Five Tips to Improve Your Carp Fishing Game
When I sat down to write something on top tips for carp fishing, it became apparent to me that it was not going to be an easy task. The truth is that there aren’t really any secrets to help you catch more, so instead I am going to talk about elements of my approach that are applicable to almost any angling situation and that you can apply to your own angling.
Observation is paramount in my angling, I like to think I know where the carp are going to be based on the time of year and conditions, but I’m usually wrong! There is no substitute for what you learn from watching the water, as I have said previously, time at the lake is never wasted – a statement that still remains very true.
I always try to arrive at the lake for first light, or walk it before work when the fish are most active. This simple activity gives me a huge advantage over anyone who has arrived in the afternoon without any prior knowledge.
But there is a lot more you can gleam from what you see at the water than merely jumping or bubbling fish, there are signs even when the fish typically aren’t feeding that you can watch for and use to your advantage.
Birds can be a great indicator of fish being present, they will startle if one swims under them, stamping on the water and alarming at the same time. Also, they usually leave an area they have been diving on pretty quickly if the fish move in, if a tufted duck surfaces and shoots away from the spot it’s a good sign something is going on below.
They can also tell you when the fish haven’t been there. If ducks are diving on an area days after it was last baited, you know the bait is not being eaten. On hot days birds will spook fish when flying low over the surface, watch for any vortex or boil in the water, a great sign of carp being present. I also like to include something high in oil content to my mix, doing so will produce a slick if the fish are feeding in an area, an immediate indicator.
Liners can tell you a lot too, the speed of a liner and how far the bobbin drops back indicates to me how far in to the lake the fish are likely to be. If it re-settles to its original position it was probably close in, if it holds higher up it was probably further out.
Finding them is half the battle
#2. Travel Light & Be Mobile
During my angling life I have targeted a wide variety of species with a variety of methods but Carp fishing above all others sees the angler buried under too much gear. Imagine spending the day lure fishing, you may very well cover miles of water searching for your target, this is impractical when you’re carrying so much gear that it takes two trips just to get it from the car to the bank!
To counter this I am mercenary with my selection of tackle, everything gets a refresh in the spring and de-cluttered. I only carry a small bag these days, although I have flitted between a larger one I can fish out of, and a compact one I can easily carry. At present I favour a small one. My shelter is a brolly, I don’t need anything more, no low chair, food is in the Ridge monkey grill or ‘just add water’ so I only carry a kettle.
Travelling light means I am unencumbered to react to any signs quickly and without feeling it is too much of an effort. It also means that I am able to fish anywhere on the lake, my entire focus is on the fish and I’m not distracted by anything else.
Mobility is essential in carp fishing. Even on some high stock venues you will find more fish in one area than another, on lower stocked venues this is even more true. Having the carp in your swim (at the times they are feeding) is the main focus of my angling.
I have already mentioned that I tailor my gear for ease of mobility. My fishing tackle is contained in my rucksack whilst my living essentials (stove, kettle, head torch etc.) are stored in a med cool bag. This means that when I am fishing, I only have to pack up my cool bag and I’m moving, which feels like far less effort than having to pack away gear strewn everywhere.
For me it is not uncommon to move every day, in the spring this is highly likely as the fish are very mobile but it is true at any time of the year, if I am not in the right place.If you see carp elsewhere but don’t move because you’ve got too much gear with you, haven’t you defeated the point of going angling? I can think of literally hundreds of instances where a move has resulted in a quick capture, including instances where it has been my only fish for several weekends angling. Windows of opportunity can be small and should be capitalised on whenever possible.
#3 Visualise your swim and its features
This sounds a bit silly but lately I have tried more and more to visualise the areas I am plumbing. I have fished around some great anglers who talk about the lake bed in front of them like they’ve seen it (maybe they have!).
This concept gives you a clearer picture of what you have in front of you, a huge advantage when it comes to thinking about the routes fish might patrol and why. I will try to map weed beds, bars, silt beds and clay spots, anything of interest in front of me and visualise it in my head. Of course, in reality it won’t look exactly as you picture it, but this simple exercise will give you an idea and through repetition and refinement you’ll get a better and better impression of what it is you’re dealing with.
#4 Be Confident
Confidence plays a big part in my angling; spending hours behind the rods leaves me questioning things endlessly. This is equally true when I am catching as when I am not, as keeping both my approach consistent and a roll going without overthinking can be difficult. To tackle this I focus on a few simple elements.
Feature finding is done carefully at the start of a season or spell of angling, recorded and re-checked each time I fish an area. I try to be very precise on the horizon marker I use, not just a tree but a particular branch of a tree or dip in that tree. Trying to cast to spots at short range I can see has shown me that we are far less accurate than we would hope, so I try to narrow things down as far as possible when fishing at range.
Rigs and bait are not changed without reason, if something is working I try not to change it. This means I can rule rigs/bait out of the equation. I am also religious about checking the sharpness of hook points. I check every cast and will touch up when needed, if possible I try to avoid sharpening but will when necessary.
#5 Work Hard
My final tip is probably obvious and true to everything in life. The more you put in, the more you’ll get out. What I mean is the more you try, the better it will feel when you succeed. In addition, it is no coincidence that when you work harder you see better results. For me in angling this means getting up before first light every day, watching constantly and moving as soon as I think I’m behind the curve.
I have seen people arrive at a lake, head straight towards a swim that they decided on whilst driving to the lake and setting their bivvy first, hardly to emerge for the rest of the weekend. If this is you and you just want a quiet weekend then fair enough, but if you want to catch more fish it is no coincidence the anglers who work the hardest get the best results. This could mean a mid-week bait up or an overnighter in the week, whatever it takes to keep you in tune with the water and its stock.
I hope this has given you something of use in your angling.