As the new kid on the block on the Chub and Greys Carp Academy I felt compelled to write my first offering to The Session on the subject of Carp fishing that is closest to my heart. Carp Care, and more specifically the sacking and retaining of these prized creatures that we have all come to adore.
For the first time in my angling career I have actually spent time this year reading magazine articles by well known anglers with many culminating to nothing more than rants and personal jibes which to my mind are often useless to the reader who may actually like to learn something to further their own angling rather than read page upon page of negativity and outright moaning.
I have spent the majority of this year so far writing technical articles for the biggest Carp angling publications in the country so I thought I may as well carry on where I left off in the hope that anyone who is kind enough to take the time to read this can reflect and say that they have actually gained from it.
The sacking of Carp is restricted and in many cases banned on many of today’s waters. In recent years numerous horror stories have come to press regarding fish deaths due to the incorrect / unsafe sacking of Carp. Personally I remember seeing the pictures of a cracking old scaly mid thirty mirror Carp from Suffolk Water Park called The Army Fish. The angler in question had landed her and sacked her during the night and woke to find the sack containing the fish missing in the morning. If this wasn’t bad enough the angler decided not to tell anyone of the either the capture or the escape that followed and the fish was found dead in the sack by Jim Shelley just over a week later. A terrible tragedy and the awful demise of a stunning, sought after Carp. This is however one of just many sad tales that have come to light over the years and as with all the others there is really no excuse or valid explanation on the anglers part for any such occurrences.
Because the sacking of Carp has become such a wide spread restriction now many anglers don’t actually think about it until the need arises or opportunity presents itself and this is where problems often occur. Below I have listed my top tips for the safe sacking of Carp so they may be photographed and released with minimal risk.
- Only sack a fish when it’s really necessary. Don’t sack a Carp just for the sake of it; it’s really not worth the risk. My advice is only sack a fish if it’s caught in the middle of the night or if it is a notable fish, like a PB. If there is someone around to do decent night shots for you then these are always the safer option.
- Avoid sacking fish during the day. If you do need to retain a fish during the daylight hours for a short period of time then look no further than the new Chub Eazi Flow Floatation Weigh Sling. A true piece of Carp care innovation, bursting with features and much better suited to short term fish retention.
- Only retain the Carp for a minimum time frame. In the event of a night capture always have everything you need ready to do your snaps at first light. Remember, your photos are not the priority in the situation, the carp is. So always ensure that the Carp is released as soon as is physically possible.
- Use the right kit. This is of vital importance when sacking Carp. This situation is no different to any other angling situation in that you have to have the right tools to do the job.
- Waders. Have a decent pair of chest waders with you at all times. These will prove to be invaluable as in many situations the Carp will need to be waded out past the shallow margins and into the deeper water. Never leave the Carp stranded in shallow water especially if the bottom is hard or gravelly. Always ensure you are ultra careful when ever wading in any lake, mindful of lakes with deep margins and steep drop offs.
- Sack. The sack itself should firstly be large enough to hold the fish without restricting its movement. The bigger the better! The mesh should let though water and oxygen as easily as possible and the zip should have some sort of clip or locking system to prevent the fish from escaping. And lastly it’s always good if the sack has at least one pair of carrying handles so that the Carp can be transported safely to and from the lake.
- Extension Cord. I like to have a cord of no less than five meters, this ensures that the fish will have full freedom of movement and will easily be able to find a good depth of water in which to recover. Also pay particular attention to the knots at either end of the cord making sure they are totally reliable before you attempt to use the sack in any way.
- Visual safety. When the fish is sacked and submerged in deep water it is near on impossible, especially at night to know if the Carp is safely retained. To combat this always choose a sack that has a visual sight marker on it. Some sort of fluro float or H-Block attached to long length of cord which clips to the sack are the norm and give you great peace of mind. In the event of a sack containing a fish becoming lost the fish will be easy to locate in the lake and can be rescued using a boat.
- Storm pole / Bank stick. Make sure that the pole or stick that you are attaching the sack cord to is as long and as strong as possible. This should also be pushed as far into the bank or lake bed as is possible for maximum security. If it is possible to secure the cord to something permanent like a sleeper at the front of the swim then do so as this will eliminate the chances of a Carp pulling free. Only do this if the margin depth allows it. Check out the Chub Monster Eazi Flow Zip Sack for a product that boasts all of these essential features. I can’t recommend it highly enough! Also, take a look at the Chub Xtra Protection Cradle.
- Retrieve and return. When removing the fish from the lake after a period of retention always pull the cord towards you slowly and smoothly. Avoid yanking the fish and you will avoid distressing it. Ensure the pectoral fins are flat to the sack before attempting to lift the Carp from the water and return the fish using your unhooking mat and waders once your photo session is complete.
Follow these five simple tips and every Carp you ever catch will be as safe and sound as is possible. Following this procedure I have been able to safely sack Carp both at home and abroad up to 55lb + with no casualties or dramas what so ever. As previously stated, never lose sight of the fact the Carp and the Carp alone is all that is the only priority during this stressful period and as the captor you must take one hundred percent responsibility for the safety of the fish. Take your time, do it right and it needn’t end in tears.