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A successful family fishing holiday with old school tactics!

This week we welcomed Gary and his family to the venue for the first time. Gary has been following us on YouTube for a number of years and was already a fan of some of my rigs that have served him well back home. He’s been waiting quite a while for the stars to align so that he could visit us and this year he was able to make it over with the family. Gary opted to take the tuition so I spent all day with him on Sunday. Gary is a skilled and experienced angler and he’s fished for most of his life but this was his first trip to France which is always a big moment in an angler’s journey. As Gary was fishing solo, I was able to go into a lot more detail than normal and make the program fit his exact needs. The day absolutely flew by and Gary absolutely loved it.

Change of plan

On the first night (pre-tuition), Gary found he had to re-do rods very frequently. This was partly down to being new here but also because he went with boilies and pellets. A very effective method for sure but not great at night, in the summer, if you want to get some sleep. Although Gary did want to tangle with a big catfish as well as the carp, I suggested tigers and particles for the nights and then he could switch back to boilies and pellets during the day. As I mentioned before, this approach is effective but like everything in this game, it’s not 100% selective.

After a tricky first night, his 2nd night was more successful with Sammy the sturgeon which was cool because he’d not caught one before. Now that Gary had the right tools and methods at his disposal, it was only ever going to be a question of when, not if, he caught a carp. His first one turned out to be Merlin at 38lbs which put a proper smile on his face. Not bad for your first French carp!

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It turns out that Gary had a very similar introduction to fishing as me as he started as a coarse angler. When he got back into fishing in later life he targeted carp more exclusively and over the years has become more and more serious about it. Having that coarse fishing background means that he can do things that virtually no other modern carp angler would ever dream of. And what he did this week is something that I’ve only witnessed once or twice in my time here at the lake…. Yes, that’s right, he went float fishing…. for specimen carp!

Gary knew the carp were loving the margins and he got a really positive feeding reaction when he introduced some of the Nash particles onto his spots. Getting the carp to tilt down and feed hard was easy and quick but his best bottom rigs were being ignored or spat out rather too frequently so he decided to try something completely different. 

He re-tooled one of his 10ft rods with a waggler, tied a nice strong carp hook on the end using a palomar knot and then set up a couple of tigers on a micro ring swivel running between two beads (a German rig). The setup meant he could swap baits but the traditional hooklink was eliminated from the setup. That’s right, he used the (required) 25lb Big Game straight through! A split shot 10cm from the hook and one either side of the float completed the setup. It was then just a question of getting the depth right and swinging it into position without spooking them. Gary set the float to be 6” over depth and used an AA shot nearest the hook to create what we used to call a lift float.

This is a classic setup for carp and one that I learnt when I was a boy. It’s very sensitive and if the carp haven’t seen it before, they’ll happily swim past the line coming from the surface as they don’t associate it with danger. The method is probably one of the most enjoyable because you live every flicker and wobble of the float as the carp busily hoover up all the small particles which cause the float to dance when they enter the swim. 

Float fishing is the opposite of modern carp angling. It engages the mind, the body and the spirit. There is no rest.

Putting down the rod is just not an option.

The secret to success is to prime multiple spots and to travel very light. Gary didn’t even use a chair. Having multiple spots to drop onto means that you can fish where the carp are when they are actually there. If you have a go for them and they spook off, hopefully you’ll have another spot to drop onto to get back in the game. This is how I began my carp fishing journey. Actively looking for fish to fish to, catching one and moving on. It was these exact tactics that Gary employed this week and he did it so successfully that he literally wrote a whole new chapter on how to catch carp at Beausoleil during the summer… It was, quite simply, a brilliant piece of angling 💎

As it’s probably been 10 years since anyone had even tried the method here, the carp simply didn’t know what had hit them. Most of the bites followed this pattern of events:

Float trembles, lifts and then slides away. Gary, mindful of the overhanging trees, executes a short, sharp strike usually off to the side or the other, to hook the carp. For a few heart stopping beats he’d be convinced that he’d hooked the bottom as he felt solid, unmoving resistance. Then, slowly, the carp would rise to the surface and just kind of lay there. Gary said that you could literally hear the carp thinking, hang on a second… What’s happened here? This isn’t right! 

On a couple of occasions, Gary felt that he had enough time to slide the net right under him before he worked it out but while they all took a few seconds to solve the riddle, when they woke up, they surged away with powerful swipes of their tails. I can only imagine the massive surge of adrenalin that must have coursed through his veins when he was met with a solid resistance that moved!

Although the method was very effective this week, it’s not something that’s going to work week in week out. You need a really specific pattern of carp behaviour in order to even be able to think about using it. You then have to have all the skills necessary to execute it and be prepared to hold a crouched, “heron like”, pose for hours at a time to be successful. It is not a method for the lazy angler! 

It’s easy to dismiss such an old fashioned technique as being a “small carp only method” or something that’s only practised by boys or novices. The truth is that it’s a method that the mainstream carp angling media have chosen to forget about for a generation or two because it doesn’t sell gear. It’s a shame really as so many anglers are missing out on one of the most exciting and effective methods. Much to my shame it’s not something that I’ve done much of in recent years but Gary has inspired me to rectify this and I hope he’s inspired you. His smallest carp on the float was 27 lbs and biggest was 35lbs. Simply outstanding 👏👏👏

One last one?

As they all had to leave early Saturday morning, Gary made the most of his time by fishing as late as he could Friday and was rewarded with another special capture. This time, I’ll let Gary tell the incredible tale: ‘This one was taken off the top, as I sat there stalking, he came drifting by sucking at the stuff on top so I lifted my float out the water and dangled the corn on his nose and down the hatchet it went and again he had no idea what happened and this time I managed to get the net under him very quickly however he paid me back in the cradle lol.’ Priceless!

Everyone went home happy

It’s not easy trying to have a family holiday and a fishing holiday. There are always compromises to be made but somehow Gary managed to do it all. He took his family out on various trips, he successfully stalked carp from the margins using the lift float method every single day and he even clocked up a few nights.

Congratulations mate, that was really special.

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