GET AFTER THEM, SAYS CHILLY!
IAN CHILLCOTT extols the virtues of stalking carp and really pushing the envelope
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.
EYE TO EYE WITH THE CARP
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.
PREPARE FOR THE FRAY
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!
STICK WITH WHAT YOU KNOW
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…
SUCCESS IN THE MARGINS
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.
MORE THAN JUST FISHING
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.