Carp are a very visible species, by this I mean they can be located in the water we plan to fish fairly easily but we must be quiet and stealthy. The carpís visible nature can be manipulated by us to put some fish on the bank. Broadly speaking, carp fishing methods can be put into two categories, stalking and static. I will look at stalking first.

Carp can be stalked in any kind or type of water, locating them by careful observation. Obviously if the water is clear then they will be easier to see but even in the murkiest of water they can be located. Carp love the margins of a lake and also weed, or anywhere near a snag, such as a fallen tree. A pair of Polaroid sunglasses will make this sort of fishing far easier. These sunglasses cut out the surface glare on the water and enable the angler to see far easier into the water.

So equipped with a pair of Polaroidís, and a bucket of bait, when arriving at the chosen water the first thing to do is creep around. Look in to all the various overgrown margins and weedy areas. If a quiet approach is made some carp are likely to be found either laying up quietly or slowly moving along the margins. The way to catch these carp is to find some areas right in the edge where they will feel it is safe to feed. Clear gravel or sandy shelves, especially if they are near weed or snags area ideal. By introducing a little bait onto these areas and sitting quietly for an hour or so, carp will move onto the bait and start feeding. This is a very exciting sight and one to get you itching to get a bait in the water. Do not be too hasty though; wait until the carp move off a little way before ever so gently lowering a bait into the water to rest on the clear area where the carp had been feeding.

Set the rod well back so very little of the rod-tip protrudes over the edge of the bank and keep the line very slack. Before long the carp will return and commence feeding again and if all goes well, a bite will be received very quickly. Very little weight is required as there is little if any casting required but a weight of around a quarter of an ounce will ensure the bait and line are laying nicely on the bottom. The rest of the rig should be kept very simple. Use a braided hooklink as these lie flat better than mono and use a very sharp hook of a size in proportion to the bait. There are two other options in this situation. One is to freeline a bait, using the bait as weight, but to do this you need to see the carp actually pick the bait up and strike when it is in its mouth, so a large, visible bait should be used, cockle or shrimp are good. The other option is to floatfish but if the water is very clear then the line could spook the carp. Floatfishing is best in murky waters, which I will discuss next.

In murky water location is done not so much by seeing the carp but by looking out for signs of their presence. On lakes with very silty beds, carp can be located by clouds of silt created as they root around in the mud. These carp are asking to get caught and the best way is to drop a bait into the cloud of mud. A natural bait such as a lobworm or slug is a good bet or perhaps a large piece of breadflake. For bite indication, a small self cocking float set over depth is used, cast the float and bait into the mud cloud and wait. Bites will come quickly or not at all, so if the carp moves off a bit, cast to it again. The carp will take the bait without suspicion and the float will just sail away. This is fun fishing. As the carp will probably be relatively small, keep to the 8lb bs line we discussed last week. The other stalking tactic on murky water is to walk around the whole lake, baiting up three or four spots and then keep walking round looking at the baited spots until bubbles are seen over the bait, or clouds of silt are seen. Again a float can be used, a self-cocking float or a waggler is best. Bites may be slower in coming so wait until you are sure the carp have gone before moving on.

The last classic way of stalking carp is to catch them on floating baits off the surface. Carp will be easy to see even in murky water when they are basking on top of the lake in sunny weather. They will readily take floating baits but can be very suspicious at times. To overcome this shyness a stealthy approach will work. Do not be in too much of a hurry to cast out. As with the other forms of stalking discussed, observation is paramount. Catapult out some loose feed and see the carps reaction. After a while they should start taking some baits and when they seem more confident, this is the time to cast. If the carp are very close a freelined bait would be best but it is probable that some sort of weight will be required.

There are many types of surface controllers, as they are called, available but choose the lightest necessary to avoid too much of a splash. Again we can get away with the light line as this will be less visible to the carp plus we should be able to keep a hooked fish away from danger. Bites will be dramatic but do not strike too soon, wait until you are sure the carp has taken the bait for sure - they will often swirl at the bait instead of taking it in their mouths.

The other method of carp fishing is static fishing. This is the sit and wait part of carp fishing -however it is not chuck and chance fishing! Time observing the water before casting out will pay dividends. Look for carp leaping or swirling on top. If no carp can be seen then cast a lead around the intended swims looking for features such as weedbeds and gravel bars or any feature that you think the carp may like to feed near to. Once found mark the feature with a marker float and then ensure any loose feed is introduced accurately to the marker and ensure the actual casts are spot on. It is no good baiting an area accurately and then casting ten feet away. Feature finding is an art in itself and one I will cover another time.

Static fishing is a slow business but do not be tempted to keep casting, once in position leave the baits there for the carp to find, often bites come totally out of the blue after the bait has been in the water for many hours, or even days.

These are the two broad methods of carp fishing and which to choose very much depends on the water you are fishing and the pressure the carp come under from anglers and how busy the water is whilst you are there.

Next week I will take a look at baits.

Have fun!