When you refer to carp fishing, in the context of venues most anglers would picture large expanses of water in their mind. Whether gravel pits, reservoirs or lakes, invariably words such as ‘vast’, ‘huge’ and ‘windswept’ come to mind.
However, whether by choice or default, not every pursuer of carp measures their target in terms of multiple acres.
For many, they don’t have access to places like that. They may not be syndicate members, not have the time to sit it out for a low ratio of runs to hours fished, or whatever.
Some may simply prefer to fish smaller waters anyway, and it’s that destination that we want to look at in this article.
There is a challenge to fishing that type of venue, but then again, that’s true wherever you head for. The one word that I would say is crucial if you want to increase your chances of catching anywhere, is ‘watercraft’.
It’s basically understanding the wider environment that is in front of you when you go fishing.
Despite piscatorial knowledge being greater than ever before, courtesy of the internet, there are still anglers who chuck-it-and-chance-it.
Obviously, if you’re somewhere on a one-off basis, there is a limited amount of information gathering that you can do.
If it’s a long-term project, then it pays to do as much preparation as you can prior to casting.
Many years ago, I took out a ticket to fish a lake of about two acres. Before I even took tackle to fish, I spent an afternoon,when I had the place to myself, casting a marker float.
I started at one end and ended up at the other, and drew up a comprehensive underwater map, not only depths but also the make-up of the bottom and the terrain in general.
Prior to doing that, regulars told me that it was 30’ deep in the middle. In fact, the maximum depth was 12’ and that was along the dam wall.
I wouldn’t say disregard what others say, but most certainly establish things for yourself, not simply because you’ve been told something.
The features above the water are obvious – reed beds, lilies, overhanging trees and other features whether natural or man-made, are all places to consider placing a bait alongside.
The more you know what goes on beneath the surface, the better. Depth, gravel patches, mud, dense weed etc are all places to either fish to or avoid.
When I’m fishing a day session, I sometimes just lie the rods on the unhooking mat – with the baitrunner facility engaged. You must be alert though and not get distracted.
When on an overnighter, I will go for the pod and alarm approach. Although I never sleep properly – more of a catnap – I do drift in and out of the land of the living.
As far as fish weights are concerned, although you must be realistic, at the same time don’t think that small waters equal small carp.
Regardless of the species anyway, it’s all about the venue in question. For example, on some places a 20lb carp may be nothing special, whereas on others a 10lb fish is a monster.
Being realistic will not only help you to appreciate fish for what they are but also to avoid being unnecessarily disappointed.
I’ve caught twenties from what are listed in club books as ‘ponds’ and more to the point, they’ve been targeted by design. I always feel there’s more satisfaction in that, as opposed to a catch-whatever-comes-along approach, although, of course, I’m not knocking that.
As far as tackle is concerned, I tend to go for a standard approach, certainly when it comes to rod and reel set-ups. I have 2.5lb test curve rods that never made it to the commercial stage but work well for me.
The action is such that they can handle the bigger venues but also the more intimate ones as well.
My reels are Shimano 4000D baitrunners, currently loaded with 16lb Ultima, although I don’t have a particular favouritebrand of line that I swear by, as some anglers do.
I am a fan of hair-rigged baits though, and as far as the hook-length is concerned that may be braid or monofilament. It depends not only on presentation but also the spot that I’m fishing in.
Many of the small venues that I target have lots of overhanging trees and the branches in the water form a natural bolt-hole for hooked carp to head for. That’s where braid gives you the edge over mono, as it is more resilient when the line rubs against the branches.
The brand of hook that you go for is very much personal choice. Ask ten random carp anglers what they use, and you are likely to get as many different answers.
The common denominator though is to make sure your hooks are sharp.
Although I do invariably go for boilies when targeting carp, as the boiled bait can weed out unwanted fish, nevertheless don’t rule out other options.
For example, if there are non-carp anglers on the venue, then they will no doubt be using corn, maggots, pellets etc.
You may need to modify your approach if you go down that route. For example, I fish with corn-shaped boilies on places where the fish are fed lots of corn grains on a regular basis.
Natural corn is often reduced to a shell within seconds by the hordes of small roach and you don’t even get a flicker on the alarm or the rod top.
The boiled corn approach means that the bait stays intact and is more likely to be picked up by a bigger fish.
I’ve had lots of good carp from smaller waters using this bait. I’ve also had plenty of tench, bream, roach and rudd as well,but as ‘nuisance fish’ isn’t in my vocabulary, it’s never been an issue.
Feeding is much easier as well when you’re not fishing at great distances. There’s no need for a bait boat or a spod set-up. You don’t even need a catapult.
If I’m fishing with two rods, then one will always be in the margins while the other won’t necessarily be that far off either. You can put your bait out by hand. And often underarm.
The one difference between the smaller, and more intimate places that I fish, and the bigger ones is that I would generally go for a lighter lead.
While 3-4oz would be reasonable when you’re casting a great distance, I would go half that, on average, for a small lake or pond.
I hope this article has been helpful and my advice is don’t get carried away with the ‘big is best’ way of thinking.
Often the pools and ponds, which will make you think your fishing through more carefully, can be full of surprises.
If you don’t do so already, why not give a smaller venue a go? You might like what you find.
The lead image is from a previous session on a small pool. Small venue doesn’t necessarily mean small carp.
In this case much of the pool is very shallow and even the deeper water is just three feet.