I love my carp fishing on the River Lea. There’s a certain mystery when it comes to fishing for river carp. Unlike a lake you really don’t know the stock. Fish can swim for miles which can make it tricky at times but also means that you never know what you might catch. Once you’ve read this article you might be interested in a more recent piece covering my river carp fishing on the Lea in 2019. Click here to read that article.
Most of my carp fishing is done in spring, summer and autumn. Obviously on the river we have to wait until the 16th June before we can fish. There’s something really special about 16th June and last year I had a great first day, which included a stunning carp.
The carp in the River Lea are quite nomadic. Whilst a few areas hold resident fish, I generally find myself walking reasonable distances in order to find them on any given day. They tend to pop up in various locations and are not too hard to find with some decent walking boots and a pair of polaroids.
Above: The River Lea around Hertfordshire, plenty of carp if you look properly.
The river has plenty of weed, which the carp love. The banks can sometimes be wild and slightly overgrown. It’s not unusual for me to take clippers and a few gardening tools in order to trim back bushes and create gaps where I can fish effectively.
Above: Wild banks and overgrown bushes. Often you can find carp right in the edge.
The fish tend to patrol up and down the river on warm, sunny days. My time is usually very limited and my sessions are frequently less than an hour or so. I’ve not got time to sit behind buzzers and so I find the fish and basically try and stalk them.
Above: Probably one of the nicest looking carp I’ve had from the river.
No flashy baits or techniques are needed. I mainly fish with bread, which they struggle to resist. I use this because that’s what they are fed all the time by people intending to feed the birds. I also sometimes feed mixers but general a crust of bread placed in just the right spot will do the trick. It’s all about timing. Often the bait is in the water for less than a minute.
Above: Jungle warefare. A lovely dark common. I sat in a bush and watched it take the bait less than a foot away!
I’ve had a lot of success creeping up on these creatures. I sit behind reeds or sit in a bush! They simply don’t know I’m there – until all hell breaks loose! It’s the most exciting way of fishing for carp in my opinion. I’ve stalked loads of carp this way, including some very big specimens!
Above: An absolute torpedo!
There’s a lot of stunning commons which are built to fight! Not overweight, boilie guzzlers like their stillwater counterparts. Hook one of these are you know about it! Not all my fish have been taken stalking or off the top. I’ve had some really nice commons fishing on the deck. Setting little traps with pellet and corn. A number of times I’ve had takes within minutes of the bait being in the water. That’s probably because I move around a lot. If I’ve not had a take within 45minutes I’m on my toes!
Above: An absolutely awesome looking, dark old common carp of 17lb 10oz from the River Lea.
Do not underestimate the power of these fish. You need very strong tackle, thick line and strong hooks. There’s plenty of snags and weed so you can’t mess about. When it comes to fishing for river carp (on the Lea or anywhere else) keep you rigs simple and strong!
Above: Like a bar of gold.
I’ve started to question the size of the fish in this local stretch. I have an office on the river and so I tend to pop here for an hour before or after work. I think I’m probably going to have to go further up river if I want to catch bigger fish. Maybe I’ll stretch my legs and head up there next year. For now I’m having fun catching these corkers.
Above: Not massive but great fun. Almost ‘bonus fish’ taken before work. Some have even been caught in my lunch hour!
If you want a challenge and something a bit different then why not try carp fishing on your local river. It’s a very different prospect to your local club lake, day ticket or syndicate. The fish are not as pressured, there’s always loads of swims free and it brings back some of the mystery in carp fishing.
Above: Another dark, mid double common taken when poking around boats and barges.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this then you might like to read my latest article on fishing for carp on the Lea – River Carp Fishing
The river contains loads of carp and they’re all characters. They fight like crazy and provide great, affordable, fun sport – so get out there!
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