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Tony Locke

The problem with getting serious about carp?

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Some of you will have fished with me and know that I fish "different". That difference is because I essentially fished for anything with fins and did not specifically target carp. Joining CAG  was a whim on my part and I hoped to become more proficient at catching carp...especially bigger carp. So about 18 months in, what has happened? Well there was no real change up until late summer 2015...and now I go fishing with boilies, hair rigs et cetera. I used to use "normal" groundbait, but now I use "method mix" with carp attractants. I even have bought an actual carp rod! You can even find me fishing with flavored plastic corn on a hair rig! What you wont find me using is bite alarms, buzzer bars et cetera- these are for those that sleep on the job!

And what is the effect of this more serious approach? I will tell you what it  is... a 75% decrease in the number of double figure carp landed in the first 3 months of 2016 as compared to the first 3 months of 2015 and an 80% decrease from the same months of 2014! Since I joined CAG I have not landed a "twenty" in Georgia!

So, what to do? Take the CAG stickers off my car? Put the carp rod back in its rod bag  and  pretend I never bought it? Resign from CAG? Or...or what? Blame El Nino?

I am open to suggestions!

One of my very few doubles of 2016!

TonyIMG_20160310_1115161_rewind.jpg

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1 hour ago, Tony Locke said:

Some of you will have fished with me and know that I fish "different". That difference is because I essentially fished for anything with fins and did not specifically target carp. Joining CAG  was a whim on my part and I hoped to become more proficient at catching carp...especially bigger carp. So about 18 months in, what has happened? Well there was no real change up until late summer 2015...and now I go fishing with boilies, hair rigs et cetera. I used to use "normal" groundbait, but now I use "method mix" with carp attractants. I even have bought an actual carp rod! You can even find me fishing with flavored plastic corn on a hair rig! What you wont find me using is bite alarms, buzzer bars et cetera- these are for those that sleep on the job!

And what is the effect of this more serious approach? I will tell you what it  is... a 75% decrease in the number of double figure carp landed in the first 3 months of 2016 as compared to the first 3 months of 2015 and an 80% decrease from the same months of 2014! Since I joined CAG I have not landed a "twenty" in Georgia!

Welcome to CAG. I will say there are a ton of variables in carp and going from one technique to another greatly increases those variables. Can you break down a typical session that you do? From beginning to catching fish? I know it may take some typing but maybe I can suggest some things. Also have you caught 20s before and are no longer catching 20lb fish?  I know you do not want to use alarms but I used to be the same way believe it or not. I loved watching the lines for subtle bites and one day I tried an alarm and realized even though I thought I had my eyes glued to the line my alarms were alerting me of quick bites I was missing out on.

 

I would like to see a picture of your hair rig and also with the bait on it. A lot of times simple changes to this can make a HUGE difference. Also lead setup and so on. I will say CAG is about fishing for carp any way you want to. Even though a lot fish the way you are describing it really comes down to personal choice. I used to fish very basic and switched over. I had the same issues at first and once I fine tuned what I was doing I then noticed a large increase. There are various ways also to fish for big fish, numbers and so on. There really isnt a best of all worlds and various baiting and baits will dictate what types of fish you end up getting as well. I would be more than happy to work with you some to see if we can improve your fishing while not going overboard. Also what is in your method mixes now?

1 hour ago, Tony Locke said:

So, what to do? Take the CAG stickers off my car? Put the carp rod back in its rod bag  and  pretend I never bought it? Resign from CAG? Or...or what? Blame El Nino?

I am open to suggestions!

One of my very few doubles of 2016!

TonyIMG_20160310_1115161_rewind.jpg

 

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My catch rate/numbers were down for several years when I switched over to hair rigs, alarms, rods, reels, bait/baiting fishing for carp. I was frustrated and almost gave up until I decided to take a look at the things the above poster mentioned. Not saying I got it, but I am getting it.

 

I believe that the fish were not use to seeing it either on my local river.. Some are getting it now.

It was well over two years before I caught a carp on a boilie on my local river. Details are important, unlike all the years I fished with the simplest of setups such as a hook fill with corn, and most times threaded several kernels up past the hook up and on the line.

Lost a few poles, line broke, burn up a few zebco 33's, but had fun.

Do what makes fishing fun. Bottom line. When that stops, so do I.

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Very true at the end of the day like James said fishing is supposed to be fun. I know on my youtube channel I always try to show a variety of things. I think the angler should decide what they want to try as it makes it fun and allows you to be in control of your own fishing as well. I have helped a lot of anglers and sometimes the smallest adjustments can make a huge difference from not catching to catching.

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Well, this sounds like an exciting opportunity for experimentation. Fish side-by-side, changing one factor at a time, and see what goes... Take good notes, try again, and not only you'll learn a lot in the process, but this should be quite fun.

PS. my bet is on the boilies messing things up though...  But you will tell us!

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Looking forward to having you here in Tennessee and comparing notes on what we have discovered in the past.  We can experiment and see what works and what doesn't.  I'll go into detail when you come up as to spod mix, hook baits, rigs, etc.  While we are doing this, I'll make sure we have lots of snacks in the little red wagon.

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Thanks for those replies.

For those not familiar with GA carping, twenties are not that common, but I usually get at least a couple per year..until I joined CAG!

Make no mistake about it, I do enjoy my fishing- and i am not too fussed about what I catch. A good day could be like last Saturday due to ospreys flying very close to me..it is not all about catching fish. As those who know me will confirm, if I am convinced the carp will not have a go then I will fish for other species...last Saturday saw me catch a few suckers for example while my carp rods sat there motionless and biteless!

In reality I blame El Nino. I do keep detailed diaries that include water and weather conditions, along with tactics used. The fact is that I fish almost exclusively on rivers and my diaries confirm that the best time and conditions(for me) for a 20  is March with the river bank high and dirty brown! This March, we haven't had the rain...or when we have, I haven't been able to get to the river. 

Poor conditions do not stop me trying however...so I will enjoy the birdlife  and I will be OK with banking smaller carp...or sucker or buffs or whatever in the hope that the next bite will be from something a bit special!

Cheers

Tony

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I may have caught "more" carp when I used canned corn on my bass poles. BUT I have for sure landed more carp once I got real carp rods.

AND once I got carp in my lake used to boilies I catch much bigger carp on average.

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20 lb carp are a rare fish here in Colorado, 30s are a miracle capture. Across the whole state last year, I believe only 2 were caught that I heard about - and I hear about most.

One local lake here I used to love fishing, every session I could catch a couple of carp, real mid to upper double bruisers. After some construction work around the lake, a sudden drop in the water level for many months, the carp moved out from their usual spots, became very wary and are now all but impossible to catch. Heck, I fished there 16 times last year, didn't catch a single carp. I am not discouraged and have returned again already this year and I know I will catch them again ! (or course, I could be delusional).

Scour the local fishing forums, posts, catch reports, even when they are not primarily carp focused. Talk to other anglers on the bank, wildlife officials, joggers, bikers - ask them if they have seen any carp, you may be surprised what you can find out. Perhaps you can find a few more locations or venues where the big carp are more common. In the end if the big carp aren't there, you won't be catching them!

Just try to enjoy your fishing and in time those big fish will come again - it can be hard to measure success in a single season or a few months.

Tight-Lines,

John

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1 hour ago, JohnFinney said:

20 lb carp are a rare fish here in Colorado, 30s are a miracle capture. Across the whole state last year, I believe only 2 were caught that I heard about - and I hear about most.

Scour the local fishing forums, posts, catch reports, even when they are not primarily carp focused. Talk to other anglers on the bank, wildlife officials, joggers, bikers - ask them if they have seen any carp, you may be surprised what you can find out. Perhaps you can find a few more locations or venues where the big carp are more common. In the end if the big carp aren't there, you won't be catching them!

Just try to enjoy your fishing and in time those big fish will come again.

It sounds like CO and GA are similar in regard to the shortage of really big fish.  I moved here to go to college 50+ years ago, and this year I finally caught my first "wild" (non payake) GA "20" common.  There are extremely few venues known for large carp (in GA, that generally suggests upper teens and low twenties).  The river Tony often fishes is one of them.  Our state record was set 50 years ago in a lake that is not currently known for big carp, and it was "only" 35 pounds.  In fact, I'm aware of only one "thirty" having been caught in the state in the last 5-10 years.

I suspect that bigger fish do exist in some Georgia waters, but given the lack of bank access, as well as all the restrictions on fishing hours in the venues where bank access is permitted, I suspect there are very few, if any, local anglers who have the both the time and the patience to put forth the required effort to target them exclusively.  My bet is that most twenties (and above) will be caught by pure chance while fishing one of the "better" venues, and targeting any carp that will bite, rather than because some dedicated angler put forth a lot of extra effort to target just the bigger fish.

That might mean that the few "really big" fish - if any - that exist in the state will never be caught.  But we may never know, because our state DNR simply doesn't keep records on carp when they do electrofishing surveys.  I've asked some state officials about it, and have always been told that "it's just not in the budget".

Meanwhile, most of us just get out there and fish when and where we can, and enjoy catching what bites

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I will add this also. Everyone has the choice to choose how they want to fish. I prefer euro methods but at the end of the day I always encourage anyone who likes carp. The more anglers who get into the sport no matter the style of fishing the better. 

With that said even though I may target a lot of big fish it is not all about that. I love to go for numbers some days and will have a really fun time catching fish after fish even if under 10lbs. I just love carp fishing in general. If your state you feel does not have huge carp I would say make the best out of the situation. My famous line I always tell people especially since I came from a bass fishing background is my smallest carp on any given day will be bigger than my biggest bass I will ever catch. For the catch and release angler I always say why not target the biggest fish in the lake as most anglers goals are to catch the biggest fish they can.

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1 hour ago, accordbw said:

For the catch and release angler I always say why not target the biggest fish in the lake as most anglers goals are to catch the biggest fish they can.

This is exactly why I picked up carp fishing in the first place, and they are very interesting fish to look at. 

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Tony, what bait did you use before boilies and where do you catch most of your 20lbs?  I've fished West Point Lake for 20 years mostly on the bottom half of the lake bank fishing and the biggest carp I've ever caught there was around 15lbs and used to use bread to catch tons of carp around 8lbs and in the last 5 years used home made boiles and have caught about the same number and size of fish.  Probably the worst luck for me has been on corn for some reason?  Do you catch more big fish shallow or deeper? I'm thinking about going deep along the river channels and see if there are bigger fish out there.

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Hi "Carperama" 

 According to your info that I can see, you live in or near Atlanta. So for me there are two stretches of the 'Hooch. There is what I call the lower 'Hooch, which runs from Bull Sluice Lake down to  High Point Lake. On that stretch, where admittedly I have only fished the area around Atlanta, I have never had a twenty...I have come very close with a 19.75lb fish and in my early years here I did have one that was weighed by an angler who had a set of scales and it went 21lb BUT looking back, I really doubt it and dont count it...I bet it was no more than 15lb. I bet I haven't had more than half a dozen "upper doubles from the Lower Hooch. The upper 'Hooch ( for me) is from Bull Sluice lake up to Lanier and that is where my twenties come from and almost all have come from water under 3feet deep in Spring and especially when the river is the color of coffee. On one memorable day I had nine fish all 20lb +/-1 in the space of 3 hours.

My big fish come on worm or spam usually, but I have a lot of faith in sweetcorn. I have given up on boilies and hair rigs!

Cheers

Tony

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