Simon Ratcliffe enjoying the fight from a big carp

For many of us of a certain age, it is very possible to be slightly overawed by the modern carp scene. I’m not talking about the commercials here but club, syndicate and day ticket waters where the bivvied “pro” carper is likely to be found, fishing for carp weighing high teens and upwards. 

It is true that there is something slightly forbidding about a lake studded with carp anglers that initially appear an unapproachable lot, a club within a club, if you like. From where you and I stand, they seem to have all the gear and a pretty good idea into the bargain! There is a natural reluctance that you can compete at this level. You have a fraction of their gear. You prefer to fish 9.00am ’till 5.00pm or thereabouts… I know I do, and that’s why my nickname was Dolly (Parton… Fishing Nine ‘Till Five… get it?). You use hardly any bait by comparison and haven’t got a clue what the going bait is anyway. The gobbledegook language of rigs is above your head, as well as mine… Helicopters, Ronnies… what’s going on here?

But a lot of this trepidation is psychological, and I have often talked myself off a water in the past. The truth is that most carp anglers are good guys who’ll help if asked, and even offer a cup of tea on a second meeting. What I think I came to understand is that there is no competition here. What I am going to suggest over the next nine or so pieces is that you are doing something completely different to the boys in their bivvies. You are nibbling at the edges of the normal carp scene, but still finding unexpected titbits. 

The Vicar is hardly a long stay man… a carp caught from beneath his feet on a tough water
JB and Robbie Northman with a stunning float-caught 29…

What you have to realise is that in many instances it is more productive to really concentrate for 8 hours than doze on and off for 24 hours. If you are fishing Nine ‘Till Five, you’ll be thinking, experimenting, and making every second count. I’ll be talking about how to watch for carp, how to strategise, how to float fish, freeline, and how to take carp off the top, often at your feet. We’ll look at gear that doesn’t have to include 4lb test curve rods, and baits that are a bit out of the boilie norm.

I’ll be discussing ways of dealing with big carp on the bank, and making sure they go back as pristine as they came out. A thirty pound carp asks more handling questions than a three pound chub, and we want to make sure we are all happy holding the whackers that should come our way! 

But above all, I’d like to get across how fishing for carp on even big waters can be fun as well as productive. This mini-series will take us into May, when the waters are really warming up and the carp are on the prowl. Let’s get at them my friends!!!

John Gilman with a super common with his friends… carping can be communal!!