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Wet Weather Carp

I have been a virtual prisoner in my bivvy for the last 48 hours and to leave this flimsy nylon shelter for only a second means another set of waterproofs soaked. Wind to over 90mph has hit the shoreline less than 30 miles from where I’m sat, straining my camp to a point that 2 pegs in each ring has only just held anchor, indeed last night I packed everything away expecting the next gust to destroy my only protection against the persistent and wild elements. The true enemy however is the mud that seems to relentlessly slide towards me, trying to bring the quagmire onto the groundsheet and remove the only dry place to sit and sleep and if it did it would probably break me. So I make sure to mop the entrance on a regular basis and never place my boots past the doorway created by the bivvy’s wind skin. I do have a few creature comforts, the first being a digital radio with Talk Sport and 5 Live being a companion during the long dark nights, although the volume had to be turned up high to hear anything over the din of raindrops bouncing off the taut waterproof material. I unashamedly admit to having a laptop as well which normally allows me to run an office on these sessions but with no internet signal deep in the valley it acts as a DVD player. At this point I can almost see the frowns but watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster when all is quiet keeps me entertained and that’s reason enough to justify a place during a winter carp trip. I love the sound of nature and there is still plenty of time to listen to the hoots of the tawny owls or observe the boilie stealing antics of the birdlife. Coots I expect no better of, but dab chicks? I’m sure I read in a text book that they feed on fish but maybe it shows how potent my Richworth S-core boilies are!

Normally a cup of sweet black coffee goes down well at a time like this but alas it’s cold food and drink for me after the stove sprung a leak that could have either gassed or burnt me to death! More galling is that it’s a replacement for another which did the same and shows the make in question to be seriously lacking, a point I shall be addressing when I get home.

So what drives a man to live in such extreme conditions when I have a lovely wife, home, 2 Rottweilers that are always pleased to see me? They give me joy in life without doubt but I still need to fuel a primeval instinct and hunt with fish being my chosen quarry. Braving the elements, whatever they are, only serves to make the tussle more titanic and the success, if it comes, only sweeter. When I was young with a net I would dip it whatever the weather and that willingness has never gone even in a bizarre way now sought out and enjoyed that I struggle to explain. If the rivers are flooded I wade them, if snow is forecast I drive towards it and set up for the night, some would see where I’m sat as a prison whilst I on the other hand see it as a passion with the attention to detail on each of my 3 rods the same as if I was enjoying the sun in shorts. Come rain or shine I’m here to catch fish!

Soft 3¼ test curve rods are combined with 25lb flurocarbon that casts terribly but once in situ melts into the bottom. With the wind strength faced and feeling the lead land on the bottom through the rod tip difficult a short ESP chod rig has been selected to guarantee good presentation especially over the dying weed beds I know are present. To make it work though I need to use a mega buoyant Richworth pop up, keeping the hook and stiff link material proud of the bottom. As always this rig sits on a helicopter arrangement although I have had no choice but to use a heavier lead than normal to cope with the conditions. When each one landed on the surface I kept it on a taut line feeling it down as best as I could before paying out plenty of slack and depositing 200 free boilies around each. The job wasn’t quite finished however with the need to fix each butt in a tight ESP back rest as well as span a loop of power gum across the alarms snag ears to hold the carbon in place as the hurricane continues to range, something I’ve never needed to do in the past! Lastly to avoid going insane with false bleeps each rod has a line clip above the alarm with the fluro carbon placed in it to stop any movement. With all the hatches battened down the waves may well have white caps to them and look more fitting for a spot of surfing but I am confident that I’m still angling with 100% efficiency – a point proved by the floating sling clearly visible through the bivvy door.

Soon I will put my pen down on this diary entry and enjoy the prize that makes everything worthwhile for inside is a fish of much beauty made up of a thousand glistening scales. Only in winter do they shine with such intensity that you would believe each flank had been polished.

Winning a moment with such a carp might not be easy on both body and soul but pick a water where they’re willing to feed, which is generally shallow holding a decent stock which is the case here, combine with a simple rig and an attractive bait and then all you need is effort. Yes, bivvy life can sometimes be testing but when I smile at the camera in a few minutes time I’ll have a memory to enjoy and that wouldn’t be the case if I were lying on the settee. It might well be winter and the weather dire but if you really want to catch the only things preventing you are your own excuses!

Top 5 Tips

1. Winter is no time for experimenting so use a bait and rig you have confidence in.
2. Picking the correct venue is the most important decision you will make so do your homework and select one with a track record.
3. Keep dry and a pair of chest waders combined with a good coat is just the thing.
4. In summer I travel very light but in winter comfort is key even if this means another journey to the car. Use a good sleeping bag and a groundsheet to keep the damp away.
5. My favourite area to target is where the cover is and this may be dying weed beds or trees overhanging the water in the margins.

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