In March this year I had the privilege of fishing with my friend Mark Surman who is a master of the art of watercraft, an art which seems be largely lost in the modern world of carp angling.
It’s something that rarely features in magazine articles as it doesn’t promote any products! Without some basic watercraft, catching carp at a tricky venue can be very difficult indeed.
In this piece I’m going to summarise the main tactics that Mark used during this session which were vital to his success.
Fishing in the windows
Obviously the weather has a massive effect on the carp. High pressure, cold winds or still conditions can make the fishing almost impossible so during these periods Mark doesn’t fish!
He takes all his lines out of the water, rests the swim and searches for the faintest glimmer of life around the lake. If he sees something positive enough he’ll put a rod on it no matter where that may be.
If nothing comes of it, he doesn’t worry and gets back on the hunt. As soon as the conditions improve, be it a drop in pressure or a new wind, he’s straight on it and gets his rig in likely spots ahead of the fish. By doing this he was able to pick up fish in under an hour!
Relieving the pressure
On busy venues where you fish as part of a group, carp are conditioned by angling pressure and no matter how slack your lines are, they will move away from these areas of the lake and seek out quiet zones that are not being fished.
Mark purposely didn’t fish a large portion of water within his swim for most of the week. No one else could fish this section either and it was adjacent to a section that was going to be fished for 48 hrs mid-week.
Mark knew that by keeping this zone free from lines, the angling pressure that would be applied elsewhere would pressure the fish into his safe zone.
On the very last day of the week long session, Mark fished this section properly and took 4 carp in 12 hrs including two mid thirties!
A stealthy approach
Constantly thrashing the water to a foam with leads and marker rods or going out in the boat prodding the granny out the swim trying to find those magic spots is a sure fire way to spook every carp in the vicinity away from that zone.
Now I’m not saying not to use a marker float or the boat but just by careful observation of the fish movements, you can let the carp tell you where to fish. When the time was right, Mark got his baits into position with minimum disturbance, slackened off the lines and waited. Sometimes not very long!
Mark varies his baiting strategy based on conditions. When conditions were looking tough, tiny traps of less than a handful of bait (a mix of whole, chopped, and crumbed boilies and pellets) did the business.
As conditions improved and activity increased, Mark mixed it up by dotting a dozen or so baits around the rig over an area of a couple of meters to get the fish moving from bait to bait.
He dropped the pellets out of the equation and just fished a couple of whole, chopped and crumbed baits over the rig to boost the bait scent in the middle of the spread of baits.
It was this tactic that produced a run of 4 fish at the end of the session.
It was an absolute pleasure to fish with Mark and we all learnt a lot that week. His demonstration of watercraft and baiting tactics was some of the best I’ve seen.
As a fishery owner, I see some great anglers come and fish our lake. But Mark has proved that watercraft is just as important as the latest rig or the new “Super Bait”.