Awakenings...Early Season Carping with Michael Koester

The winter this year was very cold; the lakes were frozen from the end of December until the beginning of March. Due to these conditions and a couple of European carpshows that I did for Korda, my fishing didn't start until after the big thaw. This time of the year (right after the thaw) was always very good, as the warmth from the sun reached the fish once again, and they started to move around looking for a meal. Despite this, it still took the excitement of participating in the carpshows...and a beer or three while there, to get over the late start to my carping year.

On Friday the 13th of March, I made a short appearance in my office and left at noon to pack up the car and drive to my chosen venue. I had had the chance to prebait for 2 days with 1 kg of pellets and 1kg of boilies at two swims, and felt quite confident. The rods were rigged with running leads and a semi-fixed system with PVA bags. I fired out a few boilies and fed an additional 1kg of pellets into the swims. The sun was shining and my rods were in by 2:30 pm. My friend, Guido, would be coming around 4:30pm, so I had two hours to watch the lake for any signs of feeding fish. I walked around the lake and climbed up trees to get better sight angles, but I could not see a single fish in the “hot” areas. Later, while jumping from a wooden seat, I saw a carp bolt off. While examining that area a bit more, I could see some patches which had been cleaned off at one of my baited areas. My confidence climbed higher after seeing another carp head and shouldering in the same area! At 4:15pm, I got a single bleep, followed by a screaming run on my right hand rod. After a short fight, I netted my first carp for 2009! While taking pictures with my catch, I noticed that it was the same one I had caught in January 07. A welcome fish of approximately 17 lbs, who had a liking for my boilies, evidenced by the generous amount of  "gifts" he deposited on my landing mat!  


The night resulted in no additional carp, but Guido and I both caught bream, showing that the location and the baiting was on target. The water temperature was about 5 degrees C, or 41 degrees F, numbers warm enough where the carp would feed, but still cold enough to cause lengthened "gaps" between feeding times.

The morning greeted us with a few single bleeps, but it seemed to be the result of bird activity over my baits. While reeling in my lines to leave, I noticed one starting to twist to the left and I felt a little bit of resistance. A really small carp, approximately 1lb, was on the end of the line. A fish that was bred in the pond had taken my bait, but made no indication. It was the smallest carp I`d ever caught on a snowman rig.

The 20th of March was slated for the next adventure on the lake, so I prebaited approximately 4kgs of boilies before leaving. When I reviewed my fishing log (a tool I think everyone should utilize), I noticed that the beginning, through mid March, was always a good time to get a few biggies out of the lake.  After this period of time, the carp activity in the lake would die down for a while. The weather forecast called for quite warm weather on Tuesday and Wednesday and the return of winter-like weather on Thursday. Well that was not so good, eh ? I had the whole week full of work and only a little spare time on Wednesday morning; having a last appointment with a client at 7 pm Tuesday night didn't allow time for an overnighter into Wednesday either. I would be missing the prime time to fish my lake!

Small pva bags can work wonders.

On Tuesday, Spring started with bright sunshine and warm temperatures; Mother Nature had made a big step forward...not to mention the ladies had put on their nice clothes too.  Everyone was happy with it, except Michael, who was more than pissed off to go to the office. When I sat down at my desk, I saw my answering machine flashing. It took me half an hour to push the button to listen to the 

message.......Yesssssssss! My client could not come at 7 p.m because of...I couldn't remember and didn't really care!  All I knew was I was going fishing! I hurried to clean my desk and drive home to sort out my tackle.

Eleven in the morning and I was on the way to my lake. I suddenly saw everything from a different angle; the trees had turned from gray to green and the ladies also looked nicer! After making a quick stop at the gas station, I had all the stuff I needed e.g. food, beer and some cigarettes... At 1 pm, I opened the gate to the lake, and even if it was midweek, I had the fear that someone would have the same idea as I had. A long minute later, I saw.... nothing! Pukka! I felt like a little child who had gotten his first cookie. Awesome!

After a quick walk around the lake, and looking into the “feeding area", I didn't see a single sign of fish ,but my confidence was still good. The sun was high and warm , I even started to sweat when unloading my car. After securing my swim, I took a bucket of boilies and two kgs of pellets to prebait the area. The first stop was a swim which I prebait only; the fish should have one secure area where they can feed without beeing hooked. I saw two big fish slowly cruising in the midwater. I waited a bit and then I threw in a few pellets. Then I walked to the other spots to put in the bait. When returning to the first spot, I climbed into a tree and watched for signs of fish. When I looked into the water with my pool glasses, I saw a big fish over the spot. My heart started to pump and I could feel a lump in my throat!  Suddenly I saw something else on my left side. I refocused and saw another fish, tail up, over the baited area. Well I´ve seen this occur a few times in the middle of summer, but in the springtime?! I just had to breathe for a few seconds because after the sighting, I had forgotten to do so. I knew I had to be calm so I wouldn't fall out of the tree!  When I finally arrived back to my swim, everything was like a film that was running.  My confidence was so high, I thought I could not struggle.... not today. The lines went in with fresh rigs and the usual snowman, topped with an Enterprise fake corn. I made myself a quick brew and set everything up. The time passed and I scanned the water for signs of feeding fish, but nothing happened.

A fine early season capture.

I walked around the lake to where I had previously spotted the feeding fish... nothing! Come on, that could not be; I feed the fish and then they ignore the spot? I walked back to my swim and opened a can of liquid bread (beer) to calm down. Around 5.30 pm, after a cigarette, I saw a fish crashing out in the middle of the lake. My confidence came back, and half an hour later, another fish crashed out of the water...and another; I saw at least 20 fish show.  I also noticed that when they jumped, the carp exited the water in full length and shook their heads. It seemed as if the fish were doing it as a result of feeding on water snails or other little lake buggers. Then it suddenly stopped. My confidence was super high at this moment, and at 6:20, my right hand rod went off. A full, alarm-melting run, a nice battle, and the first fish of the session was in the net. After recasting, I had to wait until 7:30 for the next fish. Same rod, same spot, and a 25lber; a good fish.  The action was not over. After a few fish "showed" over the baited area, I had another melter at 8:30, 9:30 and 10:30 pm. The fish had been upper doubles and another 20lb+ common. Three and a half hours of feeding and rolling fish; that´s quite unusual in these conditions because the water was only 6 C or about 43 F! I was full of adrenaline and could not sleep up to 4 am, but I did not hear any more activity after 10.30 pm catch.

The session on the 20th of March, in winterly conditions, produced only one fish for me on a pop up rig fished from the lead, 10cm over the bottom. The fish did not show and there were no signs of feeding fish like midweek. When thinking about the session on Tuesday, I must say that it was “The Awakening” of the lake, when the fish start to feed for the first time, and then fall into hibernation again. Well, I am a lucky sod and I should play the next lottery, eh ? Sometimes you win and sometimes Mr. Carp takes his share. So get out and enjoy your fishing as much as I do..... I can´t wait to go out again and next year they will awake too.

Carpe Diem - a carp every day







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