Five things to do when starting on a new water - Scott Sweetman

I recently started on a new water in the spring - the lake was different to anything I had fished before at over 50 acres and depths of up to 60ft deep. The stock was relatively good with 50 or so originals and fair few recently stocked fish that had been put in over the last couple of years.

It took me a few trips to get into the fish as it was slow start waking up from the winter, I think due to the depth of the lake, but once I got one on the mat I managed to catch consistently after that and get into a few of the originals, including two lovely 28lb-plus mirrors.

One capture in particular stood out. I had already done the previous night and managed to have a bite at first light, which I unfortunately managed to lose. Nothing happened for the next few hours and in that time a new wind had sprung up, so I went to investigate the end the wind was pushing into.

I spent the next few hours climbing trees and watching the water, looking for any signs that the carp may have moved off the area I was fishing and onto the end of the wind. I did manage a sighting of a few carp from up a tree and that was enough for me to run around and pack up and leave the swim I had previously had a bite from that morning.

After arriving in the new swim I flicked stiff hinged rigs 30 – 40 yards out in a likely looking getting area, getting a few solid drops. I then put a small scattering of bait over each rod using the throwing stick and within the hour I managed a really nice 28lb 10oz original and a 18lb stocky. The original mirror was passing the bait onto the mat, where I can only imagine it had been feeding in the area I was fishing the previous nights, showing me that it really pays to stay mobile and stay on the fish.

More recently I had good success by just doing day sessions. Getting down at first light and walking until I found the fish then getting rods in the area has produced a few bonus fish, again confirming that it’s all about location and that you don’t need loads of hours sat behind rods to catch them.


When starting on a new water it is key to have confidence in your bait and know you are putting something out there that the carp want to eat. I never change my bait, no matter the lake I’m fishing, as I have so much confidence in the bait I use. I know the carp will eat it wherever I take it and that puts a big percentage in your favour as you already know that it’s a case of putting the bait in the right place.

There is nothing worse than not knowing which part of your angling is letting you down - if you have confidence in a bait, don’t change it. You can then concentrate on other aspects of your fishing, a top quality bait will also mean the carp will keep eating it and inevitably make them easier to catch the more you use it. I use Sticky Baits Krill boilies with the Krill pop-ups in the normal colour, to ‘match the hatch’ and I also use the pink pop-ups if I’m looking for a quick bite or moving onto showing fish.


Observation is key on any lake, especially when starting a new venue. It’s all about spending as much time watching the water while you are fishing and getting to the lake when you are not fishing to look around.

You should be watching the water at bite times i.e. at first light and evenings, and looking around climbing trees and looking in the snags and margins during the middle part of the day to try and locate where the fish are, or have been spending their time.

This will help you build up a picture of what they are doing in certain conditions and at different times of the day, so when you do get around to fishing you have done a lot of the hard work of locating them. Also, finding the areas the carp are happy to feed in, is ultimately half the battle. If you can get a rig into an area the carp are willing to feed, you will upping your chances of catching drastically.

This spring I have been getting up extra early and getting to the lake for first light to give me an hour watching the water at the right time before I have to go off to work. I generally try and do this on days that I am doing an overnight session, so I can see where the fish are feeding in the morning and that makes my setting up and getting on fish much quicker and easier for when I get down to the lake after work for a quick session.


It is great when you start on new lakes if the existing members are willing to pass on some knowledge, and I try to take on that knowledge but fish to what I see and how I see fit in each situation.

It’s very easy to fall into the usual spots or areas that get passed on from member to member, there’s nothing saying those area/spots won’t do fish but I try to avoid doing the “done thing” as the carp get fished for in those areas consistently and I feel the carp are much more aware they are being fished for in such areas. I always try to fish to the areas the fish tell me to fish, then I feel your results can differ from the norm.


It is always a good to get a marker rod out between sessions so you don’t disturb the carp when you’re actually fishing to get an idea of the lake bed and depths. For example, if one end is shallow to the other and has any major features like bars and plateaus, this helps a lot with fish location.

If you know you have one of the first few sunny days of spring where the temperature gets up, the first place I would be looking is in shallow areas of the lake as the fish at that time of year will be searching out the heat from the sun.

Another example of where it is good to get a rough idea of the depths of the lake is if there is a cold wind in the spring, there is a good chance the carp will still follow it but you might find they don’t get right on the end of the wind. If it shallows up, they may hang back in the deeper part but still on the wind as it may be more comfortable.

Something worth mentioning in regards to marker float work is that I don’t do it to find specific spots to present a bait, I do it to get an idea of the lake depths and where it varies. I still let the fish tell me where to put my rigs. Another thing worth mentioning is I will never use the marker float if it will effect another angler’s fishing - there will always be a time when there are no other anglers around for me to do my homework without disturbing anybody.


When starting a new venue it really helps not to be in a rush - take your time to learn the lake, spend time writing down sightings, captures, the features on the lakes and the distances they are from the bank. There is a good chance the following spring there will be similar areas at similar times that will produce, which will allow you to get ahead of the fish depending on the forth coming conditions.

It is an ideal situation to be able to find your spots and get your rods in place and baited ready for when the fish turn up - this also goes for targeting specific carp there may be certain areas at the same times of the season that a specific carp get caught. It is a case of spending your time to piece the puzzle together.