It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog but I’m back and hopefully you’ll follow me on my angling journey over the coming year.

The year has started off with a bang… back in February I was invited to join the team at Sonik as a carp consultant, which if I’m honest came as a total shock as it came right out the blue and I really didn’t expect it! It was a privilege to be asked and I’m happy and buzzing to be a part of the team and will putting their kit through its paces out on the bank this year.

So, here is a little update on my angling as we move out of winter and into early spring. As I write this we are still confined to day-only-angling and I’ve been focusing my efforts on a syndicate water close to home. It is a venue that I’ve fished in the past with some really cool carp in. It has snags, reed beds, deep areas, shallow bays…. everything you could ask for really and is perfect until we are allowed back night fishing again. 

Like most of the country we suffered snow and really cold temperatures in the first two weeks of February and it happened to coincide with my first couple of sessions down on the lake. Both visits resulted in blanks, I’d not even seen a carp.

It wasn’t until the second to last week of February that the temperatures had risen into double figures and on my next trip down to the lake and after a good look around, I had finally located some carp. Like most carp this time of year they were searching around for the warmer water. Finally, I laid my eyes on them, stacked up in a shallow snaggy area with overhanging tress and reeds, soaking up the early spring sunshine.  This area was also protected by a rope that’s went across it stopping you from getting too close. These carp where nestled in the area in good numbers, catching whatever sun they could get it. I had to find a way of getting them to come out and feed far enough away from the snags. 

I located a little area as tight as I could get it towards the rope and with the snag only a foot or so away. It was a good area where the reed line stopped and the overhanging trees started. I had loaded the Xtractor Reels up with 18lb mono to be on the safe side and used an inline drop off lead system. Below this I had a short semi-stiff hook length and a size 4 curve point hook. A simple but very effective presentation and very safe considering the tightness of the snags.  A small PVA bag was added to stop any tangles and the PVA bag mix was a simple one, RG Baits Vita-Lac Crumb, 2mm pellet and a good dosage of the matching liquid food. I used this same mix to bait up the area to draw the fish out and away from the snags. 

The reason behind using this mix of small crumbed particles and tiny pellets aids getting the liquid down to the bottom with less food items. I’m not after filling them up just attracting them to investigate the source and hopefully getting them to sift around the very small bits, triggering a need to feed after their winter lay up!

After getting the rod into position I felt really confident of a bite, especially after seeing a few carp in the snags. A few hours passed by until eventually the SKX Alarm signalled two bleeps and the Gizmo Bobbin hit the blank with a thud! With the tip of the rod wrapping round and after a tug of war and a short lived battled, a low double rolled over the net cord and I’d landed my first carp of 2021. 

After doing the pictures and carefully slipping it back the afternoon went by very quickly. With the sun setting slowly through the trees behind me, I packed the gear into the car and before leaving, the spot got a little top up ready for the following day and an early morning return.

The next morning, I was up bright and early and I made my way to the lake for first light. The lake was empty and I soon got myself tucked back into the same swim as the day before. After getting my rods out and back onto the same spots I soon had the kettle on and was admiring the beautiful sunrise while sipping on the first brew of the day.

The morning passed very quickly as I sat enjoying the spring sunshine and it wasn’t until mid-afternoon before liners started on the rod tight to the snags. Seconds later the tip bent around! I grabbed the rod and held on, not giving the fish an inch as the last thing I wanted was for it to get into the snags. Thankfully, it didn’t take too long and after a short battle it was bundled begrudgingly into the net. 

Peering into the net I could see a lovely scaley mid-double mirror and another one off the area, I was buzzing! After slipping that one back there was about an hour or so of light left, so without any messing about the rod was placed back out into position. I think I was sorting some bits out and out of the blue the same rod was off again! A mega fully scaled low-double was the culprit this time and rounded up a good days angling before I heading off home. 

It was very clear to me that the carp were visiting these snags a lot as the morning sun beats down on the area and warms the shallow water quickly. Now I had located them and knew when they would be in there, I needed a plan. There are two swims that give you access to the snags, with a reed bed between them that separates the swim and allows the fish to move between both. I needed to pull them out further so I continued to trickle the bait in when I wasn’t fishing, getting them confident in coming out to feed. 

On my next few visits I carried on fishing the same way and in the same area. My main problem was deciding which end of the snag to fish?  The carp were sometimes at either end or would be split between both. What I started to do on each session thereafter was to fish for a bite near to the snag where they were bulked up first and then as they moved off to the other end, I’d follow them, moving swims to try get another bite.

Sticking to my plan over the next few weeks worked a treat and I slowly started to build up a couple of fish per session, with some of these carp being absolute bangers. I caught linears, dark commons and mega scaley mirror carp, mostly mid to upper doubles. Last visit I had my first blank in a while, I just couldn’t get back into the area I needed to be in, with day-only-angling the lake and the area had started to get some attention. Grafting my arse off and moving swims three to four times a day was hard work. The lads that had been fishing the swims that day didn’t have anything and had left slightly earlier than me. This gave me the chance to get a small amount of bait in the area because I knew I could return the following day and hopefully get back on them. 

Setting the alarm for 4am I arrived at the lake for 5am, made a brew and waited for the sun to begin rise before getting the rod into position. The rod wasn’t out long when I received a drop back. First inspection I thought I’d been done! However, the line was still twitching slightly so I quickly lifted into the rod and connected to a fish! 

After a short lived battle a low double common slipped into the net, I was back on them and they wanted the food.

After catching and returning the common I stuck it out until dinner time, but it became evident that the bulk of the fish had moved up to the other end. Packing down the gear quickly I moved swims to the other end of the snags.

Stealthily the rod went back out into the new swim and I had one last look in the snags before sitting down to make a brew. The kettle had literally just boiled and the rod was away. This time the fish held its ground and I had the Insurgent Rod bent double, applying pressure until eventually the fish came out into open water. It felt more weighty as it plodded around, before it finally surfaced and I was able to slip it into the waiting net. After a quick weigh I confirmed it as my first twenty pounder from the water and I think you’ll all agree it’s one hell of a good-looking carp!

That really brings me up to press with my angling for now and with spring well and truly on its way, the nights are drawing out and it’s beginning to warm up.  I’ve some filming to do over the coming weeks and hopefully night fishing will be allowed soon, so stay tuned and I’ll keep you all posted as to how I’ve got on… until next time, be lucky. 

Jimmy Hibbard #TeamSonik GB

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