AS SIMPLE AS IT GETS!
Brothers Carl & Alex, two of the biggest angling stars on YouTube, reacquaint themselves with the Method before presenting arms at a Victorian military moat in Portsmouth for a salvo of big carp
Carl and Alex demonstrate how fun and effective using simple freelining tactics for carp can be
Bream, tench and carp
Alex – Variety is the key when it comes to angling. I love targeting carp one week, perch the next, barbel the week after, and so on. When I get bored of one species I can move on to another and that’s what keeps angling exciting for me. When we first started fishing 10 years ago, the only type of fishing Carl and I did was float fishing, but we soon progressed to other techniques such as freelining and feeder fishing. In fact, we used to love Method feeder fishing for bream, tench and carp. The excitement when the tip went around was epic – I just loved it. But since the carp bug kicked in we haven’t done a great deal of Method feeder fishing, although when we got an invite to a beautiful 13-acre estate lake where tench, bream and carp thrived, we had to give the Method feeder a go once again! Tackled up with my Acolyte feeder rod, a bag of groundbait and a tub of corn I was ready for a day’s quivertipping. We arrived on a very mild morning and it was soon obvious where the carp were, with bow waves and stirred up lakebed in the shallows. I had a feeling the tench may be in this area, especially as the week previous had been very warm. I got my kit set up, groundbait mixed
and clipped-up my reel at 30 yards in 4ft of water. After five casts I hadn’t received a bite, but it’s important not to give up too quick as at any time the shoal of fish could move over your bait and start feasting. I kept at it, recasting the feeder regularly and, sure enough, I started getting line bites, then the tip properly went round. A short battle followed with the culprit being a bream of about 4lb-5lb. If I had caught it while carp fishing I would have slipped it straight back, but as I was targeting them properly, I popped it in the net to see if I could land any more for a brace shot! Sure enough, the shoal of bream moved in and the next five casts all came in with similar-sized bream. I got my brace shot then decided to move elsewhere as it seemed that all I had in my swim were bream, and now I wanted a tench. I chose to set up near the dam wall and, although I hadn’t seen any fish here, the wind was pushing towards that end and if the tench weren’t in the shallows, they might be here. Once again, I clipped-up the feeder, this time to a spot where the water was 6ft-7ft. First cast resulted in another bream, second cast, another bream, third cast, finally a tench and fourth cast, a great big 20lb carp that took me for a walk on the 4lb hooklink! The day continued well, consistently getting bites and I was once again reminded how enjoyable it is watching the tip hoop round with a fish on the end. I got what I came for, a real mixed bag including some very beautiful fish.
Stalking carp in Spring
Alex – This time of year is by far our favourite! Now is the time to grab a loaf of bread, find some carp and catch them using the most exciting method of freelining. Firstly, I should explain exactly how we go about freelining for carp. Hook size is dependent on not only the bait you are using, but also the size of fish being targeting and we use anything from a size 4 to a size 10. For example, we would use a size 4 when fishing with a large piece of bread crust and go as small as a size 10 when freelining with just a few maggots. It’s about matching your hook size to the hookbait. We have found wide gape hooks give the best hookholds when freelining. Line is also really important because you hardly have any weight to cast so you need to use the lowest diameter line you can get away with. Too thick and you can’t cast very far and too thin and it might break when a big fish gets
into weed. Carl and I have settled on using the Nash Zig Flo which is very supple and behaves very naturally once in the water. We use this in 8lb, 10lb and 12lb strengths. The only other line we use is 15lb D-Cam and we use this when the conditions are extremely snaggy or weedy. We choose what strength line to use once we know how snaggy the water is or how big the fish are. One thing to mention is not to use too low diameter lines such as thin braid for freelining because this often gets wrapped around the fish and can lift scales. Moving on to the rod and reel combination, most of our freelining is with a 9ft, 1.75lb Scope combined with a small lightweight reel such as the Daiwa SS1300. We’ll often change this for a 6ft rod in tight swims or beef it up to a 3lb test curve rod in snaggy swims. The main thing to consider when choosing kit for freelining is to find a rod and reel which is light enough to hold for hours on end without getting tired. And that’s about it! Get yourself a loaf of soft white bread and off you go! Over the last couple of weeks we have spent many warm evenings stalking carp from a number of local ponds. In particular, we discovered a tiny pool thick with lily pads and surrounded by trees. After spotting a few very dark shapes sat in the gaps in the pads we fished it for a few hours one afternoon and, by casting out a small piece of crust into a hole in the pads, we managed to catch a couple. They were small fish but very special ones to be living in such a beautiful secluded pool.
“Find some carp and catch them using the exciting method of freelining”
Fishing the military moat
Alex – Fort Rowner Moat, set just a stone’s throw away from the busy streets of Portsmouth, yet deep into a military base, is home to large carp, crucians and tench. I heard about the place from my friend Stu Harris, who had been showing me some photos of the beautiful carp including some prehistoriclooking crucians. He asked me if I wanted a session there and, obviously, I said yes! I met Stu at a nearby Tesco and followed him the last part of the journey where we entered the military base and parked up right next to the moat. First impressions left me speechless. One bank was tree-lined, while the other was a vertical 1850s Victorian brick wall. With patches of lily pads and plenty of fresh weed growth it was a beautiful piece of water. As we walked round the first corner I was shocked to see two carp sat in the pads. Stu turned to me and both of us thought the same thing. Quick, grab a rod! I ran back to the car, and grabbed a freelining rod and the remainder of my poppy seed roll which I had for lunch. I got back to where we had seen the carp but, typically, they had moved off. At least now I had a rod ready in case I saw another. Sure enough, round the next corner was another set of pads and another carp, I got a little over-excited and messed up my cast, with the bread landing too close to the fish and spooking it straight away! It’s sometimes hard to keep calm when stalking carp. A little further along the bank was a large patch of bubbles and silt being churned up. I reckoned it was bream after Stu had told me there are plenty of slabs in the moat, but no more that 30 seconds after casting on the bubbles my line whizzed across the surface. I set the hook and a good, chunky mirror rose up to the surface then bolted into the nearby weed! I slowly pumped it in and bundled it into the net. I had a huge grin on my face and was amazed how quick the action had been! We managed to get some photos of this beautiful carp in front of the old fort walls and then returned it to the clear water. We had a quick bite to eat and drink before
“It’s sometimes hard to keep calm when stalking carp”
having another walk round, and this time I spotted a dark common near an overhanging tree with its mouth just touching the surface scum. I hooked on a piece of crust and cast well past the fish then slowly twitched it back until it was on the fish’s nose. It quickly clocked the bread and started slurping. The bread went, I struck and another epic battle followed. Although this one wasn’t even half the size of the mirror, it was a stunning, dark-coloured common that I was so pleased to catch. I’m so glad I caught those fish early on because for the following two days both Stu and I really struggled. We ended the session with one small tench for Stu, one more awesome mirror and unfortunately none of the incredible golden crucians which I really went there for. We both felt it was maybe still a little early on in the year for them as we couldn’t get them feeding hard on our loose feed. Or maybe we’re just bad anglers! I left Fort Rowner Moat on the Sunday, both extremely happy but at the same time I knew I had some unfinished business. Bring on the crucians this summer, if Stu lets me come back.
Five good bream in five casts on the Method The Method delivered carp, bream and tench
After a raft of bream Alex eventually connected with this tench
A special fish from a secluded water Freelining bread for carp is a magic way of fishing Small carp were a delight to catch from a beautiful small pond
What I thought was a bream turned out to be a chunky mirror Mighty mirrors grace the military moat This dark common gave a good account of itself