In Session - Unpredictable fishing with Brad Wegner

The days are slowly beginning to lengthen now, but there is most certainly still a chill in the air, making the fishing unpredictable. Brad arrived at the lake for first light, trying to make the most of the day session ahead of him.

We joined him at around 9am and met him around halfway down the lake; after chewing the fat for a while, we were keen to find out what drew him to this specific venue and wanted to know a little bit about it.

Brad Wegner: “Well, the lake is around eight acres in size at a guess and I’m pretty sure its predominantly used as a match lake. There are a lot of silver fish present in here and a good head of carp too; if you manage to get through the doubles the twenties are awesome looking carp, lots of heavily scaled mirrors in among them as well! “Coming out at this time of year I’m looking for bites really; I like to keep proactive and on the go, these fish can often get you moving around the pond searching for them. Also I have Bailey now, my new fishing companion, so it’s the perfect place to bring him as it’s otter fenced so he can’t do a runner while we’re going through the training stage.”

That’s great, it can definitely be hit or miss at this time of year for sure! On our arrival we noticed Brad had only just started to get his rod ready to get in position, and were curious as to the reasoning of why he wasn’t already angling.

BW: “I’m sure you would have noticed on the way down here there was a harsh frost this morning, and with that came a partially frozen lake. The area I settled on, where I saw what looked like some ‘carpy’ activity, actually had some cat ice in between me and the spot half an hour ago, so I’ve been waiting for it to clear. Luckily the wind has picked up and moved it off now, so let’s waste no time at all and get some rods into the wet stuff!”

After getting his rods out at around 70 to 80 yards and choosing a couple of different spots, we were keen to find out why he was fishing two completely different zones.

BW: “At this time of year, you normally don’t have much to go on so I don’t like putting all my eggs in one basket. I’ve positioned one rod where I saw some subtle fizzing at first light, and the second rod I’ve put slightly longer in the hope of getting some liners to hopefully give me some indication of where the fish are. Once I locate them then I can concentrate my rods in that specific area.”

Brad’s rods were now in position and it only was a matter of minutes before the first rod was away.

BW: “Well that really didn’t take long, it just goes to show the importance of watching the water as this was the rod I positioned among some subtle signs I spotted upon arrival. Hopefully we can get it in and get a few more bites throughout the day.”

After a short but sweet battle Brad slipped the net under his first bite of the day, a mid-double mirror. He unhooked the fish in the net and wasted no time re-rigging the rod to get back into the area… we wanted to know what the rush was about.

BW: “This time of year can often bring really short spells of feeding activity; it may only last a matter of minutes, whereas in the summer it can be hours, so getting the rod back into the area is key to hopefully stringing a couple of bites together in quick succession. Just a quick change of the hook and the rod is ready to get straight back out there.”

After repositioning the rod into the area, just seconds after Brad clipped his bobbin on the same rod was away again, and after kiting straight towards the near margins and a tussle under the tip, the second fish of the trip was sitting with his first in the landing net.

BW: “That’s the proof of the pudding really, just goes to show the importance of getting that rod straight back out there. Let’s get this one unhooked and then have a look at them, shall we?”

After a couple of quick snaps with the camera Brad sent his quarry back on their way. We were interested in the setup he was using.

BW: “As I previously mentioned, it can be speed fishing at this time of the year due to the feeding windows being so short, so I need a rig I can change the hook on fast; it also means I don’t have to sit at home for hours in the evening preparing a load for my session. There are quite a few rules regarding rigs at this lake and one of the main ones is no braided hook links, so a fluorocarbon hook link is a must. Due to this I will use a Ronnie rig with a kicker, enabling me to slide the kicker off the hook and on to a new one in a matter of seconds. “You may also notice I’m using a helicopter setup on a short length of leadcore; now the lake has some light silt in places, so using a lead clip can potentially hinder my presentation with a stiffer fluorocarbon boom, as it can stick up off the lake bed, whereas when the lead plugs in on my heli setup, I know the hook link will slide up the leadcore, ensuring it lays across any debris on the bottom.”

So in regard to the bait then, we’ve noticed you haven’t been introducing any loose feed, is there a reason behind this?

BW: “Single hook baits are a winner for me; unless I’m campaigning a water and can introduce bits of bait on a regular basis, I find introducing bait on these short day trips can actually hinder you in getting bites. I try and be as proactive as possible, moving on to any signs that may present themselves, so if I’ve dedicated some bait to an area I may not feel like I want to move off it as it’d be a waste of bait. “You’ll also notice I bring an array of bright fluoro pop-ups with me; I’m trying to catch the carp’s eye, not give them a meal. I think a lot of the time they just become curious of what it is and have to investigate with their mouths. The reasoning behind bringing a few different colours is because every colour has its day, sometimes pink will score, like it has today, other times yellow will be the winner and so on. I will use a couple of different colours and find out what the fish want.”

The rest of the morning passed uneventfully, and that wasn’t from the lack of trying – Brad was frequently re-chucking to different parts of the swim in the hope of spurring on a bite. We noticed he was very particular how he set his bobbins up on his alarms and wanted to find out more.

BW: “Well, you may notice my lines are what I would class as semi-tight; I have a slight drop on the bobbin and this is for a very important reason, liners! I will have my alarms on full sensitivity on days like today when the fish can do the off and become elusive, so having a nice drop on the bobbin and the alarm cranked up to full sensitivity means any passing fish that bumps into the line will hopefully register on the alarm head and give me a positive beep or series of beeps. “I haven’t actually seen any signs of carp since first thing this morning and I can see most of the lake from here, so fishing for liners can be a great way of tracking down where the fish are sat. If you get slow lifts on the bobbin, you know the fish are closer to your rig end; if the beeps are erratic, then you know the chances are it’s probably a fish in short and you’re fishing way too far out.”

That’s a great little pointer to fish location in even the trickiest of temperatures. After a few brews it was clear Brad was getting itchy feet but didn’t have anything to act on so he sat it out into the late afternoon.

BW: “The late afternoon/early evening can often be prime bite time at this time of year due to the water being at its warmest. I’m sure if we’re going to get another chance it will be in the next hour or so.”

As 4pm arrived, Brad noticed an indication on one of his rods, A quick re-chuck a little bit shorter of the spot he was fishing and the rod was in position for the final time. After 20 minutes it indicated a few beeps and the bobbin just held up tight – the battle was on.

BW: “Well we’ve worked hard on this session, regular recasts, trying all the colours, this one actually came to a Red NS1, and I’ll be chuffed to finish on one last fish.”

After a slightly more violent fight it became clear to Brad it was one of the lovely scaly ones this lake is noted for, not a monster but a wonderful looking carp with plenty of character about it.

BW: “This is what we came for, look at the lovely colours on that, it just goes to show it is worth getting out for short day trips; sometimes just getting bites is enough. We’ll leave the target fish till it warms up and they become more catchable, but in the meantime this certainly keeps the fire lit!”