A Man for All Sea­sons

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - -Dave Lane

‘Flam­ing June’ they call it, let’s hope it is this year as well, as we all love a bit of sun on our backs, par­tic­u­larly if you are a carp...

I used to hate the closed sea­son with al­most as much pas­sion as I loved the 16th of June, as the close was gen­er­ally a time of DIY, dec­o­rat­ing, house­hold chores that you had no re­al­is­tic ex­cuse to avoid...

‘Flam­ing June’ they call it, let’s hope it is this year as well, as we all love a bit of sun on our backs, par­tic­u­larly if you are a carp...

In years gone by this was the month we had all been wait­ing for be­cause, if you had fished be­tween 1878 and 2000, then the glo­ri­ous 16th of June her­alded the start of a new sea­son, the most cel­e­brated day in our sport. Of course, some wa­ters (in­clud­ing all rivers) still hold to these old laws, which were orig­i­nally put in place to pro­tect the spawn­ing ac­tiv­i­ties of the fish. As we all know from ex­pe­ri­ence, how­ever, the carp usu­ally chose some­time in the first two weeks of the open sea­son to ac­tu­ally spawn which was a bit­ter and ironic twist for an­glers af­ter a three month wait to get back on the bank again.

Nowa­days, there are all sorts of dif­fer­ent sea­sons, de­pen­dant on noth­ing more than each fish­ery owner or club’s per­sonal ideas of when, if at all, the lakes will most ben­e­fit from a lit­tle respite from an­gling pres­sure. I used to hate the closed sea­son with al­most as much pas­sion as I loved the 16th of June, as the close was gen­er­ally a time of DIY, dec­o­rat­ing, house­hold chores that you had no re­al­is­tic ex­cuse to avoid, and the frus­tra­tions that fol­lowed ev­ery trip to the lake to gaze at the fish, who ob­vi­ously flaunted them­selves with merry aban­don. It was also a time of plan­ning, plot­ting, pre-bait­ing, clean­ing tackle and re-spool­ing, never had we been so well pre­pared as we were the day be­fore ‘the off’.

I re­call that my­self and my old mate Keith Jenk­ins used to spend an in­or­di­nate amount of time trawl­ing around bird food sup­pli­ers and coun­try stores, look­ing for that one amaz­ing in­gre­di­ent to turn our new ‘won­der bait’ into some­thing that the fish sim­ply could not re­sist, and ev­ery ex­per­i­ment was mag­i­cal but, as of­ten as not, dis­as­trous. We had dried in­sect meal, hon­eysoaked yel­low bird food, the amaz­ing green lipped mus­sel pow­der, not to men­tion the for­tunes we spent in the health food shops on protein pow­ders and es­sen­tial oils. I even had a copy of George Shar­man’s Carp and the Carp An­gler (I still have it on the shelf next to me now) but we didn’t re­ally un­der­stand the science be­hind amino acids and lipids but that didn’t stop us from try­ing as any­thing was pos­si­ble in the vast ex­panse of our imag­i­na­tions.

... we didn’t re­ally un­der­stand the science be­hind amino acids and lipids but that didn’t stop us from try­ing as any­thing was pos­si­ble in the vast ex­panse of our imag­i­na­tions

This, of course, was way be­fore ready­made boilies hit the scene and, in some ways, the glory days of carp fish­ing that came long be­fore we thought we knew ev­ery­thing.

I have a host of mem­o­ries that re­volve around the fi­nal 24 hours of the closed sea­son, when all the plans were fi­nally due to come to fruition. The fi­nal long night, spent bivvied up in grassy car parks, or camped at the end of a muddy track to the lake with like-minded souls – all of us full of huge ex­pec­ta­tions, cun­ning plans and, usu­ally, co­pi­ous amounts of beer.

The con­ver­sa­tions that went on deep into the night were hi­lar­i­ous and ev­ery­one got bolder as the night went on, let­ting slip a few more de­tails of their own lit­tle edges or se­cret baits that would tear the lake apart this year.

The re­al­ity, how­ever, was usu­ally that the fish were so stuffed due to ev­ery­one’s ‘se­cret’ bait­ing cam­paigns and then so pet­ri­fied by the sud­den bom­bard­ment of marker floats and rigs that only the very wise, who had set up with ac­cess to the mid­dle reaches of the lake, stood any chance at all on those first few days of the sea­son. But we all loved it any­way, we had dreamt and prayed for that one day and we were all go­ing to make sure we made the most of it, even if the fish were all out in the mid­dle, wear­ing tin hats!

Hor­ton was a clas­sic ex­am­ple of this and the pre-sea­son cel­e­bra­tions were al­ways epic, as could be the fish­ing if you hit it right. By my sec­ond year I had sussed it out and man­aged to bag a pre­vi­ously un-fan­cied swim for the start, but one that gave me a clear shot at the mid­dle which was nowhere near the ar­eas the fish were show­ing them­selves on the day of the draw. True to form, come the open­ing on­slaught, they all dis­ap­peared out in the mid­dle of the lake and I re­ally bagged up on the sec­ond morn­ing, tak­ing four of those big old war­riors in very quick suc­ces­sion.

Look­ing back now I can re­mem­ber all of those mid­night casts of var­i­ous lakes with such af­fec­tion and, oc­ca­sion­ally, there were the ‘un­der­stand­ing’ clubs that let you make the first cast just be­fore dark, at about ten in the even­ing, let­ting you ac­tu­ally see where you were fish­ing when the clock struck the mag­i­cal, witch­ing hour. Those stolen two hours of ex­tra-time seemed like a bite of the for­bid­den fruit, a bit like the first time, as a kid, you chomp into that ex­tra choco­late bar that just hap­pened to drop into your pocket as you stood in the sweet shop... or was that just me?

Nowa­days we fish all year around, or at least I do, but although I loved the June start I cer­tainly wouldn’t swap what we have now, for what we had to en­dure back then, dur­ing the long­est three months imag­in­able. As I said back in April, how­ever, the new sea­son seems to now start on the day of the fool, which is prob­a­bly far more ap­pro­pri­ate if you think about it and we are mostly well un­der way with our an­gling by now. Some lakes, par­tic­u­larly the smaller and heav­i­ly­fished ones, can be get­ting a bit ‘tired’ by June and the fish are a lot wiser in their ap­proach to food than they were back at the be­gin­ning of April.

Not so very long ago, I did have a tra­di­tional start dur­ing my time at Black Swan lake down at Din­ton Pas­tures and it was a hark back to those heady days of my youth. It was also a re­minder of just how much beer and bar­beque got con­sumed dur­ing the penul­ti­mate day as all there was to do was wait and try not to spon­ta­neously com­bust with ex­cite­ment.

It started, as any good story should, in the lo­cal pub at lunchtime where we sunned our­selves in the gar­den bar and made rash prom­ises to ‘take it easy’ as it would be a long day. Well, I barely need to fill in the blanks re­ally, of which there are ac­tu­ally quite a few, but let’s just say we al­most missed the 10pm cast­ing-out time. And very nearly missed the lake when we did!

The winds played a huge part on that open­ing week, as they of­ten do when a big warm sum­mer wind sets in, and although I did catch a few fish the bulk of the ac­tion was in my mate Mr F’s swim fac­ing down the white caps.

Those big southerly or west­erly winds al­ways bring fish to the banks but, for my money, I do not think you can beat a sum­mer east­erly. I know that we all have that aver­sion to east and north winds but that is born out the mem­o­ries of cold­wa­ter fish­ing, when any­thing blow­ing from those di­rec­tions is like the kiss of death. East­er­lies are so rare in the warm air­flows of sum­mer that the fish al­most al­ways re­spond kindly to them and I have caught stacks of carp by fol­low­ing a new ‘Beast from the East’ dur­ing the sum­mer.

Brog­bor­ough was a clas­sic ex­am­ple of this and I bat­tered the fish one mem­o­rable ses­sion by fac­ing straight into wa­ter so tur­bu­lent that there was 20 yards of brown muddy wash-back spread­ing out from un­der the rods – the fish were show­ing like crazy and ended up right in the mar­ginal reeds and the bites came thick and fast. Wrays­bury one, back in the day, was the same and they loved an east­erly in there.

Per­son­ally, I love the month of June and some of the big­ger pits I have fished re­ally seem to

switch on dur­ing this pe­riod of early sum­mer; in fact when I think back, so have some of the harder and not so huge ones as well. It is the month of the weed, the time of year when the green shoots of Cana­dian pondweed, mil­foil and all their dis­tant cousins re­ally take a hold and, of­ten, reach the sur­face to em­brace the warmth of the sum­mer sun­light.

St Ives Shal­low La­goon was not a big lake and it was well fished through­out April and May – busy in fact would be a bet­ter de­scrip­tion, with some of the bet­ter swims be­ing fished on a rota

It started, as any good story should, in the lo­cal pub at lunchtime where we sunned our­selves in the gar­den bar and made rash prom­ises to ‘take it easy’ as it would be a long day

sys­tem where a wa­ter bot­tle would nor­mally be wait­ing pa­tiently for the res­i­dent an­gler to pack up and then be re­placed. Weed is a funny old thing, though, some peo­ple (like me) love the stuff and the chang­ing ef­fect it has on the lake and the fish, whereas oth­ers (quite a few it would seem) can­not tol­er­ate fish­ing any­where near it once it takes a real hold and soon drift away to pas­tures new.

This was def­i­nitely the cast on the Shal­low La­goon and June would see the bank al­most empty dur­ing the week with but a hand­ful of ‘kee­nies’ at the week­ends. The first June I fished there I did ex­cep­tion­ally well but, re­gret­tably, I kept up a con­stant stream of my re­sults through so­cial me­dia and video blogs (which is ac­tu­ally part of my job so quite un­avoid­able) but this per­pet­u­ated the an­gler in­ten­sity and made my own an­gling harder than it could have been with a lit­tle se­crecy in­volved. The fol­low­ing year I came to an un­der­stand­ing with the com­pa­nies that spon­sor me and through­out June I fell off the radar a bit, keep­ing my re­sults quiet and there­fore the lake as well, par­tic­u­larly the area I had cho­sen to tar­get. I’m not say­ing that oth­ers only fished be­cause I was pub­lish­ing my re­sults but a lot of the an­glers who had drifted off tended to stay that way if they thought the lake was choked with weed, and not pro­duc­ing carp as a re­sult of this – and a lit­tle ‘white lie’ here and there helped to keep the banks nice and quiet.

Not only would the lack of other an­glers en­sure I could get into the right swim ev­ery week but, more im­por­tantly, it gave the op­por­tu­nity to try an ap­proach that has worked for me in the past on rich, weedy, lakes dur­ing the sum­mer months. Of­ten the amount of nat­u­ral food at this time of year is ridicu­lous and the fish love to for­age in the weed, mak­ing the ac­tual fish­ing a bit frus­trat­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion very tricky in­deed. Now, I know a lot of an­glers are quite happy chuck­ing ‘ch­ods’

What hap­pened was re­ally quite amaz­ing and by only the sec­ond week all the bub­bling was con­densed onto my baited ar­eas, rather than just ran­domly oc­cur­ring all over the lake

about and pick­ing up the odd fish off the top of the weed, but that is not how I an­gle at all and I don’t think it ac­tu­ally leads to any­thing other than just the ‘odd fish’.

If you arise early enough on a nice, calm sum­mer’s morn­ing you will gen­er­ally see the same thing on most weedy lakes, and that is count­less patches of bub­bling as the fish move about and har­vest from the weed. Cast­ing sin­gles into these patches can some­times give you a bite or two but, just as of­ten, the bub­bling just moves off into a dif­fer­ent spot leav­ing you thrash­ing the wa­ter to a foam try­ing to keep up with them. My plan, at St Ives, was to com­bat the nat­u­ral food by over-pow­er­ing its ap­peal with huge beds of mixed par­ti­cles and chopped boilies, cre­at­ing ar­eas that had a higher yield for the fish than the many pock­ets of snails and mus­sels, and var­i­ous other creepy crawlies. It had worked in the past, both with par­ti­cles or boilies but al­ways with a lot of bait and gen­er­ally when there was lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion from other an­glers adopt­ing a sim­i­lar ap­proach in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of the lake.

Over a four to five week pe­riod, I baited with two large buck­ets a day on two main spots – the third rod be­ing a bit more mo­bile. I would ar­rive on a Sun­day af­ter­noon and spod out about 30 ki­los of ‘wet weight’ par­ti­cles and re­peat this on Mon­day and Tues­day af­ter­noons, fi­nally leav­ing the same amount out there when I left on a Wed­nes­day. What hap­pened was re­ally quite amaz­ing and by only the sec­ond week all the bub­bling was con­densed onto my baited ar­eas, rather than just ran­domly oc­cur­ring all over the lake. The

spots were also chang­ing dra­mat­i­cally and although the weed kept on grow­ing all around, my spots were be­ing dec­i­mated and the lead would crack down on the bot­tom as if it was hit­ting con­crete.

The bites usu­ally started just af­ter first light and went on un­til the sun grew too hot by about 11am but, dur­ing these pe­ri­ods, my lines never stopped twitch­ing and the bob­bins bounc­ing, as the carp vis­ited my net at a rate I hadn’t ever wit­nessed be­fore on this tricky lit­tle wa­ter.

The main tar­get fish in the lake was a big old 50lb­plus mir­ror known as Colin and, by the time it slid over the cord on my fi­nal ses­sion, I had al­ready bagged a large pro­por­tion of the lake’s big­gest res­i­dents – some­times as many as three of them in a sin­gle morn­ing. I had a wealth of big 30s, scaly 20s and, fi­nally the big fella him­self and all had been kept on the ‘quiet’ un­til the job was done.

I had been video­ing them all, and the en­tirety of each ses­sion, and re­paid the un­der­stand­ing of those I work for by re­leas­ing a four-part Youtube tape called the Se­cret Di­aries.

It was all a lot of fun and a bit of a hark back to the old days when ev­ery­thing was a closely-guarded se­cret but, more than any­thing, it was a suc­cess­ful mis­sion and one of those rare times when you feel that you ac­tu­ally changed the be­hav­iour of the fish and ben­e­fited from it. I love it when a plan comes to­gether!

LEFT George Shar­man’s in­no­va­tive book

TOP LEFT The rivers still hold on to the old rules

TOP It wouldn’t be sum­mer without the BBQ burn­ing Open­ing day on Hor­ton, a proper sea­son’s start BOT­TOM

BE­LOW Mr F bash­ing them up in the wind

ABOVE Where all good sto­ries start

RIGHT A fish show­ing in a sum­mer east­erly

TOP Brog­bor­ough suc­cess on the east winds LEFT A per­fect sum­mer east­erly

ABOVE I love sum­mer in Eng­land, it’s so idyl­lic

BE­LOW Mid-june and the most amaz­ing sun­sets

TOP LEFT One of many from the Se­cret Di­ary pe­riod TOP RIGHT Colin the carp af­ter a hec­tic month on the big beds of bait MID­DLE June 16th again, Burgh­field this time LEFT Open­ing night at Black Swan

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