An angler's journal

An angler's journal

Friday, 10 April 2015

Carp: Off the top

Warm weather equals surface baits
After the river season closed a few weeks ago, I decided to take a break from fishing. I think I needed it and they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. On the back of a beautifully sunny week, I decided to visit a local stillwater in the hope that the venue's carp would have been tempted towards the surface to sunbathe.

On my 4pm arrival, I walked around looking for any sign of cruising fish. Despite the sun still being quite strong, there was a distinct lack of action. A couple of fish were seen but it was hardly convincing stuff.
I had to remind myself that the 'heat wave' was unseasonal and that we were still very early into spring so I had perhaps expected too much, too soon. I eventually opted for an area near an island. I was sure carp would be near so perhaps I could tempt them up in the water with regular feeding? Throwing out dog biscuits following the mantra of little and often eventually got some fish interested. Out went my bait but it was far from straightforward. In the bright conditions, the carp were not to be fooled. Apart from a few cursory glances, my bait was largely ignored. Finally, after waiting for almost 2 hours I hooked a carp when disaster struck. The fish was beaten and inches from the waiting net when the hook pinged out. A desperate lunge with the net failed and the fish turned and disappeared. Things were not looking good. 

By half past six, the sun had fallen behind the trees. A hot air balloon drifted across the sky above and my luck was about to turn. With less light on the water, the fish became more confident and suddenly my hookbait became an attractive proposition. The familar sight of a carp's lips engulfed the bait and a spirited fight began with the fish showing no signs of wanting to give in easily. The fish was only around 6-7lb but I had finally broken my duck. During the next 90 minutes, I added a further three carp: one of a few pounds with the other two very similar to my first.
One of the four commons I finally managed to tempt

So a session that started out looking like a very frustrating venture saw a satisfying conclusion for a few hours in the evening sun. I am sure as the water begins to warm in the next month, I will be back to catch some more and hopefully some bigger specimens.

My opinions on surface fishing tactics:

  • Don't fish too light, I use 10lb line and a 10lb fluorocarbon hooklink.
  • I believe the fluorocarbon link is less visible than standard mono.
  • I grease a few foot from the hook with Vaseline to keep the line on the surface. No carp will take a bait with sinking line causing suspicion. 
  • I prefer to fish without a controller when possible. Using an artificial biscuit will give enough wait to cast upto 10m.
  • Feeding is key. Gaining the confidence of your quarry makes catching them easier.
  • Finally, don't be fooled into thinking this is only a small fish method. Whilst smaller fish will often be the easiest to catch really big fish fall to this method. My surface PB is just short of 20lb.

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