Learn how to catch common carp, click the banner above.
If you decide to join, please tell them I referred you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Maybe It's Time to Find a New Fishing Spot

My reward for trying something different
Two weeks ago I plotted out a plan for four fishing sessions on successive weekends. My primary goal with the sessions was to establish a new personal best carp weight before the winter weather arrives.

For me, finding above average sized carp is not a simple thing. I've learned that you can't keep doing the same things over and over, hope for the best and  expect different results. If you want different results, you have to do new things; or do old things in a better way.

I have a favorite venue for carp fishing that is a 25 miles from my home. I've fished that spot roughly 20 times this past spring, summer and fall. My biggest carp from my normal spot weighed 23 lbs. My wife's biggest fish from that same spot weighed 24 lbs. Logic dictates that if I want to catch a common carp bigger than the biggest I've ever caught before, I needed to change spots, change bait, or attract bigger fish. I made the simple and easy-to-execute choice and went back to a spot that I fished earlier in the spring that yielded my current personal best of a few ounces shy of 25 pounds.

It was on the same lagoon near Lake Erie. I used the same baits, flavors, tackle, etc., but changed the location within that lagoon. And as you may have guessed by now....it worked!

My normal spot was beginning to see quite a bit of carp fishing pressure and in my opinion that fishing pressure slowed the bite a little bit. If four or five anglers are fishing the same spot over and over using the same baits and flavors, the fish might wise up a little and start to avoid the bait presentation. I have no idea of knowing for sure, but my theory makes logical sense to me. Someone else may shoot a hole in my theory, but it's a good a hypothesis as any other I've had lately.

I fished the opposite side of the lagoon in two spots that aren't as easy to fish because they require a 5 minute walk from the parking lot, there is no rest room and the mowing/tree trimming is not maintained as regularly. It's inconvenient, but I know from the past that the fish seem to run a little bigger on that side of the lagoon.

Overall average size from those spots for the past 4 sessions was close to the average size in my normal spot, but there were some big fish sprinkled in; two I couldn't land and one that I did. The one fish I landed weighed in at 26 pounds and 6 ounces besting my prior personal best weight by almost 1 1/2 pounds.

So the next time fishing slows down in your normal spot(s), it might be time to find a new one. It worked for me this month. Maybe it will work for you too.

Berkley Trilene Big Game vs. Braided Fishing Line

Here's an update to my testing of Trilene Big Game monofilament compared to Power Pro braided fishing line.

I've been fishing with 50 lb. braided fishing line for two seasons of carp fishing. I've had success with it and developed strong confidence in the braid. Between snags, boaters running over my lines, and general wear I've gone through 1,200+ yds. of line this year. Priced at $24.99 per 300 yds. I've spent more than $100 on fishing line so far.

In July I picked up 900 yds. of Trilene Big Game 15 lb. for $3.97 on sale at Dick's Sporting Goods. My thought at the time was to experiment with the possibility of saving money with monofilament compared to braid. I'll add that I would have preferred to buy 20# Big Game, but they did not have any available.

Quote from my blog post in July:

"Let's see...should I spend $100 on fishing line or $3.97? That one's easy...if it the performance is similar."

As year two winds down, I'm ready to report on my results for the testing here on my local Michigan lakes. Specifically my goal was to validate whether or not I can justify the extra expense for the braided line going forward.

Power Pro priced for $27.99 locally
Trilene Big Game purchased for $3.97 locally.

My testing started with several sessions in late summer at Ford Lake in Ypsilanti. The Big Game performed o.k. at Ford Lake and I landed a few carp in the 12# to 14# range.

As the year continued and bigger fish moved into the lagoon I fish near Lake Erie it provided a better opportunity to see how the Big Game would hold up. For the past three sessions I've hooked a lot of carp on the mono. I've landed carp in the 12# to 22# range on the monofilament during those sessions.

To be completely honest, I wanted to Big Game to match up well with the Power Pro so I could save some money. But in my personal experience the Big Game falls short for carp fishing compared to the Power Pro.

The biggest disappointment I had with the Big Game was a snapped line while trying to land the biggest carp I've hooked all year long. The line didn't fail at the knot and the failure wasn't caused by an abrasion. The line was over-taxed with a big carp and the carp was more than 15# monofilament could handle under extreme conditions. Yesterday I lost another smaller carp in the 10# range from another line break. Maybe 20# Big Game would have been more appropriate for big Michigan carp, but I didn't have 20# available.

For full disclosure I have broken Power Pro during the casting process due my own mental mistake and one other time several months ago while fighting a fish, but I suspect that time was due to an abrasion and not due to the size of the fish.

I am not a professional fisherman, so someone with more skills than I may have had better luck with the monofilament. For me the choice of monofilament vs. braid comes down to my own personal confidence in the line. With a new personal best on the line I don't want to worry about the line failing and losing the fish. I want to feel good about my chances of landing "the big one" and for me that means I'll be sticking with 50# braid.

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Great Session Near Lake Erie - Great Weather and a New Personal Best Common Carp

Luckily I had the day off of work because the weather was very unseasonably warm today here in Southeast Michigan. After several days of cooler weather last week and falling water temperatures, temperatures in the upper 70's were bound to lead to some interesting chances to catch some carp. The carp did not disappoint.

The action started early with a few average sized fish. About 9:30 a.m. I hooked into a solid fish on my left rod and the fish crossed over the middle and right rods before doubling back to under the middle rod approaching the net. Everything was going very well to that point. The fish was tiring and Linda had the net in perfect position. To that point I hadn't really seen the fish yet, so boy was I surprised to see it approaching the net. It was the biggest fish I have hooked all year! Come on new PB!

I loosened the drag a little because the fish was spooked by the net. He struggled right and then back left into the netting zone. The fish hovered over the net, but was so big the tail wasn't quite in...and then it happened...yep, the dreaded hook pull. But at that point the fish was obviously tiring because Linda said, "don't worry, I can still get him." The fish didn't realize it was no longer hooked because it continued to hover in the water for several seconds. Linda pull up on the net, but the tail wasn't quite in yet. Somehow the fish eluded capture and we both were super, super bummed. I am pretty sure the fish was a 30+ pounder. The head on my Ranger net is 34" and the fish was bigger than that by several inches. So for the next couple of hours we relived the moment and discussed how to do it better next time; hopeful to get another chance at a quality fish. The next chance eventually came around 2:30 p.m., but the fish was a several inches shorter and a few pounds lighter.

Here are some pictures from today's session:

5 pounds

5 pounder posed

6 pounds

8 pounds

11 pounds

12 pounds

13 pounds

14 pounds

17 pounds

26 pounds 6 ounces, and my new personal best common carp

The release of my new personal best

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Carp Fishing Slideshow

Created with flickr slideshow.

Difference in Fishing and Being a Fisherman

For most of my life catching fish I simply threw a line in the water and hoped for the best. When I started carp fishing I had to make adjustments to that carefree approach in the name of catching more carp.

I like to study and learn new things, so fishing for carp is a no-brainer for me. A worm on a hook won't produce many carp and certainly not on a consistent basis. So I've had to learn ways to entice the carp to eat the bait I'm offering. For illustration, consider an example from yesterday's session.

I was fishing with three rods and had landed multiple fish on my left rod and right rod, but none on the middle rod at midday. So when re-baiting I took notice of the hair rigs, hook lengths, etc. for clues. I noticed that the hook length on the middle rod was about 1 inch shorter than the hook length on the other two rods that were producing all the carp. I switched out the shorter hook length with a 6" rig, re-casted and hopefully waited.

It didn't take long.

I caught the biggest fish of the session 90 minutes later on that middle rod.

22 pounder caught on 15 pound test Berkley Trilene Big Game monofilament
So many of my winter weekends will be filled with reading, watching videos and strategizing new ways to improve my fisherman skills vs. buying the newest, shiniest, latest and greatest tackle and just fishing. I want to learn to use what I've already got more effectively. Lucky for me Michigan winters provide plenty of time for that as we wait for things to thaw out each spring. But I think time spent strategizing and learning will pay off big time with more carp in future sessions.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Great Fall Session Today Near Lake Erie

Today was a great day for carp fishing with sunshine and warmer temperatures. The only downside was high winds at various points during the session. But didn't keep the carp from biting.

I caught a dozen or so common carp today with most weighing in the low to mid teens. There were two or three carp that stood out as a cut above the rest. My largest fish today weighed 22 pounds 10 ounces and the second largest tipped the scales at 21 pounds 5 ounces. I was hoping for a new personal best today, but I needed about 3 1/2 to 4 more pounds on a couple of the fish to make that happen.

Some of the photos are better than others. Many were taken with a 35 mm camera and some with my 4 year old cell phone after my wife, net person and photo guru left for home about 4:30.

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I sure did enjoy catching the fish.

Upper teens

Upper teens

18 pounds

Release of 18 pounder

Double run as I was preparing to leave, the upper fish weighed 21 lbs. 5 oz.
21 pounds 5 ounces closer-up

22 pounder

22 pounds

Release of the 2nd largest fish of the day weighing 21 pounds 5 ounces

I ended the day reluctantly after landing my 12th common carp at 5:15 p.m. as the sun moved lower in sky. It was my best average fish size total to date and I ended up landing more than 160 pounds of carp. If I'd had some more ground bait mixed up, I might have stayed another hour. Who knows, a new personal best might have come with the next cast; or I might not have caught a single additional fish. And that in a nutshell is why carp fishing is so addictive.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hair Rigs and Hook Lengths

I had the day off today, but it was too cold, windy, rainy and cloudy to go carp fishing. Guess what I did? Yep...I tied rigs to prepare for two sessions this weekend when the weather is forecast to be much nicer. For those reading this who might wonder about hook length, hair length, etc. I posted a picture of my rigs.

Hair rigs for this weekend
When I started fishing for carp last year I went on YouTube and learned how to tie the basic rig. Then I started experimenting. I started with 7 - 8" hook lengths last year. I had limited success.

This spring I took the opposite approach and shortened up the hook length to 3 1/2 - 4". It worked great this spring, but when the bite slowed down this summer I think the shorter hook length hurt my average catch rate.

Yesterday I purposely changed to a little longer hook length and I believe it helped me catch more fish. So when I go out this weekend in search of my new personal best common carp or first ever buffalo, I'll be using these 5 - 5 1/2" hook lengths.

The hooks in the picture are all size 6 from Resistance Tackle, except one size 6 OSC hook. The line I'm using is 50 pound test Power Pro.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Looking For a New Personal Best Today

It's late October, the autumn leaves are falling, and the morning temperatures are lower and lower each week. That means two things: 1) winter's on the way, 2) chances of catching a bigger than average sized carp are improved.

The view from my fishing spot today

I took this picture shortly after getting everything set up today

A view to the right of my fishing position today

A view toward the left of my position

I had the day off from work and had three things on my mind as I headed out to my favorite fishing hole near Lake Erie: 1) spending the day relaxing by the lake recharging my batteries and enjoying the day outside, 2) catching a new personal best common carp (25 pounds or greater for me), and 3) catching a buffalo carp (I've never caught one).

I chose a new spot (for me) that has yielded some nice numbers of carp with good size in recent weeks. I normally fish a different spot near the parking lot, but today I fished the opposite side.

Sunrise is around 7:30 a.m. this week; shortly after I arrived. I walked to the spot in the dark and starting sitting up with the goal to have bait hitting the water shortly after sunrise. I got the nets set up, landing mat situated, sling positioned, and 3 rods in the water by 8:03. 

The first fish was landed before 9:00 tipping the scales at more than 15 pounds on the middle rod.

15 pounds

My second fish today hit the landing mat before 9:30 weighing more than 22 pounds on the right rod.

22 pounds

I was on cloud nine at that point because the average size was looking pretty good.

I caught a few more fish between 9:45 and noon with the alarms chirping regularly about every 35 - 40 minutes.

Most of the action was coming from my left and center rods at that point.

At noon I re-baited all three rods and then had a snack for lunch. The weather was sunny and warming up. Experience tells me that the chances for catching carp improve with those conditions. I was hopeful and confident something big was just around the corner.

I was right!

The alarm on my right rod went off just after noon. I picked up and immediately knew it was a special fish. That rod was spooled with mono and as I started the retrieve I could feel the stretch in the line. I kept the rod tip up and tried to remain calm. I didn't want to lose the fish by trying too hard.The fight progressed and I gained a little ground.

Most of the fish today would immediately take off and try to get away darting right or left immediately. This fish did not take that approach. It felt like I'd hooked a snag in the water at that point. In fact, I thought I lost the fish but slow and sure the fish made it's way toward me little by little.

Calmly and slowly the fish yielded and approached closer and closer. About 50 feet from shore it found some energy and decided to try a little harder. With strong winds causing a left to right current on the lake most of the fish today darted right, but not this guy....he headed left into the current.

Another indication that I did not want to lose this fish.

It swam against the current with ease indicating it was bigger and heavier than the others I caught so far. I passed the rod under the middle rod to prevent a tangle and then under the left rod as the fish headed for shallow water on the left side.

I grabbed the net and tried to position it so the fish would swim into it. No luck, because when the fish saw the net he swam in the opposite direction back to the right and took out some more line. I could see the fish at this point and all the indications were correct - it was by far the biggest fish I have ever hooked and it would definitely shatter my 24 pound 10 ounce personal best caught 200 yards down the bank earlier this spring.

The fish was in pretty close and shallow at this point, which is always dangerous and high risk of a hook pull. I maneuvered the net again so that fish would swim into it. The fish was 4 feet from home at that point and my heart was really pumping; hopeful to get the fish in the sling, on the mat, and hooked up to the scales.

And then, everything went wrong....the 15 pound test Big Game monofilament broke off. It was a clean break-off. No hook pull, no line cut...a true break off. And just like that it was over. No fish, no new personal best, nadda; just a story to tell about experience and knowledge that the big fish have decided to come out to play this fall.

I fished 2 more hours and hooked a few more common carp; unfortunately none were even half the size of the one I lost.

Here are a few pictures of those I did capture:

Sorry none of the fish today were properly posed, but my regular photographer had to work today.

I also got to try out my new fishing net today. This Ranger Big Game rubberized net did the job today.

Ranger Big Game landing net

All of the fish today were caught on corn tipped with a piece of fake corn.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ranger Landing Nets

I have been very disappointed in the quality of carp landing nets that I have purchased so far. I have looked around at various options and determined that I need to buy something that is not a typical Euro-style carp net. There are a few options for heavy duty nets that are reasonably priced. I have decided to go with a Ranger net.

I found a Ranger Tournament Series Big Game flat bottom rubberized knotless net locally this morning. I wanted my wife to test it out to make sure it's not too heavy because she does most of the netting for me.

The Ranger net is stronger built than any carp net I've ever seen, it's made in the USA and it's a Detroit company. I wanted to look at their catalog before buying, so I just checked it out online and I'm going back later to get it.

Originally I thought I wanted a bigger one, but any bigger would be too heavy I think. The model 9855TFB has a 54" handle extendable to 84", a 34" head and a 24" deep sack. My current net is similar in size, but it's beginning to show some wear tear to go along with landing 104 carp this year.

Photo courtesy RangerNets.com