High temperatures and bright weather aren’t my favourite conditions to be carp fishing in, but I’d booked the Friday off work so Thursday night – with car packed – I was off to my syndicate water in Herefordshire. A stunning estate lake with some of the best-looking carp I have ever seen. Thursday night was quiet, just a good tench of 8lb 6oz and a new lake record (which was very pleasing but not exactly what I was after); the rest of the night drifted by quietly. Friday dawned calm and hot, and unfortunately some of the lake’s residents had started to spawn! Talking to the other members on the lake, we all thought that with these conditions it was going to be a struggle.
I walk around the lake and climb a few trees to see what’s happening, and find a group of carp feeding well away from the spawning fish; clearly, a move was in order. My TF Gear Chill-out bivvy is soon moved to my new swim, rods cast out just as the late afternoon sun is starting to lose some of its bite. The lake is crystal clear and one of the most important bits of tackle I have for these conditions is the Tfgear Secret Trap fluorocarbon main line, which is almost invisible in the water. Having a higher specific gravity than water it sinks really well, and on slack lines it is almost like having backleads on – which helps not to spook any of the fish in the area. Within 10 minutes of setting up in my new swim, one of my TFG Glimmer bite alarms screams into life and the left hand Tsi rod cast close to the far tree line is in action. The fish comes in to about 30yds quite easily – making me think it was maybe one of the smaller fish in the lake – when suddenly it banks to the right and a slow solid run that’s impossible to stop takes 50-60yds of line off me in one go. The fish now kites even tighter to my right and my line is now going through the tree branches. The forgiving tip on the Tsi rod cushions the carp lunges, but with the line now precariously caught up there’s only one option – into the water I go! 10 to 15 minutes later and I’m slowly making some ground on the fish, it rolls out about 15yds and the action of my 3.5lb Tsi is great even at this close range. A couple more minutes and I slip my net under a very large common, but its not till I try to lift the net from the water when I realise I have the lake’s biggest resident; a stunning common that sends the scales round to settle on 40lb 8oz, a new lake record.
Pictures taken and congratulations from the other guys, and I settle back down with all rods recast. I retreat to my Comfort-zone fishing bed chair, looking back through the pictures on the camera to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, before drifting off to sleep. I have a few liners in the night so fish are still in the area, but a quiet night overall – not that I’m too bothered. Up early and Saturday is much the same, hot and sunny. I sit out watching the lake wake up, kettle on for an early morning brew when suddenly my middle rod is away. After a very hard fight I slip the net under another stunning common, the scales settle at 30lb 4oz a great result and another lake record falls – the largest brace ever taken on the lake, it really can’t get much better this!
I have to recast all 3 rods after playing the last fish; with all the commotion I was not expecting any more action, so I sit back down to finish boiling the kettle and make some breakfast. The fish have other ideas, and incredibly I’m in again after a good fight as a stunning 25lb mirror comes to the bank. What a session – after 5 years on the water, and many blanks in what seemed perfect conditions, a couple of days I thought would be tough tough turn out to be a record session. I slowly pack down and make my way home, and I think only another angler will know the feeling of satisfaction you get when it all comes together in a session of a lifetime.
I didn’t get to do much barbel fishing last season, but having just acquired a ticket for a pike lake which also has a stretch of river with some prime barbel fishing, I thought it was time to get back out on the banks and try out the new Tfgear Classic barbel fishing rod and see how it performs.
Now I may be shooting myself in the foot a bit here, but with the popularity of commercial carp fishing at the moment our riverbanks are almost deserted so finding good fishing isn’t a problem. I’m lucky in that I live only a short distance from some superb barbel fishing, maybe not the record breaking fish of the Ouse but plenty of double figured fish if you put the work into finding them.
I try to keep as mobile as possible so keep the tackle down to a minimum. Most of my barbeling these days is done on the river Wye and I find the Tfgear new Classic barbel rods is spot on for this. Most of the time the 1.5lb test curve is great, sometimes I’ll up it to the 2lb test curve when I need to use a bit more weight to hold bottom, sometimes upto 5oz. I’m not a great fan of carp rods and bite alarms for barbel fishing and this is just a personal choice.
I use a baitrunner type reel for my barbel fishing which can be set to give line on the take, barbel takes can be very savage at times and the baitrunner type reel can prevent the rod from being dragged of the rod rest. A good drag system to one of the most important features that any barbel reel can have and I find the Tfgear Force 8 GT free spool perfect.
I have to admit that I’m a fan of TFGear grunt braid for most of my barbel fishing except were there are a lot of rocks and snags on the river bed I would then go for TFGear red mist monofilament in 10lb which has great abrasion resistance.
Rigs and Bait
Again I keep things simple with my rigs, a standard running rig with either a braided or fluorocarbon hooklink to a hair rigged hook. Bait wise halibut pellets are still top of the list and have incredible pulling power; I generally decant some of the mixed halibut pellets into a smaller container, just enough for a session. Small mesh pva bags are made up on the bank and just nicked onto the hook. Another great rig is Matt’s time bomb feeder.
One last and very important point, barbel have no place in keepnets but it is also very dangerous especially after a prolong fight to release the fish straight back into a fast flowing river. I always leave the fish resting in the margins in the landing net for a few minutes to let it regain its strength.
The second morning is just as bright and even less wind, so we make a decision to concentrate on the zander unless the conditions change. A quick word with one of the rangers who points us in the area we should try for zander. So rigged up with one of the new prototype TFGear jig fishing rods and a very special new braid we’re testing we head off. The breeze has now pick up a little so we set the drift upwind of the spot selected, drogue(underwater parachute to slow the boats drift) deployed to slow the boats drift and echo sounder showing we’re in 60ft of water and plenty of fish showing on the screen. Straight away we start to get takes on our vertically fished jigs and I’m soon into my first zander of the day landing it I find its hooked on the stinger treble.
A very important addition to the jig the stinger treble is attached to wire and threaded through the jig body coming out near the tail, without this you will seriously reduce your catch rate.
Quite a few more fish landed and lost then my jig is hit by something a bit bigger and the clutch squeals as line is taken, after a good fight a PB zander of about 8lb slide into the net and I’m over the moon.
We end the day with over 25 zander to our boat and Simon and Ceri have also had a cracking day landing fish up to 5lb and a bonus pike on a jig, all this and we get to watch a beautiful Rutland sunset in the bargain.
I have a little secret spot near my house that at certain times holds some absolutely cracking perch. Now looking at the stretch of water there’s no real cover or structure to speak of and I thought the river bottom was fairly even so what attracted these large perch here? Normally I fish this stretch in the autumn & winter months but now the river is down to its summer level is on went the chest fishing waders, a light plug rod and down off down the river to see if I could find some of the specimen strippy’s, wading into the river I found that the first few yards from the bank was a mix of silt and gravel but then the bottom changed to large rocks and boulders perfect hunting ground for the perch. In the colder months skipping a soft rubber lure over the bottom has done well but on this occasion I went for a floating Rapala plug which when cranked back will dive to about 5ft, reeling in till I feel it bumping across the bottom I then letting it rise back up a few feet watching the 15lb Tfgear Grunt braid that hangs from the rod tip for any movement. A slight twitch on the second cast and I strike into a solid feeling fish that puts up a great fight on the light 7ft spinning rod, the Grunt braid means I can feel every twist and turn the fish makes and within a short time a beautiful perch around the 2lb mark comes to hand, this seems to be the average size here. Over the next hour another 8 perch of similar size are landed great sport anywhere, then as the light starts to fade a really solid thump on the lure signals something larger, after a hard fight a superb stripy of 3lb 4oz is landed weighed and release great sport in just a couple of hours after work. Lure fishing is a great form of fishing and can be done with the minimum of gear.
So we would like to go through some of the basics to help you catch a few of those sun bathing carp.
A little more thought.
90% of the anglers that do venture out to catch carp of the surface grab a bag of Pedigree chum and start firing them out at the first fish they see. With a little more thought and preparation you’ll find that your catch rate will improve dramatically.
Flavoured dog biscuits
A simple tactic that will put more fish on the bank for you is flavouring and adding oils to your free offerings which will draw carp from some distance away and also draw carp up to the surface. One of our favourite mixes and one that we would never be without on the bank is the TFGear Hot Krill and Special Brew mix. Mix around 100-200ml of Hot Krill oil and 100ml of Special Brew together, pour a 2kg bag of Pedigree chum dog biscuits into an airtight container then add the liquid mix seal the lid and give it a good shake until all the biscuits have a good covering, then leave overnight to soak in. The Hot Krill oil will float on the surface creating a calm slick around the free offerings while the Special Brew being water based will sink through the water column drawing fish to the surface.
I know many top carp anglers who still use dog biscuit as hook baits but we find this way too time consuming. Hair rigged cut down boilies are the way we do most of our surface fishing and the boilie of choice at the moment is a cropped down 15mm Amino Active CSL boilie hair rigged to a Korda widegape size 10 hook.
Without doubt the best surface controller is the TFGear surface missile in the 30gm size, this casts up to 80yds with ease and due to the design of it when the carp takes it will act like a bolt rig and the weight and shape will help to hook more fish. Using a hook length of around 6ft and greasing this up to 1ft before the hook will also help hook-ups.
Fishing rods of between 2 & 2-½ lb test curve with a parabolic action are a better option than the quicker action heavier test curve rods that are more in vogue today. The TFGear X series 2.2lb test curve barbel is an ideal choice.