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peg101

Winter campaign on Japan’s Lake Biwa

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After a fairly successful spring / summer / autumn campaign on the Mikata 5 lakes (三方五湖) complex – which included a new PB at 15kg / 103cm - I’m heading to Lake Biwa (琵琶湖) for what could be my last winter in Japan. I think I’ll be able to get 10 sessions in over the next few months in a bid to catch my first carp from Lake Biwa.

 

I’ll write up what happens as I go and hopefully I’ll be able to give you a feel of carp fishing Japanese style.

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I look forward to this. My brother in law live in Japan. He's been there around 13 years now. We need to get out and see him but with Jo being a teacher, she doesn't get enough holidays!!

 

:shock: Shes a teacher and she doesn't get enough holidays? They have more holidays than Father Christmas! :P

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For info, whilst Mikata was an inland sea (literally, as Lake Suigetsu (水月湖) is brackish), in terms of size, Biwa is on a different scale. Immediately obvious on a map of Japan, there are places where you can’t see the other side and it takes a couple of hours to drive from one end to the other.

 

Heavily weeded and unfishable from the bank in the summer, the weed dies back in the winter and the December / January time is very popular on the ‘south lake’ which is the section south of the bridge. I’ll be targeting the eastern bank either side of the Karasuma Peninsular (鳥丸半島).

 

The current Japanese record carp was caught from Biwa at 119cm; there are a number of regular full time anglers on there chasing the big fish and these guys take it very seriously. Many of the Mikata crowd will be there so there will be some familiar faces. I met a guy last year who replied “Spring” when I asked him when he was fishing until. Considering it was a Friday early in January I was expecting him to say something like “Monday” and was more than a little surprised!

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I’m writing this on day 3 of my first session. It’s now Monday morning; I arrived Friday night (7th December). I got home from working in Tokyo late on Friday morning and got the gear out of the wardrobe (literally – my 2nd floor apartment is tiny) over lunch. After an afternoon’s work from home I picked up the hire car and was on the road by 1745.

 

The weather was looking grim with 5 degree daytime temps and -3 over night forecast for the next few days. It was the snow showers that were putting me off the most though. The Edo River in Tokyo was looking like a more sensible option as it was going to be dry and 15 / 4 degrees in the day/night. I had a good session with my fishing buddy Chris on the Edo River over the summer and we got the feeling that we only just scratched the surface. If it wasn’t 6 hours drive away (and through a collapsed tunnel) I’d have been back and would have gone this time. But, you cannot catch a Biwa carp if you’re not fishing Lake Biwa! My mind was finally made up when I checked the weather forecast before getting on the highway….the snow wouldn’t come until Monday. Happy days.

 

I arrived at the lake at 2000 and drove north from a few miles south of the peninsular. I was somewhat shocked to find the peg on the south side of the peninsular free! On these massive lakes in Japan you rarely see a fish jump so there is little point sitting there for hours waiting to see/hear a carp jump – you have to use other elements of water craft. Aside from knowing that a local angler set up in this peg for 3 months last winter, the peg is also on a point of a 100m wide inlet to a pond the other side of the road. There are carp in the pond and I figured it was a likely transit point covering a lot of water. A very quick dash to the convenience store across the road saw me armed with enough food to last me a couple of days. I’ve been gazumped a few times in Japan and have learnt if a known good peg is free, just get on it! From my peg I could see the flashing bite alarms of some Japanese guys fishing from the pontoons on the peninsular around 200m away basically straight out (there was a large bay to my right).

 

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I cast around with a lead and found it to be shallow (around 3 feet, which was expected) and with only a little weed (unexpected). The bottom felt softish with the lead holding up a little but not sticking or banging on gravel. No weed came back on the lead apart from the time when I pulled through a weedbed. I put my pod up nice and high around 10m from the corner so I could put 1 rod in the main lake, 1 rod up the inlet towards the bridge (about 50m to my left) and the remaining 2 rods would go basically in the middle straight out in front. I kept my fifth rod in the bag with the intention of getting it out on Saturday facing into the main lake with a bright pop-up.

 

All the rods were attached to solid PVA bags. 2 rods had the amazing Essential Bait’s shelf life Shell Fish B5s; both were 20mm / 15mm pop-up snowman rigs presented on a size 6 long shank blow-back style. There was an aligner to create some more angle, the coated braid was striped back about 1 inch and a big blob of putty stuck on this hinge. 3oz leads fished helicopter style on 6ft of leadcore finished it off. 1 pop-up was a traditional B5 pop-up, the other was a flouro orange B5. The solid bags contained Mainline’s bloodworm extract stick pellets, crushed boilies and whole 15mm boilies.

 

The other 2 rods were on Dynamite Baits Monster Tiger Nut. I would much prefer to use Trigger Ice which I have great confidence in but I can’t get any! The excellent Tackle Box (in Kent) where I get the majority of my tackle from – truly excellent service and delivery in less than 5 days to Japan! – haven’t had their order fulfilled by Nutrabaits in a couple of months. The guy in Japan who stocks it has none either. Essential Baits B5 can be a little like this sometimes. Business must be good for those guys if they can afford to keep the customers waiting! Presentation was the same as the B5 rods with 1 of the tiger nut boilie rods. The pop-up was very white which I thought would be fairly eye catching to a carp. The other rod had a 20mm bottom bait fished KD style on a soft braid. The PVA bags had a god handful of monster tiger nut bag mix, a few tiger nuts, crushed boilies and whole 15mm boilies.

 

All the rods were out by 2130 and I started to get a few indications. Great start I though until all the rods were going off at the same time and sometimes in sequence (left to right or right to left!). I went out to take a look and called the wife to say good night. It was at this point that I noticed a red light in the water in the corner next to the bridge stanchion. My immediate thought was ‘oh dear’, one of the idiot night fishermen has come down from Mikata and is casting over my lines! This also explained the other car in the car park. Something wasn’t right thought and a closer look revealed a lure angler sat in a floatation ring! The light was on the back to stop boats driving into him. Apparently the bridge is a good spot for black bass as well. The guy turned out to be OK, confirmed there was no weed (his flippers/feet were on the bottom) and showed me photos he took for a carp angler from this spot 2 weeks ago – it was well over 30lb!! He got out of the lake and my bleeps continued; being flat calm I could only conclude that it was bats or birds flying into my lines. I put the hangers on the ‘wrong’ side of my alarms and went to bed.

 

To cut a long story short the wind got up early in the morning and all my rods got wiped out with weed rafts. Basically, the weed is dying and blows into the bank where it catches your line. Some gets blown up your line to the rod tip and some hangs halfway up – this is all helped by the 2ft waves! The majority of the weed just gathers where your line enters the water until it has enough mass to either move the lead or to take line from the baitrunner. The end result is the same though, eventually the ball of weed reaches the big rocks in the margin and your line gets caught up in the roots / branches / rocks. I pulled the rods out first thing on Saturday morning losing 2 complete set-ups in the process. The left hand rod had been pulled into a snag and the center-left rod’s lead got caught in the boulders in the margins as the ball of weed was too heavy to lift, forcing me to pull for a break.

 

The weather forecast said the wind would drop in the evening / night so I put out 1kg of 15mm B5 with the caty and about 100 monster tiger nut boilies to the right hand side. I retired to the car to watch movies on Hulu. My logic was that I would rest the peg a bit and would have more of a base to boilie fish over once the wind died down; I figured out I could just clear any weed off and recast as required without tying a new bag. The leads were all swapped for 5oz’ers and I was back in around 1900. Unfortunately night 2 proved to be a re-run of night 1 and all my rods were wiped out again. Due to the weather (temp. and wind; also consider that half way up the lake 1ft of snow had fallen and the hills on the opposite side were now white….the snow hadn’t got to me yet) it just wasn’t practical to carry on fishing that peg so I pulled off around 9am on Sunday morning and drove north.

 

The symmetrical peg on the north of the peninsular was about to become free as the old boy fishing there was going home. There were still 2 other guys fishing from that car park though with 7 rods spread over 70m of bank. The north side of the peninsular is significantly sheltered from the wind / floating weed and due to the shell fish pens placed at 300m there was a barrier even if the wind blew directly into the bank. This looked like a good option. I carried on north and found a peg that I fished last year to be free unfortunately all the weed blown up onto the bank suggested that there would be problems fishing there. A little further north and I found myself at the pond with the pontoon in it. There were 3 guys fishing to the left hand side of the pontoon who had about 10 rods out. The pond is connected to the main lake by a long channel and you can imagine that the carp would retreat into it if the main lake was too rough. It is also quite deep at around a uniform14ft; the pontoon is basically a T shape with the main section being over 100m long (basically 1/3 of the pond). The right hand end of the pontoon is in 14ft as well but it rapidly shallows up to around 5ft off. It is a long way from the fishing bank and I’m not sure the locals know about this feature as they don’t really feature find.

 

I decided to defrost at a local hot spring, get some hot lunch and then get back on the bank. The right hand side of the pontoon appealed to me but I’m not sure if a carp caught from there would count as a genuine Biwa carp or not! As the north bank of the peninsular was still free I decided to go there but put half a kilo of 15 monster tiger nut boilies off the pontoon just in case. Whilst I was on the pontoon one of the guys had a run a caught a 2lb’er! Whilst I was talking to them (apparently we met last year…..) his other rod went off and he nailed a 15lb’er. This was looking like a good fall back option!

 

I checked my facebook as well and Sasaki-sanm the owner of NG-Carp Japan (same as NG-Carp Europe), had landed a creature from the main lake on his last session of the year. Surely it is looking good?!

 

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I set up on the north side of the peninsular with basically the same set-up but nearly got gazumped as I started to set up next to the car and didn’t get my pod in the peg quick enough. Luckily the guy was reasonable and said ‘you were here first’ allowing me to take that peg.. I put the fifth rod out into the bay to my left with a pineapple pop-up. The rods didn’t get wiped out this time (success!) and whilst not getting a run over night I was happy to find that all the rigs were clean of weed and were not tangled when I reset the traps in the morning. I did get a few bleeps in the night which didn’t seem to be wind and I was worried that I’d been done by ducks but it looks like I got away with it.

 

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The only thing a changed on the recast was to swap the single rod stick for a double bar so that 2 rods could go into the bay. 2 of the remaining 3 rods on the pod were then directed towards the left. Basically the bay to the left is half full of lotus plants (you can see them in the photo of the single rod, the other photo is facing the north) and so I’ve now got 4 rods spread along the edge the dying back plants, its mid-morning and the snow has just started!

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Day 3&4…..

 

I got talking to the old guy who had turned up around 0730 and starting fishing around 50m up the bank from me. He said he fishes there everyday and usually catches! He did say that he had fished boilies all summer and hadn’t caught anything on them; ‘dango’ (basically a Japanese style method feeder) was the only thing that worked. He added that the boilie fish tended to be big though.

 

Takeuchi-san (the guy who did a 3 month session last year and is in the middle of another 3 month session now) came down at around 1200 and brought me a can of hot coffee which was very appreciated! He gave me lots of good information and advice. Apparently back leads are essential to damp the vibration of the rod in the wind; it didn’t sound like a big price to pay so I dropped my pod down to flat and put on some captive backleads.

 

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In the photo above you can see the larger gate in the back ground which is referenced later.

 

He also said that wind direction is very important, not because the fish move on the wind (which I bet they do) but because of the rubbish the wind blows at you. It seems that the locals haven’t got a solution to the weed rafts either. He also said that a number of factories inland (from the lake shore) pump warm water into river network that runs into the lake which explains why the south section is so good. I had assumed it was because this end of the lake is a good few degrees warmer than the north end (which is now under a couple of feet of snow) or because the shallow water warmed up faster in the sun but the factories explanation makes sense. He was a bit vague on where these factories are though; so more investigation is required on this. The old boy packed up around 1330 without catching anything.

 

At ~1500 my left hand rod (pineapple pop-up) went off! It was a bit hairy to start with as the line was caught around something close in but that came free once the carp took some line. The fish put up a decent fight and I had to get around the other rod as the fish moved around the corner into the main lake. A played it gingerly as I was using a my front quick drag reels which I’m not a massive fan of – I lost my last Mikata fish due to messing around with the front drag. I don’t know why but I find a rear drag much easier. I netted the carp first time and was very pleased with the result – 81cm / 18lb.

 

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Size takes precedence in Japan and 100cm is the magic number. I guess this is the equivalent to an English 40. With 90cm being like a 30 and 80cm being like a 20.

 

It surprised me a little that it was the furthest left rod that went off as this was the most ‘closed-in’. From my days fishing the northwest canals and River Weaver I’ve always understood the advantage of the end peg and generally assume that the rod the fish come to first (or with most access to the rest of the water) will go off first and that the fish don’t move past bait. Obviously it is not a fixed rule but it is something I consider first when picking a spot. It did worry me that the first fish fell to a pop-up though, especially when there were 4 ‘normal’ rods out. It worried me because on these big lakes where the fish have not yet switched onto boilies yet I think they take the fluro pop-ups out of curiosity rather than because they know what it is. This was certainly true for Lake Yogo before it turned and is true for Lake Suigetsu. I think that Mikata turned this year, hence the old ‘dango’ boys catching little and the boilie guys catching lots of big fish. This does tally with what the guy said about not catching on boilies but the NG Carp team are catching on boilies so it must be possible.

 

I left all the rods in until 1900 but pulled them out to get some petrol and hot food. It was properly freezing so planned to leave the engine running all night to keep warm! When I reset the rods, I swapped one of the open water tiger nut boilie rigs for pineapple pop-up. It was a quiet night and I was woken on Day 4 by the old guy who turned up again at 0730! I recast all the rigs, this time taking off the other tiger nut boilie rig and swapping it for a fluro B5, leaving 2 pineapple pop-ups, a B5 pop-up and 2 B5 snowmen (20mm+15 pop-ups…1 of these pop-ups was a fluro as per the previous days). The wind dropped, the sun came out and I was supremely confident of getting another bite!

 

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At around 1330, the old guy went home fishless and I took a walk up the bank to the left towards the larger of the 2 gates that link the bay to the pond/river behind. The water had obviously cleared up as the wind had dropped and I could just about see light coloured rubbish on the bottom in the margins (around 3 ft deep) with my polaroids on. It was far from clear though. I did the classic thing which I’m sure we’ve all done many times; you see what looks like a small fish hovering over a plastic bag and lean in to get a better look only to realise there is an absolute lump another meter further out! It didn’t spook and just kind of turned and headed towards the lotus plants. It was a big 20, maybe 30 and at least 90cm; needless to say I sprinted back to pull out the left hand rod and to knock up a 3 bait stringer.

 

I think I said above that you don’t really see fish jumping (as a way to find them) and this is only the second time I’ve seen a proper carp at this range in Japan, with the first being behind a stage in the early morning on Suigetsu this year. I returned with the rod, checked for the fish and then dropped the rig in. I then made my mistake of trying to walk the rod back to the set up. I got the line caught in a little bush on the same bank, freed it, got the line in the water, passed the rod over the fence of the smaller gate, got back onto my bank but then couldn’t free the line from a stick in the water. I tried again with much similar results and resigned myself to having to chuck it from my bank; only having to deal with the bow caused by walking back to the set-up. With hindsight I should have just up sticks and moved, but more about that later. This rod had a 20m amnesia leader on it already and I was fishing a naked helicopter rig (basically my Mikata set-up). I quickly changed over the other rod in the bay to a reel with an amnesia leader already attached and whacked that out on the edge of the lotus plants around 20m further out into the lake than the first rod, basically hedging my bets that the carp were patrolling up the edge of the lotus plants to the gate.

 

Another old guy came by around 1500 and was amazed that I’d had a bite out of the bay, indicating that out in front into the main lake is best (where the original 3 rods remained untouched). He also said this peg did a 103cm 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and I packed up as soon as the sun dropped behind the hills.

 

I think my main learning points were more around the practicalities of fishing Lake Biwa and in many respects it mirrored the experience I had when I started fishing Mikata:

 

• Location of the petrol station, convenience store and local hot spring. Still need to find a power outlet I can use and free drinking water.

• Need to avoid the wind, or rather the rubbish that it blows at you on it. Does anyone have any ideas on this??

• The water is cold and PVA bags don’t fully melt (which is what happened last year) – you need to be careful not to tie really tight knots, not to use too much PVA tape to seal bags (although tape is melts better than knots) and to consider what happens if the knot/tape doesn’t melt…you don’t want the hook link sticking up at a stupid angle.

• You need to wear sunglasses in the cold wind or your eyes stream and you can’t see the boulders you’re walking on.

• Those boulders aren’t great for walking on and it is easier if you place your pod on the flat rather than on the slope…..this also helps with playing fish when you’ve got a lot of rods out.

• You need to use back leads to damp the vibration but also to get the line out of the way of the high speed bass boats.

• You don’t need the rods high if there is no rubbish

• Snag leaders are required as it is a ‘working’ lake with plenty of shell fish / crab / eel pots / nets / stakes to negotiate.

• The diving ducks are a problem as they eat you bait/rigs. The old guy caught one, I caught one and Takeuchi-san said he had caught 30 this year.

 

In terms of the fishing:

 

• Maybe it isn’t ready for a full boilie approach yet. I had tiger nuts with me but didn’t use them. I’m sure the old boy will put them in this week for me now though as I gave them to him! Next time I’ll swap the tiger nut boilies for actual tiger nuts.

• The near margins need to be given more consideration.

• I need to try a method feeder to see how they respond to groundbait

• The larger gate peg probably deserves a quiet day with just a couple of rods otherwise it is a 2 man job to get the rigs in there quietly. (would have to cast onto the bank and sort the line out before throwing the rig in by hand)

• I’d like to try some particles like hemp….perhaps in conjunction with some of the above.

 

My next trip is planned as a bit of a social with a few friends on 22nd / 23rd / 24th December so I’ll write more then. If I get time in between I’ll write about the Japanese approach to carp fishing.

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Session 2

 

I had planned to get to the lake late on Friday night but an unforeseen work commitment found me working in Tokyo on the Saturday. After a long train ride and drive I arrived at around 2300 on Saturday night to the same peg as last time. My friend Chris arrived earlier (around mid-afternoon) and had 3 rods out on the right hand end of the bank as 2 locals had 13 rods out where I fished a couple of weeks ago. He had been kind enough to put some boilies in near the large (second) gate where I saw the carp on my last trip and we walked around there again at midnight to put in around 2kg of hemp and 1/2Kg of monster tiger nut (and a sprinkling of pineapple) boilies in with the intention of moving there in the morning.

 

I set up all five rods; 2 were set up for snag fishing near the gate, another 2 were set up for distance fishing and 1 rover was set up for pub chucks with a pop-up. I planned to take the snag rods around to the gate for day fishing, leaving the 3 rods in the space between Chris and the locals (but not fishing) for the following night. I did put 2 rods out for that night when another guy turned up and put some rods out the other side of Chris! Considering it was 0130 it shows you how popular this spot is! I retired to bed exhausted and didn’t get up until 11am. I guess I had wasted a morning but on the other hand the peg had been rested and given time to settle after the baiting.

 

When I did get up one of the locals had already left and the other guy was packing up! Great timing! I told Chris to get his stuff together and to get his 3 rods on the point whilst I put my 2 snag rods into the bay and the other 3 rods right in front of the car about 30 yards up from the point. I cast these 2 rods onto the opposite bank, walked around, attached the hook links and with Chris’ help threw the rigs in by hand. 1 rig had double tiger nut and the other had a pineapple yellow pop-up. Unfortunately the tiger nut rig didn’t go out as far as planned (but I left it) and the pop-up went in OK. I set the clutches very tight so that only a little line could be taken. The rear legs of the rod pod were positioned in a gap between the boulders and my hard plastic rear rests were used – there was no way the rods or pod were going anywhere!

 

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I had positioned the other 3 rods in front of a pole in the water at what I thought was about 100m. Using my long range gear I clipped up to this and used a spomb to put 1kg of monster tiger nut on the pole. I figured that with all the pressure (this area is fished everyday) the fish would be at range. It was the first time I had used this long range set-up in anger and I was really happy with it. I was also impressed with the spomb which flew amazingly straight. I paced out the cast up the bank in case I had to make it again in the night – 98 paces….probably 80m? It was a about as far as I could cast and I’m sure the gear is capable of much more but I don’t think I am able to compress the rod enough. More practice required. For info., the rods are 12ft 3.5lb TC Daiwa DF Longbows with the new Shimano Big LC Baitrunners. Mainline is 10lb / 0,3mm Fox Soft Steel and I use a 45lb ESP braid shock leader with a 5oz lead. I’ve got a Daiwa finger stall which fits nice and tight. It is better than the white leather Gardener (?) finger stall I bought from The Tackle Box which is not such a tight fit and whose strap can tangle with the line between the reel and first eye.

 

Chris put his brolley up on the point facing my 2 rods with the wind off the back and we both sat under it. Japanese anglers don’t use bivies or brolleys and it was my first time under a brolley; I’ve got to say I was impressed and was much more preferable to a bivvy in terms of access and space. With 2 of us sat under it and the BBQ in the middle it was nice and warm! I put the 2 long range rods out around 1530 and put the pop-up rod out to the right hand side away from Chris on a pub chuck. Unfortunately a young local (Toyoda-san) turned up with his girlfriend for a 24 hour session and sat to my right about 20m away; basically where my pub chuck pop-up was positioned.

 

At around 1630 I had 2 short beeps on the right hand of my rods position in the corner near the gate. The back lead wasn’t up but I fed off a little line which was taken up. I freed the rod, screwed down the clutch and struck into a fish. The fight went on for a while but was mainly uneventful. The carp did get around a snag at one point and back on the bank the coating from the hook link was shredded. As with the last carp it moved around into the main lake and took out Chris’ right hand rod before moving back into the bay where we netted it. At 93cm / 32lb I was well happy! It didn’t look that big in the water. On the mat there was a lot of pink stuff coming out of its ass; some of the bystanders said it was spawn (!) but there was no way in those temperatures. Chris had put in some red boilies the day before and I can only assume the carp had been eating those. There was no sign of the hemp or tiger nut boilies though.

 

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Whilst I reset the rod Chris saw a fish roll in the corner near the small gate. We watched DVDs until around 2230 when I went to bed. It was freezing and there was no way Chris would be able to sleep under the brolley so we set his bivvy up. I did think about him whilst I was in the van with the engine running! It was a quiet night until I was woken by Toyada-san’s alarm at around 0630. I didn’t get up for it but I heard them say it was 97cm and fat! He had already had one at ~70cm earlier in the morning. His alarm was comedy; it was a female voice saying, “You’ve got a bite! Rod number 2!” over and over again. He went on to get 2 more during the day. He was using a dango (method feeder) with a raison on the hook; apparently the raison swells up in the water. It was basically a pub chuck to around 30m – nothing spectacular. The base to his method mix was an off-the-shelf groundbait with a couple of additions. Their mixes are similar to our boilie mixes in terms of secret ingredients!

 

There will be no chance of a repeat capture though; I couldn’t understand why he didn’t put them straight back instead of having them tethered on a rope through the mouth exiting the right gill and re-entering the left gill to exit the mouth (basically a Japanese style retaining system). The guy’s Dad came mid afternoon and took away the 2 largest fish for the garden pond! I’ve seen this quite a few times but only with smaller fish. At least they will be able to heal up in peace after being treated to a knotted nylon net which had damaged their dorsal fins and bellies.

 

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As with the last time, I was supremely confident of a bite as the sun was out and the wind had dropped. At around 1500 I had a couple of bleeps on the left rod of the pair in the bay. This time the back lead was up and again the line I fed out was taken; I struck into a duck which had taken the tiger nuts. Toyada-san left shortly afterwards and neither Chris or I had any further action although I saw a fish roll near Chris’ right hand rod (basically on the line main bank towards the bay). We finished at around 1700 and put around 20kg of spod mix in and ~6kg of boilies across a few spots along the bank. Takeuchi-san had been there on and off over the last 2 days and 1 of his vans was still there with all his long stay stuff positioned. He said he permanently lives on the bank and I can only guess that 1 of his vans is for his gear and one is for driving / sleeping in. I did see one of his kids running around one day but I can’t believe they are there everyday! Basically he was there to reserve the whole bank for a really long stint once we left. He was going to stake out about 10+ rods along the whole bank so that nobody else could drop in. His friends were coming for a new year social on 27th which coincided with our next session and he said we could drop into the pegs again. I guess we’ll find out if he keeps his word tomorrow! He did show me that I can drive down the walkway though so if I can’t get into the bay, I can fish from the gate and park the van there at night.

 

Basically that concludes my 2nd session. So far it has gone fantastically with a bite and a fish each time! You might get the idea from my blog so far that this lake is easy-ish but Chris still hasn’t had a run in 2 attempts and we did a number of sessions (maybe 8?) last year without a bite. I started out with the hope of catching just 1 fish so to have 2 fish already is great. I hope there is more action to come! I’m picking up the hire-car (van) tonight at 2100 and plan to leave early in the morning to get there at first light for my next session. Hopefully Takeuchi-san will pull one of his rods out and let me have the bay without having to pitch by the gate. I plan to get my smart cast fish finder out (you basically cast it out and the monitor attaches to the rod) to take a look at the bottom to try and find something the fish might be interested in. It is a tight peg but I plan to put 1 rod into each of the gate mouths with a method feeder and pineapple yellow pop-up, 2 rods on boilies on the line of dying back lotus plants and 1 method with a pineapple yellow pop-up towards the main lake where the fish rolled. I might sneak a raison or soy bean onto one of the method feeder rods at some point as well.

 

In terms of lessons learnt generally:

 

• Casting onto the opposite bank ruins your leads by cracking the coating. The hook link could get caught in this. You are better to cast a ruined lead or sea lead and swap the lead when you clip the hook link on.

• The locked up set-up went well with the fish being able to pull of just enough line to give a bite without getting into the lotus plants.

• I need to slacken the clutch off more when playing fish hard on a short line, especially when manoeuvring around other rods / people. I lost my last Mikata fish by being flat rodded with a tight clutch whilst moving around the netter and the same happened to the one I caught whilst I was moving around Chris’ rods; fortunately I managed to get the clutch off this time!

• I need to work on my casting technique with the distance rods. I’m not compressing the rods enough and think I’m only getting around half the distance I should be.

• The barriers to the foot path can be lifted up so that a car be driven up the foot path.

 

Lessons learnt from the fishing:

 

• I need to try the method feeder. Toyoda-san caught 4 on basically pub chucks with 3 rods whilst we got 1 run over 8 rods on boilies. Next time I’ll put 3 out.

• These local guys aren’t fishing far out and so maybe distance isn’t required.

• The fish definitely haven’t normalised onto boilies yet….and if people are taking them home, maybe they never will!

• The fish are active and are moving. It is winter but I think they will take some bait!

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Session 3

 

Firstly thanks for all the comments that have been left. I’m glad you have enjoyed reading this so far. I’d welcome any feedback on the fishing / approach / problems / challenges based on your experiences.

 

Session 3 was a 3 day / 2 night job which finished yesterday evening. I picked up the car on Wednesday evening and got it loaded up for 0430 departure on Thursday. I had been keenly watching the weather and winds from the North and East were forecast which would mean the south side of the peninsular would be fishable. I fancied another go at this rather than the north side for a bit of a change and as I didn’t fancy being cut off from the main lake by Takeuchi-san’s friends. When I got near to the lake I could see from the wind turbine that the wind was coming from the south / south-west with a bit of pace. I wasn’t going to get wiped out again so I went to the north side where it turned out to be flat calm. Over the session the wind changed direction constantly and became lighter; I probably could have fished the south side. There was also a fair bit of snow on the ground and so I filled up with gas and finally arrived at about 0640

 

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Takeuchi-san wasn’t up when I arrived and so I didn’t know if/where I could drop in on the north side. Whilst I was waiting for him to appear, I cast around with my Smartcast fish finder looking for any features as the bottom appeared to be featureless to a lead. This was the first time I’d used the Smartcast despite having it over a year and I had a few technical problems. Aside from having to tape it to my rod with insulation tape as the fittings were too small for my rod it kept losing the signal and I had to slap it onto the surface to get it to restarted with limited effectiveness. In some places it appeared to show something under the water where I knew there wasn’t anything. Basically what I could work out before I gave up with it was the bottom was very flat with around 3ft of water off the point, 4ft towards the bank with the 2 gates on it and 5-6ft towards the right hand side. This basically tallied with what Takeuchi-san had said about people walking out in waders. The Smartcast did show up the sticks in the middle of the bay where I had basically caught my first fish.

 

When Takeuchi-san got up he said his friends not coming until the 30th and I could fish anywhere until they arrived so I decided to set up exactly as the last time, with 2 rods in the bay (actually under one of his rods which was in position but not fishing) and 3 rods opposite the pole in the water at 98 paces. I put a lot of hemp (~3kg) in front of the second gate and about ½kg of B5s. On the pole, using a Spomb, I also put in a lot of hemp but started to have problems with the Spomb opening in mid air. This wasn’t the classic Spomb failure where you get a nice pile of bait behind you where the Spomb had touched the ground but it was opening in mid air and getting the hemp to about 20m. I switched to using boiles as feed and this was OK for a while but the same thing started to happen again and I ended up with 5 or 6 Spomb loads of B5s going in at 40m!

 

The 2 rods in the bay were on method feeders with fluro-yellow pineapple pop-ups cast over towards the second (larger) gate. Of the 3 rods in the main lake, the left hand rod was also on a fluro-yellow pop-up / method feeder set-up cast from the point into open water and the other 2 were set up for boilie fishing; 1 with a 15mm B5 + plastic snail on a KD rig and the other with a 20mm B5 + 15mm fluro B5 pop-up on a blow back rig. The method hook links were just standard multi-rigs for lead fishing and might have been too long. The 15mm + snail went over the loose bait at 40m and the fluro snowman went out at 98 paces on the pole.

 

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At 1200 the left hand rod of the pair in the bay went for a 40cm carp! At least I hadn’t blanked but I didn’t put this down in my log as I felt it was a little too small. Immediately I remembered why I stopped fishing the method! Unfortunately the snow had melted and I wasn’t going to be able to take a photo in the snow! When recasting this rod it occurred to me how it was relatively easy for me to launch a method to 70 paces with an Ammensia leader and 15lb GR60 mainline on a 2 ¾lb TC (soft action) rod when I was struggling to hit the clip at 98 paces with a dedicated casting set-ups on 3.5lb TC rods.

 

At 1630 I had a duck on left of the open water rods. I recast this rod and the middle, losing a captive back lead to the rocks in the process! I wonder if you can buy spare leads as I now have 3 strings with no leads!

 

Chris arrived at 1900 to start an 8 day session and dropped on the sloping pole that I had put a load of bait onto a couple of days previously. This wasn’t an area that Takeuchi-san wanted for his mates and so Chris wouldn’t have to move. I recast my other rods and we sat back to enjoy the food and heat from a BBQ.

 

I had a few bleeps in the night but the rods looked untouched in the morning. At 0800 I fed the pole again with a standard spod plugged with groundbait but containing hemp and B5s; this was a much more elegant solution than the Spomb and quicker to load as well. I recast the open water rods as before. When I picked up the right rod of the pair in the bay it felt light (like there was no lead!) and appeared to be coming in straight until it pinged of something in the water halfway out – there was a fish on and it had gone right. After a non-fight I got landed a massive Hera Buna! Hera-Buna were another reason why I stopped using groundbiat feeders and fishmeal pellets! Hera Buna are a nuisance fish (like bream in the UK) but they don’t go as big. They behave a little like sheep and generally don’t panic when hooked (imagine a sheep caught on a barb wire fence); you just get a series of beeps over about half an hour altering you to the problem.

 

At 1300 the left hand rod of the pair in the bay pulled up tight. The alarm screamed just as I got to the rod and I struck into a carp with the mainline caught under something about halfway out. The carp got stuck in this on the way in and I had to change angles to free it by pulling a branch in with it! At ~60cm and low double figures it was a nice result but I think I had been hoping for more.

 

At 1700 the left hand rod went again, but this time it was a duck! I recast this into the corner about 10m out from both banks by the smaller gate. Bait was 2 hair rigged raisons on a KD rig and I used a sliding backlead to get the line around a bed of rushes in the margins.

 

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At 1800 I recast all the other rods; I changed the center rod of the 3 out in front to a method feeder but kept the same 15mm B5 and snail as bait. Now I had 4 rods on method feeders! The front 2 methods both went in at 15-20m. The fluro-snowman distance rod was lobbed in at 25m with a stringer. I fed each of the 2 spots in the bay with 3 big balls of groundbait (basically the method mix with more particles) and 2 more balls went out between the method feeders in front. I got a lot of bleeps off all the rods between 0230 and 0300 but nothing developed. I recast all rods again at around 0800 with the distance rod going back to the distance spot to wait and see what day 3 would bring.

 

At 1100 Chris had his first Lake Biwa carp at 84cm / 10.5 Kg!

 

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The weather was great weather for my last day and I had to strip off a few layers as it was too hot! As with my previous sessions everything looked right and my confidence was really high. I sat right next to the rods for the majority of the day tying up new hooklinks but, aside from my Gate 1 rig getting wiped out by Bass angler at 1500, there was no action. This rod went in on the right hand side of the bay into open water on a pub-chuck. I did see a couple of patches of bubbles come up right in front of the peg off the rushes and off the end of the rods at about 5m which could be a thinking point for next time.

 

I wrapped up at 1800. Unfortunately the rod on Gate 2 which was my banker and was the rod I was sure would go came back with no pop-up on! The pop-up had come off the screw-in peg!!! Gutted. I can only assume that when squeezing the groundbait around the feeder I had pulled it off and it had just stuck in the skin of the ball making it look like it was still attached. It is too cold for turtles and I’m not aware of any crabs. I can’t believe that a bird had pulled it off. When I pulled out the left hand rod from the front set the hook had caught in the side of a round plastic bottle!! You would struggle to do that if you tried! The bottle was full of soft black silt which is good info for the type of bottom. I was gutted and felt that 2 of my rods hadn’t been fishing.

 

All in all the session ended with 3 fish, 2 of which were carp, albeit small ones – not a bad result.

 

Thinking points:

 

• Was the 4 fish catch by Toyoda-san a freak red letter day? Thus I overfed it during this session? If you ignore that catch there is only Chris to have caught an open water fish from that area in a while.

• Takeuchi-san said he normally fishes very close in (throwing his method ball in by hand) and Toyoda-san confirmed his 97cm came to a margin rod. The fish I saw by Gate 2 was really close – perhaps the fish are even closer that I thought. This needs to be explored further.

• Fishing close in makes it easier to scare the ducks away – they ate plenty of the boilies on all my lines and could scare the carp off by constantly diving. Your freebies get wiped out at distance.

• The surface was flat for the majority of the session but we didn’t see a fish. The fish don’t appear to be coming onto the feed and I don’t like the chuck it and chance it approach; I’ve got a lot more work to do to determine their patrol routes / feeding spots. Perhaps placing baits at 5m intervals out from the bank?

 

I’m planning to do another 3 day session in the new year on 3rd January. I want to try a different peg (south side of the peninsular) but I also want to fish a boilie approach in the margin from Gate 2 where my presence will keep the ducks away. I think I’ll try both next locations next time.

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Session 4

 

I picked the car up on the Wednesday night and got it loaded up for an early start. I arrived before dawn at around 0600 but then spent 45 minutes chasing phantom McDonalds around on Google Maps to find Chris the hot food I had promised him as it was the last day of his 8 day session. The day after my last session ended, Toyoda-san arrived and nailed 2 carp straight away on the method feeder at close range but nothing had been caught since then! Chris had got some good information from him on his mix and it seemed he was using a few Hera Buna ingredients (like gluten) and a few cubes of frozen 赤虫 (akamushi – literally ‘red bug’) from the Koi pet shop. I got myself a big pack of this (around 1Kg!) and thought it was bloodworm . When this stuff defrosted a couple of days later it turned out to be ‘joker’; i.e. match fishing Bloodworm & Joker. After Toyoda-san’s fish nothing had been caught despite there being 32 rods in the water, inc. by ‘my’ gate!!!! There was no way I was fishing there despite an area becoming free as Chris was to vacate.

 

One of the NG Carp Team guys was just packing up from the next car park north but hadn’t had anything. He said the wind was right into his face and he had been wiped out by the floating weed rafts. Chris had said he had seen another NG Carp Team guy fishing on the peninsular who had lost 1 fish and once I had confirmed with Takeuchi-san that the entrance gate could be opened at night I went for a look over there. I found the peg and put out around 100 B5 boilies into 4/5 ft of water after a bit of marker float work. I then drove around some more and went north about 10km to get to the other side of the bridge, into the main lake. There were miles of bank but no access and the waves were like the sea! I retreated back to the south, put 1/2kg of B5s into a 6ft deep sheltered bit of the canal that linked the main lake to the pontoon lake; this peg reminded me of some of the Bridgewater Canal carp pegs and I planned to give this peg a night later on in the session. I then put 1/2kg of monster tiger nut boilies into 12ft of water on the left hand side of the pontoon; again I planned to give this a go later on in the session. I returned to the peg where the NG carp guy had just left and was surprised to find around 7/8ft of water at 20 yards. Another 1/2kg of monster tiger nut went in there; if the wind dropped that peg would also be worth a try!

 

It was around 0900 and I was heading over to the peninsular peg when Chris called to say he had caught a proper one! At 91cm / 14.2kg it was a lovely dark common and a fantastic catch; I’ll say nothing of the fact that he was reeling his rod in with a bung in the butt eye to clean the line when he realised he was attached to the fish…… This was the first fish of the year on Lake Biwa and I don’t think the locals were too impressed that it had been caught by a foreigner on a boilie!

 

With that I headed over to the peninsular peg. The peg was a concrete bank around 40m long. The right side was fenced in by the straight side of lotus plant bed which went out about 50m before turning right to a max of 80m from the bank. The left side was fenced in at 20m by a tree in the near margins and some rushes. I had put the boilies straight out in front and cast 2 rods over the top with B5 snowmen fished in PVA bags with plenty of crushed boilies, bloodworm pellets and raw joker. 1 other rod went right to the corner of the lotus plants and the other went left about 5 yards off the rushes. The left and right rods were on method feeders and fluro pineapple pop-ups; the method mix was so loaded with joker it barely held together! There was a strong westerly wind blowing (basically left to right) but there was no problem with the floating weed. I could see big rafts out in open water but the rushes seemed to protect the peg.

 

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The peg viewed from the left

 

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The peg viewed from the right

 

 

Team NG Carp turned up mid-morning. I have seen then arrive in convoy once at Lake Yogo but I’ve never really met them as a team before. My first impressions weren’t great and I thought they were arrogant and basically noddies. It was quite clear they wanted to fish in my peg and there were enough questions about where I was casting to for me to get the impression that I was expected to move to one side. I’m sure a local guy might have moved for one of these ‘field testers’ but I didn’t take the hint. There is a general ‘all the gear and no idea’ mentality with Japanese and their hobbies (particularly golf!) and these guys seemed to match that stereotype. They had some waist height Fox Pods, Fox alarms, ridiculous swingers, top end Shimano big pits, custom rods (13ft, 3.5lb’ers!) etc. and were massively over gunned for the 30m fishing they were doing. It was comedy (if not slightly concerning) to watch the youngest guy, who I’ve now christened ‘boat-boy’ set up in the middle of the lotus bed to my right and then boat out to the edge of the lotus, drop his rig in, get blown 20m down the lake and then try to get his line back over the lotus back to his pod at the edge. At least he was wearing a life jacket but I’ve no idea what he would have done if he had got a bite! I didn’t stay to watch him put his other rods out. I christened him ‘boat-boy’ as it seems he uses a boat wherever he goes regardless as to whether it is needed or not! He did catch a spectacular common from the north end of the lake this summer though at 103cm / 23kg; I didn’t recognise him at first as he looked a lot older in the photo I had seen of the fish.

 

The other 2 NG Carp Team guys had set up on my left basically in bank side gaps in the rushes. As there were a few massive clumps at 20m that they had cast between I also wondered how they would land anything they hooked – there was no boat for them there. They were using chest waders but those wouldn’t be enough for a short-ish Japanese guy to get far enough out to land the fish. After they got their rods in there was a bit of throwing stick action and I got to have a decent chat with them. They turned out to be really nice guys; one guy had brought his wife with him although she wasn’t going to venture far out of the camping car and wasn’t fishing. Another guy also had brought his wife who fishes but they weren’t fishing as they had been on Lake Yogo the night before and woke up to 1ft of snow! They had just come down for a look. It turned out that boat-boy lives just down the road from me and we were both making the 2 hour pilgrimage over to the lake.

 

Overall it seemed they had styled themselves on European carp anglers rather than British carp anglers (who the ‘Euro-Carp shop team were copying) and I guess this isn’t surprising based on their links with the NG Carp Europe brand. A positive thing seemed to be that they were fishing to features and seemed to show a bit more water craft awareness than the chuck it and chance it ‘dango’ boys. After the ice had been broken I felt confident I had made some friends and got a little bit of information, notably that there were plenty of boilies going in and plenty of carp were being caught on boilies; this gave me good confidence to ditch the method feeders. I showed them everything they wanted to see about my rigs / gear and gave them half a bag of B5s. It was obvious that they are starved of information and only really get to see the odd DVD or carp catalogue.

 

Aside from a couple of bleeps which couldn’t be attributed to wind or ducks the day was quiet. I pulled the rods out at 1930 and went to collect some hot food. I recast later with a couple of changes; the first was to cut down the anti-tangle sleeve on the left hand method rod as I had shortened the link down and I was worried there would be too little movement, the second change was to swap the right hand rod for a tiger nut snowman (presented in a big PVA bag) and drop that in at about 25m next to the lotus bed and the third change was to move one of the center rods (B5 fluro snowman) to the corner of the lotus bed – basically I was change the focus towards the right-hand-side of the peg.

 

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I woke up to this on Day 2

 

There was no action overnight and I recast all the rods the same way on Day 2 but swapped the B5 fluro snowman and B5 normal snowman rods over. A duck picked up the left hand rod at 12noon so I took the opportunity to swap this for a short chod rig which would be cast around every couple of hours. The NG Carp guys all left at around 1430 and I picked up a duck on my right hand rod at around 1700. I decided to put some boilies in with the catapult and pay a visit to the hot spring to have a wash and to get some proper food. Before I left though I got my other pod and spare rod out and put 2 rods on the left hand side of the peg and 3 on the right hand side. The left rods would go on monster tiger nut snowmen and the right rods would be B5 snowmen + 1 chod rod on the right hand side on a short line at around 25m fished into the lotus plants. These right rods were basically fishing at different points along the edge of the lotus plants. By 2100 I had all the rods back in and was tucked up with a hot water bottle and a few hours of Hulu. It had been freezing and showed no signs of getting warmer!

 

Day 3 started well with a run on the center of the right hand rods at 0830 on a standard B5 snowman!!! I had been pretty close to re-casting all the rods and thought it was a duck at first that had eaten all the freebies and that couldn’t resist the remaining hook bait. The fish was immediately caught on the edge of the lotus plants but I got it out. Having around 10m of Amnesia on always gives me confidence when a fish goes into a snag but it is essential in the ‘working’ lakes where there are all sorts of nets and pots under the water. The fish was out in open water and it was a lump that actually took line which is a rare occurrence for me out in open water! There was a heart stopping moment when the line pinged off something and I had no contact for a good 10 reel turns and I thought the fish was gone but then it got stuck in something at 25m in open water. There was a huge vortex on the surface and a flat spot in the waves. I left it to swim out for 15 minutes, I pulled from the left, pulled from the right and went up the bank to pull from above and even considered going in for it but it was solid and the fish was gone. I pulled for a break and lost the lot, including the leader! I can only assume the lead had jammed in something but I was surprised the lead link hadn’t given in under the pressure. Fishing a ‘naked’ helicopter rig, I’m sure the carp would have pulled the top bead over the leader knot as the rig was designed to if the fish was still attached or I would have seen an exhausted carp the next day tethered to the leader which I could have freed but I’m confident it got away. At around 12noon I recast all rods as previously but changed the right side chod for a method. No further action occurred and I put a little more bait in with the catapult and recast all rods at 2200.

 

I woke on Day 4 tired as the ducks had been busy in the night. I had been up at midnight and 0430 convinced I had a bite only for a duck to scatter off the baited area. At 0930 I recast all the rods but didn’t put any more bait in. At about 1500 Furukawa-san who I had met before came down; I particularly remember him as I only understand about 10% of what he says due to his accent! He was the last in a long line of people that had turned up to fish the peg only to find me in it. He provided some good info., particularly that the NG guy Chris had seen had done 3 fish before new year and one was 1m+; a classic Japanese tactic is to just fish wherever the last fish was caught and so all the guys were coming for that! I didn’t know this and just thought I was on a great peg (and hence why I hadn’t moved as a planned!). He also told me there was a big net/rope across the peg at 30m which many people had tried to remove but couldn’t! The NG guy had lost his fish in it and so had I! He did say that he would be putting 1 rod in very close at around 10m into the right hand corner which is more evidence that I could be fishing too far. I pulled off the lake at 1800 with only 1 lost fish and 1 duck to show for 4 days fishing. Furukawa-san was straight into the peg for an overnighter but I haven’t heard how he went on.

 

Reading back through this I wonder if I mixed the bait up too much, i.e. method feeders, tiger nut boilies, B5s all over the place and I do wonder if I put too much bait in for a winter’s session. It is difficult overall to judge how much the ducks ate but there were plenty of them so I can’t imagine much was left.

 

I’m confident in my rigs and bait but I am wondering if the fish prefer a fruity boilie to a B5 or a tiger nut. I think I’ll ditch either the tiger nut or B5 next time and get the pineapples out.

 

I’ve got a big question to myself as to why I didn’t move as planned. I have basically wasted a load of bait and, with hindsight(!), might have got another bite. I did kind of persuade myself that a fish from the canal or pontoon wouldn’t count as a Lake Biwa fish but as the lake was flat calm the whole lake could have been fished and I could have fished at least 3 pegs.

 

I’m back on it again next weekend from Friday night. It is a public holiday on the Monday so it will be a 3-day / 3 night session. Chris is joining me from Saturday until Sunday and this will be my last session for a about a month as I have to go to Europe on business (the plus point of which is that I can stock up on boilies and get a casting lesson in!).

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Session 5

 

Chris managed to get a pass out from his wife on the Friday night and after a train ride up from Kobe I picked the hire car and met him on the expressway at about 2030. He was still staying until Sunday night and I was staying until Monday night (today). Unfortunately I took a work call shortly after getting off the expressway and missed the turning which caused us to arrive at the lake at 2200. Takeuchi-san was still living on the peg north of the peninsular which we now know to be called Yamaga (after the small village nearby) and he had taken 2 big doubles in the morning. The peg on the peninsular was taken by Nakagawa-san (who we know from Lake Yogo) but the second peg north and the peg south were free so we had some options. The weather was looking good and although the air temperature for Friday and Saturday night was going to drop well below freezing, the day time temperatures would be high. Rain was forecast for Monday and a dry spell was forecast late afternoon…which is when I planned to pack up! We decided to fish on the south side which is the peg I started this campaign on. I did put ½ kg of 16mm B5s into the second peg north as a fall back just in case though.

 

After I finished my last session Furukawa-san dropped straight into my peg and it seems that Nakagawa-san had gone in straight after him on Tuesday….and caught a dog at 109cm; certainly the biggest fish of the year. I was simply relieved that it was Furukawa-san who had caught it as that might have been hard to take!

 

The peg on the south side is a little bit like the peg on the north side. There is a car park and a lake side park of rectangular shape. On the left is a series of large gates which control the water in/out of the large pond across the main road; these gates don’t look like they get used often so I can only assume they are used in flood conditions and when the snow melts in the spring. The ‘mouth’ is probably around 100m wide. Out in the lake is some sort of structure at around 50m and the main bank ends in a bed of rushes which run up the side of the peninsular.

 

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The gate

 

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The ‘mouth’

 

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View from the gate

 

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Spot where the right hand set of rods were on Day 1

 

Chris put his pod right on the corner and put 1 rod towards the structure, 1 rod on the diagonal and 1 rod along the line of the main bank into the mouth. I put 3 rods in the mouth about 15m away. The left rod would go to the left about 20m out with a pineapple snowman and a big PVA bag full of pineapple boilies (whole and crushed) and bloodworm pellets. The middle rod would go straight out at about 30m onto the gravel that I found with a B5 Fluro snowman (also with a big PVA bag with whole and crushed boilies and bloodworm pellets); basically it felt like the near 25m was softish sandy silt and then after that it was a gravel bottom. I did feel I couple of knocks the first time I fished the peg but nothing like what I found this time; the gravel seemed to go right across. I assume that the high powered bass boats keep it clean. The right hand rod also went on to the gravel between the middle rod and Chris’ left hand rod. I did set up another 2 rods (Fluro B5 snowman and a pineapple snowman) and put these in at about 15m out on the main bank around 25m from Chris’ rods.

 

It soon became obvious that there was a huge amount of water coming through the gates; you could see the surface and it looked like a river! This was giving false bleeps and must have been what caused the false bleeps on the first session. The flow was not constant and it appeared to eddy back around on the inside. I was a bit worried my leads would be bouncing around even with the line pinned down with the captive back leads. After an uneventful night I recast all rods at about 1000 in the same way but swapped all the leads to 3oz (which happened to also be gripper leads as I had no other swivel leads of that size!). I initially cast the left hand rod towards some bubbles about 15m off the gate in the middle of the mouth but after some advice from Takeuchi-san (who said the gas bubbles area was NG) I recast it at 10m on the line of the fence.

 

Day 2 started well with a run at 0300 to the right hand rod of the set of 3! I didn’t recast in the evening as I would normally have done as there were few ducks, because I was confident in the presentation and because I didn’t want to overfeed the peg. The bite gave a couple of bleeps (which I initially assumed were false bleeps) and then screamed off. I picked up the rod and let it take some line before disengaging the bait-runner. It fought well, didn’t get snagged and ended up in the net after a bit of drama with the captive back lead which had wrapped around the mainline and had slid down to the leader knot. I sacked it, got the rod out again and got up in the morning to take some photos. At 92cm / 10.8kg I was well happy with my first carp of 2013!

 

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Chris left on Sunday evening and so I pulled my rods out, took a drive around and got some hot food whilst he packed up. It was interesting that there was a little bit of dead weed on some of the rigs and the most left hand rod had the remains of broken down bloodworm pellets in it. I was surprised at this as I thought that the bait would have been cleaned out by the smaller fish and ducks. I was very tempted to move to the peg that I had pre-baited on the Friday but the combination of the good weather (no wind!) and as I’d caught one I stayed put. I figured there would be more out there! I moved my right hand rods to where Chris’ rods were but facing towards the peninsular so that I could put 1 rod near the structure and 1 rod at short range (basically where it was before). When I recast, I swapped both pineapple baits for Trigga-ice snowmen fished in the same way. This used a good portion of my remaining Trigga-ice but I figured it would be OK as I have an order in progress in the UK! This time the left rod went straight out, the middle rod went to where the right hand rod was and the right hand rod went to the middle of where Chris was fishing. I put another 5g on each of the bobbins of these rods to try to reduce the false bleeps from the water movement.

 

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Repositioned right hand set of rods

 

The bass angler in the floatation ring from session 1 showed up again and we had a bit of the chat before he launched himself out into the lake then paddled across all of my spots on his way to the structure!!!! Eventually he did disappear into the pond as promised. It started raining at about 2300 and continued steadily until about 1400 on day 3 when a huge wind blew in from the north and the waves started coming over the bank. That was my signal to leave and I packed up a couple of hours earlier than planned. As with all of the previous sessions I was extremely confident on the last day but nothing materialised; again I was kicking myself for not moving!

 

I’m going to Europe next weekend which basically rules out the next 3 weekends for fishing then I’ve got a long weekend away with the wife which means my next session isn’t going to be until l6/17th February! The results so far have been far better than expected with 5 carp, 2 of which were over 90cm, and only 1 blank session. On the blank session I did lose one so it could have been no blanks!! Chris and I don’t think we’re doing anything different to last year when we didn’t even get a bite! We’re still working that out! I’ve learnt a lot about the lake/pegs and made a few new friends/contacts along the way. Fingers crossed I’ll get a 1m+ before I start back on Mikata again!

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