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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Carp European Style

Carp European Style

By: Luigi de Rose
Charlie Kalocsa and Nick Nikolov of Toronto have chased carp throughout eastern Europe and Canada for decades, mainly in deep holes of rivers.
Two popular eastern-European carping techniques they use are a two-hook bait rig and a feeder. The two-hook system uses a 1/4 to 3/4-ounce sliding egg or bell sinker. Weights vary according to current, depth fished, and desired distance of cast. A free-sliding sinker is essential when carp are wary and unnatural weight results in dropped baits. The two-hook rig also lets anglers offer two different baits to fish.
The first hook is moulded into a loonie-sized "doughball," the second sports a pearl corn. Popular in Hungary and neighbouring countries, it looks like a dime-sized popped corn kernel. Rigged, it floats for hours just off bottom, where it's more visible to carp. I get pearl corn from friends in Europe. I'm not aware of it being sold in Ontario, but there's an option. You can use a few kernels of canned sweet corn on each hook and add small pieces of Styrofoam for flotation on the hook shanks. If you don't want to make your own doughballs, try Berkley's Trout Bait or Uncle Josh's carp bait moulded into a ball. Often, the scent of a doughball attracts carp and catches the biggest fish, although the corn draws the most hits. When fishing a new area, start with a two-hook rig to determine which bait interests carp that day.
The feeder rig resembles a large metal spring with three or four single hooks dangling from 2- to 3-inch strands of braided line. Each hook shank is threaded with slivers of Styrofoam, which permit them to hover above the feeder resting on bottom. Globs of cooked cornmeal or a combination of cornmeal and bread are squished around the feeder until it's a mass of food. The hooks are pushed firmly into its edges. The feeder is heavy enough to cast and sink to bottom without additional weight.
In rivers, as the bait disintegrater, current scatters the particles downstream in a chum line. The feeder works best in large holes with moderate to slow current. It attracts and concentrates carp around your fishing area, much as pre-baiting does in a lake, but with the added advantage of quickly drawing fish in from long distances. As they suck up the feeder's food, they take in the floating hooks, which will have come free from the bait ball. The key to this rig is that the hooks must float. Without Styrofoam, they rest on bottom, lessening your chances of hooking carp.
The only disadvantage to a feeder is that it requires a lot of bait. During a day, you can easily go through a half-gallon(2-l)container. Rod position, strike indicators, and a tight line between bait and rod tip are essential. Nick cautions, "If the rod and the line are not pointed at the bait, slack forms, making detecting strikes difficult."
Charlie and Nick lay their rods horizontally on rests pointing toward the bait. Excess line is reeled taut. Fancy carp bank-stands, which can run you several hundred dollars, are available through specialty outlets and mail order, but two simple stakes can serve the purpose. Nick uses a metal pole and brackets attached to wooden stakes. Charlie favours two thin metal poles bent to form a fork at the top.
"Always loop a string around the reel handle and tie the other end to something heavy," laughs Charlie. He's had to make a flying leap more than a few times to rescue his rod from being dragged into the river by a feisty carp.
Similarly, there are high-tech electronic strike indicators and other gadgets for carp fishing, but a simple device placed on the line between the rod guides can also alert you of a hit. If the indicator moves, a carp is munching on your bait. Charlie and Nick always use a strike indicator. Charlie prefers a bright pink plastic ball or a 35-mm film canister with a wire hook coming from the lid. But a float and paper clip, a bell sinker attached to a snap, and even a downrigger release are all fine.
The first time I fished with Charlie, I stubbornly refused to use a strike indicator. After two hours, he had three carp on the bank, and my line never moved. Frustrated, I asked what he was doing differently. With a grin, he stated I probably had hits, but couldn't tell. Out of desperation, I put on a strike indicator. After some time, I noticed the indicator had dropped about four inches from where I had set it. Leaving the rod in its supports, I turned the reel handle slowly and realized I was into a fish. After beaching the carp, I re-rigged and placed the rod in the holders and reattached the indicator. Soon it seesawed up and down several inches, and I hooked into another carp. Without the indicator, neither hit would have been detected.
Some carp specialists prefer long rods and large-capacity reels for their power and ability to launch long casts, but they're not needed to enjoy a day of carp fishing. Most anglers have either a spinning or casting outfit that will do the job. Charlie and Nick tote 6 1/2-foot medium-action spinning rods matched with reels and either 10 or 12-pound-test line. Charlie favours a collapsible fishing rod, popular among European anglers, whereas Nick uses a two-piecer.
Regardless of whether you use a spinning or a baitcasting outfit, the reel's drag must be smooth. Long runs are common before any carp will submit. A few years ago, I set the hook into what appeared to be a giant. It ripped out at least 80 yards(73 m)of line. I had already caught two carp weighing about 15 pounds(6.8 kg)each, but this fish out-fought them both. After many tense minutes I finally subdued it and, to my surprise, it only weighed about 8 pounds(3.6 kg). The little fish confirmed that carp are fantastic fighters regardless of size.
Get hooked on carp and, like any other type of angling, you'll want to become more specialized with gear, baits, and techniques. But considering that Charlie and Nick have more than 100 years of successful carp fishing between them, adopting their proven tactics will improve your success right off the bat, at little cost.
This year, search along the banks of your favourite river or lake to determine where there are carp. You might see them splashing, rolling, or cruising near the surface, or see bubbles rising as they feed on bottom. Set up and get ready for action.

Where to fish
River carp are more predictable than in lakes. Anglers can find carp throughout a river, but two of the best locations are below dams and in deep holes just downstream. Below dams is best for numbers of carp in late spring and early summer, because they stop fish from moving farther upstream during their spawning run. A hot spring can trigger an early run in late April, but usually May and June are best. Hit a carp run during its peak and you'll find hundreds of fish along current breaks and in eddies. Fishing can be phenomenal, but there's a catch.
"Dams often receive considerable fishing pressure and the fast current can make fishing tricky," said Charlie. He usually fishes the first large hole downstream from a dam. These areas are rarely pressured and dandy carp seem to be present all year. There's no shortage of rivers holding carp. Any flow into the Great Lakes is a possible gold mine, and the Great Lakes themselves team with giant carp. Large river systems like the Ottawa, Thames, Grand, and the Trent-Severn Waterway are also full of carp. It just takes some exploring to find the hotspots.
Lake fishing is a bit trickier. Shallow bays, points, warm-water discharges, creek mouths, and canals all collect pods of roaming carp. Heavily chum likely spots, ideally the night before you fish, then prepare for superb action.
Bait details
Baits for carp fishing vary widely, but many are grain-based and scented. Carp seem to have a sweet tooth. Again, prepared carp baits are not available widely in Ontario, but you can make your own. Each carper has a "secret" doughball recipe. Experimentation is the name of the game. Here's an easy recipe to get you started. In a frying pan, Charlie heats up a mixture of water and cornmeal, stirring it with a spoon until it becomes doughy. He adds a heap of honey, but brown sugar or corn syrup can be substituted. Once the dough is made, Nick adds pieces of bread as filler, especially when he's using a feeder rig.
Corn is another favourite. Canned sweet corn is readily available at food stores. If you can get pearl corn, by all means use it. Other anglers buy feed corn and boil it until soft. It can be used as hook bait and to pre-bait.
The rigs
Carp-specific gear is not available at all tackle stores, so you might have to make your own rigs. A feeder is constructed easily from copper wire or welding solder. Simply coil the wire into the shape and size shown here. Ensure that the wire is solid enough to maintain the shape of the feeder. Create a loop with the wire at one end or connect the wire to a large split ring. Attach each of the hooks to the loop or split ring with 2 to 3 inches of strong braided fishing line. For especially deep rivers or long casts, you can add a sinker inside the feeder.
The two-hook rig is made with readily available tackle. Add a slip-sinker to your line, then place a split shot below it to stop the weight from sliding down. If you favour a barrel swivel for a stopper, tie it to your line below the sinker and then add a monofilament leader with the hooks below it. Tie the first hook 6 to 10 inches from the stopper, the second 18 to 30 inches below it on the end of the line. This rig works well with two No. 2 or 1 super-sharp bait-holder hooks, but a new one I'm starting to favour is the circle hook. Popular in saltwater, smaller versions have recently made the transition inland. Both hook styles, however, pierce quickly and have excellent holding power.

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