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Bagging Up - Andrew Murray

17/08/2021 - Tactics & Edges

Hi all, can you believe its August already? Since I got back from France, I have had a lot of work and writing to catch up on. It has certainly hit into my fishing time the last few weeks. As I’m sat typing this up, its likely to be another week before I can get out yet as well. What is more annoying is that the big pit fishes well at this time of the year. Still, needs must. 

The things is, we now have a long season for fishing don’t we, so its maybe not a bad thing to have a few weeks out and catch up on some other things that life throws at us. It’s usually around this time of year that we will start to see full carp set-ups for sale, anglers have chased carp (amongst other species) non-stop all year and are getting a bit fed-up or disillusioned for various reasons. I must admit, sometimes I look at others catches on Social Media with a tinge of jealousy, it seems like others are constantly catching and I’m struggling! The thing is what we see are the catches and not the blanks in between, or how much time it is actually taking out of peoples lives to achieve some of these captures. So, I try to shrug off what others are doing, and focus on what I’m doing. Yes, I would like more time on the bank, there are times when I’m due to leave a swim and I can see the fish are coming in. A few days later I hear someone had a big carp from that swim, it happens! I fish a difficult lake, and everything must be right to catch, time is the great settlor in this carp-catching equation. But and it is a big but, I have other obligations in life, to my family, my work and other parts of my life, including my health and Sanity. I think this is where some anglers go wrong, the obsession is so intense it burns them out. so, I would say, take some time out, the carp will still be there another time, and catch up on your life. For me, it’s important that I enjoy being on the bank, otherwise there is no point is there?

So, since my return from France and after isolation, we had a few family engagements-Mothers Birthday, Grandsons Birthday, and a family wedding, which were all great family events. It’s been so good to get out and socialize again and have more than a glass or two to go along with it! 

Last month I wrote about our recent trip to France, I thought this month I would talk about a session I had on the A1 Pits at Newark, which is my regular haunt for my UK fishing. And some of the tactics I used, it may help you put a few extra carp on the bank at what is coming up to be a great time of year for catching carp. I arrived on a lovely Sunny afternoon, with a few anglers leaving, there were some swims coming available. I always prefer to fish the big pit here but only if I can get where I fancy a bite or two. No point sitting where the carp are not feeding. If I can’t get on Pit 6, then I will look on Pit 5 which is a bit smaller at some 20 odd acres. After a couple of hours we started to see carp showing regularly in one area on the opposite side, they seemed to be coming out of the corner along the bars that run along there.

Talking to one angler he had sat and blanked for two days watching the carp show somewhere else! I would always look to move after one night if I felt I was in the wrong swim, in fact I would even move the same day if I felt I had got it wrong. On a another trip, Fenton (the boss) had called to see me, as he was in the area. I had just set up, when I was informed another swim had come free, I immediately upped sticks and moved (with a bit of help from Fenton I would add!). Back to this trip, my friend Anthony was joining me for one night, so, having seen carp repeatedly showing in one area, we set up in the area the carp were showing in, what was good they were close in as well, so much easier than having to fish at extreme range. I opted to fish the corner swim which ended up being a mistake, as anglers on the opposite side of the corner started picking my lines up. As it turned out, the carp that were in that corner seemed to be moving out. Anthony who was further along had more chance of picking one up I thought as they seemed to be heading that way. After an hour or so Anthony had a screamer, and landed a mid-double, this looked good I thought, but the rest of the night was quiet. We had a nice bottle of red wine and some Tapas, then another bottle of Red…it’s a good job it was quiet that night I guess... I was up before first light as I always am, looking for signs of carp, they were showing further along from the other side of where Anthony was fishing. Anthony packed up just after 10 and left. I knew I had to move, no point sitting it out when the carp had moved on. I knew some guys were packing up on Pit 6 in one of my favoured areas for this time if year, the fact that I could also see the carp showing well further along on Pit 5 from where Anthony had set up was drawing my attention. Time to decide, in the end I decided to move along the bank on Pit 5 a bit. I didn’t want to set up on the carp directly this time, rather, I set up at the side of where the carp were showing and try not to disturb the shoal too much, as I could see there were a number of carp in one area, not often I get to see them so close in on here. Which makes it relatively easy fishing range 60-70 yards, as opposed to the 100-120 yards I normally have to fish on the big pit.

Having got moved and set-up, I knew the feature to fish to was the second bar around the 60-yard mark. I decided to fish solid Bags with DT baits N-Blend Pellet and a DT N-Blend wafter on a short rig. After using the N-Blend since March on several fishing trips now, I have total confidence in its carp catching abilities. One of the things on here and it is the same with most lakes, although the bar is in front of you, do you fish on top of the bar, down the sides, or in the crease at the bottom? This is critical as I often find that they will be one part that is more likely to provide a bite than the others. I find on here it’s not often that it’s the top of the bar, unless there is a lot of weed present, more likely to be the crease at the bottom of the bar, which tends to be a natural food trap. So, I was fishing the crease at the bottom of the bar. I didn’t want to use either the marker or spod rod to create any disturbance at all, hence the decision to use solid bags on this occasion. 

Now, it has to be said, I’m not the greatest PVA bag angler, so it’s always good to have a bit of practice on something that I don’t do so often. I had decided at the start of this year, one of the things I was going use more this year was PVA in its many forms. I think that’s one of the things where a lot of anglers let themselves down, because they aren’t adept at a particular method, they don’t use it, then don’t catch, and just say to themselves ‘oh well, the carp aren’t having it today’. So, to me, this was a great opportunity to have a practice session on PVA bag fishing, one of the main things that is the key with bag fishing is to have bags ready tied to simply attach to the line, whether I have had a carp or just not got the cast dead right. So, what I do is have the bags tied on to lead core leaders ready to attach for each recast, this gives the rigs time to dry thoroughly for re-bagging. It also saves time in between fish. Also, if I have bags re-tied and the cast isn’t dead right, then I am more likely to recast and get it right as I have spare bags tied up, rather than just leave if for a while. 

Just whilst I am talking about PVA bags, I just wanted to mention about presenting the hookbait, note I said presenting a hookbait and not just a ‘rig’. This year I have bene making a slight change to my presentations in general for fishing, I do take note of what others are doing from time to time! You can see from the close-up photo of the hook, rather than just using a standard hair I have been using a swivel on the hook itself, so the bait moves around more freely, I think this is important to aid the hook turning more easily and catching in the bottom of the carps’ mouth much more effectively, especially on short rigs such as fishing with PVA bags. I am going to cover this in much more detail in my next article in Talking Carp.

The rods had only been in about 40 minutes and the right-hand rod rattled off at speed, and nice mid-twenty common was the result, ‘excellent’ I thought to myself and did a little jig! In total, in four hours fishing I had 7 runs and banked 7 carp up to 27lbs. I was fully expecting a big hit (not that 7 good sized carp in four hours isn’t a big hit!), I meant I felt that one of the big fish was on the cards. 

The problem was that it was Friday, and the lakes were getting busy, I knew it was only a matter of time before some other eagle-eyed angler would see where the carp were and move on to them, which is exactly what happened. I had avoided doing that as I felt it would move them out, which is what happened in the swim next door. The angler set up, had a lead around and the carp moved further long and outwards, such is life…the rest of the night was quiet and the following morning I could see the area was devoid of carp, the chance of the big fish had gone, time to head for home. At least I had a few carp under my belt to show for my efforts. To me, catching carp is great, after all, that’s why we go fishing, but it’s the end product of knowing that I am getting the whole jigsaw puzzle right that is the bit I really enjoy, it’s the challenge that I like, that’s why I fish here on these lakes as it is a challenge to get bites on a regular basis, that’s what keeps me coming back. 

As I said at the start of this piece, I haven’t been fishing for 3 weeks and I’m itching to get out. hopefully I’ll manage a couple of nights next week. Whilst I was hoping to get to Eastern Europe in September to pursue some monster carp (see pic attached), its all looking up in the air at the moment once again due to the Pandemic still around us. Plan B is a trip to some public lakes in France, Plan C…well I’m not sure I have a plan C yet. Whatever happens, I’ll let you know how I get on.

Catch you next time.