Close Quarter Encounters – Alex Grice

Alex Grice doesn't like to let his angling get stale, so that involves swapping venues and tactics with the changing seasons and situations in front of him. This summer, rather than launching rigs to the horizon, Alex has been cornered in by walls of weed, and thus the margin fishing approach begins...

For me, summer fishing can be one of the most exciting times, the fish have not long spawned and they are well up for a feed in even the warmest of conditions. When summer comes around, I have usually fished quite hard throughout the spring and mixing it up a bit is often what is needed to keep me inspired and eager to go again and again. Carp fishing, in my view, becomes a little uninteresting when it all gets a bit too predictable, which is one of the reasons I like to usually flit between venues and try a few different tactics to keep me fully absorbed. In the past few weeks I have been really into my floater fishing and at night, playing around with adjustable zigs to try and master the art of them, despite the fact I know I can get bites of the deck in the right place. This year my syndicate has become extremely weedy, with huge beds of weed to the surface in a lot of places, which has meant that fishing to those productive areas from the spring are just simply a no go.

With the weed up, in one way it made me have to re- assess the situation quickly and to get around this I began to pay more attention to the margins, not more than a rod length from the bank. I have done a fair bit of marginal fishing in the past, on a very similar water that was gin- clear and weedy, so I was pretty excited about the prospect of getting back into it again and trying to catch a few.

My first session happened not so long ago, on a scorching Monday night after work. I had been working away for the day and after turning up to the lake, I found myself being the only one there. I did a couple of laps, but I couldn’t see any fish in the usual haunts which made me think they were held up in the weed during the heat of the afternoon sun. in all honesty, it looked pretty lifeless, but after watching for a while, I saw a few fish milling about close in to one of the banks near a large overhanging tree. I was in two minds whether to go home or not, but after seeing those fish that looked fairly active, I decided to stay and plot up in a swim that allows access to a marginal area not too far from where the fish had been.

At first, I had a little weed clearing to do to make sure I could get rods in position close, with half decent line lay. I use my net pole as a prodding stick to pinpoint some firm areas where I could position the rods for the night. There was a good amount of visibility and it became evident that there were a few larger stones present, which I wanted to avoid. After prodding around for a while longer, I came across some nice polished stone, more like fine sand rather than large stones. This would be perfect for lowering a short rig onto, ensuring that the stiff boom would not be kicking up at an obscure angle on the lakebed. I pushed my net pole into the softer sediment, so I could use it as a reference point for lowering in a rig and baiting up.

Around one hour later, I had two rods in place, one to the left and one to the right, both on trimmed down hookbaits with a few good handfuls of chopped XXX baits over the top. All I could do now was take in the evening sun and kick back with a cuppa before nightfall. The first bite came at around 12pm, I was fishing locked up with so much weed present, so after an aggressive take and short battle, I had a lovely scaley mirror in the net. A few night snaps and the rod re- positioned, I was feeling pretty confident for the first light period.

Morning came around and I was abruptly woken by my rod hooping round and the Nev screaming in my ear. At first, I was pretty disorientated, but in the low light of the morning, I managed to don the waders and go in after the fish. Moments later, I scooped the net under a big shouldered mirror, a real nice one by the looks of it and the second off the spot. The morning couldn’t have gone much better, when around an hour later and a few coffee’s deep, the right hander signalled a belting take. Dropping the lead, the fish instantly came up to the surface, so by holding firm, I managed to get the waders on and go slowly out to the fish before netting it. I could see a large grey head wallowing around in the weed and after a few failed attempts, I managed to slip the net under the crazy amount of weed and bundle the fish in too!

I was over the moon with the morning result, in fairly unfavourable conditions, having had three during the night certainly made the stay worthwhile. The highlight was this incredibly long, slate grey mirror, a real classic looking carp with an angry head and thick set shoulders.

I was due to come down again later in the week, so I baited the spots heavily before leaving in the hope I could get back into the swim. Thursday came around and after arriving back in the swim, I could clearly see that all of the bait had been eaten as the intense sunlight lit up the shallow margins beneath the weed. I was already feeling confident and with some fresh D- Rigs tied up, it was a case of flossing some trimmed down baits onto the rigs before lowering into position. I was using some small mesh bags of crumb just to cover the hookpoint from the gravel when lowering the rigs in place, before slowly wading back up the bank trying to get the line lay as good as possible.

The night went by fairly quietly, but around 7am, the right hander burst into life once again. This fish went off on one, tearing line out into a weed bed in front, but after a hairy 5 minutes, a huge ball of weed was making its way towards my net. After stripping copious amounts of weed from the net, I finally uncovered my prize; a stunning zip linear, one of the mirrors I wanted to catch from the lake. A close friend helped with some photos in the morning before slipping her back and heading off to work for the day. With England winning their match against Sweden that weekend, it had been a good week all-round and I couldn’t wait to return in a couple of weeks for another go.