Monday, October 7, 2013

Leathery Loveliness

This weekend was a social session with long-time friend Steve Guy on a little deep lake not a million miles from Bundy's Pit.  

The lake hasn't got much in it but there is quite a sought after leathery one that is very old and, I think, very good looking. I really wanted it in my photo album. It's not huge and is usually 28-30lb and ounces. 

We had the lake to ourselves but as it was more of a social session we both fished from one large swim where we saw half a dozen carp in the edge and we spread our rods around the margins. We fished various depths ranging from 15ft to 32ft with our six rods. I spread a few kilo of boilie and some pellet between my rods and fished a pop-up over the top with a sight tipper on my favoured and trusted multi-rigs. 




The first night was warm, overcast and very quiet. We didn't see or hear any carp anywhere. The next day I continued with what I was doing and added a bit more bait to the spots. The sky cleared and the night was much cooler but the carp responded and we could hear a few rolling in the night. I was convinced it was going to happen. 

Early Sunday morning around 6:30ish it was just starting to get lighter and one of my rods was away. There is a few old pads in front of the swim and as I struck my line pinged off one of the dying pad stalks. 

The fish soon came near the surface and swirled but I couldn't really see how big it was in the half light. I thought it was small. But it then started to fight with a lot of power and took me all over the place and dived deep a couple of times. Anyway, as it came over the net Steve said it looked leathery and although it looked wide it didn't look particularly long. I was amazed to see I had only gone and bagged the one I wanted! Speechless in fact. 

We settled on a weight of 29.15 

Here she is. A very old character and a stunner in my opinion...


 





Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Trip to Kent

It was the first time I was to fish the North Lake at Elphicks Fisheries in Kent so I had little idea what to do regarding tactics and swim choice. After looking at the aerial view of the lake and the weather forecast on the Internet I knew which swim I wanted as long as nothing else grabbed me when I saw the place for real. 


Lovely Kent countryside views

The forecast was for hot and sunny with a breeze blowing to the shallows on Friday and then in complete contrast on Saturday it was to be wet (very!) and the wind was going to turn 180 degrees blowing to the deep end. I wanted to be on the end of this new wind when the pressure dropped. 

After a quick look around nowhere looked any better than anywhere else to be fair so I still only had the one swim in mind based only on the weather change to come. 

There were 8 of us so we did a quick watercraft draw. Unbelievably I picked ticket number 1 from the bag so I had first choice! I just had to go in that corner swim I wanted. The right hand bank running 90 degrees adjacent to that swim is a no fishing bank and is the dam so I had plenty of water to go at. 

Friday was spent setting up and baiting heavily in anticipation. It was very hot and didn't look good for a bite anywhere so I took my time. 

I did a brief bit of plumbing and found from the dam the bottom sloped down more gently than I expected and was about 8ft at the bottom roughly 7 yards out from the dam end. I left the marker at the bottom of the slope and baited from the dam in a straight line out from the marker for about 3 yards down the lake. It made it far easier and quicker to bait from there as it was just a few yards rather than the nearly 50 yards from my swim. 

I baited really heavily for me. It was a gamble but I was convinced numbers of fish would follow the new wind and end up here and be turned on by the low pressure. I filled a coolbox with a few litres of partiblend, 3 pints of maggots, 2 kilos of sweetcorn, 2 kilos of 4mm betaine pellet, 3 kilos of 12mm boilies (crushed and whole) and added a bottle of liquid food for good measure. Most of it went in the lake! 50 large Spomb-fulls!  




Given the conditions and all the commotion I didn't expect much to happen initially and thought the earliest I would get a chance was sometime in the night. 

It didn't happen but by lunchtime Saturday conditions were starting to change. The wind was turning and we were getting a few drops of rain. I was getting itchy feet though and I was curious to see if there were any stalking opportunities so I reeled in and went for a mooch around. It didn't look great anywhere up the shallows and the rain was getting heavier so I cut my wandering short and quickly retreated to the bivvy and I was also seeing a few fish showing in my swim now. 

I busied myself with tying some fresh rigs. One rod was on a hinged stiff rig with a pop-up and tipper and I was going to use this to cast around if needed. The other two rods were going to be recast onto the baited area. 
One was on my favoured multi-rig - a 12mm Form pop-up overweighted on a 7 inch hooklink and size 8 Fox SR barbless. The other again was a 12mm pop-up but on a blow-back rig - a longish hair, probably about 12mm separation and a 6 inch hooklength with about an inch and half of coating stripped back from the hook. The same hook was used. The pop-up was made to just about sink by adding the counterbalance to the hair under the boilie. All the hookbaits had been soaking in liquid food for a few days. 

I chose to use heavy 4.5oz leads thinking that the norm on a day ticket lake was 2-3 ounce of lead so I just wanted to be different. 

I was keen to get cast back out as there were more and more fish showing so I quickly measured my lines out and got them clipped up to the baited spot mark. I didn't put any more bait in as I didn't want to spook them. They were on me and I just wanted them to feel safe and start feeding. So just 3 casts, lines pinned down and I was fishing. 

The wind and rain were getting stronger and things looked perfect. The forecast seemed to be deadly accurate for a change. 

I sat in the next swim with my mate Steve and we watched more and more fish turn up and start showing in my swim. Another mate, Dan, joined us a short time later and we continued to see more shows. I had to move my roving rod to a spot where fish kept showing so I quickly braved the rain and got that sorted and retreated back under the brolly with the lads. 

I was full of confidence. The carp had read the textbooks for a change and doing exactly as expected. 
As the rain got heavier Dan number 2 joined us and we decided it was barbecue time! Just as that was warming up I got my first take on the multi-rig rod on the baited spot - just a couple of bleeps and everything was held tight so I hit it. After a nice fight a common popped up and into the net it went. 30lb 4oz of immaculate carp! I was overjoyed. The carp wasn't and it gave me a right slap in the face as I leant over it to lift it!


Mint Common

The barbecue had been turned off to give me chance to get sorted. I quickly got the rod back on the spot and joined the others for drinks and meat. The food was just looking ready to sample when I had a few more bleeps on the same rod so I quickly went and hit it. After a protracted fight a rather front-heavy, big-shouldered mirror of 31lb 12oz was being photographed. I was now over the moon. A thirty common and mirror in a short space of time was fantastic. 


31lb 12oz

It was back to the food and drink for the rest of the afternoon. It continued to pour down but strangely that made the experience even more fun. We were all soaked to the skin. Great fun, great company and great food! 

We all went back to our swims just before dark so everyone could get their rods out. I got changed into some dry clothes and retired to the bedchair. I eventually nodded off around midnight. 

About 2am I had a little catfish. I didn't put that rod back out. A combination of pouring rain, trashed rig, being shattered and hearing carp over the spot stopped me recasting. I had a rod left on the bait so I was more than happy. 

A couple of hours later that rod screamed off - no messing about this time. I ran out and struck and felt satisfied this one was a carp. It was now hammering down. I was to get soaked through again. This was an epic battle. Just heavy and slow. At one point it was just coming over the net cord and powered away again forcing me to give quite a bit of line. It really didn't like coming into the shallow edges. I had my suspicion this was a better fish by the general slowness and deep wallowing I could hear. 

I eventually forced it into the net and I was pleasantly surprised by its good looks. I also thought it looked close to forty pounds. The starburst of scaling at the back end on both sides was stunning. The scales told me it was 37lb 4oz - a big fish but it was more than that - it was a fantastic looking brute of a mirror carp...


Starburst Stunner!



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Super Hot and a Super Carp

It's 3am and I'm lying here on the bedchair at the deep pit unable to sleep. Partly because I've been working nights this week and my sleep pattern is all to cock, partly because it's really hot but mostly because I'm buzzing from a capture at about midnight. 
 
It's been tough going on here this year. Most of us are wondering what's needed to get that next bite at the moment... it really has been tricky. It often gets difficult at this time of year for some reason - the algae bloom is probably partly to blame.
 
The carp spawned here last Monday and I thought they could well be up for a feed this weekend. With that in mind I thought I'd give them a bit of everything and really fill it in on one spot wherever I fished. I made up a large bucket full of parti-blend, sweetcorn, 4mm betaine pellets and 3k of broken and whole boilies. 
 
When I arrived yesterday morning some carp had clearly been in a tiny bay behind the island. The water was very white from the stirred up clay and a couple of small carp could be seen mooching about covered in clay. I put a couple of traps down the bank by the island and one just a few feet in front of me in about 7ft of water. This rod was to get the treatment - I piled the lot of bait in by hand in a small area and fished a pop-up and sight tipper over the top on a short hinged stiff rig. I then added another kilo of boilie for good measure. A proper feast in a tiny area. There must have been a mound of bait out there.
 
As the day went on the fish left the bay and the colour dropped out of the water as is often the case in this swim - night time takes are the norm - and I spent most of the day watching a big shoal of roach sit above all the bait. 
 
I nodded off soon after dark but was woken just before midnight to a couple of bleeps of the buzzer and the incessant shrill of what I think is a young owl. I'm guessing it is hungry. It's still going on now 3 hours later! If I wasn't so happy it would be driving me nuts. I can't scare it away. 
I turned over and put the sleeping bag over my head trying to blank out the noise but a few minutes later I had some more bleeps followed by the clicking of the clutch. I quickly slipped my shoes on and hit it. Can't hang about in this swim as it's pretty tight and they could quickly run out of the bay causing untold problems. 
 
The fight was dour to start with just some head shaking that felt like a tench but as I pulled it towards the net it woke up a bit and I saw it was a nice-sized carp. I had to give it a bit of stick to stop it going through my other lines and then under a bush. In a brief moment when it appeared to be deciding its next move I heaved and pulled it over the net. In the half light I'd almost missed it and could just make out it was slipping the wrong side of the net cord so a big heave just as it was trying to pull back and it went in the net. Yesssss! A quick glance and it had got a bit bigger!
 
Anyway, I got it out after leaving it to rest for a minute or two while I sorted out the sling and stuff. It was difficult to see which one I had in the dark but I knew it was big after lifting it up the bank. Reducing this long beauty to numbers the scales read 39lb 4oz. I've since looked at the images on my camera and it's one of the known 40's down a bit after spawning. It looked in good nick though. The hook (one of the new Ace SRC (Stiff Rig Chod) hooks) was nicely an inch inside the bottom lip. Perfect. 
 
I don't think it liked being hauled into the net and it made up for it and beat me up on the bank while doing the self-takes. It's too hot for that malarkey. 
 
I've just tied up a new rig and put it back out with another kilo of boilie over the top...
 
 
39lb 4oz of very long common carp
 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Self-take Photography

My previous blog post below seemed quite popular so I thought I'd add just a few more words and pictures. 


The air-release bulb is a popular method for self-takes but as I said most cameras don't have a thread in the shutter button so need a bracket that can be purchased at a few outlets online. SRB Griturn are one company that supply various size brackets and an air-release and they are at http://www.srb-griturn.com/shutter-releases-246-c.asp

 



It doesn't happen very often but doing self-takes in the rain can be a problem. The camera can be positioned in the bivvy doorway but that isn't always practical. The picture shows how I do it now. 
The 'umbrella' is actually a shade off of a child's pushchair. They are meant to be just a shade I think so they won't keep anything dry in a downpour unless you treat it with a coat of Fabsil or similar. They are good enough as them come though for light rain and for short periods of time...


It has a clamp on the base that easily tightens onto a bankstick. I wouldn't advise attaching it to the tripod as it will more than likely cause camera-shake. If you're using flash be sure the shade is tilted back a bit or high enough so as not to cast shadows in your shots. 

The one shown is a Mamas & Papas Buggy Parasol/Shade. I purchased mine from eBay for about £15. Most are garish colours but there is usually the odd black one to be found. They fold down very small and can easily be kept in a bankstick pocket of a rod holdall. 

I think that's it for now. I hope some of this is useful and makes your self-take photography just a little bit easier. 

Tight lines. 

Craig. 


Friday, January 11, 2013

Self-take Fishing Photography

I've used loads of methods of doing self-take pictures over the years. From self-timer to wink detection. I'm certainly no expert on the subject and others experiences might be different so don't take any of this as gospel and ask around for more advice.


Built-in Self-timer - I think this method is unreliable and not very fish friendly as you have to leave the fish alone to mess with the camera. Sometimes the camera doesn't focus correctly either. The options to do more than one picture at a time is limited on many cameras. 

Hand-held infra-red remote - I'm not keen on using these, they are sometimes a little fiddly. They work ok but I'd rather concentrate on holding the fish with nothing else in my hands. Sometimes a fin gets in the way too. 

Wink/smile detection - some cameras have this facility now and it sounds perfect. It involves just winking or smiling at the camera to trigger the shutter. The truth is wink detection is unreliable in my experience. Perhaps I just don't wink well enough. Smile detection works most times but you can feel a little silly gurning at the camera by yourself. For both methods the camera has to be able to 'see' you so these functions are no good in low light or at night. 

Wired guitar foot-pedal - if your camera can take a wired remote and you are good with electrics or know an electrician this is one of the best options. It requires buying a wired remote, cable to extend it, 2 stage micro-switch and a foot pedal wired in to replace the hand-held switch.


Air-release bulb - one of my two favoured methods now. Most modern digital cameras don't have a thread on the shutter button so a bracket needs to be purchased to position the air-release plunger over the shutter button. There are two sizes of bracket - one for small cameras and one for larger compacts. They don't fit some large SLR's like my Canon 600D. I had to modify mine by replacing the base with a longer piece of aluminium. 
I find the most comfortable and practical place for the air-release bulb to be under the heel. Occasionally things don't work smoothly because the bulb fails to re-inflate or the ground is too soft and the bulb just squashes into the grass instead of triggering. (It usually works perfectly on the practice shots!) Generally speaking though this is a great method. 

Wired programmable timer - I find I'm using this more and more and it is becoming my preferred method. They are about £15 on eBay, plug into the camera and have about a metre of cable. They plug into the cameras remote socket and the delay before starting, number of shots and interval between shots can be set individually. Eg. after 15 seconds take 20 shots, at 3 second intervals. 

So lean over fish to press start, pick up fish, take the required amount of pictures, return fish. Delete the duff shots.
Depending on how well the fish behaves you can be done after half a dozen shots and you can either cancel the timer or leave it to finish while returning the fish. 
Advantages of these are they are not seen in the pictures and hands and feet are free to do as you want so you can concentrate on the fish. 

The interval between shots may need to be increased when using the flash to give it time to recharge. The interval also depends on how long the setting is for image review. 

The connectors vary so be sure to buy the correct one for your camera.


I think that just about covers everything I have used in the past and currently use.

My camera of choice at the moment is a Canon EOS 600D SLR with a 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens. 
This is very good for self-takes as it has a flip-around screen. 

There are many other cameras with this screen function - mainly Canon models, some Panasonic Lumix and one or two other makes.  

Be lucky. 

Craig. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Bloody Love Fishing Me!

Happy New Year! 

The title is a line I Tweeted recently. It was during the Christmas holiday and I was sat at home in between sessions and I was itching to get on the bank again. It amazes me that I am still so eager to go fishing even at this time of year in aweful weather conditions. I think it reflects just how great and never-ending this pastime truly is!

The fact I'd caught a lovely, mahogany-coloured common a couple of days before Christmas might have buoyed my mood somewhat.


24.2 dark common

Following on from that, I went back to the deep pit and bagged another within a couple of hours of arriving. This one from 60ft deep! And what a corker of a mirror that turned out to be when it popped up from the abyss! It more than made up for the soaking i got while setting up and kept a smile on my face while i sat there in the mud. I thought with a start like that there was more to come but not so much as a bleep for the remainder of that session. That's fishing...

Stunning 21.2 mirror

Anyway, here I am again, 9pm, doing this live from the bank lying on my bedchair in the pitch black all cosy in the bivvy. Kettle is on the stove so i'll be breaking for tea and biscuits in a minute. The fish are very quiet so far this trip. The conditions are not as good as they were to be fair - the wind has gone, the sky is clear and the pressure's rising. Not ideal but there's always a chance. 
I busied myself today with watching the water, reading Tim Paisley's 'More From The Bivvy' (excellent book by the way) and taking a couple of pictures with my iPhone. Here's a surprisingly nice one from a different perspective... it amazes me what phones can do now...

 

It's deathly silent out here tonight, if a fish moves I'll hear it. I would like to write a bit more now but this blogging software is proving to be a little unfriendly on a mobile device at the minute so i'll cut it short for now and see if I can add a bit more soon. Where's those biscuits...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

New Tickets, New Dog, New Plans...

The last sentence of my previous blog entry in March read; "This year will see me return to Bundy's when it opens on June 16th then some time at Birch Grove in the winter. Beyond that?... maybe a return to Elstow but on pit 1 this time. Who knows where I will end up..."

Little Stocky

Well, I didn't see it coming but it all changed so very quickly. Shortly after my last blog Bundy's shut down for the usual 3 months and, as planned, I did a work party there the following weekend. While I was there the owner decided that there wasn't to be a closed season this year. Otters had been sighted a short distance away and it was felt by having anglers around the lake it would help to deter them until a suitable fence was installed. The lake was to be open from that night onwards and I just happened to have my tackle with me in the car. After the hard days work I was unsure whether to do the night or not but in the end I stayed and in the early hours of the morning had one of the lovely stocky commons for my efforts.

To the owners great credit a few weeks later an otter fence was in place and we could all rest a bit easier knowing it was far more difficult for any passing otters to visit the lake.

Otter Fenced
A Bundy's 27
I had a few fish to upper twenty during the closed season but failed to get amongst the real big girls. I couldn't make the most of this opportunity and I missed some time in April due to going abroad with the wife and also some of the better weather during May as I had to stay home with our new dog while he settled in. Our previous dog, Jake, died quite suddenly back in March which was quite a blow but we now have a Border Collie, called Max, for company. Hopefully, he will make a good bankside companion one day.

Jake - Gone but not forgotten
Something surprised me in May - I was offered a ticket for the Mangrove Swamp!!! I initially thought of passing it by but 10 minutes later temptation got the better of me and I went for it! The thought of spending some time in that part of Shropshire again was too much to resist. I had been a member for a good few years up until 2008 but I had missed it and looked forward to having another go there. It really is one of the nicest places I've ever fished! It will also be handy to fish closer to home when I come to introduce Max to the joys of carp fishing.

Max
That wasn't the end to the pleasant surprises. June arrived and with it an offer for a place on the BCSG syndicate water Korda Lake. I'd been on the waiting list a few years for this special Colne Valley water so the cheque was written without a second thought. I'm looking forward to wetting a line down there I can tell you! More about that later though hopefully...

With work parties done at Birch Grove and a reccé in the boat around Mangrove, with fellow member and long-time good friend Steve Guy (@stevie_gism), I was buzzing to get the rods out over there again.
A Trip 'round Mangrove in the Boat
I was unable to fish opening weekend due to one thing or another so it was the Friday of our second rota before I got down there. Steve had got down Wednesday but told me all was quiet. Conditions looked great though with a heavy sky and south/southwest winds. It had fished very well at the start of the season but the carp had took a hammering and had been absent for a few days.

In between showers I managed to quickly load the boat and get across the lake with all the gear and set up in the Fallen Tree swim. It just started to drizzle again as I was finishing off baiting up. A kilo or so of whole and crumbed boilie and a bit of sweetcorn was deposited about 50 yards out with the Spomb. Two rods were put on that and one went down the pads to my right with a handful of boilies for company.

A short time later, I was getting twitches and liners on the open-water rods and was beginning to doubt my brilliant idea of using the sweetcorn. The silver fish were obviously having a field day out there. That evening before the England/Sweden match had kicked off I had a twitchy take that I promptly struck, and then reeled straight in, a Bream of about 5lbs or so.

That was all that happened and the next morning at about 11am I decided to freshen up the hookbaits and put a couple more Spombs of boilie out. It was an uneventful day and I just enjoyed and soaked up the glorious atmosphere of the Mangrove. A lot of the time was spent bivvy-bound due to the rain but I was loving this June 16th - a special day in years gone by - it was great to be back at this special water.

I was at the windward end of the lake on the side of it but that day it had slowly turned and was now blowing more into my corner of the lake. It looked good and I heard a couple of fish in the pads that afternoon which boosted my confidence of a bite.

Mangrove Sunset

I busied myself with some photography trying to capture a decent sunset picture. It was the perfect place for it. In fact it was originally called the Sunset Swim before the tree came down. I'd just finished doing that and started to review the images on the camera when I had another twitchy take. "Bream again", I thought, as I hit it. The fish had run towards me and as soon as I caught up with it it rolled and I then knew it was a carp.

Somehow it had crossed my other line when it ran towards me but it wasn't posing too much of a problem at this stage with the bail arm open on the offending rod. It rolled a few more times and I saw that it was a fair-sized mirror. The tangled line became a bit more of a problem as the fish got closer and was dragging the lead around. It fought really hard and caught me out a couple of times when I was juggling rods and it decided to go on long runs. In fact I strained my wrist at one point due to its power! All good fun!...

Eventually it was within netting range but with the platform I was on being so high above water level it was tricky to get it into the net without the line angle being far too steep. I bungled it in there in the end and it was mine. I slumped down after that epic battle relieved and nursed my wrist. A pleasurable pain!

Paw Print - 37lb 12oz
The mirror looked wide across the back and as I leaned down to have a look at its scaling I thought "I know what that is, but it can't be surely!". I doubted myself because it's not a long fish and I thought perhaps it was a smaller fish with similar scaling.

She looked great on the mat and up on the scales it confirmed what I already knew when I'd lifted her from the water. Paw Print at 37lb 12oz. I'd only gone and been jammy enough to catch the biggest in the lake on my first session back. What a welcome return! Thank you Mangrove.

Until next time...

Craig Banks.

Friday, March 16, 2012

From the Canal to the Deep Pit

I thought this blog would make more interesting reading in the future if you knew a bit more about where I've been in the past, so here goes...
You can read a little about me in my profile on the right but here I will tell you more about my fishing history. I'll keep it fairly brief so as not to bore you...

I've lived most of my life in various places in Staffordshire but a few short years were spent in Derbyshire. Fishing seems to have always been a part of my life but in reality I think I was about 10 years old before I picked up my first fishing rod - I'm now 42.

Early Piking
My early fishing trips were spent on the Trent & Mersey canal which ran close to the back of my home. I could while away hours, even full days, catching the gudgeon, small perch and sticklebacks. I even remember surface fishing with old casters for the rudd. I couldn't get enough of it and sometimes in the summer I would get up at dawn and fish a few hours before going to school.

Teenage years
Carp angling became a part of my life when my dad (he wasn't an angler) took me and my friends to Docklow Pools in Herefordshire where I caught my first small carp. After that all I wanted to do was catch carp and the bigger the better. All carp looked huge to me back then. Carp fishing was pretty limited locally and all there was that we knew of was a small farm pond where I would have great times and learn a bit more with my mates. Most of the time was spent catching the tench though and just looking in awe at the carp. Eventually I got some basic tackle together and fished for the carp properly and caught one or two somehow upto low doubles.

First twenty

The passion grew and parents were pestered to take us further afield. Calf Heath Reservoir, Staffordshire - Bache Pool, Shropshire - Willesley Lake, Derbyshire and Sheepy Magna, Warwickshire all became very memorable places for me. Bache Pool in particular has a very special place in my mind because it's where I caught my first 20 pounder back in 1985. It was a common too which made it extra special. 

Once we acquired our own transport there was no holding us back! We travelled all over the place and flitted from one water to another fishing as many waters as we could. Our catches suffered no doubt but it was great fun and I think we learnt a great deal by experiencing so many different waters. We even fished Savay a few times on a day-ticket just 'cause we could and to experience the great Mecca after reading Hutchys book The Carp Strikes Back. We were well out of our depth but boy what an experience. Sleeping in the car after a drink in the infamous Horse & Barge or doing a night at Farlows - all great fun.

Sometimes we found our own pieces of heaven and went after certain carp - namely Penns Hall in Sutton Coldfield, a certain nature reserve and Swarkestone in Derby, Fletchers Pond and Attenborough Gravel Pits in Nottingham and Gibsons and Canal Pool at Kingsbury Water Park.
Gibsons at Kingsbury Water Park
In the mid-nineties I realised a dream by somehow managing to book 5 days on Redmire Pool. That experience was beyond words. I couldn't get enough of the place at one time, so much so, I somehow even got myself on the Redmire Winter syndicate. They were a very special couple of winters. Blanking no end but having the time of my life. I've been very fortunate over the years.
My Redmire Dream
I have dropped lucky many times regarding getting onto waters and other times not so fortunate. For example, I wrote to Tim Paisley a few years ago on the off chance of getting on Birch Grove or Mangrove just as a place had become available! On the other hand I'd always wanted to fish for Heather at Yateley but the year I got my ticket she died on opening day. It was quite probable that I'd never have caught her but it would have been nice trying. The Mangrove was another dream realised. I could not get enough of that place - it really is an atmospheric water.

A Bundy's ticket was offered shortly after getting into the Mangrove. I took it of course but it would have to wait while I fished the Mangrove bug out of my system. I'm now similarly obsessed by Bundy's pit. A water that is totally different to anywhere else I've fished due to the extreme depths and oh what a magnificent stock of fish! It contains some of the best looking commons and mirrors I've ever seen.
The Mother

Somehow I've missed out my time at Elstow. I fished it a good few years ago but I didn't really have the time available back then that such a water requires. Later, I fished it on and off when I could pull myself away from Bundy's and in 2010 I went all out for the the big one, the Mother, and was extremely lucky to see it in the bottom of my net that August. That was another dream fulfilled... I can't believe how lucky I've been to have experienced the waters I have. The old history fish of the Mangrove were very special to me also - Conan and The Linear especially. A few years ago I had the big one from Bundy's - a 44lb common - the times I spent looking at Dick Walkers record in the Redmire Pool book back in the '80's and dreaming of holding a fish like that, I never would have imagined it would become a reality.

Bundy's 44
There's been other waters of course but haven't spent much time at such as Farmwood in Cheshire, Horseshoe in Gloucestershire, the Derby Railway lakes, Branston Water Park and Packington Somers that I can name and one or two others that I can't I'm afraid. Looking back, I can see I have flitted from one water to another and would have had better results had I concentrated on one at a time but what is certain is that there is no way I could have enjoyed myself any more than I have done.
Stowe Pool, Lichfield
Willesley Lake, Ashby
I still love my time spent on the bank. Every sunset and sunrise is still special. Ive realised it's not just the fishing I am obsessed with its being out and about with nature.

It hasn't all been about carp though. As a youngster I dabbled at a bit of pike fishing, mainly at The Pretty Pigs lake in Tamworth. Later years in the winter would occasionally see me at Branston Water Park and Staunton Harold reservoir in Melbourne for the pike they held. I also have memories of stalking chub and small barbel in a clear tributary of the river Severn. If I had more time I could easily fill it by fishing for other species again but at the moment the carping passion burns brightest.
Markeaton Park, Derby
There will be a few trophy shots hereabouts but believe me when I say the most special memories are not necessarily the captures but certain moments in time in between those highs. To use a cliché - it's all about the journey, not the destination.

Branston Water Park
I'm lucky in the fact that I have a very understanding (second!) wife and I can get out on the bank quite regularly. I usually manage something like 3 weekends per month on average. Sometimes it's less than that when I have to catch up with domestic chores and my social life!
This year will see me return to Bundy's when it opens on June 16th then some time at Birch Grove in the winter. Beyond that?... maybe a return to Elstow but on pit 1 this time. Who knows where I will end up...

Be lucky,

Craig Banks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Get This Blogging Started

Well, where to start eh?!

I was inspired to have a go at this blogging lark by fellow Tweeters blogs due to them being so good and entertaining. Cheers guys - if mine is half as interesting as yours then I'll be happy!

I'll aim to blog at least once a month but hopefully I'll have enough to say to update it far more often. There might not be many captures but I will do my best to keep it interesting and if nothing else I'll include plenty of pictures to look at.

This year I'm intending on fishing Bundy's Pit over Cambridgeshire way again. Unfortunately that is just due to close this week as it has a traditional closed-season in place so I've got to wait until June 16th now. Barring any major disaster and my name coming out in the draw I will be there for opening night... can't wait.



In the mean time I'm not quite sure what fishing I'll be doing. I have an Elstow 2 ticket but that's unlikely to be used to be honest, a Birch Grove winter ticket that finishes end of April so I hope to get up there for a session or two and I also have a club ticket that I want to make use of fishing a large local gravel pit to see if I like it there. I've also got to fit in some work parties and a couple of weeks in the Canaries with the wife.

Until next time...