Having done nothing but specimen fish since last October I felt it was time to dust off the match gear and put a few fish in my net for a bit of bag up fun. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy sitting behind my alarms, watching the wildlife and hauling in the odd specimen or two and have had both Pike and Carp to 22 lbs already this year so its been going rather well. However a change is as good as a rest they say so inspired by a TV program featuring the great Bob Nudd I prepared some special bait for catching small carp. but where to go?

With Totenhill now open I thought maybe the pressure might be off Bear Lake a bit and having spoken to Ashley Brown recently about the stockings at Shepherds Port I was keen to give this little carp pool a go. I have already bagged carp of 12 lbs 8 oz and 10 lb 4 oz in a recent session at Shepherds lake but now it was time to get into their smaller brothers and sisters.

For bait I decided to keep it fairly simple but with a bit of a twist. I recently saw Bob Nudd using punched potato dyed with coffee and gravy granules to represent a small pellet. With the warm weather I thought it was maybe time to use sweeter baits so I used a 6 mm punch and punched a number of small potato discs that were then put in a pot with some liquid molasses and warm water. The molasses would dye the bait and give it a sickly sweet flavour fish just love. I then boiled up some hemp adding a teaspoon of molasses to the water to add the same flavour to my bait. The third part of my attack was to be crushed sweet corn, a tin of corn with the liquid was put into a sandwich bag to which I added further water and a few drops of molasses. Then I squished the corn in the liquid to produce a sickly sweet goo with some corn still relatively intact.

I fished two evening sessions, Tuesday and Wednesday, at the lake both in the same swim on the right side of the lake where it is narrow. The wind was coming from my right and as both evenings progressed it died to almost a flat calm. The main thing to note is on both sessions I had the lake to myself, there was an angler when I started on the second session but he left as I set-up. I fed hemp at 3m out where the bottom starts to flatten out at about 5 feet. I also cupped in some of the sweet corn liquid laced with bits of corn and a few potato pellets. For both sessions it took about half an hour for the fish to really get on my feed and as these were just short 2 hour affairs it did affect the end results but rarely is fishing instant so I plugged away building up the swim and waiting for the bites. Interestingly on both evenings the first fish hooked proved to be my biggest, on Tuesday it was a nice mirror of about 3 lb and Wednesday a porky little mirror of about 2lb, great fun on light gear. Then after the swim settled the smaller carp moved in.

These newly stocked fish are not easy to catch by any means. I was using lightly shotted floats with fine size 20 hooks with the bait just touching the bottom however the bites were extremely shy. There were very few “sail away” type bites where the float just instantly disappears, which you associate with a lot of small carp fishing, the bites were just little dips or lifts with the float sometimes holding, it was when the float dipped or lifted and held that I lifted into the fish and generally there would be a fish on. A lot of the fish when hooked initially did nothing and then went berserk. Most of the carp I caught were just bigger than your hand but fought like a fish twice their size and on light elastic or float gear they are great fun. I also caught a few smaller carp and some small brown goldfish but very few silvers. The flavoured potato worked but I found the crushed corn to be far more effective. I think by crushing some of the kernel out it makes the bait lighter and easier for small carp to suck in. It also sinks slower meaning you pick up the odd fish on the drop.

I am of the opinion that the bites were shy because these fish have not been caught before, I think they were picking up my bait and continuing to feed and not rushing off on feeling the hook like most carp do. This theory was backed up by how they didn’t seem to know what was happening when I set the hook.

Overall I had two thoroughly enjoyable sessions and lost a real monster on Tuesday which went of like a torpedo on being hooked and felt a decent fish but sadly the hook pulled out as it ran. The little carp in Bear Lake are really on the feed right now and I am sure with more time I could have really bagged up on them. I did put a few in a keepnet on Wednesday night so I could take a picture for the website just to show what fine condition they are in. So with the carp now well on the feed give Bear Lake a go, approach it with fine tackle and moderate feeding and you should have a great session.