River Carp Fishing Tips, Pt 2 – Challenges

Rob Inns follows on from his river carping introduction with part two of his ‘River Carp Fishing Tips’, covering the challenges facing this type of angling…

To start part 2 of my river carp fishing tips, I want to highlight some of the challenges you will inevitably face when river carping and offer advice on how to combat them. This section is not meant to put you off but it is worth remembering that some elements of fishing are beyond our control.

The first challenge you will have to deal with on any river is the other natural inhabitants of the river, a lot of people refer to them as nuisance fish. In France you have the dreaded and ever present poisson chat in the rivers ready to swarm on angler’s baits. Now I am normally happy to catch fish of all species but poisson chat can be enough to test anyone’s patience, especially in rivers where there are no controls in place to stop them reproducing at will.

River Carp Fishing Tips

Myself, Duncan Hayward and  John Lambert with part of a Thames bream haul whilst carp fishing

On the river Thames the bream take up this role and are always ready and waiting to eat your carp baits. On one swim I have fished quite a lot in the past, we would use an inflatable dingy to drop our baits tight to the overhanging bushes on an island. I remember on one occasion my fishing partner was dropping the baits tight to the island and the bream were picking them up so quickly that I would have my rods all retrieved with bream attached before he had rowed back to the bank. On this occasion, after a while, we started putting them into a keep net to see how many bream we had before we hooked a carp and I can tell you it was A LOT.

In my experience you can’t totally stop these nuisance species picking up your baits but you can definitely cut down on how many you catch, therefore keeping your hook bait in the water for longer without having to recast. The first step for me on the Thames is to use a boilie only approach to baiting; Pellet and particle are great bream attractors.

When it comes to technical steps taken to avoid bream I find using large hooks and long hairs (not long rigs, just the length of the hair is extended) will drastically cut down on the amount of bream hooked. They will however still pick up the hook bait from time to time so it is important to use hardened or coated hook baits to avoid them breaking off the hair.

Another challenge that faces river carp anglers are the public themselves. The fact that most rivers run through public land means that you will not be able to enjoy the peace and quiet that you would experience, for example, when booking a fishing trip on a lake exclusive basis. On the Thames I have grown used to the fact that I will have pretty much constant company throughout my session.

River Carp Fishing Tips

A cracking mid 20 caught after a particularly hectic night on the Thames

By day this is normally fairly harmless stuff such as people asking what you have caught and showing their amazement that there are actually fish in the river at all. By night however, it can be a little more unsettling stuff. It is mainly pub goers that cause issues. I have lost count of the amount of times I have been woken by people letting themselves into my bivvy wanting a drunken chat or somewhere to rest on their walk home after a night out. On another occasion me and my mate were bivvy’d up a couple of metres apart from each other and a couple of guys decided this space was the best place to settle their differences and have a punch up. Which was a great way to be woken at 3am in the morning.

In my experience this is something unfortunately I just have to put up with but the river is normally quite generous in rewarding my tolerance and I have had some of my best catches following the most hectic of nights.

Lunar effects
A lot has been said about the effects that the moons various phases have on the feeding habits of carp and personally it is a theory I’ve never really bought into, until I started carp fishing on rivers.

River Carp Fishing Tips

An upper 30 caught early morning following the new moon on the river Ebro

On my first visit to the Ebro my guide talked a lot about how prolific the fishing was on the river in the days leading up to and following the full and new moons. Our next trip was planned to test this, with the new moon falling smack bang in the middle of our trip.

River Carp Fishing Tips

This Thames ghosty loved the full moon

There is no denying that the carp fishing that week was insanely prolific with the night of the new moon being particularly active right through to the morning, when I hooked my biggest of the night.

This obviously is not proof that the moon affects the carps feeding habits but it is something I take into account when planning my river sessions on the Thames and I have not been disappointed.

Be opportunistic
River carp are unpredictable to say the least and it is important to be ready to take opportunities as and when they arise. On one occasion when set up in one swim I could see some disturbance on the surface further down the bank. On investigating, I could see a group of carp milling around in the margin. Luckily I have learnt that these opportunities can vanish just as quickly as they appear and I had my stalker rod set up and ready. I flicked a piece of slow sinking free lined bread flake into the group of fish and I was soon attached to 25lb of Thames mirror carp.

River Carp Fishing Tips

A 25lb mirror was the result of being opportunistic

On another occasion I had been watching a swim on a small river in France where everything just looked right for carp (although I had no idea if the river held any). There was a small road bridge and a sand bar that came up out of the water creating a little island.  It just looked right, so I kept visiting the spot to see if I could see any signs of carp and on one of these visits there they were, a group of 4 or 5 fish.

River Carp Fishing Tips

The little French river mirror carp from a spot that just looked right.

As always I was ready to take advantage of the opportunity and a slow sinking bread flake was lowered amongst them. When the line tightened up I instantly realised I had not hooked one of the bigger fish but a small mirror carp. However small it was, it was a great advert for always being prepared to take advantage of opportunities no matter how brief the window.

Once again I hope you find some of this information useful and it helps you put a river carp or two on the bank.

Good luck,

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For over 64 technical carping how-to videos follow the link – French Carp Fishing


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