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Shaun Harrison Another 'Catch Up' Blog.

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 6 June 2024 |

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Well, after a winter on a rather busy water, where I was reluctant to admit to catching much, I must say it is nice to be back on my other waters, where morals are higher and there is less problem with actually admitting to catching the odd one.

Fortunately, most of the winter fish were feeding in the dark, at quite unsocial times, so it was easier to keep quiet about the few captures I had. I showed a mid-30 common as I had been seen playing that one at first light and indeed, it’s difficult to convince people you are never catching anything. Don’t get me wrong, I did struggle a little more than previous winters and felt I was rather unfortunate with the average size of the fish I was catching, but even those, I felt best to simply not mention. This particular venue had backed up my theories I have had for many years. The more bait going in, the worse most lakes fish during the winter. When I practically had it to myself in the colder months, it was much easier to keep them feeding with just a trickle of bait. But, one person feeding the wrong type of winter food and it makes it difficult for all. Unfortunately, carp will eat most things, but with most anglers presuming their bait will be easily digested in cold water, rather than actually knowing. This can lead to long periods with the carp not needing to feed, as their intestine which is much longer than them (they don’t have a stomach), becomes clogged. I make no apologies for writing similar every single year. If just a few more took note, the fishing would be better for all, simply because the carp would be needing to feed more.

What a wash out this last winter was, I hate having to sit around in wellies or waders, but this past winter, I had no choice. With the symptoms persisting from the Lymes disease I picked up last July, I had little choice of where I could fish, as my other venues had a longer walk that I simply wasn’t capable of being able to do. It was real frustrating after a lifetime of being totally mobile with bag loads of energy. But at least I was able to still wet my lines each week.

Mid-April I felt up to a bit longer barrow pushes and finally set forth to one of my syndicates. Albeit, I had cut the gear down and replaced the bivvy and bed with my hammock and tarp to make this possible. I love sleeping in the hammock, but sadly not every venue has enough trees for this, or else I would probably not use a bed chair and bivvy again. I had to be at the venue on the Sunday anyway as it was a work party week-end and part of our membership requirements are having to do a certain amount each year.

I had a lovely Friday and Saturday night before the Sunday work party day, but had mixed emotions by landing the largest mirror in the lake on my first trip back. As it had also been the last fish I had landed on my last trip the previous summer, it dampened the capture a little. It had however been so nice to enjoy a change of scenery though, with hardly anyone around before the work party. I had missed the peace and tranquillity of the British countryside.

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Mixed emotions with this one

The following weekend I needed to stay local as I would be packing early to go and see my current favourite band, ‘The Warning’, playing in Birmingham. My heart wasn’t into the fishing after the tease of the quiet syndicate the week before, but a total change in tactic that I had woken in the night thinking about, despite it being something I had not done since the Mangrove in 2005. Amazingly, the last few hours gave me some interesting action on old micro pop ups of around 4 mm that the hook sunk. A seemingly dead swim wasn’t.

Finally, May Bank holiday and I got over to the place I had wanted to be all year. The Paradise Pit. My first trip of the year and as soon as I left the road and started the long drive down the tracks to the lake and through the final gate, I felt instantly at home. It didn’t surrender its fish too easily and after a couple of nights trying to catch them the idle way, I finally forced myself up and about, with minimal gear and carried on walking, until I found them, rather than continue to wait for them to find me which I know would have resulted in a blank that trip.

Suffice to say, it didn’t take long  after finding them, I soon had a good fish on the bank. I started by spraying boilie crumb/dust to see if they spooked. They moved off, but not in a panic and soon fish were gliding back in, ‘tasting the water’. It had been an eyeball-to-eyeball scenario, very close in and I had wrecked the swim playing the carp that took my bit of Rock Pool Rahja boilie and ‘spit paste’ (crushed boilie and spit). I was content with that capture, nay I was over the moon and packed there and then and left in a happy state. The old thing we all know, a few minutes in the right spot...

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I'd got off my bum and made it happen

The following weekend was almost a repeat performance, only I got off my bum earlier and caught two by hunting them out.

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Extra effort rewarded

It is becoming such a common thing on so many waters now that the carp are simply aware that we are there if we are in one spot for long. We can remain concealed and quiet on the bank, but we can’t avoid all that horrible sediment and algae that seems to cling to the lines more these days than ever before, making it look like we are all using 100lb line. It is so easy for the carp to detect and avoid their main predator – us. The way I have been with my Lymes disease, I have had little choice than to sit and wait a lot of the time. It has just been practically impossible to keep packing down and still have the energy afterwards to go and find them and catch them like I know I can. The previous two trips had proven a point really. The same as many Sunday afternoons in the past when I have gone and force fed one as I like to refer to it as, to save a blank.

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The second one I 'force fed' that afternoon

I guess deep down, I like the idle camping side of carp angling, but I do know it is one of the worst ways in order to keep catching as consistently as I can. Unless of course, I am happy just fishing for the regular bait eaters, rather than the ones that lead a different life, that I personally find more interesting and more satisfying to catch.

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I guess deep down, I like the idle camping side of carp angling

On the back of the above, I set about my next Paradise Pit trip totally different. I found an area with some fish, set up among them, but didn’t put rigs out among them. Yes, I dropped a couple close in, I can’t help myself, I need to think that one might just tear off at any minute. I fed small amounts of bait where the fish were but kept my lines right out the way and just watched for signs. I learned a lot that afternoon and soon a couple of nondescript spots were showing up as areas the carp would pass by, far more than other spots and the telltale bow waves that stopped in these areas, only to start again a few yards on, showed clearly there was something the carp were going down deeper for. The old patrol routes that so many of the ‘spezzi’ hunters of the 70’s and 80’s used to write about, yet something I hardly see mentioned or talked about these days.

Well, with two nights ahead of me, I stuck to a plan of fishing the edge, but trickling bait away from the lines and now I had an area to concentrate a little more on. Not lots of bait by any means, but a slow intro’.

Eventually when I caught 2 carp that session, both came within minutes of casting when I decided the time was finally right. Not a lot different to floater fishing really, I had built their confidence up with them being able to snack for a while with no apparent danger, no doubt clouding the water for me too, before I put the rig there. I love it when a plan comes together. They weren’t big carp, but the way I had caught them had more than made up for that.

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They weren’t big carp, but the way I had caught them had more than made up for that.

The following week I turned up with a full 20 acre to myself and after 10 years on the venue, there was only one swim I had never fished. Simply because I had hardly ever seen the carp there. That was until the previous week though when I sacrificed the best part of a days angling just to watch and take note of what they were doing and where they were going and I noticed a particular line that a couple of carp had taken. I had watched them swim a good 100 plus yard and suddenly just disappeared close to the bank in this swim. I had seen another do it the following day and I was intrigued.

So, despite having a full choice of swim and it potentially getting busy with it being another bank holiday, I took a gamble and set up in the swim that no-one sets up in. I’m glad I did. I saw nothing all weekend apart from the ones on the end of my line. 3 carp from 3 different spots as well as some nice tench too.

I often refer to fishing in what I call ‘No Man’s Land’. Basically, flat areas that don’t show up with obvious features that everyone is capable of finding these days. It used to be an edge finding a little depth change, or the edge of the weed, but everyone finds those spots now and in popular swims, the carp are usually on ultra cautious feeding mode in these areas.

I had let the carp show me the spots and when I explored them after I finished the session, there was little that stood out as being spots to try. I love these areas as without the weed or depth change, line lay becomes so much more simplistic.

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I had let the carp show me the spots

I will do my best to get back and up-date with another blog covering what I have done in June. Bait these past few weeks has been Rock Pool Rahja, normal Rahja Spice, and a pinch of hemp and Mini Mixed Pellet. I really do prefer to add tiny amounts of these, or else a take on the proper baits can take a little too long in coming. They are aware of the tiniest amount of both hemp or pellet used either on their own, or together.

Health hasn’t allowed much writing. I have to fight tiredness all the time, which isn’t conducive to tapping words out, but I have my better days. I have recently written two very long pieces. One as a guest chapter in a forthcoming book and the other one I simply got carried away with and not sure what a certain magazine is going to do with it. But 20,000 words in two articles was something I amazed myself with after days of not even being able to tap out 1,768 words as I have done above.

Until next time, best fishes to everyone.

Shaun Harrison

About the Author: Shaun Harrison

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Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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