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Carp Fishing for Big Fish! - by Tim F. Richardson

If you think that big carp are a worthy goal to catch, you are not alone and these days that can be a major drawback! Carp fishing is big business and new fishermen are more and more rapidly swelling the heaving ranks of existing ones making it more and more competitive and crowded. We become a victim of our own success by the over-use of successively popular and successful tackle, baits and methods and carp soon ‘wise up’ to anglers’ familiar baits and tackle on many pressured big fish waters. ‘Food’ balanced nutrition baits will still be constantly eaten as they are often the ‘naturalised’ food supplementation supporting stocks of big fish. But fish are certainly aware of our fishing activities and tend to respond by changing their behaviours. Anyone who disbelieves this obviously does not fish the busy ‘circus’ type waters in the UK (Or is that circuit waters?’) Carp anglers have historically had to heroically constantly overcome innumerable new challenges in their quest and this is one aspect of carp fishing that keeps us all going. however, the difference between the world of efficient modern carp angling and pressure on waters today compared to forty years ago have little in common. Today a complete beginner can buy everything instantly from baits, rigs, instructional books, DVDs, and so on; in fact everything but experience. He can buy ‘confidence in a bag’ by depending on ready made bait even though he has no idea how it works. The same goes for tackle. Every item has been produced to solve a problem. Indeed, long range rods and reels, heavier leads, casting tutorial DVDs and even lessons are, to a great degree, the result of our own angling activities forcing fish to seek refuge further and further from the bank. Such distances anglers 40 years ago would be more than shocked at. I’ve hooked fish from 300 metres away and even though they were dream fish in every way I personally prefer a range where I can throw bait out myself! Fish do love to follow contours and edges with its variety of de-stressing bankside cover and natural diversity of food items.But it is noticeable that just because an inexperienced angler has never fished before but has a powerful rod and a big reel with lots of line, he will often cast as far as possible. Usually this is to the most obvious island, reed bed, gravel bar or water lilies or lacking a ‘target’ casting to the horizon. There is so much information now about watercraft skills, ‘correct technique,’ the latest ‘in’ methods and baits. The thing is, often the marketing although a great help, can provide certain disadvantages. For instance, in the days when casting 100 metres was not just unusual, but an angling ‘feat’ for most fishermen, the fish were far more often at marginal to 30 metres range. Free baits introduced would more than likely be actually counted! In fact those who remember the advent of the ready made bait boom will recall certain manufacturers actually stating how many baits were in a packet; 300 for example. Bait base mixes were more often in pound mixes. These days it’s kilograms. I used to fish with 30 milk protein baits a day and that was very successful for me. I’ve know guys to catch fish over a bed of 100 kilograms of bait or much more, even treble that on some big fish waters. I remember the shock when I discovered at one water, that while I was free baiting with 6 pounds of homemade boilies and really felt I was controlling a lake with quality bait, I discovered somebody was unloading 40 kilograms of pellets from a boat regularly for which he had ‘special privileges’ to do being a bailiff. Such ‘gamesmanship’ and the completely disproportionate advantages those exploiting ‘power games’ have, definitely are far more prevalent today. Having to out-wit aggressively competitive anglers is one aspect of carp fishing I’ve not been impressed about.The plain fact is that you can catch as many fish as a novice with endless bait and time on his hands as an experienced angler with limited resources who fishes a night or a day a week. Having said that, I used to fish a water where over 70 percent of new visiting anglers ‘blanked’ and these were the novices and the experienced alike. Their new ‘wonder baits’ were powerless to produce fish for them as the key to this water was knowledge of the fish behaviours formed in response to constant angling pressure, baits and tackle. Standard round boilies of 24 to 21 millimetres became very hard to get takes on as were large ‘Marine halibut pellets.’ This was despite being very successful previously. The fact that the fish fed mainly on free baits that had been in the water 2, 3 or 4 days or more really showed how tricky they became. Any angler who just fished a day, night or even 2 days and 2 nights were very unlikely to catch fish. On occasions, it would be an entire 5 days from baiting a swim to fish feeding on the bait, but such was their ‘angler danger’ conditioned preferences. Intriguingly, this applied to the big catfish as well as the big carp.The relationships between these two species feeding behaviours and which triggered one into feeding or prevented feeding was very subtle, but massively advantageous knowledge. This stuff was specific to the lake so the ‘instant’ anglers had no chance and their catches was very sad. Inevitably they had the latest magazines out and were raving about all kinds of deadly methods and rigs and so on. I regard myself as a beginner in carp fishing and every other form of fishing I do, even after 30 plus years doing it, because every day is different. Just when you find an effective method, bait, flavour or bit of tackle, the fish adapt in response. ‘variable’ aspects of fishing such as air pressures, temperatures, winds, shifting feeding spots, bloodworm and other larvae hatches occurring and so on, impact on results. Even the effects of recent captures and heavy baiting on fish behaviour since your last visit to a water complicate matters. You often now have to ask if you will even get a swim or get on fish at all. Sitting in fishless swims on pressured waters where the fishing is stitched-up by ‘mobile phone networked’ locals is not my thing either and these things make you question exactly what kind of carp fisherman you are and what waters offer best what you’re looking for. I’ve been very fortunate in the past in having been in syndicates and even a day ticket water that became extremely difficult for a few years, where I was the only person fishing at times. Where much more time has been devoted over both summer and winter, it is easy to see how the impact of anglers (and non-anglers) presence on the bank, their lines in the water and baiting behaviours change fish. I’ve watched fish that were feeding like mad on bloodworm with no obvious lines in the water and only me fishing, suddenly ‘switch-off’ the minute another angler ‘barrowed’ his tackle from the carp park and stood by the water the water. None of these fish ‘showed’ themselves again until he left after 2 days. Also I’ve noticed both carp and catfish respond to leads and lines leaving the water and also to the effect of anglers packing-up their gear, walking along the bank, packing the car and driving off. Within 15 minutes, if I was left alone on the water, even after 3 fishless days and nights, the fish would ‘turn-on’ and feed like magic. Even then, this feeding may be a very intensive half hour binge, before cautious ‘normal’ behaviour is adopted again.I’ve devoted exceptional amounts of time and sacrifice to developing a ‘bigger’ picture of the dynamics, effects and interrelationships between angling activities, tackle, methods and baiting and carp. This really narrowed down to the where and why fish can be caught at a particular time in a specific spot in a swim, consistently. When you realise just how adaptive fish of many species can be, it can give you a new way of viewing fishing. For instance, the ‘text book’ recommendation to fishing a reed bed at a pressured water might be to ‘get right in there’ and fish inside holes in the reeds. Well for one thing this can cut your chances down, because depending on time of year and day / night temperatures and fish routine behaviours etc, your fish may not feed there at night at all, or just for a short period in the morning or evening. The orientation of the most productive reed beds to the sun and its heating radiation on them and surrounding water, can make all the difference and varies water to water.Many pressured waters will produce more fish by fishing 3 metres perhaps off ‘pressured’ reed beds or even further. Bait boats can affect such swims massively. In such a situation, finding a spot that is slightly deeper than the rest of the bottom near the reeds seems a good option. Identifying the exact route the fish approach and leave the area is a massive edge to exploit.The past and present achievements of those anglers who have been innovative and adaptable apart from being highly talented, even obsessed or having that ‘golden bollocks’ effect are all inspirational to us. They all play their part in the scheme of things in helping our sport progress forwards in so many ways. A great deal of us do it “Not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” Many anglers, who stand out as the most consistent big fish catchers at least on a personal level for me in my experience, are clever men. They all have very varied characters, temperaments personalities and so on, but they are thinkers. They are usually highly motivated and focussed individuals who are able to isolate the correct problem in their fishing and work towards refining a solution methodically. Most of these guys are also generous in giving help to others. They not only realise helping others helps themselves in many ways (karmic and others) but opens up communication that strictly competing anglers would not enjoy the mutual benefits of. Sometimes the fishing is so difficult, that it takes the combined efforts of most of the anglers on a water to enjoy a modicum of success. Co-operation even open the door to enabling keeping tabs on competitors and even influencing their baiting and fishing activities in their favour and your own also. Helping others is how the sport of carp fishing has been developed over the decades. There is no great angler who has not been helped by fellow anglers along the way.Most of us realise that the harder the challenge, the greater the rewards and personal satisfaction gained from our fishing activities. In fact, they can become part of us, changing our outlook on life for instance.I often think that so many kids could really benefit from the experience of going fishing and camping out at a water in wildlife rich surroundings, even if only the one time. Many people have never even spent a whole single night outside of a building in their entire lives and this yet this is a great example of something this sport gives us that we take for granted. It may be that an old hunting instinct drives even compels us to go fishing. It may be that some of you find it addictive; shaping how you plan your weeks and months ahead, constantly thinking over fishing problems both new and old and preparing and refining everything in your preparations as much as possible to exploit any weakness in those pesky carp defences. Or you might just prefer to ‘chuck it and chance it.’ Carp fishing is such a personal thing and is about so much more than simply fishing. But because time is one of our most valuable assets, it does make sense to at least be prepared to adapt and think about how to avoid the usual ‘average’ fishing results average anglers get by copying each other and fishing in fixed stereotyped fashions. Why not go for catches of a life time; the rewards of thinking more creatively for yourself are free...This fishing bait books author has many more fishing and bait ‘edges.’ Just one could impact on your catches!By Tim Richardson.

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Tim Richardson is a homemade carp and catfish bait-maker, and proven big fish angler. His bait making and bait enhancing books / ebooks are even used by members of the British Carp Study Group for reference. View this dedicated bait secrets website now! 

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