It’s getting to that time of the year when the carp start to spend more time close to the bottom and catching them hard on the bottom becomes a viable option. Today I am fishing Messingham Sands Fishery, where this is one of the key methods for the big carp that you need to catch to win here. Big catches are on the cards, with triple-figures easily achievable. These big super-strong carp will put a real strain on your gear, so it is important to get your tactics right to be in with a chance of winning.

Today I am fishing a peg just along the ‘spit’ in the centre of Island Lake. In front of me I have a large island, along with several snag bushes and beds of lilies. The margins are also lined with trees, so there are plenty of options to fish, but also lots of potential pitfalls, should a fish charge off towards cover. I have picked a couple of spots to fish, both of which are not too close to the cover. The fish here will respond to the sound of pellets peppering the surface when I feed, and drawing them away from danger gives me more chance of landing them. 

I’m using the blue 2.3mm Xitan Microbore elastic rigged through the top-two kit of my Sphere Zero G PT+. This elastic is rated at 9-13, and with a puller kit is more than adequate for landing double-figure carp. My rigs are made up with 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power with a 15cm hooklength 0.14mm Hybrid Power. To this I am using a size 14 Sphere Beast barbless hook with a bait band tied in tight to the back of the hook. The swim is about six feet deep, and as I want to catch on the bottom I have plumbed up with the rig just on depth. A moveable bulk shotting sits just above the hooklength. 

The wind is quite gusty down the lake today, so I am not going to try to fish too far out. Around 13 metres will be fine today, especially as there is no one on the adjacent pegs. I always try to fish as short as I can when the conditions are poor as this makes such a difference to your efficiency. 

Fish slightly away from features to give yourself more time to control the first rush of a carp.

A lovely Messingham Sands carp.

Sphere Beast hooks are perfect for the job.

"The key to catching consistently here often comes down to feeding."

Don’t be tempted to fish too light. Aim to land every fish you hook.

The carp here are well known for fighting really hard.

The key to catching consistently here often comes down to feeding. The carp really respond to pellets going in, so I will feed half a dozen 8mm pellets every 30-seconds. If I start getting too many lines-bites though I will increase the number of pellets that I feed, but reduce the frequency a bit to ensure more of the bait gets to the bottom. You can easily spot most of the liners, as the float dithers and pulls sideways, rather than going under positively. Try to give the bites a second to develop so as not to foul-hook too many fish. 

I am using quite big pellets both as feed and on the hook. This is a definite ‘edge’ on this lake, the carp do like a big bait. The other advantage is that silver fish, particularly skimmer bream, are a little less likely to pick up these big baits. I don’t mind catching silvers, but if you want to win then you need to make sure that you are getting through to the bigger carp. 

I will have several swims on the go in a match and may switch to a longer line on the lead if the bites aren’t coming often enough on the pole. The carp definitely do come in waves though, probably as shoals of fish move through the peg. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to switch lines, as you may get two or three fish in quick succession after a bit of a wait, and that can put another 30-pounds in the net. Similarly, it can take the carp a while to gather in numbers at the start of your session. Keep feeding regularly and don’t stop. Eventually they will turn up and then it is game on! 

There is no great secret to landing these powerful carp quickly. I like to ship back quite quickly and let the elastic do its work. Although the elastic is set quite firm, I can get back to the top-two kit quickly and then start to apply more pressure on the fish using the pulla kit. With a bit of luck, the carp will pop up right in front of the waiting net and I can scoop it before it really knows what is happening. Miss that first chance and you can often see the fight go on for two or three times longer! It might seem a small point, but this is why using a quality landing net handle, combined with a net that can be easily moved through the water is so important. Over five hours this can put several more fish in the net. 

Time flies when catching carp on the pole. In many ways this is quite a simple tactic, but one where getting into a smooth rhythm makes all the difference. Pay particular attention to feeding and getting your gear correctly balanced and big catches can easily be on the cards. 

Tight lines! 

Jim Hall

Don’t be afraid to use a heavier rig if the wind picks up.

Keep those pellets going in on to keep the bites coming.

Jim’s Gear

Sphere Zero G PT+ Pole

Cenex Hybrid Power Line 0.16mm

Cenex Hybrid Power Line 0.14mm

Sphere Bead Barbless Hook

Medium Bait Bands

0.3 gram Float

Jim’s Bait

8mm Fishery Pellets

The Sphere Zero G PT+ pole is perfect for this job.