I always like to say that, if you do the same as the most successful angler on a lake then, possibly, you will end up catching as much as him, but what if you want to do better?
So, let’s look at some specific examples of how this pan’s out in real life shall we.
Monks Pit, I joined the lake with one fish in mind, a common in the mid forty pound bracket, this would constitute my PB common and first ever UK forty plus common. As with most biggies there was already a set of ‘rules’ in place that dictated where and when you would catch her.
I cannot remember all of them but I know that it was nearly always on the East bank, never in winter and definitely not on a zig.
I eventually landed that magnificent common at forty six pounds on the 7th February, from the West bank and yes, you guessed it, on a zig. I also hooked it from a known distance swim, twenty yards from the bank. So what made me break all the rules surrounding that fish, I was simply fishing where I had seen fish and using the method that I thought was right on the day and the biggun just simply came along.
I have missed out in the past by adhering to the legends surrounding a certain fish, no lesson was learnt more succinctly than, a few years later, when I was targeting my first UK fifty pound plus common, at Black Swan Lake.
I had a swim on there in which I do not recall ever blanking, it was a long range gap between two islands and I knew the spots like the back of my hand, as such it was one of my favourite swims and I fished it whenever possible.
The big common however, he apparently never got caught anywhere else except for a large bay at the extreme Southern end of the pit. Every capture of this carp had been from there and, although never fifty pounds before, I knew that he would be over that weight during the autumn and winter that year.
I decided, using the information available, to target that one area for the entire winter, starting my campaign in late September.
On my only my second trip in the bay, my long time angling mate Paul Forward decided to set up in the Gap Swim, he was just fishing for fish and that was as good a spot as any; I think you can see where this is headed!
In the evening he invited me round for a barbeque and a couple of beers and later, just as I was leaving to walk back to my swim, he had a bite in the gap. After a short tussle a great big common rolled into his net, first time over fifty pounds, as expected, but not from the bay, from my favourite swim on the lake. I had missed out by fully believing the legend and fishing where others had told me I had the most chance rather than where I most fancied.
So, what of the Burghfield common then, it was accepted that he normally got caught in one of the small bays rather than the open water but, was that because he lived there, fed there, or was fished for the most in there and how does the catch rate equate to rod hours spent waiting?
It was also widely accepted that he did not feed with the other fish, always on his own or with a very small, select band of friends which made him a very tricky target indeed.
Eventually I caught him by doing exactly the opposite. He was the second of a six fish catch from the open, deeper, water and fell to my standard approach of baiting as heavily as the situation seemed to warrant.
I was also catching tench and bream from the same area so I knew that I could use a substantial amount of bait, and it worked.
That’s the beauty of carp angling; there are no hard and fast rules, only guidelines that we, the anglers, assume to be correct.
You cannot have too much information of course, not when you are tracking a single fish but, as with everything in fishing, there is a time to follow it and a time to follow your gut instinct and only time will tell which one proves to be right.
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out Dave Lane’s new book? Titled Fine Lines, Dave’s third publication delves deeply into the mysterious, weird and wonderful big carp scene. For more details click here.