12 March, 2017 |
Winter – the older I get the more I dislike this word, so I decided that this year I would seek out some winter sun, and hopefully carp, and Lake Chira in Gran Canaria seemed like a good bet to enjoy both of these late winter cravings. So in January, armed with a suitcase full of bait and a head full of anticipation I found myself, and a good mate Dan, joining a hurd of other Vitamin D deprived and pasty Brits sat on an Easy Jet bound for a closer perception of our neighbouring star.
My first view of the remote pit was not disappointing, situated in a mountainous volcanic terrain, peppered with vibrant green pine trees and secluded Spanish villa’s, it was like stepping back in time, and I was instantly bursting with excitement at the prospects of catching one of its scaly residents. It was also pleasing to see that no maintenance like posh looking swims had gone on there at all and the lake remained untouched in its wild and ancient beauty.
The swim we had been designated to was a good looking one as we had a lot of water to play in, and our rods being the last ones along that bank, so we didn’t have to worry about being penned in. The recent catch reports were not quite so encouraging though, as the lake had been fishing very slow due to the area experiencing an unusual cold snap at nights with temperatures dropping to subzero in the small hours. It was hard to believe as we arrived to catch the dying rays of the warm afternoon sunshine, but no sooner had we got our rods settled, we found ourselves shivering in the summer sleeping bags as the temperature plummeted once the sun dropped from the sky.
We only had minimal tackle with us, as we wanted to allocate as much luggage weight for bait as possible, so most of the gear was kindly supplied on arrival by bailiffs Owen and Ali. The initial game plan was to get our rods fishing quietly with just PVA bags to the bailiff’s recommendation before dark, catch up our night travelling on no sleep, and then make use of the boat with some detailed leading around the following morning to try and find some decent flat spots to concentrate on. But daylight brought high Northerly winds, and although we attempted to do some plumbing at range we were being pummeled and blown around too quickly to make any sense of the hazardous rocky topography ranging between 15 and 40 foot below us. With the lake bed being so up and down, with shelf’s, boulders, drop-offs and slopes all over the place, I felt it was pretty critical to find some level spots to fish effectively, or the free bait would just roll or quickly get wafted away, leaving just a suspicious looking single, and that’s if you were lucky and the lead didn’t slide down the shelf too leaving the rig lodged between rocks. But that first day, the winds governed us to our swim and we had to make the best of the area within marker float range in front of us. I don’t often use a marker rod, but on a pit like this in the winter it is highly necessary to search the depths out. I really fancied fishing over to the far margin as this was surely an area the fish would like to be away from all human nuisances, but at 200 yards or so across I had no chance of fishing it effectively in that big wind. As the day drew on it was becoming more and more apparent that the fish were not liking the wind either and sightings of fish showing were getting further and further away towards the back of the wind where it would have been much, much warmer, and an area that was out of bounds to us.
Day turned into night and as I hung on to my brolly in freezing Northerly gale force gusts, that at one point actually flipped the rod pod we had been supplied with completely over, tossing my rods across the rocky substrate, I realised this trip was going to be no walk in the park under the given conditions.
Although Chira often produces big hits of Carp, like anywhere, it is also necessary to be on the fish for this to happen, and it seemed we weren’t, so I needed to think very carefully if I was to avoid going home on a blank. The next day brought hope as a warm Southerly front was attempting to dominate through the massive wind funnel that Chira is, and push the cold front away. This gave a finer afternoon and we set about stalking on the other side of the lake where the rough terrain keeps most anglers and hikers away. We then began to see a few Carp drifting up our end of the pit, although they had an agitated demeanor about them and didn’t look much like feeding fish, more like they were looking for a quiet cove tucked out of the wind to lay up in the weed. It was going to be a challenge to tempt one of these stragglers in the short time the sun warmed that end of the lake before they disappeared again when the night time chills set in.
Try though we did, stalking our whole area with bottom baits in the shallower edges, zigs and surface baits, but the Carp just dispersed at the very sound of one floater dropping in within a 50 yard radius – they were no mugs. So bait application was critical, there was no point in filling it in with bait if we only had a few fish visiting the area in the daytime, fish that had to pass other anglers further down the pit before getting to us, so the hungry ones were likely to get clumped or spooked on the way through. With this in mind I decided high attraction was better odds than a bulk bed of bait, so the plan was to dot around small areas of an oily and visual bait mix consisting of Dynamite Red Krill Pellets, Green Lipped Mussel Groundbait, Krill Carptec chops and crumb, maize with a CompleX-T hookbait popped up slightly off the bottom fishing over the top, and try different spots with different depths at different times until I hopefully had a bite to go on and build the feeding spot up from there.
As the bite less day drew to a close, we paddled back to our base to get the traps set for the night in the deeper water in front of us in the hope that maybe a few fish would stick around the area through the darkness. At the end of another cold bite less night, I dragged myself from the slight warmth I had managed to harbour in the thin sleeping bag, brushed the frost from the chair and awaited the sun to peek over the ridge to instantly increase things by around 20 degrees!
I was determined to take what I had learnt from the previous day and get some shallow spots close to the far bank active, and proceeded to set the traps there in readiness for the warmth of the sun touching that margin and get myself and the boat well out of the way again before any carp patrolled through. I knew these spots were on a steep shelf, hence why I used chops and not whole baits that would roll away. We also managed to scrounge some 8oz gripper leads from a departing angler who kindly sold them cheap and these were a real godsend, as I’m sure the tow from the wind ushered our 5oz leads down the shelf and away from the spots and lodging them into crevices, dulling the hooks as they did so – it was becoming a real challenge to fish. The new game plan was to sit the day out and give those range spots to the far margin a decent chance, as it was apparent that the main window of opportunity was in those few hours of warm sunshine throughout the day in that shallower water. My gamble was rewarded as finally my buzzer burst into life around lunch time as I had a take, and soon after landed a low double figure common, and I was relieved to be off the mark and have something to go on. I swiftly got the rod back on the spot and didn’t have to wait too long for another bite from the same spot, and netted a stunning looking ghosty linear that couldn’t resist the CompleX-T hookbait.
I took another gamble that night, as I had received a couple of bites I chanced it and left my rods fishing over towards the far margin opposite, but it was just too cold again for the shallows, and our hopes of a night bite diminished as we again heard carp showing towards the other end of the pit in the out of bounds. All the other anglers were retreating back to the Villa at nights now due to the cold, so me and Dan now had the pit to ourselves at nights, which sounds nice, but I feel it lessened our chances as the fish would soon learn where the area with lines was, but I was too zoned in to reel in.
I reset and re-baited the traps at first light and the same far margin spot threw me another double figure mirror, but I really hoped we could hold the fish a little longer into the night so I turned my attention to the deeper water in readiness for the night ahead, as I had heard that the better fish tend to get caught in those depths. It was a tricky topography to take on, with rocky ridges and gully’s all over the place. Although I had long braided shock leaders on to resist abrasion, I wanted to be convinced that the spot I fished would not have a high risk of cutting me off on the take or fight, and also that all my free bait wouldn’t end up being wafted away, so this took some perseverance with the marker float. I was looking for the lowest points where the lead wouldn’t slide easily, suggesting the bottom of a slope or crater, and then ensuring I didn’t have a nasty vertical rise that could cause a cut-off in between me and that spot. I guessed that these lows points were regular patrol routes for hungry fish as there had to have been a lot of bait rolling its way down to these gully’s, I just hoped it had been getting eaten and not going rotten.
I eventually found a couple of spots I was happy to risk but the next issue was accurately baiting at 30 to 40ft depths. Bare in mind we was using light 3lbs TC rods coupled with 8oz leads, so casting any sort of range was pretty much out of the equation. Also I couldnt just clip up a spomb the same wraps as the marker rod as the actual lead would touch the deck at least a couple of wraps short from the swing on a tight line in that kind of depth, whereas the spombed bait would fall directly down and settle nowhere near my intended hookbait position. So I had a system going of baiting up from the boat on top of my marker, dropping a H block to the side of spot, rowing the rig out past the H until it hit the clip that was set the same wraps as my marker rod and dropped on a tight line to swing in to the correct spot (with a little prayer whispered in the hope that the rig wouldn’t land in a huge crack in the rocks!) and then I retrieved the H block, as I believe they may spook wary fish. It was a right slog to fish that way and I hated all the boat disturbance, but accuracy was very important so it had to be done.
Again, I didnt put in too much bait as there was no hard evidence of fish in front of us at night – so just a small bed of hi-attract Dynamite goodies in the hope that one of those passing larger scaley jewel’s would drop down to feed. We sat up that night, as we had done every other night, listening out for those thuds of hope, when out of nowhere one of my rods positioned in a deep gully burst into life with a violent take. The fish felt heavier, with slower lunges, shaking its head as it tore up around under the moonlit surface, but then it just seemed to give up, and without too much fuss Dan did the honours with the net.
I was really happy when I looked inside the mesh, finally a proper one, and what I had really travelled all that way for. For me, this was testimony to how instant the Complex-T was prooving to be be, and my reward was a knock out looking old mirror. The latter end of the session brought warmer and more stable Southerlies and the last day was pure blue skies and scorching afternoon sunshine, which really seemed to be switching the fish on, as they were evidently beginining to finally move up the lake towards our end of the pit, and the lads further down the bank were reaping the rewards and started picking a few fish off that day, if only we had more time!
My far margin spot was still rockin’ and I managed another nice mirror on that last day, witnessed by a Portugese guy that was new to carp fishing and was fascinated with what we was doing, we could not speak eachother’s language, but that didn’t matter as we took the time to tie him some rigs and sort him some left over bait, it is always feels good to help those new to angling. The session flew by far too quick and I found the whole experience deeply
rewarding and enjoyed every second. It was a bit of a blow that Dan didn’t get a bite as he thoroughly deserved one and worked just as hard as me and we attacked the area as a team, trying all manner of rigs and spots, but he unfairly felt Chira’s scorn. The mountains of Gran Canaria has some crazy weather variations in the winter and the climate can change drastically in minutes, so please be better prepared than I was with just one hoody! I was happy Chira didn’t give up her residents too easily though, that would really zap the fun out of it for me, every bite was earned, just the way I like it, and I am already looking forward to a return trip at some point soon.