In the fall of 2016 I decided to take on a long term Carp project that’s been on my mind for quite some time. This project has always been put off due to family, work and school commitments. In 2016, I was determined and simply decided to make time and made it happen. The project would involve a multi month commitment to one particular area and consistent feeding. I would wake up each morning at the crack of dawn, fish for 2 hours, wash off the slime and change into business clothes before heading into work. In the end, thanks to my passion and love for Carp fishing it was a piece of cake and I really wish I would’ve done this many years ago.
Going into this project I had number of goals in mind. First and foremost, to create and develop a local and reliable Carp spot from scratch.Pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to see how long it would take before I got enough. In theory, testing my passion for Carp fishing. The battle of “close to shore vs long distance” was another goal. Testing attractants vs none. Effect weather, pressure, rain and temperature had on fishing. One of the main reasons for these goals was the fact that my personal experience and the common knowledge that I read and hear about don’t always line up. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there is a lot of factors to my person experience that might not necessarily apply to most.
The place I selected for this project is tidal river within a mile of saltwater. I fished this place twice in my life and blanked both times. I usually do most of my Carp Fishing up north out in the nature as I really enjoy the peace, tranquility and being away from civilization. For this project I would have to put that aside. This area of the river does not see many carp fisherman. I decided to set up 2 areas for the feed. 1 area close to shore at depth of 4-8 feet and 2nd out about 100-150 feet. In this area the deepest part of the river is about 25-30 feet. For bait, I decided to start off with soaked/cooked feed corn and wild bird food mix for first few weeks. Gradually I would stop using wild bird food and incorporating pack bait (oats) into the mix. In the end, working my way to boilies. Fishing itself will be done from 5:30am to about 7:30am. I did not fish on high tide, but feeding would be done every morning. I ended up doing about 5-6 days of fishing and 5-6 days of feeding.
I started the feed in 2nd week of September. I decided to feed the spot for a week prior to fishing. Each and every morning before work and on weekends I got out there at the crack of dawn and baited the area. It must’ve been so weird for people driving by to watch a guy in a dress shirt/pants and waders tossing bait in the river….it was time to develop change of clothes and deslim strategy. Getting up was tough, but being out on the river as the sun comes up is quite amazing. Quiet, peaceful and relaxing. This is probably one of my favorite parts of carp fishing. Having a supportive partner and kids also helps.
First week I was doing quite a bit of watching. I usually stuck around for 15-20 min after feeding to check out the scenery and enjoy the beautiful nature. First few days there was 0 activity on the water. Oxygen levels in the river were extremely low as the shore was covered with dead bunker. Within 3 days I started to notice bubbles, but no leaps. On the 4th day, 2 jumps within 30 min. They are here! With smiles and excitement I started to prepare the gear the following day. Deep inside I also reminded myself about the “rollercoaster” that carp fishing is and quickly reset my expectations. I was right, first 2 days were blanks. The carp were definitely in the area and feeding. They came a bit late (around 7pm) so it seems like they haven’t figured out the the feed time yet. They would in time…On the 3rd day the rod starts bouncing. After a good fight I managed to pull in my smallest carp ever, he was 3-4 lbs at best and I could not believe my eyes when I seen him as he put up a great fight. Next few days I spent pulling in 2-3 fish each session. They averaged 8-15lbs and fought really hard. Clearly these guys have never been caught. It’s worth noting that I also lost 4-5 fish first few days. This was really my mistake as I decided to buy Korda “Carp Hooks”, they were simply too small. I have no idea how European guys pull in big fish with these but that’s a whole different debate. Korda hooks were discarded from this point on and my hook bait improved immensely with large hooks.
From this point on things got quite interesting. Each and every day fishing improved. In time the size improved as well. With each week the fish got bigger and I was averaging 3-4 fish per session (2 hours of fishing each day). It has gotten to a point where I would arrive and get a strike within first 5 min! Fish were waiting for me each day. Couple of times I wondered into the river to see if I can spot them and sure enough, they are hanging out waiting for food! One day I turned around looked at my rods and said “why even bother”. Went over to grab the net and caught a nice size 15 pounder with just the net. Feel free to check out the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
In time the weather got really cold and I was really pushing my boundaries. Fish kept coming but the weather was just brutal. I did few sessions in mid december when the weather was warm and were quite successful but my consistency on feeding faded. Fish were there each time I went back though! Next year, my goal is to keep it going and see how long I can keep the fish coming into the winter. I have a feeling they would stick around…
It was now time to reflect on the project goals and reevaluate few things. Developing a local spot was a success! This was quite simple with consistency. Things I’ve learned about Carp from this project were quite extraordinary and the behavior I witnessed was just unexpected. Battle of close to shore vs long distance? This was a no news to me, close to shore was a winner by far, no contest. For every 1 fish I caught out in the distance, I caught 3 or 4 close to the shore. This goal was just a confirmation based on my river Carping experience. As for attractants? About a month in I stopped using them. Each day I did a side by side testing with and without attractant. I noticed 0 difference. I actually felt that I caught more fish without it. I tried to change locations around as well to make sure it wasn’t due to certain spot. Please do note that this was on a river with current and tides. As far as weather, pressure, rain and temperature goes. None of these mattered at all. As long as there was food, the fish showed up. Not only did they show up, they showed up on time! I’m not saying that pressure, temperature or weather doesn’t play a role in fishing, it does! Just not in this particular case. I would say this project was more of an “exception to the rule” and quite outside of the box.
As far as pushing myself outside of the comfort zone, I think I accomplished it. It took a lot of effort to cook and feed the fish on regular basis, but it became a norm after about 2 weeks. I did not get tired of fishing and found myself enjoying getting up and going each morning. This project has enabled me to enjoy carp fishing to the max and really tested my passion for these amazing fish.