Auto Carp Fishing Part 1 - Catch Big Carp In China

Dec 04, 2021

I always have the following questions and impressions on fishing big-size carps:

  • winter - cold freezing? (bivvy is not even good enough so people just hang up their rods)
  • not that much time for day session? (need work and away from the big city)
  • the second half of the night (00:00 - 07:00) - Low temperature, low metabolism. what’s the behavior of carp? any bite? how likely? It is said that larger fishes are more active at night and dawn.
  • wild water? big lake nature water (not small pond or commercial fishery or syndicate)
  • simple baits will work? need for fancy and expensive commercial baits?

I only have some pole fishing experience, but not that much. In China, pole fishing is the prevailing fish style. People like the feeling of an adrenaline rush when there is a fish on your pole. I still remember how wicked and satisfying the feeling is when I got a grass carp like 7-8 lb using 5.4 meters long pole and sweet corn.

Left side is the grass carp(3-5lb/7-8lb), top right is the crucian carp (2lb, weight over 1lb is considered as big one for crucian carp), bottom right is the pond)

But when I switched from pond to nature water like a big lake - reservoir, I had so many blanks. I start to realize how difficult it is to catch a big size fish there. And the pattern in pond fishing is quite different from wild water fishing. No one is feeding those fishes and density is very low. So most people go to high-stocked recreational fisheries or syndicates for fun instead of natural water. The low density is because fishery resource here is kinda getting destroyed somehow. There used to have all kinds of destructive fishing practices to catch the fish - e.g - electro、net of mesh with small holes 、firecrackers - which is not sustainable. But it is getting better as life is improving and people and the governments start to realize they need to protect the natural resources(An unprecedented 10-year fishing moratorium was issued in January 2020, covering 332 conservation areas in the Yangtze River basin.) It is a process.

Good nature view and there also has paragliding there. Top left I’m trying fishing the bighead carp with a 5.4 pole. BTW: I’m coming from the central part of China, Hunan Province.

And I could say that fish that with a weight over 1.5Kg ~ 2.5KG could be called - BIG size fish here. There are some fish, sneaky ones, with a weight of over 20kg - 50kg (last time, one of my friends caught a grass carp over 12KG~24LB using a pole in this reservoir), but that’s pretty rare. The type of carp here is almost all grass/common with super rarely you could get a mirror, let alone any black/scaly carp type.

After I observed from and talked with those local anglers here, they are angling with 8.1 meters - 10-meter long telescopic pole, prefeed/prebait with feed corns like every day in the same swim, then start fishing all the day. Going blank is not uncommon, and they might catch a big one after waiting for weeks. Sometimes they are also trying surf rod to casting out with long distance with pack bait and rebait every two hours but still no luck. There was a time when I tried fishing with 5.4 meters pole with corn on the bank of the reservoir, I saw two anglers nearby me using 10 - 12 meters pole just keep baiting with a spoon and rebait their hook and the whole afternoon, no single bite and they ended up with just playing their phones :)

Winter fishing under minus 20 degree, no kidding! That’s the angling spirit of Chinese anglers! No bivvy, no coffee maker, no tea kettle, no barrow, just a kinda genuine and pure form of primitivism in the name of Dionysus :) video source: https://v.douyin.com/8JRKLm8/

An idea just popped into my head. How about making this waiting process kinda non-attended? Then in rainy days or on snowing/windy days or cold times like the second half of the night and dawn, the fishing is just happening there and you don’t need to stay on the bank (even though surf rod fishing could be more comfortable and less concentration required comparing to pole fishing). So your time could be freed up to do other things and when fish got a bite, it triggers something and notify you via something like Wechat/Telegram or just a call - like interrupts in MCU(Microcontroller Unit).

Nowadays Fishing Industry/Vibe

I still remember when I was a kid, I use a self-made bamboo pole and earthworm that dug out of my backyard to catch fish which is pretty effective and simple. Nowadays it is jaw-dropping to know that fishing gears and equipment are getting so complicated and segmented, coming with so many variations. Take a look at the pole fish gears in China and correspondings in the West:

Pole fishing gears and its prices. Click to see bigger picture

For pole fishing: A 7.2-meter telescopic pole is at least 300 RMB for moderate quality, 1000RMB0-2000RMB for good ones.They are tons of components and accessories: fishing platformmultifunctional fishing boxfishing bucketfishing chairfish umbrella/brolly、fishing bag etc. The fishing platform is especially heavy if you’re buying a cheap one made of metal.

How anglers in China carrying around with their gears. Gonna improvise by turning fishing pole to carrying pole in the top left - a good way to test out its quality though :)

Those gears add up lots of weight and they are not easy to carry around. Look at the mountains and rice field around that reservoir, I’m pretty sure by the time I got to the bank, I’m already exhausted. I thought the Chinese way is somehow maximalistic. Guess what? Western carp fish is just a little bit more maximalistic :)

ps: I heard Meister Eckhart whispering: The more we have the less we own.

Fox Carp Fishing Youtube: CARP FISHING IN WINTER (Catch more on cold days)
  A Nash Trax Evo MK2 Barrow could cost you £279.99 = 2300RMB. Battery supported Nash Power Barrow around £900 = 7000RMB! That angler must have the most anglingg spirit given how weak he is and have to use a battery powed barrow to move around :)

A wheelbarrow - I thought angling is about minimalistic and keeping it simple until some Fox/Korda/Nash/Gardner/Mainline angler of carp fish comes with a wheelbarrow and point to all kindas gears(mat、bivvy、camo cool bags、 bait belts, coffee maker、tea press、kettle、stove、dinner set and cookware sets, etc) inside it smirking and saying: “Oh my Gawd, dear comrade,my young bloke, how dare you? I’m the true minimalist - just one item - the barrow! Horray :)”.

Surely, good types of equipment, tackles, and gears could bring better angling experience, some edges, and more comfortable when angling - unless you know what’re doing. Like a double-edged sword, it comes with pros and cons. Those types of equipment make it so cumbersome to move around, even deflated, just take a look at the mountains and rice fields in my case - how steep the slope is in the mountainside and how close those rice fields are laid out next to each other like a grid.

ps: Even though I’m pretty much a minimalist with just a single fishing bag and a washbasin for fish and as a possible trash bin, I still feel a little bit exhausted when climbing up and downs. Don’t tell me that somebody fancy carrying a barrow of heavy gears around in here. Hope someday Nash/Fox would come up with a helicopter for anglers.

Those commercial tackle companies mainly target recreational fisheries like ponds or farm-raised syndicates, not for wild fishing. Isn’t recreational fishing supposed to be simple, lightweight, and relaxing instead of a …a barrow? Early Church Fathers and later Meister Eckhart, must feel kind of offended by the Roman Curia’s long and boring church services, ceremonies, and rites (In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritu Sancti. Amen - people just couldn’t bear with it, so much so that they coined a word with the last two words - Sancti. Amen - in Spanish for it: santiamén).

Unless you’re a professional angler or angler that have a lot of time, just fishing for the fun and blending in with nature to be like a Dionysian of Nietzsche during the precious break, then fishing in wild water is the no-brainer. And it doesn’t need top-notch gears/baits to get started.

Here is my humble opinion on why?

Fishing Explained

“In our reasonings, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance—from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence.” - David Hume

Fishing is not rocket science(see hard science and soft science). It is pretty much like sociology and economics - dealing with probability and statistics. it is very hard to do a controlled experiment because there are simply too many factors involved and isolation becomes pretty much impossible to do so. That’s a pretty important shift in perspective, just like investment and sports, from 100% certainty to uncertainty and odds of randomness.

According to Freud (1915), the unconscious mind is the primary source of human behavior. Like an iceberg, the most important part of the mind is the part you cannot see - Freud and the Unconscious Mind

Now think about the catch rate and its factors:

Catch Rate = water temperature + barometric pressure +sunny/cloudy + wind(Windward/leeward) + season/timing + water bodies(pond/rivers/lakes vs still/flowing/creek/current) + waterbed(gravel/weedy) + terrain(depth/basin/drop off) + food source + bait flavors/scents + speice of fish + ... 

There are just a whole lot of levels of randomness inside it.

Factors like the iceberg above the water are the ones we could observe from our experiences. Some factors are more general and universal, some are quite different to different species of fish. Those are the ones at least we could study and learn to figure something plausible out like patterns to improve our chances. To some extent, fishing is a bit rocket science and you can do your homework with reasoning. You can get wisdom and theories from reading books、watching videos、taking with experienced anglers - a very effective way to build up your understanding of fishing. A good example would be fish anatomy and behaviors patterns - know the fish you’re angling at - is it bottom fishing or surface fishing? what water column it prefers? how does it feed? how it find food? what temperature does it like? etc. Even for carp, there are so many different kinds of carp and its behavior might vary a lot, e.g, it would be an extremely slim chance to use corn that grass carp likes a lot to get any bighead carp a bite. There are some nice carp underwater fishing compilations on Youtube like <Underfishing Best carp underwater fishing compilation 2020 (High quality)> showing how carp got caught in front of a camera. Also a series of Carp Fishing: Understanding Underwater from Rob Hughes is pretty helpful.

“Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider.” - Francis Bacon, The Essays

The iceberg under the water is a big X - sometimes we called it “luck” - it shows the limits of our knowledge. Its randomness is beyond our understanding. It reminds us that our logic/reasoning that is built on top of it is inherently not that stable as we might think and open to changes from underneath it. Hence we could answer some questions like “what one single factor could stand out significantly over those in this equation?” The answer is no. Unless you fish in a controlled fine-tuned condition like a vacuum pond, you might have one factor over others. But that just applied to that specific case, and it would be practically impossible to determine with wild fishing.

No silver bullet for software engineering, no magic chart pattern of technical analysis for investment, no magic bait, no super bait. Additionally, it reveals that those best practices or golden tips or rules of thumb from others are just their summaries of their past experience which are not tested by your personal experience. Their context might be(for sure) different from yours subjectively and objectively. You can not have two same icebergs, can you?

To turn other people’s experience and theory(outward) to yours(inward), you need to do it by yourself, in your experience. How? through trial and error and learn from it, remember no books or videos, and nothing could substitute for your personal experience. Don’t get me wrong, those guidances serve greatly as a starting point or sth to fall back on when you just have no clue, but never it should be taken as doctrine or sth forever true. Fishing is a dynamic process and just about being personal. If you want consistency in longer time over randomness, then you cant count on the beginner’s luck or find some magic shortcut. You should do your homework - for example like what Joel Greenblat said in «The Little Book That Beats the Market» - and put in effects and times will build it up. Once we know the probability - nature of randomness, get yourself right in one go by buying expensive stuff from or imitating those - in Max Weber’s term, Charismatic authority alike - masters displayed in the videos of commercial tackle companies simply not gonna work. You want to do trial and error many times in a budget and affordable way to figure out your fishing style and strategy that fits your specific case.

“Truth is not to be found in a book. Independent inquiry is needed in your search for truth, not dependence on anyone else’s view or a mere book. Furthermore, such a book merely presents another barrier to progress in your search for truth.” – Bruce Lee

It sounds like software development/lean startup/investment and other things, the idea is the same: keep agile, fail fast, embracing changes.

:

  • Do your homework(Fundamentals) + Luck

  • Dedicated + Open-minded

The dynamic and probabilistic nature of the fishing process means you need to prepare yourself up with a good mindset. Sometimes, you not doing your homework but still great luck, turning out to be a good catch. At some other times, you did your homework hardly but no luck turning out to be fruitless a blank. That blank is very common for fishing big-size fish in natural wild water, like gaussian distribution for studying human behavior in sociology, just think about how many extremely tall guys you have met. To illustrate that, I put a Galton Board to get an idea of the normal distribution emerging from a random drop of ball-bearings.

ps: next time, when you buy lottery and hope to win, ask yourself this: Am I gonna get struck by lightning right now? source: Galton board form PhysicsFun: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5qLb2DlZPA/?hl=en。

Big size carps are more spooky and pretty smart in nature water. Just like anglers need to put in work and wait for all planets to align to get a bite, those fishes also need to have all the X factors aligned perfectly to grow to that size.

The unpredictability is sth you can’t control, but the process is sth you can control kinda and be enjoyed. Angling always has offered something to learn about, through it, you learn not just that - fishing outside - but also yourself, and build up some awareness of your identity (self) and appreciate and reconnect with the beauty and serenity of nature. To me, I like fishing in nature water, and that is relaxing.

So I’d suggest those commercial tackle companies could put a one-liner as a disclaimer to show their frankness/deep respect/sincere care for fishing in their promotion videos on youtube: "It depends!"

Fishing Scenario

some requirements and conditions of this fishing case:

  • reservoir: low stocked big nature water - wild water
  • target: big size fish with 1.5KG - 15KG
  • time: 1-2 days consecutive
  • unmanned/unattended: automatical
  • baiting/feeding strategy: pre-baiting/feeding once and no halfway rebate
  • stealthiness: device should be small enough to be camouflaged so that it won’t easily get spotted from the bank
  • mobility: device and whole fish tackle should be easy to be assemble or disassemble - easy deployment

Quick Summary: prebait and hook the bait, cast out, take down the fishing line from the reel, knot with tent pegs on the bank. Then set up the bite detecting device, link the trigger between the fishing line and device. Leave it for 1-2 days. When got bitten by fish, the strength of fish fleeing way on the fishing line will trigger an alarm, hence giving a call to my phone so that I could just go there and pick up and land the fish.

But we also need some heartbeat to know that the device is running properly. Every one minute, it sends a HTTP request to my backend server which logs its timestamp and whether it got triggered or not. With this data, later we could know what time it got a bite and what temperature it is.

Keywords: wild water、big-size carp、automatical, winter、night, and dawn(fish behavior).

A quick recap: As previously said, I have seen lots of local anglers(some of my friends) spending lots of time on the bank just waiting for a bite using the pole. And in carp fishing of UK/US this got a little bit better with bivvy/coffee maker/cookware etc esp in the raining and snowing days but just too cumbersome&expensive to carry around. Still staying up the whole night in the wild doesn’t seem to be a relaxing and comfortable experience. Fishing in the second half of the night is pretty rare to see. It is just so intriguing to me and possibly a quite new territory to explore about fish’s nocturnal behavior. That’s exactly why I got this idea: non-attended carp fishing.

Before I jump right to the automatical part - trigger device and how it works, like an old saying “A beard well lathered is half shaved”, I need to analyze what kinda fishing strategy would fit in the overall big picture.

Fishing Strategy

I learned many tips and techniques from European carp fishing through videos and books. However carp fishing in China, esp wild carp in wild water - in my case a big reservoir - its behaviors are quite different from European style as Enourpean are primarily fishing in stocked ponds either commercial fishery or syndicate that farm-raised carp has no predators. The fishing resource in China is worse than in the US. I have watched some US carp fishing videos(some Chinese people cane poling in California and catch lots of carp fish with good size), which its wild water is more similar to my case but the density there is still much higher than here. I dare challenge those carp fishings masters to come to China and test themselves on the real battlefield :)

A not very accurate and kinda close summary of fishing conditions in three regions:

| Region     | Water           | Density         |
| ---------- | --------------- | --------------- |
| UK(Europe) | Paid fishery    | High Stocked    |
| US         | Wild/free water | Medium Stocked  |
| China      | Wild/free water | Low Stocked     |

Ps: US fishing style is the closer Chinese one, not that fancy like UK’s. I prefer to watch carp videos from US anglers as their fishing strategy(more lightweight) and conditions(wild water) and personal journey(no so-called masters just individual anglers who likes fishing) are kinda similar to ours here, instead of the UK where lots of tackle companies(commercials are too on-the-nose).

As said previously, there is no secret bait, no magic gear that will surely give you a bite. Even if you have the best rod and reel、most expensive bait、fanciest and most elegant barrow in the world, all that stuff doesn’t make a lick of difference if you’re not putting your bait in front of the fish.

One big factor of the consistent catch is just finding where fish are, esp in the winter. Location is crucial!

Swim/Location

The first thing you need is to analyze the terrain of where you fish - read water. Either take a walk around the water area, or search its google map satellite image, or ask from the local angler, just try to figure out the general terrain of water you’re gonna angle at. No rush to drop your rods. For picking the right swim/spot, it is always good to have direct eyesight of fish rollover or bubbles from stirring mud.

The rectangle area is a fishing road which Darrell Peck found through google maps. You could see its color is different from two sides. source: Korda Thinking Tackle OD 4 EP2: Danny Fairbrass & Darrell Peck | Carp Fishing 2021

Generally, you want your fish spot is closing to snags or something with structure(weed、fallen/sunken trees、overhanging vegetation or rocks) that provide safer places to hide for a school of fish instead of open water. In summer, the fish might spread all over the water and location might not be that important, but in winter, they tend to school up and it is up to you to find the fish. Carp fact: carp is cold-blooded therefore their movements and activity are dictated by water temperature.

Also, carp are spooky and very sensitive to noise, which is why most anglers here prefer to fish in the evening or night in the summertime as much as they can despite some annoying nocturnal animals like bugs and insects, and possibly snakes. Commonly, you want to stay away from those swims with high angling pressures from the bank.

The south side is the deepwater area with mountains sliding into the water very sharply, that north side is kinda shallow full of debris left from submerged rice field. Most local anglers will pick the south side with deeper open-water and fewer snags but kinda rocky at the margin, and I barely see anyone fishing on the rice field side. But I decided to go from the rice field side where I heard a big sound of fish jumping. Other reasons are:

  1. Even though it has snags like the debris of rotten rice plants, it doesn’t do that much damage compared to a rocky structure, considering it is unmanned and unattended. When the fish got the bite, felt the pain(I’m not sure it is called pain, I guess “danger” is better here?), it is gonna drag the line to wherever it felt safe - which mostly is full of snags or deep water so to say. A rocky structure would be much easier to cut the line due to its sharpness than some softy rotten debris could. I forgot to mention I bought a 100-meter long braided fishing line of line size 8 with 8 strands - maybe 4 strands is even better here - which should provide a pretty good abrasion resistance against aquatic plants.

  2. Helicopter or chod rig could help lift the hook from the lake bed and present nicely without being buried in the debris.

Water Depth

Knowing how deep the water is can be essential to fishing. Often we’ve heard people saying: “The deeper the better”, for deepwater could hide big size fish. Likewise, some say “ You should pick margins - where shallow water meets deeper water - a sharp drop-off or deep channel”. Some say “in winter/autumn, go for deep, in spring&summer, go for shallow”. There are lots of different and even contradictory views regarding depth. Our experience tells us that water depth relates to water temperature and oxygen content. But what’s the relationship between those? There are a lot of water depth on fishing activity research on the internet, for example, Effects of Water Temperature and Depth on the Catch Rate and Catch per Unit Effort for Mirror Carp (Cyprinus carpio) caught by Gillnets, could shed some light. Again, it shows that a relationship is pretty complex and can be subject to changes of other factors. In summer, the surface of the water is warm, the bottom is cold; but in winter, it is the opposite.

Generally, big sizes prefer to stay in some depth for safety but shallow water -like close to the bank-is more likely to hold more food sources. Some underwater diving videos show that some fish like to stay in some depth with some structure to hide. That depth depends on water quality、 the overall water depth in the lake and the seasons. You better talk to local anger to get an idea about overall depth like how deep is the deepest part.

Talk is cheap. Show me the code.

All of that seems reasonable but kinda abstract though, can we put some digital/electronic tracking devices/tags on the carps and track its activity, just like tracking whales via satellite tags(Whale Telemetry Group), to hopefully get some insights on its behavior? Big data is the hype, how about some big data from carps?

source: IFishMan Youtube: Wie verhalten sich Großkarpfen in einem natürlichen Gewässer? Hier der August . I highly recommend checking other videos of this youtube channel even though it is in German. Pay attention to its experimental conditions.

Here are some graphics that the German fishery lab did on a natural water pond/lake. They marked different types of fish with different electronic tags(shown in different colors), track their signals of activity across the whole year, and got some interesting data to analyze for its behavior. For example, in winter, you might think the fish will hide in the deepest part of the lake, but it turns out they all huddle together on the shallow border (Reminiscence of …a stock operator - oops, no -the wintertime of elementary school when I was a kid - we all huddle together and push/squeeze each other at the corner of the classroom in an american football way to just get a little bit warmer. kinda like Passenger Squeezes Onto Tokyo Subway During Rush Hour and this People stuffed onto a train in Tokyo, Japan (train stuffing Tokyo) :)

Another interesting observation, we might think as the temperature and oxygen levels drop to the lowest point during the midnight, to that extent, that fish will simply stop all kinds of activity - Sleeping Ariadne, a statue of sluggish. However, the graphic shows they are still moving around during what we perceived as “the worst time of day”.

That just shows how we by default just like to put carp in our shoes. What you think fish should do based on your personal/human experience and feeling != what fish does in its way. You can’t know what fish is thinking(suppose it has thought in whatever you might name it - Tao/God/Natura naturans), instead you could only guess from their behaviors. That’s always a good reminder esp when you’re watching those commercials touting how good they are.

In my case, the depth of the mountainside is like 5-6 meters deep from about 4-5 meters close to the bank. It could be even deeper farther away. On the other side, the shallow side is like 2-3 meters deep from 4-5 meters - since I only do pole fish and never use a surf rod before. I have no idea about what’s the depth of 20-30 - 50 meters away. Given what I know, it seems that 3-8 meters depth could be a good starting point for winter from the shallow side to try out first.

About the methods to plumb the depths, no advanced Sonar or Depth Finder or Fish Finder needed, just use old-fashioned way in cane pole fishing - fishing line with a sinker and a bobble float - cast out a couple of times and adjust bobble’s position along the line to get a ballpark. It is simple and cheap to do but just a little bit time-consuming.

Distance

Along with the previously mentioned old saying “The deeper the better”, there is another saying “The further the better”. And it does make some sense. If you have done pole fishing before, then you know, that the longer the rod and line, the higher chance you could catch big size fish. Why? because often the closest to the bank, typically the shallower the water would be, especially in the daytime, noisier it would be. But how far it should be? is it the further the better? Well not always, you also need to think in terms of the whole lakebed shape and surrounding conditions from a bird’s-eye view.

Fox Carp Fishing Youtube: CARP FISHING IN WINTER (Catch more on cold days)

In the above picture, the center of the lake is deeper than the one close to being the bank. But it is not the best one to fish in the wintertime as it doesn’t have any covers. Covers like reeds/lotus/trees could provide warmer shelter compared to the open water. Even if you couldn’t find any covers, and it is not necessary to just focus on the distance - you have to think about the depth and other factors.

It is not uncommon for some surf rod anglers just to rush to start fishing - in a hurry to put up the bait, cast out extremely long distances without much thought as soon as they arrived at the lake. Afterward, they spend lots of time waiting on the bank, yet they didn’t wanna just spend a few casts to test out the water depth and conditions beforehand. They just go there, mount the hook bait, and cast out wherever they want, then just wait like “I’m done with work on my side, it is the fish - your turn to bite”. Yes, they still could get a bite from fish and catch it from time to time, but just no consistency could be gained.

Think about 100 meters far away with a depth of 30 centimeters vs 50 meters away with a depth of 3 meters given we know the basic depths of this lake. What are the chances of big size carp showing up in those two cases?

It is important to cast out a couple of rods to test depth around the target fish spot - left, right, front, and back - to get a better idea about the lakebed shape near the spot, is it flat, a slope, or a sharp drop-off or basin? Don’t zoom in that one factor too much - you don’t need to cast out to 150 meters away most of the time.

Cane pole fishing has one advantage over fishing with rods & reels, that is it is pretty easier to get cast out accurately in the pretty much same spot everytime. Any deviation on the bank could be magnified many folds in 20,30,50 even 100 meters away. So you need practice casting techniques to gain some accuracy and there are lots of tutorials on the internet. You don’t need the same spot, some offset is perfectly fine. For me, It didn’t take me long to be able to cast accurately like 30 meters distance with 1-3 meters radius in that vicinity. I found it is extremely useful to record the moves of your casting in the video. You could see your posture, movement and adjust accordingly - The Dunning-Kruger effect - what you think of yourself is probably not what you really are.

Also, it helps you get great detail on the lakebed condition of fish spot - is it gravel、rocky or weedy, or silty? How are you gonna choose the right rig strategy for it? Fish might get scared and flee away by the sound of lead hitting the water surface, but some underwater video experiment shows those fish will slowly get back to search for the food. It is not a big deal in my case, as I have lots of time and patience for it while chilling cozily out at home with the heating on and drinking my Longjing/Dragon Well tea - vibe 😎🤞 :)

I have chosen a distance like 20-30 meters far away from the bank. And 2.7 meters long rod with 5000 reels did a pretty good job considering the thickness of the fishing line(line size 8). Since my focus is on fish’s nocturnal behaviors, and night is quieter than daytime, also based on what I know from the above depth section, hence my assumption is that big fish will be more likely to go to shallow water that is close to the bank where it could have more food to feed.

Baiting/Feeding

Basically, how could we attract the fish into the swim? Well, the fish use mostly following senses to detect and identify whether something is good to eat or not: smell、taste、sight. Fish have a pretty good olfactory system to sense any dissolved substance in the water, and they could recognize the smell of amino acids and others having nutritional value. It has shown that carp have thousands of chemoreceptors in their mouth on their barbels and even on the outside of their mouth and under their chin down to their neck. Chemoreception - They could taste, esp for carp, they suck in a big mouth of silt and other detritus - when they smell or feel via taste buds from their barbules, pectoral and pelvic fins of the eatable like bloodworm/corn, etc - palatal taste organ in the mouth trap the food against the bottom of the mouth and expel non-food through gills(almost 90% got ejected). Also, they have sensitive eyes, could see in lower light levels under the water, and detect changes in light and movement above the water - so camouflage like Rambo, be stealth, anglers! However, their habit of feeding in the sediments on the bottom searching for small buried food items has required them to rely on highly developed senses of smell and taste.

Generally, the feeding habit of carp is most fixed and stable like routine - eat what is plentiful - but sometimes they will break it or at least try to discover new food sources. It is a dynamic process. Mostly stable-better chance, sometimes dynamic - slim chance. Consider that the reservoir which has lots of rice field/reed/mulberry tree around it, then most likely the rice/reed/mulberry will get you better chance to get a bite consistently compared to other food like corn that fish never see it before. On the other hand, if you prefeeding the same spot with lots of new food sources, for example, corn, regularly over a long period of time, the feeding behavior of fish might change accordingly. The carp is not one-track minded, they’re open to adapting their feeding habit if it works.

With that being said, it is always good to spend some time beforehand looking at the surrounding fishing location、talking to the local angler to get a good idea about what kinda feeding/baiting feed is best for. Some anglers boast about the effectiveness of some baits with certain flavors or scents. They tend to promote and show how good they are based on their experience so it must be good for others too, without realizing it could be just a cognitive trap or bais: "Rules for me, not for thee".

How do they define whether it is good or not? I saw lots of anglers smell the bait, but come on, you need also taste(just give a chew and expel it out) the bait too, but no one did that :) If the bait smells good for them, then they will think it could attract more fish than those which smell bad. Even though the way that those molecules transmit through the air is different from those transmitting through water, let alone different receptors and mechanisms between human beings and fish. It reminds me when I study English, I tend to give equal timing and stress for all the words in a sentence. Because that’s just how we speak Chinese, which is a syllable-timed language with equal stress sounds. However English is a stress-timed lanuage and have lots of weak forms(function words) to just make the key points stand out more to be easily understood by listeners.

The way we speak our native lanuage is so deeply ingrained into our brain and we don’t even realize that autonomous system. Most of time it works as we expected, but not always. Sometimes you need think outside the box to break that autonomous pattern. Now ask you this: How do you know for carp, which sense is more important and plays a bigger role? olfactory or gustatory ? It seems like most people think the answer is the olfactory sense based on what I previously saw. Well I did some googling and found some research on this topic and in this paper «Feeding stimulants in an omnivorous species, crucian carp Carassius carassius» , it mentioned some experiments on feeding stimulants and it shows that conventional thinking is possibly wrong (at least under that experiment):

Take it as some reference. Do your experiment and try it out, just don’t fall into this automatic and non-examined thinking pattern

Another question is: sola dosis facit venenum - how much is the appropriate one to be defined as a natural flavor and scent level for the fish? It should have some range, isn’t it? Is it always “the more the better”? To how much it could just backfire and get a reverse effect? It is important to know what kind of molecules have either effect. Let alone some flavors or scents or chemicals which work well and stimulate for fish in a separate form, but when got mixed could be a deterrent that has a negative effect on the fish.

Some Wu Wei/Taoism wisdom and a saying from Jesse Livemore - Money is made by sitting, not trading, if you don’t know the mechanism and its chemical of all those additives, then don’t add it. You don’t need to react to that urge to take any excrescent action do sth extra to give your more pseudo aka “Out of Thin Air” confidence or just make you feel better. Maybe It is a good chance ot cultivate some awareness to learn more about yourself.

Feel the same urge of just imitating or copying whatever those glowing/shining masters do in the videos, no need to look up to them and blindly accept everything from what they say. Be skeptical. Put everything on the table and examine it, debunk some myth from those chrismastic authority in a logical way. For bait, you could use homemade ones with lots of options like panko、bread crumb、instant oat meal、grits、cereal、bird seeds、feed corns、grains mixed with some jello gelatin/molasses/beer. Those are natural ingredients and cheap and easy to find. Sweetcorn is very juicy and perfect for fishing during summer. Sweetcorn is my favorite and you could buy the canned sweetcorn and cream for the winter. Boilies are also pretty good which are made of doughs - easy to keep, no stinks, convenient - it keeps small fish away and helps you catch the big size fish. You could also buy commercial ones and it is no big deal. I am not a contemporary cynicism and hate every commercial though :)

Back to my case, rice - from observation of rice field, and feed corn (or maize) - from local anglers, is picked as candidates for the carp bait. Clearly, I don’t want to wait for hours to get small nuisance fish bites, so the rice or pellets or small particles will be excluded. Since I’m gonna leave it under the water for 1-2 days(no rebait), those baits shouldn’t be easily dissolved or lose their liveness like live bait. So no pack bait/method feeder is gonna be used here. BTW, We don’t pack bait with the English way of method feeder. Here we use spring feeder with pack bait much like this US way Outside with Tome: My Carp Rig Setup Spring Feeder for Carp Fishing American Style .

The big solid particles like feed corn(its hard kernel) is a perfect fit and the most important part is it is on a budget and so simple to prepare. Buy some feed corn, soak it and boil it, if you’d like - not necessary- could try an experiment by adding some molasses or alcohols like Baileys or Tsingtao beer or hemp oil later.(Who knows! I have some Turmeric&Curry&Coriander&Garam masala powder left from last time trying to cook Indian food, and I might add those to test out). One downside of it is that adding those sugar or powder additives could make corn ferment quickly and rot faster.

There are a lot of Cinnamomum camphora trees on the mountain. Maybe we could try prefeeding/prebaiting with its ripe seed. It has a very strong natural scent if you leave it for a few days. It is kinda tricky to put it up on the hook as it has a pretty hard kernel

After picking the bait for feeding, the next thing is about the feeding strategy. The most reasonable one is to take a little bit of time to just chum some baits to the same spot every day(like one week or one month) before you get your rods out and start fishing. But it is impossible for me as I only got 4-7 days holiday break and I don’t want to spend too much time on the bank to fish - I only got one hour break each day to go outdoors for fishing(family first) - that’s exactly why I come up with an idea about auto carp fishing. To make it up, I decide to choose one fishing spot and bait there instead of moving around the lake on the bank. Here is my two cents on how to effectively attract fish in big nature water by feeding/baiting:

Basically, we have the fish spot in the center, and feeding, i.e - corn- is evenly scattered around it forming a circle with 3-5 meter radius. Loose chumming could possibly attract further fish in a longer distance than precise baiting, as it could cover a bigger and wider water area by its flavors and scents. Then we use pva bags or pva mesh to precisely bait right in the center of this circle. Well, this seems pretty ideal, the tricky part is how to get chumming like what hands can do but in a long distance? Slingshot、Spod、 pva bags/mesh、 gaint throwing sticks/baiting spoon even fishing bait boats couldn’t do that easily.

Just pay attention to scattering when it is about to hit the water.(ps: who said there is absolutely no good quality one for cheap Chinese product? My rod and reel is like 40 RMB - $7 in total) and I have tried casting lots of times with 100g lead and a pva bag(7x14) of corns yet it still didn’t break)

Self-made Spod: a Gatorade-like bottle、a lead and some glues.

In the above picture and videos, that is a homemade spod with a bottle and a lead. You could see that the corns inside the bottle will be detached from the lead/sinker beneath it as it is falling and is about to hit the water. Those dry corns have a lighter weight compared to the lead and will split out and be scattered into the water - inside a circle of radius like 3-5 meters. The downside is the baiting inside it needs to be light/dry and also it won’t cast out very far away given its bad aerodynamic shape. But it fits my case - actually that’s exactly my intention to not fish from a very long distance - a good compromise.

Rigs

A quick recap on the fish tackles: 2.7 meters long rod($4~27RMB)、5000 reels ($3-$4~20RMB”)、braided line with the size of 8 and 8 strands($2~12RMB)、a slim bobber float($1~6RMB)、80g~2.8oz sinker($0.5~3RMB)、 hair rig of big size 4 circle hook with pop-ups buoyant bait、smaller size 7 Izu Iseni hook for bottom bait with feed corn. To be honest, I have some doubt about using fake bait like plastic corn as bait even though it has a great advantage here: Fish couldn’t steal it, and no need to rebait the hook.

The only southwest part of China in Sichuan and Chongqing use similar fake bait, but not my hometown or province - like never. Most people here rarely use any kinda pop-ups bait or circle hook, instead, they are inclined to use bottom bait with iseni hook for big-size fish. For people fishing with a pole, they only use a maximum of two hooks for each. However, for people fishing with rod and reel, they just use a few hooks. Let’s take a look at two or three most frequently used multi-hook patterns:

I guess in us/uk it is called something like gang/party hooks? (Christmas party in Downing Street while London was in strict lockdown) and The story of 10 Downing Street Christmas Party last December - BBC News :)

The logic is pretty straightforward: more hooks more bites. Despite the so-claimed moral superiority of using fewer hooks from some people - as long as it doesn’t violate the local regulations, I don’t see any problem with that. On the flip side of more hooks is that it means hooks have higher chances of getting trapped in snags or structure forms like rocks/reefs/weed when anglers cast out or play the fish. If you use it in open water which has fewer snags and have a pretty good understanding of the condition of the lakebed, then go for it. But I have a mountain reservoir with lots of snags like rocks and weed, plus a design of non-attended angling, so multi-hooks seem not a good option. Ideally one hook but as I said, I never use pop-up bait with fake corn before, so I want to do an experiment and compare it with common bottom bait with feed corn side by side. Even though technically fish is not eating the fake plastic corn but more like chewing - they just try out the possible food through their mouth and expel it out, I’m still very curious to just, by myself, to catch some fishes to test out popular saying: “If I don’t eat plastics, how come fish will eat it ?”

The hook snap is also linked to the swivel just like what bottom hook does but hook length of bottom one is longer than the hook snap. So when we cast out, the hook snap is gonna take all the force and pva bag won’t fall off.

I’m using pva bags to embed the hook with bottom bait. Since I have two hooks and with different line lengths, to not tangle with each other, I intentionally did not put the inline lead into pvg bag - it also gives more room for bait. Then how to prevent the pva bag fall off the line when casting out (the bag is heavy with corns)? I use a hook snap to hook the top of the bag(the tie part) to the swivel. Just tie off the top of pva bag with extra licks and twist it is strong enough to hold the strength of gravity from hook snap when casting because, by this design, the force is not applied to the hook length line but on the hook snap. I test it a couple of times and it works pretty well. I have a bottom hook presented nicely blending with a pile of corn bait, and a pop-up hook that is a few centimeters away from it. After watching some underwater fishing feeding videos, it looks like big carp always start with outside from the perimeter cautiously. I am intrigued to know which hook it is gonna pick up first in my case.

Now you wonder what’s white powder and oil inside the pva in the above picture? That’s pretty interesting. Some bait companies are touting how magic that bait liquid or like say “smart liquid” that could super charge your bait or whatever. Yet how they could prove it? Here is the video that they show it in the glass water vessel and brag how good it presents: <SEEING IS BELIEVING! Epic Smart Liquid Reaction! Mainline Baits Carp Fishing TV>. Yes, it has some liquid cloud releasing in the water and going up and downs through the different water columns. Looks nice and wicked! But as this comment and author’s reply shows:

Damien Chambers (1 year ago) : 
I’m all up for adding an additional edge to my baiting approach , my main concern in some cases , could this process of a smokey looking halo and rising up to the surface not also have the opposite affect of spooking very wary fish.

Mainline Baits Carp Fishing TV : 
HI Damien - good comment. Throughout the testing period we didn't encounter any situations or problems such as this. General opinion is that carp are likely to be attracted to clouds and this kind of attraction as they are when other fish stir up the lake bed or water inflows and strong winds/undertows colour up water. It'll be interesting to know what you think after trying this out.

It looks like the seller is not very sure and his confidence comes from this black-box “testing period” and “General opinion”. SEEING IS BELIEVING! really? What you see as a good one then it must be good too for the carp? I’m kinda skeptical about that unfounded non-hard evidence. No details or context or data of their testing period has been revealed to back up his views. They just show how great it is visually in water and to me, this is not very persuasive. How big a role it would play among other factors? Does it work in wild water? flow water? What time is the best to add and how much it should add? Yet somehow, indescribably, they - the alchemist - are putting the exaggerated rhetoric in those titles with so much certainty and confidence for other videos of this same kinda liquid.

AVOIDING THE HYPE, UK PEOPLE. DON”T FORGET WHAT FRANCIS BACON&DAVID HUME TEACHED

I did a experiment too. With some research, I have chosen corn powder(500g -6RMB - $1), wheat bran(500g - 6RMB - $1), and hemp oil(250ML - 9RMB ~$1.5) and mixed it and give it the right moisture. Then put it in a pva bag and sink it down in a water vessel and test how it looks and whether it could have those small particles moving around the water columns.

Click the left to watch the video. Look at the movements of the wheat bran. That is like an experiment I did the first time. Pretty sure it could get better later

It looks pretty good and it lasts a pretty long time in that still water tank. Well, I’m not sure about whether it is gonna work or not, but it shows it could get some effects similar to the commercial one. It doesn’t have that kinda halo but you never know whether that halo could make spooky carp shy away. Anyway, the key here is you need to try it out by yourself and tweak it a little here and there to get it to work in your case. And those Smart Liquids are not cheap to play around like what I made. One bottle of this indescribable 250ml is gonna cost you around $14.95 or £12.50 like 100RMB and it is just a liquid additive. Nothing else, mate! How affordable it is!

A poem from Edgar Allan Poe for anyone searching for the indescribable magic bait (Eldorado):

And, as his strength   
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow—   
‘Shadow,’ said he,   
‘Where can it be—
This land of Eldorado?’

‘Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,   
Ride, boldly ride,’
The shade replied,—
‘If you seek for Eldorado!’

Apart from adding more hooks to increase the odds, adding more rods could also get a greater chance - 3 rods look good (no matter how great you set up your rig and how familiar you’re with the lakebed conditions, it could still happen that your lines and hooks got tangled when casting or got a bad presentation somehow when landing on the lakebed).

Wrap-up

In this article, we have covered the angling strategy that we’re gonna use for the carp fishing, tailed to the unique fishing scenario and non-attended fishing style. Those are the building blocks for the next chapter, which we’re gonna elaborate on the device - how to set up the trigger, read whether got a bite from fish, and call my cellphone to notify.

“The truth and the Way exhibit in the simple everyday movements. Because of this, many miss it (if there is any secret, it is missed by seeking). If there is any secret, one must have lost it by striving for it. The truth is here but men want to decorate the simple truth – the snake with feet.”

“Be Water, My Friend” - keep learning!

My Gears’ Price

“Wait, I’m just from Fox International Products, Korda(I feel Korda offers some cheap ones, not sure) and Gardener. Don’t fool me, show me the real price of those gears. How could it be possible to have such decent quality with low price?”

Well, there you go, in total like 120RMB - $20:

I bought from Pinduoduo(PDD) and Taobao(TB). Actually, the most expensive one is the rigs. I don’t think I need 6 hooks therefore it could be even cheaper.

References

Some good reads:

Some good ones and recommended:

Others articles and books on carp fishing: