With the days drawing shorter and the cold snap rapidly coming in the majority of the specimen hunters on the circuit put away all of their gear waiting for the first signs of spring. Unfortunately for me, I’m not one of them. Come sun, rain or even snow I’m on the bank putting in work attempting to catch that ever elusive winter beast.

Year after year this brings up the same old problems on how to stay warm on the bank and this year I feel as though I’m more prepared than usual, I’ve upgraded my sleeping bag, got my thermals out and I’ve even conceded to not wearing my usual bankside attire of shorts (I’d usually wear shorts in the snow!) to allow me to concentrate on nothing else other than the ultimate goal, a winter lump.

This year is especially different as the guys at The London Sock Company have thankfully sorted me out with some of their Wellington socks, obviously in the ultra carpy Forest Green colour.

Having now worn these, with and without welly’s, for a couple of sessions now I can’t begin to describe the difference it’s made to my bank-side warmth and comfort. They are unbelievably soft, warm and are really well made. You won’t catch me on the bank without them now!

Fishing is no different to any other part of life when it comes to trends and fashionable approaches it seems and it looks as though this has swung around to wafters being a big part of an angler’s arsenal.

I’ve always favoured a semi-buoyant hookbait, either teaming a small dumbbell with some pop-up corn or even a half and half (half a pop-up and half a boilie). In my experience these have always been killers whilst fishing over the top of a large bed of bait, that slight movement of the hookbait and its balance with the hook has always done me well in my fishing so I thought I’d show you the most effective way to present a wafter over a bed of bait by utilising the Blow-Back Rig:

Required: Coated braided hooklink, Long Shank Hook, Kodex Line Aligners, Rig Ring & size 8 swivel

  1. Cut 10 inches of coated hooklink and strip 4 inches of coating
  2. Make overhand loop using a figure of eight knot at the stripped end, ideally with knot just inside/below where wafter will be
  3. Thread wafter on loop and secure with a boilie stop
  4. Slide rig ring on hooklink and attach with granny knot around 1cm below hookbait
  5. Thread rig ring on the shank of the hook just on the bend, tie knotless knot
  6. Slide line aligner up over the hook from the bottom, just past where knotless knot ends
  7. Tie swivel onto rig.

Along with it providing a fantastic hook hold, this rig really turns into the fish’s mouth with the assistance of the aligner and is best fished over a large bed of boilies.

Note: If fishing over particle you can fish double slow sinking corn in place of the wafter.

 

 

 

So with the drive to get more out of my fishing this year I set about watching Banjo for a good hour before I even dipped my rods in. I was a bit stuck in where I could fish as this lake, unfortunately, you can only fish from your booked swim (unless there were other swims free, which there wasn’t).

Banjo Lake is a long thin canal like lake where the maximum width was around 40 yards, the small stretch I was down to tackle was probably around 30 yards at the widest. I saw some movement next to a wooden post on the far bank over to the left (the boundary post for my swim) and decided whilst looking for other potential spots I’d trickle a bit of bait in to see the reaction. The second I catapulted a few pouches of boilies over to the spot it went dead, as I thought it might, but I knew this was a spot they would frequent so I wasn’t too fussed, I knew they’d be back. I picked out another spot that had a bit of fizzing and movement, not quite as blatant as the first spot but it seemed the only other place I could see any activity.

I scattered a good amount of mixed boilies along with a few spods of corn and pellet, with some additives, on the spots followed by my rigs. I chose to fish a blowback rig utilising a few different components that I hadn’t used before, trying out some of Kodex range of tackle – specifically Line Aligners. Both rigs were set on wafters, one dumbbell and one standard shape, tipped with fake corn.

The evening threw up some surprises with no activity whatsoever on the spots I had picked out and fed, but no activity that I could see anywhere. I was worried I was in for a long session without a bite.

Evening turned into night and despite my best efforts I was tired from continually watching and watching and decided to get some sleep. Around 3.30am I was woken up by an aggressive rip roaring run on the left hand spot by the boundary post. As soon as I struck into it I could tell it wasn’t one of the bigger inhabitants, but for a smaller fish it definitely gave a good account of itself. Once I got it into the net I was a bit disappointed as the scales only spun round to the 13lb mark. Whilst it was an immaculate mirror, few scales but a darker colour than most milky mirrors I was targeting the bigger fished that dwelled in this lake.

Over the course of the next day and night during this sessions I chased fish up and down my stretch of the lake to no avail, utilising all manner of presentations, baiting and spots, even casting directly into a tree on an occasion where I forgot I let off my line clip.

Whilst this again was a frustrating session with not much to show for it re-affirmed in my mind I needed to go to the mecca for UK carp fishing – Linear.

I will be at Linear Fisheries early doors 29th September – late 1st October to finally attempt to break the 30lb barrier after too many 20’s!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my fishing lately, more specifically this summer/autumn and I’ve got this horrible feeling I’ve been wasting a lot of my time.

I’ll elaborate…  Whilst I never ever see any time spent on the bank as a waste due to seeing fishing as a continual learning experience, I don’t think I’ve made the most of the time I have had to fish this year.

Don’t get me wrong, as an angler I feel as though I have improved my all round fishing skills this year, casting and accuracy, rigs and bait presentation and my watercraft has certainly improved. That being said, most of the time I’m still fishing the same day ticket waters I have for years where single figure or a mid-double milky white mirror is commonplace, you might catch 2 or 3 per 24 hours and you can’t really expect anything bigger than that. But I WANT MORE!

I’ve had brief forays to great lakes this year – I fished for some of the crackers at Waterside Fisheries in Chesham for a few short stints, unfortunately coming away empty netted, as do a lot of people at Waterside – but most of the time I’ve been a bit lazy and just plotted up at lakes I know, lakes that are round the corner, easy to fish and not really felt satisfied. Because of this I fancied a change and decided to fish somewhere I hadn’t been in nearly 5 years, Banjo Lake at Lea Valley, Stanstead Abbotts.

So as I said, I’d fished Banjo 5 years ago with my mate and fellow ATA member Barni Jackman but what I didn’t mention is we did more mucking around than we did fishing, I wasn’t experienced and just chucked out a few PVA bags full of pellet and expected to catch… we didn’t. We fished it for the day on a Tuesday after a bank holiday where it was packed to the rafters and we didn’t get a single bleep and I decided it was rubbish and never wanted to go back. In the last couple of weeks I’ve been looking at options of places to fish and the Lea Valley complex just kept popping up so I decided I’d consider it. A look at their Facebook page showed some nice 20lb+ carp coming out with regularity, bosh, that was it, I’d give it another go.

I text the bailiff and got booked myself and Tom onto the last 2 decent pegs left on the lake – Peg 9 & Peg 10 for a 48 hour session, Friday night till Sunday night.

To be continued.

My hectic 12 hour day session on Bayford’s bottom lake..

By Jake Jensen

I arrived at around 6.20am in hope of getting on the lake a bit earlier to secure one of the swims I’d been told were the best ones for the Catfish I’m on the hunt for. As it was my first time on the venue I didn’t want to miss the chance to bank one of 60lb+ kitty’s that are knocking around in there but usual story with me, the swims where already occupied by a couple old boys, who had done the night and had blanked. It wasn’t the end of the world, I didn’t get the exact peg I was after, so off I went round to other side of the lake and found myself a fairly open swim with a nice island on the right with thick lily pads out to my far left which I would soon regret fishing to – I will get to that bit soon.

Quarter to seven all 3 rods were out, not even half an hour had passed and I was getting some serious knocks on 2 of the rods. I had been fishing for just over an hour and half now by that point so it was safe to say was rather excited at what was already happening so soon. But… nothing.

At just gone 9am I had an almighty whack the far right rod and it shot off instantly – I knew I was into a cat! After a few minutes of running around and jumping out of the water I had her on the bank –  Not the big’un I was there for, weighing in at 14lb, but was enough to elicit some smiles and positivity into the session.

Things went a little bit quiet for about 2 hours with just couple of blips from the alarm making me know they were in the area. Just after midday my middle rod go on a screaming run. I knew it wasn’t a cat as soon as I struck into it, but happy days, I managed to grab myself a lovely little dark common weighing in at 13lb. As the hours wore on I caught a few more mid-double carp, no bigger than the first, and was sitting on 6 carp and 1 cat for the session, so not bad by any means.

By around 4pm things had slowed right down for me, no bleeps on the alarms and no activity whatsoever so it was a bit of a shock to see me left hand rod screech off. This rod hadn’t made a noise all day but as soon as I struck into it I knew it couldn’t be a carp, but one of the cat’s I’d been targeting. I was stressing, no matter what I did it just kept making a b-line for the aforementioned lily pads and being the monster it felt like, there wasn’t much I could do but prey and fight back. Huge disappointment followed when the beast dragged me straight through the pads, snagging me up and getting loose!

Prior to packing up I managed to bank myself one more though that turned my frown partially upside down, a 16lb mirror. It’s fair to say I’ve got some unfinished business with this lake and I will be back.

During this session I was putting JailBaits TunaBerry boilies through their paces and as you can see, they did pretty well. Check them out here.

By Calum Owers

Sometimes, it’s the simplest forms of fishing that can be the most rewarding. I had no plans of fishing last night, but when I woke up this morning basking in glorious sunshine, I had only one thought in my mind.. Get the rod out! I had a quick bit of brekkie, slapped on some factor 30 and off I went. Tactics were simple, with just a rod, reel, line, hook and a loaf of the good stuff.

I live in a flat beside the River Stort, so I was on the lookout pretty much from the moment I left the door. My quarry today was going to be carp, but with plenty of backstreams along the river, a cheeky chub would also be on the cards. By the time I got to the more carpy looking stretches, the clouds had made an appearance, but I was still confident I would find some fish. After half an hour or so without the sight of anything other than some Bream basking in the sun, I came to a swim my brother has told me about previously. He said there were 4 or 5 carp cruising near a floating bed of weed, and that one of them looked a good 20lb, so I decided to stop for a while, and ping out a few bits of crust. The ducks had their fill, and not 10 minutes later I caught sight of a golden looking common drifting towards the weed.. Game on!!

I threw a few more crusts and the carp, about 10lb or so, sucked them all in without hesitation, and was soon joined by an equally hungry, similarly sized mate of his. I gave it 10 or so minutes, all the while feeding 4 or 5 pieces every couple of minute, then had my first cast of the day, and almost immediately one of the 2 came and nosed it before turning away. I played the waiting game for all of 30 seconds more, before his best mate came and slurped down the bait. Thankfully the fish stayed away from the weed and plodded around in the middle of the river for a couple of minutes before rolling into the net. I lifted the golden slab out and onto the unhooking mat, and noticed that while for the most part he was utterly immaculate, there was something , or rather two somethings missing… He had no pectoral fins! Bizarre indeed, just a stump on one side and a couple of spines on the other. I didn’t bother weighing him, estimating instead at about 8 or 9lb, and it made me wonder, how can a fish reach that size with such a disability! Anyway, about five minutes after I’d slipped old Johnny no fins back, I spotted something…

There were a few crusts still over by the weeds, and I caught a glimpse of one being sucked into a big pair of rubbery lips. I threw out a few chunks, and instantly something came out from the weeds and began to chow down. It was a gorgeous looking ghostie, drifing ever so beautifully around the weeds, sucking in bread as it did so, and then I realised something, the river was a bit quiet today, and then…

It happened. The sound of an engine chugging its way in my direction, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time, and it didn’t stop there. The boats just kept coming, one after the other. I didn’t see the ghost again, but I will be back again soon to claim what is mine!!

I decided then to have a go for some chub. I found a few likely looking pools, but just caught a couple of half pounders, and just when I did finally spot one of the big old girls sitting patiently beside a bed of lillies, I did the unthinkable. Like a clumsy oaf, I broke about every twig on the bushy bankside under my feet, flicking some of them into the shallow pool and sending what looked like a solid 5lb fish into a chub safe zone. Never mind. It’s been a good day all in all, and there’s plenty of fish still out there, waiting for a size 8 buried inside a chunk of the white stuff!!

 

Things such as this don’t usually wind me up but on this occasion I felt compelled to share it.

Having arrived my usual regular water on Saturday morning (6am, urgh) ready to do a 36 hour session I found that the British Carp Angling Championships had a match on it and the entire complex was full.

Brilliant, this put me in a shit mood to begin with.

After composing myself and considering my options I decided to call Chestnut Pool fishery in Langford, Bedfordshire to see if they had any room. It’s a runs lake I’d been to before, mostly high single figure fish to mid-teens, apparently a few bigger in there but I’d not seen them. It does have a reputation (probably fairly) for fish with battered mouths. I wasn’t super enthusiastic about going there but I just wanted to get my rods out at short notice.

So I attempt to give them a call, and no, I hadn’t checked to see the time or even thought about the time before ringing . This is exactly (probably not word for word) what was said.

Ring Ring… ring ring…

Chestnut: “…What?”

Me: “Hi, just calling to see if you’ve got any space on the lake for a 36 hour session from this morning?.. BCAC has taken over the lake I planned to go on so I’m pretty stuck”

Chestnut: “You do know we’re not open yet don’t you? You’ve just gone and woke up my whole bloody family. It’s not on at all – No, we have no space, I’ve got 10 on tonight and next time call when we’re bloody open”

Me: “Oh shit I’m really sorry I didn’t look at the time before calling you, honestly. I’m sorry”

Chestnut: “Well it’s just not on is it? We don’t open till 7am now my whole family is awake so well done”

Me: “Look, I’m sorry I didn’t check the time before I rang you, I’m sorry, stressful morning and it won’t happen again.”

Chestnut: “Ok, whatever”

It was at that point that he hung up on me. I don’t think that writing does it much justice just how rude the bloke was, he was acting like I’d just slung one up his wife.

As I said before, I usually just roll with it and ignore it but after checking my phone I find out that I started to call at 6:56AM, an entire 4 minutes before they open. He probably answered at 6:57am.

If that’s their attitude when talking to a customer god only knows what their attitude is like when looking after their venue. It’s a shame as I don’t usually go with reputation, of which theirs isn’t great, but it looks as though it was correct.

 

Avoid.

Having owned and loved the Shimano Ultegra XTC I sprung and purchased a set of three Shimano 14000 XTD quite a while back, with the idea being this review won’t just be on first glance but an actual review of using them for a long period of time.

Having used them for a fairly long period of time now I can say I’m not disappointed, far from it. With all of my other usual angling buddies using other reels and having the opportunity to give theirs a try I have to say the feel of their reels doesn’t come close.

Cranking power

As the XTD’s are a big pit reel and are made for some serious distance fishing as well as cranking power I can safely say these are brilliant. You could be fishing at well over 100 yards and it’s not a difficult task reeling these bad boys in at all. A few turns on the reel and its back in, brilliant.

Line lay

Usually with the big pit reels you will experience average line lay at best, with such a big area for the line to go back in to. I’ve found the absolute opposite with the Shimano XTD 14000 reels. The line lay is so amazing it’s scarcely believable that it does it at such a speed. I reel my rods in pretty quick but the line is perfectly re-positioned back on my reels every time.

Looks

Something that nobody can deny is that the Shimano 14000 XTD reels (and the Shimano XTD 5500) look absolutely amazing. Their mixture of black and chrome looks understated but fresh and sexy on the bank. As a self-confessed tackle tart, these satisfy my need to look sleek on the bank.

Overall

At the price point they are currently at, around £110-130 per reel, they are well above all other reels in this price point in terms of performance and looks and on top of that they come with a spare spool, what a dream!

ATA would like to introduce you to the newest member of the team, Jake “Cat Man” Jensen. In his relatively short time fishing he’s already caught some impressive Carp and Catfish as well as travelling around the country to try out some of the most exciting venues, we’re delighted to welcome him to the team. Find him on the Team ATA Meet the team page here: Meet team ATA

Jake “Cat Man” Jensen

Member

UK PB: 24lb Common

PB Cat: 32lb

Brand of choice: Korum/Shimano

Bait of choice: Mainline/Dynamite

Fun fact: When asked about his long curly locks Jake replies “..curls get girls”.

By Chris Jefferys, MAD Baits

Let me tell you about this unreal 24 hours on the bank I had recently – Due to starting a new job imminently I wanted to make the most of the free time I had remaining and what better way than a 24 hour session at Manor Farm Fishery, specifically Winters Lake. I have fished most of the lakes on the complex but never tackled the one with the big girls in so I was keen to give it a go. I arrived at the lake for 3 pm to get the chance to have a walk around and see if I could spot any showing fish. I spotted some activity on the far side of the lake in front of a small island. That was my mind made up – I quickly set up the rods and flicked a marker float out to see what the bottom had in store for me, surprisingly it was rather clear in front. On my first rod I tied up a solid bag and landed just underneath the overhanging tree. The second rod was cast to the left hand side of the island.

It didn’t take long until I started to get a few liners and at approximately 19:15 my right hand rod ripped off just as the kettle finished boiling! I struck into it and instantly felt a decent weight on the end, the fight was touch and go especially when the hooked warrior made a beeline for the reeds but I’m very pleased to tell you all I slipped the net under a stunning mirror and finally after almost 20 years of carp fishing I had caught my first 30lb+ fish, a previous trip yielded a 29lb 15oz chunk and that 1oz had been playing on my mind.  Weighing in at 33lb 2oz I can’t begin to explain how good I felt, I will never forget that mirror. With the time only 20:00 on my first night I sat down with hopeful optimism I might be able to sneak one more out on notoriously tricky day ticket water.

The alarms stayed silent for the night and I did not get much sleep, laying in my big snooze eyes wide open just replaying that capture from earlier over and over again. I must have dozed off around 3am but as always up early on the bank, a recast on both rods followed shortly after by a bacon sarnie and the first brew of the day.

By 10am I started seeing a few carp in the upper layers.  I took this opportunity to plumb the depth and stick a zig right out in sitting back down just waiting for it to rip off with an angry carp attached; unfortunately nothing came of the zig it seemed the carp just fancied a bit of sun they weren’t too fussed about eating.

Once again silent alarms for the remainder of the morning and early afternoon so at around 3pm I changed back over to a solid bag and tried the margin, around 10 minutes later I started to see my bobbins rise slowly, then fall back down, then pull a little bit of line but after witnessing carp cruising in and out of the margins I put this down to liners. With the time coming to an end I started to pack my gear away and with the majority of the tackle already packed up on the barrow, with 25minutes to go, I tied up a simple hair rig topped with a mad baits boilie a bit of fake corn. I decided I would stick both rods on the island and pray to the carp Gods, I fired out around 30 mad boilies over the top and rested my rods on the bank as the alarms went in the rucksack.

Just as 15:45 rolled over my left hand rod was going nuts, the beautiful sound of the reel clutch ticking over hit my ears and I struck into my second and last fish of the session, when I finally caught a glimpse of this one I knew I had hooked another of the lakes big residents this time a stunning common weighing in at 31lb 2oz. Truly this was the best Fishing trip of my life and I can’t wait to hit the bank again soon.

Tight Lines!