Last time we spoke about targeting our smaller municipal dams and lakes in search of big carp, commonly referred to as Urban Fishing. Although exciting and challenging, I honestly prefer spending time on our bigger wilder waters. I suppose the main reason for this is that I’m a bit of a bush baby and have a deep passion for the outdoors. The only problem is that we don’t all have the time to spend weeks on end at these waters as they are generally far away from home, and unless you’re blessed enough to be a guide, you are limited for time. I refer to these far away big water trips as a holiday, and I would rather spend a week on the banks of a wild water, than a holiday at the sea. My boys tend to be quite content with this, my daughter not so much.
I’m sure most of you big carp anglers, Urban or not, have considered a trip into the wild, not only for the fish you may or may not catch, but for the incredible experience. I believe it is a challenge that must be experienced by every big carp angler, and once you have tried it, whether you blanked or banked, it touches your soul and you will be planning your next trip almost immediately. Besides the peace and quiet, the stars and evening sounds, the nature and wildlife, your chances of catching something really special that no one has caught before, are very real. When you do connect with a big wild carp, you are in for the fight of your life. They are incredibly powerful and very capable of pushing your fishing skills, and tackle to the limit. So it goes without saying that you need to be well prepared for these conditions which are somewhat different to the small waters you have mastered.
Most anglers associate big waters with long distance fishing, which is true any many cases, but not all. Reading the water properly upon arrival is of utmost importance and if this is done correctly, your chances of catching something will increase significantly. Other anglers on the bank will determine if you should try a margin rod or two, provided the margins look carpy. I don’t have enough space here to go into detail on the various ways of reading a water and identifying potential holding areas or patrol routes, but your experience and gut feel should point you in the right direction. All I can say is that I have caught some fine specimens not too far from the bank from quite a few big waters, where there was no need for a boat, except of course if you’ve chosen to give the snaggy areas a go. So it is possible to hone in on your casting skills on our bigger waters which will obviously require the right rod and reel combination to do so. I don’t suggest you take along the stiff bank angling rods that are capable of casting a mile, especially when combined with a reel loaded with ultra-thin line to help you do so. Your chances of hooking into a big carp is always a possibility, so your tackle needs to be ready to handle such an occasion. 12ft rods with a test curve of 3.5lbs paired with a reel that has been spooled with at least 12lbs high quality line and a tough abrasion resistant leader will be perfect for the job at hand. It goes without saying that should you decide to fish the margins or a little further, the campsite needs to be set up a short distance from the rods, and the campfire needs to be made behind the tents, away from the water. Silence is the key to success here, basically the same as with your Urban exploits. Another tip I can give you is to turn the volume down on your alarms and have the receiver indicate where the action is.
Some of the bigger waters are a little wilder which would require the use of a steady high adjusting rod pod, which can give you the option of lifting the rod tips up so that the line is free of bankside and marginal grass, or structure. Stability and strength are also key to selecting the right pod for the job. Those big waters are capable of hosting a few serious storms and winds, and the last thing you need is to have your prized rods and reels being smashed into the ground, or ending up in the muddy water. Over the last few years I’ve started using my 10ft rods on the bigger waters, only if I’m boating my lines out though, and I can honestly say that the bring me a lot more joy than the 12s. They are easier to handle when dropping the lines and I have found them to not only handle a fighting big carp a lot better, but getting them to the surface much quicker. Provided they have enough back bone of course, otherwise it may take a little longer with softer actioned rods.
Some anglers prefer landing nets with shorter handles when fetching their fish with a boat, but in all honesty it makes no difference to me. I think a short handle will be more suited to a shorter rod, but that’s just my opinion; different strokes for different folks. It’s quite obvious that you will be taking a lot more tackle with you to a bigger water than you would an Urban water as your stay is generally longer. More rods will go with just in case there’s another spot that looks carpy away in the corner somewhere, or off a point that keeps talking to you. The bivy will need to be big enough to accommodate all your camping gear and larger luggage items, which is going to be a fair amount of kit.
If haven’t been to a big water yet, I suggest you need to start thinking about getting into the wild. In South Africa you haven’t fished until you’ve fished in the wild.