Boat Fishing for Carp


A boat has a lot of advantages over bank fishing. First, if the carp are on the other side of the river you just hop in your boat and drive over to the fish. Since you can get closer to the fish you don't have to give yourself a hernia trying to cast to the other side. Secondly, if the carp are not biting where you are you can easily fire up the motor and tool on up the river to a spot where you think the fish are going to start biting, and all without having to repack and then setup again. Thirdly, you can put your chum right on top of the carp without them knowing you are there, no need to bring an extra spod rod. Fancy bite alarms and rod pods are not necessary but it is a good idea to have sturdy rod holders to keep your rods from being pulled out of the boat by a carp. You will be sitting right next to your rods so the hum of a screaming reel is all the bite indication you need.

If your rods are longer than your boat you need either a new boat or new rods. You can use the long Euro rods in a boat with ease providing that your fishing partner sits at the other end of your boat. The guy in the middle will have to just run to either end of the boat if he hooks into a carp. This is where the US style 6-foot rods shine. You don't need to cast far as you are already close to the fish. The shorter rods are much more convenient to use and rarely do you whack the guy in the other end of the boat with your rod tip. The shorter US style boat nets are also much easier to use than the long Euro nets and you wont need to go hand over hand on the handle just to net a carp.

Another advantage of a boat is if you hook a real BFC and it starts downriver you can follow it. I remember one time I hooked a giant carp as we were anchored above an Indian rock weir. The carp took off straight for the only gap in the dam and shot right through it. As my reel was screaming and smoke was coming off of the drag we pulled up the anchors and set out in hot pursuit. We shot through the break and into the rapids, the carp, angry that it hadn't drowned us headed for deeper waters. We of course followed, scraping the bottom of the boat in the fast current but still we remained hooked together. Finally in a calm pool I began to gain line, soon I could see my swivel. The carps tail was sending huge boils in front of me but I knew I had him beat. Just then I turned the electric motor the wrong way and neatly chopped my line in half. I had set the steering controls down on the bottom of the boat backwards, so my nifty left turn to stay even with my new PB turned into a hideous right turn which immediately ate my line. My fishing partner that day immediately put on his PFD because he had never seen me loose a BFC before and was worried I would be upset and start throwing stuff out of the boat, including him. Of course I wouldn't do that to a fishing partner, he was too heavy.

If you are taking a first timer out in your boat there are a few things you should do first. Among them is to have a little boating How-To discussion. Take your anchor for instance, it looks like any other regular old river anchor to you and your regular fishing buddies but to a newcomer it just looks like a cinder block tied to a rope. When you need the anchor thrown out fast before you are pushed through the wrong end of a rock break and sideways into the rapids you don't your new fishing partner to have to figure out why you have a rope tied to a cinder block while he is looking for a Popeye style anchor. Its also a good time to explain the nuances of anchoring. If you are going to drop anchor to fish a nice looking hole it doesn't mean throw the anchor as far away from the boat as they can but instead to drop it gently and easily to the bottom of the river. But, if you have rapids approaching and the motor wont start you want your fishing partner to be prepared to throw it out and fast.

One major concern in boat angling is going to the bathroom. Most modest men and almost all women prefer to just jump in and get their business done. This becomes a problem though when the call of nature coincides with a big school of carp finding your chum. Most boat anglers learn the old rule of one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself and therefore learn to go over the side with discretion. If you don't master holding on to the gunnels then you face the possibility of falling out of your boat while you zipper up. The most modest fishing partners will just have to wait until you get back to shore and you can find a Porta-Potty.

You do have to remember to have enough gas with you, especially if you have first timers in the boat with you. One year we took the boat out and headed upriver, which is the way you should always head if your motor is older than you are. We had a fine day carp fishing upriver but on the return trip the gas gave out. I had with me a lifelong boat angler, Tim and a firstimer on a boat, Ralph. Tim as always had brought his river pole with him even though it took up a lot of room. His river pole was 14 feet long and 2 inches thick. We used it whenever we got the boat stuck in mud and needed to pry it out, whenever a mad cow would chase us across the river for disturbing it or even as a push pole when we ran out of gas. Being old time boaters we knew we could make the best time out in the middle of the river but Ralph had somehow come to the conclusion he was stuck in a boat with two maniacs that were bent on scaring the hell out of him so he made Tim pole us along in the shallows. One nice thing about being the boat owner is you are rarely responsible for poling so you can sit back and enjoy the smooth quiet ride down river. That is another nice thing about boat fishing, you can be as quiet as you like and the fish or other wildlife wont know you are there until you are within arms length. We kept Ralph busy looking for rocks so we wouldn't get stuck again. As it was apparent to Ralph that we had already hit many rocks, as he judged from the various leaks, he took his job very seriously. Then, all of a sudden, the water exploded right in front of Ralphs face, showering him with water. We had sneaked up on a beaver and it didn't sense us until we were right on top of it, or at least until Ralphs face was right on top of it. The excitement almost scared Ralph out of the boat, it caused Tim to flail around wildly with his pole and I almost jumped out with Ralph but was afraid I might get eaten too. So if you want to keep a first timer busy and out of your hair the usual watching out for rocks routine works great and keeps them concentrated on not bothering you. But do remember to tell then not to stick their face so close to the water while they are intently watching for rocks and reassure them that there are no crocodiles in your river.

Another activity to keep firstimers busy is to have them bail the water out of the bottom of the boat. They can bail faster without wearing a PFD but its bad for morale if you are cinching yours up tight while they are bailing, you don't want them to miss a single bucketful. Sometimes we found that if the boat was a little full of water we could just start up and run at full speed for a few minutes to drain it out. This sometimes fails if twinkie wrappers are discarded on the floor of the boat and block the drain holes so always remember to bring a trash can with you.

Boat plugs, the controversy surrounds whether or not to have an extra one availiable for emergencies. The prepared boat angler never leaves home without at least a screwdriver and an old rag tucked away in his boat. The rag can be rolled up and stuffed into the plug hole quickly and efficiently in case of an emergency so extra boat plug holders may be looked down on as effeminate. Another controversy among boat owners is whether you can fish from a sail boat. Of course you can provided its not your sailboat. Do you know the damage a hook can do to a sail? Also, most sailboat owners wouldn't like it very much if you got a little bit of fish slime on their boat so its probably better to just go fishing out of boat with a working motor. You can easily test to see if your boat motor is working by putting it in a big trash can full of water and starting it. It will of course start on the first pull, you can now safely go out onto the river. The next time it will start will be the next time you stick it in a trash can to see why it didn't work on the last trip out. It never fails that the motor won't start on the lake even right after you got it to start in a trashcan. Maybe something left in the trash can clogs up one of the intake thingies and prevents the motor from starting again, maybe clean out the trashcan a little better next time.

Falling out of your boat is always embarrassing when you are fishing, especially if you are driving it at the time. One good way to fall out of your boat on a hot day is to decide you want to wet your hat to cool you off. At full speed you grab the bill of your hat and dip it in the water. The hat acts like a parachute once it touches the water and neatly jerks you right out before you even have a chance to decide if its better to fall out and save your hat or just let it go to be sucked in by the propeller. Another surefire way to fall out of your boat is to overextend the net to get a big carp. In the excitement of the battle with the carp you forget you are in a boat, the boat that took you closer to the fish in the first place, and you overextend the net and yourself and before you know it the carp is in the net and you are in the river. Your fishing partner will waste no effort in saving you from your predicament providing of course the carp looks like a new PB for him. If it was your new PB you were netting you better learn how to swim holding a net, its not that hard going down river but just try to get back upriver to the boat.

Should you practice backing up your boat trailer? Of course not, boat launch ramps are all wide enough for even the most incompetent trailer driver to reach the water. What they really need to do is make all the ramps narrow so that it scares poor boat trailer drivers from trying which will keep them from blocking the ramp and they will go home. There are a few things you want to make sure you do once you finally make it to the bottom of the landing. Of course first put the boat plug in, that's obvious. You also must make sure to untie the boat from all the trailer tie downs, just make sure not to untie the the docking rope from the front of the boat. If you put your boat in tied to its trailer the boat will either sink again or will float with the trailer cocking it down river making it almost impossible to get lined up again on the narrow boat landing. You should also make sure to set both anchors so they don't roll around on your rod tips. You could have them tied down but you never know when you might need an anchor in an emergency so its safer to just let them roll around on the bottom of the boat. Maybe a nice life preserver can be used to wedge them to keep them from sliding around.

On the subject of anchors there are many options. Cinder blocks are the most commonly used anchors. They are cheap and easily obtained. Their one drawback is their sharp edges tend to wear a hole in the bottom of your aluminum boat, especially if your guests haul in the heavy cinder block and then just drop it into the bottom of your boat. Some advanced boat owners go to the trouble of making their own concrete anchors. They take a big plastic flower pot and insert some electric cable that they have doubled over for a tie on and fill it with concrete. These make wonderful anchors and if you seen any on the bottom of the river do make an effort to retrieve it. Some wealthy boat owners actually buy real anchors that look like the ones on the big navy ships. If you find one of these on the bottom of the river make every effort to retrieve it, you can sell it back the wealthy boat owner and then get a big bag of concrete and some flower pots to make your own anchors. Don't forget the electric cable, its too late to put it in once the cement has setup.

Some people are scared to go carp fishing during a flood, but it is a fun and exciting time to go carp fishing. You can find carp in new places, like in the tops of the trees. We like to anchor behind an island by tying the boat to the tops of the trees. This also serves to keep any floating trees in the main current from hooking onto our anchor ropes and dragging you down river. Carp know what fast water is and when you hook one in a flood they simply swim out into the fast water and put their sides against the current. Make sure to have plenty of line on your reels when you go fishing for carp when its flooding. It is a good idea to have your PFD handy, especially if the tree you tied onto comes loose and starts it journey down river with you attached. Its also a good idea to carry a sharp knife to use to cut your anchor ropes in such a situation, or at least it will help you defend yourself against all the snakes that are swimming around whenever it floods.

If you take a newcomer and your dog at the same time you must justify your dog getting the front seat. Tell your new fishing friend that your dog can smell fish, of course who cant, but this will allow your dog to maintain his usual seat and when he gets wet and shakes off your new fishing partner will discover why the dogs seat is the furthest from yours. You also have to be careful when carp fishing with your dog in the boat. They have a bad habit of eating bait when you are busy dodging trees or hurriedly cutting your anchor line. When you see your dog with a big smile on his face from having just found a new snack and he has some fishing line extending from his mouth don't panic. Don't try to pull the hook out unless you can see it and reach it with your hemostats. The bigger the dog the less chance you will have to reaching far down his throat. Its best to just clip the line and hope everything comes out in the end.

Some fishermen claim that the best fishing is right along the bank. Newbies assume since you are in a boat you should be way out in the middle of the lake or river away from the bank. Old time boat fisherman that have been narrowly missed by a falling tree also claim the best fishing is out in the middle of the river.

Many people worry about the holes in your boat. Most of them are just small little pinprick holes from bumping sharp rocks, abrading concrete boat landings and rivets popping out in the rapids. It is true that taken one by one any individual hole only lets a very small amount of river seep in but taken as a group sometimes you have to just get used to your feet always being wet inside your boat. At which point does a simple carp fishing trip in a slowly leaking boat lead to death by small leaks? Normally if you have time and the carp bites have slowed down some you should start to bail before the water gets over the tops of your shoes. Its not that your shoes will be ruined, they are after all already your old shoes, but at that point all but the most heavily laden tackle boxes will begin to float around inside your boat. This is not in itself dangerous but it has an unnerving effect on any new fisherman you have taken with you. Of course when you find a new leak you will just put some duct tape over it but that will only help on the next expedition as duct tape doesn't stick well to a wet boat. There are times when you get a big hole that lets all the water in at one time. These are most commonly acquired when running the weirs at night at full speed. If you misjudge the sloughs by a foot or so the current just picks up the front of your boat and parks you right on top of the big sharp rock. You have to jump out and wrestle your boat off of the rock and continue on, after all there is not much you can do for a big hole except keep moving. If you can keep up your speed and keep the bailers spirits up and bailing fast there is almost a reasonable chance you might make it to the landing without sinking. Just make sure you go down the middle of the river where the water is deepest so the bottom of your boat doesn't drag on any more rocks and slow you down. Also, to keep the spirits of your passengers up you might want to lead them in a rousing chorus of the song "You Should be More Careful Who You Let Drive the Boat".

By Oatmeal Jack, May 2000, Potomac River, USA

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