Early Season Carping – Try the Shallows and Mid Water

France has had a hard winter this year, many lakes were frozen for a number of weeks at the start of 2009 and even now in the first week of April we are still getting frosts. This has naturally had its effect on water temperatures.

Water temperatures are the key to fish moving and feeding in this changing time of the season. Carp naturally look for the warmest part of the lake and so we will often see them in the margins or in the upper layers of the water. This is especially true of gravel pits and deep lakes. As the sun’s rays heat the upper layers so the fish naturally drift to the top to enjoy the new felt warmth and get their lethargic, cold bodies going.

This poses a distinct problem for anglers tackling the deeper waters… fish can often be seen, active, jumping out, swirling and causing flat spots as the break the surface, but can be hard to tempt on a bottom bait. Enter the Zig rig, a n effective way of catching fish off the bottom or in mid water…


I first heard of anglers having success on this method at Gigantica a couple of seasons ago. Now this venue is extremely deep, 20-30 feet in places. Bottom baits were largely a waste of time in early spring. But the lads were getting takes on zig rigs often 15 feet or more off the bottom. Food for thought!!!

More recently my friend Ron Key landed lovely 28lb mirror on a French venue with a zig rig and a pineapple pop up. He had seen fish moving, but conventional tactics had not produced so he fished a zig and managed to get a result.

Just this week, with information I’d given to the anglers more carp were caught on long zigs while bottom baits proved less effective.

This set of circumstances doesn’t really surprise me. The first year I fished France I drifted over the venue in a boat with an echo-sounder on board. It was March and the fish were not active. It took half an hour before I actually found a single fish, but when I did I found a large number all grouped together 4 feet off the bottom in 16 feet of water.

Further investigation revealed several gravel bars in twelve feet of water. I chose therefore to place a bait here, even though it was a fair way from the area where I had found the fish. My logic was that the carp were in a comfort zone and would move laterally rather than vertically in the water to find food. This paid off and I caught number of fish before the weather warmed and more conventional tactics started to work.

I have since become convinced that the shallows and mid-water areas are where the fish can be caught in deeper lakes.

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