Fish care is vital from the moment you begin to land the carp. From unhooking the carp to preparing it to weigh, to taking photos and releasing it back into the water, it is of the utmost importance that great care is taken over the fish. All too often you will land carp with damaged scales from where another angler hasn’t taken adequate care of the fish. We, here at Angling Direct believe that to truly respect a carp, and be worthy of landing it you must take care of it. As the saying goes, if you take care of your carp, you carp will take care of you. Carp that are well looked after out of the water will grow, and reproduce, well in the water.
Unhooking Mats - A key part of carp care, unhooking is the aspect of carp fishing where the fish are most likely to sustain damage. Every angler should know that a fish needs to be unhooked on a soft, damp surface. The bank just doesn’t cut the mustard, no matter how soft the grass is, or how damp the ground is. An unhooking mat ensures that your carp is getting adequate fish care. We stock a huge range of innovative mats that have been designed with the primary purpose of protecting unhooked carp whilst unhooking and photography.
Carp Cradle - Same padded base as the classic unhooking mat, a carp cradle has the added benefit of high rise padded sides. If you’re someone who regularly finds themselves having to battel with particularly hard fighting or aggressive captures on the bank, this is the perfect option for you. Not only does it trap the fish, meaning that if they do begin to fight back they aren’t going anywhere, but it also calms the fish. This is also why you’ll find that some unhooking mats have attached covers, designed for laying over the fish to keep them in the dark whilst you set up your weighing equipment.
Weigh Sling - Every angler wants to know the weight of their quarry, and weigh slings are another vital aspect of carp care. A sling that properly supports the fish is not only going to protect the carp but it will also keep it calm – stopping the carp from thrashing in the sling and injuring itself. All the weigh slings in Angling Directs carp fish care selection have been made with fish-friendly materials, so as not to damage the carp’s delicate scales, and have been constructed to complement the shape of the carp.
Accessories - We also stock a range of carp care kits, from leading carp fishing brands such as Korda and Nash. These are medical kits which allow you to repair any damage you or other anglers may have accidentally caused. Placing a bit of medical serum into the mouth of the carp where it was hooked can help the hook wound to heal. These gels and serums can also be applied to other wounds on the body where other anglers haven’t been so gentle. If you want your carp to thrive and to continue to grow, these medical carp care kits are vital additions to your tackle box.
Add ons - some cradles and mats come with additional padded side flaps or you can invest in a separate one. An extra piece of material attached to your unhooking mat is ideal for you to kneel on whilst you unhook your fish, protecting your knees from the lumps and bumps of the ground in the same way that you’re protecting your carp. This fabric can also be used to cover the fish, providing shade on sunny days.
Fish are used to swimming through the water and, as such, they are not designed to be pressed against a firm surface. By placing your fish directly on the bank, you seriously risk damaging its scales. Not only is the bank hard but it is also rarely smooth. Twigs, stones, and other bankside debris can be dangerously damaging for your capture. This is why all the unhooking mats and cradles in our range are padded. This padding protects them from the lumps and bumps of the bankside terrain – ensuring that you can return the fish to the water in the exact same condition in which you removed it. In the water, the carp (or other fish) is somewhat protected from the feeling of its own weight, as it is partially supported by the water. Padding on your unhooking mat ensures that it does not cause itself so much damage.
Hydration - A dry mat will strip the protective mucus layer from the fish, placing the fish at risk to diseases and damage so remember when using your unhooking mat that you keep it wet – preferably with cold water directly from the lake. Whilst your fish is on the mat, you should pour more water over it, helping to keep the fish cool, and the mat lubricated.
Size - When you’re looking to invest in an unhooking mat, cradle or weigh sling, it is important to purchase one which is big enough for your target fish. You don’t want your carp shuffling off your flat mat and you certainly don’t want to be forcing your fish into a too-small cradle. If you’re uncertain, we would recommend erring on the side of caution, as it is almost always better to have a matt which is slightly too big, as opposed to a mat which is too small.
Disinfecting - Always clean and completely dry your mats before and after a session to avoid contaminating other waters and potentially harming future carp that you catch.
Examination - You should take the time to examine your capture on the bank before weighing it, so you can add or treat wounds with the appropriate serums or record details of the injury to inform your fisheries bailiff.
For more Carp Care tips, check out the AD blog!
Angling Direct are so committed to fish care that we have produced our own brand fish care products in our Advanta range. To complement our own range, we also stock fish care goods from all the other big-name brands, including Trakker, Nash, and Cotswold Aquarius.
If you would like any further information about any of the carp fishing fish care products we stock, our customer services team are on hand to answer any and all of your queries.