Short Session Success
Tony Welch reveals his tips and tactics used in his recent short sessions...
Short sessions to some anglers may be something like thirty odd hours on the bank. That sort of time for me these days would be heavenly! At present I manage a very quick night three times a month. Literally heading for the lake at 8pm and finding my way home by 1030am the following morning. With a young family and a shift change at work my time on the bank has been reduced dramatically. However, it won’t be forever and in the not so distant future I’m hoping to change a few things to not only enable me to have more family time but also more angling time too, and no, I’m not going on the dole!
So, how do I go about being even slightly successful with only around 44 hours fishing per month? Firstly, and I know you've heard it before but visiting lakes is paramount. Walking my dog at first and last light helps me achieve this. Keeping my ear to the ground and gathering as much up to date information as possible is all key to being successful. It has to be that way because turning up blind and not having any time to look around means there is a good chance of a blank, and nobody likes a blanker!
Whilst I’m looking around my chosen venue I tend to trickle in a little bait. Not too much, just enough to get a few spots going and condition the carp into coming in and finding free food on a regular basis. I love watching the carp and looking at how the fish feed on a particular lake and on a particular spot. I can then adjust my rigs to suit, again, upping my chances of success.
The lakebed where I’m fishing at the moment is extremely soft with fluffy silt covering most of it. I have caught fish on Naked Chod Rigs, this being the obvious choice. However, I needed to adjust my set up for a couple of reasons, firstly I noticed them spooking off the highly visible fluoro pop-ups I was using, which were mounted on standard length chod hooklinks. Secondly, I needed to fish with a tighter line for much quicker bite indication. I kept to a helicopter set-up but changed over to Multi Rigs, which allowed me to present a lower to the deck pop-up and I rolled myself some dulled orange citrus specials utilising the Polaris mix and liquid additives from Mainline. This new set-up worked a treat for me and I landed several carp over my next few overnighters. The carp on this venue aren't large by any stretch of the imagination, but they are stunning, as you can see from the photos. I think the carp angling world has gone mad for big fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love catching a whacker but carp of any size are more than welcome in my net.
I’ll give you a run down of the kit I use to tackle this venue. It’s quite straightforward and if you fish in the silt have a go with this setup, hooklink and hookbait. It’s tried and tested reliable kit and will take that part of the jigsaw out of your mind, leaving you to concentrate on the other aspects.
The lake itself is fairly demanding on tackle, but many of the snags and much of the weed has been removed. The fish themselves cleared lots of the weed by ripping it up and sifting through it after the bait that was going in. They loved a mix of brown crabmeat and pellet on top of the anglers bait! There is still weed present and lots of marginal cover including a large canopy of trees, which the fish love to get under. The owner using a mask, snorkel and some hard graft has largely removed the snags!
On to the fishing itself. To be successful on my short sessions I need to arrive at the lake with everything ready to go. I don’t have time to be messing about tying rigs, preparing bait or walking laps of the lake looking. I’ve already done all my homework and I have a plan before I arrive. Saying that, it’s always worth having a back up and I have been known not to even set up until gone midnight when my original plan didn’t come together! Ten minutes in the right place and all that!
I get to the lake tooled-up with reliable kit and bait. I use Gardner Pro XM main line, it’s soft, limp, casts well, sinks, has great knot strength and is very reliable. Basically the best all round main line I have ever used and I can’t rave about it enough! Attached to the mainline I use either a Camflex lead-free or lead core leader, around 3-4 feet in length. A helicopter set-up is the obvious choice and I set the top bead around 8-10 inches up from the 2oz lead. I do this so the lead can sink/settle into the silt leaving the hooklink to gently settle on top. I always incorporate a Drop Out Chod Safety Clip so the lead can discharge and I stay in contact with a fish should the lead snag on anything. Depending on my hook bait I use either the Multi Rig or a Combi-Rig both around 10 inches in length. I make the Multi Rig from the new Ultra-Skin coated braid in 25lb and a size 6 Chod hook for use with one of my dulled down orange pop-ups. I’ll make the Combi Rig from 12lb Subterfuge fluorocarbon, Trickster Heavy braid and a size 8 Mugga hook set up blow-back style.
Bait-wise I use chopped boilie, usually Cell and Hybrid. These half baits flutter down and nestle into the fluffy silt. Whole baits sink in and disappear. Along with the boilies I also use a mix of pellet, again usually the dedicated Mainline Cell and Hybrid Response Pellets. I add Mainline Fos Oil to the pellet to give them a nice coating and a short soak just prior to them going in. This creates a nice flat spot when the fish are over the bait alerting me to expect a take at any given moment.
Preparation is everything when time is of the essence so my two rods are always ready to go. I have one spot on the far margin of the lake so the rod is already clipped up from the previous session and the line marked with marker elastic. It’s literally a case of tying on a pop-up, checking it in the edge, then pinging it over to the far side spot. I’ll then nip round and check it and add some free bait. My second rod goes down the nearside margin, under that canopy of trees! It’s a really awkward cast and when casting I can’t get it in and under the trees where I want it to be. I have waded it in but to be honest it’s far too risky. It’s a deepish margin, steep sided and very silty. It’s so awkward and risky I think I just ended up spooking the fish out for hours on end, lesson learnt there! I’ve never owned a bait boat, but a bait boat wouldn’t half make life easy. I know the great bait boat debate lives on in the carp angling world. I personally don’t have an issue with them if they help an angler catch a carp. I’ve used rowing boats on large lakes to bait up and drop hook baits and I’ve waded out in excess of 70 yards on shallow lakes to drop a hook bait so using a bait boat for me isn’t a problem. What is a problem, is the price of them!
Anyway, back to the point, how do I get the hook bait safely into position without the risk of drowning, spooking them and bankruptcy. Well, the answer is I use a match mans pole with a Gardner net float and baiting spoon attached to the end. To get the hook bait into position I flick the lead part way down the margin to the mouth of the canopy. Then I walk down the bank with the pole and find the lead. I attach my hook link via the size 12 Kwik-Lok Flexi Ring Swivel and lay it out in the baiting spoon. I add an amount of pellet and Fosoil, then ship it all the way down the margin to my spot. With the pole in one hand and my main line in the other it’s simply a case of turning the pole so the rig and bait fall the correct way out of the spoon. As soon as the lead touches down I quickly get back to the rod to sort the line out and set the indicator. Sounds complicated, but in fact it’s quite simple and I can then sit back, with confidence, and put the kettle on knowing it’s just a matter of time!