Mainline carper, Roman Buczynski gives an insight into one of his favoured challenges - catching river carp!
River fishing is increasing in popularity both at home and abroad, as anglers search for untamed beasts away from the maddening crowds, and why not? Rivers offer un-trodden banks, bivvy free and virgin fish. However, the nature of these fluvial waters presents significant challenges to the carp angler.
Rivers are changing annually, with the bottom of rivers never being the same year in year out, as floods and flows move riverbeds and snags are deposited or discarded by humans. Nuisance species such as chub, barbel, roach and bream, as well as crayfish and poisson chat on the continent also present challenges for carp anglers. In recent years the abundance of catfish has also presented another factor that needs to be considered in the approach and tactics and used.
Rivers are also unpredictable and for that matter tides in deltas or floods upstream can render spots unfishable within hours! My 12 years experience in big river fishing from the Thames in the UK right through to the larger rivers in Europe and off the continent have been an amazing voyage of discovery and learning. With many failures along the way, but with successes that black out the difficult despairing and often-dangerous times I have experienced. In this piece I hope to give you an idea on some of the lessons learnt and how I have used Mainline products to bring river success.
My approach to rivers big or small has evolved over the years due to my learning from successes and failures, as well as having to change the way I attack these venues as my lifestyle dictated. For now I do not have the luxury of month long trips and the longest I can possibly have for fishing is around 1-2 weeks. I will begin with timing my trips around certain times of year, as well as when flows are most likely to be the most stable. Secondly I will spend the time locating holding areas and locating the carp. For example on my last trip I spent 3 days recceing 30km of rivers prior to fishing. That’s a lot of river, tracks and nettle/brush ridden banks! However, once I had my areas ready and primed I was able to have fish on the bank within hours.
Once I have my areas located, I like to initially start with trying to ignite a feeding response, which will ultimately increase the number of fish in my zone. I will bait my zone with groundbait laced with small food items and lots of oil. The reason for this is that I want the food signal to drift as far down stream as possible, whether it is 100m or 1km. This will then drag any fish in the stretch up to my zone. The sound and scents from all feeding fish will continually send mud, detritus and the feeding signal downstream as they feed for hours on the small particles. I will then spread 2-5kg of large baits over the top of the area. My chosen bait is 20-24mm baits. I use the 20mm High Impact boilies or 24mm air dried Cell that is prepared by TB feeds. I use the High Impact range because this bait keeps for ages is hard enough and big enough to resist the nuisances. The Cell is used because it’s ultra hard. It’s also catfish proof as in not fishmeal based! On this note, it’s worth mentioning that in my groundbaits I am careful not to use large amounts of fish oils or pellets if the catfish are a pain. A shoal of 60lb catfish sat over your area isn’t the most productive situation when trying to catch a carp!
The large Cell and High Impact baits are to keep the carp coming back. These two exceptional food baits are never refused by river carp and they zone in on them quickly. Once they have a taste for it they keep coming back for it.
Once I have my area primed, normally a larger zone. My further baiting sessions will be more on spots or smaller zones, during the fishing situation it will be usually 3-5 groundbait balls and 50-100 baits, and I will put in a groundbait ball every hour or so if I am fishing in fast water - just to keep the scent flowing downstream. Once the fish arrive its hard to put enough in. And I have used 25kg of groundbait and 10kg of boilies in a day session!
To summarise, I like to get the fish in my zone with smelly groundbait. Once in the zone they find balls of nutrition which keeps them coming back.
Rigs are always kept simple, strong and big for obvious reasons. Hookbait wise I like to fish with a 24mm Cell topped off with a Milky Toffee or Pineapple pop-up. I have found that yellow or white toppers the best colour. If the chub are being a nuisance then I will use a double 24mm Cell topped with a pop up. The fish have huge mouths, so no issues with them getting the hookbait in the mouth!