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Using a rowing boat to get an edge in your carp fishing

03 March, 2021

Standing on the bank gazing at the water can feel restrictive and limiting when you’ve tasted the freedom of gliding across the surface in a vessel, but using a rowing boat productively isn’t quite as straightforward as it might seem. Compared with bankside observation, being directly above the fish in a boat is obviously a huge advantage.

In particularly, if you are fishing in France on a week long holiday trip, time will be of the essence if it is a lake you have not previously fished. Having the use of a boat can be massive edge in identifying feeding spots and placing baits effectively.

Using a rowing boat for carp fishing

Safety First

Firstly, be safe. Don’t go afloat if you can’t swim, and always wear a life jacket. If you’re out on a boat alone let someone know where you are.

Use a prodding stick to feel the lake bed

Using as many senses as possible can be a big edge in many aspects of carp fishing. When in a rowing boat your sight is the obvious one to home in on, but we’ll park that for a moment and look at touch. Don’t just look for the fish, get an actual feel for their habitat.  A prodding stick can be invaluable when on the water. Whether it’s an expensive shop-bought item, or just an off-cut length of tubing or wooden stick, having a poke about on the lakebed from above can reveal some fascinating insights. The first time you try it you might be amazed at how hard and rocky those gravel spots are, and just how deep and squidgy the silt is. Subtle differences in firmness can really help you differentiate between good spots and great spots – and you can measure just how deep the silt is by looking at the ‘tide mark’ on your prodding stick.

A pair of polarising glasses will allow you to see deeper into the water

Obviously, improved visibility is a help in all angling situations, so don’t forget to wear polarising glasses every time you go out in a boat. These cut down on glaring reflections, effectively helping you to see through the water’s surface and deeper into the lake.

See how your bait looks on your chosen spot

It can be a great idea to test out how your bait looks on your chosen spots, too. What you might have played with in the margins can look very different in deeper water over different-coloured lakebeds. It can also make you realise just how easily diving birds can home in on your bait when you see your traps from their perspective, so be prepared to dig out the duller-coloured loose offerings afterwards!

using a boat to fine spots

An aquascope is invaluable for looks at the lake bed

For a proper deep delve down below you can’t beat an aquascope (sometimes called bathyscopes), which are effectively glass-bottomed viewing tunnels which you push through the water’s surface for a clearer look beneath the ripples. It’s quite startling how much better you’ll be able to see with one of these. If you don’t want to splash out on an aquascope, then peering beneath the surface through a face mask does a similar job, but be very careful with your balance in a boat.

Use a mapping app to drop a location pin on interesting areas

Angling is often about making plans and setting traps, but on a boat you can do things differently and quite literally drift along. You don’t have to be always actively looking for spots and fish – if your water is quiet enough, don’t be afraid to put down the oars and bob along silently. You might be amazed at how close carp will come to your boat, and you might just spot some activity you wouldn’t have seen from the bank. If you do spot something worth investigating further, use a mapping app on your phone to drop a location pin, or – if the venue allows – place a semi-permanent marker like an H block tethered to a heavy lead, or even a bamboo pole planted into the lakebed. When back on dry land you can often tell if fish are in the area if your marker pole starts bending and rocking. One venue in the UK even has a bell attached to a permanent marker pole!

Try going against the grain

With access to a rowing boat you can bait up and drop rigs at will, but don’t fall into the trap of doing things just because you can. A boat gives you the chance to put 20kg of tiger nuts on one spot, but it doesn’t mean you should! In fact, if everyone on your lake is using a boat then try dropping single hookbaits to really go against the grain and trick carp that might have come conditioned to associating big tight beds of bait with dangers.using a rowing boat to bait up

If you are fishing tight to snags have a plan to land the fish

A boat also gives you the opportunity to think sensibly about what might happen once you’ve hooked a fish. We certainly wouldn’t advise fishing recklessly close to obstructions or around corners, but having access to a vessel means you can inspect overhangs and snags at close quarters and work out what you might do if a fish darts in their direction. You might even be allowed to temporarily plant a storm pole, or even permanently position a scaffold tube, in front of an island or snag to keep your mainline away from hazards during a fight.

Final words

As with all tactics and techniques, if you use a boat like everyone else does then your results are unlikely to be any different from theirs. If you use your initiative and try something a little different, you might just stumble on something extraordinary.

Using a rowing boat to get an edge in your carp fishing