“So big I had to go in after it”
Steve takes his ‘micro bag’ match tactics to big carp venue Naseby Reservoir… with fantastic results
AS you can imagine, I fish a lot of matches during the year and I like to keep my fishing varied.
In winter it’s all about F1 fishing – spring and summer tend to be carp on the commercials, and due to my involvement with the England Feeder team I always mix in a lot of roach and bream fishing throughout the seasons too.
But it’s always great to do something completely different. Just recently I’ve caught the ‘big-carp bug’, which has been a lot of fun.
One of the best things about trying a different style of fishing is planning your approach. I’ve been able to put my own take on bigcarp fishing using my knowledge of match carp, in particular how they feed and behave.
A carp is a carp, right? So how would a matchman’s approach to big-carp fishing work? I went to my local Naseby Reservoir – home to loads of doubles and even a few 30lb carp – to find out…
Due to my other commitments my carping sessions tend to be short morning or afternoon ones, and so the most important part of my approach is to focus on location.
I have always found that carp aren’t that hard to catch, providing you are actually on them, so for this reason I always travel light with a view to walking the lake until I find the fish.
At Naseby the carp are generally quite easy to find. They have a habit of showing themselves on a regular basis, and once I see a few fish I simply sit on them, knowing that when I cast out my bait will be in among fish.
This might sound like straightforward advice but it never ceases to amaze me how many anglers don’t do this, instead imagining that the carp will move to them. In the cold they simply won’t!
In fact if anything the carp will back away from anglers. Quite often I will find them, catch a couple and then have to move again to keep in touch with the
fish. This to many might sound
like hard work but, believe me, it’s worth it to keep putting fish on the bank.
The way I fish is all about getting quick bites and fishing for one fish at a time. Therefore, I’m not looking to put lots of bait out and build a swim but to get something out that immediately attracts attention and can be picked up in one mouthful.
With this in mind I like to fish with bright hookbaits the fish can easily spot, and tiny PVA bags which I like to make as potent as possible so they give off loads of attraction to pull fish to the hookbait.
As a guide, my bags are about the size of a 2p piece and when they break down I have a little pile of attraction surrounding my hookbait – that’s it!
So what’s in my bag? First I liquidise some Mainline Hybrid boilies. Hybrid is a very popular bait and I know at venues such as Naseby that the carp will have already seen it and therefore associate it with food.
Once that’s ground up I add a mix of high-oil pellets just to boost the attraction even more. The key with pellets is to keep them small and I use mainly 2mm versions, with a few 3mm and 4mm pellets mixed in with them.
This keeps the food content of the mix low and besides, if the pellets are too big, making a neat, aerodynamic PVA bag can become difficult.
After mixing the pellets and ground-up Hybrid I give the whole lot a good squirt of Mainline Hybrid Stick Mix liquid to give it a real burst of flavour.
When it comes to hookbaits I carry a variety, but they all have
one thing in common – they are brightly coloured. On Naseby I have always found pop-ups to be best, but I carry wafters in bright colours too, just so I can mix things up should the need arise.
I also believe that in the cold small hookbaits are better, so you will notice all the baits I carry are either 10mm or 12mm.
I feel that scaling down hookbait size does produce more bites in the cold – I guess that’s where my match angling background comes into play!
KEEP YOUR SET-UP SIMPLE
My set up is all about simplicity! I want a rig that’s easy to tie and isn’t going to tangle so I know that once my bait hits the water I’ll be fishing effectively.
For this reason I use a Korda lead clip system on a Safe Zone leader – it really doesn’t get any easier.
The beauty of the lead clip system is that should the lead get snagged it will be easily ejected. The only change I make to the lead clip system is to attach a Kwik Link so that I can change my hooklength in no time at all.
Just like when I’m match fishing, to maximise time in the water I make up spare hooklengths with bags attached so that they are ready to go once I reel in or a fish is landed.
In winter carp often only have short feeding spells, so it’s important that if I catch a fish I can get back out fishing as soon as I possibly can.
On the subject of hooklengths I use 6ins-7ins of N-trap Soft with the last half-inch nearest the hook stripped back to give the hookbait that little bit more movement.
N-trap soft is quite stiff before you remove the coating, which
helps to keep any tangles to a minimum.
Hook choice is a size 10 Choddy Barbless tied with a relatively short hair via a knotless knot. I like the upturned eye on the hook for pop-up fishing as it helps to keep everything inline.
A size 10 might seem small to a lot of carp anglers but for me it matches a 10mm or 12mm bait perfectly.
Finally, to keep the pop-up at the right depth once I have threaded the PVA bag on, I simply pinch a BB shot on the braid about threequarters of an inch from the hook.
It’s a simple but effective rig that has caught me a lot of carp!
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the way I fish is how long I leave each cast before reeling in and rebaiting.
Normally carp anglers will think nothing of casting out and leaving the rig there for a whole day, but my match mentality and session times won’t let me do that!
If I don’t get an indication after 45 minutes and there are no signs of fish near the bait, I will cast to a new spot.
I’m fishing for quick bites, so it makes no sense to leave my rig out any longer if I don’t feel there are fish close by.
Also, if I cast to a spot and get no response I see no point in casting back there, so when the bait goes back out I will try somewhere new!
This way I’m covering more water and my chances of dropping on a fish are far higher.
A little tip on the subject of casting is that if nothing is happening and you see a fish top away from your baits you simply reel in and drop a bait right on top of it.
This is something I do a lot, and more often than not it produces a quick bite.
For this reason it’s important to keep watching the water even once you start fishing. If a big carp shows you need to be on it!
Bright boilies and pop-ups rule the roost.
Micro bags ready to clip on to my rig.
A size 10 hook matches 10mm-12mm baits.