Andy Bradnock: Carp Fishing Superstitions

Andy Bradnock is back with another insightful article and this time he delves into the world of carp fishing superstitious. Let’s just say we’ve all been there and can relate in some way, shape or form!

Andy says…

Magpie Lore and the Dark Side of the Moon

We are a superstitious lot us carp anglers at the best of times and I suspect that we do many things based on feelings and suspicions rather than science and cold hard facts. This is obviously fine, who cares so long as we are having fun, however I thought it may be interesting to explore a few of our strongly held beliefs (that, or I have caught bugger all and need something to write about).

The most important is obviously Magpie lore. This is much more complicated than it would appear at first sight. I am not the most qualified to write this but the true Magpie Gandalf that is Adam Whittington won’t be drawn on the subject for fear of upsetting the lords of the kismet. I have however studied at the knee of the master, so may be able to shed a small amount of light on what is an obviously daunting subject. There are many subtle nuances that can greatly affect the potency of the auspice.

Firstly, the time of year is important. In winter a single magpie is at its most powerful, it is a harbinger of doom and blank sessions. Sadly a pair of magpies at this time of year is less significant and is no guarantee of angling success. More than two magpies, as at every time of year means nothing. They are just birds and the only people who place any significance on them should be shunned and ridiculed, the same as reel handle folders and fans of hipperdyhop music.

The lone magpie… an evil for many an angler.

In the spring a single magpie is at its weakest, for the love of god don’t risk sneering at the beast but don’t go into an inconsolable depression on the sighting of one. However, rejoice from the rooftops if in the spring you are confronted by a pair, it is just about the most nailed on certainty of full nets anyone can receive from the angling gods. It is like being kissed by the ghost of Isaac himself!

You also have to assess the presentation. A magpie flying away from you may not be your bird and is en route to dooming some other poor hapless carper. However if it deliberately crosses your path especially after first arriving in a swim you are in trouble. If it calls out to ensure it has your attention don’t even bother getting the kit off the barrow. Every cast will end up in a tree and if you manage to hook anything it will fall off. A single magpie can be classed as one magpie seen that isn’t joined by a second bird within one breath. You will often see carpers going blue holding that single breath hoping for a second magpie to fly past.

However I am also here to offer some hope as I have found that there is a way to ward off the bad juju of a single magpie. On a Frimley trip last year while traveling to the lake and on entering my chosen swim I was single magpied on three separate occasions. The quote of ‘abandon hope all yeah who enter here’ crossed my mind.

However on that first night I had a take on my left rod. When going to deal with the unexpected intrusion to my sleep I found a perfectly constructed mole hill that was right under and almost high enough to touch my rod butts. I was careful not to disturb this mound as the luck was obviously pouring forth from it and went on to land a 20lb common. The next 36hrs went on to produce 3 further thirties and a forty. So I obviously concluded that magpies may be powerful but the humble secretive mole is a truly magical beast.

The magpie didn’t stop me from catching this 30!

So with all this evidence, are magpies any more influential on us catching carp than any of the other quasi science we believe in? Every time we remember something from a good session it occupies a greater significance in our minds.

Try a session where you are careful to get your reel handles level (don’t fold them that is for people who suck toes and eat marmite). If you catch you will undoubtedly be doing it again on the next trip. I know this is all horse s*** (not sure if I can get away with ‘s***’ on this website but what the hell it is definitely horse s***), but what I am getting at is how our subconscious processes things some times.

The rod inspection crew agreed they were level!

This all brings me to the significance some anglers put on the moon phase. The main issue as carp anglers is getting enough data to draw any meaningful conclusions. The only catch volume big enough to do surveys would have been those sent in to Carp Talk. This is also flawed and difficult to assess because the ‘catch per unit effort’ CPUE cannot be assessed. This equates to ‘say’ 10 carp caught on a full moon but 1000 anglers were out fishing, is less significant than when 10 carp are caught but 30 anglers were on the bank. The carp talk data will only be fish caught. No one will have written in to say I did 2 nights for a bream and 3 crayfish.

I find the solunar tables fascinating on two levels. First as an effect on fishing but also as a look into the human psyche. First, let’s get a few myths sorted before we go any further. 1) There is no more crime reported/committed on a full moon. A study in Finland which covered homicides from 1961-2014 found that homicides were less likely on a full moon, 751 were committed on a full moon and between 831-895 on the other 8 moon phases. Also day of the week is a much more important factor with burglaries in the UK. You are less likely to be burgled on a Monday. 2) The full moon has no effect on the weather. The moon phase seen is the same over the entire planet so cannot drop the pressure and becalm every carp lake on earth.

I have also seen that there is ‘evidence’ that certain fish get caught on set moon phases. The most talked about on the net that I could find was the Burghfield common. However here is the rub. It has been caught so few times that the data is almost pointless. In 8 captures 2 were on new moons, 3 were on pretty well full moons the other 3 were between waning crescents third quarter and waxing gibbous.

Does the moon effect us or the fish?

So although only 37.5% of the captures occurred on a full moon, it has been concluded that the BC loves a full moon – everyone knows this. I would also like to suggest that as these are records that pretty well cover 20 years of angling on Burghfield that, although the BC has been caught on 3 full moons it has not been caught on 240 full moons. Again it has been caught on 2 new moons but again not on the other 240 in that time. Does a full moon seem less significant in the light of this?

The Solunar tables were originally constructed by a guy called John Alden Knight in 1926. He did all his research on shore fishing and concluded that the best times to angle were on the new and full moons. This is when the tides are at their greatest and therefore generating the largest currents. I have dived in some of the biggest currents on the planet and this increased flow of water has obvious effects on the feeding activity of the fish as more food is brought in.

The bigger the tide also means more shore is covered so allowing fish to feed on ‘virgin’ ground but also low tide allows an angler to fish much further out than would have been previously possible. Tidal range can be enormous and depends on your position on the planet it can be a few feet up to the greatest tidal range of 53ft. It therefore makes a huge amount of sense that moon phase will make a difference to sea fishing, but how does this equate to still waters. The size of lakes we fish means the moon has no effect on water movement even the Canadian great lakes only have a tidal range of about 5cm. Therefore water movement cannot be a factor in freshwater. Could the moon have other affects? In saltwater benthic animals (rooted on spot) co-ordinate breeding around moon phases. The most famous would be coral spawning on the Ningaloo reef. This means sperm and eggs are released at the same time so the chances of fertilization increases which is not unlike a Saturday night out in Magaluf. In freshwater we don’t really have that population of organisms most of our benthic animals like bloodworm breed in a winged form so don’t need to co-ordinate.

The difficulty in drawing conclusions from any of this is getting the data in a meaningful volume. In 2008 Dr Steven Cooke of Carleton University put the solunar hypothesis to the test. Large Mouth Bass anglers in Canada seem to be much more into solunar tables than we carp anglers are, with the accepted theory that LMB are more active and therefore more catchable during a full moon. What they did was wire up a research lake in Eastern Ontario with telemetry tracking devices which allowed them to track every move the bass made 24/7 for a whole year. They concluded that there was no evidence that bass were affected by the lunar cycle except during spring where on a waxing and waning phase the fish seemed to be in shallower water but this difference was in the order of 10cm. Also this phase would be considered not as good for fishing.

The only other extensive records I could find with regards to moon phase and fishing was marlin fishing in New Zealand. Sam Mossman collated catch data of the NZ Bay of Islands Swordfish club which is the world’s 2nd oldest game fishing club. Using the entire catch archive that dated back to the 1700’s he collated catches made to the moon phase. What he could not work out is how much effort was made for each capture as no record of the number of boats fishing on each day was made. Again as with Carp Talk all this data only equates to captures not blank days. However even taking this into account the 11000 marlin captures between 1930 -1995 did not produce any obvious pattern despite the boat skippers being convinced the best days to be out are around the full moon. He did manage to suggest that the worst day to be out was the day after a full moon and the best was 3 days before a full moon however this was not statistically relevant and fell within the normal variation. His conclusion after all this was the best day to go fishing was when you can.

The final experiment I could find was again related to swordfish off the coast of Reunion island. The long line fishery had hook timers attached so takes could be recorded. They found that the capture per unit effort was highest during the first and last quarters of the moon phase. However Albacore catching was better on a full moon.

So all this makes drawing any meaningful conclusions from a scientific perspective almost impossible. However, if more people make sure they are fishing on a good moon phase more fish will be caught but the CPUE will be lower. This is all well and good but I only get to fish on Sunday night so when it comes around that my night falls on a good moon phase every angler and his granny will have turned up. This is massively frustrating for me so I definitely want it to stop. Angling will always be a pastime where we are trying to find a way to unlock a code that will allow us to catch more.

In the 70’s we were obsessed with finding the ultimate bait. In the 80’s it was the ultimate rig. Now with a lot of the secrecy of carp fishing lost any new edge evaporates quickly so we look to more mystical methods of improving our catch rates. At this rate we will all end up believing in homeopathy and crop circles. I am probably doing them a massive disservice but I feel that people who think moon phases are the most important thing want to believe they just know more than everyone else and we are just sheep. This is how conspiracy theories are generated. I can find absolutely no hard proper evidence to support a moon phase theory but I am happy to be proved wrong and I think we should pay more attention to magpies, mole hills and tea leaves than moons. Go fishing as often as you can get away with without getting divorced and pull out all the stops around a new big SW wind.

Having said all this when fishing last week I looked up to see a great big pale red full moon and it did make me feel like I was going to catch even though I don’t think it makes a jot of difference to the carp. However, maybe it makes a difference to carp anglers. Maybe I am just a muggle and don’t have a mystical bone in my body so will never understand the magical moon world.

– Andy

The post Andy Bradnock: Carp Fishing Superstitions appeared first on Dynamite Baits.

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Andy Bradnock: Carp Fishing Superstitions
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