Many new carp anglers want big fish but have not the experience of catching any carp of any size to contribute towards their success and it is best to view the real world of carp fishing and it's focus on big fish with true perspective; everything is relative.
To me a 48 pound fish is traditionally an old-looking warrior with a legacy of captures spanning decades and a history reflecting the unfolding development of the water and surrounding environment in which it inhabits. The age of trees immediately beside the waters edge are especially evocative to me of this. But I have caught fish of this size which are only the age of fish which are most usually only double figures in weight and this does seem strange; a fish without the normal years to match its bulk!
When I was younger, I used to believe that all smaller fish perhaps up to late double figures in weight were relatively easy to catch, but I have discovered this is far from the case. . . In some carp waters, there are fish that have remained stubbornly at 17 or 18 pounds which are over 40 or 50 years of age. Such experienced fish are not necessarily the easiest fish to catch.
It is a fact that older fish have essential dietary and nutritional requirements which can alter with age and impact upon which baits and ingredients might be more effective. For example, much older fish use their food and nutrition far more for bodily maintenance than for skeletal growth for instance. Their bodies essential demand for many minerals, vitamins and amino acids and other key nutrients may be reduced very much compared to young actively growing fish which having a higher metabolic rate etc.
Older fish can certainly have different natural feeding habits compared to younger fish in a wild setting. However, it is sometimes harder to find fish which truly feed totally naturally all the time where anglers and anglers’ baits have had an impact on particular fish for decades.
Now back to getting an edge over those much sought-after bigger fish. There are many pressure in angling and in the aquatic environment which can potentially impact upon the way fish behave and feed in any water and what a fish needs to consume or is willing to risk investigating. All this might seem a little meaningless in the face of rubber and plastic artificial baits catching big carp and the use of concentrated flavours of high or low pH as in attractor or instant baits for instance.
I recall testing different hook patterns on crucian carp decades ago and getting the shock result that 9 out of 10 patterns simply either could not hook the fish despite being taken into the mouth, or allowed the fish to immediately spit the hook even when hooked. Only one pattern provided positively well hooked fish and from my vantage point over-looking the margin where the test hook-baits were placed it was clear that a hook with a longer point which was exceptionally sharp stood any chance of hooking those wily old shy-biting crucian carp.
It is true that it is the bait that hooks a fish by getting the hook physically in the vicinity of the mouth and giving the chance of a hook-up. Some mad carp will take a bare hook with no bait on at all, but I've yet to met a successful carp angler who fishes a bait less hook all the time! The fact is you have to experiment on a water until you have positive feedback that fish are willing to at least sample whatever baits you offer them. Sometimes this is easy to discover and instant takes occur. Other times you need to change your options a few times before success comes.
Having found a small fish water containing single figure fish, I though I'd test some standard big carp rigs on them to see how experienced and tricky these small fish were. I was looking to test myself and look again at solving very basic and common challenges that any carp can present to you. It was obvious from the wary treatment of floating baits and the failure to positively hook fish on a variety of simple baits (excluding boilies and pellets, ) that these particular fish were no walk-over and required a bit more thought to trick quickly.
In fact there were just 10 fish total in this farm pond and it was clear there would be a challenge if I fished conventional big carp style as I found out that tiny size 18 hooks and 3 pound line with match fishing tactics, maggots, and refined pole fishing tactics had been the main way to catch them until recently. I could have simply fished a bunch of maggots but that was cheating to me.
I tried worms but after a couple of aborted takes on small worms on a size 4 hook it was clear the carp were sucking on the ends of the worms and could easily detect the big hook and heavy line used on the ledger rig and this occurred on heavy and light leads, using running, fixed and semi-fixed styles. (These fish were clued-up and rig-shy for sure. ) I could have tried any of a number of approaches and rigs to get an edge with worms, but this seemed too easy. I wanted really to catch these experienced fish on cruder tackle and much bigger baits you might want to use for far bigger carp.
The thought occurred to me that I could exploit the fact they had obviously been trained to take free ground baits on the drop as this would offer an often much safer way to feed without getting hooked. There I simply made up a size 4 hook direct to 18 pound monofilament line (snags abounded in this pond) and upon this placed 2 half centimetre square cubes of luncheon meat so the hook point was proud. Slightly above the eye of the hook I added a 2 centimetre piece of bread flake moulded down the eye so it was bread paste just above the eye and the soft flake covered the luncheon meat and obscured the point of the hook.
The next stage was simply to feed small pieces of flake into open water not the snaggy spots and then after half an hour of doing this to gently flick the hook bait out. Of course the immediate result was that a fish was hooked within 5 seconds of the bait starting to slowly sink, it being taken confidently and with a great rush, on the drop.
This fish turned out to be the biggest in the pond and was an absolutely beautiful purple-bronze coloured common of about 6 pounds.
Fishing conventional rigs on the bottom and surface would have taken a lot of perseverance and many missed bites in order to catch this fish, but just the simple change of bait and approach, even on very heavy tackle caught this fish immediately. I guess the point of this capture was that it is often we anglers that make fish conditioned to avoid rigs and accept various baits in whatever forms and states in the water, and in our own habitual actions and conventional approaches lie the answers to many of the obstacles we may have to catching small and big fish. . .
So next time you automatically reach for that rig, or set of baits you might usually use as you have so frequently before, just imagine the potential impact of using a different approach and bait format which is based on exploiting the conditioning your rig and baits have induced! In so many ways doing things differently is the real point that catches those harder-to-catch big fish dreams are made of, just in the same way that in life, it is not what happens to you that determines success but how you respond to it. . .
This fishing bait secrets ebooks author has many more fishing and bait edges - just one could impact very significantly on your catches!
By Tim Richardson.
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