Carp are normally to be found in stillwaters, but they do exist in a number of rivers, including some which are fasi flowing. In rivers where the water is used for cooling power stations it is returned to the river very much warmer than when it was taken out. Carp thrive in these warm water conditions below a power station outfall. The best sport with carp is. However, enjoyed in lakes, ponds and gravel pits. Carp are large, heavily built fish and can grow very big in favourable conditions. Most waters are stocked artificially with carp reared in fish farms. The carp species used for stocking lakes is usually the king carp of which there are three main varieties. The mirror carp is only partially scaled and these scales are large and irregularly grouped on the fish’s body. The leather carp is virtually scale-less. Having a smooth leathery skin. The common carp is perhaps the most handsome, being fully scaled and a beautiful golden-bronze colour.
The only species likely to be confused with the king carp varieties are the crucian carp and the wild carp. The crucian carp is a separate species and does not grow very large. It is a much rounder fish and has no barbulcs around the-mouth as does the king-carp. The true wild carp is now very rare and is the original carp from which all king carp have been bred. The wild carp is a very lean, fully k ,b scaled fish and is now su uncommon that few anglers are likely to encounter it.
Carp are fish of the warmer months of the year and. Although they do feed during the winter months, trying to catch them then can be a very unrewarding exercise.
Locating carp in a lake is not very difficult. In hot weather they will frequently bask just below the surface. When they are feeding on the lake bed they will disturb lots of silt and discolour the water. If the lake bed is very soft, groups of bubbles will rise to the surface, often accom- panied by bits of twigs and weed. The most difficult type of water in which to locate carp is a vast gravel pit. Location on this type of water is often a case of trial and error.
Baits and tackle for catching carp
The tackle needed for catching carp must be strong, especially if the water you are fishing is full of lily beds and thick weed. The rod should have a through action and be 10 or 11 feet long (3 or 3-3 metres). Even small carp in open water fight very strongly so the line strength needs to be at least 5 lb (2-25 kg) breaking strain. On really weedy lakes where the carp grow very large, a breaking strain of 12 lb (5-4 kg) is not too heavy.
In recent years, carp fishing has become something of a specialist branch of the sport. Carp are without doubt one of the most difficult species of fish to catch, and, on waters where a lot of fishing for carp takes place, anglers are constantly searching for new baits and tactics. There are still a lot of waters where very little serious fishing is done for carp and on these waters they are not nearly so difficult to tempt. Anglers using maggots to catch small fish are not likely to hook carp, and if they do, the chances are that the carp will break the light tackle being used. When fishing at close range in a lake, a bait can be presented on the bottom using an antenna float to detect bites. At longer range the bait is easier to cast using leger tackle. Most carp waters contain lots of small fish such as roach and rudd so the bait should be chosen and presented in such a way as to avoid the attentions of these fish. Swectcorn has proved to be one of the best carp baits. Scatter a few grains on the lake bed and then present a couple of grains on a size 8 hook in the centre of these. Sweetcorn is often referred to as a particle bait. Carp do not have to move very far to find another sample when feeding on particle baits, so do not wait long before striking.
If large paste baits are used, carp are more likely to pick up the bait and run with it. Whilst legcring or freelining with large paste baits the rod should be mounted on two rod rests. The front rest should be the type which has a deep groove in it to allow the line to run freely and not become trapped under the rod, and should be lower than the back one so that the rod is inclined towards the water. In really windy weather the rod tip should be submerged to cut out wind interference on the line. When using large baits, the bale arm on the reel should be left open so that the fish can take line without feeling any resistance. As the fish begins to run with the bait, lift the rod, close the bale arm and strike as the line tightens up. Bites can be detected by folding silver paper over the line. This will fall clear when vou strike into the fish. When levering small particle baits, however, the bale arm should be closed and some form of bobbin indicator fastened on to the line between the first two rod rings. Carp which pick up the bait and don’t move away very far cause the bobbin to jerk up and down rapidly. These are often referred to as ‘twitchcrs’.
Carp are quick to associate certain baits with danger and as soon as several of the lake’s carp population have been caught on the same bait, they all learn to avoid it. This is why carp anglers are continually experimenting with different bails. The list of carp baits is endless but they will take all sorts of paste baits. The standard ingredient is bread but this can be mixed with cat food, custard powder, sausage meat or cheese. One of the most exciting ways of catching carp is with floating bread crust. A carp will often circle the bread for several minutes before actually taking it.
Carp are very wary and to catch them you cannot afford to create any bankside disturbance. In Britain the largest carp caught weighed 19.8 kg but in Europe they have been reported up to 60 lb (27 kg). Most sport is enjoyed with car]) in the 5 lb (2-25 kg) to 10 lb (4-5 kg) size range and any fish over 15 lb (6-75 kg) is a splendid specimen.
Over the years, chub have gained the reputation of being very shy and suspicious fish. It is perfectly true that chub are not at all tolerant of bankside disturbance but, if a little care is taken when approaching the edge of” the river, chub can be very easy to calch. They are greedy fish and will accept most baits readily provided you have taken care not to scare them. Although they have been introduced to a number of lakes. Chub are river fish. Chub are widespread throughout the length of the rivers they inhabit, and can often be located in vast shoals. Shoals of chub usually consist of fish weighing between I .1 lb to-by kg and 3 lb (1.57). As they grow larger die chub tend to become more solitary in their habits, and occasionally grow to over 7 lb but in most risers a 4 pounder is a fine fish.
Spawning occurs between the middle of April and the end of May . At spawning time chub develop white tubercles around their head. A chub which has just spawned is in poor condition and not really worth catching. Chub appear to take longer than most other species of fish to completely recover from the effort of spawning. Once they have recovered. They are splendid fish with deep bronze bodies.
Chub like plenty of cover, and thrive in stretches of river where the bankings are lined with overhanging willow bushes. Chub are not confined to these overgrown stretches, however. And shoals of chub can be found in wide featureless stretches of river.
Baits and tackle for catching chub
Any kind of bait can be used and the fish can be caught right through the year: in some rivers they are the mainstay of sport during the winter months. During the summer, chub will spend a lot of time in the shallows and faster water where they feed on small fish such as stone loach, bull-heads, and the fry of coarse fish, including their own. Freelining cheesepaste in shallow water on a summer evening is one of the most effective methods for catching chub. The hook is tied direct to the line and a knob of checsepaste is moulded round the hook. There is no need to leave the hook point protruding from the cheese because the force of the strike will pull it clear. The size of the piece of cheese you mould round the hook depends on how far you have to cast, since chub can tackle very large baits.
A knob of cheese the size of a pigeon’s egg will be heavy enough to cast across most rivers. Cast slightly upstream and hold the rod high to keep as much line clear of the water as possible. Feel for the bites by letting the reel line run over the forefinger of the hand with which you hold the rod. As the cheese trundles along over the river bed, a bite will normally be difficult to miss. The line will zip forward through the water and tighten to the rod. As soon as you have struck, try and draw the chub out of the area so its splashing does not disturb others in the shoal. In the slower reaches freclined chcesepaste works equally well and, by letting your bait trundle along the river bed, you are able to cover a lot of river. Should you want to anchor your bait in a particular spot, simply add a link leger to your line. In hot weather, cheesepaste tends to melt slightly and becomes difficult to cast without it flying off the hook. By adding some breadpaste the bait will become firm enough to stay on the hook.
Bread crust will catch plenty of chub, but during the warmer months it is vulnerable to the attentions of smaller fish. Dace in particular will whittle away at a piece of bread crust and demolish it before the chub have a chance to find it. In winter, when the smaller fish are less active, breadcrust is probably the best chub bait. Crust is buoyant so it has to be (irmly anchored to the river bed. This is achieved by stopping the leger weight only one inch (2-5 cm) away from the hook. The leger has to be heavy enough to overcome the buoyancy of the crust, so use an Arlesey bomb, since a link leger is not suitable. As crust softens in the water, it pays to rebail again if no bites are fortheoming after half an hour. In winter, when the water is extremely cold, chcespaste tends to solidify and set like cement around the hook. This makes hook penetration very poor when you strike.
In winter, chub will not be very far away from their summer haunts. In times of flood they may temporarily move out of an area but, generally speaking, a swim which produces lots of chub in summer will still hold plenty of them in winter. In extremely cold water, small baits may-catch chub when larger offerings are ignored. Casters have proved to be a good chub bait either legered or float fished. Casters and maggots will catch plenty of chub during the summer, but if hordes of small fish such as bleak and dace are present, the chances are that these will get to the bait first. In winter these small fish are less active, so you can use casters with greater confidence of attracting the chub. Bites from chub in cold weather can be very gentle especially when using a small bait. Even when using crust, chub can pick up the bait giving no more indication than a slight increase of pressure on the line. These are the type of bites which really require touch legering to detect, but in winter, when your hands are likely to freeze and long waits between biles are experienced, this method is not really feasible. The best compromise is to use a very sensitive quiver tip and to strike at the slightest tremble or gentle pull.
Chub and barbel can often be caught from the same swim using the same bait and tactics. Unlike barbel, chub are not confirmed bottom feeders and are caught readily using float tackle. In fact, float fished baits often catch more chub than do legered baits. By feeding a steady stream of groundbait into the top of a swim, chub can be encouraged to i’ved madly. Don’t throw in great balls ofgroundbait when you begin fishing, but feed the swim gradually with small handfuls ofgroundbait or loose I’vvd. If sou suddenly stop getting bites, lower the depth of your float because the fish may well have moved up in the water to intercept the loose feed earlier.
Hot, sunny, windless days in summer are not the best of conditions for catching fish, but chub can still be templed when all other species refuse to feed. In these conditions chub will often drift around like grey ghosts. Just below the surface, occasionally swallowing some unfortunate insect trapped in the surface film. In this situation a piece of floating bread crust can be an excellent bait. Simply fasten the hook into a chunk of bread crust, and using weightless tackle, flick it out a little way upstream from the chub. A few lice offerings can be tossed in first to arouse the interest of the fish. No bite detection is needed as you can see the chub grab your bait. In this situation try and strike by keeping your rod tip close to the water and sweeping the rod back in an upstream are. If you strike vertically (he chub will explode into action on the surface and create so much disturbance that it could ruin your chances of catching any more.
Chub have a strong predatory instinct and can be caught using small fish baits or by spinning. This predatory instinct is very strong after spawning, but even during the winter many chub are caught on quite large deadbaits intended for pike. Stone loach and bullheads make excellent chub baits. Bullheads are easy to collect from under rocks in shallow rivers just using your hands. When you lift the rock, they will often lie still on the bottom, allowing you plenty of time to cup your hands round them. Stone loach, however, are very quick off the mark and you need the use of a fine mesh net to catch them. Don’t be tempted to use a treble hook when fishing with small fish baits. Pass a large single hook through the lips of the bullhead and trot it down through a likely looking chub pool on float tackle. If chub are present, the float will suddenly disappear without any preliminary bobbing. Strike immediately or else the fish may be deeply hooked.
Fishing for Dace
Dace are one of the smaller species of fish and seldom grow larger than 1 lb. In many rivers, a dace of half this weight is an exceptional fish. Dace thrive in fast flowing rivers but will also be found on some of the slower flowing rivers. During the summer months, vast shoals of dace will congregate where there is a swift flow. Dace will feed anywhere from the river bed to the surface. The beginner may confuse large dace with small chub but once these two species have been compared there are a number of differences. The dace is a more streamlined fish than the chub and has a much smaller head and mouth. The anal and dorsal fins of the dace are concave, whereas those on the chub are convex. An easy way to remember this is to think of the ‘curved chub’ and the ‘dented dace’.