My Big Carp Career started in April 2005 with a 13kg common on Shawn & Sam special boilie. This was our own boilies we made from a mixture of Nash Chocolate base mix and Dynamite Baits Monster Tigernut base mix.
I did my homework first before I started specimen fishing by watching video’s, reading Carp-world magazine’s and I had help from my friend Shawn Cronje and his uncle Henry Cloete which did specimen angling way before me. When I felt I was ready with enough knowledge and confidence I started specimen fishing in March 2005 and landed my first upper 20lb in April 2005. I was obviously then hooked for life in the specimen game.
To be honest I am a weekend angler unfortunately I am working for a boss to earn a salary thus I had no choice to fish dams close to my area like Florida Lake, Hamberg & Emmerentia. Emmerentia is difficult with all the boats so I mainly fished Florida & Hamberg. Hamberg was starting to produce big fish until it was polluted with sewerage and all the fish died, that then left me Florida to fish. The Hamberg incident happened in Sept 2005, I then fished Florida from Oct 2005 to Dec 2007 - sometimes another venue like Rushmere with my biggest common a 16.3kg & mirror 16.14kg from the Lake. It was a 2008 new year resolution of mine to start to fish more dams further away to broaden my knowledge and to stand a better chance for upper 30lb and 40lb and to fish the Lake only sometimes. The other reason was that it was rumoured that “Sam can only fish the Lake and no other venue”. So it was also to prove a point and I did just that.
Then one must also remember fishing dams further away is more costly than a dam such as the Lake taken into consideration your petrol, food, feed & accommodation so fishing opportunities will be fewer than fishing the Lake every weekend but that was a decision I made. Another thing is you can not pre-bait it like the Lake, it is too far to drive up & down and I only have 4 rods and feed that my working salary can afford. Making far dams very difficult, not like some anglers I know that goes to a venue with 6 pods, tons of feed for almost 2 weeks and the notion “if you don’t get a 40 or 50lb you might as well give up specimen angling”. Thus I am very proud of my first 40lb for a weekend angler that only goes to a big carp venue sometimes. Just shows you - the right venue in the right fishing area in that dam with good baits you can’t go wrong, one weekend to land a 40lb. I fished Florida Lake for almost 2 years with no 40lb.
So the advice I want to give is don’t stick with one dam for too long. Choose a dam, do your homework, plot it well, fish it as much as you can on your plotted areas that works during summer, winter & spring and by the end of spring no 30’s or 40lb’s landed go target another dam. Don’t make the same mistake I did. Some people will say I am ungrateful for what the Lake produced. My opinion is that I fished the Lake poorly with no 40lb as a result. But I know now how to land a 40-50lb out of the Lake and for an angler such as myself it is impossible unless pure luck. You must at least feed 1 area for 1 month with 1 flavor boilie about 200kg’s will do and then go fish it. Now come the financial problem for 200kg boilies, time to go and pre-bait everyday and have the guarantee that no one will fish on your area for 1 month. So I wasted a lot of time at the Lake.
I still have a lot to learn in this game. There are a lot of big carp venues that I still need to fish like Buffels, Tzaneen etc etc.
A big turning point for me was when Mike from MG approached me for field-testing. At least it was some relieve for all my hard work and efforts. I went out of my way and still doing it to make it a success. MG produced a lot of 20 and 30lb’s for me and a new PB of 18.44kg but Mike and myself has still a long road to go, we have a few plans up our sleeve but we first want to see if it will work. All I can say is watch this space with MG, I will keep you up to date with any developments.
Then rigs: I noticed during my time that specimen anglers wants to be like the UK, they see a new rig, try and copycat it and end up with fish losses. Stick to the basics - SA does not have dams like the UK with only 10 fish that gets caught over and over. That is the only reason why the UK is trying new rigs. A normal wide gape hook with a blow back rubber on the shaft, coated braid, safety clip & leadcore you are sorted. If you do want to change you can go for tungsten tubing, maybe a long shank hook with a line, a liner can also work. STICK TO THE BASICS.
I would like to share my Big Carp Trace with you all, which I found works better than clusters and I call it a necklace. You can try this instead of clusters at the end of the day it is your choice.
All other advice I can give for specimen angling is patience & persistence for example:
- Let’s say you have pre-baited an area, now comes the day to fish it, you must still cast out your marker float exactly on the pre-baited spot, make sure that you cast your lines as accurate as possible next to your marker as you can, even if it is clipped in. If you cast to the left or right from the marker DO IT OVER even if you have to do it over for 10 times that’s OK until it is 100% perfectly cast even if you have to waste a 5m length of PVA, make sure it is correct. Also make sure it is tangle free (that’s now at a cast venue). Patience, don’t bring in a line or 2 during night because you are unsure about 1 or you are impatient. Wait, our baits can not go of the hair a carp must pick it up sooner or later. PATIENCE.
- If you fish a venue where you can take out lines with a boat rather do 1 line at a time even if you fish 400m+ do 1 line at a time, don’t get impatient and try and do 2 or 3 at a time. Buy more batteries and do one line at a time, make sure you drop it exactly on the plotted area, be patient don’t bring in your lines, wait until you get a pick up. Don’t go rush to take it out, you still have 3 more in the water, your first pick up is an indication that the carp is now in your swim, be patient until the next pick up before taking out lines again.
- Overall make sure your presentation is correct even if you have to test your hook link on your finger for 100 times do it until you have enough confidence in your rig. Make sure your leadcore is correctly spliced, always double check your mono for roughness & leader, and also double check your hook sharpness.
My motto is after you cast your lines out to the marker float or via boat when you come back and you are done with all your lines and you sit down in your chair to relax and have a drink, you must have 100% confidence in all your lines, the minute one line is bugging you and you are unsure, stand up bring it in and do that line over.
Tip: Only one tip that I would like to mention: our fishing venues is not that clean and silt free like the UK dams, that’s why 95% of the times I fish critical balanced or snowman, I hardly fish bottom. You can use cork, foam or pop up boilies to do this.
My klaserie caravan park session: It was my first time at this new venue with a lot of anticipation and I didn’t know what to expect. The information that I gathered about the place is that it is a maize & tigernut dam. So I ordered whole tigers/maize and grated maize from Mike as my ground feed and MG sweet corn boilies also as feed and for the hair. On arrival I first plotted my areas and started of with mouse trapping and the result was Blue Kurper, small babel and small carp. Second night more or less same tactics but with more feed and the results were the same as the above, My third night’s session I changed my approach to mass feeding, the morning before the time and night mass feeding again when taking out lines each and every time. This chased away the small fish mentioned above and I then started landing the big ones up to night four when my session ended. I did not chop and change neither my baits nor my rigs, I only changed my feeding approach and it resulted in 9 carp and a new PB, All between 11.43kg & 18.44kg. Like I said before, PATIENCE.
To end - if it was not for my wonderful wife that gives me all the freedom in the world I would not have been where I am today in my specimen fishing.
Last word of advice POSITIVE THINKING = POSITIVE RESULTS on your fishing session.