I must apologize for the lateness of this April Blog. I had completed it and then discovered my close friend Jan Porter had sadly lost his brave and determined battle against cancer. It totally destroyed me and I held this piece back. I wanted to write about Jan but still I'm finding it hard to find the right words to say.
Strap your guitar on mate, find us some nice quiet water and if you see Brook, tell her I'll be back with you both one day.
So, here is what I wrote before I'd received the devastating news that one of the best had been taken early...
April started with yet another new angling diary/journal and during the same period, another year was added to my age, I’m sure the years get shorter you know.
I have always kept an angling diary even from before I started fishing for larger than average fish. My diaries today are very detailed diary and record the wind direction, speed, and temperature as well as cloud cover and atmospheric pressures and the moon phases on a daily basis, plus the river levels during the river season, as well as the obvious important details of each session and my thoughts at the time.
I think the diary keeping must have originally started not only because of my anorak tendencies of wanting to record facts, but also my simple need to write. I’m a fussy old sod though as a rather frustrated girlfriend once found out when she thought it a good idea to accompany me on a shopping trip to buy a new book I considered worthy of recording my memories in. It became a full afternoon job and still I hadn’t found exactly what I wanted despite visiting countless shops.
It’s not just the book and paper that are important to me. The pen I form these words with has to be a fountain pen and the ink is not just any old ink. The ink which leaves words on my page contains water from some of my favourite venues. Yes, I’m a fussy old sod but my fussiness doesn’t necessarily mean I am using the most expensive or highest quality I can find. My favourite ‘angling’ pen for these past couple of years has been a Lamy Safari. I find them very comfortable to use and they form the words for me effortlessly. I prefer the fine nib, but to be fair I wouldn’t class them as fine but are just right for me. Using fountain pens I need a book with paper that is suitable for ‘wet ink’ and my current favourite notebooks are Leuchtturm1917’s.
Anyway, this is supposed to be an angling blog but I mention my diaries a fair bit and get asked about them a bit, so thought I’d tell a little more, so please forgive me.
Right then, back to what I have recorded angling wise this past month.
Friday the 8th was the day after the new moon and finally time for most of the carp to start feeding again in earnest. I wanted to visit Stobbart’s that had been so kind to me over the winter months, but needed to be at one of the British Carp Study Group waters for work party duties on the Saturday and Sunday.
I’d not visited the water since last summer and upon talking to a couple of members on arrival I found there had only been two carp caught so far this year and very few fish actually seen. I took the obligatory walk around and couldn’t believe I spotted a couple of fish on my first lap, so my hoody was removed and hung in a tree to secure the swim, old habits die hard as there really isn’t any need to do this on any B.C.S.G. waters.
The barrowing of my gear was probably the furthest and hardest I’ve ever had to do. The wet winter had left the ground a little soft for easy barrowing but eventually I was in my chosen swim and relaxing in my chair with a cool non alcoholic drink whilst watching the water further before rushing to get my gear assembled. Whilst sitting there I saw more fish and a plan was developing in my head, I knew exactly what I was going to do and where I was going to position my baits.
Two went to areas I have caught before and a third was to a spot I’d not fished before, then a light sprinkling of 10 mm Magnum White’s were catapulted over quite a large area. I was just starting to tie a marker knot on the rod on the new spot and the line pulled tight. I tried to complete the knot but couldn’t, I’d a carp to play!
I really couldn’t believe my luck hooking a fish within seconds of casting into a water that had only produced 2 fish so far this year and it was with huge relief that the hook stayed in long enough for me to net it.
First light the next morning I added another fish to my list. This one was larger but unfortunately burst out of the Velcro on my retaining sling whilst sorting the camera, so I never got a picture of it.
It was then time to wind in and start work but what did I care? It had been a lovely welcome back to the lake for me.
April 13th I was back on Stobbart’s in a choice of swim dictated by what was left! I had been in a B.C.S.G. Steering Group meeting all afternoon and by the time I’d arrived the time was cracking on and all the swims I’d hoped to be able to get in were taken. Not only that, but the rain lashed down as well. I guess I should be thankful that a swim was available near one of the car parks so I was able to set up without getting everything too wet.
I had decided upon a change of approach for this trip as for the past year I had hardly used any other bait for the carp other than Magnum White and to a lesser extent the Questrami. I’d enjoyed my best year ever but was fully aware that I was pushing the same couple of baits all the time so this session I decided to use my old favourite that I’d developed on the Mangrove and the bait that has been our biggest seller for the last 8 years, Rahja Spice.
Friday night and Saturday passed without action. To rub salt in I saw fish caught where I had fancied but was forced to stay put. I knew the fish were well onto my bait and the rigs would work if they eventually swam by me. Saturday night and I spotted fish starting to get closer. Past experience on Stobbart’s has shown me that when it’s busy and I can’t get where I feel I need to be, then simply keeping my swim as quiet and undisturbed as possible, usually sees the fish drift into my swim as it’s usually the quietest area of the lake with no lines more than a few metres out to spook them.
Sunday lunch and I was beginning to think my casts from Friday evening might be tangled. It was becoming a mind game scenario but I’d worked at creating a totally undisturbed swim with no recasting etc. There had been snow the previous day and a real heavy frost overnight but by lunch the pit was practically calm and I sat out on the rods soaking in the warmth from the sun when suddenly the middle rod came to life.
I knew immediately that I was into one of the better fish and after what seemed an age in the edge I eventually coaxed a chunky mid 30 mirror over the net. My sit and camp plan of leaving the water totally undisturbed since my casts on the Friday had worked. Unfortunately o lost a big fish straight after this capture due to a hook pull. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d pulled out of a carp.
April 22nd – Full Moon and big common time.
The two biggest commons in the lake that had both weighed 40 plus had yet to put an appearance in and I was sure this would be the week-end to stand the best chance of bumping into them whilst most of the smaller fish would be slightly off the feed due to the moon phase. I had made a big thing about this prior to my trip on social media but horror of horrors one of them came out at 42 a couple of days before I could get. At least studying of these things for years had again been proven right.
39 years of diary keeping and recording things like moon phases has shown that there are far too many instances of the biggest commons getting caught in both the day light and at night over the 2 or 3 days either side of a full moon. Many say it’s a load of trash as their biggest common wasn’t on a full moon. Well, what a ridiculous thing to say. Of course they feed most days or else they would never grow large. What I do know though is that the full moon period is usually a poor time for catching the smaller fish thus you have a greater chance of the larger fish and in particular commons, which don’t seem to be so put off by the full moon.
Anyway, I guess you’ve guessed after this mention of diaries and the moon. I caught the other big one over a catapulted bed of 10 mm Rahja Spice boilies with the same presented on one of my home tied combi rigs and the P.B. Products Hit and Run System tricking the fish enough to let me set the hook completely.
Now before you say it was a fluke that those two fish just happened to get caught on a full moon period, the same full moon period. Next door to Stobbarts there is another pit that contains a rather large common. That fish was caught too. Three big commons that rarely get caught, stretched over 2 pits and all three had turned up exactly when I expected them to.
Keeping a detailed diary can help in your decisions where to angle in differing conditions. I wonder what May has in store?
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Rest in peace Jan Porter. Gone but never forgotten.