Maybe because I have enough time to fish, or maybe its just a growing patience I’ve come to learn, either way, I find watching water so enjoyable and rewarding.
I’ve said for many years, time is never wasted watching carp movement, often just by looking they will not only tell you where they are, but what they’re doing? Recently, the lakes had a huge explosion of damsel fly, and their bigger cousins the dragon fly, and the carp knew exactly what was going on. Both species have an emergence and are easy prey for carp, I’ve caught a few smaller carp on flies I tied resembling both nymphs while fishing for Black Bass in France. I’ve even taken a few on a dry fly damsel, and that’s fun, nothing big but carp on a 6 weight fly rod is proper fun.
When hunting these bottom emerges, the carp swim horizontally just under the surface, often quite quickly, but most action takes place when they are grubbing and bubbling around on the lake bed. Their eye site is quite poor, but they have an uncanny sense of things close to them. Sometimes the damsel’s will cluster, dozens all in a circle on the surface reproducing, then the carp only have to open their mouths for an easy meal. Sadly there is not much available to the carp angler when they are doing this, but a zig, or floater close by, can tempt the odd fish. I’ve always found the zig very hit and miss, but something to practice maybe?
Fish keep coming now on a regular basis, I had four on Monday and one on Wednesday. I’ll tell you about the four next time around, it was an interesting day. But the picture above is one of 15lb, wonderful colour don’t you think?
A float rod and line is all you really need to catch even difficult carp.
We arrive at the lake around 10am, the day looks promising with a light S/W breeze, and no rain planed. I explain, we are to do a circuit of the lake taking just our hats, sun glasses and some bait, today it’s pellets and a few handfuls of corn and hemp . You comment on how few other anglers are fishing the lake, and I explain, it’s because there are five lakes and all are a lot easier to catch carp on. Today just one angler is set up fishing for roach and skimmers, we say hello as we pass, he responds by saying; “good luck with the carp gents.”
There are around 30 swims on the water, all are individual and none encroach on the other. It’s surrounded with trees and bushes that overhang the water. We see no fish in the first swim I show you, but put a little bait (20 pellets and 50 grains) under a tree to our left. You mention on it not being much bait, I tell you I’m not really trying to feed the fish, but just get them to stop, and head down, I’m not feeding them as such. Pellets leave a sent trail even after they are gone I’ve discovered (match-men know this) its a kind of dust off them that lingers.
You notice a fish a bright ghost carp in the weed as we move to the next swim, as we watch we see several carp a mirror and two long golden common, this is a swim I’ve had a few fish from in the past, so we give it a little bait, but not too close to the fish and move on. Each swim we pick (six today ) gets a little bit of bait, those fish you spotted were the only fish we have seen on our circuit. Back at the car we make a coffee as I set up two rods, both 10′ Free-Spirt 2.75lb, ideal for float fishing and ledgering, today we go with a float on one, and a simple large size 6 hook on the other, noting else. One rods has 20lb fluorocarbon on the other 17lb of the same line, it becomes clear why I choose fluro over nylon or braid as we fish.
I put a small 2/3 Guru inline lead on the line after 2 float rubbers have been added, the float is 7” of white peacock quill with a red painted tip. I tie on a size 8 ring swivel that just pushes into the inline lead snugly, but pulls off easy when a fish takes. This in turn becomes a running lead if snagged in the weeds. The little lead also has a small stem that helps prevents tangles. I rarely overhead cast this outfit, but under-arm it and feel the lead down every time. We go to the swim we saw the fish earlier, and I stop, we both crawl to the place I site my chair. I explain the MOST IMPORTANT thing today is, not letting the fish know your fishing for them, its simple, but essential if we want to catch on this intimate little water. I set the float at about 4′ deep and drop it in the edge about one rod length form us, I feel a bump so know the large 14mm pellet should be fishing ok. The float cocks then lays flat being about 6”8” over depth. This is John Wilsons classic flat float method, sadly so underused these days of bolt rigs and bite alarms. The hook-link is formed with a coated braid cut back and a KD rig made with a small size 10s Korda wide gape hook, super strong, but light too.
Nothing happens instantly and after 45 minutes I’m thinking of a move when the float cocks, and dips, its a small tench of about 2lb, nice but not what we are after. It’s often the case on this little water that the small bream and tench encourage the carp to feed. So I drop a tiny handful of pellets on-top of the float and settled back to give it another half hour. Ten minutes later, the float buries and the rod tip and rod is pulled along the grass where I rested it, no need to strike, the carp had hooked itself against the little lead and rod tip. The fish tries to get us in the lilies, but our tackle is just too strong for it, as it turns and rolls we see a bright gold flank of a mirror carp, we guess its around 11lb as we sip it back, the little size 10s barbless coming out in the net. Time for a cup of tea I think? Proper tea, tea-pot and digestive biscuits.
You ask about the fluorocarbon as we have our break? I explain it’s only something I have come to over the past 10 years in truth. I’m persuaded its invisible to the fish, strong, and I can fish it sunk when required, like when I’m ledgering. With a slack line I can watch as it sinks, and I don’t need any additional leaders on the line, it seems to work for me and my rigs/end tackle are super safe for the carp. As its now very hot, I suggest we sit in a swim with shade for a little while, then try a swim I’ve had some success in. This is another margin swim, but a bit deeper. It’s a swim most anglers walk passed, but if you fish with a float, you understand the bottom is clear and slightly deeper.
We get a good hard drop (maybe six feet) second cast and I bait with just few pellets and corn. It’s cooler in the shade now, and we take on liquid, a pint of orange juice and a pot noodle for sustenance. We see carp come in, some swim around our float, cautious but not scared, it’s a good sign. The float knocks and dips, the bream and roach have found our baits. Often I catch a bream or two I explain, and while they can be a bloody pain they are another anglers fish of choice, so all get put back with great care. I recast after 40 minutes finding half the bait being chewed off by small fish. This time an 18mm pellet bait, and that goes down with a good drop too. As soon as the bait settles the float dives, and the tip is pulled around.
This fish seems much bigger, and kites to our left, I reel like crazy trying to keep as tight a line as possible, in-case the little barbless hook falls out. Once under the rod tip it dives and fights like a demon, I fear it could be foul hooked it fights so hard, but finally I see the line is in fact in the mouth. Once landed, I smile with glee as its maybe one of the prettiest carp I’ve ever caught, a true yellow, white and black koi carp of 15lb. We take a quick picture for the blog and our memories then slip it back.
15lb of stunning koi mirror carp, maybe my best ever carp?
As we make our way back to the car, (its 7pm and you have a long drive in front of you) we discuss the days fishing. You tell me that a float is going to be in your tackle box now all the time, and how fishing the one rod, without a buzzer or over-complicated rigs, small hooks and tight leads, could be the way to go on your local carp water. We agree I’ll come with you next time on your water, I’m ever open to learn new tricks and methods.
This mornings a mist and fine drizzle hardly budged all day, it was that type of rain that dried almost as soon as it settled on you. I was wearing a soft but thick camo jacket with a hood, as it was much cooler than previous days. A few other anglers were carp fishing today, and some pleasure anglers too. I could almost guarantee the carp fishers would blank, as while having two rods and tents to shelter in from the rain, most really have little idea on how to fish for carp. They pick the wrong type of swims, and fish the wrong tackle in them. Lead core has no place in weedy swims, as well as a fixed lead, I’ve never seen one cast more than once, so clearly they don’t feel the leads down. Most will be fishing a bait in the wrong place ineffectively, they see me catching but to date non have asked what I’m doing. That ego that many carp guys have, prevents them from moving on and getting better at their hobby? Not that I’m an expert, but stalking for carp is one of those methods I do seem to be good at.
Common Ghost strain carp around 15lb, bottom bait.
You-Tube is a wonderful resource for anglers, with dozens of videos on carp fishing. Sadly, many are just selling bait, tackle or rigs and this is what many think is carp fishing, bait, a rig, and tackle, nothing about water-craft or long learned experience. After a few trips, they will catch a carp almost by de-fault so they think its just a hard water, and they are doing ok, I’m fine with that to be honest. Because of other anglers fishing today, I stayed in the top half of the lake today, but it paid off with a nice mirror carp taken in a slightly deeper margin I’d found previously. I’m trying to keep a low profile in truth, as on many water like this the non catches get jealous of new people catching. I’ve not found these lakes to be difficult, more a challenge and I go with the attitude I will catch a fish or two most trips. I did have another chance in the evening but only pricked the fish on a floater, causing it to come crashing out of the water and throwing the little hook.
Mini Rant; Many older anglers had a rich education on rivers, large and small, and well stocked club lakes. Throwing bread flake, crust, lobworms, and even black slugs to fish like chub, tench, roach and bream. Our rivers were full of fish, and we got educated in what to do if bites were at a premium. Sadly, unless you grew up in the 60s 70s, you didn’t have that water craft education available, I think that’s why so many carp anglers are so blinkered in there approach. I see them arrive pick the swim then can back the car into, then out comes the bivvy (even for a days fishing) Then the rods and buzzers and they have not even looked at the water yet? They rarely plumb the depth like match anglers do, and scatter bait all over the place. I’ve not seen one on my lakes that feels the lead down, so they have no idea how the rig is fishing. I don’t blame them, but surly if you’re not catching you would try something different? It seems as if carp fishing has morphed into something different to what I know or think carp fishing is, or was. Now its more about the camping, matching rods and looking like a carp angler, rather than being one. Blanking is the norm, its almost a badge of how difficult and macho you can be sitting it out for hours without a bite? Sorry, fishing for me is about catching fish, and a blank is my failure, and not the carp’s fault.
Nice Mirror carp 12lb/13lb one of very few commons I’ve seen caught!
To date I’ve not done any “into dark fishing” but as the nights get shorter I will. I’ll need to be a little more prepared however, as packing up in the dark can be a story of lost tackle and gear left behind. Fact is I’m looking forward to it, its another aspect of carp fishing I enjoy.
A margin float rod often takes an extra fish. Can you see the black float tip in the right margin?
I’ve just reached my final swim of the day trip, a small bay in the corner of the South east bank. A light north wind has been blowing in this bank for several days, and despite now being an ‘old wind’, a few fish are still milling about. Opposite me, but to my right hand side about 20 yards away, are two large willows that overhang the bank by some way. This is where todays fish are hiding, moving in and out of the trees, and into the lilies directly to my right. It’s a bit deeper here about 4’/5’deepening toward the centre of the lake. I can only see a quarter of the lake where I sit, because I’m about 10′ back from the bank, with only my rod tip over-hanging the water by inches. The rod is set up on two rod rest with a small buzzer set on silent, and a bobbin set slack. I’m float fishing with a piece of 7” white peacock quill , left natural with a red painted top. It’s held in place by two elastic bands, currently set around the bottom, but I can pull one up if I fancy fishing a flat float. I’m fishing 20lb line and a size 8s wide gape hook KD style. Bait is a large krill pellet 14 mm. The heavy line is because of the lilies, as I lost a fish early morning in such a situation.
The peacock float sits high out of the water, the carp see no danger with this often swimming around and nudging it.
I’d baited this swim some hours ago, and hoped the fish were feeding in this margin by now. My float is fished slack with a 2/3 ounce lead, I’ve used this type of set up for years with big roach on the slow rivers in Norfolk, it takes roach and bream, but is made for carp fishing, as the carp can swim against the line and not feel any tightness. The float is still cocked, but rides out of the water like a large reed and the fish feel safe around it. I always carry two rods, but only fish the one at a time, the other is mostly set up with just a large hook for free-lining. I’ve genuinely caught as many fish on the other rod as I have with the bottom rod. In summer (less in winter) the un-encumbered rod catches many more fish off the top, or on the drop. This evening I take a nice low double common that bolts of taking line off a tight clutch, but soon comes into the net and its picture quickly taken.
In summer I’m looking for opportunities all the time, from fish passing by to drop a bait in front of, or fish together feeding in the weeds with crust or flake, I always carry bread. Carp of all sizes never seem to tire of bread, flake or crust provided you can put it in safe areas. By that I mean margins, under trees, or in weed-beds, the Nash bread bomb is a revelation. I’ll put a little video below, because every carp angler should know about this amazing little gadget.
I’m totally aware I share my love of nature with an array of wonderful insects, birds and mammals when out fishing. One such creature has been a constant for several weeks now, I call him the Brown Bomber, but its real name is Brown Hawker Dragonfly. It seems they (as I’m sure there are several) follow me arounds the lakes, and love to sit on my landing net or un-hooking mat to sunbath. I’m sure their emergence occurs when there are plenty of damsel flies about. These lakes are quite poor in aquatic insect life, by that I mean they are not rich waters like some in the South, with mayfly. I have seen the odd lake olive, but its the damsels that are the diet for these stunning insects. The other one I see is the Emperor dragonfly, but they are a bright blue, and stunning when you cross their path.
I’m getting a fish a trip now, and every one seems to fight extra hard. Most are long commons, old fish with huge tails that are tinged in gold, due to the Koi strain in them. My pictures don’t do them any justice laying on an un-hooking mat, but it takes too much time (as I’m mobile all the time) to set up a holding fish camera shot, so they go back in under a minute. I really only take a quick shot for this blog, so I hope you understand my caution with such old fish. If I did drop or damage one, I’d be heartbroken to be honest. I do use two mats, and always get things ready before I get the fish from the water. Most time, the barbless hook has fallen out in the net, so that helps again with getting the fish back quickly. I’ve seen far too many fish taken up the bank for a shot, only to be put back in a sorry state.
I like this video because it’s not all about big carp, but the challenge of stalking.
As the cooler weather comes around, I mean to plumb the larger lake properly. This will help with not only finding the carp, but also the Roach that are abundant in this lake. The roach will naturally move to the slightly deeper water as it gets cold, and as the lake is not that big, I should be able to drop on them quite easy in the winter months?
I caught almost all my commercial carp on a float in conjunction with the pole in the last few years, so trying it for bigger fish was on the cards I guess? Unlike many I’m fishing around, I tend to just fish the one rod now days for carp, but the thought occurred to me that a margin style float is not like having two tight lines in the swim.
Several of the commons up to 16.lb taken from the new lake on float or ledger.
So on Monday I gave float fishing a chance, and was well rewarded with two fish, one a nice scrapper double and another a mid-double, again both were Ghost strain. The float rig I’ve come to, is a little different from most seen in books, or on-line. I try and keep the line as slack as possible, so the float carries only half the shot required to fully cock it, and the line is slack between rod tip and float. This way the float is well above the surface, a bit like a reed as it moves in the wind. If a carp touches the line, is slack both under the surface and above. At the bottom end is a small Guru safe lead clip, but fished running with a 2/3 ounce lead and a braided 4” hook link. The hook is small size 10s Korda curved fished KD style. Bait is a 14 mm Krill drilled pellet. As the fish are not huge, and the rods soft, a size 10s hook sharpened is deadly for hooking these cagey old carp.
The floats are old style (painted green) peacock quills 6” long or more. Regardless how windy it is, the bottom weight keeps the float stable and it’s fished over depth about 6” for that slackness I like. The weather had changed too, that oppressive heat of the last few weeks had gone, and a nice cooler wind was better for stalking around. I fished four swims on Monday, and caught from two of them. Baiting with a bit less feed seems to work better, the one fish at a time approach works on this little water. I’m sure some time in early October a big baiting programme could work, but its way too early to think that.
I’ll try the same on Wednesday, but will try a little fishy fun baiting just to see if those carp respond oils?
Weds; tried a tuna bait wrap with some success. A nice common ghost of around 14lb taken on a bottom bait, with 1 ounce lead, semi soft hook-link size 10 wide gape. I fish as light a lead as possible, as I’m fishing close in. A 2/3 of an ounce will hook fish if the hook is small, and sharp. But to be honest it’s not worth all the mess the oil produces, it covered everything. I did get another chance off the surface, but it was very slim one, and I couldn’t blame myself to be honest?
As if by design, I found a clip by Adam Penning about turning back the clock regarding his rigs. To be fair Adam was one of the worst for inventing rig bits you just didn’t need, but it seems like myself he has had “Road to Damascus” revelation. Its so apt I was only talking about this last post, his little rig is good, but better with fluorocarbon in my humble view. The fish cannot see it, and it’s hard to eject it once on the mouth. However I will take the smaller hook on board and maybe try his rig against mine. Enjoy guys.
Most carp anglers go through a stage in their fishing when rigs dominate their thoughts, it’s one of the most talked about topics on forums, rigs and what’s the best one. I’m no different, and at times my confidence has been really low because of rigs, and what one to use. However, I honestly beleive that carp cannot distinguish one rig from another, and the angler makes things more complicated than it is, should be or is. The carp simply know something is not quite right as they pick up the bait. I also believe that the more components a rig has attached to it, the easier a carp can feel those items. They don’t know it’s a bait screw or swivel, or even what the hook is. The modern carp hook is so heavy these days, that carp anglers are always trying to negate the weight of it with foam, or plastic bits and bob’s. Better I feel, is having a strong but light hook, attached to nylon or fluorocarbon, and very little else. Someone said once to me; “The fewer items between you and the fish the better.”
I’ve used several good rigs in the past, but most of them are really far too complicated to tie quickly, and need to many expensive components. I prefer now to use a rig that has just two items, a sharp hook and a 14” piece of fluorocarbon or heavy nylon. I’ve found an interesting video of a young and very good carp angler Alfie Russell , catching a huge carp on nothing but a rod, line, hook and worms, it’s worth look.
It proves that even the biggest fish will fall to the simplest of baits and rigs, providing they don’t know you’re fishing for them. As mentioned earlier my rigs have gone full circle and I’m now using a rig called ” The basic complicated rig”. It’s simple to tie and had only the two components, I’ve discovered that a nylon or fluorocarbon of between .38 and .40 diameter is ideal for this little gem. Like all rigs over the years they evolve into something else, often nothing like to original was. For that reason I’ve found the old and original tying by the inventor himself, Steve Raynard. Steve does not say on this video when he fishes the rig, but I’ve found it works almost any-place even over a bit of chod. .40 line is quite supple, but stiff enough for the rig to work, so its lays over chod quite well, and is invisible. I use it with a boilie spread when the fish have to right themselves each mouthful. Give it a try and let me know how you get on?
I had last week off, it was just too hot for a near 70 year old. Strangely when we lived in France, it would be much hotter and we could cope with the heat, But not now, we both have to keep indoors and consume large amounts of liquid. Getting old is no fun, Ha! Ha!
17lb on the noise mirror Koi cross.
However, this Monday I had a really nice day at the Lake and the heat was manageable. I’d just mention (as its worthwhile I think) what I wear in summer. I have two dark blue quality linen shirts, with a collar. They are the best material in hot summer as they absorb the sweat very well, but are also cool to wear. I have the same in trousers, linen cotton, light and cool. Naturally in the car there is a jumper and rain gear. I see lots of carp anglers in shorts, but all groan after about being bitten, what the hell do they expect! Cover up, cancer can still get to the moles on your legs.
View down the lake 2021.
The day started as I spoke of in the last post, I baited an out of the way swim with about 50/60 baits. Then walked back putting a bait in the margin every meter or so, all the way up one half the lake. This swim will be my banker, and I’ll top it up next trip. I fished the margins until mid-afternoon, so 4/5 hours, but nothing came my way. I’m confident in my rig and gear, but still cannot buy a daytime bite on the bottom. The fish were sub-surface again today, just drifting about a meter down. It was not until I thought about lunch and a big cold drink, did I walk past a small island on the way back to the car, when I spotted several big fish.
Nice Koi strain double.
I dropped the gear down and lunch was all but forgotten about, my spare rod always had a floater set up on it, so out went a big chunk of bread crust, the fish turn the rolled over it. I told you they were clever didn’t I, it turned again and looked at the semi-sunk crust for what seemed like ages, then took. The fish was the smallest in the group at 11lb, but the colours were stunning, and orange hew covered the entire fish. It looked like a giant goldfish you have in your garden pond.
With the kettle on, a tea in the tea-pot I sat back to think about the morning, while sitting in the shade of a large oak tree. Its pretty clear, I’ll have to wait for much cooler weather for the fish to go down on bait. But the little and often baiting will aid that when the time comes, the key at the moment is opportunity, and making the most of the small chances you can and do get, during the day. Up the other end of the lake was a guy that arrived mid-morning he fished two rods all day, and blanked, both rods on bottom baits. He left the same time as I did, that could have been me I guess. You have to be thinking and busy all day on Five Lakes.
At 6pm I sat in one swim and fished until 8.30pm, convinced I’d get another chance, but nothing. Next trip I will do half a nights fishing, and I have a little baiting plan to try. The PVA bag trick did not work this evening, but it will form part of my armoury in later trips.
I think most long term carp anglers would agree, carp in small waters can be the hardest to catch. I’ll explain why I believe this to be true. In large waters the fish can swim well out of the way of the angler, and hide up. On small waters they cannot do this, instead they swim around their home inspecting everything. On large waters its not so easy to find the fish, but carp will mostly follow a new wind, so can often be predictable. You don’t have the “finding fish” problem with small venues, they are almost always on show, in the summer anyway. But they are always on guard, always looking at what’s new, and suspicious of everything, even wildlife, like ducks and gulls can spook them. Maybe that why floater fishing catches a lot of small water fish, its often quick fishing when the fish have little time to inspect a bait?
What I find classically odd is with all this known, anglers will still not approach the water with any care, especially if they are staying for any length of time, like a weekend. I’ve watch fish at Five lake’s psychically swim from one end of the lake to the other when someone arrives, they do wander back eventually, but its time lost I think. Immediately that car door slams, they know something is not right. Its why every trip I make, I’m closing that car door quietly, and having a slow walk around the whole lake, but staying well back from the edge. Its how I caught my fish from the place, casting a piece of bread crust to a fish in the weed, that was unaware I’d arrived.
With having a week off the fishing due to the extreme heatwave, its given me plenty of time to think about what I’m doing and not doing at Five lake’s to catch those weary fish. I mentioned the lake is an old one, and surrounded in old, overhanging trees, so the water has leaves and branches on the lake bed in abundance. So this makes presentation difficult, not knowing if your hook bait is fishing well. I did try raking a few swims, trying to remove the chod but that was maybe not wise, as mentioned before, the fish know things are different after a good clearing. So it brought me round to thinking about solid bags?
Solid bags would allow me to fish with my favourite lead set up, inline. I can fish for one fish at a time, something else I prefer to do, rather than over bait. And finally, I can fish a small bait maybe a cut down pop-up that fishes like a wafter. In the bag can be boilie crumb, 2 mm 4 mm pellet, and a dusting of groundbait, just one good mouthful for a big hungry carp. Maybe too, it’s not been overdone in the margins, as a tactic. A 3.oz inline lead, short 4” soft braid hook-link, size 6 wide gape hook (barbless) and an equivalent 12 mm cut down pop-up. I’m also changing my reel line to fluorocarbon 20lb. This set up will allow me to cast my bag and bait, almost anywhere, and know its fishing even over chod, that’s a massive plus to the confidence.
One final thing is, when fishing a single boilie I’ll go back to old school nylon in 25 lb, fished on the basic complicated rig, invented by Steve Renyard quite some years ago.
I’ve found a place on the lake that gets a bit less pressure. I’m going to bait it up over the coming weeks with a few baits each trip, maybe 50/60 each visit. But I’ll try and get this within a few meters square. Nothing crazy, but I’ll leave the fish alone for a few weeks, and just keep something going in twice a week. I’m also trying a little trick I was shown when living in France, thats dropping one bait in the margins every meter as I walk around. This way, the fish will have to drop down to pick up the 18 mm baits, and then move on after each mouthful. It will allow me to use a nice long stiff nylon or fluorocarbon rig as above. Keep well everyone.