Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Stonar, storms, snags and scales.

I arrived at Stonar Lake, Sandwich a few hours after what was meant to be the worst storm since '87. It may have been a bit of an anticlimax but nevertheless there had been winds of over 60mph in the area and a few gardens were looking a bit on the messy side as I drove to my watery abode for the next 24 hours.
Whilst the winds had subsided considerably by the time I reached my spot, putting up a shelter in 30mph gusts was not easy, nor was accurate casting, so I opted to fish close-in.
My approach in recent years has been to attempt to keep rigs simple but having seen a neat rig of Lee Crampton's on the aforementioned 'Carp Unplugged' page for presenting pop-ups perfectly I had decided to give it a crack. Have a look at his explanation on how to tie it and why you might use it by clicking here. I tied mine twice as short as his as I don't like them popped up too high unless I'm fishing over a choddy bottom. My other 2 rods fished standard hair rigs bang on the deck.
The pace unfortunately was quite slow with no action until mid-afternoon when a fish, which fell to said pop-up rig, was lost at the net.
When retrieving my lines to recast I lost 2 rigs on underwater snags. When this happens I never of course put them back out in the same place. When it happened again on 2 rods the next morning in new locations I was more than a bit grumpy about it! 
Not normally considered a beauty spot, Stonar has its moments - especially when you crop out the Pfizer buildings!

Dark came before 5pm and with strong cold winds and occasional rain I found myself bivvy-bound and reading James Joyce. If you think my stream-of-consciousness waffle is bad then steer clear of Ulysses!
I had good reason to leap out of my hobbit-hole at about 11pm however when this lovely common ripped off with my pop-up again!
How big? You decide! 

Unfortunately, when I came to weigh this fish my digital scales failed to work. I changed the batteries and yet still no reading showed. I stopped myself abruptly from having a paddy. I wondered why we as anglers are so obsessed with weight? When I was just starting to carp fish as a teen I would weigh fish occasionally out of interest but back then I was there for the right reasons. I had nothing to prove, no awareness of 'pasties' or 'tonks' just the simple joy of catching. So even though I have resolved to purchase some decent spring loaded scales, I am looking on the bright side of this mishap and remembering to appreciate each moment for how it really is, how it really feels and not to make statistic comparisons with other anglers.
After loosing those rigs in the morning and my concentrated baiting not paying dividends as I expected, I decided to change my third rod to a method feeder with a 12mm Belgian chocolate boilie / 10 mm spicy dumbbell popup snowman rig and to cast it about until I found some fish. This move resulted in my second fish in the net, a smaller common but size doesn't matter, remember?! 
Having only fished with one or two rods at a time for 20 years, I view the third rod I have started using this year as my 'wild card'. It is a barbel rod, the same one I use in the rivers and therefore, whilst still robust, has a much lighter action than my carp rods. Very often people who fish 3 rods will put them all to the horizon. When fishing certain waters with 2 rods I might have done the same but now having the extra rod means that that 'what if' playing in my mind can be satisfied: What if they are swimming under the rod tips right now? What if they are high in the water?! What if I targeted bream and didn't tell anyone?! 
Speaking of the devil, the bream were also drawn in by my method feeder! Very often I have found it has been by taking risks with rod number 3 I have caught more than I would if I had stuck to a regimented approach.

A limp handshake.

Near the end of the session I lost another carp on this method while it was still some way off. It had taken me past an underwater snag, invisible from the surface, and sliced clean through my main line. It is at times like these we are reminded just why it us so important that the lead or feeder can slide straight off the line / lead clip so the fish won't become tethered.
I've still not got amongst the big carp so far this year but this was an enjoyable trip with a few fish banked and some valuable lessons to learn.