carp fishing stick or twist title

Sitting behind motionless rods and alarms is something we are all accustomed too at times. You know that horrible early morning dejected feeling from waking up naturally, without being roused from a slumber by a call to arms emanating from the remote speaker. Disconsolately rubbing your tired eyes and staring out of the bivvy door. Slowly dissecting bit by bit why the best-hatched plans and perfect traps set the night before did not result in a carp or two rolling over into your waiting landing net.

For me, listening and watching the water very closely during those first couple of hours of dawn breaking can be the most critical in the day. Maybe you didn’t catch last night, but are there any tale tell signs that something could still happen over in your area? Are there any bubbles breaking the surface? Any subtle rolls or perhaps more acrobatic shows?

Keeping your eyes peeled for any sign at all can help you make the right decisions… Without doubt, using a decent set of binoculars really enhances the level of detail that you can see. I recently upgraded mine to the Nikon ‘PROSTAFF 3S’ 10×42. Wow! What a difference they have made.


Just prior to the Covid19 lockdown, I was angling on a 40+ acre lake, that was fairly flat calm at the time, which helped enormously in spotting signs that I could easily have missed without he bins. However, I was observing a lot of fish 230 or so yards away, in a feeding frenzy. Not rolling, but with their backs out of the water, then dropping down and fizzing heavily as they smashed into the lakebed. With the naked eye, I would have had absolutely no chance whatsoever of seeing what was going on, but with – it was an amazing spectacle. There is no doubt, binoculars are an astonishing bit of kit and a real edge if you are inclined to being mobile.

After assessing the visual situation and if nothing evident, it is then time to think and ask the question “do I stick where I am or take the gamble and reel in and go for a walk?”. I always try and take make the decision and take a calculated risk based on what I have (or indeed have not seen) that morning. Then, by going on previous productive bite times, the current weather etc. Whilst weighing up eh pro’s and con’s I will inevitably take a peak at the weather forecast, to see if a new wind is due, or if the sun going to be stronger as that will potentially then bring in to play snags in the edges? Other obvious factors include taking note of who else is dotted around on the lake.

I always think that there is little point jumping ship too quickly, because we all know a bite can occur in an instant, and then the whole situation changes. After all, you most likely set up in your current swim for good reason, assuming you followed all the same watercraft and applied all the same experience only the day before.


After careful consideration of all the myriad factors, if I do reel in, I already have a plan scoped out in my head. Normally, this often seems to entail leaving my gear in the current swim and going for a long walk to position myself somewhere where I can get a decent view of a different part of the lake, or even an area where I can see the majority, if not all of the water. Then it is a case of eyes open and looking for those tell tail signs again.

Obviously, it varies, but I like to invest at least 1-2 hours to give it time for something to give me a sign. If no signs are apparent, I normally retreat back and check my current swim for any activity, then sometimes repeat the process of going for another walk. Carp angling is certainly a pursuit in which you reap what you sow, and on tricky waters that means making the effort and looking hard.

It does not always play out like this, but during my 3-year spell on Welly I did exactly this and thankfully, this approach paid off a few times. However, on one incredibly special day, it resulted in my own ‘most wanted’ carp from the lake. The Linear at a weight irrelevant 46lb 8oz, so it certainly proves that adage that effort = reward. In fact, I did exactly as I’ve set out above. After carefully watching my current swim, which admittedly did feel bang on for a bite, but had offered me no signs of active carp in the zone, in the end I elected to go for a walk (that ended up as two walks), opting to plonk myself in a swim 300 yards or so around the corner, in a peg that opened up the possibility of me seeing most of the lake. After a couple of hours of observation, I spotted a very subtle show and the water boiled as it went over. It was clearly a big carp and it was in the section of water my gear was already in, but much further out. Knowing what range I had been fishing the night before, I estimated the additional wraps needed to reach the fish, and within 5 minutes a single washed-out pink pop up dropped into the vicinity of that earlier show.

With that rod deployed, I was in the process of wrapping my second rod when incredibly my first rod was away. After a very good scrap from a fish that has the length, but a small tail, it was over the net cord and was mine! Someone was looking down on me that day.

One thing that I do know is, without taking that calculated risk that day, that special and sought-after carp would probably not be in my photo album now.

So, in summary, watch the water very closely. Sometimes the most subtle signs are the ones that give the most away and not all other anglers will see what is going on. Take calculated risks and use all the time that you have available in your fishing window to its absolute optimum. I always try to think ahead, just to avoid looking back with regretting; ‘what if I had done this, or tried that’.

Try to learn from your mistakes and assess what has worked when it has paid off. We are all occasionally guilty of sometimes falling in the comfort trap, and we easily forget to use that valuable historical experience and knowledge or stay on our toes.

Keep plugging away, using watercraft and now and again the pieces of the puzzle all fall into place

Be lucky, Carl.