One thing I’ve been asked several times by our customers since we launched Aqua Dynamix is, “How would you tackle the venue I’m fishing next season, it’s full of naturals and thick with weed”.
Please don’t think I’m claiming to be an expert, I’m not by any means! I class myself as an average but passionate angler – writing articles is not something that comes easily to me, as it’s something I rarely do. However, it’s not every day you get asked to write for a company like Greys, so it will be a pleasure and an honour to share with you a little on how I start my approach on a new venue. The lakes are just starting to wobble again and we’re getting reports that a few are getting hooked after a very mild winter, so I feel the timing for the subject of planning the season ahead quite fitting.
Like most of you, I have to fit my fishing around work and family commitments. Personally for me angling is a huge stress reliever and my time on the bank gives me time to reflect and unwind – just being at one with nature for a day or so is enough to recharge the batteries. That said however my obsession with outwitting the wiley Carp and the adrenaline rush from a battle with a scaly scrapper is what draws me to the bank whatever the weather.
My fishing time is limited to quick overnighters, 24 hour sessions or at a push, 36 hours. So when I’m at the lake I need that time to be as productive as possible. I simply don’t have the time to camp out and wait for the fish to move in. So I start and do my ground work now whilst the fishing is slow.
I find that now is a great time to get the marker rod out and find those hidden features – you’re less likely to upset other anglers as the lakes are quieter and most of the weed will have died off so a couple of afternoons pluming about is really going to save me a lot of work and, more importantly swim disturbance later in the season.
I use a note pad to build an underwater picture of each swim, making notes of distance to each feature such as silt pockets, clay and gravel etc and any sudden change in depth. I do this by setting two bank sticks a rod length apart and counting how many times around the sticks until I hit the clip. This will enable me to get on the spot with maybe one or two casts when it really counts. Once the weed is starting to come up finding that dinner plate size gravel patch is nigh on impossible without logging each spot carefully, the last thing I want to be doing is smashing the lake to a foam in April ruining my chance of a bite on an already tricky venue.
Once I have got a good idea of what I am likely to be fishing over I will look at the choice of pegs available. I don’t really want to be fishing the peg next to the car park that all the lazy anglers jump in for convenience, or the big open comfy double peg favoured by the social carpers – there’s little point me pre-baiting areas that are rarely available to fish or get hammered to death. I want to pick my spots away from the masses the ones where the Carp are likely to move into when the lake gets busy, the quieter areas where they can feed without disturbance or added pressure. I want the un-comfy bit of bank or the overgrown swim no one wants because it’s difficult to get their buzz bars level or land a fish without chesties! That’s the sort of area where I want to be planning my baiting campaign for the season ahead.
I spend a lot of time walking the lake or up a tree. In fact I spend hours up trees looking for signs of feeding fish, before choosing my target areas. Most lakes will have spots where the fish show over and over again at certain times of day or in certain wind / weather conditions. It may be over a clay area were they rub themselves or a natural food larder or simply an area that gets the morning sun, but by keeping notes of the times and regularity of the shows will help me piece together a pattern of the fishes movements and hopefully I can be one step ahead of them when the traps are ready to be set.
With bait application I feel it’s vital to keep the bait going in on more than one part of the lake, not only does this give me several options if I cant get in my preferred swim, but more importantly it allows the fish to feed with confidence in an area that has no angling pressure. On clear waters that are full of natural foods were it can be very difficult to get a bite on a Boilie for example, this build up of confidence is critical to my success in tagging one. I’m pretty sure Carp learn by association and they seem to know when there being fished for, so allowing them to feed freely, without any lines in the water or bank side disturbance certainly has paid off for me in the past.
I tend to continue to steadily apply bait in these areas for several weeks before I even cast a hook bait and once ready to fish I only apply a relatively small amount of bait on the spot giving me a chance of a bite from the off. By now I’m anticipating that the carp will continue to return to the areas for an easy meal with little concern about being hooked, giving me the best opportunity of setting a successful trap and bagging a lump. I think at this stage you have got to have faith in your rigs and have the confidence to sit on your hands. I rarely change a hook-bait, recast or add any further bait during a session unless I’ve had some action. I like to keep any disturbance to the absolute minimum. So many times I see anglers re casting at dawn and spodding more bait on an area that has yet to have seen a Carp, killing their chances of a bite. I tend to bait the swim heavily when I leave re-installing the confidence ready for my next session.
Once a few fish have been caught from one spot I think it’s a good idea to move onto the next baited area or maybe just concentrate on stalking them in the margins whatever, at least for a week or so, but maintaining the flow of bait going in so that the area can be returned to at a later date.
I realise piling in the boilie can become expensive, but I tend to use them along side particles like hemp and maize or chopped tigers, it keeps the price down and also keeps the carp guessing. A big advantage I’ve also found in adding hemp and small particles is that the Carp tend to route around the bottom much more, keeping the baited areas weed free which allows you to present a bait with confidence that it will not be caught up and tangled in the green stuff.