Poulter Unchained – A post-lockdown session
Carper, Michael Poulter pens about a bumper session on his first trip out after lockdown.
As you can imagine in these strange times, being a health and safety adviser has kept me somewhat busy of late. So when we were all given the green light to go fishing I convinced my boss I needed two days off and headed straight to my syndicate, Hollybush, for some well-deserved down time.
The lake was well prepared for the current situation: Fishing by pre-booking only, 15 anglers maximum over three lakes, hand sanitizer mandatory etc. Basically all round good management of the situation, enough to bring a tear to an H&S advisers eye. A big thankyou to Tony for making our piece of fishing heaven also a safe place to be.
It was already late afternoon as I had to go to work in the morning and the sun was beating down, un-seasonally hot for May, the fish were milling about everywhere, taking in the rays. The water was flat calm and as I walked around it was clear that conditions were far from ideal apart from one little corner where there was an area with a gentle south westerly breeze that was creating a ripple.
I stood in that swim for about 10 minutes and in that time I saw many decent sized carp patrolling the area, just below the surface. “That’ll do” I said to my dog Buddy and set my water bottle down before going back to the van to get my gear.
I started off by leading around with a light lead to find three spots that would be good to present a bait, which were all at varying distances with the furthest being 9 wraps and the closest at 5 wraps. None of them fell with a solid “donk” but dragging back with an old rig attach showed that the areas were lightly covered by weed but nothing major.
Last year I had done very well on small 12mm white pop-ups presented on stiff hinge rigs, so this is what I thought I would start with this year (if it isn’t broken and all that.) All three rigs were soon dispatched on helicopter setups, with the bead set at about 3 inches on each to deal with the light bottom weed.
This was alongside 1.5oz leads, 3 inches of leadless leadcore and a 6 foot fluorocarbon leader as I use 33lb 4D braid, which is a great braid for fishing at short distance and snaggy/weedy conditions.
The rigs themselves were constructed using 25lb Carp Spirit Rigamortis in Lo-vis green, 18lb Optimex fluorocarbon and a size 6 wide gape Razor hook with enough putty to just sink the 12mm pop up. I have always used a wide gape pattern rather than the chod pattern for my stiff hinge rigs and the hook holds are always good but that is probably more down to my own preference as I know chod hooks work very well.
I sat on single hookbaits for about 3 hours rather than make a load of disturbance and scare off the carp that were still about in the area but this proved to be fruitless so I spombed out 6 spombs on each rod. The spod mix consisted of chopped Source boilies, Frenzied Chilli Hemp, sweetcorn and some whole source boilies in 3 sizes (12,15,18mm). Also a handful of 15mm Hot Fish boilies which are new to the UK from Dynamite this year. I sat back very happy with my efforts and chilled after a long 9 weeks with no angling.
I awoke at 5am after not receiving a single beep and made myself a cuppa to watch the water with. As I took my first sip the middle rod absolutely screamed off and I was soon doing battle with my first post-lockdown carp. It went through a number of weedbeds but with help from the 4D braid, I finally managed to bundle it into the net first time with a ball of weed.
Pulling back the weed I saw my prize, a 28lb mirror and a great start to the session. Photos were done but as I was putting the carp back my right hand rod went off at such a rate I was almost scared to pick it up. As I leaned into it, the fish hit the surface at about 30 yards out and came in like a dog on a lead, until it was under the rod tip where it decided to give my Magnum X5’s a proper workout.
Eventually it was ready for netting and just as is kissed the cord the hook pulled! I checked the rig, nothing was amiss and I just put it down to one of those things, which was a shame because it looked like a decent sized common of about 20lbs. I was just licking my wounds after the loss when my recently recast rod dropped back and I was into another lovely Hollybush carp, this time a scaley mid-double mirror. I re-addressed all 3 rods with new hookbaits attached and sat back in the now scorching sun, needless to say all remained quiet and what’s worse, my coffee had gone cold!
Late afternoon I decided put some more bait out in preparation for the night and early morning feeding spells. I put two kilos of mix over each rod but moved one of my rods (the biteless one) closer to one of the productive rods, so you can imagine my surprise when one of them went off half an hour later despite the unfavourable daytime conditions and spombing.
Again it hit the surface quickly but unlike its predecessor it went straight into the net with no fuss. It was a mid-double common which I returned quickly due to the heat. Again I settled down for the night but this time at about 10pm my rest was interrupted by a low double mirror from the 2 rod spot.
The final prize
The rest of the night was fishless but once again at 5am I had a stuttering take that I originally mistook for a tench, which eventually turned into a lovely 20lb mirror with a mega scale pattern. It was soon time to break camp as my time on the lake was due to finish at 10:30 and with everything loaded on the trolley apart from the rods and net the middle rod exploded into action. Straight away I knew it was a better fish, kiting on a long line, slowly moving through the weedbeds and once again the braid did its job and helped me eventually slip the net under a lovely long 30lb 3oz common. What a great way to end a lovely first trip back. Let’s hope it’s the first of many!