is on a quest for a big carp – will he catch one for the camera?
Fish are feeding up ready for winter so take advantage now
THERE was fire in the sky as the sun set the horizon alight in vivid shades of orange and red.
The pit lay calm and still until a broad head with tints of purple to its gill covers broke surface.
The breaching carp hung in the air just long enough for me to glimpse a chalky smear down its flank, evidence of last night’s feeding activities. Then she was gone, leaving a perfect circle of furled water.
The autumn feeding orgy enjoyed by fish and small mammals alike, when sloe berries are rich and plump and fungi appear like magic every morning, was on. This is a special time, and one no angler wants to miss – my only problem was which species to target.
A few weeks on and carp will become uncatchable, or at the very least require an investment in time that I’m not prepared to make. Fishing is all about grabbing windows of opportunity, and currently the carp have left theirs wide open!
This is why I had left home at an ungodly hour. I knew just where to fish, as the carp I had just witnessed told me everything I needed. The barrow was packed and I was on my way.
Deep water lay before me, with no features showing within casting range, so instead I looked for a change in the composition of the
lakebed. At around 95 yards the ground became broken, with patches of gravel between heavy silkweed. The normal option would have been to fish the clear areas, but I’m a great fan of silkweed, regardless of how thick it is. The stuff is packed with snails and mussels, but anglers tend to avoid it.
Unlike Canadian pond weed, it doesn’t grow upwards, but in billows across the bottom, and it can eat hookbaits if you use the wrong terminal rig.
The chod rig, however, overcomes this and I am able to present a popup on top of it, so it was no surprise that I chose this rig for both rods. Generally leadcore plays a part too, but I’m not a great fan of it in this situation. During my underwater photography sessions I have been shocked how conspicuous it is, even when you think you have matched the colour to the lakebed.
For me the naked chod is far more subtle than what looks like a popup sitting over a length of string!
There are still issues to overcome, though. Unless I’m using 20lb mainline or heavier I won’t fish the uni-link swivel element of the chod directly on to it, for fear of a breakage due to abrasion during the fight. Naked chod line protectors are sold commercially but I think they are too obtrusive and don’t work 100 per cent of the
time. For these reasons I won’t risk using them.
I reckon it’s far better to connect a tapered leader to the mainline via a Mahin knot.
It runs all the way up from 15lb to 40lb breaking strain – now, if I hook a fish, there is no way the heaviest part will break.
Fish welfare is of paramount importance to me, and is reflected in how I construct the rig. First, a narrow float stop sets the distance at which the chod will fish – generally 6ft. Next on goes a soft, wide bore E-S-P bead that, if pushed with any force, will slide over the stop, allowing safe travel for the chod itself, which is the next component to be slipped on.
The bead will not override the stop during the cast, however.
E-S-P ready-tied chods are so good that I don’t need to do any work. I prefer the short versions.
Another soft bead and a stop are threaded on, enabling me to swap rigs without cutting the leader. At the 40lb end of this I tie a loop, which is connected to a large swivel. This can be easily undone, allowing me to remove the chod before slipping another one on.
The lead sits on a 6ins link off the other end of the swivel. On most chod rigs the lead hangs very close to the hook when a carp is being played, but I have lost too many fish like this. By creating a longer link, the lead is kept out out of harm’s way during the battle. Confidence plays a massive part in fishing, and with this rig I made my casts over the silkweed without a qualm.
Two Sticky Krill pop-ups sat proud of the dense green weed while my leader merged into the background. A semi-slack mainline ensured there was no taut mono to spook the carp and now, satisfied with my traps, I introduced 2kg of boilies to draw the carp in.
I must have covered an area the size of a tennis court, rather than create the tight pattern I would use with most other rigs. The whole process had taken 45 minutes, and while things settled down it was time for me to enjoy my breakfast!
The two indicators hanging before me could pull up at any moment. In autumn the tension is heightened further, as you can almost guarantee that the carp will be feeding. While I ate, I knew the fish would be too.
Right on my last mouthful the rod-tip pulled down and held position as 95 yards away a 34lb common twisted and turned, flexing golden flanks in a bid to shed the rig.
I picked up the rod and struck – the carp angler’s season of plenty was in full swing.