Catch Fish with
For anyone unfamiliar with the site always check the FRESHWATER, SALTWATER and TACK-TICS pages. The Saltwater page now extends back as a record of over several years of (mostly) sea fishing and may be a useful guide as to when to fish. The Freshwater stuff is also up to date now. I keep adding to both. These pages are effectively my diary and the latest will usually be about fishing in the previous day or two. As you see I also add the odd piece from my friends and correspondents if I've not been doing much. The Tactics pages which are chiefly 'how I do it' plus a bit of science are also updated regularly and (I think) worth a read (the earlier ones are mostly tackle and 'how to do it' stuff).
Carp and lilies.
It is pleasant to catch a fish that pulls the string a bit. With school bass, mackerel and scad the mainstay of recent trips to the coast I was hankering to feel something stronger on the end of the line. I'd recently bought a small split white loaf and chopped it into rough cubes. A handful of cubes in a poly bag will keep well in the freezer and one loaf provided me with enough bait for three or four sessions. Cheap fishing! My tackle for using crust is simple - ten foot, 50g, spinning rod, fixed spool reel loaded with 30lb whiplash braid and a size 6, strong, barbless or micro-barbed carp hook.
My favourite places for fishing are overhanging trees, beds of reeds or patches of water lilies. Whether one of these spots is better than another depends largely on the conditions, particularly the wind. The point is that I don't like any line in the water as it is inclined to spook wary carp. If it's blowing a bit then the tree swims are not so good. I prefer to cast the crust so the line hangs straight down from a low hanging twig and if the twigs are shaking in the breeze it contantly jiggles the bait about - not so good. Carp will take a bouncing crust but they tend to be a bit more wary. In fact my recent attempts at this tactic have induced quite a few attacks from the fish but not many hook-ups. Reed beds, being dense and the reeds actually growing up from the water, are a bit less susceptible to wind than low slung branches of trees. In this case, if possible, I tend to drop the bait into a small clearing with the line draped over a suitable reed stem to keep it out of the water. This can be a very effective method. However, blustery wind makes accurate casting tricky and the waving reeds tend to move the crust about.
My very favourite tactic is lily pad fishing. In this case it doesn't really matter if the wind's blowing or not. The carp seem to seek the shade of lily leaves when it's bright and sunny so I generally look for a big patch of water lilies. If I stand (or sit) and watch for a while there will often be shaking or movement of leaves to indicate the presence of carp. Sometimes it is even possible to see fish (usually just bits of fish - heads, fins, backs, tails, in the gaps between leaves. If you can't locate a fish and there's no sign of activity it is still worth plonking a crust out as the presence ofa bait will often induce fish to move about. I prefer to try a small gap between leaves relatively near but not right on the edge of the bed. These positions are less susceptible to rudd attacks and if a carp takes at least it doesn't start in the thick of things. I swing the crust beyond the selected spot and gently draw it back into position, close the bale arm, lay the rod down and then wind in so that there's a slight bow in the line betwen the rod tip and the bait. Now I wait, usually with my hand resting on or hovering over the rod - I never leave it because takes can be violent and the loss of a rod and reel is not out of the question.
My latest session produced four carp - all doubles and two of them in the upper teens of pounds. The fish were all caught from the same lily bed and every one fought like stink. When they are hooked it's largely a matter of hanging on and persuading them into open water where they can be played properly. Since there's nothing on the line except the fish and the hook is usually in its lip there's nothing to get snagged or tangled up so playing and landing them is less of a problem than might seem to be the case. If possible I unhook them in the net without lifting them from the water (quite often the hook falls out after the fish is netted). I can usually get a fork-length measurement before I tip the fish out of the net and this gives me a good estimate of its weight.
If you have any comments or questions about fish, methods, tactics or 'what have you!' get in touch with me by sending an E-MAIL to - firstname.lastname@example.org
My first carp - a decent fish.
A flank view of the same fish - a lovely common.
The smallest of the session possibly just under ten pounds.
Yet another common.
And the last one - less brightly coloured than the others..