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What I love most about fishing Beausoleil is that I’m always learning, and this winter was no exception.

With the massive amount of project work we had on this winter, my winter carp fishing session didn’t actually begin until early February. Fortunately it was one of the mildest on records so I actually stood a chance of catching something. When I first started fishing the venue 9 years ago I began in point ‘C’ and I’ve continued this tradition over the years. Point ‘C’ provides good access to all of the deeper water and is close enough to the house so that I can nip back for supplies.

Nothing to see here

If you’ve tried to catch carp in February you’ll know just how little there is to go at. It has always been this way here and this year was no exception. When I say no sign, I mean nothing… It’s a bit like fishing a desert really. I always get these momentary flashes of panic that all the fish have gone! It really is that bad. As I’ve been through this before, I know how I want to approach the problem. All I need to do is set some traps and move those traps about until I get a pickup. Actually it’s not that different to how I tell our guests to fish, it’s just that with plenty of fish activity to target, it’s a bit easier to know where to set the traps!

Two rods, no bait boat, new targets

This winter, I wanted to mix things up a bit. I decided not to use a bait boat and only fish with 2 rods. Was I mad? Well possibly but that’s the challenge I set myself. I also wanted to catch some of the carp that we know we have but hardly ever get caught…yes I wanted those sneaky buggers!

Popups in solid bags

Next, I decided to use my popups a lot more. Rig wise there was only one choice and that was my version of the multi rig. As I’d be casting and I wanted to create a small trap with plenty of pulling power, it had to be my supple braid version so that I could coil the rig up (lead and all) into a solid PVA bag. I’d be using 4oz leads and I only needed to lob them out 60 yards so either medium or large bags would be my best bet. Fishing solid bags also meant I could add some of our highly potent home brew glug. This stuff is so powerful that I can smell when an angler has opened a pot from 30m away if the wind direction is right!

Audrey at 37lbs

Off to a good start!

On my first night I banked the magnificent creature that is Audrey at 37lbs. The take came from one of my favourite open water spots that’s relatively easy to hit day or night, rain or shine or howling wind! It was exactly the start I’d hoped for but if I thought that the carp were going to arrive conveyor belt fashion, I was in for a very rude shock. I didn’t have another pickup for 3 nights which made me question everything I was doing but when another cracking mid 30 drifted over the cord my nerves were settled somewhat. Over the next ten days some form of pattern developed. I worked the days and fished the nights and I picked up a carp every two or three days. For some this would have been painful but I have to say I was loving it. Five out of seven carp were mid/upper 30’s and I was meticulous in my prep when I reset the rods each day.

Merlin at 35lbs

No recasts

As an additional constraint, I chose not to recast after each fish. Some nights I got lucky and had two early takes. As far as I was concerned that was job done and the rods didn’t get reset until the following evening. This made every pickup even more precious and added to the challenge.

Going against my own advice – part 1

As well as trying to catch a few carp, it’s also my job to feed the fish. It’s vital that they get what they need but it’s bad for the water quality if food goes uneaten and rots on the bottom. This year I wanted to get plenty of cereal into the fish as they find it easier to digest in the colder water temperatures. I experimented with baiting spots at various depths and it was clear that with water temperature of up to 10 degrees C, they simply did not come near anything shallower than 5ft. I also experimented with baiting mass particle over the top of my rigs. This is something I do not recommend and again I saw why. I didn’t catch anything that way but caught well away from my feeding spots on simple PVA traps.

PVA tricks

Talking of PVA, I used a few different options. I started with solid bags which worked great when casting (even in rough weather). Then I used parachute bags when dropping rigs from a rowing boat. Once I was confident that they were eating a few boilies, I used some narrow PVA tape to make stringers. As I was using 2 x 20mm baits, I split 4 baits into two pairs with clear gaps between. PVA only melts when it makes contact with the water so it leaves three pairs of baits for the carp to deal with… one of which was connected to my rod.

Going against my own advice – part 2

With a nice selection of carp added to the album, it was time to have a little fun. Now this goes completely against what I tell our guests to do…. I was going to experiment with rigs. I’m not going to go through what I did in detail here but I read a very interesting article in Carp World from a guy that was targeting a handful of big, old, wily specimens in a large UK water and that inspired me to have a little play. Rather than throw the baby out with the bath water, I kept my tried and trusted elements (Beausoleil lead system, hand sharpened hooks and multi rig) but I incorporated some elasticity.

Match anglers have been using elasticity in their fishing for many years now. Not just for pole fishing but on the bottom too. When I started carp fishing I used a method feeder with built-in elastic to cushion the lunges of smaller carp.

After a bit of trial and error, I found a way of adding the elastic that gave me the effect I wanted but was still strong enough to bank a monster (it’s simply not an option to use the matchman’s methods of using elastic “inline”). I was relatively pleased with mark 1 (even though it did look a mess!). Question is, did it work?…. Absolutely! First try I banked a very rare carp, an unnamed mid 30lb common. I continued to develop the rig during the session and I’ll still be tweaking this for some time. I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I moved over to double bottom baits but kept everything else the same and caught 4 more carp that we know just don’t get caught, most of them commons, and I rarely catch commons. I also banked a mahoosive 100lbs catfish! Any rig I use has to be able to cope with anything from 10lbs to 100lbs so this one may be a keeper!

Phantom at 35lbs
The Heart Tail common at 31lbs
Matt with Victoria at 34lbs 8oz
Victoria at 34lbs 8oz

Home grown stunners

In the spring of 2015, our carp successfully spawned. We decided to hang on to a number of these special little carp as they will be important for the future of the venue. We know we have 13 mirrors and about the same number of commons. This winter I caught a few of these beauties that ranged from 9lbs to 16lbs. For us they are as important as the incredible 30’s and 40’s and we hope that guests enjoy catching them as much as I did. I was surprised how hard they pull considering their size!

The learning never stops

What I love most about this venue is that I’m always learning. I have to if I want to keep catching! These heavily pressured carp are learning all the time and they will make even the most experienced of anglers scratch their heads at times! Overall the session was a great success but I did a lot of blanking along the way as I played around with various options. I was delighted to have banked some carp that very rarely get caught and was able to name two new 30lb commons. The cherry on the cake was banking Mr. Angry at a new lake record weight of 48lbs 12oz which also happens to be a new PB. If you’re lucky enough to be booked on with us this year, I’d like to wish you all the best in your quest to catch a few Beausoleil beauties!

Mr Angry at 48lbs 12oz

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