What happens to carp in a flood?

A number of popular lakes have broken their banks in recent years so we decided to find out what happens to the carp when this happens…

The science behind flooding

As you might expect, the time of year that flooding occurs has a big bearing on the outcome, but you might not know that the effects can last for many years.

Fishery scientist Dr Paul Garner told Carpfeed: “Floods can cause a few problems for lakes with silt and diseases coming in, but the extra nutrients can be a bonus. You’ll often see lakes that have flooded become weedier than normal in the following couple of years and although this can make the fishing tougher it can give the fish extra natural food and boost weights.

“Because the chemistry of the water has changed, it can take a while for the fish and the fishing to return to normal after the floods have receded. If my lake had flooded I would go in with a softly-softly baiting approach, even if the water had previously responded well to lots of bait, to begin with.

Dr Paul Garner says the impact of flooding can last years

Dr Paul Garner says the impact of flooding can last years

“In spring, when the carp are more active, the fish will go and explore the flooded areas and feed on terrestrial insects and earthworms. I know of a couple of anglers down south who were fishing a flooded lake a couple of years ago and they were catching from the pegs that had previously been on dry land. The flat swims were the ideal feature to bait up and carp are inquisitive creatures so you can catch them from areas that are normally on dry land.”

What it means for fishery owners

Linear Fisheries in Oxfordshire had to close part of its day-ticket site last month but thanks to measures put in place after the summer floods of 2007, no fish were in danger of being lost.

General manager Chris Blunt told us: “The main thing is safety. When the flood waters rise you might not know where the edge of the water is or where the brooks and streams are. We do now err on the side of caution – where perhaps 15 years ago you would fish these swims, it’s now more a case of guaranteeing anglers’ safety, especially in winter floods.

“On our lakes, where the fish are used to bait and leads going in every day, it can take them a little while to get going again. It depends on a number of factors including what the weather is like when the lakes re-open – if it’s mild south-westerlies then they will probably fish well. I know that when we have a big freeze up and snow settles on the ice that the lakes fish very well after it’s all melted, but floods can be a bit more unpredictable.

“Summer floods can be worse than winter ones as the fish are more active and oxygen levels can fall and the extra water washes in things you don’t want to be in the water. In winter, the fish aren’t as active and don’t tend to explore the flooded areas as much.”

I fished a flooded lake and caught a pb!

Rising waters didn't stop Kevin Black from landing this thirty

Rising waters didn't stop Kevin Black from landing this thirty

Kevin Black was unperturbed by rising water levels that cut him off completely during a session at Ladywood Lakes in West Yorkshire.

The Mirfield angler fished from Christmas Eve and caught a 30lb common on New Year’s Day from a margin spot that was being deluged by incoming floodwater.

The fish beat his previous personal best by 7lb and was caught just 4ft from the bank on a 6ft Nash Sawn-Off Scope rod.

Kevin presented a Korda Dumbbell hookbait tipped with fake maggots on a KD rig tied with a size 8 Korda hook. He fed the swim by hand with pellets, maggots and corn.

Kevin's swim (circled) was completely cut off!

Kevin's swim (circled) was completely cut off!