Park Life

parklife_1Most of us have a local park lake within easy travelling distance, that’s unless you live in a very large detached house somewhere in one the posher parts of England, your own private estate lake within your grounds. Tended by your own gamekeeper. Any way I’m digressing so let’s get back to the grass roots carping.

I grew up admiring the carp in my local park boating lake, these carp could often be seen basking, often out of reach of our meagre tackle and porcupine floats, I’m showing my age here, and always seemed elusive, when I was a kid if you were ‘lucky’ enough to catch one then you were deemed a legend in my neck of the woods, respected by the local anglers and plagued by the youngsters for tips.

Having cut my teeth as a youngster chasing these curious beasts that seemed almost uncatchable when I was a kid I, heavy tackle was unheard of and back then I thought 6lb line was for towing cars! Anyway I decided it was time to relive my youth and spend a few summer evenings going back to basics trying to tempt these wary old dogs.

Modern Carping what’s it all about?

Carp fishing seems so technical these days with manufacturers, and high profile anglers implying that you need the latest high tech gear, carbon rods with a 1 k wrap to ensure you can cast further than your mate, hooks so sharp you can’t get them out of the packet without drawing blood and the latest critically balanced super dooper wafter rig just to give you any chance of tempting the highly educated modern carp that inhabit our pressured waters, what a load of old b******s.

Like most carp the park lake fish have seen most types of rigs and bait presentations, however they all need to feed and just by fishing for them at the right time of the day will help you catch them.

I can’t believe how many people will be leaving the lake usually just as I arrive, they sit there all day, saying the carp aren’t having it today and they head off home in time for tea, typical comments from the lads who just can’t seem to grasp the basic fundamentals of carp fishing.

I found that the best time to catch these fish is during the times they like to feed!! No rocket science here I hear you say…But this is the bit that I find surprising, more often than not these waters can’t be night fished and usually have out of bounds areas, or the local boat club are on the lake making it difficult to fish.

So the obvious thing to do is to fish either early in the morning or after work and fish until dark, this is the best time to avoid the dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and nosy parkers, it a quick hit and run session.

Fish will often move into the shallower margins as the light fades looking for any bait that anglers have tossed into the margins or bread meant for ducks.

My lake also holds some decent sized bream so it’s fished by the feeder fishing fanatics and they will often empty the contents of a ground bait bowl, bits of corn etc into the edge when they pack up.

The carp know this and will sneak in to the margins once the light begins to fade or the bankside activity lessens.

I mimic this by introducing a few balls of groundbait, Envy is my current favourite, (packed full of ground hemp and pellet) a few handfuls of hemp and mixed size pellets and a few grains of corn also go in to aid visibility for any lurking carp. A quick tip: If it’s slow I will often toss half a bucket of water in to the swim to try and tempt them to come to the noise or drip feed a few 8mm pellets in and not surprisingly a take will often occur shortly after they hear this sound as they home in on it looking for food., my traps are already set waiting for their arrival.

I usually fish two rods, one to the left and the other to the right margin, look for overhanging trees or any decent cover. Keep tucked in well back from the edge, stealth is key.

I set up with fluorocarbon line, fished slack with a Leadcore leader set up with a drop off flat pear lead, the flat pear ensures the rig doesn’t roll down any marginal shelf into the deeper water.

I like to fish a pop up on one rod, 360 style especially when fishing under trees to ensure the bait sits proud of any underwater twigs or debris, and a simple coated braid rid with a hair rigged Hybrid pellet wrapped in a fairly big ball of paste on the other, I like to think this flattens any weed that may be on the bottom similar to how a solid pva bag of pellet would behave. I like to see which one catches most but to be honest they both catch fish and I think that once the carp find the bait they will mop up whatever is there and hook bait type is often irrelevant.

I’m positive these tactics will work on most park lakes, I would fish bread as loads of it gets fed to the ducks and geese that inhabit these lakes but I always feel more confident in a bait I know will be avoided by nuisance fish.

Next time you’re wondering where to fish or if you only have a few spare hours then don’t be a carping snob get down to the local park lake and catch some of their wonderful characters.

Here’s a couple of 20 lb plus fish I have caught fishing my local park.



Ian Hirst
Carp Catcher








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