Fishing Methods for Catching Carp
More than any other kind of angling, successful carp fishing demands careful preparation, and this, quite apart from the selection and preparation of suitable tackle, involves pre-baiting, observation, and a careful study of the water in question and the habits of the fish sought. Many anglers do manage to catch odd carp without any preparation at all, but they would often be the first to admit that the catch was in the nature of a pleasant and welcome surprise which no doubt focused the angler’s attention on the thrills and skills of this kind of fishing. Such a catch is often the first step towards becoming a keen and dedicated carp fisherman.
It is necessary to visit the water beforehand solely for the purpose of discovering the regular patrolling routes of the feeding fish and, if possible, to notice their feeding places. Then the water must be studied with a view to locating suitable places from which to fish and several swims must be earmarked for attention later. Any angler looking over his carp swim seeks first a place which will give him reasonable cover from the suspicious fish. Then he wants the spot to be one where he can expect the fish to take a bait, and one from which he can reasonably cast to such a place. Finally he wants the swim to be one which gives him a fair chance of landing the fish, and this means that he must note major hazards in the form of lily beds, brambles under the bank, or any other obstacle which any worthwhile carp will immediately make for when it finds itself in trouble. This doesn’t mean that the presence of such risks will prevent his using a particular swim altogether, but that he will survey the spot to understand how best to cope with those risks when the time comes.
Once this much is decided the angler must decide what bait to use. If the water is also stocked with RUDD and other small fish it may be expedient to use a bait such as potato, which is tolerably free from attacks by these fishes. This is important because it is essential that, whatever bait is used, it should not first be snatched up by other less important fishes before the carp have had a fair chance to see it.
The swim is then pre-baited with the selected bait for several days in advance. This gets the carp into the habit of feeding confidently in the selected areas, educates them (should they require it) to take a bait hitherto unfamiliar to them, and ensures that they will regularly visit the spot in search of food.
Some anglers like a two-day interval between each pre-baiting, others like to tackle the job regularly every day. Obviously several such visits are necessary to establish the routine the angler wishes the carp to adopt. Then the spot is left completely unbaited for twenty-four hours before the day chosen for fishing. On the day itself little or no baiting is done, except when the hook is inside the bait presented.
Actual fishing techniques can reasonably be divided into those which seek carp feeding at the surface, and those which seek the bottom-feeders. Float-fishing can be tried, but few successful carp anglers have any real faith in float methods. If floats are used they should be as far from the bait as possible, and are best left uncocked, simply lying on the surface where they act chiefly as bite indicators. The angler must be in no hurry to strike until a well-developed run occurs.
Legering is better performed, without the use of any weights at all other than the bait itself, which, being of about golfball size, provides sufficient casting weight, and sinks easily enough to hold bottom naturally.
The bait is cast into position and the line is left quite slack and lying on the bottom. If a considerable distance is involved it may be taken up slightly to ensure that there are no bellies or unnecessary slacks. The rod is fished from rests, preferably two of them, one at the butt, and the other at the butt ring. For this kind of fishing ais probably most effective.
The rod is set up more or less horizontally on the rests with the top pointing towards the water and in the same direction as the line itself. This ensures that when a run develops there is no lateral or vertical ‘rod wag’ at the tip, which might alarm a taking fish by transmitting vibrations along the line. The reel pick-up is left open so that line may fall freely from it when a fish takes, but if the line tends to spring off the spool of its own accord a small piece of dough or paper may be attached to the line just below the spool, or the line may be slipped under a matchbox to hold it steady. The, suitably shaped to run through the butt and second rings, can itself be the bite detector, or alternatively an electric may be used.
The electric alarm is usually incorporated in a rod rest which Is set up at the butt of the rod, close to the butt ring. The antenna of the alarm is adjusted to prevailing conditions by a few turns of the adjuster, and the line from the reel is led first to the side of the antenna and thence through the butt ring.
Any tightening of the line, temporary or otherwise, is sufficient to move the antenna and so close the delicate contact points and set off the buzzer. Bites are usually signalled by an intermittent or continuous buzzing, at which the angler closes the pick-up and strikes with a sweeping swing of the rod to take up all slack line and set the hook fast in the mouth of the fish. The spool of the reel is fitted with an adjustable clutch mechanism which allows the fish to take off line under tension when the rod is fully bowed to its test curve.
Once the carp is well hooked it is played by using side-strain to turn it from weed beds or other refuges into which it will certainly dive if given the chance. Line is recovered at intervals by ‘pumping’ the rod down to the fish, the spool of the reel being operated with a finger control across it to prevent the clutch slipping as the angler hauls back on the rod to regain line, metre by metre. Only when the fish shows definite signs of tiring should the net be slipped into the water in readiness for landing.
Surface fishing is usually employed when a known fish is being stalked and then lured by placing a floating crust in its path, either by casting this into position, or by arranging it under the rod tip among the margins. Margin surface fishing is an expedient practised towards evening, when most anglers have left the pond, and in those waters where the fish show a tendency to patrol the surface margins, taking the floating remnants of the departed angler’s baits. This is opportunist fishing. The angler requires good cover and his rod must be correctly set up, with the pick-up open and the crust lying unsuspiciously still. If other fish nibble repeatedly at the bait, it can even be suspended a few centimetres from the surface where the carp have no difficulty in taking it.
Anglersin this way must be prepared to hold a tough carp within a few yards of the bank, and control it there until it is ready for the net. The method is both exciting and rewarding.
It is extremely difficult to list waters containing large carp. The essentials today are simply that the water be alkaline, carry a good weed growth and full insect and plant life, and be of a temperature conducive to good breeding and survival, as well as food production. Experiments in Palestine over recent years show that immense carp can be obtained in comparatively short periods of time by scientific farming methods. Any angling club possessing suitable waters and funds can work on these principles.