10 things 95% of carp anglers all talk about but very rarely do...
How many do you actually do?!
1. Travel light
Travelling light sounds good, until you’re in the garage trying to choose which bits of kit to leave behind. The phrase ‘oh, but I might need that’ quickly becomes repetitive and before you know it you’re still packing mountains of pop-ups you’ll never use. The only success in this field comes when you decide you’ll swap your food bag for the local takeaway menu.
2. A winter campaign
So easy to talk about, yet so hard to do. In your mind, a winter campaign is all about beautiful frosts, vivid sunsets and carp in their finest colours. In reality, 15hrs of darkness a night and not seeing a sign of fish for weeks tests the patience of even the most hardy. Then, once those pike, perch and grayling shots start cropping up on Instagram, you know your campaign’s doomed.
3. Get up early & watch the water
In the information age, copying the tactics of the country’s top carp anglers isn’t too difficult. Matching their drive and work ethic is another thing altogether. That’s where most of us mere mortals begin to slip. Sure, the odd ‘dawn vigil’ is easily achievable, but do not kid yourself that lying in the warmth of your sleeping bag and pressing snooze on your alarm isn’t your preferred choice most of the time.
4. Recast if it’s not bang-on
Your internal monologue is never louder than when casting. You know deep down you’ve not quite hit the clip, but then that voice in your head kicks in. ‘Hey,’ it chimes up, ‘maybe that’s just off the baited spot so the biggest fish will feel safe feeding on it’. And before you know it you’ve convinced yourself that not being bang-on is actually better, and you can sit down with a beer.
5. Change hook if it’s not razor sharp
It’s got much easier to change hooks quickly with the advent of Ronnie and Multi Rigs, but still plenty of anglers sigh at the thought of having to tie another one if theirs gets roughed up. We have all been guilty of opting for a quick recast, especially at night, but just wait for that guilt to set in as you sit in the bivvy…
6. Keep baiting up regularly
It’s not often publicly admitted, but shovelling in a load of bait in one go is pretty damn satisfying. Not many of us can afford to do it regularly, so it becomes a bit of a treat. It’s definitely far more enjoyable than rationing your loose feed and adding it to your spot on the classic ‘little and often’ basis. That takes effort - so you’ll leave it to the match anglers.
7. Not choosing the car park swim
You always go to the lake with good intentions, but something happens between the threshold of the venue and the moment you turn your car’s engine off. Self-satisfied at your ability to arrange a trip and cart all your gear to the lake, you relax and, as you step out of the car, somehow convince yourself it’s okay to pick the only peg with a parking space.
8. Change tactics when bites dry up
Carp fishing is brutally cruel if you’re not getting bites. With no information to act on, you’re left to ponder what you could do to “make something happen”. This is where the best anglers show their worth, but it’s where us regular Joes can suffer paralysis by analysis - and before you know it you’ve opted not to change your tactics, just in case!
9. Go on short sessions
Just like trying to travel light, trying to organise yourself for a short session can be a nightmare. We are often so used to carp fishing involving a night on the bank that we can’t quite grasp the concept of grabbing the bare essentials and hitting the lake for a morning.
10. Eat healthily on the bank
If this list has taught us anything, it’s that carp lakes are where good intentions go to die. This is perfectly illustrated when it comes to on-the-bank grub. You can take all the kale, lean chicken and Ryvitas you want, but as soon as another syndicate member suggests a curry delivery, or you start idly scanning Just Eat on your phone, it’s as good as binned.