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21 Dec 2016
by Elliott Gray
How you should approach a new water
Elliott reveals his thoughts when it comes to approaching a new water

Question: Is it best to have an open mind when it comes to a new water and where to fish? Is it worth doing stacks of research on the water, walking round and getting some tips and so on? Or for an experienced angler, is it best to rely on common sense, experience and gut instinct?

It’s always best to have an open mind when it comes to a new water, there can be no doubt about this one. The important thing is to be able to look at the lake for what you see it as. Other anglers info is always worth listening to and at times, the more you can obtain, the better. It’s swings and roundabouts, though, as if what they’re telling you was golden then they probably wouldn’t be sat there still. An angler that tells you exactly how to catch a fish, what you should and shouldn’t do in order to catch it, yet hasn’t caught it, isn’t the best person to listen to. I will always listen to people but everything is taken with a pinch of salt and you cannot let it cloud your judgement. I always listen to the info but then erase it again, storing it in the back of my mind and then relating it to what I actually see for myself.

First session success on a venue – in this case gut instinct was everything

You can learn a lot from other anglers, particularly when it comes to mapping out the venue, what features are where for example. If someone tells you there’s a gully at 60yds, great, but until I stick the float out for myself, it doesn’t exist, if that makes sense? Second-hand info is nothing more than second-hand until you either hear it from a reliable source that you trust, or see it for yourself. The easiest info to obtain is often the info that will be the least fruitful, the obvious things that everyone knows for example. It’s great to gather this info, but you then have to explore further for yourself and build upon what you’ve been told. Gathering info will save you time, but the nitty gritty bits will never be easy to come by as nobody wants to give up the best bits. It’s every carp angler for themselves and even asking these questions can seem rude, so you have to be polite, don’t go asking how many wraps the spots are etc. If someone wants to tell you, then fine, but always bear in mind it could be a load of nonsense. This is why it’s best to do as much work as you can for yourself. It won’t upset anyone and you know it’s accurate.

Doing your homework is the only concrete evidence you’ll ever find – other angler’s info is never guaranteed

I will always do my research prior to obtaining my ticket, I then dig a little more before combining all that I’ve heard with what I actually see or learn for myself. The most successful angler will always be the one that follows what he thinks is right, after all, that is what sets them apart from the rest. There’s few tools as valuable to a carp angler as their own eyes and brain.

The biggest edges are often the best-kept secrets – nobody gives them up for free

Gut instinct plays a huge part in my fishing, I have faith in what I believe to be right. Your gut instinct derives from the lessons you have learned along the way and nothing is more valuable than first hand experience. If you spend your whole life listen to what everyone else says then you won’t have a gut instinct, as you’ve made no decisions for yourself. The decisions that you make over the years teach you to understand things better. I don’t really care what the others think these days, I’ll happily listen but if I think something is the right thing to do, then I’ll do it. It’s far better to follow what your heart is telling you to do, and then fail, than listen to someone else or have your judgement clouded, and then fail off the back of that. I’ve learnt this the hard way over the years and eventually you realise that what you think is right, often will be. If it’s not, at least you tried and only have yourself to blame.

A lump taken on the back of a gut instinct move
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