How many of you go carp fishing and know exactly what fish are in the venue that you are fishing? This doesn’t always have to be the case, if you are willing to venture off the beaten track or to fish large lightly stocked waters you can soon get that ‘sense of mystery’ back into your fishing.
It is not for everyone and can be very difficult at times, particularly as you could be putting in a lot of hours chasing something that isn’t actually there! I have my own ‘mystery venue’ that even though I haven’t fished it for about 3 years I still retain my ticket in the hope it will one day turn up an unknown whacker.
The old pit is about 170 acres and I would say contains no more than 100 carp (quite a daunting thought). Most of the carp have proved to be old looking mirrors of between about 18 to 23lbs, but as with all these sort of places there are always the stories of uncaught monsters that have been seen in the past. This sort of place keeps dragging me back, because you just never know.
When I first started fishing it, I knew next to nothing about the carp in the venue because no one else had really fished for them, so it was pretty much a case of working it all out for myself. The most obvious thing would be the importance of getting the location right, with so few fish in such a large water. After a couple of exploratory sessions it soon became apparent that if you couldn’t find the fish then it wasn’t worth even fishing. With working full time I was limited to a couple of days a week and so had to try and maximise my chances in a very short space of time.
It was very noticeable that the carp hardly showed themselves, but even so with a mixture of experience and water craft you could narrow the venue down to say about 20 acres where you felt the carp may be at any given time. One method that really helped me with location during the warmer months was to use sticks and bank sticks as markers (at regular intervals) in the water along the long shallows. I would put a couple of handfuls of bait around each marker and then wade out to them every couple of hours to see if any of the bait had gone. If any bait had gone then a rod would quickly be placed on that spot.
Another thing, which made the water really difficult, was the excessive amount of weed. It would be from top to bottom in any depths of less than about 14 foot of water. Now these carp loved the weed and this again made location really difficult. The fish would just ‘lie up’ in it without showing themselves. To overcome this, I would don the chest waders and wade for hundreds of yards trying to find the fish. It was amazing how close you could get to the carp without spooking them. This method helped me catch my largest fish (an immaculate 32lb common) from the venue. I spotted it in a weed bed and found a small clear patch very close by. Two handfuls of hemp and pellet along with a dozen grains of corn were placed on this patch and 4 hrs hours later I had a screaming run which produced the common. Now if I hadn’t been wading I would not have seen (or caught) this fish as you could see absolutely no sign of it from the bank.
The third method I used came in to play when the cooler weather came and the fish moved out of the shallower water. I would bait regularly little and often to markers in deeper water. I would bait mainly with small dissolving items such as trout and csl pellets (the Quest mini pellet mix would be perfect) along with say a tin of corn and or maize. I didn’t want to bait with loads of boilies as I felt that if the fish didn’t come over that area for a week or so, then I could be left fishing over a load of rotten bait. I have seen other anglers bait with loads of boilies since and they have caught very little. With the smaller items they will either dissolve or be eaten by smaller fish. If the carp are in that area then they will bully the smaller fish out of the way and still get to the feed. This worked quite well and brought me some nice fish (mainly mirrors to 28lb +).
Now none of these fish are massive by today’s standards but they do give me the greatest sense of achievement every time I catch one (and I was in perfect isolation for the first 3 seasons as only myself and later on a couple of mates fished for the carp) as they are truly wild fish that in most occasions have never seen a hook before.
I haven’t fished the venue much for years but I think I will keep my ticket for a long time and keep on popping back just in case one of those myths is true.