Spring Carp Fishing
Spring has got to be one of the best times of the year to be out on the bank carp fishing. The long dark days of winter are behind us and each day the hours of daylight increases rapidly and the carp are starting to wake up from their winter hibernation. This is the time of the year, when the carp's natural caution is at its lowest and some of the hardest carp to catch, slip up.
The weather at this time of the year is a huge factor in deciding the carps feeding habits and my own tactics. One day the weather can make you feel like summer has arrived and the next day a chilly north easterly wind can make it feel like winter has returned, and the carp respond accordingly. I never go out at this time of year with a fixed tactic or baiting plan, I always take plenty of bait but it doesn't mean I am going to use it.
One item I would never be without is a water thermometer, I always drop it into the edge as soon as I arrive, it can give you a good idea of how active the carp are likely to be and how you should approach your feeding and tactics, for example if I was to take a temperature of 8 degrees centigrade that information alone is a lot of use but if you knew that a week ago it was only 6 degrees it would tell me that I can expect the carp to be more active than my last visit and I can increase the amount of bait I used on my last visit, as long as it was succesful.
If the temperature had dropped since my previuos trip I would expect the carp to less active and I would start off with very cautious amounts of freebies around each hookbait and expect to find that the carp had gone back into their winter quarters.
As the water warms up so does the amount of activity that the carp display, this makes location a lot easier, especially if you haven't fished the water over the winter.
Spring is the time of the year when the sun and wind can have a dramatic effect on the location of the fish, if you get a nice sunny day, the sun will heat up the surface layers of the lake and then the wind will push this water into the downwind margins and this can mean a sharp increase in water temperature in this area of the lake whilst the rest of the lake is still cold, the fish know this and they will follow. I have found that there is no other time of the year that the wind and sun can have such a dramatic effect on the location of the fish, a whole lakes population of carp can be found in a very small area of the lake, and if you can combine this with a stretch of quiet bank - its happy days.
Going back to feeding and tactics, this is not the time of year that I would adopt a 'sit and commit approach' if you were to put in 5kg of bait you could be waiting an awful long time for a take, if it was summertime and the water temperature was 15 degrees plus then its a different story, I prefer a more of a 'react to what you see' type of approach, if fish start showing in another area of the lake I would move, so travelling light is helpful, and when I move onto fish the last thing I would do is start casting a marker float around and spodding on top of them, because on the waters I fish they would deffinetly move at this time of year. I prefer to fish single bright hookbaits and cast to showing fish, using the lightest lead that I can get away with, and wait to see what happens before introducing a small amount of bait, I would keep disturbance to a minimum by using a catapult and leaving long spells between each time I use it, spodding over the top of the fish can make them leave your swim.
My favourite colour for single hookbaits is yellow or white, both of these colours are highly visible in clear water with very little weed growth. At this time of the year I find that visibilty is more important than smell, use a smell or attractor that you are confident in as long as it doesn't dull the visibilty of the bait, the carp are not grubbing about in coloured or weedy water at this time of the year they are more likely to be drifting about, off bottom and grazing on the odd bit of bait.
Cold nights and warm days are common at this time of the year and this can lead to the carp moving around the lake a lot, they can spend the warmest part of the day in the down wind margins and then moving back into their winter haunts as the temperature drops in the evening, be prepared and think about where you cast and how many freebies you put around each hookbait and you will be more successful.
As the temperature of the water warms up the carp start to visit areas of the lake that they haven't visited for months, shallow margins around islands is a good example, these are usually the shallower areas of the lake, so be prepared to fish your hookbaits in these areas, zig rigs can be very good and dont forget to take your floater fishing gear as you could miss an opportunity to mug a cruiser when they are at the easiest time of the year to catch them, I once fished a water and early spring was the only time of the year that I could catch them off the top, the rest of the year they had wised up and were too crafty, you have been warned.