This week: How to approach Grass Carp on particles.
Peter Hooper uses big beds of particles to catch big Grass Carp.
When targeting Grass Carp theirs no skimping on bait as Peter displays and the only way to deliver this is via a bait boat.
Peter Hooper is treasurer of Farnham Angling Society and has been fine tuning his preferred particle approach over many years to catch literally hundreds of specimen grass carp. Ignoring the unselective and convenient boilie and pellet approach that most anglers use on the venue, Peter’s session starts more than forty-eight hours before leaving home as this is when he starts to prepare the vast quantities of bait needed for an overnight session, something that most anglers just cant be bothered with.
Targeting Badshot Lea Big Pond, well known for its big cats and bream shoals Peter has spent countless hours trying to reduce interference from unwanted species and has finally achieved a catch by design technique that he feels just cant be bettered. ‘Going in on a little and often basis just wont produce the goods, Grass Carp love heaps of food and that’s exactly what I’m going to give them today’, he remarks.
Anglers Mail Rating: Will the far from ideal conditions beat a local expert’s knowledge?
Arriving mid morning, Peter already has an idea of where he wants to head as grass carp aren’t like most fish that follow the wind, preferring to stay well out in the centre of the lake. Heading for a swim halfway down the railway bank the first job is to send out the bait boat equipped with feature finder to get a feel for the typography of the swim in front of him. ‘I’m looking for a channel that is 5ft deep which has produced for me before, its just short of halfway across and fortunately the anglers opposite aren’t casting far out so I’m not going to interfere with them,’ he comments. The viewfinder soon has the mark noted and immediately shows a fish symbol, not necessarily a fish, but a real confidence boost.
Peter’s rig is certainly not subtle which is surprising as the conditions are bright with an easterly wind and atmospherics of 1030mb which would see most anglers scaling down to buy a bite. Consisting of 20lb fluorocarbon mainline, three-feet of ESP Anchor Tubing, 2oz inline lead, 15lb Nash Missing Link hooklink and a size 10 Gardner Continental Boilie hook tied knotless knot there’s nothing written about buying a bite in this script!
‘There’s no reason to scale down when using a bait boat and lots of particles, as most of the particles will fall onto the rig which drops out of the boat first, and as long as you pin everything down the rig should be very inconspicuous,’ Peter explains.
With both rods made up and ready to go its time to bait each hair. On one rod Peter places three pieces of maize, two real plus one buoyant fake piece nearest the hair stop. This has been soaked in Richworth Pineapple flavouring for added attraction and his maize has had some sugar syrup added. On his other rod he places two whole peanuts.
‘I’m not one to get stereotyped into one presentation and will always use different baits on each rod as the grass carp can switch of a bait from week to week, especially if they have been caught a few times on one specific presentation. Even if one baits producing more, I rarely change as I find on occasions a bigger, clever fish falls to the quieter rod. I also find that maize is better in the summer whilst peanuts produce in the spring,’ he remarks.
Loading the bait boat Peter’s really giving them a banquet and initially places his rig on the shelf before loading on top, hemp followed by cut maize and finally a good scope of maize. ‘I never cover my hookbait with free offerings as in the past, whilst doing this; have found the odd piece of maize to cover the hook point. I now straighten the rig out and load the shelf around the lead area. In total I would estimate that there is around a kilo and a half of bait per rod and I will leave these out for two hours before refreshing them,’ he recommends.
Having sent the boat out and dropped the rig Peter quickly places a line marker on his main line made from electrical tape, and positions this just of the reel before loading his peanut rig into the boat. This time he starts with hemp, followed by kibbled peanuts and finally a good helping of peanuts. This is sent out and after clipping on the indicators Peter starts to organise camp for the proceeding session.
An hour and fifteen passes without any indications and the lake seems to be very quiet which isn’t surprising as its beginning to get hot, then a single bleep has Peter looking at his indicator. Five minutes pass before a typical bream bite sees him picking up the rod and setting the hook. ‘Grass carp often give very strange bites, very similar to bream where the indicator just rises and drops yet these are grass carp so don’t ignore them, pick the rod up and strike,’ he reveals.
The bite has come on the maize rod and although the fish isn’t fighting hard Peter knows it’s a grass carp. ‘These fish are very unpredictable, some fight hard and long and others can be lead in like a dog on a lead. These are the worrying ones as often they go ballistic in the landing net,’ he comments.
Having fought hard in the margins Peter confidently rest the carp in the net before wetting his unhooking mat down and zeroing the sling to his scales. It’s not the biggest grass carp Peter’s caught but a great start to the session. ‘I reckon this one around fifteen pounds, there’s a lot this size however a thirty is a possibility’, he remarks.
Placing the fish carefully in the weigh sling Peter takes the weight and is shocked that the scales swing round to 17lb 3oz. ‘Well that goes to show its been a while since I have targeted these’, he jokes.
With the fish safety returned Peter places fresh grains of maize onto his hair, carefully places his rig into the boat before loading this once again with a good helping of particles. ‘Just like casting, I have to take the boat out in line with a far bank marker, in this case its straight towards the anglers in peg 23 and as soon as I see the taped marker leave the spool and reach the end of the rod I stop the boat and drop everything. Its coming up to the two hour since the peanut rods was sent out so I think its time I refreshed this one as its obvious the grass carp are feeding’, he remarks.
Amazingly it only takes five minutes for the indicator of the maize rod to start dancing again and once again Peter finds himself playing another grass carp. ‘This one doesn’t feel as big and its one of those that’s slowly coming towards me and not fighting’, he grimaces as he know full well what’s about to happen.
In the net the grass carp goes ballistic, its around fifteen pounds but Peter keeps the fish well away from the shoreline and allows itself to tire before simply removing the hook whilst the fish is still in the net and releasing her.
After loading the boat once more and sending it on route Peter sits back, puts the kettle on before revealing a few more secrets about grass carp. ‘Grass carp love the sun, that’s why I wasn’t that concerned about catching today. They are one species that are usually obliging when everything else heads for cover. Water craft isn’t that important as they rarely follow the wind and as long as you target open water, and at distance, in this instance around seventy yards, you’re in with a chance. Loving the sun they seem to prefer feeding during daylight, not always, but generally this is without a doubt a more productive time with mornings best, before a lull in action during the afternoon, then a feeding spell from six till dusk’, he reveals.
It’s not long before an alarm starts to sing and at long last it’s the peanut rod, but will it be the big one. ‘This feels better, maybe it’s a twenty, its not doing a lot but I can tell from the sheer weight its substantially bigger than the last two fish’, he comments.
The fish kites to the right and Peter, as always drops the rod tip of the other rod under the water. Slowly he edges the grass carp closer but this ones not coming in easily and makes a couple of desperate runs before being encapsulated in the net, but is it the twenty we were hoping for?
The End Result 13:00 –
In less than three hours of having baits in the water Peter has landed three grass carp, the biggest going 20lb 8oz, yet with another twenty-four to go it’s intriguing to just what he’s capable of!
‘This isn’t unusual, if their feeding action comes quite quickly, yet after catching a few they seem to spook and become less frequent’, he comments.
Leaving him to it I call him the following day and even though he has wasted five hours fishing, having to attend a committee meeting in the adjacent scout hut his tally of fish is simply remarkable. Five further grass carp graced his net including two mid twenties along with five king carp to fifteen pound plus a unexpected twenty pound catfish that took a liking to his maize hookbait in broad daylight just after I left.
This is what can only be described as twenty first century grass carp fishing!
Ticket information – Badshot Lea Big Pond is part of the incredible array of venues offered by Farnham Angling Society. Tickets cost £86 plus a joining fee of £25 and concessions apply.
Top tips -
1. Pinning down end tackle is crucial and a simple way of securing tungsten putty to hooklinks is by moulding it around a mini float stop.
2. If your serious about particle fishing then buy your bait in bulk at an animal feed supplier, however if using peanuts make sure these are of human consumption grade; a lesser quality just isn’t acceptable.
3. All anglers targeting carp, not just grass carp, should be carrying a first aid kit and if possible apply an antiseptic solution to areas that show damage.
4. Grass carp have small hard plates just inside the mouth, not dissimilar to catfish. After capture these pads can blunt hooks so checks them after each capture. In fact, check them after every cast!
5. When playing a fish it’s a good idea to drop your other rod under the surface ensuring the baitrunner is still on as this removes the possibility of a hooked fish becoming entangled.
When using particles its paramount that all seeds, pulses and nuts are soaked for a minimum of 48 hrs. After this they need to be boiled for a further thirty minutes! This process allows moisture to penetrate them allowing them to swell up to their maximum capacity. If you don’t soak and boil them for this time, then they will swell up inside a fish’s body if eaten, often with fatal consequences. If you are thinking of using particles then start with items such as maize and hemp, more complex particles like peanuts, maples and tiger nuts need to be sourced correctly and prepared carefully. If in doubt then buy readily prepared particles for your local tackle shop.