1. ‘Look out for the hatches’
Zigs should always feature massively in your angling in the spring, for the simple reason being the water’s warming much quicker up in the upper layers than down on the lakebed and that’s where you’ll find the bulk of the fish. Small bits of black or yellow foam are an obvious choice, but try making cheap and cheerful Zug Bugs like Avid Carper’s Mat Woods: take a piece of foam and tie some mono around its side!
2. ‘Keep your eyes pealed’
Keep your eyes and ears on the water at all times. In the early spring the carp can have very short spells where they show themselves, so there might be 20 shows in 15 minutes, but then nothing for the rest of the day.
3. ‘Cast to showing fish’
There is no better time than spring to cast at showing fish! If you see one stick its head out, put a single hookbait on it! Hi-vis pop-ups dispatched in this way often rip within minutes!
4. ‘Be prepared for anything’
The carp will be in a state of flux between winter and summer, so having Zigs, floaters and a good amount of boilies and/or particle at your disposal during a the session means you can capitalise on any situation.
5. ‘Start priming’
Now is the time to start trickling in the bait to a few margin spots as the fish begin to creep into the edge. Make the effort to bait little-and-often with hemp, pellet and particle and you will reap the rewards right through the spring and summer.
6. ‘Be the first to get the floaters out’
Always keep them in your car because you never know when you might get caught out. The first few days of really warm weather will have the fish ‘Pac-manning’ like you have never seen!
7. ‘Freshen up’
The start of the spring is the perfect time to get ready for the year ahead: re-spool your reels, get your bait ready and sort your tackle out, you need to be prepared, replenishment is important.
8. ‘Stay wrapped up’
I always take some warm clothes in the car and use a decent sleeping bag. Don’t get caught out at this time of the year as the weather is very unpredictable. It may be warm in the day, but can still go down to minus temperatures at night.
9.‘Ditch the marker’
Mobility and location are a huge part of the carp fishing jigsaw and it’s never more important than in the spring. Use a lightweight shelter, ditch the heavy winter bag and forget about half-a-hundred-weight of spod mix. The fish will be uber active after their winter slumber and they’ll be actively moving about in search of quick and easy meals. If you can stay in touch with this fact, you can get bites quickly by simply fishing singles or bags once you’ve found them and that eliminates the need to be carrying bags and bags of boilies or buckets of unnecessary spod mix.
10. ‘Pellets and a kettle…’
Always have a few trout pellets and a kettle to hand, as scolded pellet can, and will, be able to draw fish that are up in the water down to feed when all is failing.
11. ‘Salt is brilliant’
Most creatures need energy when coming out of a sleep or hibernation. This can be taken advantage of by using baits that give off and contain high sugar content. Salts are much-sort after in early season by carp and so the use of a high-quality, low oil-content fishmeal in your baits will supply this very effectively.
12. ‘Ignore the weather’
Tis true! Once carp wake from their winter slumber they will be investigating the whole lake on the search for food. Even on the coldest spring days they can be found in their summer haunts.
13. ‘The best weed is…’
Try to locate areas of fresh weed growth (bright green). The best two types seem to be Canadian and the eelgrass variety. Drag an old rig across the spot to help pick up strands of weed.
14. ‘Go shallow, particularly in the sun’
The water warms from the surface down so deep water is a no, no in spring. When the sun is out, go shallow or get the Zigs up in the water and reap the rewards.
15. ‘Keep the noise down’
As ever, when you’re by the bank you should make as little noise as possible for the sake of the fishing and of course the other anglers. In spring this is really important as the fish will not be ‘used to it’ and so in turn will have a greater effect on your results.
16. ‘Fish the margins’
Just because we are increasingly encouraged to fish at range these days, spring is the time to fish the biggest feature of any lake: the margins. Warm water and a plentiful natural food supply make it the ideal place to concentrate our efforts.
17. ‘Head for the weed’
Although weed is something a lot of anglers avoid, spring is the best time to target and fish in it. Much of the carp’s natural food will be active now and the emerging weed is where much of it will be hiding. The carp will invariably capitalise on this, therefore for it would make sense for us to do the same!
18. ‘Look at the wind and the sun’
Location – and that requires being aware of the wind and the sun. Carp will avoid the chilling affects of cold winds and also, as the sun gets high in the sky it has more potential to warm the water, so carp will seek out those areas where the sun is most effective and/or where cold winds have the least effect. So that is my location sorted, now what tactic?
19. ‘Don’t be too subtle’
Although active and hungry when they wake up, carp’s senses seem a bit dulled. Something blatant is more likely to grab their attention than a subtle trap so try presenting your pop-ups high, at least two-inches off the bottom. A white Milky Toffee, red Sweet Plum or yellow Pineapple are two spring classics.