Searching out the depths
Spring has to be by far the most productive time of year for zig fishing, but why is this? In general, fish are not in full feeding mode, but due to the rising temperatures are darting around the lake, clearing leeches and generally searching out small pockets of natural food. Depending on the temperatures, these carp will be moving at varying levels in the water column; on bright days of high pressure, they may be in the top third of the column and opposed to dull, overcast days.
During these times, zigs can prove devastating and that small fleck of colour suspended in the water column can often be all it takes to switch on the carps curiosity receptors. Mastering zigs can be tricky, but working the layers is by far the most effective way of getting them to work. At the start of the session, a marker float will come in handy when it comes to determining the depth; from here you can stagger the zigs throughout the column, working the layers in thirds.
I also like to boost my zig foam using a dedicated hookbait spray, my personal favourite being the NS one, which I have caught many carp on over the years.
Understanding weather changes
Unlike the winter when cold winds will often cause fish to hold up off the back of them, Spring winds can be the start of fish once again moving on a new wind. Spring is a time when in general, temperatures are on the rise again and as a result, carp feel comfortable moving on new warm winds.
Fresh winds bring a whole new movement of natural life, including hatching aquatic insects that are often pushed into an area quickly following a fresh wind. Carp are quick to react to these changes and will not turn down a free natural larder, so understanding and adapting to these weather movements can lead to quick success.
Fishing from the barrow and not committing yourself to one area in particular can be key to searching out and finding exactly where the fish are holding or moving about frequently. It can be tricky to know exactly where they want to be without them physically showing, so dotting about the lake and spending a few hours in likely looking areas can be far more productive than sitting it out in one swim.
I prefer to travel light, keep all of my tackle on the barrow and work from it like a mini tackle station. If needs be, I can set my brolly up and position my barrow under it. I would rather spend all day having a good look around and trying a few areas before committing to an area for the night.
Highly visual hookbaits
As you probably already know, singles can be an awesome tactic in the early spring period, firstly because they provide a bright target for the fish to home in on; especially at a time when their eyesight is adjusting to brighter light levels coming out of winter.
Secondly, singles offer intense flavour that can disperse and radiate attraction over a large area, pulling in passing fish. I like to really boost up my single hookbaits, adding a healthy dose of matching spray to really crank up the attraction levels.
I guess the single hookbait approach goes hand in hand with staying mobile and roving rods around in different areas, as you are not committing to baited areas or individual spots. I like to chop and change colours throughout the session and will often try a different colour on each rod, as certain hookbaits will work better on different days. This all depends on light levels, water temperatures etc; but I do prefer pink and yellow NS1 hookbaits, the real bright tones during the early spring period.
A set- up for all situations
More recently, I have been utlising the helicopter set- up in my approach a great deal more, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the helicopter is very adaptable and allows you to fish effectively on a number of lake- beds by simply adjusting the top bead.
Coming out of winter, many of the venues around still suffer from a large amount of lakebed debris from trees that have shed their leaves during the Autumn previous. As a result, ensuring your rig and hookbait are presented effectively away from any leaves or strands of weed that could mask the hookpoint are vital.
The helicopter presentation suits itself perfectly to the mobile approach I have spoken about, as I can move between swims and get a good idea of what the lakebed is like by feeling the lead down. Some areas will contain silt and as a result, I will move the top bead to combat this. Other spots may be firm, so I can fish the bead down close to the lead as it will have less likely plugged into the lakebed as far.
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