Carp fishing is one of, if not the, most popular forms of recreational angling in the United Kingdom. It is hardly surprising since the common carp is not only a feisty fighter when hooked, capable of putting up an exhilarating fight that is supremely satisfying to come out the winner in, but it can also grow to a quite surprising size. Looking at Wikipedia the current record stands at a phenomenal 64 pounds and 6 ounces as can be seen here.

With it being such a popular pastime, many new anglers expect to catch at least a couple every trip from the outset. This can lead to serious disappointment in many cases as the expectant fisherman returns home empty-handed.

There are many articles available around just how to catch carp but not so much that tells you just what it is that you are doing wrong. To try and get a feel for the ‘gotchas’ to avoid we interviewed Terry Dempsey of British Baits who has been providing specialist bait and advice to anglers for decades now.

He told us, “It sometimes shocks me just how many easy to avoid mistakes new carp anglers make. We always try to steer them in the right direction, but it can be hard if they do not let us know the full picture.”

One of the first things to be aware of is that the fish, unsurprisingly, get wilier as they grow older. So, it may be the case that you are catching several small fish, but your disappointment is the one you can really talk about is proving harder to get. This is where knowledge and technique come into play.

Do not overfeed your fish. If you are putting bait down into the water to tempt them, remember to be frugal. This is especially true in winter or colder weather.

Your hook link may be the wrong length, for example, it’s too long the carp can easily taste the bait to see if it likes it and move on if not all without you knowing.

The fish might not be able to find your bait. This is where a selection of something that is both high visibility and has an enticing scent to the carp comes in. You may be using bait that cannot be seen or has no detectable aroma.

Another problem similar to the above is the bait getting tangled in underwater obstructions and just flat out not being accessible to the fish.

With regard to your gear, you need to be sure you are using the right size hook as well. Too small a hook and it will not manage to hook the flesh.

Another common problem newcomers to the sport have is making too much noise, setting up on the bank for example banging in hard pegs over vigorously and stamping around can scare your targets away pretty fast.

Another reason is the carp may have an over abundance of natural food in that location at that time. This is where a little local knowledge and research can help.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you avoid any more disappointing trips to the water.