Supersize It

I always use a PVA stick to help prevent tangles

Ted Bryan keeps it bream-proof with big boilies.

Midsummer and we’re spoilt for choice with carp, tench and bream all being in their prime, but for me it has been carp all the way this year, thanks in no small part to the fact that I’m fishing a venue that contains a couple of fish that I am sure will break the 50lb barrier at some point.

My tactics change quite substantially as the water warms up and the carp begin to feed up after spawning. Gone are the heavily-glugged pop-ups and slow sinkers that worked so well early spring and out come the big boilies, and plenty of them. My freezer is filled with 20mm Nashbait 4G Squid boilies, and as a back-up I always carry a stock of the same bait in the shelf-life version too, just in case I run short. The original Scopex Squid was a real favourite of mine and this new tweaked version has proven just as good.

Looking around at carp rigs being cast out today it seems most people are using small baits. The harder people perceive carp are to catch, the smaller things become, so everyone is titbit fishing with trimmed-down baits, bits of plastic corn, and so on. Why anglers lack confidence in big baits is beyond me. Relative to the size of the mouth on a 30-pounder, a 20mm boilie is only small, and even two 20mm baits hardly makes a mouthful for a decent sized carp.

Nothing better than being on the bank in summer

A big hookbait for big carp

I am convinced that hungry carp prefer bigger boilies, and of course big baits have many other advantages too. Not only can I catapult them further and more accurately than smaller baits, but they are bream-proof; an important consideration on the lake I’m fishing as there are a lot of big bream. Simply swapping to the bigger baits means I am not getting wiped out several times a night. Very few anglers use bigger baits either, giving me another substantial edge.

My rig can be geared up because I am using big baits too. A size 6 Nash Fang X hook to 15lb nylon mono is as complicated as it needs to get; reliable, strong tackle that gives me 100% confidence when I hook one of the big old plodders. The hooklink is around eight inches long and finished off with a 2½oz inline flat pear lead – simple, but it works for me. My hookbait is two 20mm bottom baits fished with a 10mm gap between hook and bait.


Big baits mean that I can bait up at long range, but funnily enough most of my fishing is being done at a really comfortable range, often no more than 60 yards and many times only half this distance. On many lakes this sort of range is really a bit of a no-man’s-land; not the margins, and not far enough out for many anglers. The carp are pretty much left alone here and if you watch carefully you might spot small signs of the fish visiting these areas of the lake, especially through the night. The signs are often very subtle, though. Don’t expect them to be chucking themselves out, unless it is in the middle of the night when they feel safe. Most of the time it will be little patches of bubbles, or bits of weed and stuff floating up as it is disturbed that will give their location away.

The same as at any other time of the year I let the carp tell me where to fish. This might be over silt or it might be over gravel. Don’t try to second guess what the carp are doing, just fish for them where you are seeing signs. They will be visiting these areas because there is natural food there, so they will be feeding and that means they will be hungry. I tend not to worry about what I am fishing over, as long as it isn’t solid weed, as the carp will dig out my big baits if they come across them. My rig is dead simple and I have 100% confidence in it, so if I get the location right I am in with a good chance of a bite or two.

44lb mirror on double 20mm boilies

Big strong hooks for big fish

Time to start trickling some bait in

Quiet and accurate

I don’t try and make any big secret of how I am catching, but one thing I do tend to do is to bait up late in the evening and into darkness. This isn’t to stop others from seeing what I am up to, but just so I have some fresh bait going in shortly before I am expecting a bite. I see so many anglers baiting up in the afternoon or around teatime and then not feeding again for 24 hours. I like to trickle a bit of fresh bait in every so often to freshen up the swim.

I will sit out by the rods some nights for an hour or more quietly firing single baits out with the catty. Getting the feed in quietly and accurately is important. Your night vision soon comes good after dark and using far bank markers I can bait up pretty accurately, even long after the sun has set. I’m not putting out kilos of bait; maybe 100-200 20mm baits around each rod. That’s probably a maximum of a pound of bait per rod.

One thing that I always do is hook on a small PVA stick every cast. The main reason for this is that it cuts down on rig tangles, but I guess it draws a little extra attention to the hookbait too. I can’t see any point in using big boilies on the hair and then feeding bits or pellets in the stick, so I just use four big boilies and they go in the mesh.

So, how has my campaign panned out so far? Well, it didn’t start off too well, as I have had a few health problems that kept me off the bank for a while, but when I got back I really had the bit between my teeth and what I was doing seemed to work very nicely. In short order I had three forties topped by a new personal best of 47¾lb. As you can imagine, I was over the moon with the big fish in particular and I believe there are a couple of other fish in here that are likely to be even bigger, so there is plenty to keep me coming back.

It really is just a case of keeping things simple, finding the fish and feeding them at this time of the year. Big boilies fished in areas that aren’t seeing any pressure and keeping the swim fresh with small helpings of bait through the dark hours have definitely helped me get amongst those bigger fish.

Looking for subtle signs in no-man’s-land

Keeps the bream away

Personal best 47¾lb mirror on the big boilies

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