Saturday, 19 August 2017

Treasures of The New Forest - Connor Bruton

Treasures of The New Forest

Connor Bruton

Since moving to the New Forest in 2013, it has taken me a few years to make my mark on this untapped ground. My carp angling has been what I would refer to as under the radar, away from the busy banks of the well-known carp locations. I spent many months away from the rods just exploring this idyllic part of the country, trying to gather momentum for my campaign, which turned out to be one of my most rewarding years of angling.

My focus at this point was not just about setting out to target one resident within one lake but to get underneath the history of the New Forest to unlock its hidden gems. Following months of research and early morning walks around the New Forest, my first stop was a well known public park consisting of about 12 acres, not a hard-fished location but other carp anglers were present from time to time.

What attracted me the most about this location was not only the stocking and strain of carp but the beautiful scenery. If I were to be sat behind my rods for long periods then this location would surely make the job a lot more pleasurable for sure. During the warmer months, I would find myself bankside at the crack of dawn watching the morning mist rise from the water and then being greeted by an abundance of wildlife that the New Forest offers. On many occasions, I would be greeted with wild horses and cattle that were making their way down to the lake to graze on the wild gorse and late spring fruit trees.

Wildlife aside, it was time to think about my quarry, and whilst this lake had suffered from the loss of some of its biggest residents a few years back there were still a few original carp to be had – not the biggest of carp, but they certainly had that heritage appeal that I was after. Over the course of a season I managed to work my way through many carp from this lake, many of them being around the mid-twenty mark but all having what I would refer to as that notorious New Forest look – long, lean and chestnut in colour, almost wild, which made for great sport through the summer months. As the album filled up along with knowledge from local anglers, I soon realised that I had probably accomplished all that I could have from this location even after the capture of a unique mirror carp that not many of the anglers had seen before.

Shortly after making the decision to leave the public lake behind, winter had arrived, which provided me with enough time to think about my next location. Throughout the unsettled months of winter, I found myself back in front of my PC at home pondering over my options for the following season that would provide me with as much energy as my previous campaign. It was at this point that the penny dropped – what I was looking for was right under my nose, another rarely fished pond situated behind the big lake. After completing yet more research on this unique little place, it occurred to me that a small number of much larger original carp were still present. The campaign for catching those New Forest gems was back on, so much excitement ran through me, walking around the lake trying to gather as much knowledge as possible before the open season started.

The unique Mirror Carp

Finally, June 16th arrived, and it was time to get back behind the rods and restart my New Forest campaign. Now at this point I would love to have mentioned the endless mornings and evenings prebaiting spots, but there was one major problem to this lake that would soon become a catalyst to an ever-bigger problem and this was lake depth. The lake on average was only about 4-5ft but was also occupied by a pair of very hungry swans that were proving to be a very stressful problem since the vast amount of Canadian and silkweed was forcing me to fish white pop-ups that were very visible to my newly found pests in the crystal clear water. Some days my rods would spend more time out of the water in an attempt direct the swan’s attention away from my spots. At times, I would have given my right arm for the residents of the New Forest to come and feed these swans to distract them when the weather looked spot-on for a bite.

Being a very small and attractive pond, the wildlife wasn’t the only problem over the summer months – holidaymakers, dog walkers, and kayakers all made the job much harder than I had initially anticipated. That said, I still to this day cannot explain the excitement that I experienced when my first bite arrived. I remember it as if it were yesterday… a damp summer evening that brought in a low-pressure system, whilst pushing my time on the lake to a maximum as fishing was restricted to days only. The swans had finally pushed away from my margin spot, as the carp were obviously present, and I sat in anticipation on my unhooking mat watching the big low clouds that swamped the skyline. Moments later it was game on! The bobbin rose from the deck in a split second, releasing the line from the clip, and my alarm went into meltdown, bouncing the rod blank aggressively between the snag ears. As I ran down to the rod I could see the line entering the water at least 20 yards from my spot where I had got the bite from, so this carp was obviously steaming away trying to shed the hook. After a hard fight, I finally managed to free the carp from a large weedbed close in and guide what seemed like a large, angry looking mirror carp over the net cord.

Whilst trying to battle with shaking knees and hands, I slowly managed to empty what felt like kilos of weed from my net.The head of this old original slowly appeared, and looking at the paddle, it was clear to see how this carp had managed to put up such an aggressive battle. With nightfall upon me, it was time for a few quick photos and home to appreciate this capture on the PC.

A large, angry looking Mirror Carp

A few weeks passed, as I was unable to revisit the lake due to family commitments, but my passion for getting back to it only increased. As the season went by, it became apparent through inside knowledge and personal observation that there were only two or three original carp left in this pond, but these sat amongst a total lake population of about eight to ten carp, so location was playing a huge part within my angling, even on such a small lake. Reading through my journal, I began studying the weather conditions through past captures out in the New Forest, from which I slowly started to build a picture, and timing would be everything, as the season wouldn’t last forever.

I probably managed a further four or five more sessions but was again suffering from those hungry swans and tourists enjoying the surroundings of the pond. It was eventually approaching the end of September when I realised that time wasn’t on my side, and with another low-pressure system due, I began preparing my attack on the pond. It was the 10th of September when I found myself driving across the forest towards the little pond. I arrived to a dark lake, watching the cloud cover build for what turned out to be one of the wettest days of the year so far. After factoring in where I had seen carp throughout the summer, I decided on another margin spot just short of a weedbed, only about 4ft deep, but I was convinced that the carp were using this clearing in the weed to feed on. I managed to flick the rods out in the low light levels before the swans realised where my hookbaits were placed. Not being able to apply any freebies to this shallow spot was destroying my confidence, but to keep the swans away, this was my only choice.

The morning passed with no action, and with the rain well and truly in for the day, I slowly began to doubt my location and approach. A friend visited me during the afternoon, and we discussed these old original carp and why they don’t see the bank that often. We talked about one of the originals that many anglers knew was present but again could not explain why it did not get caught for many years. This carp was a common carp stocked in the mid-70s. I had seen a few very old pictures of this carp when it was around 18lb or so, and was told by an elderly and well-educated angler that he had photographed this carp for a young angler a few years back at 28lb. I know that in many carp fishing stories you wonder whether the truth has been embellished, but what happened next I am still to this day unable to explain. The bobbin on my left hand rod slowly rose to the blank, but the line did not release itself from the clip. A liner, I thought, but a few seconds passed and the bobbin dropped to the floor. I sat forward and within an instant the bobbin rose again, only this time the line pulled clear of the clip.

As I looked over the spot, an eruption occurred underneath the surface of the water, and with the reel now going into meltdown, I quickly pulled into what seemed like another angry carp. Luckily the carp had buried its head into a weedbed, which slowed it down, and after a few seconds this creature was plodding around under my rod tip. I suddenly clocked a glance of my capture, and I recognised the fish immediately; it was indeed my second original of the year, but not only that, it was the elusive common carp that many talked about. My knees were like jelly as I slowly tried to put the net under this fish, but it was by no means ready yet. With one last surge, it powered away from me, ending up in the same weedbed where it had been hooked. I was reluctant to put heavy pressure on the fish, as I noticed my little multi-rig barely hanging from the bottom corner of its lip when the fish was plodding around under the tip. Amazingly I managed to get its head up for some big gulps of air, which allowed me to slide the net underneath it. No matter how I describe the moment, only an angler can appreciate this feeling of achievement.

As I lifted the bottom of the net up, all my efforts were rewarded. It was indeed another original that I was after, and not only that, it was the one that many had told me so many stories about. To have caught a carp that has spent more days on this planet than me just blew me away, and my New Forest campaign was living up to all expectations. I immediately called a good friend who had spent many mornings with me on the pond talking about the history of these fish to come and share this special moment. As I pulled the weigh sling away from this creature, it showed all the signs of an old and wily carp – big bulbous eyes and whittled fins. I could only appreciate this carp’s life; the shape of it just amazed me, and it had all the traits of a New Forest warrior.

Original Common

Beyond the excitement of this capture, I was still aware that there was one last original for me to catch, a carp known as the Ugly One due its misshaped body. Although it isn’t the prettiest of carp, its age and presence still attracted me, but unfortunately it had come to that time of year when it was time to pull away from the pond and focus on my next location that had already proved to be fruitful throughout the year. Tucked away on the south coast of the New Forest lies an historic estate lake steeped in history dating all the way back through two world wars for which I was lucky enough to obtain a ticket for earlier in the season.

Although my efforts had focused mainly on catching carp from low stocked and intimate waters, the estate lake was a little bit of a different scene with more anglers present and more of a vibe, but I was still committed to catching some seriously old carp that again had spent more time on this planet than me. In fact many of the carp were twice my age.

During the start of season towards the end of the winter, I spent many hours of darkness listening and waiting for signs of carp that were awakening from their long winter slumber. With the lake again being quite shallow, my hunch was that any warm weather system would quickly spur them into feeding, but again it would be down to timing and rod hours. After a couple of quick overnight sessions, I soon located most the carp held up in a secluded part of the lake that was filled with overhanging trees and dead roots. On warmer days, I could see from a high vantage point numbers of carp cruising in and out of this area, which provided me with enough evidence to target this location.

After a long tactical think, I concluded that I would only have a couple of chances at catching these carp before the secret of their location was out, so I opted to fish with a very delicate snowman presentation consisting of a 2oz lead, as I knew that this would settle over the soft Angel Delight like silt patches that were present just inches from the snags where cover had hindered any weed growth. It wasn’t long before the bites came. During a quick overnight session in early March, I woke to motionless rods but was certain that the carp would enter these snags during the spring sunlight. It was around 7.30am that morning when my left-hand rod, fished tight to an overhanging tree, was away, the bobbin tight to the rod blank and the spool slowly releasing line. I sprang into action watching the rod tip slowly buckle over. After a short fight, I slid my first estate lake carp over the net, not the biggest of residents and by no means my target from this pond but a lovely old chestnut coloured mirror carp bearing many battle scars obtained throughout its life.

A lovely old chestnut coloured Mirror!

As spring continued the album slowly filled with several very old estate lake carp, but I knew that this spot would soon dry up, as I noticed a few carp moving slowly out into the pond as the water temperatures increased.As my environment around me changed, it was time for a tactical change as I soon realised that my delicate bottom bait presentation wasn’t the one anymore in the fast-growing weedbeds present throughout the lake. I remember my next bite as if it was yesterday due to the timing. Two weeks before I was about to get married, I found myself back on the pond trying to catch a certain carp known as Orange Spot, a lovely old carp that I had observed in a friend’s album following a brief discussion in regards to the lake stocking. At this point in the season the clocks had gone forward, and I was making the most of every daylight hour to watch my quarry and predict where it would be.

Orange Spot!

After deciding to fish a swim that positioned me in the centre of the lake, I was happy that the carp were now using the spots that I had located in the weed to feed on when they were not hanging out in the snags. I attempted to improve my hookbait presentation by deploying multi-rigs fished approximately 1.5ins off the deck whilst still using very light leads. With wedding plans filling my head, it was hard to keep focused on the job in hand. Another action free night passed, but I knew that the carp were using these areas throughout the day.

Again right on cue at about 8am my right hand rod was away, only this time getting me into a bit of trouble as the butt of the rod had been pulled aggressively from the butt rest. The rod was now slowly slipping forward, only being stopped from entering the lake by the reel locking up in front of the alarm head. After releasing my tangled bobbin chain from the moving line, I quickly pulled into the fish, which was now luckily fighting on top of the weed due to lead dropping off as planned. Whilst playing the fish, it never really occurred to me as to which resident it would be, as at this point, I was more focused on putting the net under it. As a passionate carp angler, its always difficult to explain to people why we do it and what motivates us to target individual fish, but I never have trouble trying to justify this to myself, as the feeling of catching that carp that you have seen others enjoy the moment of catching just takes over. I really did at this point feel like giving myself a huge pat on the back, as in my net lie the notorious Orange Spot.

At this point in the year, I was now feeling that true sensation of satisfaction within my angling. All that I had worked for over the last two years had paid off, and I was enjoying every moment. After the capture of Orange Spot, it was now time for me to experience one of the proudest moments of my life outside of carp fishing, which was to marry my wonderful wife. On May 20th 2016 my wonderful partner Stephanie, who has supported me throughout my passion for angling, became Mrs Bruton. After a lovely honeymoon spent in St Lucia catching some awesome sea creatures such as the notorious dorado it was time to return home to family and friends, and of course the New Forest campaign, which was by no means over.

Throughout the remaining summer and autumn months of 2016, I enjoyed great rewards from the estate. By this point I had managed to build momentum in a few spots, which was producing some great carp. With Orange Spot securely in my album, at this point I started to think about my future at the estate. The campaign was going so well, but I knew in the back of my head that this location was not going to be the conclusion. One of the great things about carp fishing is the diversity of carp to be had and the range of angling that the sport provides to a different style of angler. Whilst I enjoy catching carp from many different types of waters and situations, my passion for catching such creatures with vast amounts of character and history takes over any other style of angling for me. It is never easy accessing waters that hold such carp, but my campaign will continue. My desire to get out and capture as many hard-skinned and elusive New Forest carp will only increase overtime. I would be truly disappointed if I had finished this piece without a next location planned, but what lies in front of me could be one of my biggest challenges to date – a newly identified lake, or should I say ocean, that is 120- plus acres, holding only a handful of carp, which I have learned have the potential to do some very attractive weights.

Connor Bruton

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Les Teillatts - George West

Les Teillatts

By George West

One thing I look forward to most each year is my annual trip to France and more often than not, this will be to Les Teillatts. The majority of my time spent when I was a student was on local club waters and syndicates but now I'm in the real world with a full time job, my trips to France are definitely more appreciated due to limited time in England.
The group of lads I go with are what make the trip for me but obviously we all go out there to catch fish and the fact all 12 of us caught, made it a memorable one.
For me one of the worst parts of the trip is the draw, as it can make a huge difference to your weeks fishing. I usually come out in the top 10 but when I pulled out number one, I knew the pressure was on! I chose a swim which had previously done me well called New Biffos and I was soon setting about getting my rigs in the areas that had done me well in the past.  MC Nut was my obvious bait of choice, as I had full confidence in it due to my recent success on the same venue, where I’d caught mirrors to 68 and commons to 81. Mc Nut pellets and chilli hemp completed my mix and I was soon spombing this out to a plateaux at 110 yards.
2 nights in and all was quiet and although a few fish had been out,  I still felt confident as there were clearly fish out in front of me. From previous experience at les teillatts, I knew how important it was to stick to your spots and to not start panicking and changing things around. More often than not on these heavily pressured venues, the fish will turn up at some point and once they do, you can be fairly confident of a few more. Two awesome looking mirrors that morning eased the pressure. One went 35 and the other 44, so it was a good start! The first fish or 2 of a week-long trip always help to settle the nerves and ease the pressure somewhat, so the rest of the day was spent drinking everyone else’s beer!

     Off the mark with this 44lb 8oz unit!

After those 2 fish, it all went quiet until the following afternoon. A take just after midday in scorching heat took me by surprise  and after a hectic battle in the 30 degrees heat,  a long leathery looking mid 40 mirror was in the net. I wiped the sweat from my face as a crowd had gathered in my swim by this point. We were all in agreement that it was an awesome looking fish and at 44lb 8 I was more than happy. The week before the trip I'd actually put an Instagram post up of a carp I'd caught 2 years previously saying that 'I wouldn't mind seeing this one again'. As soon as it went in the net I knew it was exactly the same fish and although I don't normally like recaptures, when they look like this I'm not too bothered!

44lb of chocolatey looking leather Carp!

A few hours later and for the first time that week, my right hand rod was away which was on a different spot, so all 3 rods had now done bites. Ideal!
It was a weird fight, with the fish just waddling around. It wasn't until we bundled it in the net that I realised why it gave such a weird fight. It was undoubtably one of the most ugliest and demented looking carp I'd ever caught and me and Dougers next door had a right old laugh at its expense. Poor thing! We decided to name it 'Ricky' as it held a lot of similarities to one of the lads on our trip and that was his name.

What a Fish!

The following day only one mid 30 slipped up from the 110 mark on the plateaux. The Thursday was the most productive day of the week for me. Late afternoon I noticed a lot of activity over my right hand rod with numerous fish crashing right over the top of it. I'd introduced about 15k of mc Nut over the course of the week and they were clearly loving it, after eventually finding it. I knew it was only a matter of time before one got nailed and a frustrating couple of hours followed when finally, the long anticipated sound of a Neville started screaming. This spot had only done 1 fish all week but within a few hours I caught three  fish from it, topped by a banger of a common at 41 and my one and only common of the week.

A clean and chunky mid 30. Typical of the stamp of fish in Les Teillatts,  if not a bit smaller!

My one and only common of the week at 41lb!

It was clear that the fish in the lake had a routine as come mid-afternoon  there were always fish over me, before they moved down into the bay in the evening.  I just hoped they would return the following day as I was still yet to catch anything over 50 and considering I’d now had 7 bites, I felt confident that my luck may change. I was praying one of the big girls turned before I left but it wasn't to be, as one more mid 30 on the Friday completed yet another memorable week on the incredible les teillatts.

A nice way to end the week.

Somehow the place just keeps getting better and better! All 12 of us caught with 9 pbs smashed, so it has to be up there with one of the best trips yet. Loads of carp caught, loads of beer drank and loads of laughs had- what's it's all about! Roll on the next one...

Why we go- one last upper 50 for Steve on the last morning.

George West - Noble's Fishing

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A Year on the Ray’s - Adam Wells

My Year on the Ray’s from the Shore 

Adam Wells

I have always had a serious passion for Rays ever since I caught my first one back in the late 80’s, the sight of that first Ray coming in, in the beam of my headlamp, through the surf and onto the beach will be something I never forget, I still get the same excitement today as I did back then.

I still get that adrenaline rush when sitting watching the tips of my rods and get that typical tell-tale first pull down on the tip of my rod as the Ray settles over the bait.  That’s when I have to sit on my hands (as I get too excited) as you need to give the Ray a little time to engulf the bait. This is when I normally roll a fag and pour a coffee, eyes stilled glued to the rod tip, then as the Ray has engulfed the bait it moves off, either pulling the grip lead out and giving you a slack line bite, or moving off and pulling the rod tip right down (if not careful taking the rod off the tripod). This is when I pick up my rod and lean into the fish, such a satisfying feeling.

We are very lucky to have excellent Ray fishing along our beaches, we can catch most species of Ray from shore marks here in Hampshire and Dorset, I have been asked by many people why I have had some success on Rays from our local marks. Patience, determination, and sticking to my game plan the duration of the trip is always my answer…
One of the biggest problems I see with anglers is that they know how to catch Rays, but, they give up to quickly. Example – most anglers just want to catch fish, any fish, just want to get bites, now with Ray fishing, success come's with sticking to a game plan.
We will take Small eyed Rays for an example, best bait to catch them on is Sandeel, now if there are no Small eyed Rays about, you aren’t going to get to many bites during that trip fishing with a Sandeel bait, so, what most people do is get rid of the Sandeel bait and revert to the 1lb of ragworm they have brought along and start catching small fish.

To be successful with Rays you have to stick with a game plan when you arrive at a venue for a trip, stick with the right bait and rigs and wait, you may blank, not even get a bite, and the angler next to you fishing with worm baits is pulling in a steady stream of small fish, don’t give in, for when it all goes right, you will be in for a trip to remember on Rays from the Shore……..

Anyway here is my little guide with a few hints and tips that hopefully will help you catch a few rays from the shore…….

Tackling up for Rays  

Rods - I use fairly powerful beach rods for my Rays fishing, Rays may not be the most spectacular of fighting fish but they can use there bulk size to their advantage buy either burying their wings into the seabed or just kiting and using their size to hang in the tide. Either way I find a powerful beach rod helps to get them in.

Reels – I use multipliers, but fixed spool are OK, the main thing is what you load your reels up with? Now for most of my Ray fishing I will use 15lb BS mono (0.35 dia), the reason for this is that most Rays are caught at range (100yrds or so), this line will help with getting your baits out at range. There are times when distance casting is not so important and then I will increase line to 20lb BS (0.40 dia).

Rigs – Now there are a multitude of rigs out there you can catch Rays on, fixed paternoster, pulley rigs, up and over rigs, etc. Everyone will have their own favourite that works for them, I personally always use an up and over rig, and always use a spiked breakout style weight, and the main reason for this is that I can fish a long trace (Hook snood 4-6ft long) on an up and over rig. The reason I use a long trace (hook snood) is because of the make-up of a Ray, the Rays mouth is on the underside of its body and has to settle over the top of the bait to eat it, this means that if the trace is to short I believe the Ray when it settles over the bait feels the spiked lead on your trace, thus putting them off. Now there is no scientific proof of this, but it is something I believe in, hence using long traces so to get the bait well away from the spiked weight.

Different variations of the up and over rig, but all working on the same principle
The make-up of the up and over rig I use will consist of a least a 60lb mono rig body, 60 lb Hook snood and a pair of strong forged 3’0 Hooks Pennell stile. Many people ask why I fish with such heavy mono hook snoods, the reason for this is that Ray have no teeth but have very strong crushing pads/gums in their mouth, which can quickly were through thinner breaking strain mono snoods.

For the majority of Ray fishing from the shore you will need to use fish baits, usually a combination of Squid, Sandeel, Mackerel, or Bluey, and quite often I will use a cocktail of Squid and one of the mentioned fish baits. There are certain species of Ray and in certain situations, which other baits are needed to catch them, but I will touch on that a bit later when I tell you a bit about how to target each species of Ray. But for the bulk of my Ray fishing is done with frozen Squid, Sandeel, Mackerel baits, which are in my freezer ready for me to go when I get a window of time to fish.

Squid Bait
Sandeel Bait

The Ray Species

I fish for Rays nearly every month of the year, there is normally at least one species of Ray to target, Of course there is always exception to the rules but I will give you my personally run down on the individual species, when I fish for them, where I fish for them, what baits I use, and venues that have proved successful for me

Thornback Ray
Thornback Ray   Raja clavata

 I generally fish for this species from Nov – March,
Thornbacks can be caught on many different
types of bait, and my personal favourite baits are Squid,
Bluey, Mackerel, sometimes a cocktail of them. Local
venues that fish well for Thornbacks are Calshot, Lepe
and in more recent years Southampton water, places such
as Shore Road and Hythe marina. A nice target size ray
for Thornbacks would be 6/7lb and anything 10lb or more
would be classed as a good specimen size for them.

Small Eyed Ray

Small Eyed Ray   Raja microocellata
I fish April – Sept for this species, they can be caught all year round, but this period of time is when there are at their greatest numbers. Small eyed Rays are quite selective on baits there are caught on, without any doubt Sandeel is the number one bait, but they can be caught on Squid and Pouting fillet. Local venues would be anywhere from Hurst Shingle bank, Milford on sea, Barton on Sea and Southbourne beach. Small eyed Rays don’t get caught inside the Solent; well I have never caught one or seen one caught. A nice target size fish would be around 5/6lb, a big Small eyed Ray would be anything over 10lb, but these are rare, I have only ever caught 1 double figure Small eyed Ray.

Spotted Ray

Spotted Ray   Raja montagui
I fish March –Sept for this species, I tend to catch Spotted Ray at the same times as fishing for Small eyed Rays on the same baits, so tactics and venues are pretty much the same as that for Small eyed Ray. The only exception is that Spotted Rays can be caught in the Solent at venues such as Calshot, Lepe and Park shore. Spotted Rays are one of the smallest Ray species we get, with a nice target size fish being 4lb and a 5lb fish being a good specimen.


Stingray   Dasyatis pastinaca
I fish June – Aug for this species, best bait for Stingrays is Ragworm, nice big bunches of them. Stingray are the largest of the Ray species, true heavyweights, every year fish of 40-50lb get caught from the shore with fish up to 100lb caught in nets of commercial fishermen very close to the shore.  This species of Ray is the only species I have found that actually fishes better in daylight tides instead of night time tides, and with the weather the hotter the better. Obviously great care is needed handling Stingray as they have a poisonous barb on the tail, always best to fish for this species with someone who has experience in dealing with them. Good places to try for Stingray are Park shore and Sowley, but they can turn up on about any beach in the Solent.

Undulate Ray

Undulate Ray   Raja undulata
I fish April – Dec for this species, but, this is one species that does seem to be caught nearly every month of the year. Best baits are Squid, Sandeel, Mackerel, Bluey, or cocktails of them. Undulate Rays have made a great comeback to our shores, back in 80’s and 90’s they were unheard of from our shores, except for one or two very secret marks. Now venues from Hurst shingle bank, Milford, right down to Bournemouth beaches all produce Undulate Rays. A good target size would be a 10lb fish, with anything over 15lb a specimen.

Blonde Rays

Blonde Rays   Raja brackyura
I fish April – Oct for this species, but Blonde Rays are very rare from our shores, they occasionally turn up at Hurst shingle bank and Bournemouth beaches, best baits are any fish baits, Squid, Sandeel, Mackerel. I have only every caught one from our local beaches, so any size Blonde Ray is a good one in my books, but the species can grow big, so I would say 8-10lb a specimen from our beaches. The way to distinguish a Blonde Ray from a Spotted Ray (as they do look very similar) is that on a Blonde Ray the spot’s cover the whole fish and continue right to the edge of the wing tips, on a Spotted Ray the spots stop about an inch from the edge of the wing tips.

Hopefully by reading this article you will have found it interesting and hopefully help you to catch a few Rays from our shores!

Huge Stingray

Adam Wells - Noble's Fishing

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Christmas Carpin’ - George West

Christmas Carpin’

George West

A combination of a new job and the start of the footy season meant limited time was available to me for carp fishing. As much as I was itching to get out, it just wasn’t happening, so when Christmas came around with the prospect of 2 weeks off, fishing was all I could think about.

The first session took place just after Christmas at my local club water. Having never fished this lake in the winter before, I wasn’t too sure what to expect but with textbook weather forecast for the time of year, I felt reasonably confident. I opted to bait fairly lightly, so just half a kilo of MC Nut was catapulted out to the zones.

 The first night soon drew in, as it often does in the winter and with that, a fishless night followed. I was up at first light looking for signs of fish and I eventually found a couple of fish making some pads twitch a few swims down to my left.  I quickly grabbed myself a handful of MC nut and chucked  some chopped and whole baits into the pads. Almost instantly, pin prick bubbles started to surface where I put the bait. Understandably my confidence rocketed as I rushed back to my swim and retrieved a rod. 

A 16mm linch special was hastily tied onto a multi rig and after flicking a few more baits into the pads to half spook the fish off; I dropped the rig bang on the mark. I was up a tree watching these two fish circling the spot when one dropped down and then seconds later, the Neville was away. It was hit and hold once connected with the fish, as I was fishing tight up against the pads. Luckily the dead pads broke away and it wasn’t long before a much needed carp was sulking at the bottom of my net. I weighed it in at just over 19lb and recognised it as one of the originals so I was off to a decent start to the holidays.

I decided to move the rest of my gear down to the swim I had just caught from, hoping there would be a few more about. I quickly set up in the fading light and put one rod back into the pads and another down to my left in a silty area. Again the night was uneventful but just as my mate Lawrence turned up at first light, my left hand rod wacked round and I lifted into another fish. 

The fight was savage and it was a good 15 minutes before a dark, scaley mirror was seen twisting and turning in the gin clear margins. It looked like a proper one so I was relieved when it rolled over the net cord. We were both totally in awe with the colours and scale pattern of this fish, as it was arguably one of the nicest fish I’ve caught. Weight really was irrelevant with this one, so we took a few snaps and slipped him back. Well happy!

I packed up soon after, well happy with the result of my first session in a few months.
Still buzzing from the previous trip, I was soon making plans for another. It was again to another club water but on a different ticket to the last one. I knew this lake had good winter form and the fish in there are real stunners, so I was looking forward to it! 

Although only a day session was planned, I still felt confident.
The lake itself is shallow and silty and usually responds well to mild weather, which definitely seemed to be the case on this session. I set up next to some snags that looked like an obvious fish holding area and it wasn’t long before a couple of dark shapes were seen gliding in and out of them. Light leads and long hooklinks were flicked out into the deep silt, tight to the snags. One with a Linch Special and the other a yellow pb, followed by a few handful of MC Nut

Everything was locked up solid and after only an hour, a savage take occurred and a big bow wave could be seen kiting away from the snags in the shallow water. Lukcily the fish went straight into open water and after a lively 5 minutes, she wallowed into the waiting net. The fish was a typical mirror from the lake, nice and dark and in mint condition. It looked to be one of the bigger ones in there as well and at 26 lb 7 this proved to be the case.

A decent start but the action didn’t stop there, as the other rod tore off while I was doing the photos for the one I’d just landed. Another chunky mirror soon laid in the folds of my net. The orange bellied mirror weighed in at 22lb 6 to cap off a fine winter brace.  Soon after this the ducks moved in and ruined any chance of another so it was time to pack up and starting planning for the next session!

The next session was planned on the same lake but this time for a night. My mate Oz was coming down as well, so a chance of a social and a few fish looked promising. Again I opted for the same area near the snags, as I was sure they would still be there. My thoughts were proved right as a few hours later my first common of the winter was having its pictures taken. The chestnut coloured common weighed in at just under 20.

Three more fish followed during the night up to 21+, which capped off a quality couple of sessions fishing before the dreaded return to work. The mild weather definitely helped things but a combination of MC Nut and bright pop ups made things that much easier.

 George West - Noble's Fishing

The Unknown - George West

The Unknown

George West

I've been across the channel a fair bit recently but this time there was an added buzz, as three of us were given the opportunity to fish a lake that is yet to be open to the general public. A friend of ours has recently bought a 52 acre lake in the champagne region of France called Etang 52 and apart from the odd reccy trip where he’d caught fish to 39+, he had no idea what was in there!  Sounded Ideal!
This is the sort of fishing I like, as your next bite could literally be anything and I was sure a mixture of Mc Nut and GS crab would enable us to find out what was in there…. As we approached the lake via a bumpy gravel track we kept seeing glimpses of blue ahead of us and it wasn’t long before we got our first look at our home for the next 6 days… The lake had a blue tinge to it and as we looked down at the margins we could see it was crystal clear, which would be perfect for locating the fish!
We arrived at the lake Friday afternoon and the weather forecast looked promising for the next couple of days, with a big south westerly due the following day.  After a good look around and not being able to spot anything Carpy, the three of us decided to set up on the bank that would be on the end of this new wind that was due in, in the hope that the fish would follow it. After a long day travelling it wasn’t long before we got our heads down for the night but before that, my mate James managed a 28lb common which was a promising start!

The weather looked spot on…
As the night drew out, the wind increased and by morning white caps were seen racing across the surface in our direction and it wasn't long before I spotted a few subtle shows in close. They had clearly moved onto this wind and I knew it wouldn't be long until they found the bait. Ricky landed an immaculate 34lb common in the early hours and as we still hadn't a clue what was in there, our imaginations wandered as to what else could be swimming in the depths in front.  It was just me now who was waiting to get off the mark and the shows continued throughout the morning so I knew it was only a matter of time.
To my left there was a bay and as the wind increased the better it looked. I flicked a GS Crab special hookbait  40 yards down the margin over around 50 GS crab and Mc Nut boilies and it wasn't long before my tip buckled round and I was in to my first Etang 52 carp! As I lifted into it, the rod hooped over and deep powerful lunges occurred as the unknown beast powered out of the bay. I could tell by the fight that I was into something decent and Ricky kept reminding me that was this case, cheers for that mate! After around 10 minutes, it was still holding deep and there was still no sign of the fish giving up but after constant pressure she finally rose from the depths and a big set of shoulders broke the surface.  She was clearly a big fish and Ricky waded out to meet her with the net as she took her first gulps of air. What a feeling it was when she went in the net, a proper beast of a carp and highly likely uncaught as well.

Once I’d admired her and settled down a bit, we went about getting the photos and weighing done and when the needle settled on 46lb I was more than made up. Big up to Ricky for the shots he took as she looked mega! The fish definitely got us wandering what else could be in store for us as we still had 5 nights to do.

What a Fish!

The weather had definitely pushed them in front of us but the forecast for Sunday was the complete opposite, with very little wind and bright sunshine. Good for us but not the fishing! Because of this it was no surprise that I received no further action and on the Monday, with the use of a boat we set about in search of our quarry again. Because of the flat calm conditions and the clarity of the water, it wasn’t long before we stumbled upon a group of fish sunning themselves. As expected they were at the opposite end of the lake in shallower water.  Finding the fish was the easy part but finding somewhere to fish wasn’t due to the overgrown nature of the lake with no purpose built swims. In the end we settled on a tiny gap in amongst the trees and after borrowing some tools off a local we set about building a swim bigger enough for the two of us, proper carping!

On the move…

While out on the boat we drifted across an ideal area to introduce our baits, which was a large plateaux with depth as shallow as 4ft surrounded by 10 foot of water….. The one! Due to the numbers of fish we had spotted on the boat we decided to introduce a big hit of bait and put out 15 kilos of hemp, maize and boilie onto the spot in hope of ‘having it off’ for the rest of the trip. We figured if we baited heavily we could potentially hold the fish in the area. Two rods were placed on the plateaux each and 2 down to our right hand margin, where we’d also spotted fish. We couldn’t believe the response to the bait that night and by the morning we had landed 5 fish to 36lb on MC nut with Linch specials over the top. Well worth the effort anyway!

The move definitely paid off!

The action continued throughout the week, despite the unfavourable hot and calm conditions and by the end of it, myself, Ricky and James had landed 22 fish.  The 46 was the biggest of the trip, although I’m sure there are bigger present and I can’t wait to get back out there to see if there is!

A chunky 36 common for Ricky on a pop up over MC Nut

A Clean looking mid 30 on a MC Nut special hook bait

George West - Noble's Fishing