Being an “Old”
Brian Skoyles reveals his methods for catching wily old carp off the surface.
Words and photography Brian Skoyles
Since I first cast a rod in earnest to catch a carp by design, I think it’s fair to say things have changed a bit. Squawking “Herons” have been replaced by high tech remotes, climbing trees by drones, casting by GPS directed boats and the old par boiled spud by high tech boilies. Out of interest I never did persuade a carp that a potato was a delicious meal. I did however catch plenty on breadcrust, which fueled my passion for surface fishing which lasts to this day.
There is nothing more exciting than getting up close and personal with an unsuspecting carp by travelling light and doing a bit of margin stalking. I accept that, these days, not all waters lend themselves to this approach, being far too busy, but most parts of the country have the odd small pond where a bit of fun can be had on a summers evening. Forget about pb’s and bagging up, this is all about going back in time for a couple of hours of “Old School” carping.
Gear is simplicity itself. I prefer a 12ft rod with a test curve around 2lb, a medium sized reel with a good clutch, loaded with 15lb line. My setup is a Daiwa X45 floater special and a GS4000 reel. At the business end, just a hook, my choice a Korda Mixa. My unhooking mat doubles as my carry bag for the odd spares I might need.
I like to wander around the lake, avoiding the obvious well used swims and just throw out a few bits of crust, along the margins, near overhanging trees etc. Most of the time it will get attached by small silver fish, but that’s ok, as I reckon the activity could attract the bigger fish. Most of the time the cast is no more than an underhand swing. Sometimes I don’t actually lower the hookbait into the water until I know a fish is active in the area. Resting the bait on a lily pad, or hooking over an outer leave of a tree, can be a plus. I’ve had fish pushing a pad up in the air to get at the crust, as it slides off the slurp is better than any bite alarm.
Using crust has gone out of fashion, but that can be an advantage. On a couple of pressured waters I fish, the carp are becoming more and more suspicious of the usual particle floaters but excuse the pun, can be a sucker for a large lump of crust, particularly in the margins on an evening. It also tends to solve the problem of nuisance ducks, seagulls etc. as you are fishing so close in.
It doesn’t always work, but when it does it provided some of the most exciting fishing you will ever have. One minute the crust is there, when without warning a dark shape appears below it. You watch, you tense, as slowly a carp approaches your crust. It disappears, you strike, and the water explodes … you’re in.
Pure Magic for an ancient carper!