21 essential tricks for autumn
It’s a brilliant time for bagging right now… here’s what to do!
ILOVE this time of year, as many of the venues I fish stop being all about carp and switch to sessions where more species, baits, rigs, and tactics come to the fore.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m the first to enjoy a busy session on long pole shallow when the sun is shining, but adding bream, skimmers and roach to the mix in autumn just makes my fishing so much more varied and enjoyable.
I think this change in season is when the thinking angler gets his rewards too, and every little edge you can create can make a big difference to your results.
Here are a few of the tricks I’m using right now…
DON’T BE BLINKERED
AUTUMN is the best time to target quality silverfish, and in a match situation these fish often become essential to a win.
It’s all about being flexible with your approach and responding to the key feeding times of the species you’re fishing for.
Quite often I will plan to target carp early and late on in the match – the times when these fish tend to feed – and then fill the otherwise biteless gap in the middle of the match by catching silverfish.
This is far better than sitting waiting for a carp to come along, as it means you are always putting weight into your net. If you can catch 10lb of silvers in two hours that’s the equivalent of two carp on a lot of venues, and at the weigh-in that 10lb can be the difference between framing and not.
FIND SOME COVER
AS LONG as there is more than 12ins of water against bankside cover it’s well worth looking for carp there.
Cover makes them feel safe, so the tighter you go, the more likely you are to get a bite!
Quite often it’s worth going down without feeding first, as the carp are likely to be already there.
Then, when you have caught a few, try feeding small amounts of bait to keep the bites coming.
GO BIGGER WITH MEAT
MEAT is very much the ‘in’ bait, but it’s still well worth thinking about hookbait choice.
I always start on a single 6mm cube – after all, I’m feeding 6mm cubes so it makes sense to fish the same on the hook.
However, I’ll change depending on bites and, if I find if the fishing is hard, two cubes tend to produce more bites than one or even half-a-cube – probably because the bigger bait stands out more.
COMBINE MEAT WITH CASTERS
MEAT is a great bait at the moment as carp feed up before the colder weather arrives.
I like to feed it with casters, which are unbeatable for holding carp in the swim.
On commercials I feed a 250ml pot containing two-thirds caster and one-third meat to kick the swim off. I then loosefeed meat over the top. If bites go a bit funny or the swim dies I simply get the big pot out again and feed some more casters!
USE STEALTHY FEEDERS
A MINI pellet feeder can be a great choice at this time of the year as it doesn’t make a big splash when it hits the water.
A big feeder can easily spook carp, especially once the water starts to clear.
It’s also easier to regulate the amount of bait you are feeding – of course, if the carp are really having it you can increase the feed but if they aren’t then it’s much better to start on a small feeder and go bigger later.
CREATE RIGS FOR A SLOW FALL
AS THE water gets that little bit clearer, light floats really come into their own when pole fishing. They give a slower fall of the hookbait, which I believe at this time of year produces more bites as the fish follow the hookbait down before taking it.
As a guide, when fishing baits like meat and corn, I will often fish just a 4x12 float in 7ft of water.
USE BACK SHOTS
GOOD presentation is vital when pole fishing, so it never ceases to amaze me how many anglers still don’t fish with back shots.
Back shots are something I now always fish with. Normally they involve attaching a string of three or four No9 shot between pole float and pole-tip.
The first shot is placed 2ins-3ins above the float and the rest are spaced at 3ins intervals above this.
These back shots not only help in terms of presentation but they also make me stay tight on the float, which in turn means I miss fewer bites.
SWITCH YOUR WAGGLER
WITH the water temperature starting to drop the pellet waggler starts to become a less fashionable tactic, which is odd really because it still works!
All it needs is tweaking slightly – instead of fishing a short stumpy waggler I like to switch to a proper float like a peacock insert.
The longer float allows me to fish deeper with good presentation, and this is the real secret to success at this time of the year.
As the water temperature falls, the carp in turn will drop down lower in the water column.
So if you want to catch carp on the waggler right now you should be prepared to go deeper.
As a guide I would say a float set 4ft deep in 8ft of water is a good starting point.
DON’T DUMP THE MAGGOTS
RIGHT now maggots are almost unbeatable for F1s. There are two ways of feeding them – either by hand if you’re fishing close in or, if fishing the long pole, then via a Kinder-style pot.
To get the most out of maggots when targeting F1s you need to feed little and often, as they don’t tend to be a species that responds well to dump potting as other carp do.
SOFTEN YOUR MEAT
TO GET the best out of meat I always like to keep it damp while I’m fishing. Meat that dries out can potentially float and besides, keeping it damp also helps to soften it for use on the hook, and carp love a soft bait.
To keep it damp all I do is cover it with water and then drain that water off after five minutes. This ensures the meat is wet but not soaking. I then simply cover it with a wet towel to stop the air getting to it.
PLUMB ALL OVER YOUR SWIM
PLUMBING the depth is particularly important at this time of year, as features above and below the water will hold fish.
I always spend a good five minutes plumbing around to get an accurate picture of what’s in front of me. It might sound obvious because everyone does it, but do it properly and it can make a massive difference.
Too many anglers already have a preconceived idea how to fish a peg and therefore only plumb the areas they intend to fish, rather than the whole swim. They then miss out on a potential fish-holding area as they have no idea it’s there.
ENSURE YOU LAND EVERY FISH
TO LAND every carp hooked there’s no better pole elastic than White Hydro. I can land carp from 2lb to mid-doubles on this.
It’s best to fish it with a puller kit. This way you can hook a fish, steer it out of the swim and then, once the fish is in close, use the puller to quickly gain control. It might take slightly longer to land a big fish but as long as it ends up in the landing net it’s worth it.
FEED PARTICLES IN THE EDGE
FOR the margins you now need to change your approach slightly. Rather than dumping loads of groundbait in the edge I find it better to feed dead maggots and wetted-down 2mm pellets.
These are a great combo. The pellets attract carp and then, once they arrive, they feed on the dead maggots.
MASTER THE BOMB AND PELLET
THE straight lead and pellet comes into its own now. Carp like to feed on the move so loosefeed 8mm hard pellets over the top of your hookbait.
I feed 3-5 pellets every two minutes, then cast around the baited area. If you fish just past your loosefeed you’ll pick up any sat at the back of the feed. If you start getting line bites you can drop back short on to the feed, knowing there are fish already there.
NOISE can still attract carp into your peg, and pinging in hard pellets on a little-and-often basis on the pole is the way to create it.
I use hard 6mm pellets and feed 3-5 of these every 90 seconds to pull fish into the swim.
I will keep pinging until I get an indication. Once I do I will stop pinging and keep lifting and dropping the rig until I catch the culprit! The secret to this type of fishing is not to feed too much. If you do, line bites and foul hookers can become a nightmare!
DON’T IGNORE BREAD
BREAD is a bait that many anglers associate with the depths of winter, but in actual fact it catches carp all year round.
One of my favourite Method feeder hookbaits is three or four 10mm discs of bread on a hair rig.
Being bright white, these discs make a brilliant stand-out hookbait and once the bread fluffs up, carp find it hard to resist.
BRIGHT METHOD BAITS
NOW that the colour is dropping out of the water on most commercial fisheries it’s well worth putting a little bit more thought into the colour of your hookbaits when fishing the Method feeder.
Colour can make all the difference in clear water, so instead of using what I call ‘blend in’ hookbaits such as dark pellets, as I would in the summer, at this time of year I prefer to switch bright, highly visible baits such as mini boilies in fluoro orange or yellow.
Carp find these easy to locate by sight.
LIQUIDISE YOUR CORN
JUST because it’s that bit colder it doesn’t mean that on snake lakes you can’t catch in the shallow water.
The key is to put a cloud in the water, and liquidised corn is ideal. Fed through a Kinder pot, it explodes on the surface and carp then move into the cloud to feed.
I like to put four or five grains of corn in a small pot and cap it with the liquidised corn. Fish attracted by the cloud will feed on the solid offerings on the bottom. Hookbait is a grain of corn or a slow-sinking corn skin.
FOR pole work my rule of thumb is 4ins shooklengths for shallow water, and 6ins for deeper water.
The only exception to this is for my F1 rigs, where I prefer short, 4ins hooklengths even in deep water.
The reason is that I like my F1 rigs to be positive, and a 4ins hooklength allows me to put shot that little bit closer to the hook.
ALWAYS TAKE CORN
AS THINGS start to cool down, corn comes into its own – it’s easy for the fish to spot easily and readily digestible by the fish.
I always tend to find less is more with corn so I like to feed just 4-8 grains at a time on the pole and fish it out.
When fished in multiples of two or three grains, corn also makes a great stand-out hookbait when fishing the straight lead.
FISH THE CONE
WHEN you need to feed a little less bait the pellet cone is perfect.
I prefer to use 4mm baits so I’m not putting so many individual particles around my hookbait. I like to soak mine in the normal way but then add a squirt of Mainline Cell Stick Mix to help them bind. Not only does this sticky the pellets up but it gives the pellets a flavour boost too.