A Man for All Sea­sons

Loosely ty­ing in with our an­niver­sary theme, Dave ex­plains how this month is with­out doubt his most favourite time of the sea­son, and has been for the best part of 30 years!

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Dave Lane

Loosely ty­ing in with our an­niver­sary theme, Dave ex­plains how this month is, with­out doubt, his most favourite time of the sea­son, and has been for the best part of 30 years!

Sun­day 23rd of September is the au­tum­nal equinox, which lit­er­ally means equal day and night. I am not overly sure why this af­fects the carp the way it does but, for some­one who puts very lit­tle faith in all the lu­nar and ce­les­tial stuff, I do still be­lieve that it has a huge im­pact on feed­ing fish. In fact, to be to­tally hon­est, I think that the en­tire month of September is a mag­i­cal time and by far my favourite month of the year.

If I had to pick three months that fig­ured at the top of a catch­ing chart, then they would be May, September and Oc­to­ber – with Fe­bru­ary com­ing a close fourth.

I have so many mem­o­ries wrapped up in this time of the year, dat­ing back a long, long way in­deed. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, when I used to fish with my mate, Keith Jenk­ins, all the time, we had to pull out all of the stops to get as much bank time as pos­si­ble. For some rea­son all our bet­ter re­sults used to come in the mid­dle of this month but, un­for­tu­nately, the twelfth was my girl­friend’s birth­day and the four­teenth was Keith’s daugh­ter’s birth­day, so we needed some se­ri­ous jug­gling, as miss­ing just one ses­sion would be a crime against carp-an­gling.

This was back in the days of Hare­field and Pit Four, and con­tin­ued onto Hor­ton where I even­tu­ally landed my ob­ses­sion, Shoul­ders, at a new PB of 44lb. Amaz­ingly I had only just landed my pre­vi­ous best the day be­fore­hand, The Par­rot, at 43lb – fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion for me that September was not to be missed un­der any cir­cum­stances.

I wouldn’t even like to guess how many per­sonal bests I have beaten in September, or how many ma­jor tar­get fish have ended up in the bot­tom of my net. I love this month so much, noth­ing stands in my way to stop me get­ting on the bank as of­ten as pos­si­ble. There are of­ten other cir­cum­stances in September that fur­ther en­hance the feed­ing mood of the fish and one of these is the like­li­hood of the first big low pres­sure sys­tems of the year – the ones that sweep in from the south and rip off the warm blan­ket of sum­mer, ex­pos­ing the cool, fresh morn­ings and dew-filled evenings of au­tumn. Days when the trees bend double and the leaves fi­nally give up their ten­u­ous hold and go scut­tling across the sur­face; days like these are cus­tom-made for carp fish­ing and the fish usu­ally re­spond by leap­ing and rolling on the sur­face, send­ing plumes of bub­bles back up as they plough into the bot­tom to feed.

I re­mem­ber one spe­cific year that was a lot like this one re­ally – a long hot sum­mer, too much al­gae and weed, and the fish trapped in a cy­cle of lethargy that no bait could break. I had been fish­ing on the St. Ives com­plex, mainly on the big Mead­ows and Fjords section and, like ev­ery­one, I had been strug­gling even to find fish in the thick green and stink­ing wa­ters of sum­mer. For some rea­son that I can’t ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber now, I had sud­denly de­cided to swap lakes and have a few trips over the road at The La­goon, an­other of the lakes on my ticket.

I started off well with the sec­ond big­gest fish in the lake at the end of Au­gust, but it was a few weeks later when every­thing re­ally came to­gether. I had been care­fully watch­ing the weather and tracking a huge south-west­erly wind sys­tem that was work­ing its way to­wards us and gath­er­ing mo­men­tum as it did so. The weath­er­man gave me an es­ti­mated time of ar­rival and I was half­way along the M25 when the first signs of it turned up, whip­ping the em­bank­ment bushes and trees, and my ex­cite­ment grew and grew, un­til I even­tu­ally turned off into Meadow Lane and bumped down the track to the lake.

By this stage it was re­ally tak­ing a hold and, some­how, I man­aged to get in­stalled into the small bay in the ex­treme north east-cor­ner, ex­actly where the waves were starting to hit. Within no time at all I had seen a huge fish roll on the sur­face, al­most def­i­nitely the Fat Lady, the big­gest of them all. De­spite not catch­ing on that first night and, in spite of the wind ac­tu­ally chang­ing back the next day, I stayed put, un­able to shake off the men­tal im­age of that huge flank of carp flesh that had turned over right where my left-hand rod was now placed.

It’s a good job I did stay be­cause, shortly af­ter first light, there was an­other huge boil in the mar­gins and a quickly re­cast rig did not stay in place for too long, be­fore be­ing picked up by the most bizarrely fight­ing carp I have ever hooked. It al­ter­nated be­tween pop­ping up like a cork and then thud­ding back down into the bot­tom, over and over again be­fore fi­nally staying in the ‘cork’ po­si­tion long enough for me to scoop her up. The Fat Lady was mine and weighed a stag­ger­ing 52lb – September had struck once more.

An­other fea­ture of September, for those lu­nar lovers, is the har­vest moon, which is the full moon clos­est to the equinox and usu­ally trav­els on a low tra­jec­tory, mak­ing it ap­pear red through the ef­fects of air pol­lu­tion in the lower at­mos­phere. Farmers used to rely on the ex­tra light at har­vest time to work later, hence the name har­vest moon. This can be at var­i­ous times in com­par­i­son to the equinox, which varies only a day or two but, how­ever, this year the full har­vest moon is the day af­ter the equinox so, in all like­li­hood, it could be a very spe­cial time in­deed.

What makes it even more ex­cit­ing for me is that the equinox is a Sun­day and the full moon is Mon­day night which are the days I fish any­way,

so I won’t have to pull any strings at all, apart from the ones on my rods, hope­fully.

Some­thing else that is very preva­lent in September is the weed, not so much the growth but more the lo­ca­tion that it ends up in and the canopies it of­ten forms. I think I am right in say­ing, or at least I have al­ways be­lieved, that Cana­dian pondweed can just sort of ‘let go’ of the bot­tom and drift off, pre­sum­ably to find bet­ter ground as it all gets choked up and loses the light. Whether this is true or not I don’t know but, re­gard­less, there will be huge ar­eas where the weed drifts into and gets all mat­ted up, form­ing huge canopies on the sur­face and this will re­duce the light be­low, of­ten ac­tu­ally cre­at­ing a nice clean area be­neath. I found this a lot on the Shal­low La­goon at St. Ives, and strip­ping off the top layer with a rake ex­posed some nice ar­eas be­low that I caught a few fish from.

Burgh­field was a prime ex­am­ple of this dur­ing September and you could hardly fish with­out both a swim rake and a boat as the move­ment of weed rafts was im­mense, par­tic­u­larly when the speed­boats were out. There was one area off the end of a penin­sula called Bar­nett’s Point, where the lake nar­rowed right down, and the speed­boats had cre­ated a clean strip on the bot­tom by up­root­ing the weak­en­ing stems of weed. Huge sheets of the stuff had then been washed into the sides of the chan­nel and, from the sur­face, it ap­peared un­fish­able and had been left alone by an­glers be­cause of this.

About mid-september time, I in­vested a few hours with just a lead on a braided line and searched in, and un­der, these rafts and found that the bot­tom had been stripped clean. The lake hadn’t done a bite for ages and the fish had been on the miss­ing list – I was pretty con­fi­dent I had just found where they were, and I baited it up quite heav­ily, right in the edge and just un­der the lip of the weed. The fol­low­ing week I was crazy keen to get back down and test out my the­ory. Although I had al­ready caught the big com­mon at this stage, there were still fish I dearly wanted to catch be­fore my ticket ran out, par­tic­u­larly a big, scat­tered lin­ear that I had seen just one small photo of on the an­gling club’s web­site.

I ar­rived on the 15th of September, bang on my favourite time of the year and with a pre­baited and un-fished swim I was ob­vi­ously full of con­fi­dence. I had to wait for the speed­boat to fin­ish for the day and then I just flicked out the baits all around the penin­sula and set­tled in for a few beers to await events. Some­how, I man­aged to fall asleep just af­ter dark but was rudely awak­ened at mid­night by the first bite, right from un­der my feet re­ally. I can’t re­mem­ber the ex­act se­quence of events of that night, nor the fol­low­ing two nights, but let me just say the plan worked far bet­ter than I had ever dared to dream. Each night was the same, a mid­night start and then reg­u­lar bites un­til first light, which is a classic pat­tern for early au­tumn by the way.

I can’t re­mem­ber the ex­act se­quence of events of that night, nor the fol­low­ing two nights, but let me just say the plan worked far bet­ter than I had ever dared to dream

The first night was amaz­ing, I think I had five fish but, by light, I still had one rod that hadn’t pro­duced a bite and, with that many fish about, I searched all day for a new spot for that last rod. The sec­ond night brought less bites, three I think, but one of these was very spe­cial in­deed and it fell to the new spot on the far mar­gin and in­volved a men­tal boat bat­tle, and a very re­silient ropeteth­ered buoy. It did, how­ever, end in vic­tory and a net-full of the Scat­tered Lin­ear and at 44lb, a ma­jor re­sult that kept me high on adren­a­line all through the fol­low­ing day. Although I was orig­i­nally plan­ning to go home that day I de­cided to stay for a third night and added an­other three fish to the to­tal. September haul­ing at its very best and I ended up hook­ing and land­ing 11 carp over the whole trip – one 40, six 30s and four 20s.

Quite of­ten, at this time of year, the fish will move to a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion from those they have been us­ing all sum­mer. On smaller lakes it can sim­ply be the mid­dle, or the deeper, siltier ar­eas but on big­ger lakes it can be an en­tirely dif­fer­ent bay or section of the lake all to­gether. Black Swan, at Din­ton, was a prime ex­am­ple of this and an area we had dubbed South Park be­came a ma­jor part of the equa­tion. The bay had fish vis­it­ing it all year around but, in the early au­tumn, it re­ally livened up as more and more fish would group up in its deep, weedy wa­ters and plun­der the nat­u­ral har­vest on of­fer out there.

There was a swim known as Big No Dogs that gave you the per­fect an­gle to cover this area and I took full ad­van­tage on my first year there, land­ing a string of fish from the rapidly ex­pand­ing holes in the sub­sur­face fo­liage. A lot of the cap­tures re­quired the use of the boat to land them be­cause of the huge balls of tan­gled Cana­dian pondweed and mil­foil that lit­tered the bay; even­tu­ally it be­came too bad to ac­tu­ally fish in but, for a time, every­thing was spot on for some se­ri­ous haul­ing.

They loved a bit of bait in Black Swan but, dur­ing the au­tumn, they re­ally couldn’t get enough of it. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, this is usu­ally the case on most lakes and a de­cent boilie ap­proach is al­ways key to suc­cess and, un­like the sum­mer months, the more you use the more you catch. I think a lot of this is a com­bi­na­tion of out­do­ing the vast sup­plies of nat­u­ral food that are look­ing for a new home as the weed dies back, and the el­e­vated feed­ing lev­els of the carp due to the cooler weather and the abun­dance of grub; they are just all in the right mood for a feed up.

One of the most en­joy­able Septem­bers I have had in re­cent years was on Mary’s Lake in Northamp­ton. I had been con­cen­trat­ing my ef­forts on a small point swim, that gave ac­cess to two dif­fer­ent bays and the main body of open wa­ter, and I had it rock­ing by the mid­dle of the month. The fish were us­ing the top bay a lot, and you could watch their progress by the plumes of fizz com­ing up ev­ery morn­ing. A lot of my cap­tures were on a sin­gle rod fish­ing the mar­gins off the

end of the point as they made their way in and out of the bay.

To­wards the end of the month every­thing sud­denly changed. The other bay, which the fish had been avoid­ing up un­til now, sud­denly be­came the place to be for some rea­son. I can only as­sume that the nat­u­ral food in there be­came ripe for the tak­ing and the fish moved in and fed with a vengeance.

A sin­gle sight­ing of a large fish show­ing in this area led me to move one rod onto the other side of the point and a fur­ther, more in­tense dis­play, had me mov­ing the rest of them later that same day. Quite of­ten you will find that all of the known big fish will get caught around September and early Oc­to­ber, al­most as if they are lin­ing up to visit the bank and none of them want to be left out. This was ex­actly what hap­pened on one amaz­ing ses­sion be­tween the 16th and 18th of that month. I had al­ready had a good amount of fish over the pre­ced­ing weeks but in a two-night trip I landed the three big­gest carp in the lake – the Ital­ian at high 30s, the Bul­let Hole Com­mon also a high 30 and the amaz­ing Big Leather at 46lb.

It doesn’t take a ge­nius to see that September is a ma­jor time in the carp an­gling diary, but, if I ever needed fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion, I can just cast my mind back to September the 7th 2004, the day I fi­nally ended a seven-year quest to land the best of the lot, the king of them all, the Black Mir­ror from the ul­tra-hard Colne Mere.

So, where am I go­ing to be this September... Camped out be­hind the rods of course, for as much time as I can pos­si­bly get away with.

Quite of­ten you will find that all of the known big fish will get caught around September and early Oc­to­ber, al­most as if they are lin­ing up to visit the bank and none of them want to be left out. This was ex­actly what hap­pened on one amaz­ing ses­sion be­tween the 16th and 18th of that month

LEFT The amaz­ing Shoul­ders, from Hor­ton Church lake

BE­LOW The Fat Lady, caught on THE first BIG low­pres­sure sys­tem of au­tumn

ABOVE There is al­ways a good one of these around har­vest time

BE­LOW The end of Bar­nett’s Point, wait­ing for the BOATS TO FIN­ISH FOR THE DAY

ABOVE Pad­war and I, clear­ing THE BURGH­FIELD WEED

LEFT Boat bat­tles have been com­mon

TOP One of eleven fish from a crazy September ses­sion on Burgh­field

ABOVE The Scat­tered Lin­ear from Burgh­field – tar­get achieved

MID­DLE BOT­TOM Pads, sit­ting pa­tiently for bite time on Mary’s

MID­DLE TOP The mid­dle bay on Mary’s. Scene of a mem­o­rable September cap­ture

LEFT Black Swan, in late September

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