The Grey Angler – Jack Jacklin
So, the year is 2009. It was my last year of fishing a special little six-acre pit. The pit is roughly a rectangle shape and normally very weedy. Even in a mild winter, the pit can remain weedy. However, the winter of 2008, had killed all of the weed off.
This pit was run as a 14-man syndicate. Five lads travelled to fish, what were normally week long sessions. The other lads were there weekends and holidays. Oh yes – half the lads used bait boats! You know, the 15 hundred quid, all singing all dancing ones. The tackle I was using at the time, was worth less than their bait boats!
Up until this point I mostly did an over-nighter when I could. At most, one night a week.
In 2009 my work changed and I was doing shifts, four day 12 hours on, four days off. Days and nights I had an understanding partner at the time. We had four kids living with us, but she agreed that I could do 48 hour sessions, from the first week of April to the first week of June. Then it was family time. Quality.
Now, the bait boats had been a good leveller. They had been used on the lake for two years. Little or big piles of bait, dropped by boat, using a graphic echo sounder to find holes in the weed, or baits dropped in places you couldn’t cast to.
Each winter I’d save for my spring bait. Whatever deal I could find, that would give me the most and best quality I could get for my money. I’d divide the quantity by sessions and that’s what I had to use. I’m sure you working family men and people fishing on a budget understand what I mean.This year, I had 4 kilograms of bait every four days. But how best could I make it pay and compete, or better the results of the boat boys?
My first 48 hours I blanked. I knew I was on fish, but I couldn’t get a take. Sitting thinking and looking at my rigs in the edge, I came up with some facts. The weed was well behind this year and my braided rigs looked so blatant. I was also fishing bright yellow pineapple pop-ups that had served me so well in springs past. Now, looking at them in the edge, I didn’t feel it was the way to go.
So I formulated a plan: I would fish single hook baits with a difference. 9 inches of 12 lb Fluorocarbon hook-length, in my case 12 lb ESP Ghost, tied to a size 8 wide gape, whipped five times down the shank, lift hair two more turns above the hair, to make the hook sit out. This hook length superseded and replaced my original 15 lb braking strain Maxima mono, because the knot strength is stronger.
Now, most people fish with some form of buoyancy in their hookbait. Therefore, to be different, I’d use a 20 mm bottom bait and I would insert lead to make the bait even heavier.To keep my hookbait high attract, I’d add a large paste wrap. Paste is a better and more attractive bait than the boilie and is a devastating method, hardly used these days.
Just to explain, we used paste baits before boilies. Then we started to boil the bait, to make them more carp specific. i.e. with the large mouths of the carp and their throat teeth, a large hard bait was no problem for the carp, but harder for other fish to manage. However, by putting a hard outer on the paste, it affects the leakage of attractants and also washes out a lot of the goodness.
This method would give me a dissolving 40 mm heavy hook bait, with a heavy boiled middle section. I would fish these as singles on the hardest spots I could find, with the cleanest most solid bottoms, nearest the fish. As I believed in my head, that would give me the best presentation for this scenario to work.
Adding to the hookbait thoughts, when I left, I would spread my 4 kg of 20 mm boilies all over the six acres. I wanted the fish seeing my bait everywhere. No piles, no trap, and as different as I could get from what I was everybody else doing and especially different from the boat boys.
The second week of fishing, using my new plan, I started catching. Incidentally, my first take came inside ten minutes in the same swim from the week before, as the fish were still there and gave me all the confidence I needed to know I was onto something. Over my 14 nights of 48-hour sessions, I had 11 takes. Landing nine fish. Three twenties and five thirties – all over 34 lbs, and on my last day, I had a new PB. A 52 lb mirror.
I haven’t written this article to big-up myself. Nor has it been done for financial gain, that’s just not me and I’ve never even thought that anyone would want to hear my rambling, but that Crackoff and Iain Fordham keep asking, so here it is. The subject is just to show how thinking things through can catch you the fish you want.
Interestingly, the 20s outnumbered the 30s in this pit, by some considerable way. Did my presentation and methods single out the bigger fish? Who can say? There is a publicity ban on this water, and out of respect, I will not print any pictures of fish from there. However, in July of the same year, I had this incredible common from the river – 39-40 lbs.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this little piece and mostly I hope it gets you thinking about your fishing. Being different from the norm is a real edge. Sometimes.