Two years ago two major changes happened which have had a huge impact on my ability to find time to fish. I decided to start my doctoral degree, and my wife and I had our first child. All of a sudden those 16 hour weekend round trips to chase big mirrors were unfortunately no longer an option, at least not if I wanted to pass my classes and spend time with my son. In two years’ time when I graduate (fingers crossed) I know I will be able to go back to chasing specimen carp on a more frequent basis. However, I have had to adapt elements of my fishing to even manage get out and catch for a few hours. I am aware that I am not alone in being a busy professional and parent, and I hope that these few tips will help you to maintain a balanced life that still includes getting a bend in the rod.
If a water is close enough that you can get down even once a week to drop some bait in then do it. By pre-baiting you are conditioning those carp into revisiting those spots as a place where food is available. Not only does that build up the confidence of the fish by allowing them to feed without lines in the water, but it also means that when you do turn up to fish the fish are normally close by, and a the bites often comes quicker than normal.
Fish easy waters with a good stock of fish
I am not a runs water kind of angler. I like to sit it out for one big fish a season rather than catch 10 doubles in a day. However, I no longer have that luxury. I have spent most of the last two years fishing a small 2 acre pond, with a good head of fish, where a bite an hour is pretty much the norm. This way I can get a few fish in a short afternoon or late evening, and still keep myself on the bank without the risk of blanking.
Stalk, and be mobile
If you do not have time for the fish to come to you, then you go to the fish. The warmer months provide lots of opportunities for stalking, both off the top and on the deck in shallow bays. My most recent capture was caught two feet from the bank within a couple of minutes of casting out by finding a couple of fish and flicking some sinking bread a few feet in front of them. Be sure to travel light, and keep mobile and quiet. I take the bare minimum needed, and leave anything else I may need in the car. It is not uncommon for me to turn up with just a rod, net, small mat, and a loaf of bread for an afternoons fishing. What my local ponds carp lack in size, is replaced by excitement in this style of fishing. With stalking you also get a better understanding of how fish feed, and avoid the hook by watching them come in and pick up the bait.
Take your work with you
When I was an undergraduate student with a full time job I decided to join a very exclusive and expensive syndicate called Weston Park knowing I was going to be busy. However, I would spend most of my time in or around my bivvy in one swim. I decided that I would use my bivvy like an office, and would take my laptop, spare batteries, and my books to the lake with me. 48 hours gives you a lot of time to get work done, and the peace and tranquility I got on the bank is a much better studying environment to the house I study in with kids and dogs running around in. I have also fished overnighters where I am fishing out of my car, which is once again a good place to study and keep your work nice and dry.
Take the little guy with you
On days when you have got to be a dad but want to be an angler travel light, get a stroller/push car, and head out for a bit. My son loves to be outside, and so I will try to take him with me for a couple of hours (any longer and he starts to get cranky) if I can keep him safe around the water. As long as he is being pushed he is happy, as long as I can hear my alarms and keep him strapped in I am happy. Not only that but you get some pretty incredible pictures in the meantime.
A very busy work schedule, studying for my Ph.D, and the arrival of my first child carp has meant my fishing outings have been few and far between so far in 2015. Thankfully, I have a few trips planned for fall and winter, and spring 2016 should see me back on the bank a lot more. I have managed to sneak out a few times this year to put some new Nash tackle and bait products through their paces. I will write about these in detail between now and Christmas when I have a bit more free time, but the new 10ft 3.5lb tc cork handle scope rods are a thing of both strength and beauty, and the Key cultured hook baits have been an instant hit, (instant being the key word). However, the most impressive product I have used this year is by far the new Siren R3 alarms.
Last year I used both the S5 and S5R range of alarms and was really pleased with how robust but small they were, and they performed well when fish were giving me line bites and twitchy takes. However, the creme de la creme really is the R3 alarm concept. Using speed sensing technology as a way of eliminating false bleeps I found that false bleeps from strong winds and floating weed were almost completely eliminated. It took wind hard enough to almost topple a pod to give me only three false bleeps during my half a dozen trips using them. My one criticism of all other roller alarms is that when the sensitivity is set low that several inches of line are needed to move to indicate a bite. With a chod types set up, or tricky fish this could mean you get done and won’t know a thing about it. With vibration sensing alarms they were often over sensitive, where a little bit of weed on the line or a slight breeze would sound like a screaming take. This alarm takes both of those issues out of play.
I have seen comments 0n social media where people have said they don’t like the look of them, but I actually find their look very nice indeed. Being a smaller alarm they are easy to store, and aid the mobility i like in my angling. They are rock solid just like their older brother the RS1, and the tones and leds are the best that I have used on any previous alarm. With built in snag ears, they make fishing locked up more stable, and the use of an optic light kit (which screws directly into the alarm) turns the standard hangers into illuminated ones. (I love the fact that I do not need to purchase or waste time setting up the snag ears and hockey stick for this alarm, especially when my time this year on the bank is so short). The receiver has great range, and illuminates clearly so you know which rods to aim for. It is also made of a nice rubber type outer material that does not crack if dropped. In my opinion the design and technology used in this alarm has raised the bar in bite indication this year.
Price wise the alarms are on par with the top of the range models from other companies, with the SR5 and S5 models offering budget versions (S5R are receiver compatible). With so many other established alarms on the market my one concern is that these will get overlooked in a market where anglers can not go to a local tackle shop and have a play with them. They are a really stylish, effective alarm, with a great idea behind their design. If anyone is on the bank and sees me please come and have a closer look at them. For now here is a you tube link to see the legend that is Alan Blair describe the alarms in more detail. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYGDkfpYtek
It seems like social media in the 21st century has led to an influx of carp anglers who like to spend their days ramming product placement down people’s throats, irrespective of whether the product and/or bait has been utilized by them personally. It also seems apparent that many anglers are also quick to stand by a company and back their products until they realize it’s a) garbage, b) they are being taken advantage of, c) find greener grass with a rival brand, or d) all of the above. Now I am sure at a fair trial I would be found guilty of my fair share of product placement over the years. But one thing I refuse to do is attempt to pull the wool over people’s eyes for the sake of a pat on the back and a minimal discount. If I am not prepared to pay to use a product I will not try and persuade you to do it. This stems from two prior experiences. Firstly, the fact I have a conscience, and dislike doing anything morally wrong, especially when peoples hard earned money is involved. The second stems from my first ever meeting with the angling legend that is Des Taylor, who stated “if you lie about the bait you’re off the team, as the bait is so good that you don’t need to lie”.
Many people may be aware that I am part of the Nash tackle and bait team. But many will not know that I turned down several lucrative sponsorship deals over the course of 12 months because I was hoping Nash would come knocking. Now this statement is not an attempt to over inflate an already over inflated ego, but to highlight the fact that I will only sign on with a company if I truly believe their products will enhance my fishing. When some of these deals were on the table I was completely obsessed with the Nash Twister range of hooks (which I believe are currently one of, if not the best-selling hook pattern in the USA) due to the fact I had gone 2 years without a hook pull. I remember my first season on Weston Park losing around 25% of my runs due to hook pulls and hooks opening up. That is losing one out of every four fish, and some of those were over 30lb. However, in some seriously rocky and snaggy waters I had landed almost 200 fish in this period, only losing one to a cut off. The only difference in my entire rig was the twister pattern. In my eyes I would be better off paying for twisters and catching fish, than getting something else for free but losing fish.
Fast forward a few months and thanks to some amazing captures and a recommendation from Dave Moore I received an email from the one and only Alan Blair offering me a tackle deal. Needless to say I immediately accepted his kind offer and over the past two years I have been fortunate to use some incredible gear. Now in my opinion the pinnacle of the new and innovative products they have developed is the Scope concept. For those of you who do not know what the scope concept is…..where have you been? The scope concept is all about making the tackle we use smaller, lighter, more compact and easier to transport. The standard 12ft carp rods are a thing of the past, as Kevin and the team have turned everything from powerful rods, to bivvies and luggage into sizes that will blow you mind.
Initially I asked for a set of 9ft 3lb test curve rods for stalking on my local creek waters, as I had the intentions of keeping my 12ft rods for my main big fish campaigns. However, I soon realized that the scope concept is a smaller package concept, and not a stalking concept. These rods were throwing leads 100 yards, landing big fish with ease and were well balanced with both a small spinning and a large big pit reel. I immediately sold my 12ft rods and have never looked back. I will now breakdown the reasons why the scope concept is such a revolutionary and convenient option for carp anglers.
Location, location, location.
If you are not on fish you will not catch them. I learned this in the ATC a few years back, and it is one of the reasons I rarely fish in competitions. How many anglers will pack up and leave their favorite swim if it’s quiet and they see a couple of fish top a few hundred yards away? Even fewer are likely to do it if they have a lot of gear to pack away and move. For most day sessions I take the scope backpack and the scope rod holdall. I can pack down and move in minutes, and do it without a barrow or the risk of a heart attack.
Stalking and/or overgrown swims.
I love stalking, and witnessing fish inhale the bait. And am fortunate to be able to fish a local swim where I can see that happen. However, the swims (so to speak) are very overgrown, with overhanging trees. The 9ft rods worked great where a 12ft rod would have been impossible to land fish. Even the 9ft rod was touch and go, thankfully the 6ft sawn-off version will make even tighter swims even more accessible.
I can remember back in England trying to squeeze me and a mates gear into a hatchback for a 48 hour session. It was brutal, uncomfortable, and often resulted in damage to us, the tackle or the car. I recently purchased a small Kia Forte hatchback and my entire day session equipment fits in the trunk. Not only that, but if I was fishing a longer session a scope bivvy or brolly would also fit in there. I often do not take all my gear out of the car until I have walked around and located fish, and do not like to leave tackle on show for opportunists to steal. The smaller packaging leaves me with peace of mind that my gear is safe while I take my time to select the right location in which to set up.
I owned a 9ft staling rod, and I own a 9ft scope rod. They are on different ends of the power spectrum. I can chuck out solid bags and 3oz leads with ease, and am looking forward to seeing what the 10ft 3.5lb tc cork handles can do in 2015. Recently I woke up to a strange bite where a fish had become tethered somewhat around the other rig and was stuck on the surface around 30 yards out. The rod was bent fully, as was my back leaning into it. I did wonder if I was giving a telescopic rod the beans a bit too much. However, the rod performed excellent, the fish was safely landed, and my appreciation of these rods increased even more. The scopes have also gone onto land carp over 80lb in France and 100lb + catfish in Spain in 2014.
I have a lot of tackle and bait, and fortunately a very forgiving and patient wife. However, space soon starts to disappear with beds, bivvies, and bait buckets crammed into sheds, garages and basements. With bivvies and brollies and rods that packaway to just waist height, you might be able to score a few more brownie points at home.
They do everything you could ever need in one rod.
I used to own 12ft rods for targeting big fish, and 9ft stalking rods for close range and pasty bashing. I now just own just the one set of scopes. They have landed 2lb fish a foot out in a creek, and landed 30’s at 100 yards. They feel great when paired with my Daiwa ss2600 spinning reels, and surprisingly feel better with my Shimano black magnesium’s attached. As a result of this I sold a lot of my other tackle, which increased even more storage space and put a few $ in the bank also.
They look awesome.
We all want our gear to look good, especially those of you who are a little tartier than myself. They are well made, have slick logos on them, and the addition of cork handles make them sexier than a Victoria’s Secret show.
Great for kids.
One of the greatest things a carp angler can do is introduce newcomers to this amazing sport, especially youngsters. However, 12ft rods are not child friendly. The 6ft and 9ft rods are perfect for introducing young children to the sport. In fact, as a new father myself I recently ordered a set of 6ft sawn offs for my boy to use once he is big enough.
Finally, they are a good price.
When you price up the scope range it is well priced. The rods especially are comparable to other market leading rods. And when you consider that instead of two or three separate sets of rods you can sell all your other rods and get one set they do work out to be great value for money.
However, if the scope range is slightly over your budget you could always check out the Dwarf range which is the same concept but cheaper.
Very pleased to introduce Brian Wingard to the Big Carp News team. He is a powerhouse in USA carp fishing, with a huge following on his blogs and you tube pages. He is a representative for TOKS Big 4, a CC Moore consultant, and also has done an awful lot to promote carp fishing in the state of Pennsylvania. I once heard he was the man responsible for the upgrade to a three rod rule in PA, so cheer Brian, and welcome to the team!
I currently write for the North American Carp Angler (NACA), TOKS Big 4 Newsletter, ODU Magazine and now Big Carp News
Current PB Common 37lb 8oz
Mirror 24lb 8oz
I am currently a Consultant for CC Moore, Toks Big 4 Carp Competition, Pro Staff at Saxon Tackle and hopefully some more in the near future.
I have helped with the PA Fish and Boat Commission in adding how to videos for their carp section showing anglers how to catch carp.
Why carp fishing?
When I began fishing at the age of 3 I always enjoyed the outdoors and all forms of fishing. As a young boy my dad would take me to the river and I would watch him fish for carp. When I was finally old enough to try I had a run and the line snapped and sounded like a gunshot going off as the large fish broke loose. After that day the spots we used to fish were posted no trespassing so we ended up going for other species of fish into my adult life. It wasn’t until a few days after my dad’s passing that I was out at the lake and saw a big fish roll about 50 yards in front of me. It was like a sign that maybe I should give it another chance. I started to search online and found The Carp Anglers Group. I absorbed in a ton of information and the following spring I went back to a spot we were supposed to fish for carp before he passed but never got to. I landed my first carp of 15lbs and the raw power of the fish and the fight that kept going and going absolutely had me hooked from that point forward. At that moment I knew why my dad loved to fish for carp so much and I now currently fish for carp 90% of my fishing. I have to think my dad would be getting a laugh at how much fun I am having fishing for carp and the sizes I have managed to catch as well.
Most obsessive thing you have done to catch a carp?
I think just the amount of time I spend doing it seems obsessive to most. But in all seriousness I was getting a lot of fishing pressure and lost a really large fish. I ended up hitting that spot for 5 weeks straight until I landed multiple large fish there and made that one missed fish become a distant memory.
Angler(s) you most respect?
I really have too many anglers to list. For me anyone who shows a passion for the sport, shares with others and just has an all around fun time doing it are people I admire most. Out of the types of anglers I love watching a technical angler who can adapt to all types of situations. That is the type of angler I want to see in myself.
Favorite bit of kit?
I love my Delkim Tx-i alarms. I feel that they helped me produce so many more fish than I would have with your average everyday alarm.
Worst tackle purchase ever?
That is a path that I don’t want to go down. lol I have had a ton of bad experiences and never been the name and shame kind of person. Let’s put it this way if you see me using certain brands all of the time those are the ones who passed the test of time with no issues. :)
CC Moore of course, No two lakes are ever the same and every day is different so having a great selection of products will allow you to achieve the results you want over and over again.
Hmm that is a tough one, In all seriousness every venue is special to me. Each place I have fished holds a special memory for me.
What was your best ever session?
This year actually in 2013, I had 6 fish on a tough lake and this was my new lake record. The fishing was awesome and it included two 30lb fish. Here is a quick video I made highlighting some of the session. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJr65U0aDKY
I have so many that are special. I caught a nice size fish this year of 16lb that was a short fish. You could just tell it is going to be a monster someday and had beautiful coloring. Also I had a recapture this year. I caught a fish that was 24 inches and 24lbs 3 years ago and it was 30lbs 30 inches this year. The only reason I could tell was the shape of the tail and also a scale that was out of place on it.
Don’t rush things, Observe your surroundings before setting up anywhere. Get to know the water and features as they will help you turn a slow day into a multiple fish day. Number one rule is always check the hooks and if you have any doubt throw it out. It is better to waste a 50 cent hook than loose a huge fish.
I really like to keep it simple. The basic hair rig, Kd rig and chod are my top 3 favorites for all around fishing.
Worst ever session?
I don’t really ever feel that anything is bad. If you have a “bad” session you can always learn from it and improve on it for next time. If you make a mistake it is a valuable lesson learned that will only improve your skills as an angler.
As we approached the 2013 Wooden Shoe Carp Classic I can only remember thinking how this event could not come fast enough! Last year’s Wooden Shoe Carp Classic had incredible results, with many personal bests for anglers including myself and a couple 30lb+ beasts being landed. This sparked interest from anglers all over the country and resulted in the incredible turnout we had this year. The Wooden Shoe Carp Classic is even being referred to as Michigan’s version of the ATC!
With high hopes for this year’s Wooden Show Carp Classic Brendan and I arrived to the venue on Friday for a little pre-fishing (Thanks Mom!). Upon arrival Brendan and I saw Andy Sprinkle and Ed Montgomery already set up and fishing. No sooner than we walked down there Andy hooked into a hard fighting Lake Macatawa carp, which showed us they were there and feeding! Once we were setup it wasn’t long until Brendan and I started to catch carp as well. While we were pre-fishing there were quite a few 20lb+ fish up to 28lbs getting caught by everyone! This was very exciting to see that the big carp from Lake Michigan have moved into Lake Macatawa to get ready for the spawn. We had no idea what would be in store for everyone on Saturday and Sunday!
As Saturday finally rolled around it was time for the peg draw at 6:00 a.m. We would be having a snake draw so whoevers name got drawn first to choose a peg would pick last on Sunday. I was hoping to fish the same peg that I fished on Friday having had great results, and to my surprise that was the exact peg I got! Brendan was 17th to choose a peg and he ended up down to the right of me at peg 11. Before I get into the day I should explain the rules as they are quite unique. In this event you are allowed to weigh only eight of your fish, and once you put a fish on the board you cannot take it down so you must choose wisely. Additionally you are allowed one bonus fish in which you can double the weight of but again you cannot take it off the board once it’s on.
Now that you know how this event works I will get back to the fishing. It was rods in at 6:45 a.m. and no sooner than a couple minutes after I casted there was a small carp lying on my mat! As soon as I released that Nikki Sprinkle who was fishing next me landed a small carp as well. A couple more small carp were caught by other anglers before the fishing shut down. Since this is a very social non-competitive event we had a lot of fun chatting with the other anglers when the fish were not cooperating but this was not to be the case for long. The fishing picked up once again and this time big fish were being caught with some big 20lb+ fish present!
Nikki was the first one to land a hog on Saturday at a whopping 27lbs 14oz, which was her bonus fish! It was approaching lunch time when I landed my largest fish of day one, which was a very fat 24lb+ carp. I ended up using this as my bonus fish which was a mistake as you will find out later.
Once lunchtime hit everyone was getting excited, the reason for this was we had Rod Mills cooking our lunch! Rod makes some of the best bank food many of us have ever consumed in our lives, thanks Rod! A little while after lunch news soon spread that Jathan from Indiana had just landed a 33lb+ carp which was a personal best, congrats Jathan! Jathan used this as his bonus fish which caused him to jump up to first place! Amos from Indiana walked down there to help get pictures of the beast but not without a price. While Amos was down there one of his rods which was right next to me proceeded to scream off! Everyone then began yelling to Amos whom was very far away so I was told to start fighting his fish until he arrived back. Once Amos was back I handed the rod back off to him and after a long fight he landed a 28lb+ pig which was another personal best! A lot of fish continued to get caught throughout the rest of the day including many 20lb+ carp with another 27lb+ landed by Tom Daugherty!
Brendan fished very well on day one landing about five fish with his biggest being just under 20lb. I finished day one with ten or so carp which all came on the new WCB maize which has produced many great fish for me this year! The results on day one had Jathan in 1st place, me in 2nd place, and Dave Ash in 3rd place.
After a long night in the hotel it was time to wake up for day two of the tournament. Since we were having a snake draw I had the pleasure of choosing my peg close to last but this did not bother me much as I chose peg 13 down to the right of my day one peg which was not a bad spot. The area where Jathan got his 33lber was pretty much vacant day one but filled up fast on day 2. Everyone expected day 2 to be incredible because of all the bait that had gone into the water, this ended up being quite true. Once all the rods where in it did not take too long to start hooking into fish, and quite a bit of them! My first fish of the day was a chunky 21lb+ which was a very good start to day 2! Dave who was inhabiting peg 12 to my right started to haul fish with me! We were hooking quite a bit of fish but no sizeable fish were being landed. After what was probably a couple hours mine and Dave’s fishing started to slow down. That was about the time I had a nice run and picked up into what I told Dave right away felt like a big fish! As I was fighting this fish I was sure it was big. She would take long slow runs and I was able to do nothing with her. Eventually when I started to gain line on the fish it felt like I had a sack of potatoes on the end of my line. After what felt like an eternity I had her just below the wall and when I saw her I thought it was in the high 20’s. Boy was I wrong, once we netted her and lifted the fish out of the water I couldn’t believe what I was looking at! The girth on this carp was ridiculous and I knew right away this was in the mid 30’s. So we zeroed out the sling and hoisted her onto the scale. The needle shot around to 36lbs on the dot which was a new lake record! I was kicking myself right about now for using a 24lber as my bonus fish and not this one, but at that point it did not matter to me.
After that fish there have been multiple 20’s landed by anglers all over the lake! Brian, Tom, and Daniel were all catching a lot of fish over where Jathan got his big fish! They all had 20’s including an awesome 27lb+ for Brian and a new personal best at 24lbs for Drew who was right by me, congrats! The funny thing was as Drew landed his 24lb I landed one at the exact same weight as his! Brendan was on fire as well he had caught a couple 20lb+ fish including a super long and lean 28lb tank that he got on a snowman rig that he threw out for big fish!
A little while later I decide to give Andy Sprinkle a call and see how they were doing and I was speechless when I heard their results so far! They were up to over 40 fish and the day wasn’t even over and on top of that Nikki landed another pig at 27lb! As the fishing came to a close on day two everyone had landed some incredible fish I couldn’t even begin to guess how many 20lb+ carp were landed, that number would just be too high and to add two mid 30’s were caught! Day 2 exceeded all of our expectations!
After a very long tiring day of fishing for everyone it was time to call it quits. We all gathered in one area to hear the final word on who had won and would take home the wooden shoe for big fish and one for 8 fish total. Nobody had a clue of who would take either of the shoes so we all sat in anticipation waiting for the final word to be spoken. Once all calculations were made Dave Ash the host of the event awarded Nikki Sprinkle a shoe for her total 8 fish with 192lb congrats Nikki! Tom Daughtery finished in 2nd place for total 8 fish right on Nikki’s tail being only a pound behind her! I finished in 3rd but I took home the shoe for big fish with a 36lber.
Overall this was a great event and I think it is safe to say everyone had a blast. Not only were many big fish caught but there was quite a few personal bests caught as well! I think I can say that I will see many of the same people back next year! I would like to thank Dave and Jen Ash who hosted the event and for all their hard work putting this together, we could not have asked for better hosts!
Sitting in class, on my birthday morning of May 10th, I can tell you only one thing for certain, my mind was definitely not focused on algebra equations! My mind was already halfway across the state on our three hour journey to the western side of Michigan, which is where we planned to spend the next two and a half days camped out on the bank. At 2:30pm as soon as the bell rang I was out the door and on the road! We had finished packing up the truck the night before so there was nothing but open road and blue skies ahead of us (Or so we thought). We were about halfway through our journey when the skies started to darken considerably. A quick check on the smart phone confirmed our fears, we were in for some bad weather all weekend. This was not just any bad weather either, this was the mother of all cold fronts! They were predicting a 30 degree drop in temperature from the day before along with 25-30mph wind all weekend long, just our luck! Oh well, nothing we could do now, already to far to turn back, looks like were in for a rough weekend.
By the time we got to the swim it was late in the afternoon. The first thing we did was bait up the swim, then tied some rigs and got the rods out. By the time all our gear was in order nightfall was upon us and the rods had been in for about an hour. We decided that it would be a good time for dinner so we started the grill and got to cooking up some hot dogs. Just before we put the first dogs on the grill we had our first take of the session. I lifted into the fish and could tell it was small from the start. About twenty seconds into the fight I could feel my line grinding on a snag and a few seconds later I was locked up solid, darn! The snag resulted in a break off for the first fish from the venue, but by the weight of the fish I felt I was not to disappointed. About thirty minutes after I got that rod back out we had our second take of the session which resulted in an 8lb channel catfish. Ok, that made me feel better, I just had to clear out the swim as Andy Sprinkle calls it and I would be all set. After that fish, we managed to get a quick dinner in before the next rod went off. This fish was different, strong, heavy, and was taking line aggressively. By the weight I was feeling I would say at least in the mid to high 20’s, but unfortunately we will never know because shortly after he made his second strong run, the hook pulled! Darn it, this is not going as I had planed it, first three runs had resulted in a break off, a catfish and a hook pull! Oh well, nothing I could do but get the rods back out and stay positive. After the third run, the action died off for about two hours. By this time it was approaching mid-night and I was getting pretty tired.
Around 12:30a.m. One of my rods screamed off and I lifted into a very powerful fish. It was making solid runs and felt very heavy. This is also a very unique venue in that the fight is never really over until the fish is in the net. Right off the wall it is deep enough for the fish tomake runs straight down which makes the fight near shore very exciting. When I saw the fish swim directly in front of me about five feet down in the water column I got very excited. It looked to be a very nice fish, especially for the first fish we had seen out of the venue thus far. When we finally got the fish into the net we were ecstatic, what a hog! We zeroed out the scale, put her on, and the needle dropped all the way to 30lb 8oz!! Wow, the first fish out of the venue and it’s a thirty, ridiculous! We decided to bag her for the night to get some better shots in the morning. Unfortunately the rest of the night was rather uneventful, with only one other run resulting in a small catfish.
We awoke to an unexpected scene the next morning. Instead of the massive cold front the weatherman had predicted for the morning, it was actually rather nice outside. I re-baited all the rods and baited up a little bit more around 6a.m. Shortly after I awoke my father also decided it was time to get up. By this time he was rather frustrated with the lack of action he had gotten so far, and decided to re-bait his rods as well. After a good cup of coffee we decided it was a good time to get some day shots of the 30 from the night before. Just as we were about to walk over and un-sack the fish, my far left rod got a screaming run. I lifted into the fish and once again he felt strong! This fish just would not quit,and he sat right below us swimming up and down the wall and stuck to the bottom. When I finally managed to bring the fish to the surface, we were amazed, it was another Hog! As we got the fish into the net and went to lift it onto shore it became apparent that this fish was definitely bigger than the one we had sacked from the night before! When we slid her into the weighing sling and put her on the Rubin, sure enough she was bigger than the other fish! She weighed in at 30lb 15oz!! Only two fish out of the venue and both are thirties, WOW this is insane.
We had no time to admire the two awesome captures, as shortly after we weighed up the 30lb 15oz another of my remaining rods went off. It felt like yet another strong fish and ended up weighing it at a little over 23lb. We quickly snapped photos of the 23 and got her back. Now onto the big girls, photos were taken of both, then they were carefully released. So now we can celebrate, two thirties and it’s not even lunch time on the first full day of our trip! By the time I managed to get all my rods back out my dad had already cooked up a nice sausage lunch, and I sat back and enjoyed what was most certainly an already worthwhile trip. Some time after lunch I dozed off, and was awoken by the sound of one of my dads rods screaming off! “Dad! Dad! Where did you go!” I said. Turns out he had also dozed off! I woke him up and he got to fighting the fish. My dads first fish of the trip was a lovely chunky common in the 19+ range!
Awesome, no one had blanked, everything was cake after this point. Several minutes later I got another screaming run on my left rod and struck into what felt like another nice fish. Yet again the fish was making strong runs, taking lots of line, and holding tight to the bottom. When the fish finally surfaced about ten yards out I thought it might go high 20’s. My dad had a different angle on the fish and said he thought it was the biggest so far. When we got the fish into the net, there was no doubt, this was the biggest thus far! The stomach and back on this fish were massive!! When we put the fish on the scale we were yet again shocked when the needle went all the way to 31lb 12oz. This was beginning to get crazy, it seemed as if every other fished we put on the bank was a thirty! We were in amazement as we watched the third thirty of the session slowly swim away into the depths.
It almost seemed reminiscent of the trip we made down to Texas for the ATC, I mean this stuff just does not happen in Michigan everyday! Most years it’s good to get one or two thirties in a year here and I had just pulled out three in one session, and it was not over yet! By this time it was getting later in the day on Saturday and the cold front had hit full swing. It was blowing 25-30mph and the temperature was dropping like a stone. I actually called Andy and asked him if he knew any other spots on the opposite side of the lake because the waves were getting to the point of being un-fishable. The conditions absolutely shut off the fishing going into the second night. Around 10pm I decided to re bait all my rods and go to sleep. By the time we got the first run of the night, the weather was to the point that we did not even want to go fight fish regardless of the size. It was just to harsh, there was no way we could keep it up. My dad got a fish in the 25+lb range and we did not even bother to get pictures because the conditions were to harsh. After my dads forth fish of the night, we could not handle it any more, we had to pull the rods for the rest of the night and prayed for better weather in the morning.
As morning arrived we were somewhat relieved to see that the weather on Sunday was at least fishable, all be it not very comfortable. We re-baited all the rods and got them back out with our confidence very low. After about three hours of nothing I finally got a run on one of the rods I had re-baited with the new Saki Ground Bait from Markuyu. It felt like a very strong fish and had all the signs of being another hog. When we finally got the fish into the net I was in complete amazement! “Holy Cow” I thought “that is the 30lb 8 oz, that I caught on the very first night!” I was convinced, as the big double stomach was unmistakable, and my forth thirty of the session! Right then my other rod ripped off and it too felt like another hog! We got it near shore, snapped a few photos of the fight and finally netted the fish. This one ended up falling just short of the magic number at 29lb 2oz, but still not a bad brace!
After releasing those two fish I was just in shock. The trip was winding down to a close and I just did not want it to end. I was having way to much fun for it to be over so soon! Within the last hour of the session I got one final run resulting in a rather anti-climactic 10lb common, which was my only carp under the 20lb mark! As we packed up I looked back on what had happened over the last two days and just could not believe it. A new venue for myself, and the first session produced four thirties, and a 29lb, what else can I say! As I was driving home, calling all of my close friends, telling them what a great time we had, there was one person in particular I really wanted to get the photos of all the nice fish to. Andy Sprinkle played a big part in this sessions success. Everything from suggesting the venue, to helping me out with how he fished it, the guy is a class act! Thanks Andy, I really appreciate it buddy! This has to be one of my proudest moments as an angler to date, the fact that it turned out to be such a great session in such tough conditions still blows my mind! As I look back at last weekend, I know the memories I made with my father on the bank enjoying my 17th Birthday weekend will last a lifetime. I don’t know when I will have a session that matches this one, but I do know one thing, when it comes I will be ready!!!
What does a closed lake, getting thrown out on your ear by DNR for “camping” in a “no camping zone”, cliff descending, hanging and climbing, flat tires and auto mobile rescue missions have in common?? Christine Stout’s weekend of carp fishing that’s what!
It started out as a normal trip, key word STARTED of course. Gathering and packing for a weekend adventure of big carp pursuits! I found a few die hard fella’s to join in on my adventure come what may be and we are off to visit the long anticipated big fish venue of Lazy L Lake in Terre Haute, Indiana. It was an hour drive of chattering and talking about the winter blues and how we were all going to absolutely tear up the fish in this lake and give the lake owner something to remember.
So, we arrived at Lazy L to discover that the lake was not yet open to the public for insurance reasons and no matter how much begging, whining or good ole California girl talking I was prepared to do, the answer was still a resounding “NO”.
Okay, so there must be somewhere else to fish around this neck of the woods…let’s go find it! HEY! I think we passed a river on the way in here…let’s go check that out! So off we go, only to discover that the river was moving fast and none of us had brought any really heavy weights since we had planned to fish a lake. Hmmmm, what to do??? My genius is starting to set in again (which usually spells trouble) and I say let’s go fish that park we went to last weekend. The fish are small, but with all of us ready to go and in the groove of getting it done we better find somewhere because now it is getting dark.
So we arrive at this no name park on the edge of Terre Haute and who the heck knows what else, we determine that this looks like a fine spot to fish and set up for a couple of days. It’s clean, isn’t crowded and as a bonus, fish are rolling. Problem is, the spot we want to fish is bout a half mile around the park and no one has a barrow either. I point to the newly poured concrete path going round the park and say “I bet we could just hop over this little curb here (pointing at the one that is SUPPOSED to keep you from driving along this newly poured concrete) and drive our stuff back, drop it off and no one would be the wiser”. Like good little lambs everyone hops in their carp mobiles and follows the sheep herder to their selected fishing spots.
A bit of grunting and shuffling later, stuff is off loaded, camp is set up, carp mobiles are back in the parking lot, rods are in the water, carpers are carping and all is well.
During the night we dined on grilled pork chops with peach applesauce, mac n cheese and fresh fruit (yes I bring a grill everywhere I go). Everyone was jovial and a few fish were caught making this seem like a really good choice of fishing spots.
After a decent nights slumber in a well heated bivvy, I awake with visions of bacon and eggs running thru my head. After a good yawn and stretch I unzip the bivvy door to come face to face with what could be the angriest DNR officer I have yet to meet (and for some ungodly reason they all seem a bit grumpy to start with). This one in particular bypassed surly and went straight to irate when I cheerfully greeting him with a “Good Morning Officer”! I can assure you the cheerful expression I previously was wearing on my sleepy mug when I greeted the guy was quickly replaced with a look of utter surprise when he spouted off with “WHAT the (bleep) are you doing here and WHAT the (bleep) made you think you could camp here? He proceeded to tell all of us to pack our (bleep) and get the (bleep) out.
What I didn’t know was that sometime during the night, one of the guys got too cold in his bivvy, so he drove his car back down the path and parked it amongst the newly planted trees so that he could sleep in it to keep warm. One of the other guys who had already talked to this grumpy man had spent a few minutes trying to convince him that his OBVIOUS tent was not a tent, it was a “shelter” which is not camping at all, just a place to keep warm.
What I found out was the DNR officer was smarter than he looked. He was wise enough to notice the frost on the tent and the bivvys which obviously meant we had been there all night. He also had good eyesight because he was able to spot the vehicle illegally parked in the trees. He was also acutely aware that someone (points at herself) drove along the path to unload stuff because there were tire marks along the newly poured concrete that had the nice little curb that was supposed to keep people from doing that. Also noted was he did not have a problem walking me like a two year old to a sign that CLEARLY read “no camping”. I wanted to say something clever like “oh, that applies to me, too” but thought I would likely see the guy bust a vein in his forehead or steam come from his ears or something. I did however have the nerve to ask if I could drive back there again to pick up all our stuff…..he was not amused.
Somehow, we managed to get everything packed up in RECORD SETTING time, after being searched for any Trout we may have stashed and got back into our carp mobiles to figure out what was next. I piped up with “let’s go to Cataract Lake”! Heads started to bob in agreement and off we went. Now you would think after the morning we just had I would try to make sure I guided everyone to a place where we could drive right down to a swim where it was easy to get to and more importantly LEGAL to be at…..NOT!!
After driving around the lake for a bit I settled on a road ( well not really a road, a dirt path with a couple of tire marks on it) that ran down the side of a very tall bridge down to a ravine where there was a part of the lake that looked like a great fishing spot since there was no one down there and great bank space. I can tell you this, there was a terrific reason no one was down there. A few of them in fact, the first one probably being the most important really. It was a death defying act to get down there. The angle of the path itself was pretty much straight down, bout the width that a golf cart could comfortably stretch across, wet, sandy and very very badly rutted from the snow melt. Now, what I was driving is considerably larger than a golf cart, it’s a ¾ ton 2 wheel drive full size utility van. I did mention it was 2 wheel drive right? This come into play on the getting back up the hill part… My husband was in the passenger seat, hanging on to the “oh (bleep) bar” above the passenger door with white knuckles and furiously slamming on the invisible brakes he believes are on the floorboard on the passenger side to no avail. If you have ever seen the cartoons where their eyes bulge out of their heads on springs, yah he looked JUST like that. We pretty much slid down this steep embankment to the bottom of the ravine after teetering on two tires once or twice. Once we made it down there I cheerily said “what the heck were you worried about, I had it the whole time”. My husband was rendered speechless for the next few hours.
Nothing like a near death experience to get your rear in gear for some good carp fishing, right? So we get set up AGAIN, only to discover that this wonderful place I have taken us to is just 2 foot of water!! Can’t give up hope now, if we bait up real well, we may be able to see them coming in this shallow of water!! So, bait up we did, 4 anglers down there, everyone had a great area to pitch camp, plenty of bank space and water in front of them and we did what we do best, we catch carp!
Each of us caught 12 or so fish, all very small in the 1 to 7 pound range but after the last 24 hours we had, any carp was pure joy to us. Somehow I managed to sneak in a lovely 16.15 lb beauty, which is unheard of at Cataract falls. This fish definitely broke the “Hoosier Carpers” records for fish caught there and still waiting to see if it is an actual lake record or not.
All good things must come to an end, time to pack up and drive my chariot back up this treacherous hill. I did discover that there was another path on the other side of the bridge that looked marginally wider, but just a bit steeper. I opted for this route since I just about demolished the other path on my way down. Our buddies that came with us decided to go up it first in their 4×4 to show me how easy it was. It sure did look easy….but easy it was not. I gave it a roaring go, making it bout half way up the hill before starting to lose traction, eased back down the hill and gave myself a moment to gather my thoughts and plan my next go. I dropped it into first gear and headed up only to discover that on first gear I could not pick up enough momentum to get this bulky carp tackle filled beast up this steep hill. Back down I go for a few more moments of silence. Tires scream, dirt and rocks are flying as I tear up the hill at the fastest I could manage without soiling myself and just as I get to where I can see the light, to where I know I am going get over the crest of it I hear this horrific noise. It is a noise that we all know EXACTLY what it is when you hear it. It is the sound of all of the air WHOOSHING out of a tire in the snap of a fingers time. Yes, rolling back down the hill I go, on 3 tires and a rim this time.
An hour later AAA shows up with some heavy equipment and chains and various other things that rattle, yank and pull you out of whatever idiotic situation you may have gotten into. Now during the time of us being stuck down there, a pair of local sheriffs decided to see what all the ruckus was about. They were friendly chaps who aside from laughing at me driving down there in the first place didn’t have a whole lot to say. The DNR officer that was right behind them was a different story entirely though. I am fairly sure he was either related to or friends with the previous one I encountered because they sounded an awful lot alike. “WHAT the (bleep) are you doing here and WHO the (bleep) drove THAT (pointing at my crippled carp mobile) down there? I meekly raised my hand in utter shame and thought, here we go again.
This brings about the OTHER reason people do not drive down there, it happens to be part of the state park, no vehicle or camping allowed. This DNR officer, although very annoyed, DID see the humor in the situation and found me very amusing. In a few minutes time of carp chat and such we were like old friends and he was helping the tow drivers (yes I said tow driver(S), it took more than one) to get the van out.
All in all, was a great experience with friends, caught fish, learned some new laws and such and just for the small cost of a new tire…can’t beat that! Oh yah, forgot to mention….I also found out I am NOT immune to poison ivy as I previously had thought……Must have brushed my face up against a little in one of the trips to the “woods”…..
I am pleased to announce the Evan Cartabiano has been added to the select team of Big Carp News Contributors. Evan brings something very very rare in the carp world. He is a fisheries scientist, with a huge interest in carp. This is something I have not witnessed much of anywhere before and will hopefully help many anglers to understand carp in their quarry and to ultimately catch more carp. Welcome aboard Evan! (Craig- Editor)
Meet the contributor!
Hometown: Willington, CT
Location: Stillwater, OK
Occupation: Graduate Research Assistant (Fisheries and Aquatic Ecology) – Fisheries Scientist
Number of fish species caught: 150+ (and of course including Cyprinus carpio (common/mirror carp)and Ctenopharyngodon idella (grass carp)
Why carp fishing?
For some reason carp have always been interesting to me. I remember reading about carp fishing when I was 8, and really wanting to catch one, and that desire has stayed with me. Also the gear is awesome and I love making rigs. Carp fishing is about as rigy and tackle intensive as you can get.
Most obsessive thing you have done to catch a carp?
There are a few things I have done that might be candidates for this category. There are many examples of fishing in dark subfreezing conditions with 30+ mph winds blowing on shore. Or paddling (not rowing) a mile with a john boat full of gear and bait. Or trying to raise blood worms when I can’t catch carp on any normal bait.
Angler(s) you most respect?
Nick Helleur would have to be in the top 3. I read many of his articles in Advanced Carp Fishing, and his style of fishing has had a big influence on how I fish. Todd Davis would have to be another. He gladly helped me when I was starting carp fishing with euro style gear, and is a wonderfully methodic angler and a great teacher.
Favorite bit of kit?
I am a big fan of 30lb braid line. It casts further, allows you to really put pressure on the fish if need be and I like to know what is going on at my hook bait. A marker float is also something that I don’t like to be without. Without it you are fishing blind and I have not lost an untold amount of end tackle by finding out that the swim was full of trees, brush piles, and bicycles.
Worst tackle purchase ever?
Cheap catapult – it broke first time I tried it.
Cheap bite alarms – don’t always sound during a take which can have some interesting results, but I guess you get what you pay for. And yes I am still using them as there is not much money in being a grad student. Not naming names but got them from a place with the initials S.T..
Sweet corn has been my go to bait ever since I started, and I still use it when I am first fishing a venue. Blood worm boilies are my top flavor right now. I like to fish any hook bait over pellets if there are not too many catfish around. Pellets attract many species of fish, and this in turn can attract the carp, just use a larger hook bait if other species have become a problem.
Nickajack Lake in Tennessee.
What was your best ever session?
Fishing in Lake Lanier in GA. There was a lot of boat traffic and it was stirring up the bottom on a long point that had some deep water off to one side. The fish were up on the drop off and were really going at it. It was a nice mix of commons and mirrors, and they kept biting until I completely ran out of bait. The fish were not all that large, but the amount of action with mirrors was welcome on a lake where carp were somewhat hard to catch.
A 12lb common form the tail race below Carters Lake in GA. The water was really rushing and there was only a 2×2 spot that I would not get instantly snagged. This fish while not being all that large put up the best fight of any carp I have caught to date, running 30yds before I got it turned. To top it off it was the best looking carp I have ever seen, dark bronze woodcut, with very large fins and a sleek from. A wonderful fish.
Fish where the wind has stirred up the bottom and if this coincides with a front moving in in the next 24hrs even better. Don’t be afraid to use donkey choker size baits – they catch fish. I like to fish a double stack of 30mm baits over a large bed of pellets as I have found that I really do weed out the smaller fish (don’t try this if you are only doing a day session – it can take some time to get a take).
My favorite rig would have to be a running rig with a combi hook link. This only really works well if you have braid main line however. If I am fishing mono I will use a bolt rig with a lead clip. If the water is very clear and there are not too many snags, a 10lb fluorocarbon hook link is a favorite of mine.
Worst ever session?
Blanking during horrible weather when no one else would dream of being out fishing!
Just this Past August Brendan and I competed in the St. Lawrence Junior Carp Tournament. A couple months before the tourney Brendan and I were doing everything possible to get ready to fish it. We knew it would be a lot different fishing compared to what we were used to back home with strong current, sharp zebra mussels, lots of snags. We bought all kinds of stuff ranging from heavy leads, heavy line, heavier rods, some new baits, and end tackle. Once we got all of our equipment prepared we just had to wait until August to fish the mighty St. Lawrence River!
Fast Forwarding to August it was time to leave for New York. After a ten hour driver we arrived in Waddington, New York two days before the Tournament was supposed to start, we got our hotel and took it easy the first night as we had a lot to do the next couple days. The next morning we woke up and stopped by the river just to see what it was like and it was absolutely amazing! We walked out onto some boat docks and were shocked when we saw how crystal clear this water was! We even got to see a few carp swimming around under the boat docks which got us very excited! A little while later we met up with our sponsor Munenori who graciously gave us a lot of awesome stuff from Marukyu for the tournament. The last thing we did that day was pick up an envelope with our pegs for day one and two in them. Day one we were located in Waddington and day two it was Ogdensburg. That night before the tournament I hardly slept wondering what the next two days would bring!Day one of the tournament found us in the middle pegs in Waddington, which is a peg known for its smaller fish. They gave us an hour to set up and bait our area, which people sure were taking advantage of baiting wise. There were about five people throwing ridiculous amounts of corn in the water, far too much in my mind. Brendan and I both threw out only a couple method balls, being careful not to over bait like the majority. As far as hook bait and rigs I went with a 16 ml pineapple mainline boilie with a size four curve shank hook. We were using six ounces of lead to hold bottom at this swim.
We were fairly confident we would do well because Brendan got a run quickly, but unfortunately struck into thin air. Oh well, nothing to do except get the rod back in the water. That’s when our confidence slowly went away as it started to rain and nobody had hooked into anything within four hours. Then a girl three pegs to my left got a screaming run and landed a little 10lber. She continued to hook three more around the same size then it fell silent again. It was time for lunch now and as I started eating I got a bleep along with a small drop on the indicator, within ten minutes it shot off! I picked up the rod and was so thrilled to have hooked my first St. Larry carp! After a really tough battle through a ton of thick weed she was finally mine! Nothing of any size weighing in around 11lb but I broke the ice at least.
An hour or two went by and it was Brendan’s turn as he got a screaming run and landed one around the 10lb mark after a lengthy battle through all of the weeds. Brendan managed to land one more before losing the third run. The biggest to come out of all 112 pegs that day was 24lbs. Not the start I was looking for, but there is always day two.Day two of the tournament found me in peg one and Brendan in peg two. I could not be more happy with this peg draw as you are about to find out. It is located in a slower area of the river in a nice bay. As for tactics I switched down to a size six hook and used a four ounce lead but kept the same bait as day one. I got my rod casted out at around 70 yards and all I had to do was wait. A little girl about six pegs to my left caught a smaller carp after about 30 minutes. Only a half hour after that I got a full out screamer and when I picked it up it was like I hooked a freight train, this fish just wouldn’t quit! As I started to bring him in I started feeling him swimming through a lot of thick weed and snags. Eventually he snagged me up solid; I patiently tried to free him and did so after about ten minutes to only have him snag me up for good a little later. I ended up losing what felt like a very good fish. I was so upset I couldn’t tell you in words how I felt. Brendan also hooked up as I was fighting that fish and lost a good one to snags as well.
After lunch I added some betaine powder to my method mix and catapulted a pound or two of method balls out there. This proved to be effective as i hooked into another fish 45 minutes later. Unfortunately I lost him due to a hook pull. My luck was about to change though. I got another run and when I lifted into him I was astonished at how fast he was running! After turning him the fight got nerve-racking when I felt him swimming around in the snags. Eventually I got him to the top and kept him there until the net. Success I landed one finally and a big one at that. He was a torpedo of a fish that weighed in at 32lb 2oz my new PB common and the biggest fish caught out of the whole tournament! Brendan got one fish that day at 14lb and I hooked one more very big fish to lose it about five feet from the net. After the fishing was done we went to the awards ceremony and had a great time meeting all the anglers. Overall it was a great trip and now we know what we can expect when we come to fish it in 2013!
Itching to get out on the bank but cant because of the snow and ice? Are thoughts of carp increasingly filling you daydreams?………..ME TOO!
Well you can keep yourself focused and sane by preparing some of your baits for spring right now. I like to begin glugging/and oiling my pellets now ready for when those temperatures rise. This way when spring does arrive they are full of attractant, will have a longer breakdown time releasing flavor for longer and will have that extra edge when trying to draw fish into the swim. In addition to this when fish do enter the swim and start feeding the oil from the pellets will be disturbed, and the surface of the water will develop flat spots as the oil rises to the subsurface water layers. This is a great watercraft tip as you know fish are in the swim and feeding near your bait.
Many of the USA water I fish have a big head of crayfish and crabs. These nuisance creatures can easily take boilies off the hair without you even knowing about it. By soaking up your bottom baits in liquid attractants it will make the baits rock hard, and hopefully keep a bait on the rig if crayfish are present.
Now go get some bait and liquid attractant and get your hands messy. Spring is only a couple of months away!!!