Fox young-gun, Harry Pratt, shares 10 top tips to help you catch more carp this spring…
We are now in one of my favourite times of year. Carp across the country are waking up after a long winter slumber, and with longer hours of day light and warming water temperatures, there are plenty of bites to be had. The following tips are by no means rocket science, but they do make a big difference, so if you are a newcomer to carp fishing and this is your first spring campaign, then I’m sure following these tips can make a big difference to your results…
Tip One – Use Polarised Sunglasses
As the sun comes out so do the carp and by using a quality pair of sunglasses with polarised lenses you will make it far easier for you to see the carp in their water home. It is remarkable the effect that the polarised lens has, taking away the surface glare and giving you far greater clarity of vision into the water. So tip number one is never leave home without a pair!
Tip Two – Get High
Now this is not a tip based around illegal substances! But around helping you to locate the carp. Where fishery rules allow it is well worth climbing the trees that surround your target venue as this birds eye view can often help you locate carp that you simply would not see from the water’s edge. It is important when climbing trees that you wear suitable footwear with soles that grip and also take your time and be ultra-careful. Don’t forget to take your polarised sunglasses with you though as again these combined with the vantage point from up the tree will reveal a whole new world of detail.
Tip Three – Carry Binoculars With You
It still surprises me how few carp anglers still do not carry a pair of binoculars with them. Spending time scanning the water’s surface with some decent ‘bins’ can often give you that little clue you needed as to where the carp are. These signs can be bubbling, coloured water or fish disturbing the surface, which with your naked eye would be too far away to detect normally.
Tip Four – Track The Weather
At this time of year the fish can react to the weather more so than any other time of year. With this in mind I would recommend you download a good weather APP on your phone and keep regular tabs on what is occurring. Air pressure, wind direction and strength, temperature and amount of cloud cover can all impact the carp’s behaviour from where in the lake they will reside to where in the water column they will feed. By knowing what the weather is forecast to do you can often make plans before the weather changes and be one step ahead of the carp and the other anglers!
Tip Five – Look For Sunshine
As covered in tip 4, carp will react to the weather and being cold blooded animals they can react very strongly to prolonged periods of sunshine. At this time of year it is worth fishing the margins that receive lots of sunshine as these areas will often be where the warmest water in the lake is. I have lost count of the amount of carp I have caught from the margins during sunny spring days.
Tip Six – Keep Mobile
As nice as it is to carry all of those creature comforts with you, they can reduce your effectiveness as an angler. Location is vital in carp fishing and having the ability to pack down and move swims as quickly and efficiently as possible will give you a massive edge. Therefore I would advise to carry only the essentials with you and try to fish ‘off of the barrow’ as much as possible.
Tip Seven – Cast To Showing Fish
In addition to keeping mobile it is also important to react to any signs of fish in your swim. Don’t be scared to regular recast throughout the session to any areas that you see carp activity. This is made easier by not committing too much free bait until you are confident that you have located the fish and that they are up for a feed. Casting singles or bags to showing fish allows you to regularly cast rigs around your swim without fear of having massive piles of bait all over the place. Many of the previous tips relate to this one as by locating the fish through climbing trees or your binoculars and being prepared to keep mobile will all lead towards you casting regularly to the fish activity.
Tip Eight – Keep a Spare Rod Rigged Up
The windows of opportunity may only be small during spring so it is worth having a spare rod with a bait on ready to go. This means that should you land a fish you can quickly position a rod back on the spot, before you have unhooked, weighed, photographed your prize and allow you to maximise the opportunity of another bite from what could potentially be a ‘hot spot’.
Tip Nine – Fish Bright Singles
As covered in tip seven it can pay to cast single hookbaits as showing fish. I prefer to use bright, high attract baits as this time of year as I feel they offer more ‘pulling power’ than a dull, food bait. The CC Moore Northern Specials are a real favourite of mine and I think it would be fair to say one of the most consistent spring carp catchers of the past few years across Europe. Regards colours I like to chop and change until I find what works best on the day but pink, yellow and white have all done me proud in recent years.
Tip Ten – Don’t Ignore The Upper Layers
Zig Rigs will work well at all times of year but are perhaps at their most effective during spring. This is because the upper layers of the lake will warm up quicker than the lower levels and as a result the carp will be drawn like magnets to this warmer water. In these situations a Zig Aligna presented in this warmer water way off the lakebed can be far more effective than using bait on the lakebed.
Well I have slightly run over my word limit so I best leave it there. Good luck this spring I hope these tips help you bank a few beauties!