Category: Carp Science

take notes

Take Notes! (By Ian Chillcott)

While the title “Take notes” may not immediately convey it, this piece delves deeper into the essence of my angling journey, focusing not just on tactics and gear, but on the enduring lessons that have shaped my success over the years. From the inception of the hair rig in the early 1980s, my voyage through the world of carp fishing has been a rollercoaster of experiences – moments of laughter, tears, triumphs, and challenges. From the ever-changing landscape of rig choices to debates over bait quantities and the shifting tides of angling trends, it’s been a journey marked by both confusion and exhilaration.

We all have our own unique perspectives that guide us along our chosen paths. However, alongside personal insights, we often find ourselves influenced by prevailing fashions and trends. Yet, amidst this sea of external influences, it’s vital to retain the ability to think independently and acknowledge our own successes and failures. As I embark on my fifth decade of carp angling, I’m reminded of the wealth of experiences that have shaped my journey. While these experiences may not qualify me as an infallible expert, they have certainly provided valuable insights that I’m eager to share with the next generation of anglers.

So, while I may not have all the answers to the myriad challenges we encounter on the bank, I do possess a wealth of knowledge gained through years of trial and error. And it’s this wisdom that I hope to pass on, regardless of whether it’s to the young or the old, ensuring that the legacy of our angling traditions continues to thrive.

take notes


Throughout my journey, one invaluable lesson stands out above all: the importance of personal discovery. While the angling community is full of well-meaning advice, there’s also the occasional misguided soul looking to throw you off course. It’s essential to listen, absorb, but ultimately trust your own judgment. Over the years, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes following others blindly. However, I’ve always found solace in what my eyes reveal. Observation is the bedrock of my approach, guiding every decision I make on the water.

In our ever-evolving pursuit, tactics and baiting strategies come and go. What remains constant is our ability to adapt, to read the signs nature presents us with. The true essence of carp angling lies in our connection to the environment, to the subtle cues provided by the fish and the weather. In this sense, the eyes truly are our most valuable tool, allowing us to navigate the complexities of the sport with clarity and precision.


Above all your gear – hooks, rigs, or line – your eyes are paramount. While polarized glasses can enhance your visibility, especially for close-quarters carp spotting, it’s often the distant vistas that provide the clearest picture. Observing carp behavior is key to successful angling. Whether it’s their movements in specific areas or the telltale signs like bubbles and mud clouds, every observation adds to your knowledge base.

However, the accessibility of modern waters has shifted the angling landscape. Carp have become more abundant and easier to catch, leading to crowded fisheries. Finding a swim, let alone one with carp, can be a challenge, particularly during peak seasons. Many blame their tackle for their misfortune, overlooking the larger issue. Despite the frustrations, embracing these conditions can be a valuable learning experience. Understanding the water, where carp are caught, what baits work, and the preferred areas and swims of successful anglers, is essential for navigating these modern challenges.

take notes


My trusty notebook has been a constant companion in my angling endeavors, serving as my personal carp fishing archive. Every capture, every detail noted down – from others’ successes to the weather conditions and the number of anglers present. These entries, meticulously recorded over many years, form a rich tapestry of angling experiences.

The value of this information extends beyond the immediate session. I often find myself revisiting past entries, mining them for insights and strategies. Sometimes, it leads to instant success; other times, it serves as a guiding light for future outings. Each notebook, brimming with maps and swim details, is a testament to my dedication to the craft.

While technology offers tempting shortcuts, I remain steadfast in my reliance on pen and paper. There’s something inherently satisfying about the act of writing, a process that cements knowledge and sparks inspiration. And when a prized catch like the 44.04 common graces my net, I’m reminded of the pivotal role my notes played in its capture.

Reflecting on these records is not just about personal growth; it’s also about respecting the wisdom shared by fellow anglers. By taking ownership of my learning journey, I’ve unlocked a deeper appreciation for the sport and its challenges. For me, the true joy of carp fishing lies in this pursuit of knowledge, a journey that enriches every catch and fuels my passion further.

take notes


Ultimately, it boils down to a personal battle between me and the carp, regardless of the knowledge I’ve gleaned from various sources. This philosophy has kept my passion for fishing alive and well. By gathering and analyzing information firsthand, I’ve maximized the rewards of each catch – whether it’s celebrating the capture of a prized 43.14 target mirror or eagerly anticipating the next challenge.

Wishing you all tight lines and memorable angling adventures and do not forget to “take notes”.

Best regards,

Carp Fishing Weather

Optimal Carp Fishing Weather Conditions

Carp Fishing Weather: Carp fishing presents challenges, and beginners may feel disheartened after several unsuccessful sessions. Even seasoned carp anglers experience blank sessions—it’s all part of the journey. Understanding the weather conditions preferred by carp can enhance your chances of success.

The perfect Carp Fishing Weather involves a moderate to warm air temperature, low air pressure, south/south-westerly wind, and an overcast sky—creating ideal ‘carpy’ conditions.

Stable water temperature is crucial. Carp are less active in excessively cold or warm water but become feeding machines in more temperate temperatures. Evening, night, and early morning hours often yield the most bites, as lower temperatures and increased oxygen levels prevail. Ideal water temperatures range from 47 to 57 degrees Fahrenheit (8 to 14 degrees Celsius) in Autumn/Winter and 60 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 22 degrees Celsius) in Spring/Summer.

During winter, carp gather in deeper, slower-cooling areas of the lake, so targeting these zones increases your chances of success.

Barometric pressure significantly influences carp behavior. Low or gradually falling barometric pressure is optimal. After an extended period of high pressure, a pressure drop (preferably over several days) can trigger increased carp activity and feeding due to reduced pressure on their swim bladder.

Understanding air pressure is essential for optimal carp fishing weather. High-pressure systems in winter bring clear skies and cold temperatures, less favorable for fishing. In contrast, low-pressure systems, characterized by cloudiness and warmth, create better conditions for carp fishing.

While wind direction isn’t the most critical factor, windy conditions can benefit carp fishing. Ripples on the water reduce light visibility, allowing carp to feed more confidently. Agitated surface water absorbs more oxygen, and wind pushes food supplies toward the margins, attracting carp.

Southern or southwesterly breezes, often warmer and coinciding with lower air pressure and moderate temperatures, are ideal for carp fishing.

An overcast sky with dense clouds is favorable for carp fishing. Clouds reduce underwater visibility, making cautious carp feel more comfortable. Heavy cloud cover retains warmth, moderating the ratio of daylight to nighttime temperatures in air and water, keeping carp active for longer.

While we can’t always plan around the weather, monitoring forecasts is crucial to understand the optimal carp fishing weather conditions. Apps like XC Weather provide reliable information on air pressure, wind direction, and rain, aiding anglers in planning their sessions.

While not universally applicable, understanding and leveraging weather conditions can significantly improve carp fishing outcomes. The described conditions consistently yield success for many carp fishermen, as carp behavior remains consistent across locations. Whether you’re a novice or exploring new fishing spots, fishing in these conditions increases the likelihood of landing your first carp. Best of luck and tight lines!

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset

Meet Oscar Thornton, a Winter Enthusiast

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset: Embarking on winter fishing expeditions is Oscar Thornton’s specialty, a fact well-documented in recent years. Despite the chilly conditions, Oscar consistently manages to deliver impressive results during the colder months, even on the most frigid days. In this discussion, we delve into the secrets behind his consistently successful winter campaigns.

Winter holds a special place in my heart for fishing. The serene banks, breathtaking sunrises, and winter landscapes create an unmatched ambiance. Picture fresh blue mornings, the comforting hum of the Coleman stove, and pastries toasting on the ridge – with the right mindset, winter sessions become truly enjoyable.

One observation that always stands out to me is the unnecessary changes some anglers make during winter, often at the expense of missing out on fish. My mantra is to keep things simple, stick to what you know, and make minor adjustments to ensure a continuous flow of bites, no matter how cold it gets.

Immaculate December Common: 43+

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset

First and foremost, my advice is simple yet crucial – get out there and do it. Winter provides quieter banks, and being fortunate to have a local lake, I can visit almost daily to observe the water and introduce some bait. Recognizing my privilege, I acknowledge the value of putting in the work behind the scenes, a factor that significantly contributes to success.

The most pivotal piece of advice I can offer is to locate the carp. Winter sees them grouped together, and as spring approaches, their increased activity reveals their whereabouts. The golden moments for carp spotting are first light, when the sun gently warms the water, and early afternoon when the sun is closest, providing another warming opportunity. Sunlit areas are winter hotspots, as carp, like us, seek the sun’s warmth. Monitoring weather forecasts, especially in winter, is a significant aspect of my angling strategy. Favorable conditions such as warmer days, strong winds, pressure drops, and moon phases play a role in determining my fishing plans.

Winter feeding windows are limited, making it crucial to capitalize on them. Recent windy days, for instance, could trigger a reaction from the fish. While each venue is unique, I’ve noticed that after a fresh wind stirs up the bottom, carp may follow it for a day before seeking calmer waters.

Staying focused on the lake can be challenging with distractions like mobile phones. I minimize phone use during fishing, opting for a radio to stay connected while keeping an eye on the water. It’s impossible to watch 24/7, but the more attentive you are, the higher the chance of spotting that vital show, potentially changing the course of your season.

When it comes to tactics, I advise against unnecessary changes in winter. Stick to what you know and have confidence in; winter is not the time for experimenting. Doubting your rigs or bait in the cold behind the rods is the last thing you want.

Solid Bag Rig: My Go-To in Recent Years

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset

In terms of rigs, solid bags have been a game-changer for me. They allow precise casting to showing fish without the fear of tangling. My solid bag rigs consist of Size 4 Kamakura Wide Gapes and 4 inches of 18lb Supernatural. Paired with heavy 4oz inline leads and 12lb Kontor straight through, it’s an effective tactic for winter fishing.

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset
Blow Back Rig My Favoured Approach Over Bait

Alternatively, if spot fishing over bait, I opt for blow back rigs using Size 4 Kamakura Wide Gapes and shrink tube kickers. Steam-fitting the kickers at an aggressive angle helps flip the hook. My hooklinks feature fairly long 8 to 10-inch sections of 20lb N Trap Soft, with Hybrid Lead Clips and 4oz leads. Fishing with slack Kontour mainline, nearly invisible in clear winter water, complements this setup.

Don’t Forget the Zig Kit

Never leave home without zig bits, especially in winter. They can make the difference between a blank and a successful fishing day. My zig kit includes Size 8 Kamakura Wide Gapes, 11lb Zig line, and a substantial lead of at least 3oz, often paired with red and black foam soaked in Rod Hutchinson Nouvelle Fizz.

Carp Fishing Winter Mindset – Minimal Baiting for Winter Success

Baiting strategy shifts in winter, where I prefer a minimal approach due to time constraints. Carp are less active, requiring less food. Overloading them in winter is counterproductive. As spring approaches, single hookbaits may become more effective than baiting. If I spot a group of fish, deploying single hookbaits among them is a strategy worth exploring.

When spot fishing, and if baiting feels right, my go-to winter mix includes red maggot, Sweetcorn, chopped Cell boilie, hemp, and Smart Liquid. I distribute no more than 6 spombs at a time, occasionally topping up with 3 more after each bite. Keeping baiting tight ensures carp don’t have to move much to feed, providing them an easy meal in the winter.

Comfort is Key for the right Carp Fishing Winter Mindset

My final piece of advice revolves around comfort – an uncomfortable angler is a less effective angler. Cold and wet conditions can be demoralizing. Always bring spare clothes stored in the car as a backup. With a plethora of high-quality clothing options available, investing in comfortable gear is essential for every angler. Keep the stove topped up, and enjoy your fishing to the fullest by prioritizing comfort.

Have Fun!

Enjoy it!

New Year Banger in the Frost!

Tom Dove - Location Is Key

Decoding Carp Fishing: Tom Dove’s Insightful Guide to Mastering Carp Location Strategies

Guide to Mastering Carp Location Strategies

Guide to Mastering Carp Location StrategiesIn my journey through carp fishing, one undeniable truth has surfaced – location is the linchpin of a successful catch. It’s the heartbeat of the entire game; nothing else matters unless you’re right on top of the carp. Let’s dive into the essentials of locating carp (Guide to Mastering Carp Location Strategies), as I break down the key points from my perspective.

The notion that “this is the most important part of my fishing” has been tossed around in various fishing aspects, from hook patterns to bait choices. But let’s face it, location takes the crown. Without being where the carp are, the story ends before it begins. I jest about conjuring up ways to catch carp without a hook, perhaps resorting to a lasso or a net, but the reality is, without carp present, the struggle is real.

Guide to Mastering Carp Location StrategiesExplaining precisely where an angler should position themselves on each fishing trip is akin to navigating a labyrinth. There are countless factors that can shift fish locations. However, amidst this complexity, a few simple rules stand firm, serving as reliable guides throughout the fishing seasons.

In the ever-changing scenarios on the bank, I advocate for allocating a significant portion of mental bandwidth to observing the location and movement of the fish—80%, to be precise. It’s not about complicating things; it’s about understanding that different situations arise on every fishing outing. Yet, when you’re out there, the location and movement of the fish should dominate your thoughts, both in the moment and as a lesson for the next trip. Spend time before setting up to ensure you’re in the right swim.

I can’t stress enough the importance of watching the water, especially at dawn.

Guide to Mastering Carp Location StrategiesGuide to Mastering Carp Location Strategies: What should you look for?

Carp can give themselves away in various ways, and it’s crucial to understand what to look for. The most obvious sign is a carp leaping clear of the water. It’s a sight you should constantly be on the lookout for. Despite its obviousness, I’ve witnessed people missing opportunities because they simply aren’t paying attention to the lake. Seeing one fish jump and adjusting your position can be the difference between a blank and a fantastic weekend of fishing.

Most of the time, carp aren’t that easy to find, requiring you to look for subtler signs. Keep your eyes peeled for bubbles, flat spots, murky water, and anything that seems out of place. When a carp feeds, it disturbs the lake bed, creating cloudy water, bubbles, and sometimes bits of debris. Pinpointing these signs of fish activity is the most critical job, allowing you to fish in the area with confidence.

Guide to Mastering Carp Location StrategiesGuide to Mastering Carp Location Strategies: Let’s talk weather

Weather plays a pivotal role in the carp’s location habits. Winds, in particular, can push fish into specific areas, making them either easier or harder to catch, depending on the lake’s layout. Carp love and respond to wind, even if it’s cold. It’s not necessarily about moving into the windward corner, but they almost always shift from their current position when a new wind arrives.

The direction of the wind has the most significant impact. Southwesterly winds are frequent and bring fantastic fishing weather. Overcast, mild, and windy conditions are what I consider fantastic fishing weather. Fish often follow a wind from the south, ending up in the general area that the wind is pushing into.

Westerly winds and a big pressure drop, northerly winds bringing wet but colder weather, and easterly winds, with clear skies and high pressure, are all factors to consider. Keep a close eye on the weather to understand how it affects the movement and mood of the fish.

Snags and islands are prominent features in any lake. They serve as both shelter and patrol routes for carp. When you have no other signs to go on, these are the areas to head for initially. In my experience, the leeward side of an island is preferable, offering a calm area for carp to feed comfortably.

Casting tight to island margins can be a massive advantage. Don’t be afraid to cast multiple times to a likely-looking spot, as fish will only retreat into a snag while the disturbance is happening.

About the trees

Trees offer the best vantage point for actively finding carp. Using a safe tree as a viewing point allows you to look down through the water, gaining a better picture of fish behavior. The higher you get, coupled with a good pair of polaroids, enhances your ability to make the most of the situation.

Popular swims are popular for a reason. While it’s easy to say, ‘ignore the popular swims,’ sometimes you just have to fish them if you want to succeed. However, don’t ignore less-frequented areas, as the majority of fish caught in certain swims doesn’t mean the rest of the lake is devoid of carp. If reality dictates limited access to popular swims, make a plan in a swim that gets left alone, creating a backup plan.

Guide to Mastering Carp Location StrategiesFishing for liners might not be a tactic for finding fish initially, but once you’re confident in the area, paying attention to smaller things, like liner activity, can make a difference in hook bait placement.

During a recent shoot, I considered everything I’ve shared here. I had a good look around the lake, saw nothing, so I set up on the wind.

Fishing into the lea of an island, as I hadn’t seen other signs of carp, I hadn’t received a bite after an hour or two but had experienced liners. Constant liners can indicate that you’re fishing too far out. I reeled in, repositioned my hookbaits, and received two bites within half an hour of the first recast.

Condensing a mind full of situations and conditions into an article has its challenges. There are a million and one different situations, and a slight change in one variable can make a huge difference. The moral of the story is to keep watching, keep learning, and never ignore a sign. Keep an eye on the weather and an even closer eye on what’s happening, both location and weather-wise, when others are catching from your lake.

Be lucky!

Norton Disney Pettitt’s Lake Essential Tips

Norton Disney Pettitt’s Lake Essential Tips: For those venturing into the world of lake fishing, Rob Burgess, the Korda Koach, is your go-to expert at the Norton complex. With a history at the complex dating back to its opening, Rob has amassed a wealth of knowledge to help anglers make the most of their sessions. Below are his invaluable tips for tackling Pettitt’s Lake.

Pettitt’s Lake stands out as the specimen lake within the complex, spanning 16 acres and home to a whopping 250 carp, including an impressive number of 30-pounders. As of the autumn of 2022, an astounding one in four fish in this day ticket fishery tips the scales at 30 pounds, making it a remarkable statistic. Supporting the 30-pounders, there is a solid backup of 20-pounders to target.

Pettitt’s Lake Depth and Swim Maps

For those seeking depth, pegs 5, 6, 7, and 8 are the hotspots, particularly in the later months extending into winter. Peg 7, in particular, remains productive throughout. Within a range of 100 yards, the depth is generally consistent, with firm silt covering the lake bed.

Norton Disney Pettitt's Lake Essential Tips

Pegs 1-4 come into their own during spring and summer, offering a variety of features with an almost egg box-like bottom. Shallow bars, plateaus, and deeper channels make these swims intriguing, with depths ranging from 4 to 15 feet. A marker float becomes an essential tool in these areas.

Norton Disney Pettitt's Lake Essential Tips

In terms of bait, the options are limited to boilie, pellet, and corn during the summer months. Pure corn can be highly effective, especially double fake corn. Crumb and chops are also viable, as well as the beloved pellet, a favorite during the summer.

Norton Disney Pettitt’s Lake Essential Tips

During the peak of summer, weed can pose a challenge, particularly in shallow bars and plateaus. Leading around and fishing in clean patches can be advantageous, as well as using low-lying pop-ups on spinner rigs with Heli Safes to ensure a proper presentation.

Given the nature of spot fishing, the marker float proves invaluable, allowing you to fish precisely in identified areas, whether they are shallow humps or gravel bars.

Yellow, pink, and match-the-hatch hookbaits have all shown success, each having its day on Pettitt’s Lake.

A key piece of advice for Pettitt’s is to pay attention to the wind. Anticipating a change in wind direction, getting into a swim before the wind shift, and having your rods ready for the new wind is a significant advantage. Carp often become more catchable when they follow a new wind, making those initial hours or days of a wind change a dream scenario at Pettitt’s Lake!

Carp Genetics and Catchability

Have you ever noticed that some carp are nearly impossible to catch? What makes one carp easier to catch than another? Searching to answer this question, I came upon a handful of scientific studies that discussed some of the issues involved. Of course, there are many factors such as the amount of fishing pressure, what the fish are naturally feeding on, location in the water body, and many, many other things that can impact fishing. However, I became interested in one that is less talked about: genetics. Carp have been domesticated for a long time and the result is many different “strains”, much like breeds of dogs or any other domesticated animal. And just like dog breeds these strains have different characteristics that impact everything from appearance to growth rate. While this selective breeding was not with angling in mind, the outcome of it is of major interest to anglers—and not just if the fish is a common or mirror, or how big it can ultimately get. It turns out that this selective breeding also has an impact on how easy the fish are to catch. This is isn’t just a minor difference either, as studies have shown that some strains of carp are much harder to catch than others. Most of these comparisons were between wild type carp (common) and more domesticated mirror carp. Mirror carp have been bred for two things: few scales (obviously) and a high growth rate. These traits were useful in the production of carp for food and set these fish apart from their wild brethren. In order to achieve a higher growth rate these fish have to eat more, which in turn naturally makes them easier to catch as a fish that eats more has more chance of getting a hook in the process.

There is also a difference in what the strains prefer to eat. Both have been shown to prefer to eat sweet corn over pellets (even when raised on pellets) which is likely a combination of the bright color but even more importantly the sugar content of sweet corn (the fish prefer to eat candy). But in another study the wild type carp preferred worms over other food types which can go a long way to explaining why there are many waters in the USA (and possibly other places) where often the biggest carp out of a lake was caught by someone who was not fishing for carp at all but rather by someone fishing for sunfish or catfish – using worms. Iain Sorrel has an article on “Alternative Approaches” that discusses this very topic.

But back to the impact of genetics. Studies have also found that even with the easier to catch domesticated strains there is a relatively high percentage of fish that were never caught at all in experimental ponds. For mirror carp this was about 45% of fish never being caught, and for the wild type this number was 68%! That means that 68% of the fish in a small pond could not be caught in 20 days of fishing. Keep in mind these were fish that had been raised in a hatchery and were used to eating pellets and had never been fished for before. Now think about the fish that you are fishing for and it makes you wonder how you ever catch anything!

The impact of angling pressure was similar for both strains as they become harder to catch the more they are fished for. This means that the carp get better at not getting hooked – which is no surprise to anglers on heavily fished waters. Even if you can see the fish feeding over your baited area it doesn’t mean that you will catch any: a study using tagged fish showed that even when fish are feeding directly where angler’s baits were located, it made little difference on whether certain fish were caught. The interesting thing is that it has been found that the carp kept feeding similarly but more slowly and with more inspection of the food. Not only did they use sight, though, the carp were likely able to detect the rig by feel as well.

Added to all of the above are individual differences between carp in the same lake, from food preference to handling of that food. This also makes some easier to catch than others. Feeling overwhelmed? Some take home messages for carp anglers include this advice: keep your rigs concealed. The fish can and will learn to avoid the rigs. This is not “smart” so much as the same conditioning they use to avoid other predators. Try alternative baits. There are potentially a lot of “wild” fish out there that are never caught because they prefer to eat wild food. Make sure your hooks are sharp. When the carp can feel the rig, you’ve got a much better chance of hooking them before they reject it if you aren’t making it easy for them with a dull hook!

Carp Food

Unlike in trout fish, carp fishing rarely relies on matching the hatch yet it’s not often that a carp finds a boilie or pile of sweet corn if someone has not put it there, so the majority of food a carp eats are actually things that are living there already. With this in mind, it is worth considering a few things. Carp are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plants and animals, and which also means that what they feed on in one water will not necessarily be what they will be feeding on some place else. While what they are feeding on does vary by location, not all food items are created equal in a carp eyes. Bloodworms (the larvae of midges) are at the top of the list on a carps menu, and while carp have been shown to have a strong preference for them, there are a host of other items that they will eat. This is also size dependent; there is little overlap between the diets of small and large carp – something that may help you to select the better fish. Here is a pictorial list (in no particular order) of some of the things that carp like to eat:



Zebra Mussels


Midge Larva

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Aquatic plants (Macrophytes) and Detritus (dead particulate organic material)

Fresh water clams (Corbicula)

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FloridaFlusskrebs Orconectes_limosus_-_Kamberkrebs



So, how to use this to your advantage? Often times what the carp are feeding on is really not that important as they will happily eat your bait regardless. However, there are certain places and times when “matching the hatch” is important if you want to catch the biggest fish or at times, any fish. A option to consider is alternative techniques (See Iain Sorrell’s post) that incorporate the natural food item or some artificial look-a-like.

Some baits designed for Black Bass may be just the thing for stalking large carp.

Another is to use a bait that is designed to smell like, and even better be made out of, the real thing. There are are number of baits available that are designed with this in mind. Bloodworm, crayfish, mussel, and worm flavors and extracts are all available.

Blood worms are a natural food, and some bait companies have made baits to take advantage of this, incorporating real blood worms into the bait.

When you are on the bank keep in mind what the carp might be feeding on (in between your bait) and it might help you to put an extra fish on the mat.