Down at The Park- James Armstrong
We all have, at some point, experienced a large public water, whether that be fishing, running, cycling or walking around it, there are many of these recreational venues around, usually located close to the towns and nearby cities. Quite often, these types of waters can be intimidating, not only from an angling perspective in terms of the challenge they offer, but a logistical approach including accessibility, preparation and fishable areas. Despite this, the rewards are there to be had and with a little effort, research and a well- considered approach, these carp are more than catchable. This small insight feature gives you details regarding my approach to a park lake I have been targeting, the tactics and style I have adopted in order to outwit these wild, big pit carp and how I maximise my time on the bank.
First and foremost, prior to approaching any venue for the first time comes research; this can be in the form of searching social media, talking to local anglers and walking a venue and watching with your own eyes. Before setting out on a water, particularly a wild park lake, it is important to have a good idea of the stock, previous captures, particular areas the fish like to visit and tactics that have proved successful in the past.
I make note of snippets of info; hold onto images and store ear snippets that I feel will help in the future when tackling a venue. Google maps is great at getting to fully understand the makeup of the lake, allowing you to note where the warm southerly winds blow and areas that may be shallower than the rest of the lake.
Like all carp, the weather has a big influencing factor on their whereabouts and their habits when it comes to feeding. I regularly monitor the forecast for changes and try to get down the lake for a walk in all weather conditions to determine how they respond on different occasions.
By regularly visiting the lake, building up a picture of where the carp are at certain times of the day and year, in all-weather conditions, you will then be able to make a judgement easier when a new weather front comes in. I use an app on my phone and check each day for changes that arise.
For me, pre- baiting is absolutely key to success and consistency; once you have the carp visiting an area regularly and looking for food, it makes catching them a great deal easier. When feasible, I try to bait up as often as possible before my fishing trips. Usually, this will be an area of water as opposed to a specific spot, so depending on the time of year; shallower in the warmer months and deeper areas during the Autumn.
The key to consistency and gaining results is introducing a good quality food source, something that the carp will recognise as being beneficial, encouraging them to return and feed time and time again.
I use Odyssey XXX shelf life baits for convenience, this means that I can leave them in the back of the back of the car, so that they are ready to use at any time. With baiting, regularity is key between fishing trips, if I have a spare hour of an evening, I will take the dog out for a walk and bait up while doing so, allowing me to watch the water and keep the areas primed up for when I do fish.
Hustle and bustle
Contrary to what many people think, carp are actually very inquisitive creatures and will often investigate any unusual noises or disturbances, which happen on a regular basis at busy park lakes. Areas of the lake that see a lot of activity such as water sports, swimmers and boats certainly shouldn’t be written off. You will be quite surprised where the carp like to frequent on a busy park lake, so it is always worth investigating these areas if allowed.
Carp will naturally flock to areas that provide cover, such as bridges, pontoons, platforms as well as those naturally occurring features including weed beds, reed beds and lilies. While these may be great areas to fish, you do have to be aware of fish safety, especially around man-made structures where there could be underwater snags present.
Due to the parking and accessibility at the park lake, some of the pegs require a long walk from the motor, which is why I scale down and travel light. I do not want travelling about the lake to be a chore, as you will simply not enjoy it as much and become more likely to give up altogether! I only carry the absolute essentials, ensuring weight is kept to a minimum and manoeuvring my barrow about the park is easy work.
Park lakes can be harsh environments and a little unpredictable at times, there are often all sorts of obstacles present in the water from trolleys to cars and everything else… I ensure I am geared up to the job in hand, strong 25lb mainline braid, offering ultimate indication and strength. Rig wise I use a heavy 4oz lead of which I drop on the take, to aid with landing the fish at range. Lastly, the birdlife can be a real nuisance, so backleads are used to pin the mainline down from the bank, helping to avoid the masses of birdlife.
Finally, the parks are there to be enjoyed by everyone, so take note of any park rules and respect the public walkers and water users. You will get a lot of people coming to talk to you, so it is always best to be polite and keep your local lake a friendly, safe place for everyone.