May time is, for me, one of the best times of the year for Carp anglers. It usually coincides with the warmer weather drying out the wetness of April and the Carp are bursting waiting to spawn. It means they are on the lookout for food rather than hiding from anglers who supply it free of charge to them!
Most experienced Carp anglers will now be well and truly in full swing with their plans…I know I am. But I’ll come onto that later. What I want to write about this month is something that is a bit of a change for me. Often I get told my writing style is for the more advanced Carp angler. I make no apologies for that as I once edited a magazine specifically for the advanced angler. Throw in the mix over 30 years (Christ!) experience of Carp fishing and even I can see that judgement is correct. However, my advice this month is aimed at the younger end and the more inexperienced angler. I am not ageist and younger does not always mean inexperienced. When I was in my 20’s I had been Carp fishing for many years already. However it is a good analogy to think that the younger anglers haven’t been fishing as long as their dads!
My number one piece of advice is not about rigs, bait, location, watercraft, tackle or any other aspect of Carp fishing. No, it is something a little more unseen and unspoken. It is be a Maverick!
These days that word is often used out of context as a description for someone who is a trouble causer or awkward. As with much of the modern day it has been misused. No, a Maverick means a free thinker. Someone who thinks for themselves and, to put it bluntly doesn’t follow like a sheep what everybody else says and does. In real terms I believe you should question everything and try and understand why, when and how you are doing something. Far too often now with the image conscious, consumer-led, disposable world we live in Mavericks are few and far between. Even worse in the social network forum times of Carp fishing, anyone who appears to be a maverick is quickly ridiculed. This makes it even more difficult to try and follow the maverick trend.
I am old enough and ugly enough to know that all the nonsense that gets written, spoken about mavericks is generally through bullying, ignorance, jealousy or a combination of all three. Yet it is a complete travesty that the results of being a maverick are lost to so many.
Remember the meaning of maverick: a free thinker.
Carp fishing lends itself perfectly to mavericks. The freshness of inexperience means you are able to ask questions and not feel an idiot for doing so. Would you believe I had been Carp fishing a couple of years before I knew what a pop-up was and when I asked my mate, he laughed at me because I didn’t know. This from someone who hadn’t caught half the fish I had. Therein lies my point.
Being a free thinker is habitual. It means that you are able to think a problem out and come up with your own ideas. You can take this into all aspects of Carp fishing. When you think about how to catch them try and discover what has been used to catch in the past on your chosen venue. If lots have fish have been caught with bottom baits try a pop-up, zig or maybe a surface bait approach. Have large baits or small baits been used? Whatever has been used try something different.
Now herein lies the real key to being a Maverick. Remember I said think why, when and where. Why would you want to use a pop-up or zig? Simple, the Carp won’t be as cautious as they haven’t been caught as often on those methods. When? Again have most of the Carp come at night or in the day? Whichever it is find out and then devise your plan. Oh remember you can fish zigs during the night too! Finally, where in the lake have the Carp been caught most? Often the unfished areas of the lake can be the most productive. Think about it simply. If you stood in your garden in an area where the next-door neighbour was lobbing bricks over your wall you’d be silly. What you would do is move to an area where he can’t get at you and you can stand quietly. Carp fishing is no different. Why are out-of-bounds, weedy, snaggy swims so Carp infested. It is because Carp can stay there without thinking they are being fished for. That is a simple analogy but one that evidences how a maverick thinks. The real skill comes in working out how you do it.
How do I extract Carp from weed beds or snaggy areas? I would suggest fishing out-of-bounds areas is a no-no despite the actions of certain anglers who do it. If you do it you can lose your ticket, and alienate the rest of the anglers following the rules. The choice is yours but think carefully before you do anything. Remember too that it is only fishing. Life is far more important than Carp fishing and those who would have you think otherwise and tell us it has to be all consuming for it to be successful are quite simply wrong.
I will give you some classic examples of how you can adopt the maverick systems. Firstly bait. Would you eat anything that you had no idea what it consisted of? I know I wouldn’t but for many their Carp bait is an unknown consideration. It is this or that, simply a boilie. Well that’s a bit like saying it’s food I’m eating. Even worse is when anglers say the latest silly name some marketing guru comes up with. Get on the Alcatraz or the Colditz! Two great baits! “Excuse me why do you call it that?” “Because you can’t escape from it once you’re on it!” What a load of old tosh!
I laugh myself to sleep sometimes when I see some of the nonsense being written about bait. Even worse is when I hear anglers’ talk about smell and the Carp smelling this and that. Half the time, the smell has no effect under the surface. I recently saw an article where the writer advocated ‘smearing’ oil on his pellets in spring. Completely the wrong thing to do! Of course, in my opinion (I’m smiling to myself here), it all goes back to what I said. Why? Ask yourself why constantly!
Also zig rig fishing. It appears to be the wonder tactic, used and devised by the great and the good. There are even designated baits and look-alike insect versions. Again, what a load of old tosh! Anchored crust was a tactic used nearly 50 odd years ago. I even remember using anchored crust three feet off the bottom when I first started. It was simply a way to present silhouette to a Carp within the water column. That is all zigs offer. It replicates a suspended object that could potentially be food. So they suck it in. I can remember the lads at Elstow catching some huge Carp on it by simply cutting one of their flip-flops up. No doubt if that happened now some guru would be telling you Carp are homing in on the smelly feet aspect of the tactic! No, what mavericks do is look at why would a carp take that in its mouth.
More important in zig rig fishing is the how aspect. Often you will get abortive takes and dodgy hook holds – this is because when it enters the Carp’s mouth, you’ll geta different result depending on what buyant object you’ve used next to the book. Here a maverick should start to question what effect would buoyancy have? Simple, when the hook is taken in or down the hook will move upwards or downwards dependant upon how buoyant it is in the carp’s mouth. This is the real area that Carp anglers should concentrate on. Not what it looks like but how it performs in the Carp’s mouth. But of course that doesn’t make good marketing does it!
The tackle market is great but try and see past the bling and concentrate on the Carp and its behaviour. More than anything lets promote a campaign to cherish and encourage the mavericks of fishing. Don’t just dare to dream but dare to be different. Be that maverick.
See you on the bank.