Over the last few years, I’ve been lucky enough to have the use of a boat to aid my fishing and it has definitely played its part in my results. Using a boat can really be a massive help, and can rapidly speed up the huge learning process that you are faced with when looking at a new water. Spending time out in the boat will teach you plenty of things that can be used even when restricted to fishing from the bank at venues all over the country. Time spent afloat has given me a massive insight as to how rigs actually look when fishing over a variety of different features, this firsthand knowledge can be applied to all fishing. This allows you to adapt your approach accordingly with a more clear view of what you are trying to achieve from your presentations.
Looking at spots that I know Carp have recently fed on in the lake gives me a clear idea of what to look for when searching out marginal spots that carp are already visiting. Over time using a boat will build up a picture of the lake as a whole, this helps to give you an understanding of the routes the carp take when they are on the move. This knowledge will help put you one step ahead of the Carp. Learning the layout of the bars, weed beds and other subsurface features you find in your lake will help you to figure out the best places to put your rigs in individual swims, this is key to catching consistently.
Something I will say is using a good solid boat is massively important. If your vessel is not up to the task then at the first sign of a wind you will be tossed around and blown all over the lake. This is unsafe, counterproductive, very frustrating and not alot of fun. A substandard boat will mean that you’re not going to want to get out there and use it and you will be beaten before you have even started. A good solid boat will be fairly steady in the big winds that sweep across the bigger waters, this will allow you to spend more time in it, in more comfort, and use it in most weather conditions not just on the still, sunny days.
When out in a boat you can learn areas in a day that would take months to plumb with a normal lead and marker float set up. This soon cuts big waters down to size and allows you to quickly build up a vivid picture of the lakes topography. That is one of the big pieces of the puzzle.
When visibility is good, looking at the lakebed from a boat gives you a massive advantage over standing on the bank. You can get a perfect view of what’s really going on out there, subsurface. It allows you to see with your own eyes exactly what you’re fishing over instead of the educated guess that you have to make when using a marker rod set up. By spending time out on the lake regularly, and thoroughly checking over areas, you are able to see when things first begin to change on the lakebed, this is key. I look for anything unusual like areas that look slightly abnormal to the rest of the surrounding lakebed. These subtle changes to bars, silt pockets and weed beds can reveal the spots that are only just starting to be fed on by Carp. If you locate one of these freshly worked spots, that’s when things can really kick off for you. If you fish these spots well, you can capitalise on the natural resources that are already drawing carp there to feed. To identify these feeding zones you will need to be eagle eyed as you will usually be looking for extremely subtle signs. A dead giveaway is where you can see a different colour appearing from under a layer of silt, Carp reveal these as they seek out clay and minerals that are found in the deeper layers of the lake bed. Cleaned off stones and rocks are great things to look for as well as they can be very visible at times. Sometimes you can find areas that the carp have completely smashed to pieces, and where the lakebed has been dug into, creating massive craters. These are easy enough to see but when it gets to that level of devastation, you’re usually too late, the Carp have already depleted the natural resources and the spot will not really be in use anymore.
Another advantage of using the boat is that you can be so much more precise when fishing from the boat than you can from casting. You can literally go out to the area you want to fish and hand place your rig on your chosen spot. Doing this lets you present your rig perfectly every time and you can bait up around it precisely how you wish.
The next thing using the boat is great for is locating the Carp themselves, although it can be very tricky to creep up on carp when floating above them in a 6 foot boat! A very slow, measured approach is required, as is staying low and not casting a large shadow across them. Creeping up to fish when in a boat is a hard skill to learn, but once you have it, it can be used to great effect. This definitely giving you more opportunities to be on fish when you would normally just throw rods out blind after seeing nothing showing from the bank. One of my greatest pleasures in angling is sneaking up and observing carp from a boat, I get a special buzz from it and some of my fondest angling memories have been the scale perfect view of massive Carp that the boat has allowed me. There are often periods of time when nothing is giving itself away on the lakes surface, in these circumstances I’ve found it’s a good starting point to get out and check areas that have previous history of holding carp, and then work on from there. If you don’t have a plan and destinations/spots to look at, you can end up just drifting around aimlessly for hours, and unless you’re very lucky, that strategy rarely results in finding the fish. When I’m out looking for fish in this manner I like to have all my kit loaded in to the boat with me and one rod made up. That way, if I do find something to fish to, I can quietly back away, drop a rig close to the fish and then slink off to the nearest swim and all my gear is already with me.
The final and most important point is safety in a boat, wearing a high quality life jacket every time you go out in a boat is an absolute must. I really cannot stress this enough. There’s no two ways about it, your life is on the line if you go out in a boat without wearing a life jacket. Please be safe, as much as we love angling, it’s not worth dying for.
If you get the chance to use a boat in your fishing take it, it can be a massive edge, a huge eye opener and a lot of fun!