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We now offer a great selection of CatsandCarp.com gear, including T-Shirts, mugs, and hoodies. Check out these high quality T-shirts and hoodies with our designs at the CatsandCarp.com store.
Fishing for carp can be expensive at time. Chumming with manufactured carp baits can burn a hole in your wallet if you end up using 10 -20 lbs of chum each session. So when I plan on doing a lot of chumming price is always a factor.
One of my all time favorite carp bait is boilied feed corn or maize. It is powerfully effective, but it is also extremely cheap. I can buy a 50 lb bag of dried maize (feed corn) for $10-$12 at a feed store or even stores like Walmart. In turn, 50 lbs of dried corn makes 200 lbs of boiled carp bait. For about $10 you can make enough carp bait to last all summer. No other type of carp bait can compare in the price department.
Feed corn expands a lot when its soaked in water. Additionally, dry feed corn is hard and it will split when you try to put it on a hair rig or on the point of a hook. So, before fishing with feed corn you can soak and boil it.
Chicken liver is great stuff. Channel catfish and blue catfish love it but it comes off the hook so easily. You can go through a couple pounds of liver very quickly because it falls off the hook while casting and the fish pick it apart so quickly. You spend way too much time fishing with a bare hook because all your liver is gone and you don’t even know it.
You can make chicken liver tougher, last longer, more attractive, and stink less by curing chicken liver. I can cast cured chicken liver 100 yards with my 12’ surf and carp rods and it doesn’t come off the hook. I can often catch multiple fish on the same piece of cured chicken liver. Losing less bait mean that a single pound of chicken liver lasts a long time.
Cured chicken liver also lasts forever without rotting. I have forgotten cured chicken liver in my car for several days and it still didn’t rot. Cured liver will last months in a refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer.
Cured chicken liver also, doesn’t stink nearly as bad a fresh liver but it has a scent the fish love. When cured chicken liver hits the water you can see scent clouds coming off the liver. Catfish love it.
Curing chicken liver is simple. You are soaking the liver in a preservative that retards bacteria growth and helps extract the moisture.
My favorite way to cure chicken liver involves using commercial curing products like the Pro-Cure UV glow egg cure. Pro-Cure curing products were originally designed for curing salmon eggs. Salmon and trout fisherman who use eggs have the same problems that cat fisherman have fishing with liver.
Pro-cure prevents the liver from rotting, extracts moisture, toughens the membranes around and inside the liver, and Pro-Cure UV glow egg cure contains bright dyes and flavors that make the bait easier for the fish to see and more attractive too. When cured liver hits the water a pink cloud of scent can be seen rising from the bait. It absolutely drives the catfish crazy and they attack quickly.
Put all the chicken liver into a ziplock bag and drain off as much moisture as you can. Then add several table spoons full of Pro-Cure UV Glow Egg Cure to the bag and shake the bag until all the liver is coated in Pro-Cure.
Let the bag full of liver and Pro-Cure marinate for 1-4 hours. Letting it marinate longer is fine, but just not necessary.
Dump out the liver and spread each piece out onto a screen, some hardware cloth, or a drying rack of some kind. You want air flow all around the liver.
As the liver dries the top will get leathery and dry and pink liquid will drip out of the bottom as the Pro-Cure helps extract the moisture. Once the top gets leathery flip the liver over. In cool weather (50-60 degrees) this may take a day or two. In hot weather (90-100 degrees) this may happen in an hour or two.
As the liver dries it will shrink in thickness. Once the liver is about half its original thickness sprinkle a lawyer of Pro-Cure onto the outside of the chicken liver. You can do this step as often as you want. Regularly adding more Pro-Cure will speed up the drying process and add more flavor and color.
Once the liver has achieved the desired toughness, remove it from the drying rack and put it in a container or bag. Add a dash or two of Pro-Cure and seal. The liver will last several days at room temperature, several months in the refrigerator and up to a year in the freezer.
Check out this great video demonstrating How to Cure Chicken Liver
Also check out this video explaining how to keep chicken liver on your hook with an Egg Loop Knot
Ok, how would you like to have the ultimate fishing raft that you can camp on while you fish all night anywhere on a lake. Your own personal floating dock to fish from but that you can disassemble and tow on the smallest flatbed trailer or truck bed.
Well a year ago I figured out how to build the ultimate fishing raft. I volunteer for a troop of Boy Scouts at my church and when they asked me to plan an annual high adventure for the boys, we built several of these massive rafts and floated the James River in Virginia on them.
There were 12 boys and three adults who floated with us and they all fit on three of these raft along with all their gear and supplies for the entire trip. At the end of the day we pulled the boats onto shore and camped on them.
These rafts were incredible fishing platforms. They are ultra-stable wide so you can walk around and cast from anywhere on the raft with ease. The floated like corks and you could go class II rapids sideways or backwards and it did make a difference. I caught a tremendous number of small mouth bass floating down the James on those rafts.
How to Build the Rafts
The rafts are constructed of three or four 4’x 8’ raft units attached together with 2×4 lumber on each side of the units. Each raft unit is kept afloat with ten 18 gallon sterilite storage bins that are bolted to the bottom.
The rafts are maneuvered by two 8’ 2” x 2” rods that are coupled together by a section of 2” pvc pipe. The 8’ lumber is rounded by cutting the corners off with a table saw. This makes a great 16’ push pole. These are long enough to maneuver the rafts anywhere along the upper James River.
Bellow I have included a supply list of all the raw materials you need and the sections you need to cut them into. Additionally you can see a video of How to Build the Ultimate Fishing Raft.
|Plywood||15/32 all weather plywood (treated)||4’x8′||1|
|The outside edge piece of decking||3 3/4″ (minus 1/2 blade width) x 8′||2 per sheet of plywood|
|the door lids||16 7/8 ” (minus 1 blade width) x 8′||2 per sheet of plywood|
|the center strip of decking between the two doors||6 3/4 (minus 1 blade width) x 8′||1 per sheet of plywood|
|Lumber||1x4x8′ untreated pine lumber||.75″ x .3.5″ x (8’+ extra)||6|
|the long ends||96″ sections||2|
|the middle beam||94.5″ sections||1|
|the short end pieces||46.5″ sections||2|
|the cross members between beams||22 7/8″ sections||8|
|the joint reinforcement||2″ sections (used end pieces from other cuts)||4|
|Lumber||2x4x(12′ or 16′) treated||(strips’ ends should be melted)|
|For connecting indivdual rafts together||2x4x(12′ or 16′)||4|
|Dowel||5/8″ x 5/8″ x 36″ square wood dowel||5/16″ hole through short middle|
|the wood washers that insert into the tubs handles||2″ Sections||20|
|Push Poles||2″ x 2″ x 8′ pine square poles||1/2″ hole @ ends: Short wy: 2 ” from end|
|Octangular: 45◦ cuts long ways @ corners (1/2″ from corner)||8’+||4|
|Hardware||Description (genearl)||Description (precise)|
|Attaches tubs to plywood deck & connect push poles||2 1/2″ x 1/4″ [1/4-20 thread] hex carriage bolts||20|
|attaches 2×4 to indivdual rafts||5 1/2″ x 1/4″ [1/4-20 thread] hex carriage bolts||4|
|connect 1×4 elements together and PVC to push pole||1 5/8″ exterior wood screws (grip rite)||66|
|connect plywood to 1 x4 and for joint reinforment pieces||1 1/4″ exterior screws (grip rite)||125|
|one to secure tub, one to keep bolt from falling out||1/4″ [1/4-20 thread] nuts||40|
|inbetween bottom of decking and nut||1/4″ flat washers||20|
|inbetween hex carriage bolt top and plywood deck top||3/8″ washers||20|
|used for storage and floatation||18 gallon sterilte tubs [23 1/2″ x 18′ x 15 1/2′]||10|
|Wing nuts for attaching 2×4 to rafts and connecting push poles||Wing nuts 1/4″ [1/4-20 thread]||4|
|PVC pipe for coupling 2 8′ push pole sections||1′ x 1 1/2″ diameter thin walled PVC||2|
My version of the adjustable hair rig allows you to shorten and lengthen the hair using only your fingers. This is fabulous is you want to change baits without changing your rig. You can go from a single 10mm boilie or kernel of corn to 30mm pellet or a snowman rig. Here are the steps to tying this rig:
Check out our video of How to Tie an Adjustable Hair Rig.
To lengthen the hair simply pull it until the Stop knot hits the shrink tubing. To shorten the hair rig grip the Stop knot and pull it away from the hook eye.
Step 1: Cut two leaders (one 18″ leader and one 24″ leader) In the shorter leader tie a loop in the end the same way you do a normal hair rig.
Step 2: Pinch the smaller leader against the shank of the hook and then use the longer leader to tie a Knotless knot.
Step 3: Use the longer leader’s Knotless knot to pin the shorter the leader to the shank. As you tie the Knotless knot wrap really tight. The tightness of the wraps is what will give the adjustable hair resistance. Too lose and the hair will lengthen when the bait gets picked at by carp.
Step 4: Finish the Knotless knot and straighten out the two leader above the eye of the hook.
Step 5: Use the smaller leader to tie a Stop knot onto the longer leader.
Step 6: The Stop knot should only be an inch or two away from the hook eye. The Stop knot does not need to be super tight.
Step 7: Cut the tag ends and tie a Surgeon’ s loop on the end of the rig.
Step 8: Cut some smaller shrink tubing and slide it over the hair and then over the point of the hook. The smaller shrink tubing covers the wraps, tightens the adjustable rig and acts as a blow back rig.
Step 9: Cut a section of medium shrink tubing and slide it over the Surgeon’s Loop and over the eye of the hook to improve hook set.
Step 10: Steam the shrink tubing and you are done.
Few people can see a massive carp swimming around and not want to learn how to catch carp. Catching carp is incredibly entertaining, but so many North American fisherman just don’t know where to begin. So here is a very basic beginner’s guide to catching car.
Carp will eat bread, oatmeal, grits, maple peas, boilies, fish pellets and spam, but my favorite bait is corn. Carp love corn. Sweet corn works great or you can buy bulk dried feed corn and boil it to make an awesome yet cheap carp bait. To read an article explaining how to make your own corn based particle bait click here. For a video about how to prepare feed corn for carp fishing click here.
Chumming is an essential part of carp fishing. Chumming is when you throw bait into the water around your hook to attract more fish into your spot. Chumming can be done days or minutes in advance and should be done throughout the fishing. Carp can eat so much bait so quickly you can easily use 2-5 lbs of chum very quickly.
Spods, slingshots, spombs, PVA bags, methods and margin poles are all tools meant to help carp anglers chum out in the middle of the lake. One of the easiest ways to chum a spot if to canoe out to where you are fishing and throw the bait out in the water by hand.
For more information about chumming and baiting tools click here.
#8-#1 hooks are popular for carp. I prefer size #4 and #6 hooks. Always get the sharpest hooks you can afford. Specialty carp hooks such as Ace, Korda, and Fox are super sharp and designed for carp, but Gamagatsu also makes excellent hooks.
A simple inline lead and hair rig is an amazing carp fishing rig. The important part to get camouflaged parts and line. Carp have good vision and in clear water they can see clearly leads, hooks and swivels. Avoid components that are shinny. Many carp gear manufactures makes camo leads, mat finish swivels and hooks.
The hair rig is the best way to take your carp rig to the next level. A hair is a piece of string the attached your bait to the shank of the hook. A hair rig is tied with a knotless knot and is very simple to make. The bait is attached to the hair using a baiting needle and a bait stop.
For a nice video on how to tie a hair rig and how to attach bait to a hair rig, click here.
Once you find a lake or river with carp in it, sit and watch for a while. Look for the signs of carp activity. Jumping slashing carp are a dead give away, but also look for trails of bubbles and mud being stirred up in shallow water by grazing carp. The edges of weed beds and reed beds are always good places start looking.
Most carp fisherman fish with multiple rods at once using bite alarms and rod holders. Rod holders allow you to use multiple rods at once and bite alarms allow you to divert your attention to other things while you fish and allow you to catch a nap while night fishing, plus they are really fun. For great video demonstrating how bite alarms work click here.
A long handled wide mouth net is great to have. A 6’ handle and 42” mouth is great. Micromesh netting also protects big fish from getting cut by the nylon mesh.
Carp are different than other game fish. The average carp is bigger than most species of fish in North America but carp cannot survive out of water the same way that catfish can. Because of their size, they can be injured a lot easier if they flop around on the ground or get dropped. Unhooking mats or carp cradles are designed to protect carp while you unhook them or if they flop out of your hands during a photo. For more information about carp care, click here.
Even if you are a stranger to this website you should already know my opinion regarding catching catfish and carp. Get out there and try it if you haven’t already.
However, we have some amazing native freshwater fish species here in North America and many of the best are utterly ignored by the mainstream fishing media. If you love to catch fish and you live in North America, this list should be your fishing-bucket list. Put down the bass rod for a few weekends and get out there and be prepared to have your mind blown.
I usually don’t need to convince people that alligator gar should be on their list of fish to catch. You show them a picture and all the convincing is done. These mammoth prehistoric fish are native to the Deep South, with the biggest specimens usually found in eastern Texas and Louisiana. The largest alligator gar ever record was 9’6” long and 365 lbs. These fish are often caught on cut bait using the same tactics that a trophy cat fisherman would use….only BIGGER.
White Sturgeon are native to the west coast from Mexico to Canada but there are few fishable populations left outside of the North West. White sturgeon grow very slowly. They take 14-18 years to reach sexual maturity, the spawn only once approximately every 4 years and they can live to be 100 years old. The largest sturgeon ever caught on a rod and reel was caught by Michael Snell of Salisbury, England in the Fraser River, British Columbia. It weighed about 1,100 pounds and was 12 feet, 4 inches. It was released.
There are five species of buffalo. Small mouth buffalo, black buffalo, fleshy lipped buffalo, Usumacinta buffalo and large mouth buffalo. Buffalo are not related to carp but are a member of the sucker family and native to North America. The largest of the three buffalo is the small mouth buffalo. The record is 88 lb caught in Lake Wylie, NC by Tony Crawford. Buffalo can be caught using modern carp fishing tactics and baits.
These amazing looking monsters are incredible to see in the water. Because these beasts are mostly plankton feeders most people catch them by snagging. The Largest paddlefish in North America was caught on rod and reel in Montana in the Missouri River by Larry Branstetter. It weighed 147 lb 8 oz and was 77” long.
Bowfin are another prehistoric native fish that is found across the south. Bowfin are aggressive predators that prefer slow shallow water with lots of cover. They can be amazing to catch on top water using bass gear. The largest bowfin ever caught on rod and reel was 21 lb 8 oz from Forest Lake in South Carolina by Robert Harmon
When you catch a long nose gar your first thought is “How badly do I want my lure back?” Those teeth are wicked but worth the risk. Gar a loads of fun to catch. These fish are tremendous predators. They love minnows and live in backwater creeks and rivers across the south. You can make killer gar lure using nothing but frayed white nylon rope on the end of your line. The frayed rope tangles those teeth and catches the gar better than most hooks would. The biggest long nose gar ever caught were 41 lbs from the Red River in Oklahoma and 41 lbs from Lake Panasoffkee Florida.
Here is where I begin to show my Alaskan roots. The burbot is the only freshwater relative of the ling cod and it is found in Alaska, Canada, The Great Lakes and they were fished to extinction in the UK. The burbot is a popular fish to target when ice fishing deep lakes and large rivers. It is typically caught on salmon eggs near the bottom. The largest burbot in North America was 24 lbs 12 oz, caught in Lake Louise Alaska.
Sheefish are rightly known as the tarpon of the north. They look like a tarpon, they are caught using similar tactics and they fight/jump like a tarpon. Sheefish are found in central Alaska in the Yukon, Makenzie, Pah and other large rivers. The largest ever was 53lb from the Pah River in Alaska.
Grayling are not big fish. They are slightly smaller than the average trout, but they are (in my opinion) one of the most gorgeous fish in North America. Grayling are also extraordinarily fun to catch on a lure or fly rod. A small Meps or Super-Duper on an ultra light is a deadly combo. An elk hair caddis or Griffith gnat will also do the business well. Grayling rise to a dry fly like no other fish. Grayling can be found in high mountain lakes and stream of the west, Canada and Alaska. The largest grayling ever was 4 lbs 13 oz and caught in the Ugashik Narrows in Alaska.
Freshwater Drum are good sized, plentiful, tasty, and they will hit just about any lure or bait. They prefer clear water with sandy or gravelly bottoms are found along the east coast and parts of the Midwest. The largest freshwater drum was 46 lbs from Spirit Lake in Iowa.
Spodding is something that is really easy to mess up. You can’t see what is going on at the bottom of the lake or river, dozens of yard out. There are some real common mistakes that you can make or avoid when spodding for carp.
After you cast a spod out into the water, make sure that you give it time to empty before you begin reeling in.If you begin reeling in your spod too soon after casting you will leave a train of bait many yards long instead of creating a concise pile of offerings. Instead of concentrating the fish in one area you will begin spreading them out. This is anti productive.
Let your spod sit before reeling. How much time varies a lot depending on your spod and the type of bait you are spodding. Pure deer corn takes a long time to fall out of the spod. Boilies and hemp seeds fall out very quick.
With some experience you can quickly tell whether the spod is done emptying. Cast an empty spod out as far as you can. Let it sit for five seconds and then reel it in. As soon as you put tension on the spod it should start skipping easily across the surface. That is what an empty spod feels like. If you start to retrieve your spod and the spod doesn’t pop to the surface or if it feels sluggish then you are reeling in prematurely. Stop and like the spod sits.
Occasionally, I will give the line a few twitches with a good long pause in between to help shake out sticky particle baits from the spod.
If you cast your spod and bait flies out the back you will see a trail of splashes leading out to where your spod hits the water. This trail of bait causes the same problems as reeling in your spod too early. You creat a wide area of bait instead of a tight concentration of bait. This can spread the fish out instead of concentrating them.
To prevent bait from flying out the back you can use a Spomb instead of a spod. Another trick I to only fill your spod 3/4 full and to gently pack the pack into the spod with your thumb. Some carp fisherman like to fill the spod 2/3 full and then pack a small layer of ground bait in the end to seal the spods back end.
Ok, you found that sweet spot out there in middle of the lake and you want to put your hook there every time you cast. It is extremely hard to judge distances let alone hit those distances time and again. The solution it to use your line clip.
Your line clip is that tag on your reel that keeps your line from unraveling off your reel spool when your rod is broken down. Once you have cast your line to a spot you like, you put your line in the line clip and reel in the line. The next time you cast, you cast a touch further than you think you need and when the hook hits the line clip it will stop going out and drop at approximately the same distance.
You have to be careful. When you are casting a lot of lead and bait on a cheap reel with a plastic line clip you can break off the line clip if you put too much force behind your cast. Quality big pit reels often have specially designed line clips that are very durable and more gentle on your line.
However, just because you use a line clip you will not necessarily hit the exact same distance every time. A strong wind and your casting trajectory affect the distance regardless of the line clip. Casting at the same trajectory every time and adjusting your line clip when there is major chances in the wind will help keep your casting distance accurate.
Setting the Distance on Your Line Clip.
If you find a spot with one rod and then you want to cast another rod to that same spot there are several ways to accomplish this. The simplest way is to use the line clip of the first rod to set the distance and then reel it in. The lay the first rod and the second rod out and lay them down on the grass side by side. Open both rod’s bails and walk the leads out (one in each hand). Once the first rod hits the line clip stop walking and then clip up the second rod as well, reel in and then cast.
The second way to clip up a second rod is to use measuring sticks. You take two stakes and drive them into the ground exactly 10 feet apart. Then you wrap your line around the sticks in a giant figure eight formation and count how many wraps it takes to get to your line clip then calculate the distance (20 feet for each complete wrap). Then wrap the second rod around the distance sticks the same number of times to get to the same distance.
The advantage of using measuring sticks is that it takes less room and it allows you to measure the distance you want easily so that when you come back to a spot you can simply measure out the same distance even if you took your line out of the line clip and lost your place on the reel.
Casting The Same Direction Every Time
If you want to cast the same place every time you need to cast from the same location every time. Pick a spot to cast from and stick to it.
Additionally, use an object on the horizon as your target. Often I use tall trees on the opposite shore as my targets for casting. I like to pick something that sticks up on the horizon as well so that I can see it after sunset as well.