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Is it really what they want?

Posted by Shaun Harrison on 18 May 2022 |

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Is it really what they want?

At times, this is something we all need to ask ourselves to make sure those fish keep ending up in the landing net. It is all so easy to keep banging away with the same methods, baits and baiting strategies simply because they were working so well a few weeks back. It is all too easy to keep doing the same thing and simply accepting blank sessions because the fish which showed, just weren’t up for it. I fall into the trap myself, when I get things right and seem to be catching consistently, I sometimes find it difficult to know when to change things again. Comfort zones will always be zones difficult to step out of.


I constantly record the weather.

Recording and watching the weather consistently as I do does help me to get things into perspective. My last Diary blog covering April 2022 shows a great run of fish from 3 different venues. Yes, I’d got it very right at the time. The three venues all required a slightly different approach, but I was using bait combinations and terminal set ups that have always caught me a lot of carp during the period leading out of the winter.

Now it would be oh so easy to just carry on doing now, what I was doing then, and yes, I know I would still catch some, but those methods were aimed at fish that were living in cold water (still having overnight frosts) and short periods of bright warm sun (when the clouds part) and the natural hatches were starting to happen more frequently. Mini swarms of micro life would be more readily seen near shallow water in the sun rays. I find the carp rather predictable in these conditions and would say it is one of the easiest times to catch carp, so long as you get the baiting levels right before the carp arrive where you expect them/want them to feed.


A large Yorkshire fish in the sun

Now, just a few weeks on and we have warm nights, extended daylight hours, long periods of sunshine, lots more natural food hatching and larger as well. The world of the carp is now very different to how it was a few weeks back. Their habitat is changing rapidly, and their metabolism has increased greatly. Food is now much more abundant because the natural world looks after itself when man does not interfere. Getting the warm sun on their backs is no longer the priority it was a few weeks ago. The carp’s minds are now moving toward their main big event of the year – spawning.

This period can seem tricky on some venues, particularly those that are having a lot of bait going in. Remember the fish are at peak weights now, carrying their spawning juices. I have never particularly done well during pre-spawning times by piling a lot of bait in. Certainly, my catches have been more consistent over the years during this time of the year with a moderate spread of bait, rather than lots of bait and/or tight clumps of bait. Although it can be tricky, the carp can also appear to be quite suicidal in seemingly hanging themselves on any presentation you put in front of them if you have stumbled across a large gathering of fish just awaiting those temperatures to come right for them to start their fun and frolics making new carp.

Spawning doesn’t all happen at the same time on venues with different strains and different ages of carp stocked. I have witnessed countless times where it looks like they are all at it but in reality, it is often only a tiny proportion of the stock spawning. You hear people say that the carp in their venue spawn several times in a year when, it is usually just different strains with different climatic requirements.

Spot the difference B

Not all carp strains behave in the same way

This is something to remember that different strains of carp behave differently to others. This is something I have spent quite a bit of time in the past decade or so taking great interest in. There are a few common factors with some strains, but their behaviour doesn’t always seem to follow suit on every venue. Some strains love to get on a big new wind and sit on it. Whereas others will get on the new wind, have a feed then get right back off it again. This to me indicates that some carp require more dissolved oxygen than others, but that is a totally different subject.


Different creatures indeed

It won’t be long now until the first of those carp spawn and drop a lot of weight from their bodies that they have been carrying around through the winter and spring. Once they have got rid, it is then that I start to increase the amounts of bait I use.

Don’t be afraid to keep trying new things, but first off, just stop and think about some of the obvious things first. The carp’s environment is changing all the time. Their whole world is that small piece of water which they get to know incredibly well. It runs in a yearly cycle and they very much become creatures of habit. They will continue to do what they have always done, unless pressure gets far too great for them.

10mm 15mm aqnd 20mm is my preferred way of baiting

Remember what has worked well before.

Keep thinking about the past to help you to keep one step ahead.

Mixed stringer Copy

Mixing bait up has always worked well for me

Best wishes as always
Shaun Harrison

About the Author: Shaun Harrison

shaun profile pic

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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