Spring Adaptability - Brad Wegner

Now we’re finally coming into that time of year when everything starts waking up, the daffodils start to bloom, the daylight hours are increasing and the carp are certainly starting to move around the lake more. With that being said, if you’re adaptable within your approach it can certainly score well, bringing hits of fish in the right circumstances.

Being mobile

Throughout the months of summer and autumn, my fishing generally revolves around prebaiting, so keeping on my toes isn’t really that essential. During the months of spring however, the carp start to explore areas of the lake they may have been neglecting through the winter. They can often be extremely active due to being covered in parasites and leeches from sitting dormant in the cold water; to get rid of these they will be flanking on the bottom and showing more than usual, so you can often find yourself seeing fish activity throughout the day, even though it may not be feeding fish.

Now, due to the approach I take at this time of year, I will have no worries in packing up and moving to the next spot, because I’m not dedicating large beds of bait into an area, so keeping on your toes and on the fish will certainly put you at a greater advantage of getting bites. Sometimes I can move five maybe even six times throughout a day, ensuring I’m always following the fish and placing little traps in front of them.

Singles in the shallows

Single hook baits can score well all throughout the year, but especially when the water temperature is still cool; you’re not trying to create a feeding response, if anything you want the carp to investigate your hook bait like, say, a perch would with a lure. So if I’m fishing in an area where the water is shallow and the lake is clear, I generally will just use a single hook bait. At the moment I’ve been using the new yellow boilies; yellow has to be one of my favourite colours throughout springtime, but this range of new hook baits are a slightly different yellow to the norm, almost like a sweetcorn colour as opposed to a fluoro.

The reason behind using single hook baits in these situations is due to birdlife; generally if the water’s clear and the birds can see your bed of bait, they will dive on it repeatedly until it’s all gone, so by using a single, you may get picked up once or twice but the birds will soon realise they can’t get that piece of food and will do the off, leaving your rig out there ready for any carp.

Bags of attraction

Sometimes if I want to provide more attraction around the rig I’ll use a PVA bag of some sort, especially if I’m fishing over slightly deeper water and I want to draw the fish down on to my area. I’ve noticed over the past couple of seasons that solid bags are getting more and more popular and rightly so, your rig is nestled away meaning it can’t get snarled up on any debris that’s present on the lake bed, meaning the presentation is absolutely perfect. I also implement mesh bags a lot too; I feel the rig mechanics are slightly better when using mesh bags due to being able to use a coated hook link, which I believe are harder for the carp to eject. Either way, using some form of bag greatly increases the attraction on to your spot and only provides enough food for one mouthful, meaning you’re not going to overfeed the fish or preoccupy them on other food items in the swim. I think generally if they pick up the contents of the bag, the rig is going in their mouth too, hopefully leading to a hooked carp.

The mix I opt for in bags consists of small food items; the All Seasons Bag Mix is perfect for the job, it contains many different sized micro pellets that have different breakdown times, it is also suited for using all year round due to being so soluble in even the coldest temperatures. Into that bag mix I will add a good helping of fine pink Himalayan rock salt. Carp love salt but it’s hard to come by in a lake, generally they will flank in areas of clay and get the minerals and salts out of that. So I think if you can present some salt to them they will readily accept it and feed on the area, especially in the spring months leading up to that spawning period.

Through the layers

Now the carp are waking up, but the water temperatures are still low, they spend an awful lot of time up in the water, so if you’re fishing a deep lake, zig rigs have to be a part of your armoury (providing the lake rules allow). If your water is, say, 15 feet deep and you’re fishing on the bottom, the chances are the carp won’t drop on your area, so suspending a bait in front of them will certainly pay dividends. But if your lake is say three to five feet in depth or the areas you have located them in are shallow, single hook baits could be a better option as it’s less of a distance for the fish to drop to come across your bait.

With zigs I often find black will outdo every other colour, especially if you’re using them as singles and not spodding over the top of them. Is it because they’re replicating a piece of natural food? Or is it due to it silhouetting up against the sky better than every colour? Or are they just generally interested so have to investigate what it is with their mouth? I think it’s definitely a combination of the three. They can be a real headbanger to put out, especially if you don’t have a great deal of confidence in them, but I can assure you, they have saved the day many of times when the trip is looking abysmal. The best thing about them though, has to be the fact you can chuck them literally anywhere, over a clean bottom or over dense weed – as long as you fish safely – they will present themselves wherever the carp seem to be situated on the day.

We’re coming into my favourite time of the year now and when you get the tactics right, the carp can really be there for the taking; it’s not uncommon to get good hits throughout this period and generally the fish are in awesome condition from going missing over the winter. They’re also still sporting that lovely dark cold water colour, so make the most of it, get your approach bang on, keep on the move and the rewards will be forthcoming.