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Springtime has many different memories and feelings for all of us. For some it is the excitement of finally hitting the banks after a long winter and for others it is a reflection of previous years and their personal progression. I like to think that all of the above best describes me and that my first carp experience happened for myself in the spring many years ago. How time flies by and how we evolve both as an angler and as a person through the years. We see friends come and go and of course make new friends on our journeys while out carping and through life.

I guess the emotional part for myself comes from spring because when my father passed away my first carp came the following spring time. I will never forget that day I landed my first carp of 15lbs and I often think how a single fish has become an addiction since then and most importantly a ton of fun. It is hard to understand our love of carp fishing from an outsider who has never caught one but once you feel the line peeling away and the brute force of the fish everything at that point makes sense and the bigger picture is painted in front of you.
One phrase that my dad said to me that has stuck in my memory is, “one day you are going to be my age and life goes by very quickly, make the most of each day because time flies by.” I now find myself at that age when he spoke those words to me when I was young and ever since I have started carp fishing I have incorporated that into my fishing. Every minute matters from the most obvious things to the smallest of details. When I started carp fishing I knew right away from other forms of fishing that keeping details of the day were important to better establish future patterns to go by. From day one I have done this and I really feel all the information you can extract about your fishing the bigger the edge you are going to give yourself in the long run. I use various tools to achieve this from a simple notepad, external hard drives and most recently the Big Carp iphone app. The main things I record are the weather from temperature, barometric pressure (steady, rising or dropping) wind speed and direction and finally if it was a cloudy, sunny or a rainy day. Once you start catching fish you can log all of this data and use it later to establish patterns from it. A lot of times before heading out I will glance at the weather and find a quick comparison to the current day and figure out what tactic worked for me in the past and take that along with a few other options. Never be afraid to log days were you don’t catch, had small beeps or just lost fish because those will also help you as well. There is no data that is not important enough to log as long as you have some spare time while out because this will help you later on.
Watching and Waiting

Watching and Waiting

The goal here is being observant to what is going on at the lake and documenting it. Here I am constantly trying to find signs of fish throughout the lake to determine their pattern. I often pull out my chair and sit on a spot for an hour to determine if fish are in fact in the area before setting up to make the most of my time. Sitting there for an hour is not wasted time. Setting up for 6 hours and not catching is if you didn’t look for fish activity.

A lot of spots I have spent years working on and a lot of my success I feel came from logging data but the most important thing to me is always keep an open mind to new ideas or old ones rehashed. Do not get in the rut of using the same tactics and the same techniques all the time because even if you fish the same area chances are there are fish that just have not responded to your techniques and trying various rigs, baits and other tactics can improve on your overall fishing immensely.
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I have only caught on a pop up one time on my lake until using this rig and CC Moore Gaz Fareham pop up combination. This resulted in over 15 fish just on this rig alone. It is similar to a KD rig but you are basically tying a hair rig and adding a shot in between the pop up and mid way down the hair. Simple rig and simple presentation nailing them every time. The point is if something did not work before always keep an open mind to trying it again maybe at a different location or just different time of year. What doesn’t work on one lake may be the big fish magnet on another.

Approaching a new spot is often like taking a test in school. If you prepare yourself your results will often reflect on your results. Study the lake before even setting up. Never go by what looks good to you as the angler. Take the time to watch the lake and observe what is going on. Keep walking around until you see some form of active fish and then observe again. See if they tend to be staying there a while or are simply passing down the bank. If they are staying then there is a nice active food source there and you can take advantage of this. If they are passing along then positioning yourself down the bank will allow you to intercept the fish and hopefully hold them a while. If I am going to be at a lake for a few days, I will find fish and set up and then once the action slows I will take a marker rod out to find features but only during a slow period. I try not to overdo it but I am simply looking for a slight drop or even a spot next to a weed bed where the carp may position themselves. The best spot that I have ever fished has a feature that is a drop of 2 feet and it is around 8 feet wide. If you hit this spot you will land fish. If you are 10 feet to the left or right you will not get anywhere near as many fish. That is when I realized how important feature finding is especially if you plan to fish a spot regular. The slightest change can make the difference from a one fish day to a hauling day. It can be depth changes or even bottom changes from sand to gravel.
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Locate what the natural food sources are also to give yourself a better chance as well. Here we have freshwater snails so using fishy baits would produce well if you found these on the banks.
Like everyone out there we have our own beliefs on what works and what doesn’t work for our own particular favorite lakes and times of the year. I myself start out with sweet baits and particles in the spring. The past three years I have been starting out with CC Moore xxl tigers in talin and they simply get the job done for me. A simple attractive tiger nut enhanced in talin a natural sweetener with a pva bag full of ground tigers and meggablend sweet has worked wonders so I incorporate that into my spring every year. Like I mentioned above if you are not experimenting then you may be missing out and that is exactly what I did this year. I rarely and I do mean rarely have ever caught on a pop up on this lake. I had no confidence in them whatsoever on this lake but I still tried one with a little different approach. I was taking a CC Moore Gaz Fareham pop up in yellow and simply taking a hair rig and placing a shot between the pop up and hook to pin the hook down and keep the pop up hovering around one inch off of the bottom. I accompanied this with some Belachan stick mix just to have a little fishy flavor to contrast the somewhat fruity smell of the pop up. So I am sitting there thinking to myself I am not going to catch anything because the fish do not respond to pop ups and I then had a nice screamer. Ok I thought this surely has to be a fluke. I then ended up with two more fish and nothing on my favorite go to rigs and baits. I was dumbfounded and thought to myself how many days did I blank and just chalked it up to no fish were in my swim. Even with the pop ups on I didn’t have any signs of fish showing or bubbling and just thought it was a dead night and then out of nowhere a run here and there. This year has opened my eyes to a lot of tactic changes for sure!
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These tactics were used in April and usually come early may I see signs of natural foods such  as crayfish, freshwater snails like the ones shown above and freshwater clams so I switch over to more natural baits usually. I have been putting off fishing certain spots for years and years and finally I said enough was enough and started to work on this spot last fall. Being a carp angler sometimes means going out at 2am and trimming some trees and brush to make a new spot fishable. There are so many overhanging trees that even using a small rod is impossible. My first plan of attack was last fall I took out the bass boat and I was marking features with a depth finder. Once I found an area that had some really great features I then took two 6 ounce leads and put them on a swivel. I pulled the boat up to the bank and dropped the leads and slowly backed out until I found the feature I wanted on the depth finder. I clipped up the reel and wound in. Once I finished cutting the spot out I would now have the exact distance to the features from the shore and would be ready to fish. One thing I learned from being on boats is you can never judge distance from a boat to shore the same way you can judge from the shore to a boat. That was the whole reasoning behind clipping up from the boat. Straight away in the fall I had a 24lb fish within 2 hours there and the hurricane came a few days later. I got tied up with work and other life things and never fished it again last year. Well May started showing signs of natural food so I went and set up. I put some bait out for a few days and used some homemade boilies with CC Moore ingredients. I chummed out around 10lbs over 3 days and tried fishing. I got into fish instantly. The first fish was 28lbs+ and as soon as I was about to take a photo my other delkim went screaming off. I secured the fish fast before the running fish could get to the snags. I battled that one for around 10 minutes and got it in and it was over 25lbs. Now from all the sounds of the fish splashing and drag screaming naturally some boaters moved in to fish since they felt the spot was magic or something. Well it spooked all of the fish out. They saw me recast and set up over top my line and I just kept my cool surprisingly. Well the one  boat made a quick turn and stirred up the water. Around an hour later I had my last fish of 19+ lbs and the swim went dead. It felt good to put the time and work into a spot and have some great results. I decided I would work on this spot more in the summer and headed back to my favorite spring time spot to finish out the prespawn.
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I was so dead set on doing the same old routine at my usual spot and then I was watching the korda underwater 7 dvd and my mind started to really think about a different approach. It seemed that every time they would trickle in some bait the fish would move back into the swim very fast almost like the sound attracted them like a dinner bell. Well long story short I took this approach and instead of doing any baiting at all I just started to fish boilies in small quantities. My strategy since I already knew the swim was show up and put out a handful of boilies using a catapult as soon as I got there on a specific feature for each rod. I then used CC Moore Live System Boilies in 18mm on 3 rods and I started off using pva bags full of boilies. I simply took a korda krusha and chopped them up and put them in a pva bag compressing them down. I would simply take a stringer needle and slide it down the hook length like you would do a pva stick and then pierce the hook into the bag making sure not to stick it into a boilie chunk. I cast out each rod and let it sit for up to 2-3 hours. Every 30-45 minutes I would fire 3 boilies out over each rod just to create a little noise and it worked like a charm attracting fish like an all you can eat buffet. I started getting into fish after fish. After each fish I would hurry up and launch out  another pouch of boilies on the rod that had the fish. My lake record up to this point was 5 fish in 36 hours and I just beat this by one fish using less bait which was a ton more cost effective for me. I would usually bait 5-8lbs of boilies for 3 days each night and fish the 4th day which that approach worked wonders before but I only used around 3-4lbs of boilies to catch this many fish. The biggest one of this session was 32lbs even and I was truly amazed how well this technique worked and most importantly using a really good product that the fish loved. After this I continued doing short sessions every night catching 1-4 fish  and ended up with 6 30+lb fish in 2 weeks on the live system boilies from CC Moore.
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This big common below decided to have a little snack at 4:45AM. Somehow I managed to jump out of the bedchair and get to the rod in record speed. It sure beats last year when a fish woke me up at 3am and I did a swan dive into the lake because I tripped down the hill!  This gave me a big boost in both the TOKS Big 4 and also the Cag Big 4.
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I did change my bag mix a little big towards the end of the month. I was mixing chopped boilies, halfed boilies,  Live System pellets and Live System Stick mix together and again using a pva bag to tie them all together. This resulted in the largest fish I have ever had but I got greedy and over tightened the drag and pulled the hook. I was absolutely gutted to say the least and just sat there in disbelief. The fish was the hardest fighting fish I have ever had on and I could not do anything with the fish. It peeled out over 80+ yards of line twice on me and flexed my 3.5lb tc rod the whole way back to the reel seat. I was in utter amazement of this fish. I did see it come to the top and then it swirled and I felt nothing left as it either ejected the hook or I pulled the hook. I went back out a few days later in hopes the same fish may still have been there and I was rewarded with another two monsters back to back. This big one was nowhere near as big but this one was still a beast of a fish. It topped out at 36lbs 4oz and was my thirds largest capture to date.  After this I felt like everything had taken its course and all my hard work had payed off for me. The fish soon began to spawn a few days after so I hung up my rods to avoid any extra stress on the fish and took a nice breather. Next mission is to explore this new spot and see what special fish this one holds for myself and any others who wish to join me in my carp fishing fun.
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From left to right you have CC Moore Live System stick mix, pellets, krushed boilies and finally the halfed boiles from the kutter. I put them into the pva bag in this order so when I puncture the hook through the bottom the stick mix will not mess up the point like a boilie would and also I found out the hard way if you put a boilie in first it could stick to the point rendering your rig useless.
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Puncture through the boilie side first carefully not going through any halfed boilies. This will be the “licked and sticked” side of the pva bag.
You can see the different layers inside the bag. Don’t forget to lick the corners back so it flys better on the cast.
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Finally pierce the hook into the bag. Since it is stick mix there is nothing to get hung up on with the hook.
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Finally the product that made all of this happen for me!
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Back to back big fish! Oh ya not to mention my 3rd largest fish ever caught!
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 I got so warm after this fish I didn’t even need my hat on this cold night.
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This one sealed the deal for 5th in the TOKS Big Four and 4th in the Cag contest. I enjoyed competing in both and had a really fun time. So many people had awesome springs this year and it goes to show carp fishing is really moving forward!
On a side note many of the baits used were CC Moore products which will soon be available through www.Bigcarptackle.com and David Moore is the sole supplier to the U.S. Market.
I would also like to take the time to thank everyone through the years who have shared knowledge, baiting approaches and so on to allow me to better my angling every year. With sharing we can progress this sport to the next level. Until next time I hope you have some great adventures of your own on the banks…    Brian Wingard

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