Appointment with carp -fishing a tight schedule

You don’t have to spend days biwied up on the bank to catch carp, says Warwickshire farmer Brian Ingram.

If you’ve only got a few hours to spare between milking and mucking out, you can score with short session methods.

Dedicated carp anglers tend to concentrate on sessions lasting a few days or so. This can be a productive and challenging way to fish, but what about anglers who just can’t spare the time for long stints? What can they do to make the most of the occasional four or five available hours? A semi-stalking and opportunistic approach doesn’t guarantee fish, but it can fine tune your angling efforts to increase your chances of results.

Choice of water

Select a water that is fairly local to you, ideally under 20 acres. It’s a bonus if you know the water well, especially the resident carps’ favoured areas.

For such short visits try to avoid fishing very difficult or large waters unless they are local, or you have spent many hours on them and feel confident of locating carp fairly quickly.

When to go

It’s a good idea to fish at the quietest time. When it’s quiet, carp venture into areas where they never go at busy times. Early morning in mid-week is usually an excellent time to find carp in the margins.

If you can only fish at the weekends, try to make it Sunday afternoon which is often quiet. Bear in mind however, that if the water is fished by several long-session anglers you might find it charged with uneaten baits and this can make fishing more difficult. Thursday evenings can be quiet when weekend anglers are at home preparing gear.

Locating fish

Finding carp is paramount with this style of fishing – you can’t afford to wait until fish find your bait. If you know the carp’s favoured areas and feeding times, you’ll have some idea where to look for them.

Try to find out where carp have been caught or last seen by asking anglers on the bank. Be prepared to spend time roaming until you find evidence of carp – you haven’t the time to fish blind. Climb trees and look for stained water or bubblers. If the lake has good bankside cover, search the quiet margins. The bank farthest from the car park is often a good bet. If there are localized concentrations of weed carp will not be far away.

Tackle and bait

This is a mobile type of fishing so keep your tackle to a minimum.

A small shoulder bag of the type used by trout anglers is handy. In it you can carry a small tackle box containing terminal tackle, a camera, binoculars, scales, a weigh sling, a pair of optonics, polarizing sunglasses, a catapult and a couple of pounds of floating dog biscuits.

In addition you need a rod bag. A quiver type sling is ideal for taking a landing net, rod rests, monkey climbers – and a lightweight nylon brolly. It also carries a couple of rods with the sections broken down but set up with reels and rigs ready to respond quickly should a chance unexpectedly present itself. Last but not least, carry an unhooking mat. It not only protects any carp you capture but doubles as a seat.

A five litre bucket with a lid is just the job for carrying your bait. Pack it with several small bait boxes containing boilies, a particle bait such as peanuts, a few lobworms, luncheon meat, bread and so on. The idea is to carry small amounts of several baits. Should you be lucky enough to get your unhooking mat wet with carp slime, the bucket can take over the seat duties.

Methods and tactics

Boilies fished on a bolt hair rig is the most popular combination for carp.

If a water receives plenty of boilies the resident carp come to regard them as a form of natural food. They may at the same time be wary if they’ve already been caught on them. Nevertheless, a bolt hair-rigged boilie on the bottom is the best method to adopt.

Imagine you have found carp bubbling 50m (55yd) out. Cast your boilie about 70m (77yd) out — beyond the feeding area. As soon as the lead hits the water click over the bail arm and, holding the rod tip high, reel in quickly, drawing the tackle just under the surface towards the feeding area. As the lead and bait reach the action zone, stop reeling and let them sink to the bottom without causing a heavy splash. Repeat this process with the other rod but try with a different bait such as a worm.

You may prefer to cast the second bait to a spot where you think the fish are heading. By anticipating the carp’s path you may even be able to feed a few loose baits without upsetting the fish.

Once the baits are out, put your rods with optonics in the rests and try not to recast. If the fish stay in the swim stick with it. But if they move off, or if you see a better possibility, move on. Use your judgement and assess your progress regularly.

If the fish are feeding tight to an island, cast either side of it or use the smallest lead that you can to reach the fish without spooking them.

In the edge

Short session carp fishing really lends itself to margin fishing. With luck you’ll be alone on the bank with no disturbance around. If undisturbed, carp explore the margins with confidence – giving you the opportunity to try rarely used methods. Freelined breadflake is a deadly bait for carp patrolling the margins. Freelined luncheon meat is also a prime catcher of patrolling carp. It tends to come off the hook during a cast so lower it into weedy areas at close range. Dog biscuits are good as a floating bait cast to carp feeding on the surface. Loose feed a few at first to bring the carp on before offering a couple with a hook in. A single boilie fished in the margins imitates a discarded bait and often picks up an unwary carp. Fish it on the bottom with a bolt hair rig, keeping the fine slack. Lobworms and brandlings are the best bait for catching carp that are bubbling.

These rarely used methods can be very effective but take a bit more effort than fishing a standard bolt rig, because you are fishing for bites. Hold the rod and watch the line closely, or, if the water is clear, watch the bait.