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Margin Fishing Tips

Margin fishing is an excellent way to catch carp and you can improve your chances greatly by learning to understand the margins better and the areas to target. Margin fishing is something I’ve been focusing on for years and I have been prolific in these areas. The important thing to remember is that not all margins are created equal, learning to understand them and find the betters spots will help you land more fish long term.

My top 5 margin tips

Here are my top 5 tips

1 – Find the clear hard spots

This is exactly the same as if you have a marker rod out in the middle. The margins are made up of a very similar consistency and depending on the lake you may find a lot more debris, twigs & breaking down leaves, in the margins. There will, however, be some very hard clear spots where the fish will have been feeding and keeping clear.

To find these spots I get a braded marker rod and add a 2.5oz lead and just bounce it around on the bottom going up and down the margin. I’m feeling for clear areas where the lead almost bounces on the bottom – these are the spots I want to find. Once I have found an area I’ll move the lead around and judge the size of the spot. If I think its a good spot I’ll get some bait on it at this point and carry on. Over time I’ll make up a picture of the margin on either side of me and where to target.

Once a spot has been identified I’ll try and drop my rod straight on it and walk my rod back to ensure I’m on the exact spot I’ve found. Once I have a rig on I like to drag it across the spot just to check for any debris and make sure the bait will present perfectly on it. If the spot is not that clear I sometimes use a boilie crumb mix on the spot a couple of times to see if the carp will feed and clear it.

Depending on where I’m fishing I like to have two or three margin spots that every time I’m at the lake I can drop some bait on and keep them feeding on the spots – as long as I’m not impacting anyone else who is fishing there. On a syndicate water, I’ll sometimes do this even when I don’t have time to fish if its a quiet lake. I continue this throughout the winter and have found winter spots that work really well even though they are shallow and close to the bank (You can see all my winter fishing tips here)

2 – Washed out baits & small amounts

Most places you fish have bait being knocked in and dropped in the margins, but not in large amounts. Most places say to take unused home with you but a lot of it ends up in the water. To stop the carp bing wary fish small amounts of bait – a small handful of boilies will do (8-12 boilies).

To wash them out place them in some water mixed with a matching glug for a couple of days fist. This will take the colour out of them but leave the attraction in. This will make the bait look like it has been in the water for a long time and make the carp less wary. Fish a washed out hook bait in with it for an amazing presentation.

3 – Get in the lake (If allowed)

If you are allowed in the lake in waders, get in and have a feel around with your feet. I’ve learnt a vast amount about margins and features from walking around in waders. If you are not allowed in, in general, then make sure you are there for any work parties. Alternatively, especially on club waters, offer to tidy up the margins and remove the debris, this will give you a chance to clear the area you fish and find some spots at the same time – win win!

Again, make sure you consider your own safety before getting in the lake. Check the depth with a landing net pole to make sure it is safe. It is always a good idea to have a mate on the bank incase you start sinking, get snagged or drop into a deeper spot!

4 – Lay a trail

When you’ve found your spot then start thinking about where the carp will be coming in from. The basic idea is that its preferable having them coming from the other direction to your line. This does depend on a lot of factors and knowing how the fish move around the lake.

With margin fishing I always think that the carp are more patrolling looking for food than going for big beds of bait. I like to lay a small trail of bait coming to my hook bait. I’ll go an extra 5 to 10 meters down the bank and drop the odd boilie in and build them up to the spot. This gets them taking bait without being spooked as they work their way around to your bait. It also increase the trail of scent for them to follow.

5 – Hand place your rigs

This is one of my ultimate fishing tips – as long as it is SAFE to do so – don’t go falling in a deep margin trying to be clever!

If you are really tight in the shallow then leaning over and placing your rig means you know it is presented absolutely perfectly. You can even hand place your free offering around it if its a really tight spot. If it is safe to do so have a feel around of the spot for any debit or hook snags and clear them out first. Then place your rig exactly where you want it to be, you can try and find a lump or bump to hide your lead behind.

I hope my tips were helpful. If you have any questions about this or carp fishing in general please get in touch on social media –

Insta: @casualcarper

Facebook: /casualcarper

Twitter: @Casual_Carper

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Throwing Stick Tips

Top 5 throwing stick tips

I’m a big fan of using a throwing stick rather than a catapult and have a couple of sticks that I regularly use. I find them a great way to get bait out at both short and long distances and I like the spread of boilies they put out. They can be a tricky thing to use when you are first getting started but with some practice and a few tips, you can really hone the skill to be really accurate every throw.

I’ve recently added a short-range throwing stick to my collection. It’s a great addition as it makes getting your bait to a close margin or island really targetted. If you are fishing to overhanging trees with a bit of practice you can skim boilies under the tree too.

I’m going to start with a beginners guide to using a stick, if you want to get straight to the tips click here – Top 5 Tips.

How Do You Use A Throwing Stick?

  1. Get the right size stick for your boilies
  2. Start with 1 boilie a throw
  3. Find a spot on the far bank to aim at as a guide each time
  4. Hold the stick back so it is level with your shoulder (you should here the boilie roll back down to the bend)
  5. Flick your wrist quickly to launch the boilie

Take some time to practice with 1 boilie at a time and see the different distances you can get on the throw. Once you have mastered it a little more then you don’t need to stop by your shoulder and can just launch boilie after boilie in quick succession.

Common issues

Boilie lands short – If you launch it and pull the stick over too far then the boilie will sometimes land in front of you. In this case, stop the launch a little earlier trying to keep the stick straight as shown in the video.

Boilie goes high – This means you’ve stopped the throw too short, or not been quick enough in the snapback. You need to try and get the movement faster and more fluid to get it coming out at a better angle.

Top 5 Boilie Throwing Stick Tips

Here are my top 5 tips followed by some frequently asked questions

1 – Use the right stick

With throwing sticks it is not just a case of buying one and use it whatever the conditions or lake. Having the right stick for the peg you are fishing will really help you improve your usage of them. I have a couple of sticks that I always have with me for different size boilies and different lengths.

I have an 18mm long range stick and a 15mm short-range stick. The short-range stick will possibly get them further than a catapult but for me, it’s easier and more accurate. On a recent social session, at Ghorsty Hall lakes near Crewe, I was hitting around 44 meters with the stick with standard boilies and little effort. With a little more effort and wetting the stick, a range of around 50 meters would be about the limit.

Short range throwing stick distances

On the larger longer-range sticks a range of 100 meters and above is achievable with the right bait and practice.

2 – Use the right bait

Getting the boilies right is essential when going for longer distances. At Casual Carper my boilies are made to be a good consistency for throwing sticks. If you find your boilies are splitting under the pressure when throwing long distances then it’s best to air dry them out overnight to make them a little harder. This will again aid you in getting more accurate over the longer distances.

3- Wet the tube

This is another trick that can help stop splitting and get some extra distance. By wetting the inside of the tube the bait slips down easier and has less pressure to fly out of the end. If you have not had a chance to air dry tour boilies and even with a wet tube they are splitting you can try wetting the boilies before you send them too.

4 – Send multiple boilies at once

Once you are used to the stick you can start getting more and more boilies in them. This is really effective if you are looking to create a good spread of boilies. Build up how many you use as the technique varies slightly with the more boilies you put in. As a general rule, you need to flick faster the more boilies you have in the stick.

** Don’t mix sizes or types of boilies in the stick – They will all go different distances and really reduce your accuracy.

Here’s my guide to stick sizes and how many you can send accurately.

  • Short-range stick – 6 seems to be about the optimum for keeping a decent distance on them. If you are using it on a shorter range than the maximum then 8-10 is possible but it does create a wider spread than it would be using a catapult from my experience.
  • Long-range stick – With a longer stick 10-12 seems to be around the optimum for maintaining distance and accuracy. This does depend on the size of the boilie too in the longer-range sticks.

5 – Create a pattern to fish

Firstly remember that this isn’t the same as spodding! You are not looking to feed a really tight area more create an arc of bait and position a hook bait at each end of the arc. for me, this is a good way to fish on a lake where there is a lot of spodding going on (as long as you have enough clear water to do it in). The stick makes less disturbance on the water and the arc and spread are designed to get the fish moving around the area picking up bait rather than getting their head down on one spot.

Here’s an example – you may want to keep the arc tighter and fish closer than shown below depending on your personal preference.

Feeding with a throwing stick

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How To Setup a Carp Blog

How to start a fishing blog vlog or youtube channel

If you want to set up a carp blog/ vlog then here is everything you need to know!

Use the comments at the bottom of the page if you have any questions, or message me on Instagram @casualcarper or Facebook /casualcarper.

As an initial background, my day job alongside running Casual Carper is working in online marketing. I’ve set up numerous blogs, websites and Youtube channels for different companies and have a good knowledge of what is required.

I’ll cover options on how to set up both completely free as well as some recommended purchases if you do want to set it up a level from the start.

What is best a vlog or a blog?

In my opinion, this depends on the person that is producing it! If you are happy to be in front of the camera recording then a vlog would be the one for you, if you prefer to write and not film then a blog website would be the one to go for. If you have the time then you could set up both and run them alongside each other.

I’ll start things off with a Vlog/ Youtube channel – If you want to read about setting up a carp fishing blog/website click here.

How to set up a carp vlog

What you will need to get started

  1. A google account (any Gmail email, android login or youtube login)
  2. A phone with a decent or at least a reasonable camera
  3. Editing software – You can find free apps for your phone to do this or online software that you can use.
  4. OPTIONAL – A tripod! (I use this one – Tripod on amazon) You can find suitable ones cheaper than this but I find this one is easy to get stable on the uneven ground due to the adjustable legs.

Step by step guide

Step 1 – Register a YouTube account and set up a channel

Here> https://www.youtube.com/create_channel

It is important to think about what you want to call it t this point as it’s tricky to change the name once registered. Think about what you want from the channel, if you are looking for advertising, free stuff or sponsorship then its best to keep it friendly and professional. Here are some ideas

  • NAME Carp Blog
  • REGION Carp Blog
  • NAME Carp diary’s

Or you can go with popular phrases about carping

  • Clipped up blog
  • Full-zip carping
  • Park lake carping
  • Day ticket carper

Just check on youtube and Google that no one else is using that name already.

Step 2 – Set your channel up correctly

This is the first step in getting more viewers on your content because that’s what you’re after right? Having a good looking channel helps.

Make sure you write a description of what your channel is about.

Add links to your social media pages.

Create a channel art header (Free here: https://snappa.com/create/youtube-channel-art)

You can also subscribe to other channels from your account which can help people see what content you are interested in. (You can subscribe to the Casual Carper channel here)

Step 3 – Make your first video

Take some time about this, there is no rush to just post anything.

Here is the process I use when planning out new videos (You’ll find lots of older ones on my channel where I haven’t followed this and it shows). It may be a good idea to check out other channels and see what videos are popular.

  • Start with an idea – What is the video about? What do you want to film and why. It helps to focus your first video on something you are comfortable with – a familiar lake, familiar tactics etc.
  • Storyboard your video – This does not need to be amazing – I just do a very rough sketch, just a guide to what clips you want to film and where they will go. Try and take some extra shots to fill in the gaps and make the video more interesting.
  • Plan your trip – Make sure you have everything you need
  • Film – Don’t worry if you need a few takes to get things right, do film more than you need and you can edit it down later.
  • Edit – Get all your videos and get them edited together so it flows nicely through the content. Trim out any bits that don’t seem right.

Some tips for your video

Do some voice-overs

You don’t need to film yourself talking the whole time. Film some silent sections or add some photos to your videos and talk over them in the editing. This will make it seem much more professional and easier to watch. No offence, but no one wants to watch you chatting in your bivvy for half an hour!

Select a good thumbnail

A custom thumbnail is a screen that shows up when you search on Youtube. You need to upload a few videos before you are allowed to add custom ones. Before this it has to be from a clip in your video – you have to pick from the ones they suggest so pic the one that looks the best – usually, one with a carp in it helps.

Add an end screen

Every video should have a 20-second end screen. This is where you can encourage viewers to subscribe to your channel or watch your other videos. Once you have more videos you can use this to promote your most popular content to viewers. (Build one free here https://snappa.com/templates/youtube-end-screen)

Write a decent title, write a description and add tags

The video description is one of the most important things for getting views. You can use it to appear in more search results and get more people to click on your video. If you are fishing a known lake then make sure you use the lake in the title too – people are always looking for videos from lakes they are going to. Here’s a simple example

Poor title

Simon fishing session 25/2/20

Decent title

Winter fishing session at Linear B2, fishing solid bags, see the full bag and rig setup and what I catch from peg 5.

The same goes with the description. You don’t need to write thousands of words but a couple of paragraphs about what the film is about will help boost the rankings further. YouTube needs to understand what your video is about and the title and description are key to that.

Tags are not a huge ranking signal on YouTube anymore but they do again just help to nudge YouTube into knowing what your video is about. There’s no need to overthink this, just add 5 natural ones “carp fishing flog” “day session” “Farlows lake” for example.

Add closed captions

This one is more of a pain! YouTube tries to understand what you are saying in your videos but its a bit hit and miss. By going through your video and adding the dictation it makes your video more accessible to any deaf users and this helps stretch your reach further (It also means people can have a sneaky watch at work and just read the transcript!

Use playlists to categorise your content

This is a tip from Ricardo who does some filming for the Casual Carper YouTube channel. You can see his channel here and find him on Instagram on @backonthebank_

Once you have a few videos uploaded playlist help to categorise your content for visitors. By getting people to select a playlist rather than just one video people will watch more videos and you’ll get more views. This can also help you raise your profile and get more subscribers in.

Channels to check out

Here are three channels to check out for inspiration!

Carl & Alex fishing (Channel here)

Carl and Alex have one of the biggest non-brand related fishing channels on YouTube and have been around for over 5 years. They are full-time YouTubers and now have sponsorship from major tackle companies. Some of their videos have over 750,000 views and they produce all-round fishing videos, not just carp fishing. They also do some great challenge videos.

Back on the bank (Channel here)

Ricardo has a relatively new YouTube channel but is an experienced video maker and this shows in his videos. Featuring drone footage from his sessions and quality recordings, this is a channel to check out and keep an eye on!

Danny’s angling blog (Channel here)

Danny’s is a coarse fishing blog with a bit of carp fishing. I really like how natural it is and this has helped him to grow the channel to over 6,000 subscribers and gain sponsorship from Korum and others. Danny’s blog is a great example of using playlists to categories your content.

Other resources

If you want to get more in-depth about your videos then here’s some further reading that may help

YouTube SEO –

Full guide to ranking your videos: https://backlinko.com/how-to-rank-youtube-videos

Brian Dean (Banklinko) is an internet marketing expert who will help you get the absolute maximum from each of your videos.

Video editing

7 beginners mistakes to avoid: https://www.techsmith.com/blog/common-video-editing-mistakes/

8 pro editing tips: https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/8-tips-editing-videos-like-pro/

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Resting your swim: The ultimate guide

Swim resting carp fishing

Resting your swim is an excellent way to get more fish on the bank by fishing less. In my opinion, it is one of the most underrated tricks in carp fishing and is especially suited to commercial waters and longer sessions. You can do this as one of two ways, either resting the whole swim or resting part of the swim. The whole swim method works best with the past sim technique a good side option for getting a fish out from a different spot later in your session. Here I’ll cover tips on both.

Resting your whole swim

This mean sitting in your swim with no rods in and it can be tough to stay disciplined enough to get the full effect. Here you put your bait in and wait a set amount of time before putting your rods in. It can be very tempting to cast in at the first sign of a carp on your spots but the idea is to get a few in the swim and feeding confidently before casting in. Despite what you may think catching one from your spot will not spook the rest.

Imagine turning up at a lake like Linear and arriving for a 48-hour session on a peg that had been rested and baited up for you. This is what you are aiming for. By taking your time you can almost draw the fish into your peg while all the other pegs are pressured.

Resting your whole swim tips

1 – Keep the bait going in 

Make sure they have some bait to eat without spodding every 5 minutes. A good way to do this is to get your spodded bait out early if you want to spod at all, and then top up regularly using a throwing stick. This keeps a good stream of bait going in without creating too much disturbance. Personally I’d set up two baited areas in my swim, one would be an area that is well baited from a spod or spomb, and one that has purely high leakage boilies going in. The little and often baiting technique is again a rare one to see on popular commercial waters. From what I’ve seen underwater filming and watching other underwater films the carp are more likely to keep visiting a spot to pick up bits of bait rather than steaming through heavily baited spots.

2 – Set a time and stick to it

I’ve spoken to a number of carpers about this and most find the temptation gets too much for them. After a few hours of resting the rods go in and it becomes almost a normal session. I find it is best to set a time in your mind that you are going to put the rods in and stick to it.

3 – Soak your hook baits so they match

If you’re feeding food source boilies and fishing them it may be beneficial to soak your hook baits for a while so they blend in with the bait that is still on the bottom. The theory here is that if there are some baits on the bottom after 24 hours they will look significantly more soaked and washed out than newer bait going in. This may just help to edge out a wise old carp out of the lake.

4 – Keep the disturbance to a minimum

As mentioned above if you are spodding then I would advise only doing this at the start of your session and not constantly throughout it. The carp are well aware of the usual noises and by leaving the rods out and keep ing it quiet it can help to draw more fish into your swim. Get your rods ready and clipped up to go at the start of the session so as soon as it is rods in time you can cast them in with the minimum disturbance on the bank and in the water.

All in all, this is an excellent technique to getting more out of your session even if it feels a little weird sitting in a swim with your rods out!

Here is a video of one of my top team members Riccardo (Insta: @backonthebank_) resting his swim for 24 hours of a 72-hour session at Farlows-

Resting part of your swim tips

This is not my chosen method as it still means having line pressure in the water at all times. The size of your swim will dictate how effective you can be with this. Again it takes discipline to be successful.

Here is an example of how to keep half your swim clear of rods –

Resting an area of your swim

On most waters you would find people fishing out in the middle and keeping an area baited in the margin can produce results. This would work best using a little and often strategy with a throwing stick popping boilies in at a regular rate. Depending on the length of your session you could leave it a while knowing your rods were on another spot and us it as a spot for the last few days. Alternatively, keep your eye on it on a shorter session and put a rod on it when you see some carp activity in the area.

The advantage of doing this on a margin spot, depending on the size of the margin, is you can usually get your rod in quietly if its a shorter cast or an option to drop in and walk back with your rod. Keeping the disturbance to a minimum really helps this technique work at its best. If in the example you were in peg 8 then I would be keeping as quiet as I could on the bank to not add any disturbance coming from my peg.

I hope these tips will help you in resting your swim and catching more carp! If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch in the following ways:

Insta: @casualcarper

Facebook: /casualcarper

Twitter: @casual_carper

YouTube: Casual Carper Channel

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Carp Fishing Naturals Guide

carp fishing naturals

I hear a lot of people talking about naturals in carp fishing but I felt we ken very little about them. It is usually the case that I hear “It’s a tough water as they all feed on naturals”. So I set out with my Water Wolf underwater cameras to film at a lake I know that is full of naturals to record them and see what I could learn.

For this, I recorded around 60 hours of footage in various spots from weedy to clear to find what they were eating and where. What I found has caused me to rethink my whole baiting approach to these kinds of waters to better reflect what the carp are eating.

The Lake

The lake I filmed in as a small lake that is very weedy at most points. It is a private water that does not get fished very often and in the summer the weed is so think that other than a couple of margins it is almost unfishable. The lake is on a natural underwater spring which keeps it flooded with fresh clear water.

Whilst it is only a small lake the weed and the spring make it perfect for naturals and for the carp. The stock consists of what looks like two low twenties that have never seen the bank and one high twenty that I have had out on the surface previously. It is loosely used as a stock pool, but one that can be fished.

The cameras

I filmed this across my Water Wolf cameras, in some cases the footage is very clear and it others its a little murky as you would expect at the bottom of a lake!

My tips for fishing lakes with lots of naturals

1 – Not every clear spot has lots of naturals!

This one surprised me a little as there were only three clear spots in the lake. This leads me to assume that they would all be feeding areas for the carp, but this wasn’t the case. In two of the spots, there was a decent amount of naturals in the water but not loads.

In the third spot, I found I can only describe it as looking like an underwater disco for worms and invertebrate. On this spot, there were numerous worms, bloodworm and lots of other invertebrates.

As a comparison, the other clear spots were visited by the carp around once every hour or two and on some days not at all. The spot that was packed with naturals was visited almost every half an hour where the carp would have a quick munch and then move on.

Unfortunately, other than using an underwater camera there is no way of telling this! My advice would be to focus on the clear spots where you are catching more if you don’t have a camera but that’s pretty obvious anyway!

2 – Most natural food is dark coloured

If you look at my range of hook baits you’ll see a wide range of colours to use. Some of these are much better suited to be used on waters where naturals are present. Personally, my go-to bait is a white popup or wafter on a lot of waters, I like how it stands out and the carp can’t miss it. After reviewing all the footage I’d say that could be the worst choice of bait on this type of water.

In general, the foods the carp are eating are brown coloured or red colour. The darker colours are more like the larvae and the mites and the red as the worms and there is one small red mite that swims around usual within a foot of the bottom. I have not seen anything white or yellow or a washed-out colour in my filming.

To work from this I have started to use darker hook baits, like my yeast extract popups as they are a closer reflection on what is already in their diet. This has been the same with baiting up areas, I have gone from the yellow pineapple & butyric range to the yeast boilie which is my darkest and I have glugged them in the matching dark boilie glug. I’ve been baiting up with crumbed down glugged boilies in PVA mesh as most in vertebra are small.

3 – Nothing is a uniform shape!

There is nothing natural about a round bait on the bottom. I’m not saying you won’t catch on them though, just that you may catch more fishing other shapes.

For this kind of waters I’m now fishing darker trimmed popup and balanced wafters to more mimics natural foods. This helps the bait blend in more with what they are used to seeing and feeding on.

4 – Most things move slowly

In general, the food in the water moves at a slow pace and can take minutes to move a few centimetres. This is the case for most of the invertebrate that lives on the bottom. The mites that swim in the water move quicker and in a more flick like movement in general.

To better mimic this a bait, as mentioned above, on a hinge rig would be my go-to rig. It blends but sits up a little and the rig allows for some natural movement in the water.

5 – Do some pond dipping or raking

Grab a small net and have a dip around in the margin. The best option is to sweep under any over hanging grass or around any weeds near the margin. This will show you what is in the water at that lake and you may find there is an abundance of a particular species. You can then use this to mimic in your baiting setup.

Alternatively, if allowed, throw out a rake and pull some weed in to the side. Then drop it in a clear tub of lake water and give it a shake around. This will sow you what is living amongst the weeds. The carp will feed on a lot of what you find.

You can see my YouTube video of what I find here>

VIDEO COMING SOON (in final editing)

What do carp naturally eat? (UK)

Carp have a very varied diet and as you may know they will try to eat almost anything they see. You can see on YouTube people catching them on random hook baits such as Haribo and boiled sweets.

Carp are omnivores and will eat a mix of inveterbrate as well as some plants and algea.

Here’s a guide to some of the invertebrate that are naturally in a carps diet. Some of these are in the video above showing how they behave underwater. Some of these I haven’t caught on camera as they will vary lake by lake.

Genreal diet list

Bloodworm

Snails

Caddisfly larvae

Worms

Fresh water clams

Opportunist list

As well as the standard invertebrates there are a number of things carp will eat if they see them –

Dragon flys or damsel flys

Fruits or berries that land in the water

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How to approach a new carp lake

new carp lake tips

If you are going to be fishing a new carp water in the UK or planning a carp fishing holiday in France, then there are some fundamental principles to follow that will increase your chances of putting fish on the bank.

Do your research

Probably the best research you can do before starting your fishing campaign is to visit the water you are intending on fishing. If possible, try to be at the lake for first light or dusk as this will maximise your chances of seeing carp show. Spend as much time as you are able to at the water and make a note of any signs of fish activity. When you do see signs of activity or a ‘show’ then also make a note of the time, as well as weather conditions as this can be valuable information.

If you are not able to get to the lake before you are due to start your campaign, which is almost always the case with carp fishing holiday venues, don’t worry, there is still plenty of useful research you can do. Social media platforms and the internet have revolutionised how information is shared between anglers.

For better or for worse, depending on your view, it is here to stay and it is a valuable tool. You’ll find most lakes or angling clubs have a social media presence, which usually has useful information such as catch reports. Make a note of the dates of the captures and screenshot the catch photos on your phone. When you visit the lake try to match up the photos with the area of the lake to gage an idea of the swims the fish may have been caught from.

This is helpful information to know when you are starting out on a new lake. However, always remember that fish are mobile and their behaviour and location will change depending on the time of year and the weather conditions. Do not assume that the areas you have identified from previous catch reports will always be the most productive areas to fish.

Fish location

Locating where the carp are, is the biggest factor in increasing your chances of success. An angler who knows the carp patrol routes and preferred feeding spots has a huge advantage over an angler that does not.

When you first arrive at the lake, rather than opt for the nearest swim to the car park or the most comfortable looking swim if you are on a week-long session, walk a lap of the lake and carefully scan the water for signs of carp. If there are any trees that look easy to climb then these will give you an excellent vantage point.

As you walk the lake if you come across any marginal spots that look like they may be an area that the carp visit, then scatter a handful of bait in. A good option is to use boilies that have been pre-gluged and mixed in your bait bucket. As you do a second lap of the lake look for any oily slicks coming up to the surface, feeding bubbles or general water disturbance which indicate the presence of carp.

If you can’t find the carp or see any signs as to where they may be, a good option is set up in a central area that will give you good visibility of both sides the lake. Fishing in the middle of the lake means that will never be too far from the fish, but also means that you have really good water coverage and can move when you do see signs of where the carp are.

Feature Finding

When you have decided which swim you are going to fish, the next task is usually to flick a lead out to see what the lake topography is like. If however, you have found a swim and there are fish feeding and you don’t want to spook them, you may want to cast out a PVA bag or a rig such as the chod rig which will give you effective presentation over most lake beds.

When you start feature finding it’s really important that you make a note in your phone or in a note pad of where the feature is and the number of wraps from the bank. Firstly, if you catch a fish on the spot then you want to be able to get the rod out to the same spot again with the least amount of commotion.

Secondly and this is particularly useful for long campaigns, by keeping a record of lake features and depths you will start to build up a picture of the lake. When the temperatures drop and the fish show themselves less, having this knowledge will help you to make an educated guess as to where the fish may be.

Pre Baiting

Pre baiting can make a huge difference between success and failure, especially when it is a new lake that you are not familiar with. Offering the fish ‘free bait’ with no lines in the water will build up the carp’s confidence as they start to feed more freely. If you keep baiting the same areas carp will start to visit these spots regularly, as they come to associate them with food.

On club waters and syndicates where you are permitted to pre bait, it can give you a serious edge especially if you are able to visit the lake in between sessions.

On holiday venues it is of course generally not possible to pre bait. It is also very tempting to cast out soon after your arrival. You will have been planning the trip for months and spent a fair amount of money on the trip, so naturally, you want to maximise your time fishing. However, maximising fishing time does not always equate to maximising the number of fish caught. Some holiday venues see pressure all year round so you need to set yourself out from the crowd.

For these types of lakes, pre-baiting and resting the swim can pay huge dividends if you are brave enough to do it. Bait up your swim, but try to resist the urge to cast your lines out for the first 24 hours. On pressured lakes, the carp will naturally migrate to areas of the lake without any lines. By giving them a free meal and building up their confidence when feeding, the carp will lower their guard making them easier to snare when you do wet your lines.

If you can resist fishing when you first arrive at the lake, then another option is to rest the swim for a few hours during the middle of the day. On pressured lakes where the fish often see the same tactics every week of the year, these small changes to your approach can make the difference.