With the weekend of the spring equinox approaching, the water temperatures are well and truly rising. Yes, we had a frost overnight here at my Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire border home, but with daylight minutes almost matching the minutes of darkness the underwater world is gradually warming again and so are the carp which means they automatically become much more active. Being cold blooded they are totally driven by water temperature and now it is warming, their metabolism is increasing. More ground covered and more energy used, thus the need to start to hunt out more food than they have needed to these past few months. This is the time of the year my usual winter methods start to make room for my spring approach.
The fish are actively seeking food again, so I make it as easy as possible for them to find my offerings. I have never kept it a secret that I very rarely feed just one boilie.
I like different leakage, different size and indeed different coloured baits out there. Now in my 45th year of catching carp my most successful spring fishing has been through observation and small traps of bait rather than trying to lay a feast out for them.
When I spot fish just out of winter, if they are not sat in sun traps soaking in the warmth, then they always look to me as though they are on a mission covering a fair bit of ground rather than sitting in one spot gorging. This is a totally natural scenario searching out the early year hatches etc, forging for what there is, whilst swimming, rubbing, leaping, cleaning themselves of leeches and other parasites that have lived on them whilst they have been less active and taking advantage of any easy pockets of food.
So, for me it is a case of keeping the eyes open and not being afraid to pull a rod off of a lightly baited spot and cover a show with a clearly seen hook bait, or a small bag, stringer or paste wrap to make a more obvious sight mark. All the things that I tend to steer away from once they have been under a lot more constant pressure again later in the year.
The other big thing to look out for are the small sun traps that hold a tiny amount of heat. Carp are like us in as much as they enjoy any extra heat when it is cold the same as they enjoy a cool breeze when it’s hot. Back in the days of the old, closed season, I used to drive into Lincolnshire and fish various waters that remained open. I remember one bright spring day that had followed a frosty night. I had a couple of baits out, one in open water in 15 ft or so of water and another on a bar that was the side of an island in probably 6-8ft of water.
Out the corner of my eye I spotted a swirl right against a big tussock of marsh grass growing in the margin. I wasn’t sure if it was a carp or a pike but as the sun was directly on that tussock, I decided to give it half an hour with a re-cast. It landed perfect but I was a little concerned at the lack of drop, it could only have landed in a couple of foot of water. I was pondering whether to cast again when there was another swirl, followed by a bow wave and I then realised I was into a carp that had taken almost immediately. I landed that fish which was one of the largest I ever landed at that venue and obviously had another cast there. It wasn’t long after that I was in again. Just a small bright bottom bait again fished on its own. Two fish wasn’t un-heard of there at all, but it was still quite good going.
The third cast and the indicator remained motionless. I thought I had possibly spooked the carp with the second capture when it dawned upon me that the spot, I had both takes from had been in the direct sun and now the sun had moved and left this little area in the shade. I decided to try a cast the other side of the tussock, which was now receiving the full sun and, well, you probably know the rest. I picked up a third carp not long after that re-cast. A moment in time from 35 years ago that taught me so much and had continued to help me put early season carp on the bank.
Don’t be afraid at this time of the year to present a bait in real shallow water if it is receiving the full sun, and don’t be afraid to use those methods you are best avoiding later in the year when they have once again, seen it all.
Best wishes as always