August had come to a close and hopefully the hot an humid weather would also end soon. I had managed a couple more nice scaley mirrors right at the end of August and one of them had really made me work, as access to the swim was now much different. Instead of a short walk to the area, I had to spend 90 minutes walking my gear down over a quarter of a mile of margins, with deep drop off perilously close! My hard work was rewarded though as the fish were well worth the effort.
25lbs+ of Fully Scaled Mirror Carp
23lbs+ Hard work to get to the area, but well worth the effort!
With the start of September my hope for cooler weather systems and low pressure fronts were starting to materialize. We could definitely use some rain after a relatively dry summer and over the first week, the temperature cooperated and started to drop a few degrees. I was planning one more overnight on the 800 acre Lake before heading to Upstate New York for a three day fishing trip. Having spoken to other anglers fishing the lake, it was obvious that the bullheads (small catfish) were starting to become very active and with the full moon cycle and the changing weather I knew it was going to be a task to keep baits in the water long enough for the carp to find!
To combat the catfish, I planned to bait lightly and use bigger hook-baits in the hope that they would not be able to pick them up. On one rod I employed monster tiger nuts and on the second rod I rigged up with a snowman combination of a 20mm bottom bait and a 10mm pop-up (both from Dynamite Baits). Over the first few hours and into darkness it was not looking good! I had landed two bullheads and had numerous pick-ups. I persisted and around 10pm the activity died off and I was able to recast and settle in for the night.
I was a somewhat surprised and a little disappointed that when I got up at first light I had not had any more activity. A few fish had rolled over my areas and I was sure I would get at least one chance. One thing I do make a habit of doing when night fishing is to get up at first light or just before and watch the water. If there are active fish in the area or elsewhere, this is a great time to see them and to make a move if required. It was while watching the water that the particle rod roared off just after 7am and a welcome visitor hit the net. I recognized the fish straight away as one I had caught earlier in the year that weighted around 18lbs and so I unhooked it in the net and slipped it back without weighing or photographing it as I was just happy to avoid a blank.
Around an hour later my second rod was away and a much stronger fish gave a very good account of itself. I was convinced I was attached to a much bigger fish, but after 10 minutes or so I had a very healthy and very angry male carp in the net. At first I was sure it was one I had caught at the start of the summer, but on checking pictures I was very happy it was a new fish of over 25lb’s and an absolute minter. I packed up very happy, knowing I would not be back on the lake for at least two weeks.
The next week was spent making bait and sorting out my tackle for a three day trip to the St. Lawrence River on the New York and Canadian border. I picked up another angler (Erik) and we made the 7 hour drive, very early in the morning. My first plan was to fish at least two different areas, but on checking them out I was disappointed to learn my number one choice was no longer an option as the land had been purchased and access was no longer available. This meant we would fish the same area for the whole session, which would certainly give us a chance to catch some of the bigger fish (30lbs+).
A ‘small boat’ going by on the St. Lawrence
I had fished the river the previous year and was captivated by it’s beauty. It is a fantastic river system, massive in size but has everything you could possibly want. Bays, inlets, weedy swims, snaggy swims, areas you can fish from your car etc. I was also determined to land my first 30lb+ Common Carp from a US water as the previous year I had lost one at the net and also had a friend land one on my rods while I was occupied on a bathroom break!
On arrival we spent the day pre-baiting and setting up. I decided to use a boilie approach on two rods and then fish the other rod in the margins. The area was the same depth from the margins to around 100 yards (17 feet) as it had been dredged so that boat traffic could navigate it. There were no features to speak of, so it was a matter of getting some bait in the area and hoping the fish came in at some point. The first night produces six fish for Erik and just a couple for me, however, throughout the night I had watched and heard fish roll only 30 yards from the bank, which was a problem as I was fishing at 60 yards. With this in mind I fished at only 30 yards for the remainder of the session and also put in a few more kilo’s of bait into the swim during the second day.
Sundown on the first day
It was during the second day when I was helping Erik land carp after carp, with no real action myself that I finally had a run. It is easy to get frustrated and chop and change things when you are not catching and the person next to you is hauling, but I was confident in my methods and as I struck into the fish, I knew my patience had paid off. It put up a very good account of itself and spent around 15 minutes plodding around and staying deep. As it rose in the water I could see it was clearly a good fish, but didn’t want to jinx it. After a couple of attempts the fish went into the net and on carrying it up the rocks I knew for sure I had my long awaited 30lb common.
On the scales the fish took the dials around to 32lb 10oz and was a new Personal Best. Shots were done and the fish was released and although I wanted to catch a few more fish, I was very happy with the session as I had achieved the main goal of the trip. I could now concentrate on getting my baited area going and taking advantage of any fish that came into the area.
Over the next two nights my baiting strategy paid off and I had a further twenty fish or so, with some very nice back-up fish included. I was fortunate that the fish moved onto the bait, but I was able to keep them in the area due to my application of the bait. I had put in around 3 kilos of boilies before my first bite off the area but I had really scattered these around with the catapult, rather than baiting tightly. This forced the fish to keep searching the area and to aid with this I also put in an additional 100 or so baits after each fish. Secondly, I used the daytime (when the action was slow) to trickle another kilo or so into the area, knowing that any action I was to receive would most likely be at night. On a final not I also decided to use double 20mm hook-baits as I wanted to see if this method would pick up the bigger fish. At the conclusion of the session, we had landed over 40 fish between us which wasn’t a bad result for the swim in question. I had also managed ten 20lb+ fish, with three upper 20’s topped by the 32. I don’t put this down solely to the bigger hook-bait’s but I am sure it was a big factor along with the boilie approach. In contrast, my particle rod had produce several fish, but non of these topped the twenty pound mark!
A solid upper twenty, with some unique scaling
Another solid mid twenty. The St. Lawrence is a fantastic river!
I returned from the trip refreshed and keen to resume the hunt for big mirrors. Over the last two weeks of September the temperatures continued to drop and the fall was definitely upon us. I managed a couple of sessions on one of my target waters which resulted in a couple of nice fish, but nothing big. I also received a surprise when fishing a new area! I’ll leave the details of this until next months blog.
Not exactly the size of mirror I was looking for, but a stunner non the less!
Until next time, Happy Hunting.