With spring approaching more quickly than expected I thought I would share a few things that I feel help me put a few carp on the bank during this period.
The first thing on my list is tackle maintenance. Whether you are a seasoned all weather angler who still goes in search of carp during the winter months or an angler who packs his carp gear away neatly as soon as the first frosts arrive in view of either fishing for other species or taking a break until the warmer weather resides, now is the time to make sure everything is in order ready for a season when the carp will be in fine fettle and fully fighting fit. Nobody wants to spend the time waiting and working hard for that first run of the spring only to find that the tackle they are using isn’t up to scratch. Give everything a good going over, check that reels are in good order by cleaning them and giving them a grease and that your rods are up to scratch, especially check the eyes on your rods for any damage or dirt that may play a part in weakening your line. As for line if it needs changing do it. There is no excuse for not doing this; there are so many decent lines available today at reasonable prices that reels can be respooled quite easily and cheaply. As for the rest of your gear make sure it is all in order be it for doing either a day or night session. Have a look at terminal tackle and get it organized and replace anything missing so that you are prepared for any eventuality that may occur whilst on the bank. Check alarm batteries and if you are doing a night make sure that your head torch is in full working order. These may seem like obvious things but if overlooked they can be the difference between success or going home an unhappy angler. I know which one I’d rather be.
The second thing on my list is location. With your gear checked and in full working order it’s time to find the fish. Location is a very important part of carp fishing regardless of the time of year but spring has to be my favourite season for starting to suss out where the carp are residing on my chosen venue. Temperatures start to rise, the birds and other wildlife are in full flow, the plants and trees start to gather there summer colours and most importantly the carp start to stir looking for food to binge on after their winter rest. At this point the carp will start to give away their location, be it cleaning away the leeches that have taken residence along their flanks and on their fins during the colder months or in their quest to find warmer areas of the lake as the sun starts to warm during the months of spring. This is a prime time for catching carp so put on your polarised sunglasses, climb some trees and have a good look around your chosen venue. (Never rule out marginal areas that receive sunlight during the day and face into warm southerly winds, as carp will often seek out these areas looking for warmer water, I have caught a lot of carp very close in on these type of spots during the spring). By doing this a pattern will soon start to form as to the carps movements. Once you have established this it is time to start putting some bait on the “spots” in preparation to catching our elusive quarry.
This brings me onto the third thing on my list, Bait. Hopefully by now you will have decided on your chosen bait for the spring/summer campaign. Be it either a proven bait that you have caught fish on previously and have complete confidence in, or a new bait you like the look of. Now is the time to start introducing it into some chosen areas where you have seen the fish. I personally start of with the view that less is more introducing a little bait onto the spots for a start and as I start to fish and the temperatures continue to rise I increase the amount of bait I am putting in until I reach my normal level of baiting for this time of year. My chosen bait for the up and coming campaign is Mistral Baits i40 Red, I have caught well on this for the last two years and keep getting results on it so have decided to stick with it. It’s an old cliché but if it works why change it?
This leads me onto my fourth tip, Rigs. Once you have located the fish and you have a bait you are confident in, you will need a rig that also gives you confidence that you will land a high percentage of the carp you hook. I won’t go into details too much as I am not particularly a riggy person. I do feel however that with the amount of rig components available today and the amount of different rigs published in the magazines it can all get a bit confusing and complicated when it comes to tying/deciding which rig to use. I personally like to keep things as simple as possible and this has stood me in good stead, a couple of years ago I landed 88 carp from my syndicate water and lost only 2. Not a bad return from rigs that couldn’t be simpler or easier to tie. I am also a fan of using big hooks but that is only a personal preference. I believe rigs are a personal thing and by experimenting, any given angler comes to a decision as to which rig to use either from their own experience be it good or bad, or by talking to other anglers or reading about them and learning from there.
Last but not least, stay mobile. Take as small amount of gear and bait etc that you can get away with for any given session, this doesn’t always apply for example if you are booked onto a lake where you will be staying in the same swim and moving won’t be an option by all means take the gear you require to have an enjoyable/comfortable session. If however you are fishing a syndicate/club lake or any other type of water where moving is an option by travelling light you can move onto showing fish. Most importantly stay vigilant. Your eyes are a very important tool within you carp fishing armoury and you won’t see anything if you are wrapped up in your warm bivvy with them shut. We can’t always get swim choice right and for whatever reason it may be, if fish don’t seem to be in the area you have chosen to fish keep your eyes open and always be prepared for a move. I know of many very successful anglers who wouldn’t catch half as many fish as they do if they stayed in the same swim waiting for the carp to find them. If you do find yourself in a situation where you are not catching and the fish don’t appear to be showing elsewhere or moving isn’t an option, try switching to a zig rig as the fish may be in the upper layers of the water making the most of the spring sunshine. Also try casting one of your rods around your swim trying different areas for a set amount of time. By using a rod almost as a fish finder you’ll be surprised how many times you can land on an unsuspecting fish and get an almost immediate take. You can also try fishing for liners and if they start to occur try recasting on a regular basis a bit closer each time until the liners stop. By doing this there is a very good chance that you’ll be on some fish.
Until next time, tight lines, Rich “Fatbloke” Adams