Carp Safety & Photography

Carp safety and photography is a crucial part of carp fishing which doesn’t get written about nearly enough and should be at the top of the list of your fishing knowledge. Follow my easy steps on how to get things right!

It is very simple and easy, you just need the following carp fishing tackle items out ready and set up for when you catch a fish, not all packed away to keep them dry! They don’t cost a lot compared to other items of tackle e.g rods and reels. These essential tackle items can be easily maintained for many years before needing to be replaced.

1 – Unhooking mat
2 – Retaining sling
3 – Carp care kit
4 – Scales
5 – Camera
6 -Tripod
7 – Forceps
8 – Weighing pole
9 – Bucket

Follow these key steps on setting up your carp safety and photography equipment:

1Unhooking mat pegged out in a safe area which you should have already chosen for your photos.

2– Retaining sling out, next to the unhooking mat.

3Carp care kit.  Now, hands up – how many people own one but never use it?
Please think of the Carp.  I am sure we all would like them to look nice for as many years as possible and grow to be that big famous 40lb plus carp that everyone is after.

Carp care kit

Carp care kit – use it!

4 – Weighing Scales.  Now, I understand that you may not wish to leave these outside unattended but keep them handy, perhaps by the bivvy door or under your bedchair.

5 – Camera.  In this day and age there is no real issue with cameras.  You can spend as little as £35 on eBay for a camera with a flip round screen.  This enables you to see what you are up to and speeds up this process a lot.  I have used Cannon camera’s for years and found that the G range from G2/G6 are perfect, as you can use an infer-red remote. They have recently released the G1, which has a flip out screen, they had stopped making this feature for a number of years. There are a number of other options as they have revamped the original air pressing ball that you can have under your knee, as some people find holding fish and the infer-red remote tricky and these kits come complete with a tripod adapter kit.

I currently use a G6 for the night-time photo shot and a Panasonic DT70 ( check model), this has a time-lapse option that allows you to take as many photos as you like – every 10, 20, 30 seconds as you wish.

You also need to know the distance the camera should be away from the mat and the simplest way is a peace of cord attached to the tripod.

6 – Tripod. There are plenty of options here from the gadget that screws onto your bank stick to the original camera tripods.

7 – Forceps. Not always needed, but must be handy just in case of a firmly hooked fish.  You can ill afford to be rummaging around in your tackle bag when there is a fish on the bank.

 8 –  Weighing pole. These are a fantastic bit of kit that will help you lift the fish easier and steady the scales when reading the weight.

9Bucket. You should always have a bucket of water ready and always use the water.  It stops the fish from foaming up and makes for better photos.

Always think of the fish – would you like to be responsible for a fish’s death?  Just follow these simple steps and there will be one issue for you – banking your target fish!

Just think safety first, and remember it’s not all about the perfect photo in the morning sunshine or when your friend can get down to take the photos for you. In this day and ag with the advances in technology and some practice you should be able to do your own photos.  I have been fishing by myself for over 20 years and all my fish photos are self taken and some have ended up in the Carp magazines, even night shots.


Success!! A self take shot.

To sack or not to sack?
I feel very strongly about the use of Carp sacks to the point that I have not owned one for over 10 years. The invention of retaining slings has made the safety of Carp so much better, however there is still no need to leave the fish in there for hours.  Please think of the fish and not yourself and respect the fish as they are living things after all.

I hope the above article has been informative and will help you keep the Carp safe and sound, plus enable you to take better photos.

Tightlines Richard.


Why the perfect capture shot?

Why the perfect capture shot?  This is the question I ask myself quite a lot when flicking through Facebook. There is a distinct lack of night shots and I know that technology has moved on with slings and sack. However, there is no way of stopping the stress placed on the fish. It has just be captured and taken out the water weighed and then put in a retaining sling for 8 or more hours, all because there is a demanded to have the perfect shot.

There is a distinct lack of night shots on social media

There is a distinct lack of night shots on social media.

In my book this is just not an acceptable way to treat fish.  It amazes me that anglers are happy to do this, when they treasure the quarry so much and get upset when they get eaten by otters or when another angler mistreats the fish.  Hypocrisy, I would say.  If you are on the list of anglers who keep the fish in a sling/sack for more than 10/15 minutes, this is all the time you need to set up the camera kit.  I have been doing it this was for more than 35 years. We are in a battle to outwit the carp and land them. It therefore does not matter if you didn’t get a photo, it was poor quality or even not in the perfect spot.  You have captured your quarry and won the battle. Now all that it required is to put the fish back and reduce the stressed caused.

I have seen anglers take the photos in the morning after the fish has been in the net most of the night, then place the fish back into the retainer, then sit in their brolly checking if the photos are perfect.  If not, they keep repeating this process until they get it spot on. They would then wonder why the fish goes belly up a couple of weeks. I believe this is partly driven by the industry who demand the perfect shot. This is a bit narrow-minded in itself as most are anglers, modern day anglers are hooked on Facebook and there seems to be a need to also out do their fellow anglers with who gets the best shots etc. I come from there era of ”secret squirrel” and you never really knew who caught what, other than what you heard over the grape vine. Don’t get me wrong, I have embraced Facebook, as it nice to see how well other anglers are getting on.

It’s a battle between the angler and the fish and not a battle between us all, unless you are match fishing.  The barbel anglers fully understand this and do their up most to look after the quarry.  Why can’t the carp anglers (with the advice of camera technology and remote systems) do the same?  The perfect shot can be taken at night, the more anglers start doing this must be better for the fish. This would also have the knock on effect of showing the rest, who may be not keen that fish safety must come first.  How do we know how much stress builds up in a fish over time?  Just look at human beings, there is a great deal of people having to take tablets for stress (which has built up over time), this must be the same for all living things.

On my website there is a page all about Carp Safety Photographing Fish which is the way I have been doing this for many years and with camera technology moving on things can only get better.

A good example of what you can achieve and with a bit of help from a photo editor.

A good example of what you can achieve and with a bit of help from a photo editor.

Just remember, the next time you see a photo of your target fish, how much stress was placed on it at the time? And will it be around for you to catch it in the future?  Look after the fish and they will be around for a long time to come.

Be lucky in your quest for the monster fish.



Fishing Tackle Review – The RidgeMonkey Bivvy Light


The RidgeMonkey duo bivvy-lite

The RidgeMonkey duo bivvy-lite.

I have had my RidgeMonkey bivvy lite Duo for over 5 months and used it most nights when out fishing. I don’t use it to read by or keep it on for hours, just to bait up and do a spot of cooking.

This clever bit of kit has two light settings. I tend to use the brightest setting, not the red, as I am not sure about that one yet. I have been fishing at least one night a week, if not more and used this light most nights.

There are two light settings.

There are two light settings.

The battery power has proved to be wonderful – I have still yet to charge it up! This is just brilliant and the fact that it would be quite a simple process, as I carry a power pack for my phone. So when I finally have to charge up the light, I will be able to do it on the bank.

Attach anywhere you wish using a magnetic strip.

Attach anywhere you wish using a magnetic strip.

It has a  handy magnetic strip you can attach it to your bivvy or brolly

There are two cords either end which enable you to hang it from brolly spokes or a magnet hook.

I have attached a clip to mine which makes it a bit easier for me to attach.
This allows me to clip it on quick over the brolly spoke and I can just slide it up and down depending on where I need the light to be under the brolly.

I have also found a use for those old pva tubes! A perfect place to store the bivvy Light when not in use.

This is a great bit of kit and I believe I have finally found a bivvy light that is simply perfect for the job. Full credit to RidgeMonkey for doing a great job here – carp anglers have been waiting for something as good as this for a long time!

Regards Richard.

Where Has Fishing Etiquette Gone?

Where Has Fishing Etiquette Gone?

Over the years that I have been fishing, I have seen some funny phases. When I first started, it was very secretive, but other angers would have the decency to talk to you and be very polite. They would ask you to leave the swim before they baited up or cast out again. Even to the point of casting in the wrong area until you had gone. Back in those days (what a line!) no one would set up anywhere near you and if so, they would have the decency to ask if they could do this.

Then came the stage that anglers would not talk to each other at all! They would just hide in their bivvies’ or just point blank ignore you. This then moved on to the set up anywhere and cast anywhere brigade.

Reserve you swim - acceptable or not?

Reserve your swim with a bucket – acceptable or not?

Anglers have now started to reserve swims, which I can see the point of this a little. 30 years ago, there were very few anglers and you could spend all day looking around with not even the hint of another angler.

Nowadays, you pull in most lake car parks and you can be followed in by several more cars. Getting back to the point, I have seen buckets put in swims for 2 to 3 hours. This I think is NOT acceptable in this day and age. Having found the person who owned the bucket and made inquiries r.e the bucket, I was told his mate was down later and wanted to fish near him (was he scared of the dark!?) he arrived 4 hours later. I have even seen a row of buckets & a chair once (is it beating the Germans to the sun lounger’s syndrome?).
I have also been told by a person who set up next to me on an empty lake that he fished this swim every Thursday night (even if the fish are topping round the corner?).

Some of the modern day angling behavior has been borne by the past and I can understand this to a point.  I found that it’s very hard to get a swim on some of the circuit waters, due to the volume of anglers. What I do on these lakes which have a secure car park, is to have a walk around with my bucket and place in the most likely swim (based on past trips in the weeks before). I then carry on with my wheelbarrow until I find a better one then go back and collect the bucket. This process only takes about an hour or less. Now, if you have the luxury that you have the place to yourself the ‘worlds your oyster’. What I have found as I moved onto the rivers to get away from this, it’s a pleasure to fish again and other anglers are very courteous to each other (and helpful).

Catch more fish – away from the crowds.

This post is all about thinking of other anglers before you set up. Most lakes I fish, anglers leave one swim apart and do not fish opposite to each other. This is just an unwritten rule and it works well. On the syndicate that I am a member of on the river Avon, people will not fish within a 3/4 of a mile. It’s so peaceful.

The odds of catch are greater when you are in your own area and away from the crowds. I don’t really understand why there is a need for any of this. It is very easy to be polite and courteous to other, it only takes a minute.

My point in this blog is to think of other angler’s (and also yourself) enjoy the peace and tranquility of fishing.

That’s all for now.



Carp Prebaiting Tips

Catching specimen carp can be a difficult task even in the best of conditions. Here Richard Handel discusses early spring and late winter carp fishing pre-baiting strategies. Getting this just right can often be the difference between success and failure. Read on to find out how to approach pre-baiting in the correct way.

Carefull pre-baiting can be the road to success.

Careful pre-baiting can be the road to success.

In Spring time or just before, when the water temperatures have started to rise, it’s a good time to start a pre-baiting plan with your choice of carp baits. Personally I use Bait-Tech Poloni boilies, or Mainline baits New Grange to get the fish on the move and in the my net. I find it best to use a mix of 18mm & 15mm boilies.

Swim Choice

When selecting areas to pre-bait, I would try to pick  between 4 to 6 swims to bait up, which don’t get fished very much.

Example 1: This spot is under your feet, 4ft deep and is a nice warm spot for the carp to hold up in.

My swim choice would be very secluded and tiny, for these reasons anglers don’t fish them. Make sure there is no access to cast in to these areas, other than from my chosen swims.

Example 2: Back of an island where the sun will warm up the water.


Example 3: A perfect warm bay area.

Example 4: Under this tree you will find 4ft of clear lake bed.

In clear water areas check to see if your bait is being cleared up.

With the water starting to clear up, it will help you see if the bait you have been putting out has been cleaned up by fish. be-mindful of the bird life, as they help themselves to.

I would give it a couple of weeks before you start fish these swims. If you can, plan to bait up 1-2kg per week of your chosen bait. These will be split over the 4 to 6 swims, until the lake temperature warms up a bit more. It’s best to take regular water temperatures readings with a thermometer, whenever you walk round the lake to get an idea of what is happening.

Ground and water thermometer.












As Spring starts to get going, I reduce the number of swims, down to one. On busy waters it is best to keep 2 swims going. Please try and bait up responsibly and avoid upsetting other anglers. If permitted, by lack of other anglers’ presence. I try and bait up in my lunch hour during the week.  As it best to avoid other anglers on the water, if I can help it, as I don’t wish for them see what I am up to.

Pick a swim that no one fishes.

A secluded swim by some lily pads.

A uncommonly visited inaccessible swim by an over hanging tree.

I  also do the same in the Autumn time, just before the Winter sets in. Unless, you are able to get in the best swim all Winter, I have found the best option is to take note of the most popular swim and the hot spots and try to pick a spot near these, that does not get fished a lot. This will give you the upper hand in the Winter, as the hot swim with be filled up with other bait and other anglers. Hopefully, you have created your own area that no one is aware of.

Hope this helps.