Set in Stone?
Part 1 – Wind Direction
by Jason Rider
In the following series of articles I will challenge of carp fishing’s Ten Commandments or the golden rules that are accepted as fact in our sport. The art of angling has been practised since the birth of mankind and although carp fishing for sport is less than a century old a lot of these commonly held beliefs are now pretty much out of date and misleading. Of course these are only my own views but I approach my fishing with an analytical mind and when I know I am right I catch a lot more fish.
The first issue a want to tackle is that of wind direction. I am pretty sure that most carpers know that fish will follow a wind but how many of them will ask why? It is just one of those things that are set in stone and people believe in but there are very few informative articles as to why the fish will do so. There are two reasons as I see it and these are food sources and temperature.
If you have ever been lucky enough to fish for virgin or uncaught carp you can expect the fish to follow the wind slavishly and the reason for this is natural food. All fly hatches and emerging life will be carried on the breeze and ultimately the carp will follow it. The question you have to ask yourself is, in how many carp fisheries these days, does the carp rely on natural food?
The picture above is not a very exciting one but if you look at the top left corner of the swim, I can tell you that every single carp in the lake was to be found in this area. We are talking about an area of about half an acre in a horse shoe shaped lake of ten acres which probably hold about 180 fish. They stayed there all week and even though the wind changed directions many time it did not have any effect on the fishing whatsoever. The entire area of the lakebed was covered in about seven inches of silkweed and universally flat. Yet this small area holding all the fish resembled an egg crate in terms of lake bed formation and was virtually weed free. I do not believe the fish were in this area because of the bottom features, I think they had made them. I should probably now explain that this is a French lake that had only just reopened after a winter break. My conclusion was that the fish had been fed here all winter and it was also a spot that got plenty of winter sun.
The fish above is one of three forties caught in an hour following a move onto a bitter cold wind in April.
Having said that following the wind can be a complete waste of time I have to justify that statement and the photo above would seem to compromise my argument but let me give you the reason for it. The lake is closed from November to March and sees no fishing and no supplementary feed, the fish have a very simple choice which is to search for natural food sources or hibernate. For the first couple of weeks of the season the fish always move on the wind and the lake is incredibly rich in natural life which can be deduced by constant blooms of emerging fly life. On this particular like I once witnessed an incredible amount of fish rolling about fifty yards out over the top of four bowstring tight lines. There had to be something very special happening under water for them to do this and my friend Steve Ross brought all is rods back about 60 yards to fish the spot. Runs were pretty much non-stop for 2 hours as clouds of emerging life came out of the water.
Pictured above is one of Steve’s fish which was a direct result of watching the water and letting the fish tell you what to do.
The point I am trying to get across is that the fish follow winds to exploit natural food but on most UK fisheries there is an artificial food preference in place where angler’s baits dictate the movement of fish. I do not want to get into bait to deeply here as that is coming in part two but I think it is fair to say that there is more than enough anglers feed in our lakes to sustain the fish most of the time, to the extent that they can pick and choose what they want and where they want it.
As the season progresses I would say that wind direction has virtually no bearing on my swim choice. I would rather have a wind blowing though as a good stir in the water is invariably better for fishing than a flat calm, I think it disguises us a bit. The sounds of leads hitting the water and general disturbance are muffled a bit with a good chop on the water and it just seems better for fishing but I am not fussed about the direction of the wind at all.
The fish above came from a recent session at the lake in picture one. We sat watching Paul catch for the first four days and also observed the fish continually rolling in his swim. Day four saw the arrival of some high pressure and the warm sun which in turned brought a few carp up to the surface layers for a sunbathe. Whilst not ideal for fishing it did at least get a few fish moving and we all started to catch. It was the temperature and not the wind that had effected the fish movement and something that I think is a lot more important. During the cooler months I will always try to look for an area that gets the first sun and the most sun.
I did mention at the start of this piece the affect the wind has on temperature. Primarily this would be a factor at the back end of the season but it is not unusual to find a much lower water temperature on the end of the wind and a lot of fish can be caught by fishing in the sheltered spots on the back end. Fish will move for a number of reasons and comfort is a big factor and they will often look for warmth.
To summarise, I have explained why carp move with the wind and outlined the fact that very few of these reasons have any relevance at all to angling these days on our carp fisheries. The bottom line is that fish observation and watching the water will have the greatest results and pre conceived ideas will ultimately cost us fish.