FISHING matches, and especially ones representing your country, brings a whole different dynamic to carp fishing and an added pressure to perform that you don’t really get in your day-to-day angling.
You need to be able to react quickly, efficiently and calmly at all times. Staying focused for 48 hours (or, if it’s an international match, 72 hours) can be tiring, but bringing all those elements together is what can help you win matches. That, along with your technical angling ability.
When it comes to angling skills, there are some key areas that we focus on in the England squad, and these are things that I and all the other ladies carry over to our everyday angling – because they’re guaranteed to put more fish on the bank if we put them into practice!
ACCURACY IS VITAL
This is a big part of being successful, especially when it comes to highly pressured waters, which are often where matches are held. You’ll regularly see people cast out, and if it’s not quite on the spot they’ve found or been baiting up they’ll say: “That will do,” or “It’s close enough.” We’d never do this in a match situation and will keep casting until that rig lands on the exact spot.
Another match tactic that can carry over well to everyday angling is recasting regularly. We analyse everything when we fish in matches and have found on many venues that the bites can often come within the first hour of having a recast.
Often, we’ll recast every two hours just to make sure that the rig is always presented well. There’s nothing worse than winding in to find that you’ve spent the last eight hours fishing with a tangled mess.
RESPOND TO SHOWS
When times are hard, and the bites aren’t coming off the baited spot, we always cast at showing fish.
That one fish could be the difference between gold and silver. If you can, it pays to have a spare rod rigged up and ready to go to cast at crashing or rolling carp (obviously you need to adhere to the venue’s rules on the number of rods). That quick bite could be the only one of your session, so don’t dismiss putting a rig on if you see signs of activity.
A SOLID SET-UP
A tactic that we use pretty much every match is solid bags. Yes, they can be a faff in the rain, but they’re worth the effort. Make them up at home and have a dozen or so ready to go when you get to the lake.
Again, they are great for casting at showing fish, or if you don’t want to commit a load of bait to an area you can just rove solid bags around until you find a spot you feel confident to put some bait on.
Watching for signs of fish is essential. This sounds really obvious, but how much are you actually watching the water, and how much time are you spending looking at your phone, scrolling through Instagram?
In a match situation, phones are used for communicating with the rest of the team if needed, and that’s it! So, during daylight hours, try putting the phone away and watch the water as much as you can. You’ll see so much more, and even just one showing carp that you might have missed if you were on your phone can lead to another fish on the bank if you decide to cast to it or respond to its behaviour.
There’s a whole lot else that I’ve learnt from fishing matches and being part of Carp Team England, but I think the biggest lessons to take home will always be, don’t get stuck in your ways, don’t be afraid to go against the grain, and always be able to adapt quickly. Best of luck on your next session!