Former British Carp Champion for both pairs and singles, Kev Grout, returns to the Fox website for the 3rd entry to his blog series...
After a relatively successful May I was hoping that my good fortune was to continue into the summer months, and within reason it did. However with my syndicate lake closed for two weeks due to spawning fish it was looking like it could be a challenging month ahead. I had to try and find another temporary water to focus on until the fish had stopped spawning. To be honest I was gutted about the lake being closed as I had 6 nights booked in, however, I thought I would take advantage of the situation and revisit a fishery close to my home where I have caught some stunning fish in previous years.
The lake I decided to revisit is a lovely low stocked Norfolk gravel pit. When I previously fished the lake the largest fish were around 29lb, but since then the fish have been packing on the weight with the lake record now standing at just over 40lb. Knowing a little about the lake from my previous experiences I had a good idea about the tactics I could use to get some results. I also remember that all my bites came very quickly after casting, so active fishing was key to my previous success. To be honest for a lake of its type the fish are relatively easy to catch mainly because the angling pressure is low on most days. However, there is one tricky little element to deal with, in the form of crayfish.
Although I always had productive sessions on this particular lake, the crayfish were a big problem for me to the extent of tangling my rigs and removing the hardest hook baits. Thankfully the fishery manager has been actively trapping the crayfish for a number of years now so the population is lower, but I still felt like I needed to be a bit clever with my rigs if I was to be fishing effectively throughout the sessions. With the lakebed being very clear with little weed to deal with, I previously caught all my fish using critically balanced hookbaits fished on my standard fluorocarbon Hair rig. However, the Hair element of the rig was getting completely tangled and pulled about by the crayfish which ruined the presentation on occasions. So to try and prevent this I decided to try a rig that is new to me, the fluorocarbon D rig. The beauty of this rig is that it’s ideal for fishing with balanced baits, the presentation is excellent due to the invisible fluorocarbon material and anti tangle properties, but the most important benefit is that the rig resets its self if anything lifts or moves it. Another nice thing about the fluorocarbon D rig is that it only consists of 3 different components, and it’s very simple and quick to tie. Over a 4 week period I fished the lake for 5 nights and to be honest I caught some lovely carp, but unfortunately none of the bigger fish made an appearance. On the positive side the fluorocarbon D rig worked extremely well preventing the crayfish from ruining my presentation, and it did lead to one significant result, a new P.B. for my fiancée Natalie in the form of a stunning 22lb 10oz common. Well Done Natalie, top angling! One other major benefit I noticed about using the rig is that the hook hold I achieved was perfect every time. I did not lose one fish over the 5 night period, and I strongly believe this was down to the rig choice. I will most definitely have the Fluorocarbon D rig in my armoury from now on.
Return to West Stow
Finally after a 3 week wait my syndicate was reopened and I managed to get back down to see if I could repeat my previous success and capture another one of those tricky West Stow carp. After having 3 in a morning during my last session I was full of confidence when I arrived, but I needed to remember that captures like that are relatively rare on Stow, so I was trying not to get too expectant of some quick action again. With the weather conditions being very similar I decided that I would aim to fish in the same island swim focusing my efforts on the previously productive area. To my delight the swim was unoccupied and I quickly set up my gear and positioned my rods. One of the problems I had during this session is that I only had until 10am in the morning before I had to go to work. With all my captures so far coming during daylight hours I knew I had to maximise the afternoon time to increase my chances of a result.
Although I caught all my previous fish on my standard pop up rig, I decided that after my success on the previous venue I had to give the Fluorocarbon D rig a try. To be honest I am not one for changing tactics once I’ve started to catch fish, but knowing that this type of rig is excellent for targeting big wary fish, I just had to give it a go. I also decided to use a larger, duller hook bait by replacing the 10mm PB pop up for a 14mm S7 wafter. Although I am not overly keen on fishing with boilies, normally preferring the particle approach, I am very aware that all the big fish in this lake get caught on boilie tactics, so I felt I had to try and adapt my approach in order to target the larger fish.To my surprise I did not have to wait long before my middle rod was away and I was battling a hard fighting West Stow carp. Although no bigger than the fish I have previously caught on my favourite pop up tactics weighing in at 22lb, it was a very exciting capture for me because I really felt like I had some consistency going, so hopefully the bigger fish were soon to follow.
Also the fact that I got a bite so quickly on a boilie tactic was very significant because I have recently started to bait the lake quiet heavily with my Favourite DNA bait, Secret 7. As I caught the fish on a S7 wafter it was safe for me to assume that the fish had started to respond to the bait, which could be critical to my success later in the season. Although no more action happened this session I could not have been happier, and with the next session planned in for only a few days time I was itching to get back down there. So on my return 4 days later the weather had changed dramatically with consistent rain and noticeably lower temperatures. As a result of the change in conditions the fish seemed to be more active in the open water away from the islands. So I decided to set up in a swim that allowed me to fish a small section of the island, but more importantly a good chunk of the active open water. Thankfully this is also an area that I had been baiting so I felt extremely confident using S7 wafters as my chosen hook bait presented on the fluorocarbon D rig. Although night time brought little action, I woke up at 4am to fish showing and fizzing around 40 yards passed where I was fishing. As the area I was currently focusing on looked redundant of fish I made the decision to recast my rods onto the active area with the hope of not disturbing the feeding fish. After re-positioning my rods I laid on my bed chair watching fish crash all over my rods, and to my joy it wasn’t long before I was in again. Although only another low 20lb common it was another fish on the boilie approach which was a massive result.
Not surprisingly the fish went quiet after that capture and I had to wait until the late afternoon before I had feeding fish to target again. The wonderful thing about West Stow is the fish love the marginal areas of the lake, so it was not a surprise to find a small number of actively feeding fish just under a small bush to the right of my swim. After managing to position a rig right underneath the overhang without disturbing the fish I felt relatively confident that I could pinch another bite before I left. The rod had been positioned for around 30 minutes when I received 4 sudden big liners on the rod, to be honest at this point I was not convinced the rig was presented well and the fish were detecting its presence, when suddenly the rod tip screamed round and I was into my second fish of the day.
Although only another low 20lb mirror, this capture really was a surprise as it was the first time I had attempted to catch a fish from the margin on West Stow. I could not have been happier, another brilliant result that will hopefully lead to more captures during the summer months.
So that’s it from me this month, I look forward to reporting back to you on how my continued efforts go on my syndicate lake, plus the week long session I have planned at Linear fisheries which includes no less than my BCAC semi-final on B1.Until then tight lines for you all.