IAN CHILLCOTT ex­tols the virtues of stalk­ing carp and re­ally push­ing the en­ve­lope

Angling Times (UK) - - CONTENTS -

IAM amazed how many peo­ple I bump into on the bank never have a go at stalk­ing carp.

I’d suggest at least 75 per cent of these an­glers have never been eye­ball to eye­ball with a carp, and I can’t imag­ine why they’d pass up such an op­por­tu­nity.

Lis­ten, I know that carp fish­ing means a whole lot of dif­fer­ent things to a whole host of dif­fer­ent peo­ple, but why ig­nore prob­a­bly the most ex­cit­ing, ed­u­ca­tional and down­right fun way of catch­ing?

Even if it isn’t big, with each in­di­vid­ual carp you catch there is more fun to be had than any man de­serves with his clothes on! And let’s not for­get, when

you con­sider just how few do this, it makes the chance to at­tempt some stalk­ing just that much more ap­peal­ing – doesn’t it?

Sit­ting in a bivvy all day watch­ing a TV screen may be a plea­sur­able thing to do for some, but very of­ten it is these guys who moan about not catch­ing a fish.

I’m not quite sure what some an­glers think carp do when they are not feed­ing, but sit­ting star­ing at your baited area out in the mid­dle of the lake, wait­ing for the right time to feed, isn’t one of them. They have ar­eas that they like to re­treat to, and very of­ten these will be close to the bank.

Over­hang­ing trees, snags, reedbeds, pads and lilies are all great ar­eas to find fish – and there are fan­tas­tic bonuses at­tached to look­ing for them there. High on the list is what you can learn about the fish you are fish­ing for, and their re­ac­tion to the bait you use, in the edge or oth­er­wise.


You can also get a good look at the fish you are an­gling for in that par­tic­u­lar lake. This gives you con­fir­ma­tion that you haven’t wasted your money be­cause some­one over-egged things a lit­tle, and it also gives you a chance to sin­gle out in­di­vid­ual targets.

The last of these ben­e­fits raises an in­ter­est­ing point. I have no doubt that luck plays a huge part when it comes to which fish picks up your bait when you have cast over the hori­zon into the mid­dle of the lake.

You have ab­so­lutely no con­trol over that, and the only op­tion is to catch them all if you want to get to a tar­get.

I know there are a lot of carp an­glers who don’t nec­es­sar­ily tar­get the big­gest, they just want to catch carp. Fair enough, but never for­get, once you can see the whites of their eyes, the chal­lenge and the ex­cite­ment will be boosted ten­fold, what­ever the fish’s size!

One of the ex­cuses for not go­ing out and ac­tively hunt­ing the carp is that you need spe­cial­ist tackle in order to do so. Yes, there are some great bits of kit that make stalk­ing eas­ier in some sit­u­a­tions, but there is no doubt you can use the rods, reels and line that are sit­ting on the rests to good ef­fect in most stalk­ing sit­u­a­tions. Bait is an­other is­sue that I see dis­cussed, with many be­liev­ing that you have to use some crazy baits to catch carp. I use boilies, I don’t use any­thing else, and haven’t for prob­a­bly over 15 years. If I ex­pect a carp to pick them up out in open water, then why the hell wouldn’t they pick them up in the edge?


So what makes carp fish­ing a lit­tle tricky in the edge? A carp is a prey item, and first on its very short list of in­stinc­tive needs is safety. A 30lb carp doesn’t know it’s 30lb and will, when it is in shal­low water or near the sur­face, have its in­stincts on high alert. It can be­come dif­fi­cult to get them to feed when they’re in that mood, and this is where a lit­tle pa­tience can pay off.

It is no good think­ing it will all hap­pen in a quick 10-minute pe­riod (although it can, of course) and even if it takes a few hours you will have had a more in­struc­tional and suc­cess­ful time than sit­ting watch­ing tele­vi­sion wait­ing for the early morn­ing feed­ing spell.


The first thing to do is pre­pare the gear you will need. One rod is all you will want, and be­cause reels come sup­plied with spare spools I will make sure the one I use is loaded with 16lb Il­lu­sion Fluoro­car­bon. It’s as tough as nails and sinks like a brick, which is ideal in the edge.

We’ll come to rigs in a while, but of course you will need a land­ing net, a bucket for bait and any items of tackle you re­quire, a re­tainer and an un­hook­ing mat.

Keep it as sim­ple as that, and in an ef­fort not to get too un­com­fort­able you should take a drink along, too.

I very of­ten fish with PVA bags when stalk­ing and will en­sure I have made up plenty of those to at­tach to the rigs. The last thing you want is to be messing around with these when the fish are grub­bing about in the edge. I gen­er­ally use 10mm and 15mm boil­lies and break a few up just to make the baited area a lit­tle more in­ter­est­ing.

En­sure that you leave your Day-Glo shirts in the car and wear sub­dued cloth­ing in greens and browns. You don’t have to turn your­self into Cap­tain Cam­ou­flage, just as long as you keep a low pro­file as you ap­proach the water, keep­ing your move­ment to an ab­so­lute min­i­mum. We are just about ready, apart from wear­ing a peaked cap to stop you rais­ing your hand to your eyes, and a pair of po­larised glasses, maybe the most vi­tal bit of kit of all.

Rigs are prob­a­bly about the most talked­about as­pect of carp fish­ing, but I have to be hon­est and ask why? It is prob­a­bly be­cause it gives the an­gler some­thing to blame if they don’t catch. Af­ter all, no-one wants to blame them­selves, be­cause that is where the an­swer is more of­ten than not to be found!


I have used ex­actly the same rigs that I ex­pect carp to pick up out in the open water when fish­ing in the edge. I have never seen a rea­son to use any­thing else, and the lat­est ‘fan­dango rig’ has never done me any bet­ter than the things I have con­fi­dence in. It might soothe and pam­per an in­flated ego, but apart from mak­ing the reader spend need­less money on the parts to make a ‘won­der rig’, it won’t catch you any more carp!

Along with at­tach­ing a PVA bag of var­i­ous sizes to the rig, I also tie up a few loose bags that I will bait up with. I have never seen any­one else bait up this way, and in essence I am cre­at­ing a unique baited area.

These can be dropped in by hand, of course, but I have found it far more stealthy to

lower them in silently on the end of your line.

Lastly, there is one other set-up that should never be left at home – your sur­face gear. Again, there are spe­cial­ist rods that can be used for this, but I nor­mally stick to my 2.75lb 12ft War­rior S rod with an FX9 reel loaded with sur­face line. A small tackle box con­tains all the gear I will need to present a bait on the sur­face, and a bucket of var­i­ous-sized float­ing mix­ers and pel­lets com­pletes the set-up.

If I am hon­est, sur­face fish­ing is, for me, the pin­na­cle of carp fish­ing. It is the best and more pro­duc­tive way to spend a hot day on the bank, when most would rather sit on a chair and watch mo­tion­less bob­bins. For ex­am­ple... just the other day I ar­rived at Farlows Lake in Buck­ing­hamshire to see if I could stalk a carp from the edge or catch one from the sur­face. And it went a lit­tle like this…


I had ar­rived at around 7am and set about find­ing some fish. I could park in var­i­ous ar­eas around the lake which made life a lit­tle eas­ier, but it wasn’t un­til I was at the far end that I found what looked like some carp feed­ing and grub­bing around near some lilies in the mar­gin. It was deep, but the big bub­bles ris­ing to the sur­face made me think there was a chance. The depth ob­vi­ously stopped me see­ing the fish and I had to make my best guesses when I po­si­tioned a cou­ple of hook­baits in the area.

The day was get­ting hot­ter by the sec­ond and af­ter about half-an-hour the bub­bling started to slow up. I didn’t get a bite from that area, but at least my at­tempts at get­ting a hook­bait near the fish hadn’t spooked them, be­cause they ob­vi­ously stayed put. I left the baits in po­si­tion for an­other 30 min­utes be­fore it was ob­vi­ously time to move on.

The lake was busy, and it wasn’t un­til I was as far away from the first spot as it was pos­si­ble to be that I found an­other chance. This time the carp were drift­ing in and out of a weed-cov­ered cor­ner and looked like they would be up for a mixer or two. It took an hour or so, but even­tu­ally they started tak­ing the free of­fer­ings with gusto, and I drifted my medium Ex­o­cet con­troller float and trimmed-down pop-up hook­bait among and dark com­mon swam pur­pose­fully to­wards the hook­bait and sucked it in. The water ex­ploded as my fish shot off in one di­rec­tion and all his mates charged off in an­other.

The weed slowed his progress and my 9.86lb Zig and Floater hook­link held firm as it bat­tled in the green stuff. Even­tu­ally I led the 26lb com­mon into the net and within three hours of be­ing there I had achieved what I set out to do.

In­ter­est­ingly, I spoke to sev­eral an­glers who had watched the pro­ceed­ings from nearby swims, and to a man they said that they wished they had thought of that, be­cause none of them had landed a carp over the last 24 hours.


I al­ways be­lieved that carp fish­ing was all about catch­ing carp, not sit­ting around wait­ing for things to hap­pen. Like most things in life, if you just do what ev­ery­one else is do­ing you will have pretty much the same re­sults. If you want to take things to the next level, a bit of ef­fort is needed. And on that par­tic­u­lar jour­ney you will find out so much more about the fish you are tar­get­ing, the fish­ing en­vi­ron­ment, and just how much fun carp fish­ing can ac­tu­ally be.

Travel light and you’ll be more mo­bile to spot fish.

Feed­ing is still very im­por­tant when stalk­ing.

Stealth ac­counted for this stun­ning sum­mer carp.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.