Its all for charity mate.

20 September 2013

Its all for charity mate

After an interesting year of family commitments and potty training, I have had to grab every opportunity with the very limited time I have had on the bank.

I was very humbled and privileged to be asked to be a part of the MNDA “fish with the stars” charity event. My wingman and fellow Sonubait consultant/good friend Mark Wooley, would be joining me on Braisenose 1 at the mighty Linear fisheries complex in Oxfordshire.

This really is a fantastic charity event in aid of Motor Neurone Disease.
Hosted by Len and Fran Gurd, this annual event raises thousands of pounds towards research into this devastating condition and much needed awareness.

This exciting opportunity is a real credit to the carp fishing community as an incredible amount of well known anglers give up 3 days of their time (for free) to fish with people who bid to “fish with the stars”.

Mark and myself were asked to take the band Ocasian who were playing at the event (check them out on YouTube) and teach them how to catch a few carp and show them the ropes, as said. The drummer of the band Luke, just so happens to be Len Gurd’s Grandson!! No pressure then.

After looking at our swims we had been designated, I have to say I really wasn’t confident we were about to have a red-letter day. I actually didn’t see any sign of anything carpy at all. The wind was pushing steadily to the other end of the lake and we were right on the opposite corner. I took a little walk and my fears were confirmed as they were on the wind and it was black with fish at the other corner! So it was going to be a little tricky. That’s cool, as I love a challenge!

So my one and only plan was to try and hold any fish that came across my bait. I did toy with the idea of just using solid bags but I didn’t feel this was the way forward. Just fishing for bites with very limited fish in the area, would probably result in not actually seeing a carp on the bank for the boys. So I decided to start trying to build up the swim by introducing a ‘little and often’ approach.

The spod mix for this time of the year is one I have been using for a number of years now and is very simple. A bag each of Sonu Halibut pellets 4mm and 8mm, a mix of 4mm and 12mm Sonu elliptical pellets and 2 tins of Sonu Hemp/Maze, a very oily mix. This does two things, adds a food signal sent trail and a visual aid to see when carp are feeding as slicks will give them away as they route around. I also add a good handful of rock salt as much needed minerals are needed after spawning and a splash of lake water to kick it off. I leave this for a few hours to mix in and get the oil releasing. I also added a good 40 chopped “Code Red” boilies. I don’t make a load of mix up as I try to keep the consistency the same and make a new batch us as I need.

Now I’m not going to say a lot about the mighty code red because you will discover this for yourself in the near future. The bait is truly incredible and I seriously wouldn’t go fishing without a few kg in my armory. The hook baits I always glug in vegetable oil (fab little tip from Mr. Russell cheers mate) and that’s it. I’m 100% happy in this set up and maybe a while before I see myself deviating from this mix.

So I put about 10 spods of the gear out on a little clear strip of hard silt just off of a gravel bar at about 60 yards and put 2 rods on the money and one just off by about 5 feet. I like to do this as sometimes (mainly bigger fish) tend to just hang back and pick the bait from the edge. This may be because they have been caught from baited areas in the past or for some other reason but I have definitely had some bonus fish over the years with this approach.

My first bite came at about 3:30am and was a lovely 14lb mirror then followed by a 12 pounder about 30 minuets later all on the bated area. At about 5am I had another take this time off the bait and was a cracking 18lb mirror then again 30 mins after by another at 14lb. I was over the moon. I seriously didn’t think we stood much of a chance in this swim to get a bite let alone 4 in the first night. The band were due to arrive during the day so we may even get them a fish or 2 but this surely was a good warm up.

So as I got up, I put 10 spod fulls out then at midday I put another 20 and now it was time to meet the band. What a fantastic bunch of lads. However, how I managed to remain professional when faced with 2 of them in animal “onesies” is beyond me. All but one had never been fishing before but enthusiastic and loving the whole atmosphere. So after explaining everything we intended to do I put the rods back in about 4pm and topped the swim up with another 10 spod fulls. Now as it transpired, the lads really have been working hard over the last few months and were actually looking forward to chilling out and not getting up at 3am to reel in a carp. So when I got another bite it really wasn’t going to happen. This was another mid double. The carp really didn’t seem to be in the area during the day but all seemed to move back in at night. I really wanted the guys to get a fish so as the bait plan was working I went with the same approach as the night before. 10 out first thing and 20 out midday then another 10 as it got dark followed by 40 18mm Code Red as this was the last night.

Tim, one of the band members, even decided to sleep out under the stars on my mat so he could hook one. Now that’s rock and roll!! As it happened, I had another bite at 2am away from the baited area. I really, really tried… but couldn’t wake him up. I anticipate this was due to the amount of nonalcoholic beverages consumed prior, ahem!

Being star struck and full of respect for Tim, I was trying to play the fish and shake him with my foot. I seriously started to get worried if he was ok!! The carp felt a little better as well. I gave up on Tim and finally got the carp in the net. All 26lb of finest Brasenose Mirror. A really chunky looking well-framed carp. As I was sorting the fish out I heard Tim get up and making his way over. I was really gutted for him. He was freezing and said he was having a dream about someone trying to wake him up! I did a few pictures and slid her back. I made him a tea and told him to get in his tent to warm up.

Around an hour later the same rod was away. I could hear the snoring and realized that there was no way the boys were getting up for this one. So after a few shouts and no reply I managed to net low 20lb mirror. Few snaps by Mark and off she went.

We were running out of hours now to get the band a bite, so I put another 10 spods out. Now I must admit I don’t think I have ever spodded at 4:30 in the morning but I was getting desperate to get them a fish and if I could get them feeding we may be in with a chance.

At 9:30 on the final morning and not looking too optimistic, my right hand rod was away (off the bated area). All the lads were there and they could finally experience what this is all about. Tony was the closest so he got the rod. I remember thinking it felt like a gooden as I handed him the rod. With a little help he played it in smoothly and it hit the block. A huge roar went up (mainly by me) from my swim. It looked a chunk. I was really proud of him he really did well and was so excited to see one at last! On the scales it went 29lb 7oz and one of the biggest of the event.
My mate Lee Wagner helped with the fish care side and photo poses then a nice “Band” trophy shot was taken. I was so relieved.

So the plan worked. Little and often seemed to keep the carp feeding at night. I’m sure the oil from the Sonu pellets and the code red kept the fish coming back for more each night as they moved up the lake. The different sizes and break down rates really do seem to stimulate fish to continue to feed or return to the area. With the steady application of bait, there are always food particles available.

So, to conclude…I loved every second of this event. I cried laughing, made some new mates and have taken away some very fond memories. I also learned the seriousness of Motor Neurone Disease and just how needed charity events are.

As I was leaving Len told me that as it stood they had risen over £22,000 and was still rising!! Phenomenal. So a massive congratulations to Len and Farn, Chris Blunt, Roy Parsons and the whole Linear Team, along with everyone who donated and all that took part for yet again a fantastic event.

Stick to a plan and make it happen.

Lee Robbins