Adapting to Summer- James Hutton
Summer can be an unpredictable time in the carp fishing calendar, with spawning on the carp’s minds and scorching hot days where bites just seem so distant, it certainly isn’t the easiest period during the year. What I do believe though, is that by staying adaptable and ready to take an opportunity, there are always chances to be had somewhere around the lake. During the summer, I often find that I am quite mobile during the days, looking for a chance of a bite, whether that is trying to catch them off the surface, up in the layers on zigs or on the deck at close quarters; you have to find out what will get you the best results on the given day. With the water now having warmed up considerably, you will notice the fish are moving about a lot more and using different parts of the lake at some point over the course of 24 hours. By having the right gear and the adaptable mindset, you are able to take advantage of this and swing the odds in your favour, when anglers who are playing the waiting game simply are not getting the results. This feature takes a closer look at my approach during those hot summer days, turning what could be a fishless trip into a productive, red- letter session.
First and foremost, I like to scale my kit down for doing this type of angling, only carrying the necessities as opposed to everything and the kitchen sink. It is important to remember that you need to be adaptable, so you will need tackle to effectively fish on the surface, in the layers (zigs) and on the lakebed, in the edge or close to the bank in a lot of circumstances.
I have a small rucksack that I carry these items in and alongside the vitals (net, mat, bait), I carry a stalking rod, which can be used for all types of angling plus a spod rod, of which I can use for baiting up. This lightweight approach means that I can stay mobile and easily move, carrying the kit about the lake with minimal effort.
It also pays to ensure that your kit is stripped right back; simply take what you need for those few hours, cutting back on the number of leads you carry, plus ditching items such as heavy banksticks etc. If you are doing the night, you could use your bivvy or even you van as a base, leaving none essential items of tackle which you could always come back to if needed. This will make staying mobile and travelling about the lake a great deal easier, meaning you will maintain a high level of energy you can put into catch those fish.
Once you have your kit sorted, it is then a case of walking, watching and finding those carp; as soon as you find them in or nearby an area, an opportunity may present itself. For me, a peaked cap and good pair of polarising sunglasses is an absolute must! When I am out and about looking, I am trying to find fish at close quarters, swimming about just under the surface and equally looking for spots/ interception points to bait and prime. It is important to keep on your toes, if it helps, simply leave your kit in the van why you go for an initial look about, checking all the margins and snags, plus watching the lake from areas that give you a wide vantage point.
On many occasions, I have thought that it simply isn’t going to happen, until I have got up, walked around the corner and found some feeding fish, only to land one moments later. Never write off areas either, you will often be surprised where the fish turn up and as you know, carp can be incredibly unpredictable at times. Areas that provide an open view of the lake are worth sitting in for half an hour or so, as they allow you to see a large proportion of what is going on.
Shallower margins are particularly effective in the summer and carp will drift in and out of snags and bays all day long, so it is worth noting these areas and carefully prepping them for a return. It is important that when choosing spots to fish, to be wary of their safety and wellbeing; if you have very little chance of landing a fish due to snags or obstacles present, do not fish these areas. The carp are always the priority and their safety must come first.
When it comes to prepping and baiting, I do like to keep my options open where possible. I will try to bait spots as close to where the fish are present, but equally, I may prep different spots around the lake to check back on during the day. With the conditions ever changing and the sun moving across the sky, the carp’s behaviour will change too and their preference on where they want to be may vary throughout the course of a day. Equally, I am looking for a chance on the surface and while there may be a number of fish at close range, applying a few floaters to tempt them up will be a worthwhile choice too.
Margin fishing can be particularly effective in the summer, especially if there is cover present in and around polished spots. When it comes to baiting them, I have found that just a handful or two of bait can be more than enough to provoke a response, as the carp are often patrolling looking for items to graze on during the warmer periods of the day. The water in these shallower margin areas warms up a lot quicker and as a result, the carp move into them to feed and bask.
The mix I use is basic but is a proven formula when trying to get fish grubbing about with confidence close in; a blend of boilies, pellets and liquid to create a highly attractive, instantly pulling mix. The main focus of this mix is that the items are small and also dark in colour, this not only helps to avoid the birdlife, but it will ensure there are lots of items present on the spot to keep the fish interested and feeding for longer.
The pellets break down quickly, releasing a cloudy attraction into the swim, while the crumbed boilie remains, of which I like to closely mimic with a balanced glugged Tuna bait with a small NS mini tipper. Quite often, that baited tipped with a small fragment of colour is often the first to be taken after it has been lowered onto the spot, it also helps when trying to pick out your rig and hookbait when fishing in clear water, allowing you to see fish approaching it and how they are reacting to it.
Although I will always look to prime spots in the edge, I certainly do not go unequipped to fish on the surface, as many times, an opportunity may arise whereby the fish are feeding close to the surface. By carrying one rod and enough gear to adapt quickly, I can switch from a margin baited rig to a surface set- up quickly, having rigs all tied and ready to go prior to my session. Being prepared allows me to switch at the drop of a hat and, by carrying a spomb rod too, I can quickly apply floaters into the swim with little hassle.
I use the 11mm CCMoore floating trout pellets, glazed in a fish oil to enhance the attraction and appeal. Not only does the oil do this, but it helps to flatten off the surface, creating a slick that helps with presentation.
Naturals can be present in large amounts during the early parts of summer and the carp will be quick to capitalise on this. Marginal areas that collect scum and experience weed growth will be a magnet to feeding carp. Certainly, try prepping a few areas close to these natural features and see if any carp are tempted into feeding.
Zigs can also be a real edge when trying to catch patrolling fish; presenting a small piece of foam right on their path will no doubt be too much for them to resist at times. By getting up trees and viewing what depth those fish are moving at will unlock the vital info you need when getting a zig tied up. Quite often I will see fish one to two feet under the surface patrolling up and down a marginal area, so I will set up a zig to fish at this depth in the hope of intercepting these patrolling carp. When it comes to zig fishing, black is without doubt the best colour for spring in clear water, it mimics a small natural perfectly and has bought me some great success in the past.
By adapting to summer, switching up the tactics you use and staying mobile, I am certain an opportunity will come your way. Observation, being adaptable and reading the situation will no doubt put a few extra fish on the bank for you at a time that can be tricky fishing single minded.