Have you ever wondered why carp are in this depth or that; or even one end of the lake or the other? I’m known for taking a side step with the thoughts, within my angling anyway. I’ve been reading the water temperatures for years now; through all four seasons I may add, soon a picture appears… (Soon showing where the carp will be and act in any given weather pattern/temperature)
With all that said… where they wish to be can be soon changed with angling pressure; whether it’s through bait application or general angling. The areas can be quite easy to find if a few simple rules are followed; carp are simple creatures really and I have found in every situation water temperature plays a massive part to finding their whereabouts at any given time of year!
Covering the time of year that we find ourselves in at the present time, the build up to any session if worth keeping an eye on; well what the weather changes from is as important to what its changing too… With lakes warming from the surface down, the winds have a massive effect, with pushing the warm layer of sun warmed water to the windward end of the lake, this is one of the reasons why the carp tend to follow the wind at this time of year; on the flip side Autumn with warm lakes and cool winds the water gets a chill at the wind end of the lake; soon putting our carp on the back of the wind. The less dense water which is moved by the wind this time of year, being much looser in its make up, this makes it mix quicker/easier with the water below. This brings us nicely onto water temperatures…
A long time ago… I was a firm believer of how the High and Low Pressure; how it moved the carp up and down in the layers (believing it had something to do with the pressure on its swim bladder and the like!) Believe me it’s more to do with the temperatures, which the weather systems bring at any given time. If like now we have high pressure, it brings hot sun and really warm surface temps, putting the carp near the surface and in the margins catching some warm rays. But the high pressure we get in the winter brings cold frosty nights and cold days; putting a heavy band of cold dense water on the surface (ready to sink at a heavy 4 deg’s) pushing the carp down in the depths as it chills through the layers! Where this comes in at this time of year is when we get a low pushing in; with warming early summer waters, a band of cool rain hits the lake, making it have the same effect as a cold frost; pushing the carp down in the water layers, right near our rigs.
It’s worth me saying about rise and fall in temperatures, a rise in temp seems to put everything on the feed where a drop in temp puts the smaller carp off the feed and leaves the larger carp to be caught as they need to feed more often to hold their weight… Autumn with big UN’s being caught, ring any bells?? (Their not big for nothing) It’s not that the big fish don’t feed all year because the obviously do; it’s down to less feeding mouths getting to the bait before the slower big girls can be fooled or spooked away! So if you’re after a lump in a lake full of smaller carp, fishing in a drop in water temperature may well put the odds well in your favour.
Staying with water temperature as I see this as a big part of the bigger picture; bait/boilies can change a lot in the warmer lake waters we have at the moment. Swelling after a short 24 hours in the lake; even a dense fishmeal like Shellfish and worm can swell by 5% in size. This effect shows the attractors will be able to be released into the water properly; so keep in mind if your fishing with 12mm’s after 24 hours in the lake, you will be sat over a bed of 14mm’s. That’s not a problem to me but it’s worth keeping an eye on, as a 18mm plus will turn into a 22mm plus or more!! With the water being less dense and looser shall we say?? Our bait attractors move more freely and will attract fish from further a field, than the same bait might in the depths of winter; so less flavour is more this time of year. With the abundance of natural food and more of us giving them our balls of joy, they have so much to choose from they tend to become picky on what they eat and washed out bait start to come into their own.
As the lakes warm from the cold winter months, there’s so much going on below the surface; no wonder most cold water carpers find the winter months easier to get bites. With the temperatures rising along with the rotten lake bed at 12 deg’s; one of the biggest problems we as anglers have to combat is spawning time and not really the ones were trying to catch either. With Pike and Eels kicking it off, right when the lakes start to wake up at a temperature of around 9 deg. Fish eggs are now on the diet of anything that swims really. Before the Carp get a twitch on, everything else from Tench to Bream spawn; just to give our Carp something else to feed on, there’s nothing like making our lives hard. Just after the Bream the carp find a sun drenched shallow part of the lake to spawn in (18-24 deg) these areas warm up quickly and with pads and weed holding in the heat it doesn’t take long to get the game on! (Deeper margin lakes can take a long time to reach a good spawning temperature, that’s why the spawning times are so different from one lake to the next) If they can spawn quickly and get it out of their system it’s game on again; but in the UK our weather is never so kind and always seem to put the brakes on and prolong the activities. The larger carp which always seem to spawn a few days after the smaller samples, I’m sure it’s planned in a way so their able to get another easy meal. With nobody in their right mind wanting to fish for a spawning carp, if the first stage is missed/un-noticed and the weather changes this can leave the carp in the lake in limbo and have the carp and the anglers frustrated to say the least!
I have never found trying to compete with nature’s larder a good approach, pre-spawning a little salt or fishing on a good clay patch, which the carp visit will get you more bites than most. With Tadpoles, bloodworm hatches, dragonfly larva, Snails, fish spawn the list goes on and on… I’m sometimes surprised we get a bite at all! But fish being fish and easy to find in these warmer days, they still can be very catch-able. Instead of trying to compete with the small items I blend mine in, starting from late winter I edge the carp onto baited areas with fine crumb so they almost breath it in to get a taste, to help get them feeding; then as it warms up 10mm boilies, chops in small traps and stay away from bright colours unless the carp tell me otherwise. Less is more when there’s lots of natural food about, even a single food bait in a froth of fizzing carp will score a bite; blending in with natural attractions coming of digested food items being eaten. Baits that stand out sometimes act more like a replant in these situations; don’t be scared to blend your hook baits in when their feeding on bugs… like I say less is more sometimes!
A lot of my findings are from the Silty mere’s of Shropshire, but being no stranger to weed fishing either, it’s funny how most anglers look for a clear spot to fish?? Day time carp sit up in the weed or pads sunning their backs, as the green stuff gives off precious oxygen into the water, so why not fish in the weed for them. A simple chod or a lazy zig rig fished longer than the weed and cast directly in has given me some stunning day time carp, if they can rip snails from the weed my small hook bait won’t be a problem to them at all; but remember what gives always takes away, weed takes oxygen from the lake at night so there are better spots for a night time bite.
Rigs and bait are one of the biggest talking points in carp angling, as you have read above there can be more to consider than what slaps you in the face in the nearest tackle shop. A rise or fall in water temperature has to be one of the biggest things that have helped me in my carp angling; some say it is what it is when I’m there… But an eye on the lake or the weather will help you read where or what depth the carp might be at even before you start your session.
Keeping it simple and only digging into information that helps me understand, and maybe put a few more carp on the bank. It’s a bit like ‘Big Moon Big Common’ is it because it’s a clear sky and cold night; the drop in temperature putting the smaller carp off the feed and dense heavy water pushing them down closer to your rigs; very much my thoughts and findings until I’m proved otherwise!
Carp really do crave warmth at any time of year…