Guest Post by Andrew Patterson —
Fishing a water for carp that you’ve never fished before can be a pretty daunting experience. It is why many anglers stick to lakes they know and catch the same fish each season. However, if you are prepared to put in a bit of hard work then it is well worth the effort and you are sure to be rewarded. So, if you are up the challenging and excitement of fishing new water for carp, then read my guide on how can you prepare and the tactics for success.
Do Your Research
Whether you are visiting the lake for a day session or a longer campaign of a few nights, it is worth going to the venue beforehand if it isn’t too far away. When any angler arrives at a new lake, it is natural to be excited and want to wet your lines. However, if you are able to visit the lake prior to your fishing trip, you can take your time and really suss it out. If possible, talk with the owners of the lake, the bailiffs and the locals. By speaking with anglers that know the water, you may be able to gain some valuable insights into how to fish the lake, such as baits which work well, effective carp rigs and productive areas of the lake.
Of course, you should always remember that information gathered can be weather-dependent and just because the carp were in a particular area of the lake last week, you should not assume that will be the case for your trip.
Get Out and About
During your researching mission at the lake, take a walk around it, climb trees, bring your polarised glasses and explore every potential swim that you can, looking for signs of carp. If possible try to arrive at the lake for first light, as this is the time of day fish tend to show themselves the most. By locating carp this will help you to gain an understanding of their patrol routes and holding areas. When you arrive at the lake for your fishing trip, you should repeat this as locating the carp is critical to your success.
Get Social and Start Mapping It Out
The internet can be a brilliant place for researching new lakes. Firstly, Google Maps is a godsend. View the lake using Google Earth as this may show you some obvious features which could be likely holding areas for the carp such as islands and gravel bars which sometimes cannot be as obvious with the naked eye from the lake bank.
Search the lake on Instagram and Facebook and try to make a note of the dates fish were caught and screenshot any images to help you locate the areas of the captures for when you visit the lake.
Where and to cast your rig and how to present your bait are two of the key fundamental factors to being a success angler what every your quarry is.
Use your marker rod or bare lead with a braided mainline reel to feel the bottom of the lake. Braided mainline has very little stretch, unlike mono, so by dragging a lead across the bottom, you can get a good idea of the topography of the lake bed. Try to locate areas that are free of debris that may mask your hook. The last thing you want is to is reel in at the end of your session, having not known that your rigs had settled in heavy weed, making it very difficult if not impossible to hook a carp.
When you find an area that you able to present a rig on, be it hard gravel area or a silty trough, put your line in your reel clip and then reel in. Using distance sticks a rod length apart on the bank, count the number of wraps it takes you with your rod until you hit the line clip on your reel to measure the casting distance to the spot. Write this number down and take a phone of the swim to make a note of the area.
Carp Fishing Bait Tactics
There is no right way of baiting your swim when carp fishing, but there can be wrong ways depending on the lake. When you first arrive at the lake never put too much bait in. Once it is in the lake you cannot take it out. You never know who was fishing the swim before you were and how much leftover bait may already be laying on the lake bed. Once you have caught a fish or two, then you can start to increase the amount of bait that you apply.
From speaking with local anglers and the bailiffs you may already have an idea of what baits work well and what the fish are used to eating. This information should not be ignored and if you know a particular bait is working well then make sure you have it in your kit. Having said that, just because everyone else is using a certain bait or applying a similar baiting strategy it shouldn’t mean that you are afraid to try something different. Carp tend to associate certain situations with getting caught and therefore taking a gamble and trying a different tactic to others on the lake can definitely pay off in a big way if you get it right!
Rig choice will be an important part of your strategy and you will need to select a rig to suit the situation you are fishing. For instance, if there is a little bit of weed on the lake bed then you may want to fish a pop-up boilie to ensure your rig and bait are effectively presented. One factor you should bear in mind is to fish with a rig that you have used before and have confidence in it. Just because you are fishing a new water, it doesn’t mean that you need a complicated rig that you have never used before. Keep to what you know and adapt your rig to suit the lake bed in front of you.
Finally, if you are fishing overnight then make sure you are up at first light. I set my alarm for 15-minutes before first light and stick the kettle on. Then, I get up, get out and start scanning the lake for any movement. If you can spot a carp rolling or jumping, this is a great indication as to where a group of carp are holding up. You may need to move your rigs, or even move areas, but it can make the difference between a blank and one of the best campaigns of your fishing life!
Give these tips a try the next time you are fishing a new lake, and you won’t have to wait too long for a bite.
About the author – Andrew Patterson:
Living in the UK, I have been a keen carp angler for over 25 years. I regularly fish club waters in the UK as well as making a trip to France at least once a year in search of monster carp. When I am not fishing, I run Dream Carp Holidays, a French carp fishing holiday website that features over 60 carp lakes in France and has lots of helpful tools and filters to help anglers find a lake that fits their fishing ability.
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