Guest Post by Lisa Rowe
I must admit, about a year and a half ago I had no idea that people fished specifically for carp. My fiancé, John Melone, introduced me to the species specific sport when we first started dating, and I have been hooked (pun intended) ever since! I had quite a few advantages that most wouldn’t when they first start off on their adventure in to carp fishing, namely someone who had over six years of species specific fishing under his belt (thanks John!), the right fishing gear, and an abundance of great fishing spots in the area. And thanks to my passion and growing love for these fish, we have been hitting the water hard over the last year and had a record 22 and 26 fish weekend right at the peak of spawn season.
Carp fishing is not the easiest to figure out on your own, so here is my first installment on European carp fishing: What is Euro Style?
How many of you can raise your hand and say you have caught a fish 30 pounds of heavier? There are not many people who can lay claim to that challenge, but it isn’t that hard. Carp fishing in the United States is not as prominent as it is in European countries, but it is slowly becoming more popular in fishing communities across the country. Unfortunately, carp are still thought to be “garbage fish” and are not considered a sport fish to many fisherman in the US. The fact that carp are not primarily targeted by fisherman has led to amazing beauties weighing in at 40 pounds and more all over the country.
I have to admit I wasn’t so in love with fishing at first until I started catching more carp. The feeling you get when you see a monster on the end of your line makes your heart pound, your adrenaline rise and gives you a rush you crave once you land a slob of a fish on the bank. As they get bigger, that rush only gets better! It takes some finesse and talent to land a decent size carp, especially during pre-spawn season when the fish are full of spunk and vinegar. I remember shaking with excitement the first time I landed a decent fish, to the tune of 19 pounds and 2 ounces. Not that big, but I have only been fishing for carp for about a year. My personal best is now 24 pounds 14 ounces, which I have tied twice during this past summer.
Carp fishing gives me something to be proud of and talk about with my family and friends, and I get to show off my photos of my catches and talk about my fishing adventures. But when I am out on the bank and my alarms go screaming as I get a run – that is the real reason why I fish for carp. The thrill of not knowing what is on the end of you line until you get it closer to net it. The fact that you can catch beautiful fish and sometimes a rare fish, like a mirror or koi, is exciting. Plus I enjoy trying to out fish my seasoned veteran fiancé. Without him, I wouldn’t have known where to start when trying to fish for carp, especially when it comes to gear and the European style of fishing.
What is Euro Style?
So what is the European style of fishing for carp? This entails 12 foot rods, baitrunner reels, a rod pod, alarms, swingers and a lot of patience. Our rigs vary depending on the location and the bite, but we typically use a hair rig type setup with some sort of feeder weight (more to come on baits and setups later).
Carp fishing is not an active type of fishing. You bait up your rods, throw them out, and then wait for a fish to strike. If you are lucky, you don’t wait too long, but that isn’t guaranteed. I have spent 8 hours sitting on the bank, baiting, recasting, and waiting with no luck. But it is the days that you are on the fish that make up for the days that you are not.
So why 12 foot rods? Trust me when I say this is the way to go. The very first carp I ever caught was on my little 6 foot rod and the little 10 pound carp took a lot of effort to reel in and land. I didn’t even know what I had at the time, all I knew is it was putting up one heck of a fight. Fishing with 12 foot rods takes some of the muscle out of the process and helps tire out the fish before landing it. You don’t want to pull in a fish that still has a ton of fight it in or else you will have a flopping mess on the bank. I wouldn’t trade in my 12 footers for anything smaller! They make short work of larger fish and ultimately give you more control when you are reeling in your catch.
You may also be wondering what a baitrunner reel is. This type of reel allows line to free spool off the pit when the line is pulled on. This allows a fish to pick up your rig and run with it without putting any pressure on it, other than whatever weight or feeder you are using. Since you are not actively casting or holding your rod, when the fish is ready to take your bait your rod is ready to go. You just have to pick up your rod, disengage the baitrunner and then it is game on!
Since we aren’t holding on to our rods 100% of the time, we use a rod pod to hold our fishing rods until a fish strikes. Our pods can each hold 2-3 rods and we have outfitted them with alarms to help indicate when a fish is on our bait or has (hopefully) taken our bait. The alarms sense any movement in the line and will send an audible noise that alerts us of some potential action. When a carp picks up the bait and runs, the alarms go off until the rod is picked up. These are great for someone who doesn’t want to sit all day and watch their rod tips.
We also use swingers to help keep the tension on the line tight, and they serve as another bite indicator. Swingers can be used without alarms, and are suggested if you are fishing an area that does not get a lot of pressure. Sometimes the sound of alarms can scare off fish no matter how low the setting.
At the end of your line, you can choose a variety of setups based on the water you are fishing. There are so many different techniques out there, such as zig rigs, feeders and weights, hair rigs, boilies, plastic corn, etc. It is best to find something that works for you and the water you fish.
Now that you know a little of the basics about European style carp fishing, you can start catching your own beauties! And don’t be disappointed if you don’t catch a lot or the biggest fish right away. Practice makes perfect, but it is well worth it to see a beautiful carp on the bank.