swim clear of weed and a huge pile of green stuff sitting next to me.

I was pretty confident whatever was causing the fizzing in the island margin had spooked due to all of the commotion so this meant I could have a few casts and get my rig placement spot on.

So 3 naked chod’s were cast the short distance towards the island, hitting the clip and each time I would take a few inches off the spool until I was completely satisfied with the placement and with the lead brushing the overhang and bumping down the marginal shelf I was happy.

I was just putting the last rod on the buzzer when an old friend “Chris” and one of the bailiffs turned up for a walk round the pit, it transpired that Chris was joining the water as soon as he got back from France in September .

The lads didn’t stay long as the mozzies were out in force and after being blood donors several times each they went and found sanctuary in their cars and headed for home.

With the swim now quiet I sat on the bed chair, rolled a smoke and put the kettle on to soak in the atmosphere and other than the odd bite by my new blood sucking friends the atmosphere really was electric.

I decided to do a bit of filming whilst there was still enough light and just as the light faded a few drops of rain fell from the sky, naturally I began doing a rain dance behind the Titan hoping the heaven’s would open and cool me down a bit but unfortunately it never did, it was so bloody humid!

By 10pm it had cooled down enough for me to fire up the coleman and cook some grub up, I was starving but hate eating when I feel like I am the one being cooked and after devouring a pack of risotto I went and sat by the rods for half an hour to see if I could hear anything show in front of me. I was pretty certain that I heard a good fish show on the island margin but obviously couldn’t be sure, nevertheless it was a good enough sign for me, so I got in the bag confident that I had done enough and it was now out of my hands.

I slept uninterrupted until about 3 am when the copious amounts of coffee from earlier in the evening took its toll and I had to get up and answer the call of nature.

The lake was still, with not a breath of wind in the air so I sat on the bedchair and had a smoke savouring the peace and quiet but after half an hour my eye lids began to fall so I got back into the bag before I fell off the bedchair.

I was awake again just after 5am due to several mozzies taking a liking to my hand, once half-awake I looked down to see my thumb and index finger  twice the size than they were the night before, I declared war there and then!

My discomfort wasn’t helped by looking out over the lake and seeing 3 swans, each one of them with its head down and arse up in the air feeding directly on top of my carefully placed baits, great!

After several cups of the good stuff I was soon back in the land of the living so took the opportunity to do a bit more filming and give a few updates, the sun was getting higher in the sky and the forecasted roasting temperatures were beginning to make an appearance.

I had planned on being packed up by 10am as I just can’t stand heat; I really suffer so as the minutes went by my confidence began to go with it.

I was sat on the bedchair around 09:30am debating if I should call it a day when my left hand rod fished literally an inch off an overhanging bush pulled up tight – I was on it before it had a chance to take any line.

At first I thought I was attached to a small fish as I pretty much brought it to the surface straight away, however then it woke up and blasted into a floating weed bed to my right about 15 yards out, I applied as much pressure as I dared and slowly but surely I brought a huge mass of weed across the surface and into the net.

I began peeling back the weed and throwing it behind me like a mad man,at this point I had no idea if the fish was still attached, but after a few seconds rummaging I came across a bar of gold sitting in the bottom of my net – I was chuffed to bits!

I rested the net in the margins whilst I got the weigh sling and camera sorted for a few quick self takes and a few seconds of footage, once sorted I brought the fish to shore and rested it on the mat.

I automatically put my hand down by the fishes head to remove the hook but couldn’t find it; instead it was well and truly caught up in my net! I couldn’t believe it, I had literally brought the fish along with a tonne of weed to the bank and the hook had fallen out in the net, my name was definitely on that one!

I checked the fish over and couldn’t find a mark on it anywhere, its mouth and body were immaculate, I couldn’t even find my hook mark, she had behaved like a lady on the bank so not wanting to cause her any more distress I rattled off a few quick self takes, 10 seconds of video then returned her to the magical water of which she came…. christening her the “Miracle Common” as she glided off.

I sat down on the bedchair to savour the moment before sending out a few texts and tweets then began a slow pack up, I was very hesitant on getting the last rod in; stopping for a smoke and a drink before I did so but eventually I gave in and headed for home with a big grin on my face.

I spent the next few weeks having socials and flitting about a bit, I don’t get the chance to do much social fishing much preferring my own company (I’ve always been a bit of a loner!) however I really enjoyed this and caught a few fish too, certainly nothing to shout about but it just made the socials that little bit more special with old friends as well as some new ones.

After another terrible week at work I was keen to forget about the 9-5, get down the pit and have some “me” time.

I must have been driving like a man possessed as I made the journey in record time and was soon pulling into the fishery gates.

My frown soon turned to a smile as I saw the swim that I had been successful in and had primed for weeks was vacant and as an added bonus the wind was hacking through a channel right on top of my spots.

I couldn’t load the barrow quick enough but after what seemed like an eternity [but was probably only a few minutes] I was standing in the swim and feeling confident.

I went and sat down by the margin, rolled a smoke and watched the water for a few minutes, during a break in the wind I could just about make out some coloured water and some fizzing tight to the overhanging bush which I had landed the miracle common from the previous session, that was enough for me to go on!

I quickly put a rod together but instead of my usual naked chod I opted for a solid bag presentation with a XXX dumbbell on the hair and filled the bag with snails, active feast and pellet, I was hoping this would keep them grubbing about a bit longer.

I didn’t bother casting to the spot and clipping up, I knew the spot well and fancied my chances so the solid bag was cast straight out and just brushed the branches as it hit the water, bang on the money!

The other two rods were fished on naked chods baited with XXX corkballs and cast out to their normal spots at the bottom of the marginal shelf tight to the Island.

With the rods sorted I put the kettle on for a well-earned brew as I felt I had done all I could and would just have to wait for the outcome, I also decided not to introduce any bait over the chods until it got dark in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the last session when the swans noted me baiting up and became a nuisance throughout the duration of my stay.

I sat on the bedchair watching the water for an hour or so when eventually the light faded enough for me to safely bait up so I introduced a couple of kg of XXX over the two chod rods using the catty.

The mozzies were turning into a complete nightmare, more than usual and whilst sat listening to the radio at about 11pm I felt a sudden surge of pain in my lip so punched myself in the face as you do to try and stop whatever was the culprit, however all I was left with was a swollen face and resembled Shrek.

I sat up until about 1am listening for anything that might be moving in front of me, but other than a few maybes the swim seemed quiet so I eventually gave in to my heavy lids and climbed into the sleeping bag for some shut eye, pulling the bag over my head in the process to try and stave off my blood sucking friends.

The next thing I remember is being rudely awoken by “BANG BANG BANG, WOOF WOOF!!” I opened my eyes in the half-light to see a flock of geese looking cagey and on edge, pleased the world wasn’t ending I fired up the coleman for a brew and whilst taking the first sip I remembered it was Sept 1st and start of the Duck/Goose shooting season. Normally I would have been out there with them but with no land permissions at present my shotgun is firmly locked up in the cabinet.

The morning past quickly whilst I chain drank coffee, but bite time came and went and so did my chance as the sun climbed higher in the sky and the temperature rose.

I had to be off by late morning as I had promised the wife I would be home, everything was packed away with just the rods left on the floor but eventually I gave in, chucked the rods on the barrow and made my way back to the van about two hours later than planned, I knew she would understand!

I headed for home dreading the following week at work but knew once it was all over I would be returning the following Saturday for some more therapy and a good social with Pete who I managed to arrange a guest ticket for.

As expected the week was dragging, on Tuesday evening I gave Pete a call to see if he fancied a walk round the Pit to do some marker work and a bit of a reconnaissance which he quickly agreed to.

My van was off the road on the Wednesday having some paint work done so Pete came and picked me up then we shot straight down the Pit (via the chip shop!).

Once down there we began our walk round in a lucky anti clockwise fashion, we had only walked about 200 yards when I saw a fish show out the corner of my eye in the “Sticks”, we stopped and watched the water only for it to roll again 10 yards further up the Island margin.

So out came the marker rod, I wanted to see what it was showing over and it soon became apparent that it was a silty channel 8ft in depth before becoming much shallower and onto a plateau which was then only 3.5 feet pretty much all the way back to bank.

After that we carried on round the lake having a chuck with the marker anywhere that looked the slightest bit carpy whilst talking excitedly about the weekend, that chat continued all the way home and in the pub over several beers which I felt slightly worse the wear for the following morning!

The next couple of days were spent aimlessly staring out of the office window praying for my freedom and eventually it came in the form of 5pm Friday afternoon.

I shot home to prepare the gear for the following morning and then spent the rest of the evening wearing a trench in the living room carpet whilst pacing up and down waiting for bedtime!

I was awake early so put the camera gear in the van and had a quick coffee before giving the kids and wife a cuddle and telling them I would see them soon, with my eldest shouting “catch one bigger than me daddy as I walked out of the door”.

I quite enjoyed the drive down the lake, the music was blaring out whilst I tackled the quiet country roads and before I knew it I was in paradise.

I parked the van up, grabbed a bucket and quickly walked round the lake to where the fish had showed a few days previously, once in the swim I sat on the bucket and rolled a smoke to see if anything occurred.

I had only been sat there 20 minutes when I noticed some fizzing bang on the spot I had seen the fish show on my reconnaissance mission so I jumped off the bucket and ran back to the van to get the rest of the kit.

The weather forecast had told me it was going to be a scorcher and for once they had got it spot on, it was getting hotter by the minute.

My head was telling me to cast out but my heart was telling me to rest the swim, naturally I went with my heart as my head usually has a tumble weed rolling around in it.

I set up the Titan to provide a bit of shade, laid out the bedchair and then fired up the coleman for a brew whilst I had a think about what to do.

I decided to bait up lightly around the Island margin and also another spot close in which I found, then rest the swim for the day, only casting out once Pete had arrived so with that took my time setting up the rods.

The left hand rod would be fished 20 yards out in a solid bag of Live System Pellet and a matching 15mm hookbait, the other two rods were going to be fished in the channel close to the Island on naked chods baited with Live System Corkballs.

Once the rods were set up I found the spots with a bare lead then clipped up, removed the lead and attached a mini spomb to introduce a small amount of bait, once I had finished it was just a case of clipping the lead and rig on and propping them up against the Titan for the rest of the day whilst I gathered my thoughts.

The afternoon passed quite quickly and at about 4pm I took a stroll round the lake and chatted to the few anglers that were fishing, all of them sharing the same story of no luck and a few of them no luck this season. I really felt for them and hoped that their run of bad luck ended soon.

It was soon 5:30pm and my phone ringing told me that Pete had arrived so I made the walk down to the gate to let him in, he looked like a kid at Christmas and very excited to be coming back to his old haunt.

I left him to load his barrow and made my way back to the swim to finally get my rods sorted for the night which took all of 5 minutes and in fact I had already made a brew and had one waiting for Pete when he barrowed past my swim looking like he was going to collapse, so naturally he was more than grateful for the waiting beverage.

It took Pete an hour or so to get sorted next door but once he got the rods out he walked into my swim carrying a 4 pack of warm beer, but it was the thought that counted I suppose!

We spent the next few hours sat in my swim talking about next season and what we expected or more likely hoped would happen but was soon brought back to the here and the now when a good fish rolled over my right hand rod, Pete simply said “how big do you reckon it will be then?” I just said “No idea mate, we’ll find out at dawn I guess!” before we both burst out laughing.

I was having a great social and it was exactly what I needed after a few terrible weeks in my non angling life but I’m not one to moan so I will leave it there (those that know me are now laughing rather loudly and calling me a lying ba$%ard!).

After we had slowly drank our small amount of beer rations we decided to call it a night, so Pete returned next door and I sat on the bedchair for one last smoke and coffee then set my alarm for 3am so I could listen for a little while then got into the bag and soon drifted off.

The next thing I recall is the alarm on my phone going off at a deafening level so quickly turned it off, answered the call of nature, popped the kettle on and rolled a smoke.

There was a heavy mist all around the lake and an eerie quietness all around me, I was sat there for a good half an hour when I eventually heard a fish roll somewhere out in front of me, I couldn’t be sure exactly where but it sounded very close to my right hand rod.

I had another smoke and sat there a little longer to see if I could hear it again but nothing materialised so I climbed back in the bag at about 4am and fortunately returned to my dream where I left off but that isn’t suitable on here!

I was awake again at 6am, so did the normal ritual of rolling a smoke and putting the kettle on, there was a heavy mist all around me and I could barely see a few feet in front of my face but there was very carpy atmosphere, it was electric!

I was just lighting the coleman  to have a brew and savour the scene when I heard a few bleeps come from my right hand Neville, I turned around just in time to see the tip wrap round so lifted into the fish instantly before it even had a chance to take any line.

The fish must have been just as shocked as I was to the action as other than a hairy moment in a weed bed I pretty much led the culprit to the waiting net like a dog on a lead and was half expecting a red eyed monster to be the culprit, so was made up to see the scale pattern of an immaculate common glistening in the early morning sunlight.

I secured the fish in the edge then went and woke Pete to do the honours with the camera, fortunately the mist cleared enough for us to get some good pictures which as per normal Pete did superbly, then we slipped her back to her watery home safely to fight another day.

I was absolutely made up but bloody thirsty so had the first brew of the day and it was good! After caffeinating myself I got the rod back out onto the spot hoping for another and spent the next few hours hovering over the rods but unfortunately the Nevilles remained silent for the rest of the session.

We reluctantly packed up late morning before the sun got too hot and I am glad we did as I was dripping from head to foot during the barrow journey back to the van!

So with that we loaded the vans and bid each other farewell and headed for home, more than happy with the immaculate common of which I had been aquatinted with.

My run of form on the Pit continued and I banked several more nice fish before eventually overdue family commitments got in the way and I lost touch with the venue and plans to join the following year had to be put on the back burner.

I couldn’t help but take note of a few special fish which I had been made aware of and plans were put in place to pursue these early the following year.

I spent early winter with itchy feet and spread my time about on a few waters, not really settling anywhere – my head just wasn’t in it and I knew that I would be fishing elsewhere soon but if I am honest  with myself my head was already there.

Sadly at the beginning of December I had to rush my wife to hospital after she suffered a miscarriage – we were in and out of hospital for over a week, the days seem to last forever and almost blended into one. It was particularly upsetting as we’d been so looking forward to the 12 week scan which was due on the 10th [my birthday] but unfortunately we lost the baby at 11wks.

After we had begun to get over our unfortunate news the floods that engulfed the country took hold of my syndicate waters once again, even getting near them was impossible. Although to be honest my head was, and still is ,all over the place so I threw myself into work, then later on in the month giving the family the best Christmas I could after being given some good fortune at work.

With Christmas out of the way and spending New Year’s Eve in Durham as well as New Year’s Day in the Lake District I started to get the urge to get the rods out once again and hopefully kick off the New Year in style.

Unfortunately the planned session on a big fish day ticket water proved to be unfruitful, I hadn’t visited the venue in over 3 years so just flinging the rods out for 24 hours, kicking back and gathering my thoughts and as I pushed the barrow through the bog caused by the recent floods I couldn’t help but think on another day I probably would have faired a lot better but to be honest I just needed to get out and I am sure it helped in one way or another.

So, what are my plans for the rest of the year?  Well I have kept my ear firmly to the grape vine and have found somewhere special an hour away from home; it’s a small water with a very low stock with literally only a handful of fish. The downside is it’s a day’s only rule but the rewards are there to say the least.

It’s common knowledge that I like to have a few waters to go at, and with both of my current tickets expiring in the next few months I need to find somewhere to complement the little low stock pit when the days only rule begins to take a toll on my body, I have got my eye on a few places at the minute but don’t want to say any more than that for now.

So I shall be flitting about on my current waters until the end of the February then it’s full steam ahead on the little low stock pit in search of something very special.

Until next time be safe and cherish what you have,

Smithy


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