At first, the cold water has them lethargic, and going on short feeding bursts, typically around the time where the water hits it's warmest during a given day. With our 1 rod per person rules, having a few people on the bank at the same time, will exponentially increase your chances for success. The keys to catching carp during early Canadian spring, are:
Having some good spring spots:
A proper good spring spot will have warmer water than most of the surrounding area, as well as less current if located in a river system. Bays, inlets, feeder creeks, flood control reservoirs, etc, are all good spots to prospect during the spring. Carp will often lie motionless near the surface, or right up on the shore, in order to regulate their body temperature in these warmer water areas.
Properly formulated bait:
Over the years, I've found combinations of cayenne pepper and / or paprika to be extremely effective in cold water. As such, my go to bait for early spring carp fishing in Canada would be my Fireball boilies. In rocky areas without much debris, I fish them on bottom, while in areas with lot of silt or dead vegetation, I fish a popup version of the same Fireball boilie.
Lots of patience:
Avoid the urge to keep feeding and chumming during your session. A few well placed boilies will ensure that the carp know where your hookbait lies, and when they are ready to start feeding, they will know exactly where to find your bait. Having too much bait in the water will reduce you chances of taking advantage of a short feeding window. As well, avoid re-casting your line too often. Once you have a presentation that works, trust it. I'll usually let my line sit for up to 2 hours before re-setting it.
If you have the option of pre-baiting a spot before fishing it, your chances of getting onto some good carp fishing will increase. Most will bait with a few pounds of corn, with some quality boilies mixed in. Baiting in a lake or slack water will give more option to the feed that goes in, while the option are limited the stronger the current is in a given area.
This spring, my carp fishing season started in early April, as posted in a previous blog entry. After that, I didn't have the chance to get out again for a good 5 weeks or so, between busy work schedule, followed by holidays, followed by an epic shark fishing trip to Florida.
Finally got out early in May with two of my kids. My 8 year old daughter Chaya was finally ready to attempt catching her first carp, and my 14 year old son tagged along as well. Being that my daughter is to small to properly handle one of my 12 foot carp rods, I downsized to a couple 8 footers and a 9 foot rod, all with short butts, and shorter distances to the reel from the end of rod butt.
Knowing that my spring presentation for carps are effective, I explained the feeding windows timeline to her, and the test to her patience was on. With the water high, stained, and still colder than normal, it took over 4 hours to get the first hit, during which time the extreme patience of a carp fisherman became very apparent to her. When the bite alarm finally went off by mid afternoon, she was ecstatic. Didn't take much to bring in the small carp in cold water, not much of a fight at all, but she had landed her first carp ever.
My older son landed his as well, a couple hours later:
Nothing big, but at least our mission was accomplished.
I returned to the area a couple weeks later, after a heat wave the previous week brought up the water temperature significantly. Optimal temperature for carp to fully start feed is around the 10 degree Celcius range, and water at my spot it just about at that temperature on the day of our outing. This time, I brought along my 11 year old son, 8 year old daughter, and 5 year old son.
We set up 3 rods for carp, and saved one of the rods to catch small gobies and panfish to keep my youngest one occupied while we waited for the carp to start feeding. Our session started off well, my older son landed his first carp of the day within a couple hours, after losing his first one.
As you can see, my daughter didn't look to happy in the picture, as she was somewhat jealous, but more worried that she'd never get a turn, basing on her first experience in colder water a couple week before.
I assured her she'd get her shot, and sure enough, she landed her first of the outing about 45 minutes later.
Now she was happy, smiling, and proud that hers was slightly bigger than her brother',s/ At 15.5 lbs, it was her biggest fish ever.
Now that the mood was relaxed the day got better. Eli beat her weight by 1/2 lb on his next fish. Not sure if sticking out his tongue was intentional, but it wouldn't surprise me, as he tends to get very competitive, and enjoys trash talking his siblings whenever he outfishes them.
Around lunch time, we ran out of worms, so we retired the panfish rod, and added a 4th carp rod. Just in time for a short 2 hour frenzy, during which time the kids landed another 6 carp in about 1.5 hours.
Eli landed the biggest of the day at 22 lbs.
They also managed a double header to end the frenzy.
Needless to say, they were in carp heaven by this time, and even though the fishing slowed down, we managed a couple more before heading home around 4:30 PM.
They all agreed that their day of carping had been the greatest ever, and to their credit they managed to land 11 of 12 carp, which is an excellent ratio by carp fishing standards. The majority of the carp hit my Fireball boilies, but as the day warmed up, we caught some of the carp on my sweet dream boilies, as well as my black magic boilies.
Having the right set up, equipment, and proper drag setting are extremely important, but technique is crucial. With some good coaching, even the youngest of kids are be able to land most of their carp.
Returned the following week guiding father and son outing. Robert and Daniel managed to land a perfect 10 of 10 carp, as well as a channel catfish, first one caught this season. Both had a blast, discovering what carp fishing during Canadian spring is like. Fireball and sweet dream boilies were the bait of the day. I managed to land an 11th carp after they left and I was packing away the gear.
Returned again the following week with a solo client, so we were down to using only 2 rods all day. Water level had come up considerably, and we were lucky to have brought along our waders just in case.
Bite remained steady all day, Nick landed 9 of 12 carp, with the biggest one just under 28 lbs. Shattered his previous biggest fish record by more than double.
Snapped a pic of the fat female as well as the release.
Nick also managed to land a decent size channel catfish just over 9 lbs, beating his previous record of 6 lbs for that species. Sort of cool to beat your PB on a by-catch.
Returned again the following Sunday, this time with 2 of my kids. Eli and Zev, aged 11 and 5. With high winds and an incoming heat wave, I was hoping that the pre-spawn frenzy would be on. Started off by setting up 3 rods.
Took a few minutes for Eli to hook and land his first carp of the outing, decent carp in the mid teens.
Problem with having 3 rods out and only 2 people big enough to handle them when carp fishing, is the risk of tangles. Next 2 fish hopelessly tandle one of the 2 other rods, so I switched to using only 2 rods for the rest of the outing, while keeping 2 other rods rigged and ready to fire back out as soon as a fish was landed.
This allows more time for line in water, especially when the frenzy turns on, which gives more chance of hooking up to multiple fish at the same time (double headers). Sure enough, the tactic paid off, Eli managed to land a whopping 21 of 26 carp, in addition to 1 channel catfish. Even more amazing, were the 3 double headers we had, considering we were fishing only 2 rods.
5 of the carp were between 20 to 25.5 lbs, and many in the upper teens.
The water was warm enough for us to get in and cool off when needed.
By far the most productive outing of our carp season so far, Eli's best carp outing ever as well.
The following morning, I took my wife out on a short 2 hour fishing date. As opposed to the previous day where I was fishing a high numbers spot far from home, we chose to fish a spot closer to home, known to have a tough but rewarding bite, with some bigger carp.
Only took half hour, and she hooked into her biggest carp to date at 31.5 lbs.
Try as I might, was not able to convince her that getting slimed was a positive thing, so I stepped in for the pic. Congratulations on the new PB!
I will be posting more of my spring time carp fishing updates to this blog post as the spring fishing season progresses.
I have many open dates left for guided carp outings this season, as well as boilies and hair rigs for sale. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if interested.