‘I’ve Been To Over 400 Venues’
Simon Crow has fished all over the world and has learned something from each of the 400+ venues he's visited. Here's all that knowledge in ten top tips.
I'm Simon Crow and I'm not one for 'claims to fame' but if ever there is one within the carp fishing sector that aptly fits my billing then it would be related to the amount of different waters I have fished during my career. I've been all over the world in search of carp, and more interestingly to you guys I've fished literally hundreds of the UK's day ticket waters. Ever since I passed my driving test in 1987, I've been traveling the width and breath of the country to some of the most well-known open access venues.
I'm unsure of exactly how many waters I've fished, but it's literally hundreds. At the last count (which was several years back), I'd clocked up captures from 300 different waters. I'd hasten a guess it is now somewhere in the region of 340-ish. Besides these, there are of course those I've not caught from as well, all of which I've learnt something from too. There must be more than 100 that fall into that category, most of which were one-off trips to waters I'd never even laid eyes on before.
I've learnt so much about carp fishing from having fished around so much I couldn't put it all down into words. My memory is a mass of information that's so confusing to understand I frequently have difficultly working out what's going on in there myself. Sometimes I arrive at a venue and find it very similar to others and start catching carp straightaway, whilst at others it's like one giant jigsaw puzzle that is difficult to put together. Generally though, I must admit that my experience is what pays off in the end, finding a memory of a similar fishing situation and remembering how I worked it out in the end.
In this month's feature I've been asked to list ten pointers about what I've learned from having been confronted with so many different situations. It's been a tricky old task, but hopefully you'll all gain something from what I'm about to say if you are approaching a water for the first time. Here goes:
ALL WATERS ARE DIFFERENT
If there is one golden rule to carp fishing it is this one. There are of course similarities between waters, but I've yet to come across two that are exactly the same. The famous Linear Fisheries venues are quite similar in make-up, being gravel pits in the same chain with roughly the same stock of carp, especially the Brasenose waters. However, the underwater terrain, the affects of the wind on the fish location, as well as the placement of the swims, is all different, making them extremely unique. The same tactics on B1 and B2 will of course catch you fish (spodding, Zigs, bright baits), but I've known the carp on one side of the track to be responding better to bottom baits whilst those on the other are mainly coming to Zigs. It's always difficult working out why this happens but being aware that it does is definitely works more in your favour than just fishing like a sheep. Be versatile in your angling at all times and try to work out the going methods on the water you are fishing.
ALL CARP ARE DIFFERENT
This is really important to know if you are interested in targeting a specific fish. If ever I want to go after a biggie or a character carp, then I'll do as much research as I can to track down its past history. Where does it mainly get caught from? Does it like a particular bait? Does it get caught in the winter? All carp are wild creatures which have their own traits and personalities. Some are more aggressive than others and some are very shy indeed. By doing a little bit of research, more often than not you'll be able to find out where a particular carp tends to hang out. Even on the small waters you'll find areas that carp prefer to frequent. At the very small and pressured Withy Pool in Bedfordshire, there was one particular snag that the venue's biggie liked to hang around. It would always be right at the back in its own little 'cubby hole', and most days you'd see him sitting proud in there. At the other end of the scale, on the 10,000-acre Fôret D'Orient in France - when it was alive - the big common known as Bulldozer used to always get caught from the Geraudot bay. The moral therefore is to understand the carp you are targeting as it certainly makes life that little bit easier.
FIND THE CARP FIRST
The more you carp fish, the more people will ask you: "what's the most important: rigs, bait or location?" Of course they are all important, but a good bait and rig in the wrong place will never catch you fish. Compare that to a moderate bait and rig in the right place and I think you'll get the point I'm trying to make. Only lucky anglers can 'chuck and chance' and get away with it. Most of us have to walk the banks and find the carp first. It's such an important part of my angling that I would sooner spend more time looking than actually fishing if it gets the end result. Angling means different things to different people. Some of us just go to get away from normal life, but I go to catch because it's my job. To catch consistently, you need to know where the carp are. End of story.
GO FOR THE FEATURES
If I can't find any carp on my travels, I'll always opt to fish close to the features. Carp absolutely love snags, weed, lily beds, reeds or anything that gives them a bit of cover. Especially where anglers are present, carp feel vulnerable so like to hideaway in places where they have cover all around them. My favourite features are snags, as all year round you will usually find fish in these, or in the case of lots of snags, you will find one particular snag where they will frequent the most. Wraysbury 1 is stuffed with sunken trees, but you'll always find the carp in the snags of Dredger Bay more than anywhere else. It's their home, and despite seeing baits fished close to them all year round, there always comes a time when they will trip up to the anglers fishing here. After snags, my favourite feature would be weed, although I do like lilies especially in the warmer months.
GET ON THE WIND
Wind has different effects on different waters, but generally speaking in the summer months I'd prefer to be on the end of it than on the back of it, especially if there are no features to hold the carp. Wind creates oxygen as well as disturbance and carp love both if they are actively looking for food. In the winter I'm of the opposite opinion, in that I prefer to sit on the back of the wind, mainly because winter wind tends to be very cold, plus oxygen levels are usually much higher in colder water so the fish have no reason to move on it.
LISTEN TO THE LOCALS
You can't beat a bit of local knowledge. If you are fishing a water for the first time with three rods I'd always have two of them on methods advised by the local anglers. Every lake has regulars and if you talk to a broad selection of them before casting out, you'll easily single out the more successful ones and glean solid information. The amount of times I've turned up to a new water and caught on the back of something I've learned from a local is ridiculous.
THE MAJORITY OF ANGLERS ARE LIKE SHEEP
Contrary to what I've just said about local knowledge, you need to be aware that most carp anglers are just clones of someone they have been talking/listening to. You need to keep an open mind at all times and do your best to work out what kind of angler you are taking advice from. This is a very hard part of the jigsaw because an angler with a strong personality can convince you he's more experienced than he actually is, and vice versa. An element of guesswork comes in here and therefore you have to accept it can let you down from time to time. By keeping at least one of your two/three rods on your own approach ensures you keep an element of your own angling about you.
FIND A RIG THAT WORKS FOR YOU AND STICK WITH IT
It makes me laugh when most of what I see in magazines is information about wonder rigs. There's no such thing, which is why you get ten different answers from ten profile anglers when you ask them what their favourite rig is. Whilst I don't have a problem with companies pushing products, common sense should tell us that carp fishing is now a business. There's all manner of rig items out there which gives the angler a lot of choice. Find the bits you like and when you start catching with them, stick with it. I've been using the same rig for twenty years and I'm confident it will catch carp from every water in existence. The only times I will make changes to it are when I'm getting lifts on the indicators that aren't resulting in hooked fish. Usually this will be down to the length of the hooklink I'm using so 'm always prepared to shorten or lengthen my rigs depending on the situation, generally starting off with a 12-inch link wherever I go.
ALWAYS CARRY A SELECTION OF DIFFERENT BAITS
I carry boilies, particles, surface baits, as well as maggots wherever I go. Whilst I've never seen carp be selective over rigs, I have seen them like that with bait. As an example, only last year at top day ticket water Orchid Lake I watched the fish picking up sweetcorn from amongst a bed of bait and leave the boilies. Carp are inquisitive creatures and new baits will always give you an edge, although at the same time you need to know that some baits really can get established on some waters. It's always trial and error knowing what to use, but the more experience you gain, the more you will be able to recognise when something isn't working. Start off light with the baiting and once you find something the carp like, that's the time to introduce a bit more.
BE CONFIDENT IN WHAT YOU?RE DOING
To catch carp consistently from new waters you have to endure the blank periods; even Terry Hearn blanks more than he catches and he fishes for target carp. This takes a very strong mind, but behind every successful angler you will find an equally strong character/personality. If you lack confidence in something you are doing you may as well not be there. It leads to messy fishing, chopping and changing stuff which is a downward spiral to failing.