Day-ticket carping

5 top tips

Rich Wilby’s top advice for catching carp on a day-ticket.

Words and photography Rich Wilby

1 – Simple Rigs

Trust me, the one thing I have larnt from many years of fishing day-ticket lakes and running my own fishery is that simple rigs are best. The most important thing about a rig on a pressured venue is that it is inconspicuous, is pinned to the bottom and the hook is as sharp as possible. 

A simple rig, tied meticulously, with hook and bait size balanced is the best rig to use. The only time I will use something a bit more technical is if the lake bed require a different presentation.

My own day-ticket lake is a hard clay bottomed venue, no weed, no silt just a clean bottom. But I see anglers fishing three inch shod rigs and other crude pop-up rigs which really don’t suit the lake bed. Yes, the odd fish will fall for one, but I can guarantee that for every one carp caught on one of these complicated rigs, ten are caught on a tidy hair rig.

2 – There’s no best swim

Yes, some swims produce carp more regularly than others on most carp venues, but you need to be open minded on each trip because the best swim to be in is the one the carp are in on that day. Just because you catch from “the point swim” one week, it does not mean it will produce the same results for you again. This especially true in the warmer months when the carp are very active. 

Watercraft skills are far more useful. Look where the wind is blowing and always have a walk around a venue before you get the divvy up. If you’re doing a 24hrs or longer don’t be afraid to move swims. Sometimes the carp will just leave the area, the best anglers I know move with the fish.

3 – Bait size

This is something I have definitely learnt from running my own fishery. Being a bit different with your hook baits can make a big difference. I remember watching a guy on Mustang Lake bank three twenties in an afternoon by using double 18mm bottom baits. And then a week later I watched another guy land six fish on single 10mm boilies. 

Both anglers had good results on very different hook baits, but they were being different to other anglers, who mainly use a 15mm boilies. They both used simple rigs, but tweaked their hook baits and it paid off. 

4 – Chat

I know that some anglers like to keep themselves to themselves, but most anglers I meet on day-ticket waters like to chat and share info. You never stop learning and just one little tip from someone on the bank can pay off with a personal best. I have walked around lakes and not seen anything to go on and then had a chat with a fellow angler who has told me he heard “them crashing all night” in the back bay. 

There are many anglers once they get their bivvy up they don’t like to move, so they will happily tell you where they have see fish. I find the most inexperienced carp anglers often the best people to talk to. As they’re honest and happy to share what they know or have seen. Some very good anglers will sometimes say they haven’t seen much or even worse they haven’t caught, when they have. But like I said, most of the people I meet at day-ticket venues are helpful. And lastly don’t forget to ask the bailiff for tips on location and bait advice.

5 – Keep disturbance to a minimum

On pressured lakes, carp soon work out when they are being fished for. If you keep chucking leads on top of them they will soon move away. They like quiet areas and they then start to get confident feeding as they can relax and feed with out being disturbed. 

If you set up in a swim and the fish are already present, just flick a couple of rigs out in the area. Light leads and small PVA bags will not make a big noise and you can often get a quick bite. I have seen too many people in an excellent position only to start casting heavy leads and marker floats around. The fish will spook and leave quickly. If you can get ahead of the carp and plumb up and bait up heavily it can be a devastating tactic, but it is one that require knowledge of the conditions and sometimes a bit of luck, because the carp don’t always do what we think they will. 

I like to find fish and try for one bite at a time. I will often bait up with broken boilies so they even make less noise noise as they flutter down the water. Specimen carp feed when they think everything is safe and it is a free meal, so that’s how I want my swim to remain. 

Good luck, Rich.