Carp Fishing - The Day Ticket Learning Curve
Rich Wilby looks at approaching day ticket carp fisheries – with the benefit of being a fishery owner as well as a top carp angler.
When my fishery in South-Norfolk - Airfield Lakes - opened its gates for the first time I had loads of anglers visit all hoping to get in on the action. Some anglers, even the most inexperienced rods, really impressed me with their approach and attitude. They have been rewarded with some good hits and it has proven to me that carp fishing seems to be a lot easier to pick up nowadays with the flood of information available.
But experience still counts for a hell of a lot and it is nice to see the ‘old school’ carp anglers turn up for 24-hours and make it look so easy. Knowing where to go and what to do on the day is key to being consistent and I have a few regular anglers on the fishery that always seem to do well whatever the conditions. I pride myself on being consistent wherever I fish but it has taken a long time and a lot of blanks to get to that level. I also know that you can never stop learning and things I have seen at the fishery have made me think more about how I approach day-ticket venues.
Most of the newcomers to the sport I see know how to tie up a tidy effective rig because they have seen it in a magazine or DVD, but they don’t know why they’re using it or where/when to use it. I think it is a fair comment to say “a poor rig in the right place is much better than a good rig and bait in the wrong place”. Most anglers now have decent bait with them as well, but knowing how much and how to bait up is a bigger edge than having the best bait in the world.
As I said, the best anglers make things look easy and as a kid I remember the majority of the carp caught from my local club lakes were taken by a handful of anglers that really knew what they were doing. I would spend hours with them in their swim (if they didn’t mind) trying to pick their brains for tips, but I was mainly just watching them and learning simple things, like how to sink the line without moving the rig or how they set the rod up, helped me understand and progress.
I get asked all the time as I walk around the fishery what rigs and bait I recommend. It is the first thing I get asked, rather than where I think the majority of the fish are. It still surprises me just how many anglers have decided on the swim they want days before they even get to the lake. Carp can move so quickly and in the last few weeks it has been proved that sometimes, if you can, it is worth moving at least three or four times during a 24-hour trip.
I have also learnt just how much bait carp can get through when they are in the mood for a big feed up. The other day I watched a lad stick 2kg of 15mm Nash Monster Squid out and get a bite within 15 minutes. He then had five other carp to 26lb in two hours. The weather conditions were spot on and I’m sure they were eating the boilies as they were going through the water. The bloke in question told me he always likes to fish over a large spread of boilies, but he returned to the fishery the following week, in clear, high air pressure conditions and tried the same tactic and only had one 10-pounder in 24 hours. The bloke next to him had six fish using zigs and small PVA bag tactics. It clearly proved that a tactic that works well one day can fail the day later.
I think one of the biggest mistakes I see on the fishery and on many other day-ticket waters across the UK is bait application. Once again too many anglers plan how much and what bait they’re going to use days before they start their session. If someone brings a bucket of spod mix, they will use it, whether the conditions or situation they’re in suits that approach. I’ve learnt that anglers don’t like to take their spod mix back home with them, so they stick it out in the lake and hope it works. Sometimes it does and on other days they ruin their chance by over baiting. A lot of anglers tell me they enjoy spodding and find it good fun, so I think they get carried away with it and find it hard to stop.
I mainly fish short overnight sessions so I personally can’t stand spodding and only ever spod if I’m positive that it is the best tactic on the day. I will bait heavy at times when the fish want it, but I prefer a little and often approach at this time of the year rather than sitting on a big bed of bait.
Another thing I have learned from running a day-ticket water, is how it can pay to make several casts during your session. On hard waters the last thing I want to be doing is casting too often, but I have seen anglers get so many quick takes after a fresh re-cast that I’m now convinced casting really does not bother these fish. They become conditioned to leads, bait and spods going in on a regular basis, so it doesn’t seem to phase them. So many quick bites also proves just how quickly anglers on well stocked venues “get done” by the fish. I’m sure PVA bags and sticks get wafted around or cleared by fish very quickly and you’re left with a single bait for a lot longer than you might imagine.
I don’t know if it is the same on all day-ticket waters, it may well be so, but I’m positive my day ticket lake fishes better when it is busy. The angling pressure seems to push the carp around the lake more and as a result more fish get caught. My regular anglers have noticed this and often joke with me when the lake is quiet that I should go round to the other side and make a load of disturbance to push more fish their way. I remember when I fished on Cuttle Mill a few years ago in winter it was always better if there were anglers on all four sides. If there was a bank free, I’m sure the carp knew this and they would clearly lay up out of the way.
What I love more than anything else is watching an angler turn up, do something different to what others are doing and catch. It has happened on a few occasions in the last couple of months and it is nice to see that there are a few that really do their own thing and don’t follow a trend, even if that trend is working well.
One of the most consistent anglers on the lake only uses running rigs, nice long ones, with decent hairs. He makes his own boilies from all manner of kitchen ingredients and brings other supermarket baits. His approach is simple but he knows that no one else on the fishery will be fishing with the rigs and baits he uses. Being different can sometimes be the biggest edge of all on day-ticket venues – I’m sure of that.
I hope you all have a great summer on the bank.