Over the last two years I once again ignited my passion for carp fishing. I had grown up fishing for numerous species in England and had moved to the United States in the late 90’s but had not even considered fishing. It was only when walking my dog along a stretch of river that I stumbled onto the fact that carp were present in many bodies of water all over the USA. From then on there was no turning back and I was once again on the hunt, at first for any carp, then as time went by for BIG carp.
To start with I fished a small river system for around 6 months and caught right from the start, even in the depths of winter. However, even though I was catching large numbers of fish, they were generally small, ranging from 5lbs to 15lbs. I was very fortunate that the river had a large population of mirrors and I also discovered that this same strain of carp had found their way into a lot of the surrounding lakes, where they had grown considerably bigger!
For the next several months I fished lots of different waters and the majority of the fish I was catching were commons. This is pretty typical for America as most of the water systems are stocked with commons, a by-product of the US Government stocking a large number of waters in the late 19th and early 20th century. This was all in an effort to find a cheap food source which was later abandoned leaving the carp alone where they have absolutely thrived. As I had not caught too many 20lb+ commons in England I was happy with this situation, but after a while they do all start to look the same. I would say at this stage that although the carp are numerous in this country and are not all that rig wary, the challenge is finding them as most of the water bodies are huge with 500 acres being considered small! It was in the late fall of last year that I decided to target one of these water bodies for its large mirrors.
The lake in question was around 800 acres with over half of it inaccessible but I decided to spend a day scouting to work out where to start. It was during this ‘scouting’ that I had a cast for a fish I saw roll and ended up banking one of the massive mirrors after only 10 minutes fishing. Over the next two months I got about a dozen sessions in and ended up with some other quality fish, topped by another 40lb mirror.
Fast forward to this year and I decided to cut down on the number of waters I was fishing and instead concentrate on two waters containing 40lb+ mirrors, one being the 800 acre lake and the other a large river system. I had some good success in early spring on the river, just prior to the carp spawning but the really big fish eluded me and as the winter had been so mild the areas I wanted to fish on the river were weed infested and absolutely alive with Crayfish. So for the remainder of the spring and summer I was left to concentrate on my 800 acre lake.
Throughout June, July and August I managed around 8 nights on the water and a couple of shorter sessions also thrown in. Results have been good so far, with over 40 fish to date, a lot of these fish being 20lb+ scaley mirrors. I would consider this to be one of the harder waters I fish as the carp move around a lot and being 4 miles long they have lots of places to hide. The lake also has an ungodly amount of boat traffic so the fish tend to avoid the shallower areas during the daylight hours, thus night fishing is a real must. They also tend not to congregate in large groups, which means one carp per session is usually a good result. This puts most anglers off, but personally the challenge is one of the reasons I love the place. The fishing is generally hard, but the rewards are well worth it. The 20lb scaley mirrors are worth it alone, but throw in the odd 30lb+ Linear and Fully Scaled Mirrors along with several 40lb fish and it is easy to see why I stick with it when the going is hard.
My tactics for both of these big fish waters are very similar, although there are slight differences. Bait wise I use both particles (a mixture of maize, oats, birdseed, chickpeas and tigers) and boilies (homemade and also a couple of varieties from the Dynamite range). As the fish on the 800 acre venue do not usually congregate together I tend to fish little areas of bait looking for one fish and then re-baiting, whereas on the river I am much more liberal with my approach once I find the fish. For instance on a day session in the spring I used around 6 kilos of boilies in just over 10 hours of fishing. Rigs are pretty basic with simple 7-10 inch braided blow-back rigs being my standard approach. The one area that differs is that I upgrade all of my rigs, using bigger hooks (2’s and 4’s), stronger hook-links (30lb minimum), leaders and 15lb mainline. This may seem crude to european’s and I myself would never use anything bigger than a size 8 hook when I fished in England, but as the fish are not rig shy and both areas have plenty of weed, I sleep much sounder knowing that once the fish is hooked the end tackle will not let me down.
This pretty much brings me up to date with my season so far and this fall I will be continuing my campaign on the 800 acre water as well as returning to the River to hopefully lure a true giant. Hopefully I’ll have more news to share this fall along with some other articles I hope will be informative. Until my next blog I’ll leave you with an example of a big river mirror from last year and hopefully you’ll understand why I am heading back on the hunt, very soon!