Whilst the weather is still pretty changeable, most parts of the country have had a few days of warm temperatures and light Westerly winds -
ideal conditions to get the carp moving. Whilst you can stalk carp on some waters most of the time, these conditions really make life a lot easier. Firstly, the air temperature will be warmer than the water, so the carp will tend to be found along the bank facing the wind. They will also tend to be in the surface layers, making them very visible if you wear polarised glasses.
In the summer carp can be incredibly frustrating, whilst they are visible, when the water is too warm they become lethargic and uninterested in bait. At the moment though they can still be tempted right through the day. Try to creep up on the fish and watch their reaction. If the carp are moving around, interacting with other fish and generally looking pretty alert then they are catchable. What you don't want to see are fish that are just sitting there motionless.
You might think that surface baits would be the easiest way of catching these carp. This is true - sometimes, but I find that you need a decent breeze to catch during the day. The wave action breaks up the silhouette of the line, giving the fish a little more confidence. Alternatively, look to make use of any surface weed to hide the line from the fish.
As the fish are right in the edge there is no need for complex rigs. Normally a couple of mixers can be free-lined to the fish, once you have got them feeding confidently. Whatever you do don't try and catch one until they are actually looking for more bait. One of my favourite methods at this time of the year is to drape the line over an overhanging branch and then to gently lower the bait onto the water surface so that no line is touching the surface. When you get a take, don't strike too hard, wait for the carp to run away from you, lifting the line off the branch and then tighten up.
Surface fishing is very exciting, but there is a more effective method of catching carp at this time of year. Generally, the carp will be the only fish right in the margins, so you can fish for them with baits that might otherwise pick up nuisance fish. Maggots are the bait par-excellence for pulling carp down for a feed. Even when the fish are swimming around in mid-water they will easily locate a few maggots and come to investigate.
My plan is normally to watch the carp for an hour or more. Make a note of any spots where the fish linger, or where they turn, next look for spots where you can present a bait on the lake bed, free from too much weed or snags. When the fish melt away, introduce a handful of maggots and the same amount of hemp on to the clear patch. Once again, don't cast out. Sit back, chill out and watch the reaction of the fish. Each time the carp leave the swim add another pinch of maggots to replace any that become buried. It can often take a few hours before the carp decide to feed, but eventually they will and slowly their confidence will build up.
When the carp are feeding on the maggots, colouring the water, it is time to introduce the hook bait. Wait for the carp to leave the swim and then swing the rig into place. I normally use six maggots on a size eight hook balanced with a small piece of rig foam. A six inch nylon hook length of 10-15lb strain depending on the size of the fish is used. Leads need only be light, 1.5oz is normally enough to set the small hook. Now sink the line so that it is out of the way of fish entering the swim, top up with a few more maggots - and make sure you put the baitrunner on! Takes when you are almost eyeball to eyeball are pretty explosive!