Thoughts and opinions – Spring tactics. Liam Close- Retro Baits
Spring for me is without any doubt my favourite time of year. The days are drawing out and everything is going the right way. The birds are singing , the daffodils are in full bloom and if we are lucky the warmth of the sun can be felt on our backs. If the weather goes our way , there no better time to catch carp. That said it can be very frustrating when the winter drags its heels. The earlier and warmer the spring arrives, the bigger the window of opportunity to capitalise on clubbing season. All to soon the annual spawning ritual begins.
An early spring capture of an old fork tailed common.
Early spring is for me the one time of the year when I pray for high pressure, light winds and bright sunshine. As l am writing this, the conditions outside are perfect. Sadly time is very limited these days. Thankfully though a bit of fishing is on the horizon, so hopefully I’ll be able to capitalise on the mega March conditions we currently have.
It is said carp are solar powered and the is never truer than in early spring. Those first days of warmth can often drive the carp in to areas they have largely neglected since the previous autumn. They are exploring their world once again. Thee right approach can make them very vulnerable to capture. It’s often only short windows, but even the toughest of lakes can throw up a special opportunity in early spring. Often the first capture of the year on low stock waters will come on one of these early warmer afternoons.
This picture just encapsulates early spring carp fishing. Bright sunshine and light winds.
That said even If the conditions don’t go completely are way , day light hours play a huge role in getting the carp active. So even I’d temperatures are not perfect, the chances of success only increase as the we head out if winter and the days get ever longer.
Tactics at this time of year, same as any time of year for me to be fair are usually fairly simple and straightforward . It’s been well documented over the years the effectiveness of casting bright singles to showing fish: but also don’t discount lightly baiting marginal spots little and often and just keeping an eye on them. The fish will often come into the edges as the days begin to get a little warmer. Also pre baiting between sessions if it’s possible. I am not talking a big baiting campaign, but again just little and often. You often find the majority, will just be putting single bright ones out. A bit of stealthy pre baiting can really give you an edge. Also baits such as maggots and corn to complement your boilie approach is something worth considering. Something a little different can just trip them up in those shallower spots. Boilies and bright ones are fantastic and work well. The thing is, the more questions you ask and the more strings in your bow , ultimately the more successful you will be.
Don’t forget the floater and stalking gear. From March onwards I make sure I have my floater gear, bread , mixers and some Bio pop ups for floating hook baits along with the Bio amino liquid. I’ve caught some special carp as early as mid march off the top .
Now I’m not the best zig angler in the world but I have caught fish on zigs. It is not my preferred method but there can be no denying, it is a potentially devastating tactic , especially In the spring on deeper lakes. In fact on some deep lakes it’s the only method that may bring success early on. As a rule of thumb, I’d use a lead clip and a long hook link anything 10 ft or below and adjustable once we dealing with depths over 10ft. I’ve actually got a water I want to give zigs a good go this spring. Hopefully i find some time to do it. Generally though I do gravitate to shallower lakes in spring as they warm up far quicker and lend themselves to finding the fish grazing in those windows of warmer weather.
This was my first carp on a zig rig the awesome “Wart”, zigs are not my favourite tactic but a tactic that should be in everybody’s locker, especially in the spring.
I do use the single pop up approach to showing fish. It is a very effective approach on a lot of waters in the spring, but most the time I favour a wafter and a stringer or small bag mesh bag. I don’t completely discount putting a few baits over the top either. I’m quite restless most the time when I’m fishing. Spring time particularly, I’m always mooching and looking for opportunities and often moving.
If your local to the lake , just walk it regularly. An hour spent walking a lake is better than watching YouTube or playing on the Xbox. If you want success on the bank make time, make the effort and results will follow.
Although In march , I do often find the days to be more productive than nights, come April I often find the bites can come at anytime: and nights in particular can often be the time when some of the bigger residents make the mistake . That said the fish and bites can still be very localised. The fish may well be mooching the upper layers all over the lake but where they are just swimming and enjoying the rays may not be the same area they will drop and feed.
A few years ago one show at first light after a quiet night, lead to me and my mate Kane, catching a lot of the lakes stock, over a couple of weeks on a once neglected kettle Mere in the heart of Shropshire.
Introducing bait little and often as we caught and as we left kept the fish feeding in this particular area where id seen the show. We both capitalised on the situation: leading to the capture of my target fish.
Despite very few known captures and a tricky one to catch, been vigilant and realising despite a recent capture , it was still vulnerable to the right approach. A mega common with very little history in a neglected Shropshire club lake was mine. Its funny I said to Kane despite this particular fish been a rare visitor to the bank, in fact it had only just done its second ever known capture a couple of weeks earlier. Up until that capture i didn’t even know that this particular fish existed. Despite this i actually said to kane, I was confident of catching it sooner rather than later. Its last capture had been on a zig, In my opinion especially given the time of year; i was of the opinion it was vulnerable to another capture to a bait on the deck. Not long after , within days of the conversation i was proved right ,when i landed said fish. As I’ve said before taking note of others captures can help you put the pieces of the jigsaw together. Not by just blindly copying , but just taking note and applying logic. Had that fish been caught on bait a couple of weeks previous rather than a zig, I would not have been so confident of it making the mistake . With it falling to a zig , I just knew it was still vulnerable to a bait approach. Especially given it was spring and the lake had not likely seen the approach given the little pressure the venue had previously seen. Earlier that day I’d also caught another target off the surface on free lined bread, been prepared and adaptable ensures you can make the most of your time on the bank.
I caught this one on a bit of bread in the margin after wading threw a weed bed that was thought to be inaccessible. Something different often brings rewards. Time goes on As time goes on and the water really starts to warm up the carp’s mind will turn to spawning: even if they are weeks away from the actual event , weather depending you start seeing changes in there behaviour. They will often start spending more time around there spawning grounds in shallower areas and structure. This is where time spent just looking and observing individual fish can really pay dividends. If you notice the males are grouped up, fishing away from that area could possibly increase your chances of catching that big female target fish. Not always the case of coarse, but it is a scenario I have seen multiple times on multiple venues in the past. The area they do start grouping up on, usually produces hits though and unless you really after a particular fish or two that can not be seen amongst them: it can not be ignored . This is where observation and understanding how the fish are behaving is so important. I’m not by the way advocating fishing for spawning carp but up until they start thrashing and actively chasing each other it’s fair game in my opinion. Towards the end of April early May you can really start putting in some bait and the fish will trough threw it. I’m not saying its something you should or must do. There is a lot of variables, but heavy baiting can start to pay off late April onwards. Again not all lakes are the same but it doesn’t make cringe if the one trick pony is filling it in as he always does every session come what may. Unless you fishing heavily stocked venues , heavy baiting only really tends to work well , if not many people do it. If loads of people are heavily baiting like anything it loses its effectiveness. It has to be done at the right time. If you not sure hold off the bait because you can always put more in but you can not take it out.
One of three 30lbers taken in a morning caught over a big bed of boilie and sweet corn. Often the bream will spawn a bit earlier than the carp, always take note where the bream spawn as the carp love eating bream spawn. I’ve seen areas just after bream spawn alive with both carp and birds. If you see a big group of birds in a area have very close look at that area because they could well be eating something the carp will be interested in as well and that is true throughout the year. The birds are always on hatches , if there is a concentration of birds on one area always pay attention to that area. Finally Anytime of the year been mobile and efficient is often a huge edge, but spring particularly; you have to be on top of your game. Everybody back on the bank and Hungry for success. You have to do your best to be one step ahead of your fellow anglers . Keep your eyes peeled and take the opportunities as they arise. Been adaptable and mobile is key in spring as conditions and the fishes moods can change in the blink of an eye. Early stages of spring particular the water temperature can be on a knife edge, so keep your eye on the weather and choose spots carefully . You may not have a chance to move so making the right decision early doors can be absolutely critical. I’ve been on good end and the bad end of this scenario and it can be a kick in the knackers when you get it wrong.
Location is key, Comfort is just a bonus for me.
Good luck for the spring, enjoy it as much as possible as clubbing season is all to breath.
Keep em bent
Liam Close- Facebook (Liam JC Angler)