We have suffered from a long winter forcing all of us Carp anglers to take a break from our beloved sport. This forced down-time has by many been spent buying Carp magazines and DVDs in a effort to get our fishing fix. But how many of you have used this time constructively planning your fishing for the new 2012 season?
Many of us are happy to just fish and catch whatever happens to come along but for many others they target a particular weight of Carp be that a 20lb+, 30lb+ or bigger – some target specific named fish to add to their angling CV. Targets, aim’s and goals can help us all focus on the job at hand and can add great deal of satisfaction when they are reached.
Once we set our own goals the next important factor to look at is where we are going to fish to stand a chance of catching our target. Obviously named fish are located in one venue so your job here is done but for those looking for a target weight fish to catch we have a whole lot more work to do. So let’s look at an angler who has set himself a goal of catching a 30lb+ Carp. A fish of this size twenty years ago would have been a huge fish and worthy of front page news on a fishing publication. Today with modern high quality Carp food 30lb+ Carp are quite common however, you still need a venue that has a number of 30lb+ Carp in to give yourself the best opportunity of bagging such a beauty – remember you will not be the only angler fishing the lake and anyone could bag the lakes only resident 30lb Carp and therefore make this fish a very weary Carp indeed for a few months.
This is where you need to start doing your home work about your chosen venues; magazines like Carp-Talk, Advanced Carp Fishing and Total Carp can be full of useful information. The internet now has many thriving websites that can be extremely helpful, sites like Mid kent fisheries, Cemex angling, Fishing Magic etc to name a few will have anglers who will know the venues you are targeting and can be a source of good advice. Try looking at old threads or posting a new thread about your target lakes and see what people post. Whilst still talking about the internet Google Earth is a great way of looking at the lake from above. Google Earth uses satellites to take overhead pictures of the land below. To be able to do this the pictures are taken on clear cloudless day which are therefore bright sunny days. This bright light enables us the see deeper into the lakes and a lot of the lakes features, gravel bars sandy banks etc are very easy to see and make out helping you understand more about the lake.
A company called M & B Contour Maps offer a great mapping service with many lakes already mapped. Once a venue is mapped for a small fee you can download a detailed map. These maps will show a detailed contour map showing water depths and main bottom features with the relative positions of fishing pegs / swims shown, so you are able to place yourself in an exact position around the water. This will save you hours of time with a marker rod and note pad documenting every swim, time much better spent with baits in the right place fishing.
So we have got are targets/goals set and we have also decided upon the venues we are going to be focused upon, we now need to look at our tackle and see if our it can cope with the venues we are fishing. Are the venues large open expanses of water that will need a long cast to reach the fish if they are showing at range. If so you will need a rod with a higher test curve to be able to punch the heavier lead or solid PVA bag further. You may need to look at using a rod that is 13′ long rather than the standard 12′ rod to help you get the extra range.
Whilst on the subject of rods don’t forget your marker and spod rod are they up to the challenges of the new venue if not you may need a spod and marker capable of long range fishing. On the other hand if the venue is small and intimate them a 12M baiting spoon may well be more appropriate.
With the rods sorted we need to look at the reel we are using. Small free spool reels will just not hold enough line to get the range we need before the spool empties of line. So we will need al large spool reel either a free spool or a big pit front clutch reel. With the reels understand the conditions the line is going to have to perform in. So if the lake is a very clear lake it would be beneficial to use a fluorocarbon line that would sink well and become invisible upon the lake bed. However if the lake had pronounced gravel bars or beds of Zebra mussels then a thick abrasion resistant line will be required. If you are faced with a weedy or snaggy venue again a strong robust line will be required. Finally if you have a clear bottom lake with few or no snags then you can get away with a finer diameter line. Whichever line you finally decide upon make sure you fill you spools with line to the outer lip to ensure you get the best from your casts.
If you plan to undertake long sessions on the bankside you will need to be comfortable so a quality bivvy, clothing, chair and bedchair is essential. Pick a bivvy that will fit in the swims at the lake but will be large enough to be comfortable. You might be able to use a single skin bivvy however, f you plan to do long sessions in the colder months you will definitely benefit from a twin skin shelter. The second skins helps trap the heat inside the bivvy and minimises condensation inside the shelter.
A quality bedchair with a warm thermal base layer wide dimensions and infinitely adjustable legs like the Chub Cloud 9 make a long session on the bank more fun than ever. Fishing no longer needs to be a gruelling session enduring the cold UK weather I pursuit of you target fish.
The Cloud 9 4 Leg which is also available in a Jumbo size for the larger anglers will ensure you are able to get a good night sleep until a carp decides he is going to wake you up. With the bed chair sorted out you need a good quality sleeping bag to help you stay warm at night as you sleep. The Chub Cloud 9 Sleeping Bag in either a 3 season or 5 season format will keep you from suffering any night chills and help you feel comfortable. These bags offer great value for money you only have to go into a high street outdoor retailer and look at the very restrictive mummy 5 season style sleeping bags and notice they are all about £160 + to realise we really have got some great product available to us .
Bait is one of the key aspects to any fishing and a good quality bait is a must to ensure consistent catches. The tackle shops and magazines are full of new and super looking baits that all promise to catch everything that swims. However if the tackle shops have a lot of a particular bait and it is popular you are then just another sheep in the flock so to speak and as such are just following the crowd rather than leading the crowd.
What you need is a reliable quality bait from a company who know what they are doing and use only the best ingredients which will create a bait that will work longer through the season before blowing out. Mistral bait have been making bait now for over twenty five years and have got a great range of baits from freezer to shelffies, pop ups and wafters to dips and glugs a bait offer that will meet all of your needs.
One of the most recent I 40 which is a sweet brazil/ tiger nut based bait has been having some great results and the new I 40 R with added Robin Red is set to do the same in 2012. Get on some good quality bait that you can get easily and start pre baiting your spots ready to start bagging fish.
Every session you undertake make sure you take a note of your session, Things like water temperature, air temperature, barometric pressure, wind direction and water colour. Also make a note of what swim you are fishing at what range and with what rig and bait, keep an eye out and look for fish activity note down where and at what time you have seen fish activity. If you are friendly with the other anglers on the venue or the bailiffs ask them how they are doing and how the venue is fishing making sure you log this as well ,all of this information will help you understand the lake better and put more fish on the bank. Finally take time to go through all of your tackle make sure the rods are not damaged or chipped and the ceramic eyes are not cracked. The landing nets are all ok and the unhooking mats. Your reels are working smoothly and the clutches are ok. Go through your torches, Digital scales, cameras and flash guns and alarms and replace all the batteries keeping new spares in a box ready if need be. Look at all of your terminal tackle make sure you are stocked up with the right bits you will need and all of your hooks are sharp and not rusty.
Once on the bank don’t fall into the trap of being a slave to one particular rig, carp feed at all depths and as such can be caught at all depths so don’t just stick to a bottom bait zig rigs and surface baits can catch carp just as well as bottom baits. But Most importantly of all have fun and enjoy your fishing don’t take things to seriously and get frustrated with your fishing as this does not help you in catching your target fish.
My 2012 target is a UK 38lb+ fish not a huge fish but it’s what I have set my heart on and I believe with the correct approach and a lot of time and a bit of luck it’s a target I should be able to achieve. Watch this space for my UK Carp fishing exploits.
Good luck in 2012. Tight lines.