In my last blog I
mentioned that if you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift or stocking
stuffer for the tough-to-please angler on your shopping list this year - or if you just
want a great read for yourself - you should pick up a copy of Tony Benham's, Carp
Fishing In Canada.
I also detailed the
first part of a discussion I had with Benham about the fantastic carp fishing
opportunities Canadian anglers have at their doorsteps and promised I'd shared
some more thoughts, in this blog, about how Benham suggests first time (and
even experienced) carp anglers can gear up to catch big fish right out of the
With that in mind, I
asked the carp fantatic what he would recommend to an angler who has never
fished for carp before. In particular, does
the first time carp angler really need to buy all the sophisticated equipment we
see the tournament pros using on television, or is there an easy way for them to use their
existing spinning and baitcasting equipment?
"Take a little
time to better understand the fish and effective rigs," Benham says,
"and then go after carp with gear you already have! A long, medium-action walleye or steelhead
rod is often ideal. You can always move
up to carp specialty tackle later if you choose. I talk about carp behaviour and target
locations in Chapter 1 of my book. Then
I cover some great tactics, baiting strategies and equipment set-up after that.
"A neat thing about fishing for carp is you can catch them on simple baits
that you have in the fridge or the pantry and you can use the spinning or
bait-casting gear you already own. The
key is to figure out where carp hang out and how they behave (they are supreme
adapters) in your target location. Then
you can tailor your tactics to the situation.
As I cover in the book, carp can be caught in a range of cool ways from
easy, hands-free, self-hook rigs to more high-finesse float and quiver-tip
set-ups that demand full angler engagement.
The trick is to pick the right tactic for the chosen venue."
With this in mind, I asked
Benham what he would recommend the beginning carp angler use for bait and how he or she should rig it up?
brand-name carp baits are now on the market here in Canada," Benham says, "including
flavoured pastes and ready-made doughballs called boilies. I've tried most of them and, in some
situations, they can really make a difference.
But, hands-down, my two top carp baits are sweet corn and white bread.
Both these humble options are superb carp attractors. Plus, they are inexpensive and as close as
the corner store. I outline a host of
other excellent 'home-brew' bait options in Chapter 6 - including crumb mixes
that you can use to draw carp into an area and get them actively feeding.
"Rigging baits like sweet corn and bread is simple!," Benham
explained. "As a rule, you can fish
them right on the hook shank with the point exposed so it's sure to drive
home. Or you can fish them on an
odd-looking but often deadly set-up called a hair-rig (which hangs the bait off
the bend of the hook on a short loop of mono or braid). I explain hair rigs fully in the book. For new carpers just getting into the game, though,
I suggest serving up these baits on easy bolt-rig set-ups which let you sit
back and relax until a big carp hooks itself and tears off toward the far
shore! I devote Chapter 2, by the way, entirely
Okay, now that we
know how to rig up to get started, I asked Benham to share a couple
of his favourite big carp fishing locations.
easy one," says Benham. "The
best carp spots in Ontario
are the ones closest to wherever you call home!
Carp are spread right across the province and most anglers already know
local spots where carp hang out - even if they haven't fished for them. A carp can grow very large in a small pond or
shallow creek. But I'd say, generally,
as with other species, the bigger the body of water, the better the chance of
bagging a giant. So there is rarely a
need for a long drive to catch monster carp!
"That said, I'm convinced the biggest carp reside in our mega-water
systems like the lower Great Lakes and St.
Lawrence. The MNR, as well as local
tackle shops, are great sources of information for hot regional carp spots."
What about carp
fishing opportunities outside of Ontario,
honest," said Benham, "although I’ve logged countless hours fishing
for carp in Ontario,
I've never done so outside of the province.
That’s simply because there are so many great carp spots within a few
hours of my home in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). But there are lots of other carp hot spots
right across the country from Eastern Canada to British Columbia. So a carp road trip is certainly an option I
look forward to! Personally, my road
trips beyond Ontario, to date, have been for species or types of fishing I can't access closer to
Something else, I
was curious about, was the biggest and/or most memorable carp Benham had ever
"My biggest carp is just a nice-sized-bass under 40 pounds," Benham
said with a hearty chuckle, before quickly adding, "No offense to the bass
guys. After all, I'm one of them! I've caught some real giants but I've not
broken the elusive 40-pound mark with a carp that I've actually weighed on a
quality scale. It's easy to eye-ball a
big carp and peg it at 40-pounds when it's really 'just' a 25. The fact is, like other big-bodied species
such as salmon, catfish or muskies, any carp over 20-pounds is as much an animal
as it is a fish, since they get so broad across the shoulders and so thick
across the back. A bona-fide 40-pound
carp is a rare and amazing creature – but they are out there.
"My most memorable carp, surprisingly, aren't necessarily the biggest
ones. One fish, in particular, that
comes to mind is a bright-gold 10-pound carp I caught this summer on a center-pin
float-rod in a tight-banked spring creek just 20 minutes from my home. It hit a kernel of sweet corn drifted through
a slow pool under a stick float - and it took off 20 yards of line on its first
run, like a big river steelhead! At one
point, it tore through the limbs of a fallen tree and I thought it was
gone. But my tiny hook and light tippet
held. I can remember my hands were
shaking and sweat was running down my face as I netted the fish about five minutes
Listening to Benham
talk about carp fishing makes it easy to share his passion, and that passion
is a key reason he wrote the book.
true," Benham said. "I wrote the
book as a tribute to the fish that galvanized my love of sport fishing - and
I’m still incredibly passionate about carp nearly four decades later. But, despite its appeal to fans like me, carp
are still an often misunderstood and under-rated sport fish here in Canada. I hope the book shatters some of the myths
and provides a great point of entry for anglers just getting into carp fishing,
as well as some fresh insights and ideas for anglers who have already caught
"As I said
earlier, I’d love to inspire young anglers to see this exciting fish in an entirely
new light. Carp offer these youngsters
the thrill of world-class sport fishing on simple baits and tackle just a bike
ride from their homes. Plus, fishing for
carp is the ideal way for these outdoors stewards of our future to become
excellent all-round anglers, from learning to tie solid knots and read water …
to setting up hooks, floats and sinkers … and fighting big, powerful fish on
light line! It is so awesome."
While you can obtain a copy of
Carp Fishing In Canada
at select tackle shops and book retailers, the easiest way is ordering a
copy on-line at: www.carpfishingincanada.com