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Richard was born in 1991 and has been Carp fishing since he was 12. Based in Burton On Trent, Richard works in a fishing tackle shop. He's currently targeting a Nene Valley syndicate water that holds fish to over 40lb's, and has recently land a new PB mirror of 39lb.
Name: Richard Chapman
Hometown: Burton On Trent
UK PB: Mirror 39lb / Common 34lb 2oz
The Pale Mirror and Friends
"We were at the start of May and, after my result from the previous session fishing from the dries swim and, with there still being the odd fish about I decided to fish the same area. Although I opted to fish from a swim known as ‘No Point', in reality the spot that I had previously caught from was more in this water than the dries.
"As normal I arrived after work, quickly found a couple of spots and scattered a few freebies around each rod trying to get them out with minimal disturbance before settling down for the night. Day turned into night and back into day with no action and that morning still looked good for a bite - grey and overcast with a bit of drizzle.
"I kept an eye out and was sure I noticed a back sticking out above the shallow plateau out in front but because of the distance I couldn't be sure. It wasn't really the weather for them being up in the shallows - especially so early in the year! Keeping watch I got the old binoculars ready and, before long there was another back out.. and another. So, with the end of the session approaching (I was only down for the one night) I had a decision to make - leave the rods out and hope they drop into the deeper water or get a bait up on the shallows and risk spooking them.
"I pondered it over a quick cup of tea before slipping the waders on and winding one of the rods in. A quick exploratory cast with a small lead confirmed that there was a covering of weed on the shallows but, in my rush I decided to leave my balanced KD rig on and hope that it presented itself, going down soft. As soon as it was out I started having my doubts. I had cast it slightly to the right of where the fish were showing, hoping to avoid spooking them but watching their movements they just didn't seem to be going down far enough.
"After a few minutes of worrying I decided to wind another rod in and this was equipped with a better suited hinged stiff link. This was now ‘do or die', I was going as close as I could and, as the lead landed a couple of fish cleared the water. Bugger! Thinking I had just wrecked my chances I retreated to the bivvy to sulk and gave a mate a quick call to tell them what had happened. His parting words were ‘give us a call if you get one' although I wasn't thinking I'd be bothering him.
"An hour or so passed and I started to see the odd subtle back poking out of the water right above the hook baits and, as time passed I began to doubt my presentation - was it snarled up in the weed? I didn't want to risk a recast so it would have to do. It messed with my head that much that I decided to ignore it and do something different. The stiff rig rod grabbed my attention as the hanger pulled up tight; I stared at it hoping for a clue - big liner or take? After giving it a few seconds and no movement I decided to risk striking and, as I took up the tension a good fish rolled above the shallow spot - and it looked a goodun. The fight was just slow and plodding - typical big fish and, before long I saw a pale fish close in. There were a few pale ones in the lake so I couldn't be sure which one it was. It continued to plod about in the margins for a good 5 minutes, no real runs but just letting the fish tire itself out there were no real snags so there was no rush - anyway I always play fish like a girl!
"Eventually she was on the surface and was soon nestling in the bottom of the net. I recognised it as soon as it went over the net cord. One of the A team known as The Pale Mirror which had been out over 40lbs! I secured the net and got on the phone to try and sort some pictures. Ed was just having a quick stalk and then packing up so was going to be round shortly. Quickly getting the scales sorted to get an accurate weight I decided to use the net handle as a make shift weigh bar. So after getting the fish into the sling the scales span round to 38lb 4oz - admittedly not quite as big as she looked but a real result. It was at this point that I had got my finger trapped between the spreader block and the scales so as I tried to lower the sling the pressure increased. Very painful but eventually I managed to lower the fish back onto the mat and release my finger!
"I left her in the recovery slings so she could have a breather and I could sort out the carnage that had developed in my swim. Ed was soon round and got some cracking shots - we decided to get a couple of returners and finally released her back home - swimming off back out into the lake before turning 180® and swimming back to my feet, so after turning her round and releasing her once again she was gone.
"I managed to blank on the next overnighter when the lake was busy, but in reality I knew I couldn't get on the fish when the lake was so busy. The following session was a mid weeker so there were only a couple of others on.
"I took a walk round and there was nothing showing itself, further round I came to a secluded bay known as ‘The Pond' and, as soon as I rounded the corner I heard one show. Even though I didn't see the fish the ripples were fairly substantial. I nipped round to the main swim with a view of the whole bay and there were a few shows that were defiantly Tench. After seeing half a dozen I was beginning to lose heart, thinking the first show was just another Tench when eventually a good Carp lifted clear of the water right above a clear spot I knew.
"I sprinted back to get my gear, which turned into a jog and then a fast walk... and before long I was back armed with rods. Knowing the spots helped me get the rods out quickly; I set the brolly up and set about sorting some food out. The light was fading as I started to cook a curry and updated my Facebook saying that it looked good for a bite.
"Halfway through cooking the middle alarm started to scream. I already had my waders on so jumped straight in, the culprit didn't look huge but a nice 20lber so a quick call to Ed and he kindly nipped round to do some pictures. I set about getting him weighed and when I lifted it I realised I may have been a tad out with my estimations. I really short fish but deep and wide. The scales slammed round to 33lb 10oz and was fittingly known as The Breeze Block Common. The pictures worked out alright considering they were night shots and after releasing him back home I set about getting the rod back on the spot."
"I couldn't find a clear spot for my right hand rod so opted to chuck a choddy on top of the weed to where the fish had been showing. It was this rod that went off around 3am and this time it wasn't a monster at around 17lbs but a nice long lean mirror. A couple of quick self takes and it was back off to sleep. As was expected after the disturbance of a couple of fish they seemed to push out of the bay and I saw no further shows. I packed up around midday more than happy with the results for a night session. The following couple of sessions resulted in frustrating blanks and even more annoyingly after this I couldn't get time to get down.
"It was the start of August when I got back down and incidentally I spotted fish showing in the same bay. It was now later in the year so I was fighting against the light to get the rods out. I made sure to get the middle banker rod out first and this proved to be a good move as it was this one that went early morning. Another big fish was soon in the net - a two-tone common that spun the scales around to 35lb 2oz. It was just getting light so I left her to chill out in the sling for an hour whilst the sun rose before sorting a few self takes. I was even more chuffed when I realised it was in fact a new PB common. Again the fish pushed out the bay and I had reached the end of my session - I tried to get a few more nights in but it was getting to the point where I was turning up in darkness which proved to not only be hard work but very fruitless. I soon realised it was time to move onto my winter waters that were closer to home although I am already looking forward to next spring and a return to hopefully catch a few more."
"Unfortunately it's getting to that time of year where the nights are drawing in and the temperatures are quickly plummeting. Hopefully we have all made the most of the so called summer and caught plenty of chunks, but now is the time to start thinking about your winter plans.
"Over the past couple of winters rather than stick it out on my main target waters in the hope of sneaking a bite, I have chosen to visit a variety of both day ticket and club waters in search of some action. Mainly consisting of shorter day sessions, not only is it more enjoyable than being sat in a bivvy for hour upon hour of darkness but it can also bring with it excellent results.
"Bait has always been a hotly debated topic in the cold weather - some people will avoid fish meal based baits like the plague whilst others are successful using them. Everyone will have a different opinion on the ultimate winter attractor. I'm no expert in the makeup of bait by any stretch of the imagination and we all have our preferences but, it is worth checking with either your tackle shop or bait supplier if what you are using is suitable for year round use. There are often winterised versions of baits available which have lower oil levels and slight changes in ingredients, whereas others will be fine as they are. Personally I will be sticking to The Maggot from Aqua Dynamix which is an easily digestible winter bait but more importantly is instantly attractive as well as a quality food source, which when jumping around between different waters can really you're your results.
"With the cooling water temperatures a Carp's metabolism will be slowing - they will move less and eat less. So what does this mean from a Carp angler's point of view? Clearly you do not want to be piling kilos of bait if it isn't going to get eaten and generally speaking less is more. There are exceptions to the rule however and, if I was sticking to a single target water all winter and fishing it regularly I would be inclined to keep steady supplies of bait going in but you do need a different mentality on short sessions.
"A lesser known effect of the colder water is that the Carp's eyesight is also greatly reduced, so the visual aspect of bait also has to be considered. Most people have a variety of high-vis hook baits but the colour of the actual food baits are often overlooked. The maggot boilies are quite light in colour and lighten up even more after taking on water so will stand out well against most lake beds. Also depending on the stock of nuisance fish such as Roach and Bream adding live maggots will add another dimension to the area.
"The final thing worth thinking about is added attraction, and this can be done in a variety of ways. Soaking hook baits and freebies in various liquid attractants can give an instant hit of flavour in the area and a similar effect can be achieved with a small PVA stick. Again, try and keep to the winterised flavours, most oils can coagulate in the cold and be nigh on useless sitting in a rather unattractive blob on the bottom of the lake. I have stocked up on the maggot digest from Aqua which is made using real maggots blended up and stabilised to prevent them from going off, even though it's not the best smelling additive by human standards it has all the amino acids and goodness in there that makes maggots themselves so effective but being in liquid for it allows for it to disperse through the water instantly.
"Obviously we all have our own little edges for the winter but this is just my thoughts and how I go about my winter fishing. Different situations can dictate what you will be using but for the waters I find myself fishing I'm sure that it will result in a few winter whackers in the bottom of my net - which ultimately is what it's all about. So wherever you fish this winter may your rods keep bending and alarms keep singing."
News from Richard - Thursday 24th May 2012
"After being lucky enough to catch Rita I had decided that I would be moving onto my Nene Valley syndicate. To be totally honest although my local syndicate held some awesome fish it was pretty boring fishing with a lot of sitting on your hands so I was looking forward to a new challenge.
"There are actually four lakes on the Nene Valley ticket however, the big lake of around 20 acres was to be my main target. With an estimated stock of 80-100 fish, most over 20lbs with 5 or so 40's at the right time and a load of 30's there were plenty to go at and, in a way, after spending a lot of time fishing for a certain fish I quite fancied the thought of just fishing for bites with so many worth catching.
"I had had a quick night on there that turned out fishless a week or so previously but it gave me a good idea of the layout of the lake and I got a bit of information from other anglers about what had been happening - in short not a lot, only the odd fish putting in an appearance.
"So, as mentioned that first session gave me a good idea of what to expect. So, after catching Rita I spent the next day preparing my gear and then set off nice and early to arrive for first light. I could fit in a final nights fishing before my week and a bit off work finished. I was disappointed to find it pretty much full of anglers when I turned up, but there are always people packing up or moving, so I carried on regardless and had a couple of laps of the lake, failing to spot anything of significance.
"As the morning wore on and a few of the anglers woke up I had a chat to find out what had been out. 2nd point had fished well with the lad on there catching 4 fish including one of the lakes 40lb commons - on his birthday as well so it was a real result for him! I went for a chat and he was packing up but it turned out that someone had already booked the swim! This was something I was not used to but I suppose fishing the more circuit type waters it's just something I was going to have to get used to.
"So with one swim gone, I knew Ed who was on first point was off early afternoon, so when in Rome and all that I plonked a bucket in his swim and proceeded to drink all his tea which was mighty fine angling in my book. With that peg reserved I had a couple more laps but didn't fancy anywhere else, there had been fish out that area so it seemed as good as anywhere.
It is known as quite a weedy water and a lot of the time it is really spotty fishing with small clear patches in-between thick weed beds, but for now it didn't seem to bad. Once Ed had packed up I set up all three rods on chods, and spread 20-30 Edge boilies around each rod.
"A couple of hours after getting everything sorted the fish began to show all over the middle area and it looked spot on for a bite - I even updated my facebook status saying that I had to get a take soon which is something I never do as I normally jinx myself into blanking! Not this time though as within 15 minuets of doing it the middle rod pulled up tight and held there. I was straight onto it and struck into solid resistance - no messing about with waders, I just slipped my shoes and socks off and waded out into a netting position.
"At first he came in fairly easily but it still felt a weighty fish, just kiting a bit. Once the lead core came into view I could make out a decent common and just as it reached the surface he got a second lease of life and proceeded to bore down into the margins for the next ten minuets. No really powerful runs but just enough so I couldn't get him in the net. Eventually the pressure took its toll and I looked into the net and at the bottom lay one of the strangest fish your likely to see.
"Known as The Banana Common for obvious reasons! It also looked like it had a swollen swim bladder and its tail had been damaged a few years previously and never grown back - so he was never going to be labelled as a stunner, but at over 31lbs I was more than happy with the result.
"I fished another night but after catching that one they never seemed to turn back up in that area and the session ended without any further action.
"The next couple of sessions the fish were around the same area but as usual both the points were taken so I had a couple of sessions fishing from the other bank to the same area. Most mornings there were fish showing but I couldn't buy a bite, and nor could anyone else really - they just seemed to be showing but not feeding. Looking back maybe fishing mid water with zigs may have been a better option but I persisted and started to rack up a couple of blank nights.
"The next night I did was for an Advanced Carp feature - I was back down on my local syndicate water for this and it was Dan Wildbore who was doing the pictures. As it turns out he had fished the same Nene valley water a few years back so it was interesting to hear how he had fished it and, looking at a few of his pictures it gave me a few ideas for my own fishing and also a couple of out the way swims that were worth a go should it be really busy.
"We managed to get the feature sorted pretty early and we were both keen to get fishing and before I knew it I was back on the M1 heading towards Northamptonshire.
"On my next trip down, I found that a few fish had been out at the car park end but that was pretty stitched up with anglers so, not wanting to drop in a busy area I took a wander down to the far end to have a mooch around.
"It was nice and quiet down there and hoped that the fish would think the same. I ended up fishing a swim known as the dries with is basically the narrowest point of the lake, which joins the main area of water to the bottom less pressured end, so my thoughts were that there would be fish moving through so there would be a chance of nicking a bite. The channel itself is maybe 60 yards wide, but in reality it's a lot narrower as there is a shallow area of a couple of feet coming out 20 yards from the far bank which drops off steeply to deeper water.
"I popped two rods in the channel, one close in and one to the base of the far drop off, just a light scattering of edge around each one and fished the line as slack as possible so as not to put the fish off travelling through. The right hand rod was fished away from the channel and I got lucky first cast. I hadn't fished the swim before so I was going to have a quick lead around to try and find a harder spot to get a bait to. First cast it absolutely cracked down as if it hit concrete, maybe a little blatant but well worth a go. Quickly I put the line into the clip and had a couple of casts left and right where it landed quite a bit softer but lining up with the pylon on the far bank it would crack down each time. Rather than my standard pop up rigs I opted for a KD style snowman rig. A 16mm Edge bottom bait tipped with half a white pop up balanced so the hook was flat on the deck with the bait popped up above. It went out nicely first cast and then 40 freebies were scattered around it.
"It was this rod that ripped off at around 3am, and I mean really ripped off! I got in the waders and the fish just kept going and going, eventually it got bored of headed right, coming back towards me, I gained a bit of line back. Then the fish headed left down the channel and took most of it back again. It had unreal power and I convinced myself the hook was going to pull at any minute. Thankfully I was proved wrong and I was finally drawing a good common into the waiting net. On the scales she went 31lb 15oz and looking at the size of the paddle it was no wonder she fought well. The rod went back out and a Tench slipped up a few hours later but that was the end of the action but I was well happy with catching one, and another 30 at that.
"I was down a couple of days later and again the lake was busy, there was a really strong northerly wind and driving rain. Not ideal conditions but I carried on regardless and dropped into the finger bay, a rarely fished swim a bit out the way but over the 24 hours I didn't see a single fish and it seemed to rain pretty much constantly so I was stuck under the Cyfish with the door down - so a very boring session and all the gear was soaked..."
News from Richard Chapman - Friday 27th April 2012
"So this is my first blog as an academy member, and to say it is an exciting time is an understatement. Working with one of the most professional fishing companies in the industry with access to the awesome product range is an amazing opportunity. At the same time I also joined Aqua Dynamix on the bait side of things so hopefully plenty of bigguns will be gracing my landing net over the next few months, and if the last few weeks are anything to go by... well let's just say I will be a happy little carper!
"So taking you back a little bit, I had saved a bit of holiday with the intention of using it as late as possible so hopefully the lakes would at least be liquid. Now with my past record of the weather I get whilst on holiday from work, I was fully expecting the midlands to be hit my 3ft of snow and maybe a hurricane or two! To my surprise we were greeted with a week of glorious sunshine and fish cruising on the surface, it was like spring had come early.
"I had decided that I would be fishing my local syndicate water until the big girl known as Rita came out, normally doing a capture this time of year I thought it was an ideal chance to get some bank time in. I had fished there between September through till the end of October last year and had caught quite well, managing 3 out the lakes 5 known 30s and a 29lb 8oz along with a couple of smaller fish so all that was left to target was the two bigguns. The mirror known as Rita that had scraped over the 40lb barrier the previous August and also a common that was over 36lbs, so it was time for round two.
"I got down to find only one other angler on, and the news that the first fish of the year had been out the previous week so at least they were starting to wake up a bit. I set up in the middle of the lake and just spread the rods around a bit and then played it by ear a bit. They were all sitting on the surface and no amount of mixers could tempt them into feeding and unfortunately the zigs didn't fare any better. Seeing how they were acting it was obvious that the days were going to be a waste of time but hopefully they would be up for a bit of a munch as it cooled off in the evenings - and cool off it did, by morning the rods were covered with frost and the alarms had remained silent.
"I sat and whiled away the morning as the sun broke through the morning chill and I waited for them to pop up on the surface again before winding in the bottom baits. I did have another go on the top with the same reaction as yesterday so decided to pass the time by catching a few roach out the stream that runs behind the lake. It was a real botched job with a light spinning rod loaded with braid, a size 12 hook tied on the end which was the smallest I could find in my tackle box and finished with a bit of reed threaded on the line to act as a makeshift float. A few minutes digging found a few scrawny looking worms and then it was Roach time. Nothing massive but all good fun and it made the day pass a lot quicker than blanking on the Carp front!
"That afternoon the farmer came down armed with an industrial pump - it turned out that he was going to be filling up the lake as high as possible from the stream behind so that he had water available to him if the drought got bad this summer. At first I was a little peeved that a diesel pump was going to be chugging away in the background 24/7 but then I remembered reading about a number of different anglers fishing a fresh water source from a pump and catching well. I thought about it for a bit and before long I moved as close as I could to the pump, I might be getting high from diesel fumes if the winds in the wrong direction but a couple of fish would make it worthwhile.
"That evening my thoughts proved correct, and the rod closest to the pump was away with a long common of 24lbs. I clicked off a couple of self takes, and I think it disturbed the swim enough to prevent another take. That day I was nipping up to Fosters of Birmingham to renew my ticket for the new season as it was running out at the end of March, so I nipped home for a quick shower and to top up the water butt, off to Birmingham to pay for the ticket and then back to the lake for around 4pm to find the lake still free of anglers and the pump still churning away. So back in the same swim and at almost the same time as the night before the right hand rod was away again from the pump. This turned out to be a recapture of the friendly common at just over 32lbs a little down in weight from when I caught it last year but a good sign that the bigguns were on the feed.
"I got the rod dropped back down close to the pump and then a couple of hours later the left rod rattled off with another of the big commons, this time it was a different fish but again 32lbs. So two 32lb+ commons in the night, I was more than happy with that and got the rod back out.
"I woke up at first light and was thinking to myself that I would have to stick it out as Rita was normally one of the first fish out of the year - I had a whole week to fish so I was confident.
"At around 6am the left rod pulled up tight and I struck into the fish, the fight was fairly uneventful and it was soon ready for netting and as her head came up I could have sworn that I saw the scales of Rita. I looked in there and it looked similar but I couldn't bring myself to believe it. I rang Ed who had done some time on there over winter so knew the stock. After explaining what I had he told me to stop being so stupid, Rita was the biggest mirror in there by nearly 15lbs and it began to sink in a bit. I put the phone down promising to let him know how big she was, I unhooked her and I roughly weighed her at just under 40lbs but was shaking so much I couldn't get an accurate reading so quickly slipped her into the floatation sling so we could both relax for a bit.
"I got a photographer down to do some pictures and help out with the weighing, we settled on 39lbs exactly which was a new PB for me. I said that if I was lucky enough to catch her I would be moving on, so I packed away and headed up to the Nene Valley to start a new adventure to hopefully catch a few monster commons!"
Spring Baiting Tips
Out on the bank today we're nearing the end of April and it finally feels as if spring is winning the seasonal war. I have spent most of the afternoon in short sleeves and the fish have been up in the shallows making the most of the sun. It's a great time of year to be out on the bank and if you hit it right you can be in for a few good catches.
Now, I would class myself as quite normal (although I know plenty that wouldn't!) in the fact that a lot of my fishing is based around quick nights, sessions of maybe 12 hours fitted in around work commitments, so my views on bait are going to differ greatly from someone who has time to fish longer sessions of a few nights at a time.
Generally I like to keep it simple and for the most part I am using straight boilie. Now just a quick tip here... if you are just getting into your Carp fishing something that I see way to many people doing is buying a different bait week in week out, especially if they don't catch on it during the first session. Baits WILL catch fish and the way I look at it is you are best to pick a bait, do a bit of research beforehand, and maybe ask at your local tackle shop to find a one that suits you and the waters you are fishing.
Stick with your bait. This will help you in so many ways. First is the fact that you build confidence in the bait and once you have caught a few fish it's one less thing to worry about - you know it works so you just need to focus your efforts on finding the fish. Secondly you have the added bonus that if you are targeting a single water for the season, by staying on one bait you're steadily building the fishes confidence. Finally, once you have decided on your bait you can actually save a fair bit of money by buying in bulk, either directly from the supplier or from your local shop. Working in a tackle shop I see just how often anglers end up confusing themselves by changing bait all the time.
So back to my baiting approach at this time of year. I will always try to find the fish and as time is limited on these short sessions I want to get as close to them as possible. The last thing I want to do is turn up and whack 5 kilos of boilies on their heads or spod it to death, as on most waters they are not going to hang about!
So assuming that I have found a couple of fish showing and dropped in a swim where I can cast to them, I will keep the baiting to a minimum as I'm looking to get a bite as quickly as possible. The fish are already there so you shouldn't be looking to attract them into the area. You just want them to spot a light snack nearby and in situations like this every freebie out there is reducing the odds of your hook bait being picked up. I usually start with 20-30 baits in the area - a nice spread with a throwing stick - which I see as just enough to create a bit of visual impact, but not enough so they can be too fussy about what they are picking up.
I always try to bait up when I'm leaving in the morning, because this is where you can really improve your chances for later when you return. If you have caught it definitely pays to get some bait out there to hopefully keep them visiting the area, and build their confidence, so when you are next fishing you stand a much better chance. It's exactly the same as when people are fishing long sessions and rest the swim... you have bait down there but no lines in the water so the fish can feed freely throughout the day. I like to look at limited time as a bit of an advantage over long stay anglers.
Fishing like this you can really make the most of a short session. Your bait is working for you whilst you are away and you can build a swim up over a few days. If you haven't caught during the night there is always the chance to prime another likely looking area to give you a starting point for your next session.
Another option on short sessions is single hook baits, and generally these will be bright and smelly to attract attention. I'm sure you will have your own personal ‘blank savers' that always get chucked out for the last couple of hours if you haven't caught.
One method that proved to be quite successful last spring, on a club water close to home, was fishing food baits as singles. At first it was something that took a bit of getting used to as a fairly dull boilie in the middle of nowhere doesn't sound the most likely way of getting a bite. But if you think about it there will be literally thousands of single stray boilies finding their way into lakes, whether it be a poorly aimed bait with a throwing stick, spod spill, or a flicked hook bait in the edge at the end of a session. The fish will come across these little tidbits all the time, so a single food bait will be quite a natural occurrence. On pressured waters the bright ones are often more readily taken.
That pretty much covers my spring baiting. The emphasis is on finding the fish, keeping bait levels low, and fishing for a bite at a time. If I have a quick look in my bait bucket now there is a couple of kilos of 16mm Edge boilies, as I'm going to be putting a bit in at the end of the session. A tub of matching cork ball pop ups, a couple of tubs of bright pop-ups in various colours, and a tin of tigers just in case! Not loads of bait but a couple of different options for hook baits if I want to have a bit of a change around.
As a side note I have just returned from a short overnighter and the tactics outlined above proved successful. My right hand rod screamed off at 4am, fished with 20 baits scattered around with a throwing stick. The result was a chunky common of 31lb 15oz.
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