Although thoroughly enjoyable (as always), my recent pike and sea fishing exploits have been largely unsuccessful. So, to say I was excited about the prospect of a day’s carping at the infamous Cork Lough, is putting it mildly. I am extremely lucky that the lake is literally minutes from my house and, with half decent weather and a reasonably good knowledge of the venue, I must admit I was confident of landing a carp or two. The fact that I had been trickling some bait (mostly Sticky Baits boilies) into a few areas also helped boost my confidence no end! Pre-baiting doesn’t have to be extensive (especially in the cooler months) nor does in need to be expensive. A handful or two of bait into a spot on a regular basis is often all that is required to attract, and hold, a fish or two.
It is worth noting that if you are fishing with boilies in cooler temperatures, it is in your and the fish’s best interest to use a bait which is highly digestible – for example, one which is made up of pre-digested/low temperature fish meals, various bird foods, wheat germ etc. The colder the water the slower a fish’s metabolism and digestive processes will be. So, by feeding with such a bait, the chances of a fish feeling ‘full’ are reduced, which means there is a greater chance of it continuing to feed and hopefully picking up your hook bait!
The day began bright and clear, almost (almost!) spring-like, with a stiff breeze blowing from behind me. At this time of year sunshine is a great incentive to get carp moving, as they naturally seek out warmer water. Areas of waters which receive more sunlight will also generally be the first to produce new weed growth and hold more substantial numbers of natural food items. Surely the combination of pre-baiting and choosing to fish an area where the fish felt more comfortable would be a winner?
Two hours after casting in and one of the rods signalled a take – a slow, twitchy tightening of the line. Despite the sluggish bite, the fish put up a very good account of itself, plodding around under the rod tip for much of the fight, refusing to surface. When it did, I gasped – it was a stunning looking mirror! It looked even more impressive once netted and placed onto the waiting unhooking mat. A chunky scaley carp, in true winter colours, golds, yellows, browns, blacks. Size does not matter one bit when fish are this beautiful.
A truly beautiful carp
An hour later, the same rod resulted in another similar size common (8lb+), which also put up a decent scrap. Not long after, in this short spell of activity, I had another bite and landed another fish, this time a copper-coloured female common of almost 12lb. I was delighted with my result, three fish in a few hours, with a ‘double’ thrown in to boot! However, the feeding spell, at least in this area, seemed to end after that and all became quiet. In fact, the only feeding signs I saw in my swim for the next while were those of the migratory Tufted ducks which call the lake home during winter. Oddly, they seemed to leave my baited spots alone. Maybe the carp had eaten all of the bait?
Perhaps a little greedily, I decided to move swims for the last few hours of my trip. This is the benefit of having more than one area pre-baited and more than one area in mind; it gives you the option of moving should the situation arise. By now the sunny, blue skies had long been replaced by a strong gusting wind and lots of driving rain. As if we haven’t seen enough of that this season?! Still there was one carp who was hungry (foolish?) enough to take my bait in the new plot and, as the right hand rod signalled a typical winter take, the wind howled through the rod rings and I became quite wet! Did I care? Did I heck! To me, this is what fishing is all about, what I live for, what I crave.
The fish felt much bigger than the previous three from earlier on and sure enough it was. Although it did come in like the proverbial wet sack, my buddy Adam Barrett and I were elated when we saw what lay in the mesh of the net – a lovely, plump mid-double figure mirror! It was a great end to a great day, one which surely wouldn’t have been as successful without the correct bait and the correct bait application…
A very wet but very happy angler!