There are many types of carp waters available to everyone across the country from easy day ticket waters to hard syndicate waters. For a beginner to carp fishing it is best to start on the easy waters. Having just said that day ticket waters are 'easy' - that may not always be the case, as some are very hard as they are fished heavily, day in day out and thus the carp are put under a lot of pressure. A good idea therefore is to learn a little bit about the day ticket water you intend to visit beforehand. Ask in local tackle shops and/or other anglers who have fished there. With this information you should be able to guess what to expect from a session.

When I was discussing ‘baits’ I mentioned high attraction instant baits and said the majority of these are ‘ready mades’ so go equipped with these. But! Do not just follow what everyone else is doing, have a good look round and do not forget the margins. Reference back to what I discussed in my ‘Methods’ article a few weeks back. Some of these day ticket waters contain very big carp and there is a good chance of a 20lb fish so they are well worth fishing. However, realistically it will be the smaller, double-figure carp that are more likely to pick up your bait and there is a good chance, if you do your homework, to have a good catch of doubles in a day.

Some clubs have heavily stocked lakes containing a good head of doubles with the odd larger carp as well and these obviously are good value: for a one off annual payment you can go as often as you like. After several visits you will learn how to get the best from any particular water. On these lakes you will also be able to maybe start using a ‘long term’ food bait which, over time, will increase your catch rate. The carp on these waters will be less pressured as opposed to day ticket waters so the opportunities for stalking will be more. I have fished several of these waters over the years and have often been surprised how readily the carp will react to margin baiting and stalking when the majority of anglers are concentrating on further out spots.

The next types of waters are club waters that are less heavily stocked and will contain several 20lb carp and perhaps a 30lber or two. These waters are obviously harder and will require a ‘learning curve’ to get the best from. It will probably take several sessions to get a take but as you learn a lot more about these, what will be clever cautious carp, by using observation and a quiet approach, success will come. A good point about these waters is that there will only be a few regular members fishing for the carp. If you come across friendly and do not quiz the regulars incessantly then they will soon start to share knowledge about the water with you and soon a good atmosphere evolves for everyone's benefit.

Once these type of waters are mastered then the real keen ambitious carp angler moves onto the very hard waters that contain few but big carp. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, or perhaps there is not enough time available to an individual to get the best from these waters, so a lot of carp anglers stop at the waters just mentioned above. If though you ever move onto these very hard waters then be prepared mentally for many blanks and long waits between captures. However, if you are determined and fish sensibly the results can be achieved and are worth it, with a 40lb plus carp in the net, all the blanks will be forgotten. At the extreme of these waters are lakes like Wraysbury or Yateley North and Car Park lakes where it could take a few years even to catch your first carp. These waters are for the dedicated few though with almost unlimited time on their hands. Do not be fooled into thinking that these carp are caught every week, they are not.

These are only very rough generalisations about the broad types of carp waters available to us all. I strongly recommend that if you are new to carp fishing, join a local club that controls one or more waters that contain carp. Fortunately the majority of club waters do have carp in them so waters with carp up to 15lb or so are very common right across the country. I would start fishing these, trying different things and getting to know your quarry. Supplement this fishing with a few visits to day ticket waters that may contain some bigger carp. As your knowledge grows, look for other club waters that perhaps hold a few 20lbers, get to know them and get the best from them before moving up again, and so on. This learning curve can take several years but you will learn a lot more and have far more fun doing this rather than diving straight in and fishing one of the country’s big carp waters or some other hard syndicate water.

Be realistic in your personal targets and do not try to run before you can walk. Be happy with whatever you catch and move up the ladder slowly, it will be much more rewarding that way. Finally though remember whatever water you are fishing carp are carp and they will respond to the same tactics as long as you adapt slightly and be wise and quiet. They are there for all to catch.

Carp fishing is a very rewarding side of angling but do not get taken in by all the hype and do not treat those who do not fish for carp as lesser beings. Be courteous and respect all other anglers fishing the waters you fish no matter what they are fishing for. Treat the fish you catch well and put them back unharmed for others to catch. Remember, what you think is a small carp now, was once the fish of a lifetime, and it still is for many others.

Have fun!