Carp fishing ace Mike Bridges reveals ten top tips to help you put more fish in the net this spring.
Spring is finally here and with that water temperatures more stable the carp will be out of their winter slumber and preparing for that annual spawn fest, which will be just around the corner. In times gone by carp will feed very heavily prior to spawning but these days we have such milder winters that ultimately I don’t think they propel into that dormant winter slumber as such. Spring is also a fantastic time to get those nets wet but it’s also a time where as an angler you can get it so wrong. In order to aid you with catching one or two elusive day-ticket carp, here are my top ten tips and my go to approach when tackling them myself.
1: BACK LEADING
When to use a back lead? This is something I do regardless of the distance I’m fishing or the contours out in from of me. By allowing my line to sink for a few minutes then back leading right under the rod tips, I feel this gives me the ultimate concealment. I fish some of the most pressured day ticket waters in the country like here on St John’s Lake on the Linear Fisheries Complex where it can literally be one in and one out of a swim. These carp have seen everything and are very accustomed to leads being chucked their way and line, therefore by being different I feel gives you an edge and this is something I have never had an issue with personally.
2: SIMPLE RIGS
What’s the best rig for carp? Carp fishing is a mine field in particular from a rig aspect, there always appears to be a new rig in fashion these days. For me it’s all about rigs that have stood the test of time and ultimately will reset themselves upon being picked up, as no matter how good you think your rigs are, you will get done over there is no question about that. A rig I have great faith in and have used for years is the Multi Rig. It’s simple to tie and when fished low is ultimately an over exaggerated bottom bait for those big old wiley carp that are swimming in those day-ticket depths. Learn how to tie the multi rig
3: FEELING THE LEAD DOWN
This is something every carp angler should aspire to master. It isn’t actually that difficult, it just takes some practice. It’s imperative as an angler you understand what you fishing over i.e weed, gravel, silt which can only be obtained by what your rod and line transmit back to you. Once this skill is mastered it will transform your fishing forever.
4: GRIPPER LEADS
Weed raking your swim? Moving on from becoming acutely aware of what you’re fishing over, I then take this one step further by casting a gripper lead out. I personally use a sea fishing variant at present in around 3oz. For me it is imperative to actually know what debris is out there as ultimately, a bear fishing lead will tell you nothing nor will it latch onto anything. With a gripper lead it will pick up strands of low lying weed and even deep silt that may contain bloodworm which is the mother of all spots to be fishing at any time of the year. Ignore doing this at your peril.
5: SMALL BOLLIES
Best size boilies for carp? 10 or 12mm bollies are a huge edge anywhere but on day ticket waters again I feel they are something that they are not accustomed to eating, with the average angler presenting 15, 18 or 20mm baits normally. Fish these on their own without anything else can produce a red letter session as its certainly a carpet of feed they won’t have seen often, if ever before. You can roll your own small boilies using a good base mix, or buy shelf life in 12mm such as the CompleX-T.
Liquids play a huge part within my own fishing and something I wouldn’t be without. On waters that are particularly murky in colour a liquid can become a homing beacon to carp as they very much rely on scent rather than sight, this is something really worth considering if you are faced with a similar conundrum.
7: SINGLE HOOKBAIT FISHING
I mentioned earlier about on some waters where it can literally be a one angler in and one angler out scenario, due to the popularity of certain lakes and swims. When faced with situation it’s well worth considering how much bait the previous angler has deposited and also trying to ascertain how many fish have been caught. If the fish are not feeding and large quantities of bait are being established casting single hookbaits to any showing fish or fishing in the upper layers with zig rigs must be a consideration. Single hookbait fishing takes a huge amount of confidence but trust me it’s a devastating method. I like to use a single pop-up.
Being accurate is one of the fundamental basics to fishing at your optimum where ever you go. The use of distance sticks with aid in this immensely. By clipping up and counting the wraps around your stick if you’re lucky enough to land a fish, you will be able to cast back out with precision onto the same spot.
There is a saying that “you can’t catch what’s not in front of you”. Your eyes are the main tool in you’re armoury, sat away under your brolly looking at your phone or with the bivvy door down can be the difference in seeing fish show, thus giving their location away or blanking. The time we have on the bank is very limited in most cases, I’m like a hawk on the bank and my gear is always packed away apart from the essentials. Travel light, keep alert and you will be a better and more successful angler.
Never think you know too much or know everything, a lakes dynamics and mood can change very quickly. Social media provides a really good platform in order to keep in touch with what’s going on at lakes all across the UK, but better than that is very knowledgeable bailiffs who are your eyes and ears. Speak with them as they are employed to help and advise. They say knowledge is power and the right knowledge can go a very long way indeed.