Ed Hawes, A Social, September Overnighters and Surprises
Posted on 12th October 2019 at 14:08
Unfortunately, due to work and family commitments, my fishing time across the summer months was severely restricted and I think between May and mid August I only managed a few short afternoon sessions where I chose to do some surface fishing, due to the high temperatures and sunny conditions. I managed a few carp to mid double figures and also discovered that the VNX+ Pop Ups make an effective floating hookbait when fished amongst floating pellets or mixers, due to its similar colouring. The Pop Ups are also easily whittled down to match the size of smaller free offerings as required.
My first longer session was something that had been in the diary for a number of months – The Successful Baits Summer Social at East Delph lakes in Cambridgeshire. There were 14 of us booked and having been a team member for over a year now, I was really looking forward to meeting and getting to know some of the other guys. I was also looking forward spending time fishing a new venue that I knew from following it’s Facebook page for the last few months, contained some special fish.
The social was held on the August Bank Holiday weekend which usually seems to bring wet weather but, in somewhat typical fashion, the weather forecast was for 30+ degrees and bright sunshine, possibly the worst fishing conditions available but that was something that we would all have to deal with.
The hot and sunny daytime conditions arrived as expected and whilst doing a walk of the swims ahead of the peg draw you could observe what I would assume to be most of the lake’s entire stock up on the surface basking in the sunshine. With surface fishing banned at the venue I decided that combined with trying my luck on the Zigs, I would make the most of the daytime by spending time getting to know the other team members better. Over the weekend we shared many, many laughs and I can honestly say that there was a great vibe and atmosphere.
If you are interested in joining a team where people share your interests and passions I couldn’t recommend Successful Baits highly enough so please check out the website and submit your application to the owners.
With daytime bites extremely difficult to come by I focussed my attention on trying to nick a bite and chose to use the Red Spice Fish range as I had seen on the venue’s Facebook pages that a lot of fish had recently been caught on fish flavoured baits. The Red Spice Fish is extremely pungent and I was hoping that this pulling power would work to my advantage. The first night drew a blank for me but I was up at first light to watch the water and see if I could gain any knowledge from any signs or shows from the carp. Not long after dawn I noticed a large amount of fizzing approximately 2 rod lengths off of an island (I had been fishing tight to the island) so I quickly got a rod onto that spot with a fresh RSF Wafter and was slightly disappointed not to get a take.
With no other signs of activity in my swim I made the decision to make that area my spot for the second night so around midday with the sun high in the sky and the fish up in the water I baited up with RSF Travellers that I had been soaking in the matching liquid activator for a number of weeks.
Following a team BBQ and a couple of beers in the afternoon it was time to get the rods out for the evening so with KD rigs baited with RSF Wafters out they went with equal amounts of hope and expectation.
After a few hours without any activity on the bite alarms it was time for some sleep. At around 430am I was awoken by my receiver screaming into life and my right hand rod was away.
After a spirited fight I slid the net under a Common which weighed in 17lb 14oz on the scales, a great result in tough fishing conditions.
September began with another mini heat wave so with regular monitoring of the weather forecast it was midway through the month before my days off work coincided with some favourable weather conditions for fishing and some lower pressure to boot. With an overnighter planned I decided to head to one of my local club lakes where I intended to spend some time targeting this year, the main reasons for that being that it’s home to some immaculate Commons to mid 20s and also that it’s a venue that although I’ve only fished it a handful of times I felt that it’s always had the better of me as an angler, with only small carp landed and 2 heart breaking hook pulls to what felt like decent fish to my name there.
Arriving at midday on a Monday the lake was understandably quiet with only 2 other people fishing, so I was able to get in one of my desired swims where the SW breeze would hopefully be of benefit. Having fished this swim before I had the distances of my chosen spots written in my notebook, so I clipped the rods up and set about baiting up via catapult with halved and whole VNX+ Travellers that I had pre-soaked in the VNX+ liquid activator for added attraction. With the chosen spots being close to a tree lined island I choose to use the new Cream White VNX+ Pop Ups fished on Ronnie Rigs to present a hook bait clear of any debris on the lakebed. The afternoon came and went and it was early evening when I had my first take, a nutty and very welcome low double common. With the fish safely returned I felt confident of another bite or two throughout the night and it didn’t disappoint when I was awoken to a take just before first light. After a good fight which mainly seemed to be played out under the rod tip, I had the net under a decent Common which weighed in at 16lb 4oz, not a monster but my biggest so far from the venue.
The rod was clipped up and went back out on its spot tight to the island and it was time to get the kettle on and get on the look out for any signs of feeding or showing fish. The morning was nearly over and the day was turning into bright and sunny conditions so I was beginning to think about packing up and heading home when my bite alarm sprang into life. As my spot was tight to the island I had been fishing locked up to attempt to get the fish to kite away from any snags on the take, this fish however had other ideas and went on a run towards me and along the face of the island. Almost immediately the fight didn’t feel right and it soon became apparent that the carp had become entangled in some trailing line off the island. After trying a number of tactics to free the fish, including allowing my line to go completely slack, I was unable to release the fish so it was decision time as to what to do as fish safety always comes first.
After a call to the head bailiff, who authorised my actions, I was just about to strip down to my under crackers and go for a swim when I remembered that there is a rickety old boat covered up on the bank of the lake. I secured my rod on the bank with a bank stick and adjusted the bait runner so that it was fully loose to allow the fish to move as much as its tethering would allow and headed for the boat. After manhandling the boat into the water and ensuring that it floated, I rowed up to my swim to collect my rod, net and scissors to release the fish and hopefully also remove the snag. With some careful exploration I was able to free my line from the trailing line and was able to play the fish from the boat, a new experience for me and I was soon sliding the net under a fairly large Common that on close inspection looked close to the 20lb mark. I quickly removed the trailing line from the island to prevent any future entanglements from myself or other anglers and rowed back to my swim. I was delighted that the Carp hadn’t suffered any damage during this escapade, I had taken care not to apply excessive force and attempt to pull the fish clear from the snag risking mouth damage.
The fish weighed it 18lb 14oz and made a lovely photo in the late morning sunshine, not quite the 20 pounder that I was after but a good first outing on the White VNX+ Pop Ups. With all the added drama and a boat to return it was also time to pack up and return another day.
It was the following Monday when I returned to the lake. I had worked a nightshift on the Sunday night and the weather forecast was showing perfect pressures of below 1000mb and heavy, turning into potentially torrential, rain from mid-afternoon. I worked out that I would have enough time to get home to pack the car and get to the lake and hopefully set up before it started to rain. I had a quick walk around the lake on my arrival and decided to fish a swim at the opposite end of the lake to the previous week that afforded me access to the tree lined margins along my left-hand side. I knew that the fish were likely to patrol along this route as there is a sunken tree half way along the bank where you can observe the carp holding up in the summer months.
I baited along this patrol route using chopped and ground VNX+ Travellers which had been pre-soaked in the liquid activator and sweetcorn, the thinking behind using smaller food items was to hopefully have the carp grubbing around. The spot for my right-hand rod was just off the opposite end of the island to last week so out this rod went with a few pouchfuls of whole VNX+. I chose to fish both rods on VNX+ Pop Ups for the same reasons as the previous week. I had only just cast out my left-hand rod and placed it on the bite alarm when the right hand alarm lit up and the rod tip pulled right round, I was into a fish straight away and a decent scrap ended with a mid double Common in the net.
This rod went straight back out on the spot with some free offerings and it wasn’t long before the rain arrived and it was time to take refuge in the bivvy.
The next action came just before dark with a pick up from the left hand margin spot, I managed to manoeuvre the fish away from the tree line into open water and played out a strong battle before sliding the net under a chunky Common which at first glance got me thinking that this one might break the 20lb barrier.
With the fish on the scales my hopefulness was misplaced with it weighing in 19lb 4oz so, getting close but it was another of the biggest fish from the venue and another good result.
With darkness now fast approaching I safely returned the fish and got the rod out on the spot and also trickled some more crushed and chopped VNX+ along the margin. The rain throughout the night was of biblical proportions at times and I was extremely thankful that my bivvy stood up to the test considering how heavy it was at times. I was also pretty thankful that I’d not had any more action during the night but shortly before first light the lake had a surprise in store for me when, out of nowhere, my left-hand alarm started screaming and I raced outside to find the line absolutely melting off the reel. I was on the rod in seconds and lifted into a fish that felt completely different to all my previous experiences there. This felt like a heavy and powerful fish from the tell-tale slow plodding style of battle compared to the normal fast and furious tendencies of the resident commons.
After a fairly long and slightly nervous time I caught sight of a dark flank which I was sure was a Mirror. I’ve been told by the regulars on the venue that there is ‘less than a handful’ of Mirrors in the lake and as the fish finally rolled on the surface ready for netting and I got my first proper look at it I caught sight of a large Mirror, I was buzzing to have a better look at it.
Due to the heavy rain I was now completely soaked through but this didn’t matter one bit when I saw the scales pull round to 27lb 8oz, a new UK PB for me and 2nd PB of the year on Successful Baits. I owe a massive thank you to fellow team member Dougie Hull who came out in the rain to take some great photos for me. With thoughts of a hot shower I packed up shortly afterwards which was a very welcome move out of the rain, I think that some of my gear is still drying out now.
I’ve had a great 1st year on the team at Successful Baits and as autumn approaches I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there’s another decent Carp or 2, or even some Barbel, in store for me before the end of the year.
Tagged as: Ed Hawes
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