My return to Cassien - Part two - Jake Langley-Hobbs

Téma Dobrodružství Jakea Langley-Hobbse, publikováno 14. 10. 2013, přečteno 3342x.

In part one I retold my festive exploits at American Beach. It was the perfect way to spend Christmas; carping at Cassien with some new friends. We all caught carp but the most enjoyable part was being in the close proximity of good company. However, a few days after Christmas had passed I started to get itchy feet as I sensed the action had dried up in this part of the lake. Another area was calling out to me; Aviron. I drove round to check it was free on the 28th of December and it looked like it had not been fished for ages. There were three anglers on Ellis point and a couple on Mathilda, as I expected there to be, so I hastily made my way back to break camp. By tomorrow, fingers crossed, I would be all set up and ready to start fishing Aviron again. It was now late in the day so I did the majority of the packing up and left the rest for the morning. It all went to plan and I even managed to catch a 34lb mirror on my last night at American beach before I drove round to my new home, the following day, to start assembling my commune for my lengthy stay; and this is where part two begins!

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You may be wondering why on earth I wanted to return to Aviron? After all, I spent 125 nights here last year. It was for two reasons. One was sentimental and the other was the simple fact I caught a lot of carp and many of them were big! I knew the area well and it made me chuckle to see the remnants of my handy work dotted round the swim. My shower had not been maintained and my log seat was missing its log, but it still felt like my patch and the dogs certainly knew where they were. I set up the houses and decided not to fish on the first night. The circles on the ground from where my bivvies stood last year, were still evident, but I chose to put the sleeping one on a new patch of ground. What a big mistake that would later turn out to be!

The following morning I replaced my shock leaders and rigs and ventured out in the boat to see if I could find the same places on my echo. It really felt like déjà-vu but the lake topography seemed a little different this year. At depths of 15–17ft there seemed to be a lot of new weed growth, and I wondered if it had sprouted when the levels were really low at the end of the summer and throughout autumn. New features too, what a bonus! I soon had the rods sorted and in position and it wasn’t long before darkness was looming. The days were still very short, the nights were like black marathons and the temperature was bitterly cold. France was having a proper winter this year. In fact it was to be the worst winter in France for more than 20 years.

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I woke up on New Year’s Eve after a blank night. My bivvy heater was doing a sterling job and inside my tent it was like a sauna. The dogs loved this new luxury! I had a visit later on in the day from one of the Germans on Ellis Point. He had been to get the beer for tonight’s celebration. Daniel informed me that between the five of them fishing over the last two weeks only two carp had been caught; however the catfish were making a nuisance of themselves. This did not dampen my spirits though. Later on that night I was woken to screams and shouts from all over the lake. It was now New Year’s Day! A couple of fireworks were let off from Mathilda and greetings in several languages were shouted around the lake for several minutes. I was on my own but it was still a special night spending it at Cassien and not in some crowded overpriced bar. How my life has changed!

Morning arrived and another blank night passed me by. I wondered what 2009 would bring me in terms of fish. I had had a fantastic 2008 and was looking forward to the next 365 days fishing. I rebaited the rods and put out a handful of Fish boilies to each spot. I was fishing my left hand rod on a shallow 10ft plateau, with a snowman presentation, and it was this rod that spurred into life later that night. I clambered out of the bivvy and as I reached the rod I could see the indicator bouncing up and down. The fish wasn’t actually taking line off the spool, and I had bream suspicions as I picked the rod up. All these were vanished once I felt a force on the end that suddenly started pulling very hard. I flicked the baitrunner back on as I got into the boat and then flicked it off again and I reeled my way to the fish with the assistance of my motor. Within 15 seconds I was above the fish and it came to the top like a wet sack! In my head torch I could see a huge set of shoulders under the surface which slowly turned away from me. I reached for my net and unbelievably the fish just lay on the surface waiting for me. That was that. In less than two minutes I had a huge carp in the bag. Happy New Year indeed!

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I slowly made my way back through the fog and secured the boat and fetched all the necessary equipment. In the dark the mirror looked colossal and I even thought it might be a new PB. I hoisted her off the ground and the needle slammed round to 26.8kg which is 59lb. My second largest carp of my trip and it looked like 2009 was going to be a good one. It was bitterly cold by now, and there was no way I could photograph a fish of this size on my own. I have a new camera with a remote, but this fish deserved the best treatment, so I carefully sacked it up, with a buoy attached to the sack for extra security, and waited for first light for some photos. These were all done before the sun rose and although it was still cold and my hands were numb it was something I will never forget. The width of this fish is breathtaking and I even got into the freezing water up to my chest to do some unforgettable release shots.

Whenever I catch a big fish, I seem to float around on a carpy cloudy for the next day or so and this was no different, except I needed to get something fairly important up and running; the Blog. Blogs are nothing new, but actually writing a Blog from my fishing location each day, using a mobile internet card for my laptop; now that’s quite original. Like all good ideas though, it took a long time to get off the ground; four months in fact. A solution had to be found for the internet connection which I sourced in France. Having no French address or bank account, meant a few resources had to be pulled together, but we got there in the end. One other problem which I overcame was the Blog site itself. My Imperial Fishing sponsor had got his web guy to find a suitable platform; it was a German site! This was no good for me and although it would have been a great way to learn some of the language, I really needed a site with English language content to make uploading each post easier. Once I had my internet card I got busy finding other Blog sites. My connection speed was not great to begin with; imagine a three legged donkey running in the Grand National, to give you an idea! This work was also being done from my bivvy and not an office with electricity. I was relying heavily on my leisure batteries and the rowing club’s power points to recharge them each day. This in turn led to my need for a good solar solution as I knew I would not have a generous rowing club at each place I fished. Three full days were spent building my original Blog site. It is rather like building a simple website and finally it was ready to be launched. Then a disaster struck, the Blog just vanished never to be found again. I had no time to panic; instead I just had to find another Blog provider. Wordpress seemed like the most reliable and popular; so for the next 24 hours (I was now a dab hand at Blog site building) I was once again creating ‘Jake’s Carp Fishing Blog’ and on January the 7th the Blog was finally launched live to the World Wide Web.

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A week had slipped by in Aviron and I had barely noticed. I now needed to catch a Blog carp and the carpy cloud I had been floating on, had certainly now disappeared.  The weather was certainly proving inconsistent and the nights were extremely cold, there was a distinct lack of sunshine and the rain kept arriving by the bucket load. Every time it rained for a few days, a flood of water kept running underneath my sleeping bivvy and the ground underneath and around it resembled a North Yorkshire bog! Foolishly my sleeping bivvy had been set up in the waters path as it ran down the hill, and it would take days for the ground to dry out, by which time more rain would arrive to prevent this happening. I was more worried about the lack of carp action though and every day I was racking my brain, trying to work out what they were up to.

Two blank weeks had now passed. I was trying not to change my tactics too much; otherwise you end up going round in circles. Deep down I kind of knew the carp were probably sulking somewhere, and reports from all over the lake told a similar story. How many waters in the UK don’t fish well in the winter? I may have been in the South of France but this was true winter fishing at its hardest. I did a survey on the Blog as to whether or not I should move swims. The results were very interesting with the majority vote saying I should stay where I was or move to the North arm in a week’s time. I had no intention of moving anyway but it was fun to see how involved people were getting in my ongoing saga.

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By week three of no action my tactics were alternating between leaving baits out for several days, moving rods to a new spot every 24 hours and trying deep or very shallow water. I was trying every trick in the book and inevitably the rods would always find their way back to their original spots after a couple of days of searching around. I knew sticking to my guns was the best option and I resided myself to the simple fact that the carp were just not in the mood for food.

My solar panels had now arrived from Selectsolar and they were doing a sterling job. Finding words for the daily Blog was never difficult and each post would take ninety minutes to compile each day, to include some pictures of interest. I was beginning to think the Blog itself was a jinx and maybe I would never catch a carp whilst I was writing it. Words of encouragement kept arriving from well wishers and Cassien addicts who were all keen to see a winter carp landed. One such person was Glen Edwards from the UK. He suggested I try rock salt as an extra attraction, so my next grocery trip to Lidl saw me armed with a few bags of the white mineral and one rod was fished with a small PVA bag of the stuff to see if that worked. It didn’t but it was worth a shot.

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Blank week four passed by like a ship in the night and I was trying to keep things as constant as I could. I had endured blank spells last year and I knew it was just a case of being patient. I am not in the habit of chasing fish round a lake like Cassien, as due to the sheer size of the lake you could end up chasing your own tail. I was very confident if the fish were feeding then I would catch them from my swim so I decided to patiently sit it out and wait. The carp would come eventually. Steve Briggs wrote something interesting last year about the people that stick to one swim for the duration of their stay, and the people who move frequently. He reckoned it probably worked out even for the number of fish caught for the sticker and the mover. The mover may pick up the odd fish here and there, but then the sticker might have a good run of fish over a week long period. Each method works, but some people just can’t stick out long periods of inactivity and feel the need to move every day. I on the other hand find these periods part of the challenge.

During my fifth week since my last carp had been caught the rain had moved in to stay. It had rained for three days and my groundsheets were proving pathetic. The water was creeping through them and slowly all my equipment was getting damp. I needed to move my bivvy but couldn’t as the rain kept tumbling down.  The Blog was still kept up to date and readers could not believe what I was putting up with. My solar panels continued to work well, although the lack of sun was proving a little difficult, and I was juggling batteries to get enough charge each day to write each post. I expected to see Noah in his Ark sailing across Cassien at one point collecting up the boars and other wildlife. It was a complete monsoon! On the eighth day of rain the heavens really opened. Within seconds water was cascading down the hill behind me and at one point it was a foot deep. One of the rods pulled round and the backlead lifted clean out of the water. At last a carp…no it was a bream. What a stitch up!

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The following day the rain finally eased and I quickly moved my bivvy and its wet contents to firmer ground. Perhaps the new ground would bring me some luck? The rain that had fallen over the last week had done wonders for the lake. The level rose and the whole lake turned chocolate. This rarely ever happens at Cassien and surely this would get the fish feeding. A friend had arrived to watch the dogs whilst I nipped off to stock up on food and wash and dry the dog’s beds at the local launderette. They had put up with a horrible week being bivvy bound and fresh dry beds were what they deserved. Back at my swim in my new location I felt revitalised and for the first time in over five weeks, confident that a carp might put in an appearance. The rods at this point had been on the same spots for a few days. I had moved one rod to a new spot the previous week next to a bed of Canadian pond weed. I had kept seeing shadows on my echo sounder at depths of 15ft so by using a clever device I concocted,  two treble hooks and a round lead, which is now my weed identifier; I was able to find out what it was and present a bait next to it. One rod was still on the 59lb plateau and the other two were on the slope in depths of 17–19ft.

The following day, after having some more bait and my Carpworld delivered to me from Max that morning, I was sat reading it at lunchtime when the plateau rod wrenched round and line was pulled off the baitrunner. I had only introduced some more free offerings to my spots 30 minutes prior to this and whatever I had hooked was pulling hard and hugging the bottom. I went out in the boat (I am now addicted to playing fish in my boat and it definitely has advantages) and caught up with the culprit. It was staying very deep and the rod was being pulled right into the water. Due to the colour of the water I could not see it beneath the surface but it soon became evident I had hooked a catfish. The fight is quite different to that of a carp as they occasionally swim backwards and move very purposefully on the lake bed. Eventually I saw big bubbles rising to the top and a swish of a cat’s tail. It wasn’t the species I wanted but it was a start.

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