With the onset of Autumn and tones of the surrounding countryside beginning to change from greens to browns signalling its arrival I am reminded of other changes that are about to happen. The beginning of the Pike season [1st October] and the annual rule change on my club waters that allows the third rod to come into play. My first session after this date always has me in two minds; carp or Pike? Inevitably, like most years, I go prepared for either and usually end up fishing for both dependent upon which lake, or swim I end up at! This year was no different!
Preparation for the session would require traces of a suitable length made and reels re-spooling with braid as per club rules. These must use barbless hooks, so I decided to use traces consisting of a size 8 barrel swivel, 18lb soft coated wire and Sharp Tackle size 4 and 6 Cranx pattern hooks. Circle hooks have been used effectively for predator fishing and our Cranxs aren't dissimilar in pattern and I wanted to test my theory and see how effective this would be and how much easier the whole unhooking process was compared to using trebles. With a van loaded, I set off for the lakes in the Kent countryside, to do an overnight session. I arrived at the 18 acre mature pit an hour before first light. The barrow was loaded and off I set for a lap or two or the lake whilst I pondered where and when to fish. My swim choice is usually based on how I feel when I stand in a swim looking out over the water rather than what I see at that time; unless I'm stalking. I would always opt for a swim with natural features over the one where I saw some bubbles and a couple of shows; ‘fish can swim -fact!’
With the swim chosen and everything set up and in its place (I'm very OCD!) more because I like to know I can access what I need be it light, dark or in the middle of an outbreak of carnage! It's just one less distraction that allows me to relax and enjoy the session. A few pouch fulls of hemp and pellet coated in ground bait were fired out over the spots to encourage everyone to the party. A couple of handfuls of 10mm boilies were also deposited in the area I intended to put the carp rod on. It wasn't long before the fry were active in the area, hopefully encouraging the predators in.
A knotless Aquaskin hair rig on a size 6 SQ bend and leadclip set up was dispatched to 22 wraps with the carp rod and a sardine tail on a running leger swung out into the left margin off of what remained of the decaying lily pads. Then, to my right a sardine head on a 5g self-cocking waggler fished over depth with the weight removed and placed directly above the trace swivel over a mini line aligner. An hour or so passed before I noticed the float starting to tremble; tiny ripples emitting from it across the calm surface of the water alerted me to something picking up the bait. As it slowly moved across the water, I grabbed the rod and keeping the tip low firmly wound down until I came into contact with the fish. Pike number one was soon on the bank. Shortly after releasing the pike, the left hand rod gave a couple of beeps as the line slowly trickled off the reel; a small eel was soon in the net; two species captured, just needed a carp for the hat trick! Within minutes of recasting, the float rod was away again, this time with a large chunk of sardine mid-section; a slightly larger eel this time graced the net. Feeling a little smug that the session was going as hoped, the rods were back out on the spots and the kettle went on for a celebratory ‘frothy coffee!’
Later that afternoon Pike number two and three joined the party in quick succession, one on the float and one to the leger rod; getting bigger with each capture. By 16:00, I was beginning to think of dinner and needed a trip to the bathroom so I was refreshed for the evening ahead, the rods were wound in and off I went. Upon my return to the swim and having given things some thought (while sitting on the throne!), I put the kettle on and decided to put the carp rod out in the left margin by the lilies. The dead bait was sent out into open water and the float lowered onto the bottom of the marginal shelf directly in front of me. A few more pouches of bait and boilies went out into the left margin and assorted fish parts were thrown into the edge around the float. As the kettle started to reach boiling point there was a couple of beeps on the left hand rod which quickly turned into a screamer. I grabbed the rod and engaged the bait runner as the fish powered up the margin through what was left of the lilies. With the first carp of the session on it was at this point the kettle decided to let out a high pitched whistle as it reached boiling point. As annoying as it was, I had to focus on where the fish was going, I couldn't reach it so had to black out the high pitched shrill as it bellowed out around the lake from behind me. After a short spirited battle, I soon had a mid 20 mirror in the net and could finally turn that bloody kettle off!
Dinner done, I settled down for the evening as darkness fell and the air filled with silence as the surrounding wildlife also settled. About 10:00 PM the bobbin on the dead bait rod started jumping before a slow but steady trickle of line left the reel; I knew this would be an eel; hopefully a big one. At just over 4lb a good fish, but not the monster I was hoping for. I decided to leave the deadbaits out the water as I needed some sleep and feared an onslaught of small eels would prevent this!
The final morning saw a small pike lost at the net and a bonus mid-double mirror off the lilies before it was time to pack up and re-join the rat race with the final tally being two carp, three pike and four eels. A very satisfying session that went to plan - as much as you can plan fishing anyway!
by Peter Siegert (Carp Crusader)