Carp fishing on a budget

Words: Chris Ponsford. Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Sunset carping – made simple!

Chris Ponsford shows you how to catch Autumn and Winter carp on a budget – and quickly – as the nights draw in…

There has never ever been a better time to go fishing for Carp, big or small, on overstocked commercials to low stocked gravel pits, canals and rivers and natural estate lakes and reservoirs. The choice is so varied and fish are very plentiful all over the country, though less so in Scotland, Wales, and Ireland more probably down to a harsher climate and topography and also sparser, more spread out population.

Once, back in the 1950s and before Carp were thought to be uncatchable in winter and few fished for them, in fact in my younger years a 20lb-er would be the fish of a season, in fact I had mates who fished all season for just a few bites, usually on some secret lake they wouldn’t tell me about. I never bothered to try to find out as the thought of sitting on a lake for very little action never appealed.

In fact I have always been a “bites” angler, fishing in daytime then going home when the sunsets for a nice meal and a cosy evening in with my Mrs. 

I do enjoy my road trips, often staying away and am lucky to have accumulated friends all over our little Island, so it’s not difficult to find a bit of water to fish nowadays.

Now to clarify a point before I start rambling, I have been a sponsored angler and consultant for over 35 years and fished for about 60 years! During that time I have seen massive changes in our sport and also the size that fish are now growing to, mostly due to selective breeding and the use of protein rich baits and ground bait. Pellets are probably the biggest game changer, the fish love them, most species will eat them in choice over naturals, in fact in most commercial fisheries they rely on anglers baits to thrive and actively hunt them out . 

I have been at Korum/ Preston Innovations /Sonubaits  for over 20 years, so naturally use the gear I’m lucky enough to be supplied with, and as a result its what I used during this feature, it works, so thumbs up from me.

It puzzles me why anglers complicate fishing so much and carry such huge amounts of tackle and accessories to do simple day sessions.

This session was done at the prolific and well stocked Barston lakes – near Solihull in the West Midlands. Their website contains all the info for a days fishing.

My idea of this was to show you how to catch good size Carp on affordable tackle and bait, without lugging huge quantities of tackle and bait  down to your peg, in fact I didn’t use a trolley or similar, just went old school carrying it on my shoulder and two hands, that’s a novel thing these days, lol!

You don’t need three rods, bivvys, alarms to catch loads of big carp at Barston and tons of expensive bait, quite the opposite in fact.

Take a leaf out of the match anglers approach and fish one rod and watch the tip for bites, the carp will certainly let you know, usually pulling the tip round confidently or even giving you a drop back bite and running back towards you.

Now these days Top Matchmen have got catching Carp on the feeder and straight lead off to a fine art and time spent watching a match and learning is not wasted. Loads of YouTube videos have been made also plus countless articles and features can be looked at online. 

The likes of Steve Ringer, Lee Kerry, Des Shipp, Darren Cox, Michael Buchwalder, are brilliant at it, and will have countless rods made up before the match, but essentially for our purposes one rod will do the job very well. 

For this feature I used an 11ft Korum Quivertip rod, with a 2oz carbon tip, a small 30gm Preston elasticated method feeder, using a mould to load the feeder, an 040 sized Korum reel, loaded with 6lb sinking mono, with a 10lb mono shockleader.  Hooks were size 12 barbless to a 4 inch, 8lb hooklink, pre-tied, with band on a hair, which I used small wafters as my hookbait. 

Bait was Sonubaits mini wafters in various colours and flavours, and the groundbait was pellet based. I really like the sticky pellets in 2mm size, soaked very briefly in lake water, 20 seconds max, plus a bit of 50/50 paste mix, or Thatchers Original Groundbait. 

The key thing is the mix must stay together on the cast every time, but break down once on the bottom. Modern baits are powerful in attraction and food value and each feeder full will soon get fish into the area, assuming some are not far away.

I have a few casts to a comfortable distance, without bait or hook, then clipping the line up so that I am casting to same distance with bait each time, lining up with a fixed object like a tree for accuracy. Once this is done, the ideal scenario is to use a pair of distance sticks to measure the amount of wraps to the clip, now that might be 10 wraps or more, but write down or memorise the number, so that if you unclip on a big fish or want to cast further or less, you can always repeat it.

A simple alternative and free is to simply walk up the bank and mark the distance wherever you get too and use that as your marker, that is what I did at Barston (see pic below).

When you  cast, try to pull the rod back so the feeder is cushioned as it hits the clip and lands softer, with a nice plop, or pushed the rod to one side.

When the feeder lands, immediately engage the bail arm so it falls on a tight line and plunge the rod tip under water to try to sink the line, this is where a fast sinking mono is useful. 

I really like the smallest Preston Method feeder best as it casts really well and lands without much splash, hybrid feeders are also popular for casting longer distances, sometimes up to 60gm, however I rarely have the need of them as I am pleasure fishing and can pick my pegs generally .

If I want to cast further, I will use a longer more powerful rod and a heavier feeder and bigger reel like a mini pit, loaded with 6 or 8lb main line, but always with a shockleader, 12lb for a 50 gm feeder.

On this occasion I caught a couple of skimmers first, then some F1’s and then carp which got bigger and bigger as the session went on, the biggest a right lump among a few other lumps as we started to think about heading home as the sunset.

Fish for bites, cast accurately and don’t strike at liners or twitches. Just sit on your hands watching that tip for nice strong pulls, then lift into the fish pulling steadily to get it coming towards you, the elasticated feeder will absorb the fishes lunges well, as will the rod, so don’t rush it, some of the fish here are very big, in fact they have been caught to 37lb apparently!

On this occasion I was very lucky to have Lloyd Rogers taking the pics and as you can see, they are great, thanks Lloyd, top work as ever.

Another thing before I forget, a comfy seat is paramount, a good rod rest positioned to get the tip just off the water, a decent sized landing net and handle and ground bait bowl and side tray for bits to hand attached to a leg of the chair.

Give it a go, it’s a cheap way of bagging up on great big lumps, and never boring as the tackle gives great sport, balanced and really designed for the job.

As the light faded, the action kept getting better!
The carp just kept getting bigger throughout the day!