During the winter the carp are under 2 or 3 feet of ice - probably feeding very little. As the ice melts and the shallow bays start to warm up in advance of the main water body, the carp move in to first feed up and then to spawn. Because carp are warm water fish they are very influenced by water temperatures. At temperatures below 8C Canadian carp are very difficult to tempt and experience so far suggests that you might as well go sightseeing rather than waste countless hours behind motionless bobbins. Above 8C and up to 14C you are in with a chance. The problem in May is finding suitable water where the water is warm.

It is important to remember that a huge water body (60,000 acres) such as the impoundment of the St Lawrence we were fishing can be 100 feet deep. It takes a long time for a huge volume of water such as this to warm up. You need then to find sheltered shallow bays where the water, while in contact with the much warmer air (as much as 25C) warms rapidly. Carp know instinctively to head for these bays and because the shallow areas are fewer than the deep areas, you get a concentration effect. You can end up with thousands of carp in one bay and when this happens there is obviously potential for a great session. Later in the year carp will often be out in deep moving water and though big catches can be made then, generally the carp tend to be more widespread in their distribution.

Because of the importance of the air temperature. these shallow bays often fish better in the afternoon than the morning. A cold night can drive the carp back out into the main lake. You can sometimes see carp leaping further and further out of the bay as they clearly depart the area. The same applies in the morning when the mouth of a bay will initially be alive with carp and then they move further in. You would think that it would be possible to intercept these carp on the way in and out of the bay. So far we have found that interception tactics do not work very well. Our experience was that you were best fishing right at the end of the bay.

So much for the theory. What about actually catching these carp? The actual techniques are pretty straightforward. Whenever you go to Canada, forget all that technical stuff you read in the magazines. Your tackle needs to be robust rather than refined. Each carp has probably never been caught before so they are certainly not tackle shy Sadly we met a fellow British visitor who was full of his own opinions, the classic one being 'they are scared of big beds of bait'. Just about as barmy an idea as you can get. The number of carp involved here may be in the order of tens of thousands and though even with these numbers there are bound to be recaptures, the winter break would be more than enough to eliminate any residual memories of being caught.

With this in mind, end rigs consist of simple hair rigs tied to 12 to 15 inches of mono the same as your reel line or 2lb lower in breaking strain. I use a 3oz running lead clipped up tight, which is what we were doing in the 80's. I'm sure a 4oz fixed lead would probably work well too, but so far I have not explored the fixed lead option. I favour a minimum of 201b mono with a 25 yard 601b mono zebra mussel leader. If you do not take suitable precautions you will lose a lot of fish to zebra mussels, because every rock or tree stump is covered in them. I'm told that 150lb Power Pro Braid is also pretty resistant to mussels and I'll be trying it myself next time. Hooks need to be strong and I'm still using Partridge Jack Hiltons in sizes 2 and 4. I've never had any problems with them and I certainly do not bother to change my hooks every session or even every fish!

Rods and reels can be your standard carp rods. I took two different rods, a 31b test Daiwa Dictator pike rod and my 2.25 Daiwa Powermesh from years ago! To be honest there was not much difference in performance until the time came to cast over 80 yards to reach carp moving on the wrong side of the bay. Then the more powerful rod came into play. Reels were the smaller of my Daiwa Bite n' Runs, the 4050's because I try and keep the weight down as much as possible when flying. (Generally in May you will be fishing at 40 yards range at the most. If you need to go further these reels will still hold enough line to fish at 100 yards. If you cannot go without your big reels then you must be prepared to leave a couple of pounds of extra bait at home. I always take two of everything because you are allowed two rods on the USA side of the St Lawrence. Though you are allowed one rod only on the Canadian side, a spare set of tackle can be useful if you are prone to breaking rods!

Of course if you opt to go with Bernie Haines on the USA side you need not take rods and reels because Bernie has plenty of these for you to use while you are there. Personally I take my own because provided you fly by scheduled flights with someone like Air Canada you will have a healthy baggage allowance. Then if I break or lose any tackle at least it's my own It wouldn't look very good for a Daiwa Consultant to be fishing with Shimano rods and reels!

I like to take a good set of waterproofs because when it rains it pours. I also take boots, but will not bother in the future. Most of the places you can stay such as Bernie's and Long Sault in Canada are able to supply waders which are much more use than boots. The same applies with umbrellas, essential kit, but usually supplied on loan if you ask. I try and take as many boilies as I can. I generally go for bright coloured baits such as Starmer tuttis or banana split. These boilies are fairly cheap and I reckon 10 kg is ample per person for a week. Indeed you will have had a mega week if you get through 10kg. On my last trip I used 5kg and caught 29 twenties including 5 thirties in a week!

We tend to use maize as the back-up to boilies, using the maize as feed to try and keep the carp in your swim. Maize can be spodded (the carp do not mind no matter how big the splash!) or put out with a catapult. If you are using a boat, an initial baiting can be carried out in this manner. I like to make balls of bait using a suitable carrier such as breadcrumb. If you cannot get this when you are over there, molasses meal and corn meal will ball up nicely so you can put plenty of balls of feed in.

Feeding the swim is a controversial subject. Some people go for a mass baiting at the start while I prefer to feed a small amount, say a couple of pounds of bait to start with, then put in more bait each time I have a run. I feel that many of the areas we catch from are natural feeding areas anyway. The carp come in to feed so there is no reason to put in piles of bait. If you find an area where they are passing through then a heavy baiting might be valid. However as I have said earlier, these very shallow bays (less than 3 feet) are natural larders anyway and rather than try to make the carp feed where they would not feed anyway, it makes more sense to pick the right place right from the start!

I initially start feeding at about 40 yards and then gradually work the fish in closer. There is no point trying to pick them off at long range, unless for some reason they refuse to come in. Where two rods can be used, as in the USA, then a second swim close in can be worked up. By doing this you reduce the spooking problem you can get when you are catching a lot of fish out of one particular swim. The aim all the time is to try and catch as many fish as possible in order to get through to the larger fish. Because my biggest Canadian carp so far is 38-12, I don't feel that I have got there yet. Fish of 40 to 451b are caught fairly regularly each year, though you would not describe them as numerous. Some swims do produce these very large fish more often than others. Unfortunately these handful of areas are now well known and consequently regularly fished. There is no need to compete with other anglers because the really big fish do turn up in other areas. Unfortunately (if you can call catching loads of carp unfortunate) these fish can turn up out of the blue when you are catching smaller fish. By smaller fish, I mean fish of 25 to 351b, a very strange concept I admit! If you find an area dominated by fish of 8 to 151b, you may do well to move because in my experience it is rare to get the bigger carp amongst these.

St Lawrence carp fishing could never be called difficult. If I could catch 29 twenties in a week in the UK I would think I had gone to heaven. The effort from the angler is directed towards maximising his or her chances. You can have the fish in your swim and catch 10 fish. Or you can get the feeding right and the fine tuning of your end tackle spot on and catch 20 fish. I must admit that on some days I do not feel like making the maximum effort, after all it's not work you know! However there are other days when I give it my best. Usually these days will be when I'm on my own and I've found a good spot. Then I'll have the best opportunity of a big catch. It's great fishing with mates, but netting and weighing other peoples fish breaks the flow of your own fishing. I need to concentrate and that happens best when I'm on my own. My best day last May yielded 17 fish, 10 of them over 201b. I had two 251b mirrors and the best two commons were 33 and 38-12. I tried as hard as I could and could not have added many more fish. Interestingly you never have regrets on the St Lawrence because until you have to leave there is always the next day!

If you are interested in the St Lawrence you can book complete packages with Anglers World Holidays on 01426 221717. I will be taking a small party out next May. Anyone who is interested can contact me at The Tackle Shop, Bridge Road, Gainsborough. DN21 1JS tel: 01427 613002

( Note: And don't forget to check our Holiday pages too! Ed)