Steve Briggs nearly gets caught out by the changing habits of Rainbow carp - an absolute lesson in experimenting for success.
I don’t think there’s a bad time to visit Rainbow Lake but I do love it there in the autumn. I had two weeks to spend in swim 1, which covers a large area of water with a vast range of features and depths. I’d actually fished the same area at around the same time one year earlier, so I guessed that it would give me a real head start – although it didn’t quite turn out like that!
It was a feeling of déjà vu as I walked in to the swim on the Saturday afternoon, the first thing I saw was a good fish roll, closely followed by another! It was the same 12 months earlier and I’d kept the fish in the area by using lots of bait, maybe 4kg or 5kg over each rod for every bite. It looked so similar that I had to try the same tactics once again. But it was getting late and my last rod was a bit of a rush and I only put a sprinkling of bait around it with the intention of moving it the next day. Well, the only rod that went off was the one with the sprinkling of bait and it resulted in a lovely 46lb 8oz common. The heavily baited rods were slower to go off – in fact they weren’t really going off at all.
The activity in the swim didn’t quite match the action and it seemed to be a similar story around the whole lake and so I split the rods, keeping two on the heavily baited spots and moving two on to shallower areas with about 30 to 40 4G Squid freebies and a few scoops of hemp. Again two smaller fish came to the lighter baiting. I often get asked by people how much bait they should take for a trip to France and this sort of describes how difficult it is to answer correctly as I never really know myself until I’m actually there with the rods out? I guess just take as much as you can carry and take it home if you don’t use it.
I like to stick to areas as much as possible to avoid having too many beds of bait spread around the swim, but some of my previous ‘banker’ spots just weren’t working. One rod that had been close to a fallen tree for three days got moved to the end of a bay in 7ft where I’d seen a fish show and less than two hours later it went off with a 54lb mirror on the end! It was clear that they weren’t willing to feed on many of the normal areas and yet as soon as it was in the right spot for them, they would pick it up!
Although I’d caught from mainly shallow spots the action was just hit-and-miss and I started to look towards the deeper parts of the swim. I’d had baits on one plateau for over a week with no action and so I moved the bait down in to nearly 20ft where the bottom was soft and silty – the sort of area that I normally took little notice of and the next morning the deep spots produced two mirrors of 40lb 8oz and 54lb! I was using big hook baits with size 2 Fang Twisters and 8oz Tractor leads, but that had little bearing on events really – I learned long ago that if I am in the right spot the carp will have it – simple as that.
If anything catching the fish from shallow water had fooled me and it was actually the deeper spots which were more consistent but I’d only sussed that out late in the trip. I had one more big common of 52lb 4oz on the last afternoon along with a couple more smaller fish and before I knew it my time was up! It had still been a great trip but I felt I’d stuck with my old spots for too long and could’ve done better by moving my rods sooner – but that’s fishing.
I’m always saying that every situation is different and that’s exactly how it was. Two sessions in the same swim 12 months apart and they couldn’t have been more different – catching carp is always chasing moving targets I guess!