9th December 2017

RARELY CAUGHT KIPPERS
This will be the simple ramblings of an old carp angler but I will attempt to base them around sensible reasoning and back them up with facts.
To start let me take you back a bit. Some years ago, around 2008/9, one of our customers caught a large common. He had to wade out to net the fish and then described how it beat him up out in the lake and how it was so big that he and his mate failed to get any photos. I openly admit that I didn’t believe a word of it and these were back in the days when a Moorlands forty was a massive fish and we were only just beginning to see the possibility of some of the mirrors making fifty pounds with the commons way behind.
In summer 2010 I spotted a large common, probably the largest I’d ever seen, cruising through the weed beds of the Southern Arm and let the anglers know what I’d seen. Nobody was interested in moving down there so I took the opportunity myself and, purely by luck, I hooked and eventually landed a big Common. Now I’m assuming that it was the one that I’d seen but I have no proof of that. However, at 51lbs 2oz, it was my first fifty plus Common and I named it “The Long Common”. Photos were done and back she went, not to be seen again until the drain down of 2011 when we purposely didn’t weigh her in order to keep some mystery. In hind sight I now wish we had.
She was caught again, once in 2013 and again in 2014 but both times were after spawning and, even though she was a mid fifty, she certainly didn’t look in her prime. I must add here that we also have some of the big mirrors which also only get caught once or twice each year.
Since then she has stayed under the radar so well that, earlier this year, we assumed that she had died and took her photo down. But, during the early summer, we rescued a Common from behind the fence which runs along the stock pond dam. I’m not going to bore you all with full details of that day as I’ve covered it in chapter 15 of “Living the Dream” but that fish was massive. Having rescued her very shortly after weighing our biggest commons known as “Pipesmoker” at 59lbs 2oz, “Andy’s” at 59lbs 15oz, plus the biggest mirrors, known as “Half Lin” at 74lbs 15oz and “Cut Tail” at 76lbs 15oz, I think I’m entitled to believe that I can recognize a big carp when I see one and I will put in writing that I honestly believe that she was, at least, equal to any of the above fish. Now I don’t know whether the rescued fish was The Long Common or whether she, like Andy’s, is a young fish which is flying through the ranks but, whichever, she is not a fish that we have seen banked recently.
Now comes the real reason for this ramble, why has she not been caught more frequently?
In my fifty plus years of carp angling I have heard several stories of mythical monster carp in various lakes. Most of these stories cannot be proven but I know of one lake which was fished by some very good anglers who all reported seeing this huge fish but which didn’t actually get caught but was eventually found dead so it did indeed exist.
I also spent a few years on Linear Fisheries Manor Farm lake and saw, on a few occasions, a very big common. Everything is relative and I would estimate it to have been around the forty pounds mark, which was huge during the mid nineties. On one occasion I was walking round the lake with a group of friends and we crept up on a large carp which was feeding in the margins along the road bank, at a time when the lake was in flood. In short, we expected to be able to recognize Popeye or Cut Tail but we were shocked to see that it was indeed a common which would have matched the aforementioned for size. I know several other known anglers also saw her on various occasions but, again, she was never banked.
Right, why?
I guess we will never really know but I have some theories and I will try to paint some of them here.
I used to hear lots of anglers asking how the Redmire carp grew so big without regular introduction of anglers baits. Whichever way you look at it, they certainly weren’t getting any HNV boilies between their introduction by Donald Lenny in 1934 and Dick Walker’s capture of Clarissa in 1952 so what did they grow on and why did The King and Queen never get caught? I’m going to leave you in suspenders for a bit while I jump forward to my own experiences.
Since buying Moorlands in 2002 we have carried out 6 drain downs and after each one we always see a major bloom of baby carp following the next year’s spawning. In brief the drain down messes up the predator balance and too many baby carp survive. It has always been obvious that, in amongst these fingerlings, which are all from the same sets of eggs, some were considerably bigger than others, to the point that some were twice the size of their siblings. On one occasion I watched one of the larger fry smash into the shoal and appear to grab and eat one of its neighbors. It had obviously turned canibal.
I netted a few small fish and hooked one of the small commons and flicked it out under a float. Within seconds I had hooked and swung in one of the slightly larger fish. I repeated this over and over and that proved to me that it was “natural” behavior. Now my brain began to whir and this following paragraph is my thoughts and beliefs.
In order to continue this through we have to keep an open mind and I’m sure there will still be more questions than answers at the end.
My first thought is that it is possible that the biggest fish from each batch are those that turn canibal first. The protein boost from eating fry will certainly give them a massive start in life and anyone who has bred puppies or kittens etc. knows that, in order to get the biggest/strongest specimen you need to give them the best start in life. Now let’s ask ourselves what happens if one or two of these carp get, virtually locked into this taste for fry? Could it mean that they continue to outgrow the rest of their companions and, if so, do they then move on to eating slightly larger fry? If that is also a possibility then does that explain why some fish rarely, or never, get caught. Let’s face it, there aren’t many people dead baiting on expensive carp syndicates but if they did ……………?
I honestly believe that the carp in Redmire feasted on the thousands of gudgeon that were also in there and this is the reason that they grew so big but also the reason for them being so hard to catch. I believe that the biggest fish in that magical pool had absolutely no reason to pick up anglers baits.
I also believe that some of our big fish (not just the big common) are caught so infrequently. It seems possible that some switch to boilies etc. as the weather warms in late winter and spring because the fry aren’t there in such numbers or that the carp metabolism is low and they almost choose to accept stationary, easily available, items of food rather than using energy to chase live food. It might even be that some simply have a taste for varying items of food. However, once the chemical signals from spawning get released these seem to trigger most of the fish to consume the eggs that they’ve just worked so hard to produce and some of the fish to switch back to fry feeding in earnest and this can last well into the summer. With some thought we could use this to our advantage and that doesn’t necessarily mean live or deadbaiting.
Ok, so now we are considering why some don’t get caught very often but could this also be the reason that some never get caught? Has our biggest Common (and the two biggest fish in Redmire) simply never switched from the early life-lesson of eating live fish?
As I said earlier, more questions than answers but it has certainly got me thinking about possible ways of attracting these very special creatures to my bait, plus, how can I make my hookbait just that bit different? I think that the fishmeal base is certainly the right way to go, the use of liquid feeds that stay in the lower layers of the lake are certainly an advantage and now it’s just the hookbait itself that needs some added boost, without overdoing the flavors. There are lots of options out there but I think I’ve laid out enough clues for now.
Let’s get thinking and be lucky.

30th November 2017

Well I wasn’t expecting to be posting again this soon but I’m delighted to have needed to.

As most of you will know I found a group of fish yesterday whilst out in the boat. My plan was to wait until next week, when the weather is supposed to be milder, but the excitement was just too great. I finished strimming the reads first and then put the rods out, one close to yesterday’s “huddle” spot, one about 10 yards away and one about 20 yards away. At lunch time I had a single bleep then a gap of 10 seconds or so, then another bleep, then a a gap and then a third bleep. With each bleep the bobbin slowly lifted about an inch until it was fairly tight to the rod but nothing else moved. One more bleep was accompanied by a “ping” as the line came out of the clip and, at that point I lifted the rod. The resistance was immediately solid, proper solid, to the point where, with the rod bent right over, nothing moved. Then the rod tip lifted gently before slowly folding down towards whatever was creating the power. I promise you I started to shake at this point and then the fish made a path towards the lodge. There didn’t appear to be any panic, just pure, solid determination and my reel slowly ticked as the spool turned. I admit that I was praying “please don’t come off” and gradually I seemed to be gaining ground. I pulled up my boots and walked out into the lake with my landing net at the side of me and my first sight was a huge, top lobe of her tail. I already knew this was a goodun but that underlined it.
The fight was probably about 20 minutes and I was really relieved to see her slide over the draw string. “Yep that’s a lump.” A quick call to Sharon saved Jan from getting muddy for the photos and, I’m sure you will agree that she’s done me proud.
At 55lbs 2oz I am made up.
For the technically interested she was caught on a Dynamite ComplexT 15mm boilie, straight out of the bag but wrapped in tough paste and with a small mesh bag of ComplexT pellets. No other freebies.
The rig was my standard Solar 101 size 2 tied as a whipped “D” rig on Rigmarole CamH2o fluoro hook link, 2oz running lead and slack lines.

28th November 2017

Well, as always, November has been a busy month for us as a family. Jan’s birthday, our golden wedding anniversary and my birthday all condensed into a couple of weeks. We managed to grab a wonderful week away in Antibes and it made me realize, yet again, just how much I still love my beautiful wife and how easy we are together.

Anyway, enough of the slushy stuff. I have spent all of my spare days, since the end of the season, strimming and burning the reeds along the Long bank. With the water still low I have been able to stand in the clay and cut the reeds back to bed level as opposed to the water level that we have had to work to in recent years. We managed to burn the cuttings as we worked up from Billy’s to Stumps but we are now suffering light rain so burning is going to take a back seat. However, today I completed that bank and now hope to do the whole of the meadow bank by the weekend. Before anyone asks, my reasons for the cutting are that the spring growth is always fresh green with no old dead stems showing, the coots have less nesting material and any rats that do move in are more exposed and easier for the stoats, martens and birds of prey to pick off.

While on this subject can I give a massive well done to the moron who decided that an empty beer bottle was much too heavy to carry all the way back from Middles to the lodge so decided to throw it in the reeds. I hit it with the brush cutter and got showered with broken glass so thank you very much.

I won’t go into the rest of our winter plans just yet but there are a few that we hope to carry out and I will cover each one as we do it. However, we do hope to be able to offer our guests the chance to have their bait here waiting for them when they arrive. If we can get everything worked out it should be possible to order the amount of bait that you want, at the same time as paying your balances, including pop ups, glues etc. and we will get them shipped out and sitting in our freezer waiting for you. The advantages will be, no more arranging delivery, finding freezer room at home, finding room in the car to bring it with you and worrying about keeping it frozen. On top of all that we hope to be able to do this for about the same price as the U.K. tackle shops. More details will be available within the next few days.

Exciting times ahead and I really can’t wait to be able to let you all know as each plan bears fruit.

16th November 2017

Having completed our 2017 season and with the second half being below our hopes and expectations, I have been concentrating on reed strimming and burning, emptying the stock pond, and stocking up on logs to keep us warm for the winter and various other bits and pieces during our “time off.” We are also planning a long weekend in Antibes to celebrate our golden wedding (50th) anniversary so I have had very little time to put together any detail of the season in depth. However, what little time I have had, I have spent examining the captures of the easily recognizable members of the “A” team and I think it’s quite interesting.
Now, before you jump to the list below, I need to explain that these are not all of the team nor are the recorded weights at their best weights, some are, some aren’t. There is also a lot of fish not on this list as we have several fifty pound plus carp that have been named by anglers but the names haven’t really stuck because the names refer to a moment in time rather than a feature on the fish itself. Basically, I am unlikely to remember “Fido” because it was “my nan’s dog’s name” as opposed to “Single Scale” or similar. That is the main reason that we stopped trying to record every fifty pounder. We got to about 42 of them and realized it was impossible to recognize every one easily.
There have also been several mid and upper fifties caught which we either didn’t get called to verify weights and names or the photos were so poor that we couldn’t tell which fish it was. It would be pointless for me to add several “unknown” fish to the list which might actually already be included. And that brings us neatly to another example “The Unknown” is missing from the list because we didn’t see her this year. She was a good fifty last year but didn’t get banked prior to spawning.
We must also bear in mind that we have a common in here which will put the Pipesmoker and Andy’s to shame when it does get banked. The fish that we rescued from the stock pond dam fence was up with the top two on our list and I have a theory as to why she, and a few others, rarely gets caught but that’s for another day.
I think you will agree that, even with a continuation of our growth rates, plus getting caught at exactly the right time, we could easily have at least 10 carp over 60lbs next year and two of them could be 80lbs plus.

THE A TEAM
Cut Tail – 76.15 – 26/04/17
Half Lin –

76.15

Pretty on 55.14

– 03/05/17
Clover – 60.05 – 31/05/17
Andy’s common – 59.15 – 03/05/17
Pipesmoker – 59.02 – 11/05/17
Peach – 58.00 – 30/05/17
Round Scale – 57.14 – 11/05/17
Black Scale – 57.03 – 10/05/17
Footsteps – 56.10 – 08/05/17
Pretty One – 55.14 – 30/10/17
Horseshoe Scale – 54-14 – 21/10/17
Chunky – 54.02 – 19/06/17
Arfur – 53.03 – 07/05/17
Chunky’s Double – 50.13 – 04/05/17

 

6th November 2017

SEASON END 2017
We are now into the period of our year where we don’t have any anglers but we start the hard graft of trimming back trees and hedges, strimming all of the reeds around the lake, repairing the swims and getting everything ready for the new year.
Before all of that we have virtually completed draining our stock pond so that will be left dry for a while before refilling and ready to accommodate any carp below 25lbs which may be caught in the main lake next year. I’m also hoping to get a chance to plant some oxygenating weeds and water lilies in order to make it a much more attractive part of our home.
Right, that’s the work orientated blurb out of the way so it would make sense to have a brief look back at the seasons end. It’s not been the most exciting second half of our year but there have still been some high spots. Whilst writing this I should also let you know that I have been doing some research into the captures of our known and named fish and there could be some very interesting things to report so watch this space.
Right, the fishing over the second half of this season has fluctuated from very poor to exciting. In all honesty there have been more poor weeks than good ones but we ended on a good one. The lads last week worked bloody hard and banked 39 carp, which is a superb result in dropping temperatures so they all deserve a big “well angled” fellas.
In amongst those 39 carp were 4 personal bests and that included “Horseshoe Scale” at her best ever weight of 54lbs 14oz which was also 2lbs 7oz bigger than her last capture on 31st August 2017 (8 weeks).
I think it’s pretty obvious that the carp have remained on naturals throughout this year and this would appear to apply to several other lakes across France. My theory is that the fluctuating weather this year has slowed or even stopped the normal hatches. We haven’t seen prolonged spells of swallows feeding over the lake and even the bats were sparse until very recently and we haven’t seen the clouds of midges this year. If my theory is correct it would mean that the likes of bloodworm have remained in the mud much longer then normal so the carp have had an easy feast. This could prove very beneficial in the long term but hasn’t helped this year.
Now, in general terms, boilies have struggled while the naturals have been in abundance but one particular boilie shone out. I had never heard of “ComplexT” until Ting Tong turned up with it and it IMMEDIATELY produced the goods. I mentioned it in my blog following his groups 70 carp catch and several of the following anglers made sure that they brought some with them and used it to their advantage. It isn’t too hard to say that it certainly continued to lure the carp and virtually all of the big fish since early September have fallen to it. Obviously I wanted to try to find out what was making it different and what little testing I have managed suggests that it attracts everything and not just the carp. A couple of baits thrown in the margin were covered in snails within minutes so that could easily be the reason for the extra attraction. Whether that is right or not, the fact remains that it has certainly been a successful bait.

Pretty on 55.14
Garry Linear 49.03
Garry Linear 49.03

22nd October 2017

Well here we are at the start of our penultimate week of this season. Last week was another poor week with just a handful of carp to mid forties banked. It seemed that the low water levels had an immediate effect on the confidence of some of the anglers and there was a distinct feeling that the fish weren’t feeding because of the levels. Nothing could be further from the truth as we watched numbers of carp bubbling and rolling from the dam wall down to Boneyard. Yes, you need to put in some extra effort to get the best out of these conditions but that goes for most carp angling situations doesn’t it?

Anyway, the lads, this week, have moved in with a determination to get some results and it seems to already be paying off. Yesterday saw virtually every one of the eight anglers wading out to find spots to fish to and plenty of bait going in. Now, bait, since Ting Tong’s success with ComplexT, we have seen a few anglers using it and, the more that goes in, the more successes it produces. It’s a soft bait but seems to have high attraction levels. So far this week, with only one night gone, we have ween four carp banked with the two biggest at 41lbs common to Jez and “Horseshoe Scale” at 54lbs 15oz (her best ever weight) to Simon. Well angled fellas and let’s hope it carries on.

41lbs