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Pleasure Carp Fishing

December 2 2008

One of the most rewarding days coarse fishing you can have is to spend a day on a well-stocked commercial fishery. If you pick the correct lake good sport can be enjoyed 12 months a year with fish that average between 3lb and 7lb. These are a nice size because they give a good fight but allow you to use normal tackle. This type of fishery is a relative newcomer, as over the last decade many smaller lakes have been built to meet the growing demand for coarse fishing. The lakes are usually between 1 and 4 acres, not too deep and have easily accessible swims. The stock is predominantly of mirror and ghost carp that have been artificially reared at a fish farm, and it is this is that holds the key to success. In normal fishing location is the prime factor in catching species by design. You go to your local lake for Tench or Bream and pick a spot you know (or hope) will produce them. Once there you choose the appropriate method, be it pole, waggler or feeder and bait or baits that you know they will eat if you’re in the right place. The commercial carp fishery is stocked with between 1000lb and 2200lb of fish per acre, or 30 to 75 fish for every swim on the lake. With this head of young, hungry fish you don’t strictly need to locate them, as they will soon find you once you start putting in feed. They are not easily scared away by your presence either, as these lakes are fished nearly every day, often with large matches too. Foremost, the key to success lies with choosing the right baits for the day, half a pint of mixed maggots will not really unlock the full potential of these fisheries very often. For warm water carp fishing a 1-kilo bag of frozen sweet corn is better value than tins, next on the shopping list is meat. Cheap luncheon meat is best left on the shelf, buy the Bacon Grill as the fish are far more sensitive to poor quality foodstuffs than people are, your success or failure in carp fishing can be down to bait quality more often than not. If you can stand the smell on your fingers one bait will out fish the previous ones and that is cat food. You need the chunks in jelly so the rubbery pieces of meat can be picked out and used on the hook. For several months now cat food has dominated the main match-carp lakes in Cornwall, and with so many brands and flavours it should have a long life span. Lastly we have the most important bait of all, pellets. These carp remember their fish farming background and a good quality fish rearing diet will out-fish most of the brightly coloured and flavoured fishing pellets. The pale brown standard trout pellet isn’t bad for un-pressured fish, the darker winter or high oil diets are better but the one that’s head and shoulders above them all is the Marine fish farm Turbot pellets. These are used to farm Turbot and Halibut, both of which are so fussy about eating pellets that only the highest-grade ingredients are used to make them. If this pellet has not been used on your lake yet it will out-fish all that went before. The pellets will make up half your feed and if used in conjuntion with an elastic pellet band alternative hook bait too. A very good alternative is the soft pellets and these can be put on the hook in the normal manner. By carrying a selection of pellet sizes from the tiny 3mm up to the 13mm you can cover all requirements and offer the fish a varied diet that can keep them interested all day. Arriving at the lake I’d pick a swim with a little marginal weed to the left and right but I wouldn’t worry about wind direction. Set up your chosen tackle, the pole is very effective but the waggler is good, especially if the fish go over 10lb. Use the smallest float conditions will allow on about 4lb line with a barbless carp hook in a size 12. Plumb the depth EXACTLY on a spot in the margin to one side, and then find a similar spot on the other side that is the same depth. While getting ready feed a handful of pellet and a dozen hook-bait samples to each side. Start fishing on the left hand spot but don’t feed around the float, this will lead to line bites and foul-hooked fish. The bites should come within 30 seconds to 10 minutes. If not move the float to the second area and only then feed the spot you’ve just fished. Keep this rotation going, feeding one spot while fishing the other, even when you are catching as it lets the fish settle on the bait and feed confidently before you drop your tackle in. The margin method will be very reliable until the water cools down and the fish move out into deeper water. When this happens a small ground bait swim-feeder comes into it’s own. Use a quality fishmeal ground bait with no additional food items in as you are aiming to put a smell in the water not too much bait. Tie up a short hook-length of 6lb line to a strong 16 hook with three red maggots, this will out fish any other hook-bait. Cast out practically anywhere and after 5 minutes twitch the feeder along the bottom once, if an immediate bite does not materialise instantly wind in and repeat. Never leave the feeder in the water more than 10 minutes as the fish respond to the noise of the feeder hitting the water. It doesn’t pay to cast too accurately to one spot, if you’ve just fished an hour in one place with no bites why cast back there? You must hunt around the swim looking for the fish. To use the float in winter set it slightly over depth at a distance of 10-12 meters. Feed very sparingly with the micro pellet and use corn or maggot on the hook. I’d leave the luncheon meats at home in the winter as the cold water solidifies the fats and makes them un-digestible. Three small balls of fishmeal ground bait at the start will be enough to keep the fish mooching for the day, after that rely on loose feed. The carp will probably take an hour or two to respond on the float line so fish the feeder at the start but have a look every 20 minutes and feed a little every 15 minutes until you start getting bites. The methods I’ve outlined will regularly produce 100lb pleasure catches as long as you’ve chosen the correct venue. This is critical because you can’t catch fish that don’t exist, so watch the match results on your local venues, as these cannot be exaggerated for publicity purposes. Multiple 75lb weights and top weights of 100lb+ show that the lake has enough fish to go round and not just one good swim. Be lucky, Marcus