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We spend a day at the lake with Mike Turpin and his mate Matt as they put the Long Rods to good use at Bobs Fish Lake in NC. Mikes no slouch when it comes to pick ups and runs the highly su
ccessful L&M Carp Treats; turns out he can think his way to carp or two as well. Look out for some great tips in this paylaking special.
Sunday morning finally rolled around and we were off to the paylake. This was my partner’s first trip to a paylake, and mine for a full day of long rod fishing.
Fishing paylakes, southern style, is a bit different than fishing wildwater. First of all, we are fishing tournaments for money at the paylakes. For those that have never fished a paylake, you have to pick your spot after your name/number has been called by a drawing, so we always hope for an early draw. Time is money for us, so our equipment has to maximize efficiency. As a result, many southern paylakers use rods that are 6 ½-7 ½ ft. long with medium heavy to heavy actions. With these rods, I can get the fish on top of the water faster. That makes getting the fish in the net faster and getting my lines back in the water faster in hopes for a bigger fish before time runs out.
We arrived at Bob's Fish Lake around 7:30 am to find the gate still locked, but shortly after, Eric (the Pond Boss) showed up to let us in. After a short talk with Eric, we were off to check out the lake. I had fished this lake before andhad some idea of where I wanted us to try to fish. The area was a hot spot I had noticed from a past trip; it seemed to be a little deeper water plus there were fish in that area this morning.
Ok, lake checked out and it was back to the shack to pay our entry fee and wait for the 8:30 draw time. While we waited, I mixed up our pack baits and got the pickups ready.
At our paylakes, the bait must stay on the bottom of the lake. With this limitation, paylakers came up with a way to attract the carp as soon as possible; packbaits. Packbaits are ingredients that can be mixed together, molded up in a ball, and cast out without falling off the hook. They break down quickly in the water and make a nice pile of food and attractants for carp to eat around our pickups. There are many ingredients used in packbaits, some of them are: rice, millet, crack corn, soybean, grits, oats, bread and chow…and there are many ways to use these. The pickups are the baits we actually put on the hook. Corn puffs, Kix, Sugar Smacks, fake puffs, corn pops, and fake corn are examples of the pickups we use, just to name a few; the list could go on and on. All of these items can be fished whole, cut in half, plain, or even flavored. A lot of paylakers dip their pickups in a flavor or glug before they pack their packbait around it. I use L & M Carp Treats for my pickups at pay lakes
and in the wild. For those that have never seen or used a carp treat, they are pre-flavored corn puffs ready to use right out of the package. They are available in many flavors at www.carptreats.com. These can be used on a hair or right on the hook. I usually use the same flavor on both hooks. If I’m fishing a 3 or 4 rod lake, I try different flavors on each rod until I find the flavor they like. I’m sure there are many ways that fisherman hook their puffs; I like to find the husk on the puff and stick my hook in there just enough for the hook tip to come out, that way it’s easier for the fish to take it. Today’s packbait would be trout chow and grits, with L & M Carp Treats as my pickups.
Time for the draw. We gathered around the shack where a large board with a map of the lakes (Bob’s has 2 lakes to choose from) stood. The first name was called, not us. The second name was called, not us. I was watching the board in hopes nobody would pick the spots we wanted. The fourth number was called… it was us! We got the spots we wanted so it was time to set up.
Now, a little about our rigs for fishing. Sinkers must be used in paylakes. Their weight ranges from ¼ oz. to 1oz most of the time. Most paylake fishermen use a 3 way swivel to attach two hooks to the main line, usually 12-20 lb test. I use a single swivel most of the time. There are many different sizes and brands of hooks used in paylake fishing. I use between a size 4 to a size 2/0, depending on the time of the year and the pond I’m fishing. The hooks are tied to mono or braided leaders from 2 to 6 inches long. The rod holders are made to cup the reels, which are usually round baitcasters, unlike the spinning reels most other carpers seem to use. The rods are also pointed downwards most of the time so when the fish bites, it will pull the rod straight out. Some fishermen use floats, putty, or alarms to tell when they have a bite.
At 9am, the horn sounded. It was time to fish. We would be fishing until 5pm. I had been talking with my partner, Matt, about the lake rules and where to cast on the pond while we set up. The fish seemed to be on the rope that morning so the longrods would help us hit the rope with every cast. This was different from the usual 2 to 10 feet I usually cast out to. Matt had a little trouble at first, he had never used a chow pack and didn’t know how hard to pack his bait or cast his rod. It didn’t take long for him to figure it out. We were on the fish right away. By 9:30am, we had a nice little 11.6 in the net. Shortly after, Matt had a screaming run that turned into a nice 14.1. He was off to the scales with his first paylake fish! Fishing was a little slow for the fisherman around us, but we were on the fish. By 5pm, we had caught around 14 fish between us; 4 fish were taken to the scales for a chance to win the three $100 spots and one $80 spot. Our biggest fish was 15.8, big enough for the third $100 spot!
It was a fun and profitable day for me and Matt, a first time Paylaker. I’m sure we’ll be out again soon.
I’ve included the trout chow and grits packbait recipe we used on this day. Hope you have as much success with it as we had.
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