Carp in the River Cut, good, or bad news?

July 20, 2023 at 2:09 pm

My local river Cut is being taken over by small carp, which were a bonus to the chub and roach catches from this tiny river, but anglers are now reporting that the number of tackle busting encounters from big carp are on the increase. Having experienced this myself on several occasions, when fishing for roach on the stickfloat, I tried something different this week. Arriving after 1 pm, I took my heavy duty pole, fitted with 14-18 lb elastic in an attempt to counter the power of Cyprinus Carpio, or the common carp to you and me.

Walking downstream to my chosen swim, there was little flow, despite overnight rain, and the river was running clear over the shallows. My optimism evaporated the further that I walked, as the river grew murkier with a brown stain that blocked out the view of the bottom. I knew that this would mean very few bites and took my time mixing up some sloppy groundbait of liquidised bread, ground hemp and pellets, laced with a sweet spice mix. With very little flow, I chose a 3 No 4 float rig on a long line to fish four metres to hand. This swim has many sunken snags, including just downstream and a shopping trolley five yards upstream, so I tightened up the elastic by a couple of turns to be able to persuade any carp away from them.

The river was beginning to clear and I fed an area just past the middle. After a few very fiddly bites, the float held down long enough to strike and a tiny gudgeon swung to hand. The gudgeon got bigger.

It had taken a 7 mm punched bread pellet on a size 14 barbless hook. At least there were bites and after missing a few more nibbles, a small roach was hooked from a pull down bite. Things were looking up.

Roach had found the groundbait and the bites were becoming bolder, with the landing net out for the first time.

I put a couple more balls of feed in and saw a decent carp swim through the cloud. I went up to an 8 mm punch and cast in. As the bait sank, the float lifted, then dived away, pulling out the elastic from the pole tip. There was a brief lull before the fish realised that it was hooked, then it was off back to the downstream snags, pulling for all it was worth. I pulled back. With twenty feet of elastic out, it surfaced and turned toward the opposite bank, as I fitted another metre of pole to gain control. Each time it ran, I pulled back in the opposite direction, until it rolled onto it’s side. Now my pole was too long, as I couldn’t reach the 3 lb carp with the landing net and unshipped the lower length. The momentary slack let the carp have it’s head and it rolled off the hook. Curses!

I put in another ball and cast over it. The float slid sideways. I was in again, a small carp this time fighting toward the snags. The elastic was not out far and the golden carp was soon in the net. It was a nice rudd!

Another slideaway bite had me ready for another carp, lifting a roach clear of the water on the strike. It was not a small fish, but I broke the pole down and swung it in.

The hook was barely in the top lip and I was lucky that the hook held. I was now hungry for another carp and considered this a nuisance fish.

I cast through another ball of feed and the float went again. Yes! A carp! I drew it clear of the snags and it followed the line of least resistance toward my bank. About a pound, the carp was turbo charged, when it ran into my keepnet, dragging it upstream before coming off. The hook was in the bottom end of the net. More curses!

Pulling in the net, the barbless hook came free with ease. Rebaiting with an 8mm punch, the rig was cast into the baited area. A few dips and the float sank away. The elastic was out, the fish fighting furiously. Was it a chub? No a decent roach, that was soon in the net. This heavy pole tackle stopped better silver fish in their tracks.

The bites were getting fussy again and gudgeon were taking over. The flow had picked up and the water had taken on the brown tint again, while a slightly sickly aroma filled the air. More pollution was on the way. The bites stopped completely at 3:15 and started as nibbles by 4 pm.

I spent the time drinking tea, eating a Wagon Wheel for nourishment and mixing up another tray of sloppy ground bait. I had put a couple of balls in close and layed on. The river was like thick soup and it was impossible to see the bottom. My keepnet had become coated in brown sediment. At least I hope it was sediment.

Staring at my static float, it sank away downstream, pulling out the elastic. Grabbing the pole, solid movement indicated a carp, but the hook lost hold. Treble curses! That was number three lost.

I piled in half my tray of feed, clouding the water even more. The float lifted with a few rapid stabs, then glided off with another pound plus carp making for the snags. Mustn’t lose this one. Brute force was needed to guide it to safety around the obstacles, especially the shopping trolley, which sat waiting to snag me. Keeping the carp in the middle, was an effort, countering each move, until it was in the landing net.

This fish has been through the wars, with abrasions on both flanks, but it fought like a demon and at least saved my pride. The hook had come out in the net, again lucky to land one at last.

The bites continued to be very fussy and I went down to a 6 mm punch, small roach, gudgeon, chublets and dace attacking the bait, throwing most of them back, while many bounced off against the stiff pole. At this stage I considered slackening off the elastic, as I lost more roach of the calibre below, than I landed.

Throwing a small ball a cast was working and soon another 3 lb carp was rampaging round the swim. This could have been the decent carp that I lost earlier, a deep bronze fish, who knows? What I do know is, that it did a death roll and came off! Four out of five carp lost did not prove that my heavy pole idea was a success. I think that I had the elastic too tight and pulled the hooks out, while bouncing off many roach. I’ll return with 6 lb line to a 4 lb hook link on my Normark rod next time.

The bread punch had prooved the only bait needed again, although in the sunshine the bread slices were hardening off quickly, fresh soft replacements needed regularly.

It had been a frustrating afternoon, with lost carp and blank spells due to the pollution coming through, but was it worth the effort? Of course it was!