At the start of the month I was in Italy chasing carp far larger than I usually get the chance to fish for and success was indeed sweet. Moon phase wise I had predicted before we went that it would be a struggle. I knew that no-one would be catching silly amounts of fish, but also knew that it was highly likely that a handful of really big fish would be caught. I have talked a lot in the past about moon phases and how it affects different carp of different ages, so won’t go into that again here.
By the end of the week in Italy my predictions had once again proven right. There were 20 x handpicked anglers on the lake and all were real competent anglers who had been around a long while, yet some didn’t manage to catch until the end of the week and some not at all. This puts it into perspective that it was a week we all had to work hard at.
I was fortunate to get a decent draw and was able to hold my head high with I believe the second most carp landed during the week, so I guess I should be thankful that the Italian carp enjoyed what I gave them as much as the English carp seem to do.
These past few years I have been concentrating on using baits which not only the carp find attractive, but the snails and caddis do too, which brings a lot of movement around my baited areas, plus of course the natural attraction of concentrating natural food together around the bait I’m feeding which adds the all-important movement on the lake bed.
My chosen mix consisted mainly of Spicy Spirulina in 10 mm, 15 mm and 20 mm. Most were broken up and a lot ground down to dust as well but with a few handfuls of whole boilies too. Added to my bucket were a couple of handfuls of Magnum White, Rahja Spice and Questrami for a fleck of colour and differing leaking attractors. The only other ingredient was a little Microfeed as well as the pellet that was sold at the lake. This saved vehicle space which we simply didn’t have as every last pocket of air had been filled.
I would mix my bait up late afternoon, add plenty of lake water to soak in and that would be my bait for the next day. This made a great cloud, so any fish passing along in the 20 plus feet of water would be more than aware of food in the area, rather than try and rely on just plain un-doctored round boilies sat on the bottom with their important ingredients trapped inside for a day or so before water absorption and swelling allowed the important bits to work their magic.
Well the mix worked as it usually does and several takes came whilst still Spombing.
My predictions I had touched upon came true, many struggled, but fish of 87.03 and 74.14 both of which were commons, slipped up to our party members.
I had travelled the 1,100 miles with Jamie Simpson of Custom Angling Solutions. We have known each other for years, which is important when on a long road trip such as this. We both have plenty to talk about which is important when you have so many hours of travelling to kill. I have made journeys in the past where conversation from my travelling partner has dried up before we have even left the U.K. let alone a 16 odd hour drive.
Back home after the Italian adventure I was busy catching up with work from being away. There was this bait side, the holiday work, as well as my daily commitments with Free Spirit Fishing, it really was all on and simply a case of getting up in the morning, working the full day (after my walk) until I was too tired and then bed and repeat the process. I never thought at my age I would be working the hours I still work. I guess I must enjoy it.
At the end of the week though, I just had to escape the office and with gear still un-sorted from Italy, I simply added more bait and food and got myself down my local pit. The heaven’s opened when I arrived and torrential rain fell as I stepped out the Land Rover. Fortunately I had spotted a fish in the first swim I had looked in, so I never bothered looking any further as this had been an area that I had fancied after my usual weather recording and watching through the week.
Typically, the rain stopped by the time I had set up. I always carry a spare set of clothes in the motor, so I was soon back in dry gear. I had added Rahja Hemp to the mix I had been using in Italy. I had wanted to use the hemp out there too, but this ended up being one of the items we simply couldn’t fit into Jamie’s van. Spurred on by my success in Italy, I Spombed my local heavier than I usually do and that wonderful cloud effect of the broken and crushed Spicy Spirulina along with the other bits proved too tempting for the carp and 3 lovely fish welcomed me back home to good old Blighty.
During this session I received a call from Etang Cache who were a little disappointed with the bookings they had received this year and after talking to Neil Shipman at Quarry Bank, they decided to make contact with me to see if Dream Fishing Holidays would be interested in representing them. By the end of the week, I was out there in France being picked up at Limoges airport to go take a proper look at Etang Cache.
Mark, one of the owners had arranged a surprise for me as well. I knew he wanted me to experience the fishing for a couple of days to be able to experience the full package that the customers experience using the lake facilities and gear. What I didn’t know was that he had also arranged for friend of 40 years, Neil Shipman to turn up and fish alongside. Now this was going to be an enjoyable couple of days work.
Well, I had always steered clear of these fly in venues myself where you use the venues gear, thinking that I would feel like I was probably compromising myself using gear of a lower quality than I was used to using. But, after doing this, I can honestly say the gear was all spot on. All the customer is asked to take is their own sleeping bag, reels, alarms, head torch and terminal tackle. Everything else was there ready. I managed to pack everything including spare clothes, 2 x video cameras and tripod in my hand luggage and the allowed 10 kg check in bag, without needing to pay for excess baggage.
What’s more, because Etang Cache had been let down with a bait delivery, Neil at Quarry Bank had helped the party out the week before with my own Rahja Spice and Special Crab. There was still bait left, so I found myself crumbling some Rahja up and away I went.
The first day produced a lovely brace of 40’s to mid-40 for me, as well as a slightly smaller one in the night. The second day I managed to catch one of just 3 grass carp that live in there. Some people knock grass carp, but I quite like them myself when the waters aren’t over run with them.
My baiting strategy was just a trickle of broken and full Rahja Spice boilies trickled along the margins of the dam where I had seen carp as soon as I had arrived at the lake. I purposely never baited tight or in quantity. I had limited time, so wanted them to come across morsels of bait I knew they would like and hopefully hunt out more. By not attempting to fill them up or feed a lot of fish, it would get them looking hard for more. This is a tactic I like when time is limited.
To help the carp find more, my 10 mm Spicy Spirulina hook baits (I can’t stop using it) all had a brightly coloured little Pimple Pop sat on top. I varied these between Rahja Spice and Fruity Trifle as well as changing the colour quite regularly. The yellow seemed the most popular this time, but orange produced as well. Both the Rahja and and old vintage pot of the Fruity ones produced me fish.
Before I knew it my couple of days were over. I had seen everything I needed to see and certainly had my eyes opened to the ease and simplicity of these fly in venues. It is certainly something I will do again. My flight home from Limoges cost just £12.95!
Back home and once again office bound. Anyone who works for themselves will know that when a couple of days are taken away from the office, then the catching back up takes much more than that, so it was once again 14 hour work days.
I’ve never been scared of work but one must have time to play as well, so when the final weekend of the month came, I couldn’t wait to get myself back on the bank. I really felt as though I had stretched myself too much over the previous few days and desperately needed chill out time to let my brain unwind if nothing else.
Back down the local I was dismayed to see just how busy it was but the available swim was actually one I would probably have chosen had I had the choice. So the gear was barrowed around, the Spomb rod was put to good use and finally I was able to sit back and reflect upon what had been quite a manic month.
Baiting wise this time I carried on the same as my previous session which had produced 3 fish for me but this time as I was sure the bream had probably spawned so I incorporated Microfeed into my Spomb mix as well. This was a combination of the Spicy Spirulina and Rahja Spice. It simulates spawn in appearance and is a product that I am sure has helped put a lot of bonus fish on the bank for me when the carp are going around mopping spawn up.
Well I admit it was hard going. All those lines and leads crashing in put the fish right on edge until just before lunch Sunday morning when a rod with a stick mix of Microfeed (cluster of spawn) came to life and after a terrific fight I was looking down in the net at another U.K. 30 lb plus common. I have been real fortunate to have caught quite a lot of these now but will never tire from doing so.
Well, that was May 2019, a few pointers as to what I offered bait wise. Rig wise everything came to the same home tied combi-link that I have used for years only this year I have swapped the pattern of hook to a PB Products size 4 Curved KD. I don’t fish it KD style but it suits my rig perfect. The soft part of the combi I like to be the same length as the length of the hook shank, the soft hair I favour is long enough so that the gap between where it leaves the hook, to the bottom of the bait, is the same diameter as the bait. So a 15 mm boilie has a 30 mm hair and so on.
June has started and I caught a cracking fish on the first day of it, but that story can wait for another day.