Sunday, 30 November 2008

Keeping One Step Ahead

The north west carp scene is getting to be a bit of a nightmare these days. Over the years I’ve watched things change and without doubt the biggest influences have been the rise in popularity of both carp fishing and the internet. It’s so easy these days to just log onto a fishing website, post a question, then get an immediate answer. Good north west carp waters are now getting hammered because it’s so easy to get information on where the big carp are in our region and some anglers don’t realise they are actually making their own fishing harder when they give things away so easily.
Finding big north west carp doesn’t require any effort or discipline anymore, information is freely available on fishing forums and unfortunately behaviour standards are dropping as competition for swims on our popular carp waters increases. One thing you have to accept about the modern north west carp scene is that sooner or later, another carp angler is going to see you catch a carp and jump into your swim!. Carp fishing has always been the same, the minority of anglers work hard at finding the carp and prebaiting swims to get results whilst the majority of anglers just go camping. If a camper is lucky enough to see another angler get a good result you can guarantee he’ll be set up in the poor guys swim next week. The camper won’t care if the other angler has spent months of time, effort and a considerable amount of money finding the carp and prebaiting in an attempt to catch them, he’s only interested in catching a fish and he doesn’t care at who’s expense that might be!.
So how do you keep ahead of the hungry carp anglers who are just waiting for an angler to get things right before they swoop on them?. The short answer to that is you can’t, no matter how careful you might be, sooner or later someone will see you catch a fish from a certain area of the lake then start fishing there themselves because they saw you catch. If you ever hear the term ‘sheep‘ used on the carp forums, these are the type of anglers being referred to. All you can do is give a little thought to how you approach your own fishing and try to be as discreet as you can, what follows are a few hints and tips that have helped me avoid the attentions of swooping carp anglers.

Bite Alarms
No self respecting carp angler should be without a remote system these days, I’ve seen it written that noise can be transmitted down the line when a bite alarm sounds. I can’t say I’ve ever had my head underwater when I’ve had a run so I’m not sure, although it does sound plausible!. Not only will a remote help you combat this possible effect, it will also give you something far more important and that’s discretion. The ability to shut off your alarms and just use a quiet remote sounder carried in your pocket means remote systems like delkim txi's are worth their weight in gold. If you can get runs and remain undetected by other anglers on the lake then your already ahead of the game and there’s no way I’d ever consider going fishing without my txi’s and remote sounder box!. Obviously there’s more to this than just having your sounder box on a low setting. Finding the fish is the important part, after that, you should give a little thought to swim choice and ask yourself a few extra questions. How many swims can I reach the fish from? Can I land the fish safely from every swim? Of the swims available, are any of them out of sight from other anglers?. All you need to do is apply a little bit of extra thought to your swim choice and tuck yourself away. If things go your way you’ll be walking off the lake complaining about how rubbish the fishing is with your wet landing net concealed in your holdall!.

Delkim TXi Plus bite alarms, excellent for remaining discreet

If you have to ask another angler on the lake to do some pictures for you you’re screwed!. Not only will he know where your fishing, he’ll also have ample opportunity to get a good look at your baits, your rigs and just about anything else your doing too. It’s also likely every other carp angler on the lake will be up to date on what you’ve had and where you caught it from when he’s finished chatting to them!. Learning to do self takes is an absolute must if you don’t want to get swim swooped by another carp angler!.

Most bailiffs are nice guys and they do a great job but be aware that what you tell them, they will repeat it to every angler on the lake!. With this in mind, be pleasant to any bailiff you meet but tell him nothing about your captures if you value your peace and quiet. I’ve found the best way to deal with them is to moan about how badly the lake is fishing, not only does it conceal your captures but it will help give the impression that the lakes fishing hard to other anglers, which in turn, may well help send some of them to another water or keep mobile phone anglers away.

Carp Baits
Be prepared to throw a few blinds when fishing. Whatever bait your using keep it under wraps, your bound to get visitors to your swim at one time or another, carp fishing can be quite a social hobby after all. I always have a bag of the worst bait I can find in full view for other anglers to observe. It’s a good idea to leave the odd rubbish bait on the floor when you leave too, if another angler finds the dropped bait he’ll get the impression that’s what your using. Its important to look transparent, leaving your bait in full view and telling people what your ‘using’ gives the impression that you don’t hide anything and if your lucky enough to be regarded as an open carp angler you’ll be able to winkle out the odd carp without anyone being any the wiser.

Rod Positioning
The position of your rods is important. When another carp angler walks into your swim one of the first things he will observe is the direction of your lines from the rod tip. It’s human nature to do this and all anglers visiting someone else’s swim do it. It gives the visiting angler an idea of the general area you may be fishing and that’s information that can be concealed by having your rod tips underwater. With no line visible from the rod tip it’s a lot harder to pin down an area someone might be fishing and the further you can get your rod tips submerged the harder it will be for your visitor to work out what direction you’ve cast in.

My rods with the tips underwater, ideal for preventing other carp anglers from working out which direction you've cast in. The other rod is missing as I've just landed a fish from a hotspot I've managed to keep to myself for a few years!

Wet Nets and Unhooking Mats
Wet landing nets and unhooking mats are a dead giveaway that a carp has been caught, I always make a point of putting my mat away as soon as the fish is returned. Most anglers leave theirs out to dry and they might as well hang up a big advert saying ‘carp caught here’ for everyone to see. Drying your unhooking mat and landing net at home is a minor inconvenience and a price well worth paying if it conceals your capture and helps keep your going swim free of other anglers. Once you’ve landed a fish, you can position your net in the water for the rest of the session and put it away wet, if anyone comments you can always say you’re just being cautious and that you like to be ‘prepared’ and have your net ready in case you get a run!.

Casting and Baiting
If possible, casting and baiting should be done either out of sight of other anglers or after dark, particularly if your prebaiting. Casting in the dark can be quite tricky but with the use of a line clip and a line marker its possible to hit the same spot every time, even in the dark. My preference is for a small length of size 4 pole elastic tied on the line in a simple overhand knot. The elastic locks on itself when pulled tight and when you want to remove it, a simple pull on one of the tags and it’s off. You need to be as thoughtful with your casting and baiting as you do deciding swim choice, if you can do it un-noticed by other anglers all the better. If an angler pays you a visit whilst your dealing with a fish, unhook the fish and drop your rig back in the water where the other angler can’t see it and never recast until he’s gone. As a rough guide, if your visitor has any kind of angling etiquette he’ll wish you luck and leave you to your work, if he’s a swooper, he’ll hang around like a bad smell waiting to get a glimpse of your bait and rig and where your going to put it. In these situations I usually chat but give one word answers until they leave and I never sort the rod out whilst someone I don’t know or trust is milling around, even if it means missing out on the chance of banking another fish. It’s better to keep your productive areas concealed for another day rather than hand them on a plate to another carp angler.

Carp fishing is hard enough on our north west carp waters and the above paragraphs aren’t exactly the kind of carp fishing tips you’d expect to read but all are valid when it comes to our harder circuit waters and getting amongst the carp they contain. If other anglers know a lake is fishing well you can expect it to be busy as the mobile phones start ringing so anything you can do to give the impression it’s quiet is a help to you.
There are other little tricks anglers can use to stay ahead but they very much depend on circumstances. One simple trick I used to get myself a bonus fish was the use of the flash on my camera. Sometimes carp can be very predictable and on a few waters I’ve noticed that fish will turn up in a certain area of the lake at a certain time of day. If you know what time the carp pass through an area you can drop in there a few hours in advance, set your traps and fish through the productive time. I’d been doing just that on one water and was unlucky enough to be seen. This resulted in the swim having a bivvy in it every weekend despite it being unproductive most of the time. Although I’d been caught out and the angler who caught me was fishing my swim, I’d hidden my spots well and he hadn’t caught. One time, an hour after dark, I went behind the back of my brolly and took 4 or 5 photographs of nothing. The flash was seen by the angler who was hogging the swim I wanted to get back in and next time I went fishing he was encamped in the swim I’d used the flash in!. Talk about extracting the urine!. Little did he know he’d been thrown a blind and he bought it completely. I managed to secure the swim I really wanted and when it was quiet I snuck my baits into position and managed to winkle out another carp at the productive time.

Being discreet about the carp you catch and the methods you use to catch them really pays dividends. In a world of instant communication via mobile phones and internet, keeping a low profile will keep you ahead of the game and ensure it’s you whose rewarded for your hard work and not somebody else.

Tight Lines

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