Each year in late Late March / April I drop onto a nice little local club lake. It’s not exactly challenging fishing, and so I’m sure some people would wonder why I do this. In my opinion, you learn more when you’re getting bites – it’s that simple!
It’s hard to build a picture and improve your techniques and rigs if you are blanking session after session. Early in the season, I like to get all my experimenting out of the way, ring the changes and perfect what I’m doing before I move onto something more challenging. I’ve always liked to play with bait application, location, methods and rigs, but I want to accelerate my learning by getting plenty of action so that I can compare the things that I’m doing.
I’ve got a syndicate and the river to move onto, both which are much more challenging and I like to do a series of short sessions on an easier lake to make sure the tackle box is replenished, I have all my rig bits, and my fishing is accurate and effective.
These sessions are a bit like doing your stretches before a long run!
Life isn’t all about catching massive carp. Sometimes you just want to have some fun and get the opportunity to really mix up your fishing. Here are just some of the methods I used on this lake recently to see what gets the best results:-
Fishing a single rod, with a solid bag on little traps in the edge
Baiting several swims on arrival, fish in rotation with a float
Fishing two rods on a large baited patch out in the pond
Float fishing – over depth vs off the deck
Floater fishing and freelining
Test a range of bolt machines and controllers in different sizes
Adjustable zig fishing
Lead sizes, do they really make a difference
Fly fishing on the surface
Fishing with one rod using a flat-bed feeder
Helicopter vs lead clip
Popped up or on the deck
Solid bag v conventional bottom bait
Barbless hooks (my syndicate is barbless so making sure the rigs are doing what they need to with barbless hooks)
Playing around with hook length (short v long)
Running leads v fixed
The list goes on …
I don’t tend to chop and change my methods too much once I move further into the season. The serious carp fishing will kick off, and I definitely don’t want to be fiddling around with rigs on lakes where every bite counts.
Something that I found very effective was using a float when fishing spots that I had baited around the lake. Using traditional float fishing methods I was able to get a bait onto feeding fish very easily without spooking them. The next session I tried exactly the same with a standard lead set up and bottom bait rig. Getting this into position without spooking fish was much more difficult. The heavy, noisy components pushed the fish away, even if I tried to initially move them off the spot with a bit of bait. I caught many more fish with the over-depth float on the lift method.
Being stealthy, sitting well back and fishing in the edge with a was float definitely one of the best techniques and made me wonder why you rarely see people (myself included) doing this on our more challenging carp lakes. Fishing baited spots with a float in rotation just took the place apart. I experimented with line breaking strain too. I got more bites on 8lb line however, this was not strong enough once the marginal pads started to appear. The bites kept coming when I stepped up to 10lb and even 12lb breaking strain. I was curious how thick I could go, certainly if I was going to take this into another lake that contains bigger fish.
I remember watching a video of John Hofgardner fishing in this way many, many years ago. If you’ve not seen this then watch the clip below. This is what it’s like. Minimal tackle, moving around … catch a fish from a swim and you don’t have to wait for the swim to ‘recover’, just move onto the next pre-baited swim. Maximise your time on the bank. Sometimes on a short session I would bait 5 swims and catch a fish from each one before leaving!
My syndicate has a reasonably easy lake on it too called the Car Park lake. I’m currently writing an article about a recent session where I fished two rods on a single patch of bait. One rod was a conventional bottom bait, and the other was a solid bag. It was an experiment to see which once proved more effective. Five fish fell to solid bags; however, only one fish fell to the bottom bait – having said that, the one that fell to the bottom bait was the biggest of the session, makes you think! It’s this type of experiment that I find fascinating, and it’s only really possible to check these theories out when your getting bites.
It’s also a bit of fun fishing after a challenging winter, and you’re kind of getting your eye in! You’ve not been carp fishing for a few months or so, and it’s good to check that everything is in working order and experiment with a few things on a lake where a lost fish isn’t completely crippling.
Finally, how are you at self-takes? Well decent self-take photography comes with practise. All the photos in this articles are self-takes. The last thing you want to do is land that fish of a lifetime after a long series of blanks on a hard water and fail to capture the moment with a decent photo. Get lots of practise and experiment with cameras, settings, timers, lighting, tripods and other bits of kit on waters like these.
Everyone’s fishing is personal. Do what you like, but this is just how I go about things. I want to try things out, learn as much as possible and then apply it to improve as an angler. It’s not just about easy carp fishing and runs waters.
So there you have it. Don’t rule out easy lakes as a place where Noddys hang out. Getting lots of bites might help you think outside the box and learn a few things!