Since the birth of my son, the amount of time that I have available to spend on the bank has been reduced dramatically. On average, I tend to have one 12-hour overnight session on a Wednesday and then a 24-hour session most Saturdays. The lakes I fish tend to be very tricky and low stock, so it’s extremely important for me to put in that extra effort in terms of preparation to increase the chances success. If I turned up and fished without any preparation, the chances are that I would catch very little throughout a typical season. By grabbing an hour here and there, I can start to tip the balance in my favour so that I can fish as effectively as possible, and I’m sure this has contributed to the fact that I have been fortunate enough to land some incredible carp.

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Finding good spots is definitely key. Whether you take a night off from fishing or if you can spare a couple of hours in the week after work, this extra effort can really pay off. I often spend hours on end in swims leading around for those all-important small hard spots, that fish visit on a regular basis. I personally think that this is one of the key aspects in my angling that has contributed to my captures of carp in the past. It goes without saying this needs to be done after a trip, or when you’re not fishing, because leading a swim is a great way of emptying it of carp!

Depending on the size of the venue I try to pick 3 or 4 swims around the lake, which are all in different areas. If you can find nice zones all around the lake and keep them prepped, then no matter what weather front you have coming in, whichever wind direction, it means you have everything covered and you will have some great options from the minute that you step onto the venue. Whether you find the fish or you go off of your gut instinct, you will have an area that is prepped and ready to go with all the information in place so you can get your rigs and bait out with minimal disturbance. I like to have everything written down in the notes section on my phone. This covers the swim name, what I am casting towards on the horizon, the wraps to each spot and what the bottom and depth is like. Once I have this sorted it down to the baiting strategy.

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I try to bait as often as possible, but not in big quantities. The amount of bait I introduce on each bait up is determined by the lake’s stock of carp. The lake I am currently fishing only has a stock of around 30 carp, so I tend to bait all of the spots every 2-3 days.

Little and often is best, and I like to introduce around 4-6 Spombs on each of the spots. I want this bait eaten and the carp visiting the spot regularly. I don’t want massive beds of bait going off or being consumed by the birds. If I was fishing a lake with a stock of say 200 plus carp, I would probably up the pre-baiting, but little and often is the key in my opinion and just enough to keep them visiting the area.

I am also a strong believer that the more you can prep the spot without fishing it the better. I sometimes bait a zone for two months before placing a rig on it and my first few trips can be incredible. The carp get really confident visiting the area and feeding, without getting caught. This does depend on how busy the lake your fishing is of course.

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When out prepping the lake think ahead sometimes. Whether I’m going to be fishing a zone now or in 2 months’ time. Every time that I’m down preparing for my next trip I will always bait and prepare further spots, ready for the autumn of the winter. We all know that carp like to visit different parts of the lake at different times of the year. Over the course a year or 2 of doing this, it is incredible to look back at what you’ve taken on and learnt about the carp and the lake and consequently the following years just get easier and easier.

I can guarantee that if you stick at working the spots and don’t give up, it will come good and you WILL put plenty more fish on the bank because you never need to lead about on your arrival and when you see carp showing in other areas of the lake you’re ready to move and get hookbaits in position without leading around. It’s got to be the ultimate edge…

Best of luck, Ash Bailey

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