Like it or not, but the fact is day ticket waters offer some of the best quality sport around. So if you are a newcomer to Carp angling or would like to catch your first double figure Carp or a seasoned Carper looking to track down thirty and even forty pound Carp there will be a day ticket water to suit your needs and experience.
The question is how should you tackle these pay as you go venues to get the best out of them? In this feature I am going to highlight a few of the aspects you should be taking into consideration before embarking on your next or indeed first day ticket session on a water.
When fishing busy day ticket waters it is important to take into account angling pressure and its effects on the lakes inhabitants. These fish can be under enormous amounts of pressure for most of the year, but with a bit of thought and understanding you can use this to your advantage in certain situations.
Taking your time to assess the distribution of pressure on a venue upon your arrival and spending an hour or so for a look about for signs of fish activity can pay dividends. As all too often anglers turn up in a rush to get the rods out to maximise their chances of catching in the allocated time given, or so they think. On many occasions around busy day ticket waters you hear the phrase bandied about “no good mate, too many lines in the water, they’ve shut up shop.” Granted, Carp do act adversely to heavy amounts of pressure in any lake but to believe all the lakes residents refuse to feed at all due to the number of anglers present is a little naive. I am quite sure on any water at any time there are catchable fish to be found. It’s just up to you to find them and offer them something they are willing to accept.
As a starting point I first investigate the areas of water receiving the least amount of pressure as very often this is where fish can congregate to seek refuge from the inevitable barrage of angling activity. Fish can spend long periods of time in these quieter parts of the lake without ever giving away their presence. Once you have located one of these comfort zones often the carp present will have their guard down and be more than catchable due to the lack of angler activity and disturbance. This is why it is so important to take time out to track them down.
Before wetting a line in their safe haven I would proceed with caution and scale down to a light lead and use the minimal amount of bait required, also maybe even use just one or possibly two rods in the area, as it wont take much for the resident fish to feel under pressure once more and spook from the area altogether.
ANGLE OF THE DANGLE
On many of these busy day ticket venues you will find that the majority of anglers seem to fish the most obvious spots from any given swim. Whether that is to a blatant feature such as an island, plateau or overhanging tree, they all tend to receive a great deal of attention from the angler. Rightly so, these kinds of areas can be very productive, but over time fish become conditioned to investigate such features with growing caution. A number of times I have witnessed wary fish approach known hot spots only to thoroughly investigate the area of water between the angler and the spot for signs of anything untoward. Very often the fish sense the danger and move off or they may deem the spot safe and feed with confidence. It just goes to show how important it can be to make sure you conceal the lay of your line as much as possible.
There are a number of ways to achieve this, which include the use of leadcore leaders, weighted tubing, standard backleads and flying backleads as well as the use of a fluorocarbon mainline fished nice and slack. All of which help your presentation hug the contours of the lakebed and help fool these wary old Carp.
A great edge I have found while tackling these pressured waters with known hotspots is to fish them from a completely different angle. By changing the angle of the line to these spots can often totally confuse fish as they are just so used to all the pressure coming from a certain direction. I have had some great results by using this tactic on pressured venues where the actions of other anglers have been predictable. In fact, a number of times I have tricked some rare visitors to the bank by fishing spots from an unexpected, and to the Carp, unpredictable angle. Besides they call it angling for a reason!
When tackling a venue for the first time it is always best to keep an open mind and stay flexible, as every water presents you with a fresh set of circumstances to consider and overcome. So you may need to adapt your approach to suit. I always try to find out as much as possible before hand with regards to fish stocks, depths, topography and makeup of the lakebed as well as angler pressure. Information gleaned from fellow anglers with experience of your chosen venue can also be invaluable, so make the effort to be sociable and you may just pick up that all important part of the puzzle that can guide you closer to success.
In essence Carp fishing should not be complicated, although you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise at times with the amount of tackle available to today’s angler. I believe the majority of us are guilty of overcomplicating our approach now and again, sometimes unnecessarily. It really depends on the water being fished and the angling pressure those fish are under. For example fish in a small heavily pressured water will usually be more suspicious and “riggy” than those found in a larger less pressured water. Therefore a more refined approach maybe called for. This is a situation where fresh tactics that the fish have not encountered before can often mean the difference between catching and blanking.
It’s amazing just how many anglers turn up at these waters and almost just go through the motions. They will use virtually the same rigs, and fish the same spots with the same general approach and wonder why their results are not forthcoming. However this in itself can be a massive edge for you, as by ringing the changes and being different you can stay one step ahead of the rest. A good example of this was while I was fishing a small pressured water where it seemed everyone was employing the same tactics, with three ounce semi-fixed lead setups attached to safety clips with coated hooklinks of six to seven inches being the norm. What’s more everyone tended to cast out towards the middle of the lake into the main body of water. With this in mind I set about refining my approach as much as I could to the opposite of what was being used.
I began incorporating light one ounce inline leads with long twelve inch fluorocarbon hook links , simple but different. These were then placed no more than two feet from the bank down a marginal shelf. Within the space of six hours I had landed four twenties up to just short of thirty pound from this tricky little water. It just goes to show how instant results can come when you offer the fish something they are not conditioned to seeing and dealing with.
THE BAITING GAME
Getting bait and its application right is a fundamental part of successful carp fishing and never more so than when targeting busy day ticket waters. I tend to use a top quality boilie as the main component in my approach as the Carp see so much bait in their pressured environment that they really can afford to pick and choose. So the use of a tried and trusted bait you have faith in really is important.
Pre-baiting can be a massive edge on any water, and busy day ticket waters are no different. So if you intend spending a bit of time on the same venue I would recommend it as most don’t bother. Instead of concentrating all your bait in one area try to spread it about a bit so the fish become accustomed to finding it in different areas. Let’s face it, being a busy open to all venue you are highly unlikely to be able to fish the same spots time again. If pre-baiting is undertaken you must always show consideration to other anglers present and bait up the quieter areas with the least amount of disturbance to others.
I am also of the opinion that pre-soaked baits are more readily accepted by the carp than those fresh out the bag, let me explain. It is the tactic of pre-soaking your bait in water for a time before use, to give it that “washed out” effect. The Carp can be so used to associating fresh flavoursome bait with the presence of angling pressure and therefore danger, that they can become very cautious and not feed on the area with any intensity, if at all for a certain period of time. Therefore the principle is that a bait of neutral flavour levels renders the bait safe in the eyes of the Carp and be consumed without as much suspicion.
This is my baiting approach I have used a lot over the years on the busier waters with great success, a definite edge. What’s more results can also be instantaneous providing you get all the other elements of the Carp fishing equation correct.