Carp: Cyprinus carpio

Waters: Mainly lakes, gravel pits, ponds and reservoirs. Also deep, slow rivers and canals.

Baits: Bread (paste, crust, flake).

Potato, honeyed paste, worms, particle baits (sweetcorn, beans, peanuts, etc), luncheon meat, other high-protein baits.

Techniques: I.egering. Free-lining, floating crust.

Highly rated by anglers for its fighting qualities, the carp is a powerful thickset fish with a broad tail, and a toothed spine at the front of the dorsal fin. It has a long barbel at each corner of the mouth, and two smaller ones on the top lip. The colour is very variable, but usually brown-green on the back, shading to golden yellow on the Hanks and belly.

Most carp are derived from a strain known as king carp, which were originally bred for the table. These fish put on weight quickly, and are known to reach over 60 lb (27kg). There are three varieties: the common carp, which is a fully-scaled fish, the mirror carp, which takes its name from the few very big scales on its Hanks, and the leather carp, which is almost scaleless. In rivers, the common carp does not reach the bulk of the Stillwater varieties, being a sleeker fish, but it is still an extremely powerful lighter.

Carp fishing is one of the most advanced branches of today’s big-fish scene. There are more carp about than ever before and the angler can fish for them in a variety of waters with every hope of catching big specimens, even fish over 20 lb (9kg).

Although common carp occur in rivers and canals, it is lakes and gravel pits which provide the bulk of the sport. Some of them contain mostly small carp with a few over 10 lb (4.5kg), while others hold fish of up to 40 lb (18kg).

Depths from 4ft to 10ft (1.2-3m) are favoured by carp, rather than holes of maximum depth, so it follows that gravel bars are always ‘carpy’.

The simplest rig for carp is an eyed hook lied direct to the main line, this free-line sei-up is used to present floating baits such as breadcrust, air-injected lobworms and so on, to attract surface feeders, or to fish a sinking bait such as a par-boiled potato at short range. A floating weigh! Such as a wooden ‘controller’ is required for accurate long casting of floating baits.

For presenting baits on or near the bottom, the best general-purpose rig is a running link-leger. An Arlesey bomb is connected to a link-leger bead by6in. (15cm) of nylon. The main line is run through this bead and then through a tiny plain bead before attaching a swivel. The 30-45cm hook length, of similar b.s. To the main line, is tied to the free eye of the swivel. The rig is completed with a size 6 or 7 eyed hook.

In heavily fished waters, carp are not always confident feeders. Having been hooked before, they are often wary and able to sense the difference between a free item and a bait attached to a hook in the normal way. An excellent method here is the hair rig, one of the most significant developments in carp fishing.

To fish a bait hair-rig style, the hook length is set at 12-I8in. (30-45cm)and the bait is linked to the hook by 1 Vi-2in. (4-5cm)of lib(0.45kg) b.s. Nylon lied to the bend. When a carp is gently sucking up baits from the bottom, a bait on a hair will ‘lift’ in exactly the same way as the free offerings and may be taken well back into the fish’s mouth. Should the carp then sense the danger, perhaps feeling the line on its lips, and blow the bait out, there is still a good chance of the hook pricking the fish’s lips and sending it off on a fast self-hooking run. Hard baits are best for hair rig fishing.

On summer days, carp cruise beneath the surface and suck down floating food items. They will often take a floating crust.

Each rod is mounted on a pair of rests and the lines connected to one of the bite indicator arrangements. The bale arm of the reel is usually left open. Essential equipment includes a large landing net. And dial scales for accurate weighing of notable specimens.

Carp should be returned immediately to the water and held upright until they are able to swim off. When a carp is to be retained for any length of lime, always use a kecpsack of industrial nylon, 5 x 4ft (1.5xl.2m) punched all over with ‘/tin. (6mm) holes to provide adequate water (low. One fish per sack is the rule, and the sack should be pegged out in water not less than 3ft 11 m) deep on a hard bottom. In hot weather retention lime must not exceed one hour.

Carp enthusiasts often fish for a week or more at a time. Hquipment for extended sessions should include a bedchair. A brolly tent, warm clothing, cooking gear and plenty of food and hot drinks.

Having tackled up. Cast out and adjusted the indicators, carp fishing is a wailing game until one of the indicators signals a bite-anything from a brief twitch to a full-blooded. Searing run. No two carp fights are the same, but when a hooked fish happens to be a big one the battle will be a memorable one.