Five Top Tips for Fishing Day-Ticket Waters
As a carp fishery owner, I’ve seen a wide range in day-ticket anglers. In fact at this point I’ve pretty much seen it all, crazy baits, frankly stupid rigs and weird and wonderful techniques. Here’s my top five tips to being successful on a day ticket water when it comes to carp angling.
1. Simple Rigs
Trust me, the one thing I have learnt from many years of fishing day-ticket lakes and running my own fishery, is that simple rigs are generally always the best. On a pressured venue, your rig needs hit three criteria – it needs to be inconspicuous, pinned to the bottom and the hook needs to be as sharp as possible.
A common error I see often on day-ticket waters is the use of the very complicated rigs that people have seen either in a magazine or on Facebook. Just get the basics right and you’ll do well! It seems straightforward, but the number of anglers who can’t just can’t do it would surprise you.
Keep it simple, stupid
If you get this part right, you can always make small tweaks later if you think they are needed. Sometimes just shortening or lengthening your rig will make the difference. It does generally depend on how the fish are feeding on the day and how you have baited up.
My own day-ticket lake is a hard clay bottomed venue, no weed, no silt, just a clean bottom. Nevertheless, I see anglers fishing three inch chod rigs and other crude pop-up rigs which really don’t suit the lake bed. Yes, the odd fish will fall for one, but I can guarantee that for every one carp caught on one of these complicated rigs, ten are caught on a tidy hair rig.
2. There’s no best swim
Yes, on most carp venues there are some swims that produce carp more regularly than others, but you need to be open minded on each and every trip. After all, the best swim is the one which the carp are in on that particular day. Just because you catch from “the point swim” one week, it does not mean it will produce the same results for you again the next week.
This is especially true during the warmer months when the carp are very active. Watercraft skills are far more useful than history or gut instinct. Look at where the wind is blowing and always have a walk around a venue before you get the bivvy up.
Never disregard any swims on a venue
If you’re doing 24 hours or more, never be afraid to move swims. Carp are unpredictable, crafty beasts (that’s why we love them!) and there is nothing stopping them from just leaving an area within a few minutes. The best anglers I know are the ones that move with them.
On many pressured venues, the carp will often show upon dark, so make sure you’re attentive, watching and listening for them, rather than watching a video on your phone. It also pays to keep your gear organized so that you can move quickly. I see so many anglers with tackle sprawled all over their bivvy and swim; it would take them a couple of hours to tidy it all up and move.
3. Bait size
Trying out and testing different hook baits can make a big difference – this is something that I have definitely learnt from running my own fishery. I remember witnessing a guy on Mustang Lake land three twenties in an afternoon by using double 18mm bottom baits. Then a week later, I watched another guy land six fish on single 10mm boilies.
Both anglers had good results on very different hook baits, but they did have something in common… Both anglers were using baits that went against the status quo. Most anglers here use a 15mm boilie and by moving away from this, they had an advantage over the competition. Presenting an alternative to the fish in the form of your hook baits can really confuse the fish and help throw their natural caution to the wind.
Testing out out a range of bait sizes
Again, the carp will feed differently each week so take a few different options with you. If everyone on the lake is using tiny baits try a donkey choker hook bait, if everyone is using round baits, try a barrel shaped number. I’ve seen this school of thought pay off regularly and personally, I always have a few options with me to test out.
Some anglers do like to keep themselves to themselves, but most anglers I meet on day-ticket waters like to chat and share info. You never stop learning when it comes to carp fishing and one little tip from someone on the bank can pay off with a personal best.
I’ve walked around lakes in the past, returning to the car with nothing to go on. By having a quick chat with a fellow angler, I can instantly know “they’ve been crashing all night” in the back bay. Being polite and chatty can pay off big time but it isn’t a one-way street, it’s always good to share info with other anglers, as it goes both ways.
Most anglers don’t like to move once they’ve got their bivvy set up and so will be happy to tell you where they have seen fish. I actually find inexperienced carp anglers to be the best people to speak to, as they’re honest and willing to share what they know or have seen.
Some crafty anglers will sometimes say they haven’t seen much or even worse they haven’t caught, when they have. These people are a minority though and most of the people I meet at day-ticket venues are helpful.
Lastly, never forget to ask the bailiff for tips on location and bait, particularly if it’s a new venue for you. Some bailiffs are far more clued up than others are, but if they’re able to provide up to date information, it can be very useful.
5. Keep disturbance to a minimum
On pressured lakes, carp will quickly work out when that they are being targeted and if you keep chucking leads on top of them, they will soon move away. Carp like quiet areas where they can relax and feed with confidence, without disturbance.
If you set up in a swim and the fish are already present, just flick a couple of rigs out in the area. Light leads and small PVA bags will not create loud noises as they enter the water, which often allows you to get a quick bite.
In my time I have seen far too many people squander excellent positions by casting heavy leads and marker floats around. Such behavior will always spook the fish and cause them to swiftly vacate the area.
Stay quiet and you’ll get your reward
If you can get ahead of the carp, plumb up and bait up heavily it can reap significant rewards. Unfortunately, this tactic is one that requires knowledge of the conditions and sometimes a bit of luck, because carp don’t always do what we think they will.
I like to find fish and try for one bite at a time. I often bait up using broken boilies so as to make less noise as they flutter down the water. Specimen carp feed when they’re under the illusion that everything is safe and what’s in front of them is a free meal. This is what I want my swim to look like. If you let them know you’re there, they will feed with care or move away from your area.
Another good trick is to rest the swim for a couple of hours. Take your lines out of the water and give the fish some time to feed with freedom. If they’re feeding with maximum confidence it will only take a matter of minutes to get a bite, so never think you’re wasting time by having your rods out of the water.