Take when I first started to fish for carp in 1964. What we used here in N.C. was old Pflugers and Penn #9 reels. We would buy a 5ft-fiberglass rod and cut a foot off of the rod. Now this really made a stiff rod. You could not bend it hardly at all with 20lb test line. The rod stands were made to hold 3 reels and was in two pieces about a foot to maybe 2 feet high. Now these were just coming out then in the early Ď60s. Mostly we just took a screwdriver and put it in the ground in-between the line and rod at the reel. This is what I used for about a year before the rod stands. I still have a set of them and yes, I still use them some just to remember what it was like. For I love this sport as much then as I do now.
Now about all you see around are Abu-Garcia 6500 baitcasting reels and 7 to 71/2 foot rods. The stands have gone to holding one rod and reel. They are adjustable to about 3 to 31/2 feet high. The average size of line now is around 12 to 14 lbs. I should mention here that somewhere in-between there were Zebco spincasting reels and the old Mitchell 300 open faced spinning reel. These were around for a long time. There were more carp caught with these reels than any other in my years. I remember when carpers used Zebco 202ís and 404's. They were cheap, you just used them a few times till the guts ripped out, throwed them away and got some more. Then came the Zebco 33's, they were a fairly good reel, but after we re-lined them with 20 lb. test they didn't cast well or far. Then the Mitchell 300 came along, I used to love them, seems I caught more carp on them than anything. Next were the deep-sea open faces, BIG Mitchellís, they would throw a mile, and looked like a winch for a bulldozer. Finally the bait-casters, everyone cussed these new reels because they backlashed so much. My first one, an old Ambassador 5000 I think, I bet I wasted 5000 yards of line learning to cast that thing. Now IM completely sold on the 6500-C, smooth drags, very reliable, troubles free, and seem I can hit a spot every cast at exact same spot. These are definitely my favorite, but who knows, next year something new will come out that we may like better............Thanks Gary Shears. But the ABU is making a run for this title now. I think that they have a ways to go.
The rigs we used back then has not changed much, if any at all. We used two hooks back then. They were either 1/0 or 2/0 with a swivel and the leaders were 6 inches long. The biggest change to the rigs is that they take and shorten the leaders to about 4 inches now and some of us use a smaller hook. I use #4 Wildbeans now. We used to put a piece of line dough on the line to tell when we got a hit. Now most people use a small cork. Some carpers use bait alarms. I have made some little lights to use at night, the older I get the worse my eyes get so I had to have something I could see. They work really well. The sinker we used back then ranged from a 1/4oz to over 1oz. This has not changed. I believe that if we could take and put a little Euro type rigs, like the hair rig and bolt rig, that we might just take pay lake fishing to a new level. These fishermen have been using this type of rigs for a long time. So just maybe one of us will have a bright idea one day and put the two together on what we call the Pay-Lakes mated. I think that there is a lot of room for a new way here. Now I am saying this for both sides. We as they call us Pay Ėlakers are all Just Carp Fishermen when it comes right down to it. I know that to do this the first step has all ready been taken.
Internet sites sprung up about carp fishing. The Carp Anglers Group was born in 1993 with both its website started by Mike Keyes (http://www.carpanglersgroup.org) and its newsletter, the North American Carp Angler (NACA). This group aims to teach carp fishing to anyone who likes to catch big fish. In 1995 Julian Young was the originator of CARP-L (http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/8279/cl-club.htm) with a carp fishing FAQ and Bait Book that was then carried on by Peter Dawson when he put together CarpNet (http://www.carp.net) which also sponsors the carplist which you can subscribe to by going to CarpNet. We also have great sites like OatMeal Jacks Potomac River swim, Carpsava and CarpZine in Canada and me, Just-Carp-N Paul in NC, these are just a few of the sites that we have now to learn new stuff (see Links). So get out there and put something together and lets take carp fishing to new heights that it has never been.
Well letís talk a little about baits and how they have change over the years here. When I first got in carp fishing the baits that were used then if I can remember was cottonseed meal with cotton put in to hold it together. The entire flavoring that was in it was Vanilla. This was mixed up and baked in the oven for a while. It would not break down, it was more like a dough ball or a boilie. Then we started to cook Grits. Now this was no doubt a boilie. We did not roll it in little balls to cook it but when we fish with it that was what it ended up as. These were made by cooking 2 cups of Grits and a cup of flower in a pot on the stove until it got hard as you wanted it. Man did I ever catch a lot of carp with this.
Then came along Packbaits. This was to end up being my favorite bait of all time. It wasnít the bait itself as much as the way the texture and the way that it broke down in the water. When this bait came out I know that it would change the way to fish for carp forever. I was lucky enough to be around when this took place. Just so happens it was one of my teacherís stepfather that used it for the first time that I know of around here. Not saying he was the first, just that he was the first around here to use it. I do know that it spread like wild Fire, and in a couple years it was all over. Every where you went it was being used. But for those couple of yearís boy did we kick some butt. Mixing soybean and wheat bran together in a 50 to 50 mix made it, with enough flower to make it break down in 3 to 5 mins. Then we started to put crack corn, mallow and wheat seed into it. Then we started to use Rice. Which is just another Packbait. This is still my favorite and will all ways be. Itís hard to beat old rice.
At about the same time we took Grits to the Packbait era and it was on again. Packbaits had made its mark in carp history in the Deep South. This was to be the bait for the next 20 years or so. In truth it still is. Then came along Millet and it had a mark to make and it did. It is one of the most widely use baits around now. Then came along Chow. This is what I think to be the worst thing to happen to this sport that I love so much. But it has made its mark in carp history and will be around when I am gone. Thatís the way it is. The New kid on the block now is Roll Oats. I have still got to learn this one. It just came out in í99. I believe this will be the bait for the new millennium. I think there might be a few problems with this one. This will come out in the next year or so.
Let me say this in closing about baits. There have been a lot of baits I did not talk about here that was made and tried. I just talk about the main ones that I could remember. All of these are Packbaits. They all work on the same principle. They all break down in 2 to 5 mins. That is what makes a good packbait. I have come to find out that the Brits use this also. They call it groundbait. I believe it to be no more then a packbait. They use it to chum the fish in.
Iím going to talk a little on a touchy subject here now. Handling of Carp. When I first started to fish for carp, I was taught to be careful with them and to not let them beat the ground. I was told to put my fingers in the eyes of the fish, paralyzing him. That way he would not beat the ground so bad. That way he would be around for the next time. So that is what we did. Well, just like everything else things change and so has the handling of the fish. We donít stick our fingers in the eyes any more. We have come to see that it was not the best thing to do for them. We were taught never to gill one, that was the law. The way we handle fish may not be the best way for everyone but it has worked over 30 or so years. It is getting better all the time. Well I think I have covered about all of it now. I hope from reading this that you will learn a little about carp fishing in the Deep South.