Rules For catching a big carp

Six Golden Rules for Catching a Big Carp

Rules for Catching a Big Carp: Scott Sweetman excels in precision fishing, directing his efforts toward a specific fish. In this guide, he elaborates on his methodology for identifying particular carp. A seasoned angler with a knack for pursuing coveted big fish, Scott Sweetman predominantly structures his fishing pursuits around targeting these extraordinary carp that capture our dreams. Discover his six essential guidelines for honing in on the majestic rulers of your selected water.

1 – Choose the Target and Fishing Location

When zeroing in on a target fish, I consider several key factors in deciding where and what to fish for, with the primary focus being on the carp itself. I seek distinctive qualities, such as its age, appearance, size, or the unique characteristics of the lake it inhabits. This might include opting for a less-frequented, sparsely stocked lake, an aged park lake, or a vast windswept pit. My goal is to pinpoint something that sets that particular fish or group of fish apart.

For me, the pursuit is not solely about going after the largest carp available; I find equal satisfaction in fishing for a visually appealing mid-30lb carp as I do in the pursuit of a massive 50-pounder. As long as both the lake and its inhabitants continue to inspire and motivate me, I consider my fishing endeavors a success.

2 – Swim Selection

Choosing the right swim is undeniably crucial when targeting specific carp. Old carp often adhere to familiar patterns, and a retrospective analysis of their past captures can provide valuable insights, allowing you to identify specific areas to focus on during particular times of the year. This strategic approach significantly tips the odds in your favor for catching that elusive carp.

Rules for Catching a Big Carp

A compelling illustration of this strategy occurred when I was fishing a compact, weedy, and snaggy lake, where the carp faced heavy pressure and proved challenging to catch. Observing the frequent presence of most of the lake’s stock, including the target fish, in the snags, revealed that these seasoned fish had a preferred corner they rarely strayed from.

The lake presented a unique dynamic, offering the opportunity to almost handpick the ‘A team’ by targeting specific areas. One particular carp I sought after, named ‘Shoulders,’ consistently appeared in a neglected corner. Although rarely seen on the bank, this end of the lake had witnessed the majority of his captures. Undertaking a mission in this overlooked section, I successfully landed him just a few feet from the bank, weighing in at 40lb 10oz, nearly a year from his last capture, once again from the same swim.

The key takeaway: never underestimate the potential of neglected swims when engaged in targeted fishing.

3 – Tackle

Choosing the right tackle is of utmost importance in the pursuit of large carp. I opt for the most robust equipment that I can confidently use, selecting reliable components that consistently perform. Securing every bite becomes imperative when targeting big carp, necessitating a strategic approach.

For the mainline, I prefer Sub Braid whenever possible, providing maximum strength while ensuring exceptional accuracy and sensitivity to every ‘drop.’ In situations where braid is not permitted, I turn to 20lb Touchdown, offering ample strength for the task.

Rules for Catching a Big Carp

If the fishing venue allows, I always incorporate Kable Leadcore, approximately 1 meter in length, enhancing strength and reliability. This is always paired with a Heli Safe, presenting a significant advantage in fishing rotary-style and facilitating the release of the lead when necessary. The ability to drop the lead can often make the difference between losing or successfully landing a fish—a critical factor when targeting specific fish species. Notably, the Heli-Safe comes with a practical sleeve option, allowing for lead retention when not required. In most scenarios, I prefer the reassurance of knowing that the lead can be ejected as needed.

I prefer lightweight leads to minimize disturbance, typically opting for around 1.5oz. In this setup, I use extended hooklinks and Kamakura X hooks, known for their razor-sharp points and robust gauge, instilling me with the utmost confidence.

All the tackle Scott uses conveniently fits into a compact storage solution, specifically a small Compac. His rig essentials include Kamakura Wide Gape X hooks, 15lb IQ2 line, and a few additional pieces of equipment.

Scott’s favored rig involves a clever modification, featuring a piece of silicone that extends the ‘D,’ providing enhanced movement for both the hook and the bait.

4 – Bait

The role of bait in carp targeting is substantial, often serving as a pivotal element in angling success and a key factor in enticing your desired fish. Pre-baiting or consistently introducing bait to the lake can significantly tilt the odds in your favor, particularly when establishing a productive spot. Maintaining a steady supply of bait can yield consistent results, with larger carp often succumbing to this strategic approach.

Reflecting on the past decade, the majority of my target fish have been lured by baited areas, frequently in overlooked and neglected zones.

In the summer of 2021, I discovered a promising spot at Flint—a highly weedy bay that had been largely ignored despite its historical success. Observing carp activity in the weed, I embarked on a campaign by first raking a fishing spot just large enough for one rod. I initiated the baiting process with a mix of hemp and approximately a kilogram of 16mm Krill. Subsequent baiting sessions throughout the week contributed to the spot’s expansion.

Hemp and Boilie, perfect for pre-baiting before your sessions.

Using this method, I successfully landed several fish over the following weeks, including a notable 45lb common, all by fishing with a single rod in this secluded spot within the weed. Baiting in this manner allowed the fish to feed confidently without the presence of lines in the water. When I would drop in for a night of fishing, bites were often immediate.

This approach not only instills confidence in me as an angler but, crucially, fosters the carp’s trust in the baited spot. I consistently seek and exploit such opportunities in my angling pursuits—identifying fruitful spots, baiting the area for a week or two, and then returning to capitalize on the established feeding zone. Although these spots may not endure for extended periods, they often yield the capture of several fish in just a few trips, even in sparsely stocked pits.

One rod was all that was needed.
45+ slipping up on the rod above, over a pre-baited spot up against the weed.

5 – The Numbers Game

In the pursuit of large carp, I employ a couple of distinct approaches. One involves patiently waiting it out in well-known swims or areas that have historically yielded big catches, even if it means accepting a lower overall catch rate. However, this tactic positions me favorably to land my target fish.

The other strategy, which I predominantly employ based on my available time and personal style, is to engage in the numbers game. Essentially, this means aiming to catch as many carp as possible. Personally, I believe that consistent catches bring me closer to the desired ones. It assures me that my rig and bait are effective, boosts my confidence, and tips the odds in my favor.

This one taken with the biggest mirror in the lake, a memorable brace from an ultra low stock pit.

As you progress and deplete the stock, there comes a time when you start doubling up on captures, with the main target fish becoming more accessible. During such phases, I’m inclined to shift towards waiting it out in known big fish swims, anticipating that one crucial bite. However, especially when starting on a new lake, my primary focus is on catching as many carp as possible.

By actively engaging with the fish, changing swims, and consistently getting bites on lakes where a successful season might only yield 4 or 5 carp, achieving that quantity or more significantly enhances the likelihood of eventually landing the specific ones you desire.

6 – Mindset

Maintaining the right mindset and mentality plays a crucial role in targeting large and elusive carp, especially when fishing in lower stocked lakes where bites can be infrequent.

Consistently adhere to what you know works best; it’s counterproductive to start making changes during periods of inactivity, a common aspect of fishing in less populated venues.

Recognize that success won’t happen every time you cast your line, but let this drive you even harder. The key is to stick to rigs and bait that instill confidence, emphasizing the importance of placing them in the right spot at the right time. Pursuing big carp is a captivating journey, and the satisfaction of netting that elusive specimen is unparalleled.