The Mail’s Ben Hervey-Murray is an expert at catching river carp. Check out his five must-haves for catching whackers from running water this summer.
1) DYNAMITE BAITS MONSTER TIGERNUT RED-AMO BOILIES
One of the most successful bait launches in the past year has been Dynamite Bait’s Monster Tigernut Red Amo – you might remember the 2013 World Carp Classic being won at a canter by Dutch duo Lizette and Bianca using the bait just before it became available publically – and since then it has a great track record.
It seems to be particularly good at catching carp that might not see a lot of bait, namely fish that live in our rivers and huge inland seas where naturals form a majority of their diet. The combination of tigernut flour, tigernut milk plus fruit and vanilla pallatants in a washed-out pink colour seems to be irresistible to wild carp.
One common misconception is that you need tons of bait to catch river carp. You don’t. Find the fish and a decent hook bait in the right place will catch – you don’t need to pre-bait for weeks or pile in kilos of bait. The 20 mm shelf-life versions are a great river carp bait, either as a single offering, snowman presentation (try a white, yellow or pink pop-up…) or doubled up. Try glugging them for added attraction.
2) KORDA XT SNAG LEADERS & ARMA-KORD
After the floods experienced on most rivers last winter, the riverbeds have been scoured clean leaving an armoury of zebra mussels, sharp gravel and snags that cut through normal leader materials and hook links with devastating ease.
The 50lb and 60 lb XT Snag Leaders and 50 lb Arma-Kord hook links offer an essential insurance against cut-offs and also allows you to cast big leads – 5 oz or more plus a PVA bag of boilies and chops – any distance without fear of cracking off. If your river has zebra mussels you can’t get away with the usual 12-15 lb main line that might suffice on a snag-free lake. It’ll slice through it as easily as a pair of scissors would. Use a leader that’s up to the job and avoid leadcore when dealing with mussel beds – heavy mono is the way to go.
3) SERIOUS HOOKS!
Strong, angry carp living in snaggy environments require some proper hooks. Skimp on metal ware at your peril. Most companies make a continental-spec hook with some of the best being the Korda Kontinental, Gardner Continental Mugga and ACE Continental Xtra Strong. Size fours are ideal for 20 mm baits and big carpy mouths.
4) NASH D-CAM 18lb MONO
A quality main line is essential and Nash’s D-CAM mono has proven itself to be have outstanding abrasion-resisting qualities and great longevity. Personally, I’ve landed river carp and catfish on the 18 lb version that I fully expected to lose, having gone through unseen snags with a horrible grating sensation that would mean the end for most monos. The 18 lb breaking strain has been tested with a four-turn grinner knot to break at nearly 24 lb… enough said!
5) A LOT OF PATIENCE, WATER CRAFT AND TIME…
Catching river carp isn’t easy – there are many more factors involved than those you might face on a day ticket lake or any stillwater. Boats? You’ll need backleads on most rivers with public access. Snags? Tackle up appropriately. Bream or chub problems? Long hairs, big hooks and double 20 mm or 24 mm baits will keep most of them at bay.
It’s up to you to work out the challenges involved and, most importantly, find the fish. River carp generally aren’t shy so walking the banks at dawn and dusk with Polaroids is essential, with the next best option being to identify likely holding areas; namely snags, slacks, depth changes, weed beds and structure. Do your homework and ask around as well, but don’t take advice as gospel. River carpers are a secretive bunch. Try short sessions targeting likely areas until you get a take, then you’ll know you’re on the right track.
There are fewer better feelings in angling than landing your first or biggest river carp caught by design, so get out there and make it happen!