Author Archives: Jim Kelly

Anjou

Anjou From the Dam End

Anjou From the Dam End

Paul Cooper and I recently visited a 13 acre lake in France that had never been fished (it will be open for booking in 2019 see end). It was stocked five years ago with 20 to 30lb fish and having lots of natural food it was hoped that the fish had shown significant growth. It was thought that about 60 carp had survived, hence the fishing would be far from easy. Our target for the week was therefore one fish each.

Sunrise over my swim

Sunrise over my swim

Luckily we managed 5 fish and they were immaculate having never been caught, the smaller two fish were 33lb 15oz and 41lb 2oz, pictures not shown. Some of the fish that crashed out were far bigger than the fish we caught. One particular fish looked immense and I wouldn’t like to guess how big it was, but boy wouldn’t I like to catch it. I honestly think that there is over 50x40lb+ fish in this lake.

47lb 14oz

47lb 14oz

49lb

49lb

49lb 8oz

49lb 8oz

The larger fish were caught on either HG42 or CM60.

The plan is to significantly increase the stock for the opening in 2019. When the website has been publish details will be available at https://www.bigotlakes.co.uk

Shallow Silty Lake

It is my second season on a 20+ acre lake that is silty and only has a maximum depth of 4 feet. As the majority of fish are caught between 70 and 100 yards it is necessary to use a 3oz lead, which invariable plugs deep into the silt. The majority of the anglers on the lake, use either helicopter rigs or long hook lengths to prevent the hook bait disappearing into the silt. I wanted to do something different. Last year I used PVA bags, this overcame the problem of the lead and hook bait being masked by silt. I caught fish, but was not completely happy with my results. This year I decided to try something different. I wanted to use my usual set up as shown, but stop the lead plugging.

Normal set up

Normal set up

What I did was make some 3 oz leads and hammer them flat to increase the surface area. I then coated the lead. This worked brilliantly. I can cast them up to 100 yards and the lead rests on top of the silt providing that I clip up. My results have improved greatly. Since I started using this method at the beginning of June I have caught 17 carp, only having one blank session. Flat leads are available commercially, but mine are thinner and have a bigger surface area. All fish were caught on HG42, what else!

Bomb Before Flattening

Bomb Before Flattening

Flattened Bomb

Flattened Bomb

Rig With Flat Lead

Rig With Flat Lead

Common Caught using Flattened Lead

Common Caught using Flattened Lead

 

 

 

 

HG 42-Possibly the Best Bait in the World!

Recently I did a session on a secret lake somewhere East of Birmingham. Bait was HG42 naturally. Rig was very basic, just a size six hook attached knotless knot, six inch coated hook length with some of the coating stripped back and a semi-fixed 3 ounce lead.

Simple Rig

Simple Rig

Tactics were to fish a scattering of bait at 45 yards and fish a PVA bag over the top. I like to have the hook-length sticking out of the side of the bag, sticking it to the side of the bag using a PVA nugget, it just works for me.

PVA bag set up

PVA bag set up

On arrival I was disappointed to find that they had spawned and would be down in weight.
The start of the session was very slow e.g. nothing caught for three nights. However on the fourth night I had 4 fish, one twenty and three thirties to 37.5lbs, well pleased. The next night was even better, with one twenty, three thirties and two forties. I had three fish on at the same time, a forty and two thirties and managed to land all three, sheer mayhem. The last night I only had one fish, a fifty, I decided to reel in after the capture as I thought it would be a great way to end the session.

First Forty of the Session

First Forty of the Session

 

second Forty of the Session

second Forty of the Session

 

Fifty pound plus

Fifty pound plus

To summarise 2xtwenties, 6x thirties, 2x forties and a fifty. What would they have weighed before spawning? HG42, it will do for me!

What a year

Around May last year I stopped using just pop-ups as a presentation and started using either snowman or bottom bait presentation. The size of my captures has gone through the roof. Every fish was caught on a Quality Baits’ bait. I have only included fish over 35lb.

Gallery

35+ Mirror

35+ Mirror35lb + Mirror

36lb 7oz Mirror

36lb 7oz Mirror

44lb 2oz

44lb 2oz

40lb

40lb

54lb 6oz

54lb 6oz

56lb 12oz

56lb 12oz

Making Your Own Leads

Many fisheries now insist that leads are dumped when a fish picks up the bait. Currently I am using the MCF clip, this appears to dump the lead consistently.

My set-up using a MCF clip

My set-up using a MCF clip

Dumping the lead can become very expensive on prolific waters, especially with the price of leads. For this reason I have started to make my own leads.

Home made leads, lead eyes and moulds

Home made leads, lead eyes and moulds

I have created two videos, the first one covers making the leads and the second how to coat them:

Click here for videos

The big question is are they any good? Recently I caught my PB English carp at 44lb 14oz. I was using a 3oz home made lead cast 130 yards. Indecently it was caught on the actual rig shown in the first photo. The bait is a CM60 snowman, but the lead is a replacement as the original lead was dumped.

44lb 14oz caught on a CM60 snowman using a home made lead

44lb 14oz caught on a CM60 snowman using a home made lead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April

 

 

48lb 14oz Common caught from Castle Lake

48lb 14oz Common caught from Castle Lake

April, for me, has been a good month. Unusually I did a fair amount of fishing with 5 nights in the UK and 7 nights in France. Prior to this I had only done 10 nights in the UK and 21 nights in France since the beginning of last June. The French venue was Anglinglines Castle lake, which is destined to become a top venue, as it has been netted recently and most of the carp under 35 lbs and other species have been removed. My best capture was a beautiful common of 48 lb 14 oz.. The full article about the fishing on this lake can be read on the Anglinglines website click here.

In the UK my 5 nights have been spent on Grenville lake, in Cambridgeshire, in two separate sessions. People that know me are aware that I am not an early morning person and never arrive at the lake before 10 am. Typically, for my last session, I arrived at noon. I prefer this as all the people that have arrived before me have settled into a swim and I can assess where the best areas could be. My first job is to look in the book for areas that have been fished, of particular interest are areas where no fish have been caught. These areas have been baited up and left, hence the fish have had an area with bait in, but no lines in the water. I make a mental note of then go looking for fish. This, I believe, is the most important part of my session. Grenville is 72 acres and being in the wrong place is not an option. On my last session I spent 4 hours looking round and talking to other anglers, but could not find the fish. In the end I had to make a decision, I chose swim 5 as it had been fished, but nothing had been caught. This swim has access to deep water (35 feet) and shallower water (16 feet). I was set up by 5:30 pm, five and a half hours after arriving! The traps were set and it was time to wait. The session was slow and I only managed one fish, but it was 36 lb 7 oz, well pleased. I had another run, but the hook pulled, gutted. Whilst I was there there were only 3 fish caught on the whole lake. On my previous session in April I had 3 fish to 33 lb 13 oz using similar tactics. All fish were caught on Quality baits’ bait.

36 lb 7 oz

36 lb 7 oz

33lb 13oz

33lb 13oz

 

Water watching produces the goods!

39lb 14oz Lump. One of two fish hooked at the same time.

39lb 14oz Lump. One of two fish hooked at the same time.

I arrived at Grenville at around 9am Friday morning and had a really good look round. This would be only my third session this year, hence I felt really out of touch with the lake. I couldn’t find any fish so I sat in swim 33 for half an hour. The weather was warm, for the time of year, and I thought the fish could be in the shallower areas of the lake (shallows at Grenville are 16 foot deep). I therefore walked round and sat in swim 6 for a while, the area felt fishy, but I didn’t see any fish. However, I decided to set up in 6 as it appeared to be a good bet. Nothing happened during the day, but the angler in 8 had several fish including three thirties to 37lb+. He packed up at 4pm and after a long deliberation, about 5 milliseconds, I decided to move into 8.

22lb one of two fish hooked at the same time.

22lb one of two fish hooked at the same time.

I cast 2 under the power lines (can be seen in the photo) and one down the margin to the right. Just as it was going dark 2 fish rolled at a distance of about 70yards out straight in front of me. I reeled all three rods in and placed them all in this area firing out a scattering of Quality bait HG All Season Boilies. Nothing happened during the night, but next morning I was rewarded with a 32lb 8oz mirror. This fish had obviously been dormant through the winter as it was covered in white. However, it fought really well and swam off strongly. The fish will clean it self and be in pristine condition in a few weeks. Out went the rod again, but I didn’t put any more bait out as I didn’t want to scare any fish that were in the area. At 9pm I had two runs at the same time. One was a pretty mirror of 22lb and the other a real lump that weighed in at 39lb 14oz, was I pleased? I was like a dog with 2 d****. Both fish were in immaculate condition. Again I decided to hang fire with the bait.

26lb 5oz

26lb 5oz

Nothing happened until 1:30pm when I was rewarded with a nice fish of 26lb 5oz. This fish put up an amazing fight and felt like it was trying to pull my arms off. If I had lost it I would have sworn that it was a monster. I decided to bait up again just as it was going dark. Again the night was quiet, but I was in again at first light with an 18lb mirror. That was the end of the action and the fish moved off to other parts of the lake. HG All Season certainly has a way of producing good fish. It  pays to watch the water as I feel sure that I would not have caught the fish if I had left the baits in their original positions.

32lb 8oz

32lb 8oz

 

Winter Carping-6 great tips to put more fish on the bank

I wrote this article some years ago, but my recent post about What makes a good bait has bought up the topic of winter carping, so here goes.

White out on the Mangrove

White out on the Mangrove

Winter carping can be one of the most sole destroying pastimes imaginable. What with the long cold nights, freezing days and with little chance of a fish anyone would be mad to fish through the winter months – wrong winter carping can be one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of carp fishing, if you get it right!

 The fish are normally at their best weight and in excellent condition. The million dollar question how do you get it right in winter?

Firstly my definition of a winter carp is one caught between 1st November and 1st March just to make it clear. Now that has been cleared up what makes the difference between success and failure?

I have winter fished for carp for well over 20 years, with some spectacular successes and some dismal failures. The problem with winter carping is that there are few rules.

Some pointers that will help put winter carp on the bank:

1) If possible fish a local water.

2) Find the fish.

3) Get the bait and baiting situation correct, far too many people ruin their winter chances before they even cast out by putting too much bait in whilst they are fishing.

4) Don’t be put off by the conditions, if the water is bendy fish.

5) Without you are really experience avoid new waters in the winter.

6) Use rigs that are less visible due to clear water conditions.

1) Fish a local water.

 

39lb 2oz caught in January

39lb 2oz caught in January

Finding the fish is vital.

Fishing a local water is a real advantage; visit it as often as possible. Watch the water and if you see a carp keep it to yourself.

I remember sitting watching the water from my bivvy in the middle of atrocious conditions one December. If there is such a thing the sleet was torrential.

In the middle of the storm a carp popped its head out in 2.5 feet of water. I couldn’t believe it and I made the mistake of telling someone else.

The next time I fished that person was in the swim and caught five carp. I didn’t get into the swim all winter. Before I opened my big mouth the swim was never fished during the winter as it was considered too shallow. Lesson learnt. It is far easier to find the fish on a local water and when you do they tend to stay in the same swim throughout the winter.

2) Find the fish

30lb winter common

30lb winter common

This is the most difficult part of winter carp fishing; the fish tend to be very localised. Finding the fish is crucial to success the fish will not move to you in the winter. Putting out a bed of bait and hoping to attract fish will not work. If the fish are found spectacular results can be had.

Good winter swims tend to produce year after year, so the first task is to find out about past winter captures.

Failing that observation is crucial, start around the middle of October and note where you see fish. Keep a record and concentrate your initial efforts on the last place you saw fish.

If all else fails try fishing the north side of the lake as this isn’t hit by the cold north or east winds. It is worth changing the bait position every 3 or 4 hours until a fish is caught.

Good luck, find the correct spot and you could end up catching every time you fish. I remember fishing a seven acre lake within 10miles of my house. I found the fish in 4 feet of water at the end of October and concentrated on that area all winter (baiting up every third night to keep them active). I caught 49 carp between 1st November and the 1st March. I only fished Sunday afternoons, between 3pm and 9pm) when everyone else had gone home as I didn’t want everyone else to know and ruin my chances.

All the other anglers fished the deep water (17 feet) and they didn’t have a fish between them all winter. The hot time was 7:30 pm. I had one blank, on fireworks night. Fireworks should be banned as they appear to put carp off big style.

If the water has no track record of winter fishing try fishing to snags, old weed beds or parts of the lake with depth variation. Carp will end up in the place that they feel most comfortable, this means the warmest. This could even mean the shallows on a sunny day.

I have spent a lot of time with my fish finder and have always found the fish in mid-water.

A nice bright, smelly bait can sometimes tempt the fish into feeding. Don’t forget just because you are not catching does not mean that you are not on the fish; it could be they are just not feeding.

People say that they bury themselves in the silt, but I have never seen this. The evidence they give is that they are covered in leeches, I think this is more likely an indication that they have been lying up in weed beds or snags.

3) Bait

Another 30lb common caught on a freezing cold day

Another 30lb common caught on a freezing cold day

I just can’t understand people using fishmeals in the winter, fish can’t digest them and I believe they give them stomach ache.

The problem is the oil content. I know people will give examples of fish caught on fishmeals in the winter, but these tend to be on hungry waters or the success is short lived as the fish soon go off the feed after eating a few.

I once fished a good winter water that produced fish throughout the winter, this misdirected person decided he would do everyone a favour and bait up with fishmeals a couple of times a week to keep the fish moving. There wasn’t a fish caught for 5 months, enough said.

People often state that winter fishing is getting harder I believe this is a direct result of using fishmeals.

If you can find the fish, baiting up can have fantastic benefits.

The best choice of bait appears to be a birdfood or bird food/ milk with a fruity or creamy flavour.

Until recently I always made my own winter baits which were a combination of bird foods and milk proteins. I have lost count of the number of fish I have caught on them.

Paul Cooper and I are currently developing an all seasons mix which we think will be a  winter winner. We are very pleased with the base mix, but we are still playing around with the attractors as we are determined to get them optamised.

Winter can be really rewarding, another fish in prime condition

Winter can be really rewarding, another fish in prime condition

If I am confident that I know the area that the carp will winter in I start to pre-bait at the end of October/ November. Typically I will:

a) put a kg or two of bait in roughly every third night.

b) pre-bait in the dark to stop others seeing what I am doing.

c) bait in a line across the swim to keep the carp searching for food.

d) don’t fish the swim for a few weeks, so that the fish have eaten the bait without lines in the water.

e) only fish single hookbaits or stringers whilst fishing. I find high vis pop-ups are very effective. I don’t have a lot of confidence in pop-ups when it is very windy as I think the presentation is wrong.

4) Don’t be put off by the conditions

I have spent literally thousands of hours keeping records and trying to find feeding patterns. I have come to the conclusion that there are no patterns.

On mild days with a south westerly I have often felt confident and not had so much as a beep, whereas on freezing cold days, when it is a real effort to make yourself go I have had multiple catches.

A freezing cold morning
A freezing cold morning

What would you think of your chances on a day like the one in the picture left, freezing cold and a slight north wind?

I had my first fish within 10 minutes of casting in and finished with 6 fish in 8 hours, all caught on a birdie mix after it had been pre-baited.

I don’t know who said it, but if the water is bendy you have a chance and as Tim Paisley says that it doesn’t matter how bad the conditions are a carp has been caught somewhere in similar conditions.

5) Avoid new waters in the winter

Without you intend to fish prolific hungry waters it is a good idea to stick to a water you know. I have tried fishing waters that I don’t know during the winter and I have found them extremely difficult. Winter fishing is all about location with few clues. Knowing a water can help you guess where the carp are likely to be.

6) Rigs

Another cold water 30

Another cold water 30

 Waters tend to be clearer in winter, for this reason I want my rig to be less visible. I therefore use floro carbon or mono as my preferred hook length. Other than this I don’t tend to do anything special. The vast majority of my runs in winter tend to be real belters and the fish fight like demons as they are in the peak of condition.

Caught on Krill

 

35lb 13oz mirror caught on Krill

35lb 13oz mirror caught on Krill

Just got back from my first carp fishing trip in England for 3 months. I did a 24 hour session on Grenville. I fished two rods on Krill and one on HG42. Nothing happened during the night, but the next day I had two runs at the same time, one to HG42 and one to Krill. Unfortunately I lost the one on HG42, but did manage to land the one hooked on Krill, a nice plump mirror of 35lb 13oz. Not a bad start to the season. As I suspected both baits are very good and can be fished with confidence. I packed up after catching the fish as I thought that everything else would be an anticlimax.

What Makes a Goods Bait?

39lb 14oz caught on HG42

39lb 14oz caught on HG42

I would really like to get some discussion going , different people will have very different thoughts. In the end of the day if the bait catches carp then it is a good bait. However, we all know that some baits are better than others. So what makes them better? During this discussion I am going to concentrate on HG42, and two baits that are being trialed-HG All seasons and The Krill.

 

Top left HG42, top right The Krill, bottom HG All Seasons

Top left HG42, top right The Krill, bottom HG All Seasons

1) To be consistent, over a long time the bait needs to cover the majority of the carps’ nutritinal requirements. Hence it needs carbohydrates, protein, ruffage, minerals, vitimins etc.What I would call a good profile. For example HG42 has stood the test of time as it is a good food source and very attractive to carp. Initial tests on the other two baits are very promising as they are packed full of goodies.

 

 

Paul with a recently caught 30 on HG All seasons

Paul with a recently caught 30 on HG All seasons, it works in the summer and will work in the winter.

2) The bait needs to be digestible, the quicker the better, in my opionion. The quicker it goes through them the more they will eat providing the bait doesn’t give them belly ache. The more they eat the better chance I have of catching them. Which is why I use milk and birdfood baits in the winter. My  winter baiting strategy is to bait fairly heavily over a long period to keep the fish active. HG All season is a highly digestible bait suitable for all seasons including a prologed winter campaign.

 

Caught on Krill, the bait was only rolled the week before capture

Caught on Krill, the bait was only rolled the week before capture

3) The bait needs to be fresh. How can a bait that has stood on a shelf for 6 months be as good as a bait that has recently been rolled? Quality baits, having their own rolling facilities, rolling baits when they are ordered.

 

 

 

 

Paul with a 49+ caught on HG42, carp obviously recognise it as food.

Paul with a 49+ caught on HG42, carp obviously recognise it as food.

4) The bait needs to be recognisable as food. This usually means adding some attractors that make the baits smell (and taste) like a good food source. I firmly believe that overdoing it with flavours, bulk liquids, essential oils etc. can has an adverse effect and actually repel carp. A carps’ sense of smell (which is more like tasting the water) is much better than mine. If I can smell the bait a carp definitely can.

 

 

Now there are some very high profile exceptions to my thinking for example peanuts. Carp love them, but they don’t do them much good. Carp in the eighties actually ate themselves to death on peanuts. Could it be that they actually like the taste of them, I know I do? I think that we owe it to the fish to give them something that will actually do them good. The three baits mentioned will certainly do that.