If You Feed Them In The Right Area…
They Will Come!
by Sammy Bacino
Although I have been fishing all my life, I am relatively new to pursuing carp as my target species. For the last 15 years, I have been fortunate enough to have a lake house in Michigan, which allows me to wash away the stress of life near the city. I have fished for largemouth bass on this clear lake for many years. In addition, to being a good bass lake, this lake houses another resident well known to the bass fishing world who is like a big brother to me. This particular resident is known as the Z Train or Mark Zona and I can guarantee you that there is not a human on earth that knows this special lake and the beasts that dwell in it better than Z.
A couple years back Zona and I were fishing one early morning and the bass were cracking the surface everywhere. As the sun began to rise, I heard what I thought to be a cinder block being thrown into the water. I said to Zona, “Did you hear that?” He responded immediately, “That was a carp Sammy.” I have heard stories about the carp slamming up against the pontoon boats during the spawn, but I have never actually seen one close to shore. Zona went on to tell me that there are 40 and 50-pound carp that inhabit this lake and in the 1960s the Michigan state record carp was caught from this very lake. This information blew my mind and I immediately started planning a strategy on how to catch one of these elusive brutes.
Z is one of those bass anglers that just loves to fish. He will fish for almost anything, which includes carp. We developed a plan using his knowledge about the lake and my little knowledge about carp fishing in hopes to lure in one of these state record carp. Our plan was to bait an area in front of my house with sweet corn for 3 days, then give fishing a try at night. As I mentioned before, this lake has very clear water. After a three-day baiting campaign, I was able to see that not one kernel of corn had been touched. I continued baiting on and off for two months and every time the same result.
This really had me scratching my head. Did the carp in this lake not see corn as a food source? According to Zona he was not aware of anyone catching a carp on this lake with rod and reel for over 20 years. We had nobody with experience to talk to and I needed some advice. Therefore, I went to a local carp tournament and starting asking questions. The majority of the anglers said, “If you feed them, they will come.” In hindsight, this advice was only somewhat true. Another person probed me about my lake. I explained it is clear water lake, with a sandy bottom and only 3 feet deep for almost 150 yards, and then it drops off. “THATS IT!” he said. Have you baited the drop off?” No sir I answered. He went on to explain that the reason I have never seen a carp on this lake was due to the clear/shallow water and the fish were probably fearful to come in close to shore during the day.
I had new life and a new plan that made total sense. I baited the drop off for two days morning and night, and then woke up to a glass lake on the third morning. I immediately started seeing movement on the surface right in the area that I baited. Then it happened, a big boy crashed right over the bait. I baited the spot again that evening and set the alarm for 5am.
The next morning, I set up on my father-in-laws diving dock that was about 50 yards from the drop off and casted a ball of bait in that area. After about 10 minutes my line took off… I finally did it… but I still needed to land this fish. Zona had been using reverse psychology on me for weeks saying that catching a carp on this lake is impossible and if I did it, it would be an unreal feat. This drove me nuts, because I knew what he was doing. At last, the fish was in the net, my first carp on my home lake. I bet you cannot guess whom I sent the first picture to?
Honestly, if I would have kept baiting the same area that I was initially, I believe the carp would have found it eventually. After moving my baiting area another 60 yards father near the drop off, I almost had instant results. For me the big lesson I learned that year was, if you feed carp in the RIGHT AREA… they will come!
By: Sam Bacino