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Spring is in the air - everywhere I look around

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 12 April 2023 |

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Spring is in the air – Everywhere I look around

Yes, spring is in the air, everywhere I look around, but winter doesn’t seem to want to let go just yet. I took some days off over Easter, my birthday fell on the eve of Good Friday, so, beings as I try and catch myself a birthday present on my birthday I ventured to my favourite venue, hopefully for ‘a special one’. I caught but failed to catch on my actual birthday. Some of you may want to take note that April 6th is usually a day that the carp really can be stubborn. In all the years I have tried to catch a birthday carp, I only remember twice having a ‘special catch’. One of those was last year which I put down to my father watching over and ‘having a word’ for me. He had passed away just two days before.

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Birthday carp 2022 I was sure Dad had had a word.

With the first quarter of the year out the way and my figures/paperwork safely with my accountant to try and make some sense of, my mind is once again clearing and reflecting on my angling so far this year.

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My first carp of this year came on 1st January

Now it got off to a great start really, as I landed my first carp of the year at 11.15pm on the 1st of January, the second one came at 1.45 am on the 2nd of January and then it was back to work after a much-needed Xmas break. Yes, I answered the odd email etc, but had enjoyed semi switching off from the usual everyday life. 25 years working in a tackle shop, I never had much of a break at Xmas, so these days, because I can, I do. To be fair, it is the only time I close the office down each year.

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2nd of January and the year had started so well. Then it was back to work.

This past winter I stuck with the Rock Pool Rahja as my main bait but had increased the amount of Magnum White I was introducing with it. Not a lot of bait, I was fishing catapult range most of the time and just a few pouches at a time was certainly the way to go, or so it had seemed. I prefer in winter when the coots and tufted ducks can see what you are doing to bait up in the dark. I tend to do this just into dark and again before I turn in for the night, which is usually around midnight. I have never really got why so many seem to struggle with the long dark hours of winter, I love them. It’s one of the few times I feel I can get properly zoned in, without the daytime distractions of others.

Talking of distractions, the early part of the year is always fishing show time as well as work party time, so my angling usually gets interrupted. I fish best when I feel semi in tune with a venue and for that I need to be visiting at least once a week. Show season and work parties totally mess this up for me. It is nice having a choice of venue to fish, but the downside is a lot of time spent at work parties during the time of the year when I feel it is ever so important to be sitting and watching. During the warmer months a lap of a lake should give you a pretty good idea of where you need to be and what you think the carp are doing. Winter and you are often straining for the slightest clue.

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The weather had been rather trying, but I managed to keep the odd carp coming.

Well, that is usually my excuse for struggling through the end of January and February, but this year, I did okay. I admit it was a bit of a hard slog, but I got it right a few times. I’d stuck with what I know after so many years of winter fishing. The carp’s metabolism slows right down, so my reverse combi-rig usually comes into its own. Minimal to see, easy for them to suck in, but problematic for them to spit out again, giving all the time in the world to pull that hook properly home. Either little sight balls in a PVA bag near the discreet hook bait or sometimes a little cluster of baits PVA’d is my preference to over flavouring or glugging. I like to attract their attention, but not have an obvious ‘this is the danger bait hook bait’ scenario seemingly favoured by so many others during the colder months.

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We had frosts, we had floods, but what do you expect in winter?

Well, my methods caught me a few again this winter on a water that doesn’t give up its fish too easily after December.

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One of my February carp from this year. Over the years I have always found February to be the trickiest month.

The end of February I did particularly well with a very pleasing multiple fish catch on the tried and tested.

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The first fish of a multiple February catch. I was still setting up.

I really do feel that when I blank, I have simply got the location wrong, or I have an unfortunate presentation laying awkward over a stone or whatever. Yes, I blank the same as everyone else does, but it was a massive turn around point in my angling when I realised that I didn’t need to change everything after each blank. Confidence takes a lot of gaining.

March started with The Big One angling show, bad memories for me as it was whilst I was at the previous years show when my Father took a tumble which was the start of a real sad shutting down of his body, a few weeks later and he was dead.

This year I ended up with Meralgia Paresthetica which I have still not managed to shake off as I write this, six weeks on. I have suffered with it during past shows, but usually shake it off again within a couple of days. This year I am really suffering with it and has made me have to drop out of a couple of work parties. I have one this coming weekend. I just hope I can get through it without too much trouble. I hate not being able to help. I’m not sure why I have just shared this, hopefully third time lucky next year and something to be really happy about and nothing but good memories after The Big One.

The Essex Show and the Big One had both been excellent shows for us (Free Spirit Fishing). I have done the shows for F.S.F. ever since its formation over 20 years ago. Things have moved on so much since that first show. It has been an incredible ride, even if I do still feel crippled by the last one.

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My last fish of my winter campaign. Time for a different scenery.

Well March came along and with the leg issue, I was limited what I could do. It is amazing how often we stand still in one place without realising it, until you have something wrong with you. Even such simple things we never give a second thought to like stood having a chat. I am fine sat down, or indeed walking, but stood still in one spot and the pain is very uncomfortable. I did end March with a rather nice fish before deciding to call my winter campaign to an end and start to look elsewhere for a different scenery and a different challenge.

The first quarter had been kind to me and I guess this is a natural close to the first quarter.

Best wishes as always

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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