Tackling Big French Carp Lakes – Finding Features

How confident are you about fishing a 3 acre lake, or maybe a 4 acre lake or even a 10 acre lake? Most anglers would say that they’d know the features to bait up to:- snags, overhanging trees, island margins, the edge of weed beds to name but a few. Now lets increase the size of this lake to 20, 40 acres or more. The lake has no island, no visible snags or weed beds. How do you feel now? Maybe out of your comfort zone.

Lakes such as Castle Lake, Vaumigny and Brocard Large can all be daunting at first sight. In reality there is no need to panic as open water fishing is easy if you know what to do. Any lake bed will have as many features underwater as you can see on the surface. How to find them is the difficult part, but with a bit of thought and work these features are easily found.


big french carp fishing tips

a 22 acre lake that Jim and myself have fished recently

So lets say you arrive at a 25 acre lake for the first time. You’ve done all of your research beforehand including :-

  • Checking feedback reports
  • Reading any articles on the lake
  • Viewing any videos
  • Liasing with the bailiff or owner

Great. Another thing also worth doing prior to your arrival is to research a few weather stations on the internet to find out the following:-

  •  Will the air pressure be high, low or changeable
  • What temperatures are forecast
  • If and how much rain is expected
  • Most importantly, wind direction and strength and any changes that are forecast


Swim Choice 

If for example, you are aware that the wind will be changing direction either the next day or in a couple of days time, it may well be worth getting prepared for this event by setting up somewhere in the head of the proposed wind.

how to fish big carp lakes

Swim 6 at Vaumigny. Flat grassed banks with easy access to the water.

Normally on bigger than average lakes, doing this can lead to a feeding bonanza with multiple catches on the cards. Reading the weather and having the foresight to check certainly can give you a massive advantage.

It may be that there are no noticeable weather changes apparent for the near future. In this case it is solely down to water craft and observation. The fish maybe showing themselves, by head and shouldering, cruising, crashing out or just bobbing out their heads as they feed on naturals. If this happens you have a starter for ten, you have located the fish, the art is now not to spook them and to present both the hook baits and your loose feed in the perfect feeding area.

More often than not the carp remain hidden so a good pair of binoculars are a very useful tool. These can help you to locate feeding fish which could be fizzing, colouring up the water, or vortexes, which cannot be normally spotted with human vision alone.

Now that you have chosen your area of the lake to fish, make sure that you are comfortable in the swim. Choose a flat grassed area or a well maintained set swim. It is no use pitching up camp on top of rough terrain, on top of an ants nest or in a location where everything is tight. You need room to maneuver, weigh and photograph your trophies and most importantly, erect your kitchen (brolly and table)


Leading and Plumbing the Lake

big french carp fishing tips

One of the carp I caught at 42 acre Castle Lake

So you have decided on what you think could be a decent fishing area. The next thing to do is to establish what the depths of water are out there and if there are any unknown snags or weed beds… this is where the marker rod comes into play.

  • Starting off at one side of your swim, cast the marker rod as far as you think that you want to fish to
  • Draw back the rod a few feet, feeling for any bumps, snags, gravelled areas, or for silt or weed
  • Raise the marker to the surface, making a mental note of the depths and lake bed make
  • Again, wind down the marker float to the lake bed and draw back a few more feet following the same procedure, making a mental note of what you find
  • Repeat this until the marker float is back in the side of the lake
  • Now with repeated casts, work the rod in a fan style to the other side of the swim, again repeating the procedure for feature finding

Try to avoid heavily silted or weeded areas as these could prove difficult to present your bait and certainly do not pick an area that is past your comfort zone for casting. Remember the weather and wind can change at any time making re-casting to your chosen spot almost impossible.

When you have found your likely spot to fish to, mark up the marker rod, fishing rods and spomb or spod rod and you are ready to fish. Try and pick a noticeable marker on the sky line to cast too, for example a tall tree, a dip in the tree line, pylon or farm house. This overall procedure may take a couple of hours but it is well worth the effort.

Now for the easy bit! Baiting up!

Paul Cooper
Read more from Paul here – Carp Fishing Tips



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