Location Is Key - Tom Dove

The phrase, “this is the most important part of my fishing” has been used about almost every aspect of the game, from hook pattern to bait choice. Location really does have to be the most important part, doesn’t it? If you’re not on the fish then you can’t catch them, end of story. Even without a hook I could eventually muster up away of catching a carp (maybe a lasso or a net) but without carp present I’d struggle.

There’s no real clear way of explaining where an angler should be located each time he goes fishing, as there’re so many aspects that can quite easily change the location of the fish. Having said that, there are a few simple rules that can stand you in good stead throughout your seasons fishing.

I’ll try not complicate things too much as we all know a different situation crops up every time we’re on the bank. Although, when you’re fishing, the location and movement of the fish should be taking up 80% of your brainpower and then 80% of your memory for the next time you hit the bank. Make sure you spend time before you set up, to ensure you’re in the right swim. Look for signs of fish when you actually get to the lake and make sure you have a good idea of where to start looking, due to the carps location recently.

What should I look for?
Carp can give themselves away in a number of ways so it’s important that you understand what to look for. The easiest way of spotting a carp is for it to jump clear of the water. This is a great way of locating them and something you should constantly be looking for. Even though this type of sighting is rather obvious, I’ve still seen people miss opportunities from blatant sightings because they simply aren’t looking at the lake. Seeing one fish jump out of the water and then moving accordingly can be the difference between a blank and a fantastic weekend’s fishing so always keep an eye or two on the water.

The majority of the time, carp aren’t quite that easy to find though and you need to look for other signs. Keep your eyes peeled for bubbles, flat spots amongst ripple, murky water and anything else that seems alien. When a carp feeds, it disturbs the lake bed, making the water cloudy around the area sending up bubbles and sometimes small bits of bottom debris to the surface. If you’re able to pinpoint these small signs of fish activity then you’ve done the most important job and can fish in the area with confidence.

The weather is so important. You’ll quite clearly notice a pattern in the carps location habits, depending on what’s happening weather wise. Winds will often push fish into certain areas, thus making them easier or harder to catch, depending on what part of the lake they’re in.

Carp love and regularly react to a wind, even if it’s a cold one. They wont necessarily move into the windward corner but they will almost always move from their current position when a new wind arrives.

It’s the direction of the wind that has the biggest impact on the weather as a whole. South westerly’s are the most frequent and bring fantastic fishing weather, not for sitting out and getting a tan but for fish activity and feeding. Overcast, mild but windy conditions are what I’d call fantastic fishing weather and these are the days you want to be on the bank. Fish will often follow a wind from the South and end up in the general area of the lake that the wind is pushing into. For example, because of the weather a Southwesterly wind brings, the fish will often be up for feeding.

Northerly’s bring similar weather, very wet but generally colder. They can be a brilliant summer wind though, the fish will often follow a new, passionate, Northerly as they’re not so frequent and in turn will freshen up the fishing. Again, the fish will often be inclined to get their heads down as the overcast conditions get them in the mood. Keep an eye on the windward corner!

Easterly’s are the devil! They’ll often bring with them clear skies and high-pressure, which isn’t ideal, unless you fancy a spot of floater fishing throughout the summer months. Easterly’s throughout the winter bring bitter, clear skies and can often be associated with fishing zig rigs. This isn’t a great fishing wind but with the sunny weather it brings, make sure to keep an eye on the shallow areas of the lake.

Keep an eye on the weather closely and you’ll soon notice how much of a difference it will make with regard to the movement and mood of the fish. Once you understand how the fish will react to it you’ll very quickly understand what area of the lake you need to be fishing. This is especially helpful when you have no sightings to go on.

Snags And Islands.
Snags and islands are the most obvious features a lake has to offer, for both the angler and the fish. Carp will use the islands and snags as part of their patrol routes. The two will often act as safe areas in which they are able to successfully seek cover. When you have no other signs to go on, these are the areas that you should head for to begin with, they are as good a starting point as any.

In my experience, the lea side of an island is the better option, as the calm area from the wind creates a perfectly comfortable spot for them to feed on, where the natural food also gathers. I’ve caught a lot of carp from this type of area so I will always pay a lot of attention to similar spots on new lakes.

Casting very tight to island margins can be a massive advantage, as most people won’t make the effort to cast so close. Don’t be scared of casting multiple times to a likely looking spot on an island as the fish will only retreat into a snag whist the disturbance is going on. I’ve fished to islands a lot and think it’s very important that you get your bait in the right position, as a matter of centimetres can make a massive difference.

The Trees.
Trees offer by far the best vantage point when it comes to actively finding carp. By using a SAFE tree as a viewing point you will be able to look down, through the water, and from here you can gain a far better picture of what the fish are doing. The higher you get, the better you can see, couple this with good pair of polaroids and you’ll be able to make the most of the situation.

Popular Swims.
It’s very easy for people to say, “ignore the popular swims” but at the end of the day, they’re popular for a reason. A good swim is a good swim and sometimes you just have to fish them if you want to succeed. It’s not a rule but on occasion your best bet can be to just follow the crowds. However, even though the majority of the fish tend to get caught from certain areas it doesn’t mean that the rest of the lake is devoid of carp. If reality tells you that you’re not able to get into these swims due to limited time etc then make a plan in a swim that gets left alone, so that you have a back up plan. As I mentioned previously though, they’re popular for a reason, so don’t ignore them out of stubbornness and pay them attention if you’re able to get them.

Fishing for liners
This isn’t a tactic I’d generally use to try to find the fish in the first place but once you feel you are in the right area and have made the effort to get into a swim that you’re sure fish are visiting, then the smaller things can then make a difference in where exactly you’d place your hook bait.

Whilst out shooting this feature I took into consideration everything I’ve wrote about. I had a good look round the lake to begin with, saw nothing, so made sure I was set up on the wind. I fished into the lea of an island, as I hadn’t seen any other signs of carp. After an hour or two of fishing, I hadn’t received a bite but had received a few liners. Liners are caused by fish bumping into the line somewhere between your rod tip and the lead. When this is constantly happening it can mean that you’re fishing too far out. Reeling in and repositioning your hookbaits to where you think the fish are hitting the line can be a good move. I did exactly that during my trip and received two bites within half an hour of the first recast.

I’ve had serious trouble condensing a mind full of situations and conditions into an article as ultimately there are a million and one different situations and a very slight change in one variable can make a huge difference. The moral of the story though, is to keep watching and learning, never ignore a sign if all seems quite. Keep an eye on the weather and an even closer eye on what’s happening both location and weather wise when others are catching from your lake.

Be lucky,