Carp Angler Chronicles - March 2024

Carp Angler Chronicles - March 2024

29th Feb 2024

Get ready for Spring Big 4 2024! The anticipation is building up, and we've got $1900 in prizes donated by https://www, , including a special award for the Biggest Buffalo catch! Make sure to register before noon on March 14th – time is ticking!

CAG members, secure your spot now! Remember, you need to be logged into the CAG Forum with your username and password to access the registration link:

For non-members, all the juicy details are available here: Don't miss out on the excitement!

An interview with a man that needs no introduction, Iain Sorrell of Carp Anglers Group!

Can you share a bit about your journey into carp angling in North America and how it all began for you?

We moved to Connecticut in June 1994. After settling in I began exploring the local area to see what fishing opportunities might be available. I really had no idea about the incredible range of fresh and saltwater species that were now within easy reach and to begin with carp were not even on my radar. I’d grown up fishing in the UK and had been very lucky to have the Colne Valley almost on my doorstep. I started fishing seriously for carp in 1978 and was very lucky to fish Savay for a couple of years. 

1981 and a 27:12 from the famous Savay Lake in the UK

I bumped into Nigel Griffin another expat who ran Eurotackle, one of the first companies to import European carp tackle. He introduced me to the Carp Anglers Group and the local carp scene so it wasn’t long before I’d met up with many of the key early members including Steve Clow, Fran Slasinski, Mike Dragone & Pat Kerwin from DC at some of the CAG ‘fish-in’ socials organized by Nigel. We fished the CT River and a few local lakes and enjoyed some fun sessions with lots of doubles and a few twenties.

Over the years, how have you seen the carp angling scene change in North America, especially in terms of techniques, equipment, and popular locations?

In those early days we very much relied on word of mouth and lots of exploration. The early CAG socials were a great opportunity to share stories and information as there was no social media or Google maps to help search out potential fishing spots. Nigel at Eurotackle and Paul at Wacker Baits in Chicago were, at that time, the only people bringing ‘proper’ carp tackle into the USA but many of us also made our own rods, pods, spods and other items along with rolling baits. I had contacts with Delkim and SBS Baits so began importing their products along with fly fishing tackle in 1995.

Since those early days we’ve seen some carp tackle importers come and go but there is now a wealth of modern carp tackle & bait products readily available here in the USA. We also have several top bait makers here in the USA rolling baits to rival those made in Europe.

As for popular locations it is now so much easier to find key places through social media and satellite images. On the downside this has also made many places vulnerable to being exploited, trashed or worse falling victim to murderous bow fishing.

Could you recount a memorable carp angling experience that stands out in your mind, something that truly showcases the unique aspects of carp fishing in North America?

As I said earlier there was very limited information on potential carp spots 25-30 years ago. Google maps and GPS were still pipe dreams and fishing for carp not on many folks ‘radar’. I'd heard about some nearby places that ‘might’ have carp so decided to go and do some exploration. At weekends I'd head out at dawn & dusk, which are the best times to see & find fish, and wander the banks. One particular 70 acre water I visited several times but never saw any sign of fish and was ready to give up until I bumped into a local walking his dog. We started chatting and he told me his dad had shot a 40” carp. Now I’d heard many exaggerated stories of fish weights and sizes so, holding my hands about 25” apart, said “you mean like this?” “Almost twice that size, he said “in fact it was mounted and now sits above the fireplace in the basement”.

Initial catches were a little disappointing but then I found a few bigger fish and soon a string of twenties followed. In September 1996 Steve Clow, Chris Labucki and myself were fishing a swim I'd baited following the Baiting Pyramid developed by Savay & Big Carp Legend Mike Wilson. A combination of feed corn with SBS tutti frutti boilies.

Learn more about the Baiting Pyramid:

As dusk fell I had a run and landed my first USA thirty at 30.08, as we weighed my fish Chris had a run and shortly after so did Steve resulting in. 34.04 and 36.00 respectively. Thirty pound carp were still rare beasts and three in a little over 20 minutes unheard of. 

Iain with the 30.08 Common

Over the next 20 years the Piggery as it became known produced many first time thirties for those sworn to secrecy including Lee Hurn, Dan Pazio and several others who finally figured out its location. Over 70% of the fish that came out were 20lb plus and 25% over 30lb. One of the fish was a distinctive mirror that was first caught in 1997 at 27:12 and was caught repeatedly over the next 20 years with weights going up and down and maxing out at 33lb.

I was even back there briefly last Fall and managed fish if 18, 26, 28, 28 & 30.11

Piggery Mirror at over 30lb

Even though the USA & Europe are approximately the same geographical area the US has way more carp and only a fraction of the carp anglers! All you have to do is go out and explore!

 What challenges have you faced as a carp angler, and how have you adapted or learned from these experiences to improve your skills over time?

The biggest challenge has always been balancing work, family & fishing.

For me the key to being successful has been short sessions of just 4-6 hours before or after work. This required me to learn how to be highly organized and most importantly to follow strict baiting patterns and routines. My goal was to have 2 or 3 rods fishing within 15 minutes of being bankside, which included having nets (I always have two set up), mat, weigh sling etc set up. I just don’t want to waste valuable fishing time! It also required focusing on just one or two rigs for 80% of my fishing and maximizing the results to get 100% hook ups when a carp picked up the rig. I always make detailed notes on my sessions and create a list of any items that need to replaced or sorted before the next trip.

The results of getting it right meant that even though I might being fishing just once or twice a week I was very, very rarely blanking and often landing 4, 6 or even as many as 12 fish in just a couple of hours. Many of those fish were over 20lb and sometimes I had two and even three thirties in a session. That’s why I always had two nets which came in handy when all three rods went off within a few minutes of each other!

The Spring Big 4 tournament is approaching. Can you tell us about your anticipation for this event and what it means to you as a carp angler?

It is a great way to kick start your season. Even if your time is limited it really tests your big fish skills against a much larger group of anglers at a time when carp are pre-spawn and that the biggest weight in most parts of North America! As well as the kudos & amazing prizes for finishing in the top ten Big 4 captures there are also prizes for Regional Big 4 captures and biggest Buff to reflect areas that might not have many big carp.

How do you typically prepare for a tournament like the Spring Big 4? Are there specific strategies or techniques you focus on during your preparation?

Well first you must be a CAG Member and sign up before the start of the Big 4 (no later than Noon on March 14th). You also need to read and follow the rules, especially how to take & submit a valid photo entry. You also need to download and print out the Big 4 Logo!

In the swim set up the mat, weigh gear and photo equipment, logo etc so you are ready to go. There is nothing worse than forgetting something!

Beyond that just get out and fish as you usually do and above all enjoy yourself!

Here’s my iPhone Set up for fishing photos: It’s a Lume Cube Mini Panel Light and Smartphone mount. The light is amazing at night and is so much easier than a camera flash! The mount can be attached to a tripod or with a suction cup it sits securely on a bucket or tackle box. A remote can be used to take the photo or just shoot a video and then take a screen shot.

Do you have a go-to technique or set of tactics that you find particularly effective in North American waters? How do these differ from traditional carp angling methods?

It is easy for anglers to be overwhelmed & seduced by the many rig and bait choices they see highlighted especially by European anglers on social media.

My advice? Don't over complicate matters! A simple well tied hair rig and set up along with a thoughtful baiting strategy will always catch plenty of carp here in North America. 

Simple hair rig with 3 grains of field corn and a pop-up imitation bait. It just works!

Just chucking out a handful of boilies or bucket of particles when you start fishing is rarely the most productive way to fish. Think carefully about where you are going to fish and where you are going to cast your bait. The most consistent results come if you can bait an area ahead of time and on a regular basis to attract and hold fish. It often takes way less bait than you imagine to hold fish in an area. Remember you can’t take out bait once you’ve thrown it in so a little but often is better than chucking in hundreds of boilies or 20 gallons of corn all at once! If you are catching fish then keeping feeding them.

If I’m trying a new swim and searching for fish then a basic recipe Method or Pack around the lead with a 3-4” hook length and a small pop-up, wafter or even Enterprise Tackle imitation corn is always a winner!

A simple method set up with 3oz inline leads and wafter barrel baits on 3-4” hook lengths

Don’t forget it is always better to spend 7 hours looking for fish and 1 hour catching them than wasting 8 hours blanking in the wrong spot.

Have you noticed any significant changes in the carp habitats or behaviors over the years, and how do these changes impact your approach to angling?

The simple answer is no. The only changes I’ve noticed is how they respond to angling pressure and my approach to catching them in those situations. I’ve been fortunate to fish Parco del Brenta in Italy where there is an amazing number of very big fish in a 30 acre lake. On average there are 20 anglers fishing the lake every week so that means 3 rods each and 60 lines in the water! I’ll often fish one rod in the margins and bait an area for a couple of days to allow the fish to settle in the swim without any pressure before putting out the other two rods. Trust me it works over here as well.

Carp angling often has a strong sense of community. How do you see the angling community evolving, and what role do events like the Spring Big 4 play in fostering camaraderie among anglers?

We need to get more anglers meeting bankside and not just online. That’s where we really get to meet one another, learn new ideas and form long lasting friendships. A few years ago CAG ran the hugely successful North American Carp Conference in Connecticut for three consecutive years. We brought together over 100 carp anglers from far and wide together with bait & tackle vendors, engaging speakers etc. We also had a live video link with top UK carp anglers including Frank Warwick, Steve Briggs, Mark Pitchers & Harry Charrington as well as Rob Hughes. We need to get back to hosting more ‘Fish-Ins’ and bankside socials to welcome new anglers to carp fishing!

Looking ahead, what developments or trends in carp angling are you most excited about, and how do you envision the future of carp fishing in North America?

Social media is a double-edged sword. The focus needs to be directed toward developing the sport as a whole and beyond individual interests.

The number of carp anglers in the USA is still very small by comparison with the

$6-7 billion industry in Europe. In addition to many more anglers the key change needed is a better appreciation by state fishery bodies of the potential for carp as a major sport fish species.

Big carp 20, 30, 40lb are much older than most people realize. So protecting trophy carp is essential but we also need to understand & appreciate that large carp populations can be detrimental to some water bodies.

It will take a lot of work developing relationships with key officials to implement the necessary changes. I'm proud that with CAG we managed to introduce key changes in Connecticut fishery regulations to create trophy carp waters and creel limits.

Highlighting carp with CT DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee along with Middletown Mayor Dan Drew 

Learn more about the Carp Anglers Group of North America

Jami - New Pro Staffer!

It is an absolute honor to welcome Jami Nicole Selvidge as our NEW Pro Staffer for Carp Angler! Jami is an absolute legend in the world of carp angling and now officially a First-Ever Female Pro Staff in United States! Jami, welcome to the family and on behalf of the entire community - Thank You!

Withy Pool Rig by Lee Hurn

The Withy Pool Rig is a carp fishing rig known for its effectiveness, especially in weedy or snaggy waters. It consists of a long, supple hook link material and utilizes a Withy Pool attachment, which is essentially a flexible extension on the hook shank.

Here's a step-by-step breakdown of the Withy Pool Rig:

Materials Needed:

20lbs or so coated hook link

Small rig rings or micro swivel


Choice of hook (chod and wide gape patterns work well)

Shrink tube

Sinkers or shot

Hook Beads

15mm popups 

  • Take a 12-inch segment of the 20lb coated hooklink material.
  • Strip off approximately three inches of the coating.
  • Thread the braid through the front of the hook’s eye.
  • Pass the braid back through the front of the eye again.
  • Pull the tag end until the coating is about 1cm above the eye.
  • Pinch the tag end at its midpoint.
  • Maintain the pinch and execute four wraps down the braid towards the hook.
  • A loop will form beneath your pinch, and the tag should be threaded through it.
  • Tighten the knot securely.
  • Slide a two-inch length of shrink tube over the eye, ensuring it rests above the break in the coating.
  • Shape the shrink tube into a gentle curve using steam from a kettle.
  • Add a sinker or some shot.
  • Place one over the break in the coating and the other a few inches behind it.
  • Slide a rig ring over the point and onto the shank.
  • Follow this up with a Hook Bead/stopper.
  • Apply some putty around the sinker if needed.
  • Complete the rig by attaching a buoyant pop-up. Now you're ready to go!

Reel Laughs

Dave’s new nickname

It was a chilly night at Nazing Meads in England, and Lee Hurn, Steve, and John were on a fishing expedition, determined to conquer the cold and catch some elusive fish. Huddled around three candles like a medieval council, they tried to ward off the freezing night air.

A few swims down, a fellow angler named Dave was also battling the cold, armed with his fishing gear and a determined spirit. As the trio shivered in their bivvy, Dave, seemingly impervious to the cold, managed to hook a 30lb mirror carp.

Excitement filled the air as Dave knocked on their bivvy, proudly declaring his triumph. Lee, Steve, and John, eager for a break from the cold, rushed out to witness the glorious catch. They snapped pictures, congratulated Dave, and then hurried back to the warmth of their bivvy and dwindling candles.

But little did they know, Dave wasn't done. Not by a long shot.

A short while later, another tap echoed through the silent night. It was Dave again, claiming to have caught another massive carp, another 30-pounder. Skepticism mixed with curiosity, the trio reluctantly unzipped their bivvy and trudged back to witness yet another triumph. They took more pictures, shared a few laughs, and returned to their bivvy once again.

The night continued with Dave's repeated success. Tap tap tap – Dave was on a roll. With each announcement, Lee, Steve, and John, started feeling less excited about the taps on their bivvy door. The cold was seeping into their bones, and their enthusiasm was wearing thin.

Finally, Dave excitedly rushed back to their bivvy once again and after a tap tap taphe was ready to share his latest victory. However, this time, he was met with a groaning chorus of "F.Off Dave" from the trio. The repeated interruptions and freezing escapades had taken their toll on the once-enthusiastic audience and laughter filled the air as they had all said shared the same though and voiced it at the exact same time.

And that's how Dave, the seemingly unstoppable carp conqueror, earned himself the affectionate nickname " Dave." As the night continued, Dave kept tapping, and the carp kept coming!