David Fuidge details a few tricks to outwit carp as they get on the feed.
I don’t think there is a carp angler in the country that doesn’t find this time of the year exciting. The fish have woken up and they’re on the feed, and let’s be fair, the weather is usually a lot better and that brings a lot more anglers out.
Over the years I’ve had some cracking results at this time of year and I think, with a bit of thought and willingness to change a few things, most of us could bag a few more fish. There are a few things that we can do to up our chances and stay one step ahead of the fish and other anglers.
If you can start prebaiting with your chosen bait then this is a big edge. It doesn’t have to be loads, just the odd kilo every week or so will pay dividends in the end. Just make sure it’s good quality bait; something that the fish will want to go looking for. If you fish with a mate then do the prebaiting between you, that way it will cut the cost and time in half. If the lake is too far away for prebaiting visits, always put in any leftover bait when you leave. When I do this on the lakes that I fish I always put it in an area that I know the fish visit on a regular basis. A great cheap way of doing this with boilies is to get the five-kilo bags from Dynamite Baits. They are available as both freezer and shelf-life baits and work out around £8 per kilo, and there is no reason why you can’t spilt them up between friends for a session.
Staying with bait, I tend to use a lot of chopped boilies with hemp. I don’t think there is a fish in the country that doesn’t like hemp, and at this time of year with the water getting warmer, it’s a must for me. At the moment I am using the new Hemp & Snails, which is normal hemp, but with the addition of snails – it looks and smells the nuts. The great thing about the Frenzied particle range is that the product is cooked in the tin/jar, meaning none of the natural goodness is lost, and most importantly, no preservatives are used at all!
I use the chopped boilies with a few whole ones to spod out. This way, because the chopped will be irregular shapes, they are more likely to spread out as they fall through the water. I do use a lot of bait and like it spread out a little. I find this keeps the fish moving around the baited area and this way they are more likely to make a mistake and pick up my hookbait.
In recent years I have been using a lot of fluorescent hookbaits. Whether it’s to top off a bottom bait snowman style or as a pop-up on a hinged stiff rig, to me this is a big edge on any water. Many years ago I started feeding two different colour baits. This came about after a conversation with a good friend of mine, Mike Jones. He was doing the same on a different water and had watched the response of the fish in the margins. If he used 20% of one colour and 80% of the other one the fish would always mop up the 20% first. This got me thinking and I started doing the same with some good results. Whatever colour I used for the 20%, I use that as my hookbait colour. I think it’s the same with the fluorescent baits; the fish are looking for something that isn’t the norm. Dynamite’s Red Amo is a good one to use as your 20%; high quality ingredients, washed-out pink colour and the pop-ups are super buoyant. During the summer I tend to use a fishmeal bait like the Source as my 80%, and throughout the winter a more milk protein bait like Monster Tiger Nut, which complements the Red-Amo perfectly.
Another little edge that I like to use is fluorocarbon. If I am fishing at distance and the rules allow, I will always use it as a leader of about 30ft. Unlike mono, fluorocarbon doesn’t absorb water and is more likely to stay on the lake bed (mono absorbs water at about 4% and in some cases will float up, especially in deeper water). Fluorocarbon is also as invisible as it gets. At the moment I am using 12lb Shimano Technium Invisitec with 30ft of 0.40mm Aspire fluorocarbon and this gets me to the spots that I need to reach.
Along with using it as a leader, I tend to use fluorocarbon for hooklinks as well. I like to use a hinged stiff rig and use the 0.40mm Aspire for the boom section. If you use it for a hooklink with a knotless knot then remember you must use a hook with at least a straight eye or preferably an eye that is slightly out turned. Because of the molecule structure of fluorocarbon it doesn’t like to be crushed and if you use an in-turned eye the line will crush against the eye of the hook with the pressure of a fish on.
Another point to make about the leader is fluorocarbon is quite a stiff material, so when it’s used as a leader the knot tends to rattle through the rings, and if the wrong knot is used it can cause frap-ups and/or crack-offs. I use the Mahin knot, as both tags lay back from the leader, sending it off the reel in the right direction to cause as little friction as possible. Remember to leave the tags between 5mm and 10mm long, that way it will be a more supple tag end.
Another neat thing about this knot is it’s slightly tapered. The common way of tying it is six turns down and six turns back. I always do the six turns down but only go four turns back, which makes the knot smaller and more tapered. It does need pulling together carefully and the leader part of the knot will need to be tight.
Another great way to catch fish in the spring is stalking, if you fish the right water. On a small water I fish, the carp can always be found in the snags or close to the reeds. I tend to bait these areas every time I visit the venue. You will need a good pair of polarising sunglasses to cut out the glare, but if your water is a bit murky and you can’t see very far into it, there are other signs to look for. The obvious one is fish feeding and causing a few bubbles to come up, but also look out for movement in the reeds or the odd branch moving from an overhanging tree that’s entered the water.
Once you know the fish are there then you will need the right gear to fish it. It’s no good going into a small opening in the bushes or a tight swim to fish the margins with a 12ft or 13ft rod. You will get into all sorts of mess; believe me, I have done it and spooked off more fish than I want to remember. A good tip is to use a short rod of about 10ft with a reel that will balance the rod nicely. I am using the 10ft Tribal Velocity, which is great for hook-and-hold situations, but at the same time very forgiving so you don’t pull any hooks. In fact I have started using these rods as my main setup on all but the larger waters I fish, anywhere that I am casting up to 80 yards. If you have never used a short rod, give it a go; you have much more control over casting and playing fish. Along with this I am using the 6000 Baitrunner XTRB. This is a very well balanced bit of kit and will cope with all situations. The line is either Aero fluorocarbon or Technium depending on the amount of snags in the water.
One thing I do like to do when stalking is to use either a 1oz lead or freeline. If I have to use a lead then it will be free-running and not in a lead clip, as I find this gives a much quicker indication.
Just to finish, the only way you will catch fish this time of year is to be there doing it. I hope some of the above helps you put a few more fish on the bank and, above all, enjoy your fishing.