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Goodbye Spawning Carp and Hello to a New ‘Old Carp’.

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 1 July 2020 |
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A 40 lb Cambridgeshire mirror plus a high 30 swim by whilst going through the rituals. We were all packed up and just watching.

For me, June 2020 has been a rather mixed month seeing me switching my week-end angling between 4 different venues, all down to the carp spawning or trying to spawn and me not being able to bring myself to fish for them during the time they really need to get this out their systems and then rest whilst left alone to get over their most important part of the year.

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A scaly mirror lifted to the warm surface layers to shed her spawn.

It really does sicken and disappoint me to see anglers continuing fish for the carp whilst they are at their in their most vulnerable and delicate state, particularly the older fish. Why on earth the fisheries don’t totally close is beyond me and extremely foolish (or perhaps brave) in my opinion when they are reliant upon good health of their fish to keep filling swims and selling tickets.

Some waters do nothing and just let everyone get on with it, whilst others unbelievably just close off the swim the fish are spawning in. This really does amaze me as protection is required after spawning in order for the fish to get over the most stressful time of the year. Some of the old females get absolutely battered by young males and can take a while to recover to anything like the norm. Closing a swim only stops people fishing at them whilst they spawn it does nothing at all to protect them after spawning, when they are in their worst state. Post spawning the carp drift off to other parts of the lake/pit/pond/river where people can be fishing for them. My mind boggles as to what good closing a swim can do.

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The old females can really get knocked around during spawning.

I’m of mixed feelings regarding protecting carp after spawning and no one rule will be perfect for all. I truly feel that with relatively young carp then just a few days closure should be fine to give them a recovery period, but the older ones need more than a few days.

Bring back the old close season some say, but let’s be honest, it had to be 3 months to try and cover most species but rarely protected pike that tended to spawn before the season ended or the carp and barbel that were usually spawning around the start of the season, so this was never right anyway from a fish protection point of view, although the bankside growth got the chance to re-establish itself.

It’s a debate that will go on for ever more and I’m afraid people will simply continue to do what is good for them rather than what is good for the fish. Most really couldn’t care less and if the carp die in one water, there are always others to go and fish for. I hate this mentality, but it is one I see and hear more and more and from people I would have liked to have thought would put themselves up for setting an example, but hey ho.

As I said at the start, a very mixed month for me that even saw me do a 260 mile round trip that had to be cut short as they started to spawn there as well. It was nice to see everyone pack up on that lake, although they didn’t have to. At least those anglers had respect for their quarry.

So despite starting the month on the back of my largest brace of U.K. commons which I wrote about here, https://www.questbaits.com/blog/coming-out-of-lock-down/ my fishing was suddenly turned a little upside down and the only fish of real note this last month came this last week-end. I had blanked the week-end before in seemingly ideal conditions. I was spotting carp elsewhere but was so sure that they would turn up on my bait, I stayed put rather than go move. Lesson learned.

The following weekend I was back and conditions were again looking perfect for where I had blanked the previous week-end. This time I took the time for a proper scout around. I found carp in two areas, did a second lap and started to form a plan toward one of the areas I had found them in. I knew if I set up on them I would spook them as they were right in close, next to the bank in a small bay. I decided to take a gamble and set up slightly off of them in the hope that they would drift out and I could intercept them on their way out of the bay. I was pretty certain I knew which route they would be taking and had to simply hope that the other members who were looking round would not spot them, spook them or set up on them.

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Night time came and I settled down with a freshly cooked meal at base camp

Night time came and I settled down with a freshly cooked meal at base camp, relieved that the others had walked straight past so hopefully hadn’t spooked them. I had sprinkled a bit of bait where the carp were after waiting for them to drift off and the carp had returned afterwards as well. I was really hopeful of a take as they drifted out of the bay they were in, particularly as they would have had a safe snack of the same bait in the bay, so when they came across another small offering of crushed up Magnum Maple and Spicy Spirulina, why wouldn’t they have another snack?

Morning came and the indicators were still hanging motionless after a night of rain. I crept around into the bay and not a sign of a carp, or indeed the bait I had put in the evening before. I took advantage with no carp there and re-baited the spot.

An hour later I was back having a look and the water was a little more clouded, there had to be carp around and sure enough one bulged under the collection of algae scum that had drifted into the margin I’d been feeding. I watched and saw the carp swim out and start a circuit of the bay. Once again I took a gamble of introducing more crushed up Magnum Maple and Spirulina with a few broken bits too plus Mini Mixed Pellet that had all been dampened down so I could make up small balls for tight accurate baiting, this had the desired effect of forming a nice cloud too as the lightly squeezed balls broke with a splat on the surface and as I watched, two more carp appeared and the first literally stopped in its tracks, it was so close I saw its every move and appeared to be tasting the water before turning to the bait cloud with the other holding back a little swam into the cloud and out again, once again followed by its mate who hadn’t been into the cloud. They both drifted off but I was able to follow their progress in a loop around the bay and then came back before I lost sight of them under the algae scum. If I couldn’t see them, then they couldn’t see me so I took the opportunity of retreating from behind the long grass I had been watching from and went back to base camp to mull things over.

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The old 8' 6" Margin Creeper and centrepin came out

I was sure with the floating scum and soft filamentous weed on the bottom that presenting a conventional rig would be very much hit and miss, so decided to get my almost 20 year old 8ft 6 inch Free Spirit Margin Creeper out which had a centrepin reel on it and a float set up. No hair rig or anything else. I was going to bury my hook inside a piece of paste so that it didn’t get caught up in the soft weed whilst the carp rooted around.

Back into the bay and the water was now much more coloured, the carp were, or definitely had been on the bait. With not having a heavy lead on I swung the float and paste out past the spot then would the float back to the scum allowing the paste to flutter down.

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The float soon started to kick around

It hadn’t been in long before the float started to knock and small bubbles appeared in the surface. I love this intimate close range angling and several times my grip tightened around the rod as the float kicked yet again. Eventually it just simply sunk and I struck hard, the rod hit that lovely solid wall that came alive in the exact same moment making the water bulged and the centrepin reel screamed at me that it was giving line as fast as it could.

What a scrap it turned out to be, I love playing carp on short rods and centrepin reels and don’t often get the chance these days – or more to the point I don’t often make the chance these days. The first time I spotted the carp that was attached I must admit  looked quite odd being real dark and with 2 separate erect dorsal fins and so long, almost like 2 stitched together, straight away I thought it looks like an ancient coelacanth!

During the fight the float snapped in half and rose alone to the surface. It seemed an age before I was at the netting stage and actually messed up the first attempt. I hadn’t realised just how long this fish actually was and it simply rolled back off the net. My heart really was in my mouth then, but the size 4 Curved KD which had been buried in the paste held fine and eventually it was mine. It was the first carp I had landed for a while hooked clean through the top lip, due to no hook out rig being used.
DSC 3133I’d carried a bivvy peg into the bay with me with the intention of securing the landing net with it should I be lucky enough to hook and land a fish. Well I had been so the net was secured for the fish and myself to regain our composure. I never lift carp straight onto the bank after a fight. They are out of breath you know so the last thing to do is starve them of breathing fluid at this stage whilst they are gasping.

With the fish secure I went and fetched the camera and weigh gear to reduce this magnificent creature to a mere number.

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A proper old breed (and the carp too).

On the mat this old male fish looked a right character with its two short dorsal fins and its black silt stained mouth. What is more it’s a fish I don’t think I have seen before, which makes its capture even sweeter. A different approach to usual had finally tricked this old beast.

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Strange double dorsal.Very recognisable.

Well, June ended with me more than satisfied with my capture on the float. That capture had been a build-up of around 24 hours from first finding the carp and setting the situation up. The actual angling time was probably less than 5 minutes. A lesson for us all with me included.  I don’t get off my bum enough these days to make things happen.

So, we are now on the first day of July as I write this. I wonder what this month has in store. I do hope those old girls have survived possible capture straight after spawning.

Best wishes as always
Shaun

About the Author: Shaun Harrison

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Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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