It doesn’t matter what branch of our sport you follow, sea, game, coarse etc., there’s something for everyone and the team from Skretting will be there along with several tons of pellets for you to buy. As usual there’ll be talks and shows from some of the best names in angling and it’s a great day out which, if you play your cards right, could get you some good bait and gear at excellent prices.
On the bank I’ve had a very mixed, and confusing, month. I’ve been out twice for overnight sessions. The trips have been confusing for several reasons, mainly down to the weather, more of which later, but one thing that has proved its worth has been the power of the Skretting Protec Carp pellet.
Session 1 was an overnight trip to a venue I don’t fish all that much when it’s really cold. It’s very shallow, literally a foot or so in parts and, although it fishes very well in summer in winter it’s very hit and miss. It’s an old sand pit alongside the M6 near Knutsford and because it’s so shallow you have to be very careful where you fish. I’ve seen herons standing up, well clear of the water, right in the middle of the lake, then, a few feet to the side, there’s a 3ft deep gully! It’s so shallow in parts that seagulls will dive down and pick up your baited rig. But, in summer, it’s the place to be to get a few bites and, on some days, you can see dozens of carp with their backs out of the water, it’s that shallow, all feeding and rooting round on the bottom.
The first day was sunny so I took a chance and fished in one of my favourite spots where the warm sun was in your face. It was incredibly warm sat there although in the shade the frost still clung to the branches on the trees. My thoughts were that the shallow water would warm up quickly and the fish would move in. Sure enough it wasn’t long before I saw a few gentle swirls on the surface as carp moved around. I decided to fish with some ground Protec Carp pellet mixed into a Method ball. These pellets have been specially developed to feed to carp. Based on their Coarse pellet but with extra natural functional ingredients that actually helps to improve the immune system of the fish, they’re gaining in popularity amongst anglers and the carp just love ‘em!
The pellets I had were 8.5mm which take quite a while to break down, particularly in cold water, so the decision to make a Method mix was an easy one. With care you can cast a sold ball of mix to around 100 yards and the instant it hits the water it will start to break down, releasing clouds of attraction around the area – much faster than using standard pellets.
I grind the pellets down in the blender at home – when Julie is out shopping as she’s very particular about her beloved blender – but you can achieve the same effect by putting boiling water on the whole pellets whilst out on the bank. I then crumb a few boilies up into the mix and, at this time of the year, I like to add a little ground rock salt along with some tinned sweetcorn that I’ve run through the blender. This turns into a yellow mush that clouds the water with a milky-yellow colour and it helps to bind the ground pellet too.
The resultant mix was moulded around the lead and the pop-up boilie on a short hooklink was pressed into the side of the ball. The whole lot was cast out to around 75 yards into the sunny area where I’d seen the fish moving. I then fired out a few golfball-sized balls of the mix with my catapult. I always grit my teeth when casting out heavy balls of mix like this as it does put a lot of pressure on the rod and line so you’ve got to be smooth with your casting as it’s easy to ‘explode’ the whole lot if you put too much pressure on too quickly. With a bit of practice this sort of rig can be cast remarkably accurately and the resultant cloud of mix in the water is something different to what most anglers do.
I’d like to say that I caught dozens of carp – which is possible in summer on this venue – but the two fish that I did catch I was very pleased with. To catch any carp in the middle of winter is an achievement I reckon, and in 18in of water on a day when the frost is still glistening in the trees is a coup for me. The fish were only small but I went home a very happy man!
Session 2 was the next week and, to put it bluntly, it was a total washout. There’s not much to say about it really but I went out still full of excitement about catching two fish the week before. However, this week the weather was so different it was amazing. I arrived in the car park to see that kind of grey cloud coming in that you just know is full of snow. I now think I should have trusted my instincts and called it day right there and then – but I didn’t! Sure enough, literally minutes after setting up the bivvy and before I’d even got a rod out, the clouds dumped a whole load of snow, sleet and hail on top of me. I sat in the bivvy, put a brew and a sausage butty on – then decided it was not for me so packed up as soon as the weather had cleared and went home. I guess my heart wasn’t really in it that day …
PROTEC CARP PELLETS
I’ve mentioned the Protec Carp Pellets in this blog and I’ve used them to great effect in the past. I’m a great fan of lower-oil pellets in the winter and, along with the standard Skretting Coarse pellet, the Protec Carp is a winner for me. Skretting tell me that they have additional ingredients in them that are designed to give carp an extra boost to their immune systems during periods of stress – and winter is a good example. At this time of the year the carp need to build up their immune systems as they start to come out of winter and, along with a good amount of feed, the pellets will help build muscle structure as well as boosting general health and resistance to disease.
They have an oil content of around 11% and protein of 33% whereas trout pellets have an oil content of around 21% and slightly higher protein levels. In summer these high-oil pellets can be really effective, creating a slick of attractive oils in the water. In winter, however, a lower oil content is considered better and when Skretting have gone to the trouble of making a pellet specifically for carp, which is sold in huge amounts to fish farms, it makes sense to use something designed for the fish I’m trying to catch.
Skretting say: ‘Protec Carp contains a package of functional ingredients that include a unique blend of organic acids, plant extracts, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants delivered in a high performance and highly palatable carp feed.’ All I know is that carp really do seem to like these pellets and that’s good enough for me!