UNDERSTANDING WHAT MAKES CARP TICK IS THE ROUTE TO A FRUITFUL AUTUMN CAMPAIGN
UNDERSTAND CARP BEHAVIOUR
Carp will try to maintain a steady body temperature, meaning they will back off a cold wind and seek out the warmest possible areas of the lake. During the autumn, any time you stand in the face of the wind and think “That’s freezing”, the chances are the fish will be thinking the same!
If you can’t find active fish on the wind, try looking at sheltered, sunny areas, or identify areas between islands and bars that offer stable conditions for the fish. When you’ve found them, chances are they will be in that area for a while, so you can reap the rewards.
GET IN SYNC!
There is a marked change in feeding times on many waters at this time of year, often shifting from morning to the middle of the night. If you’re not on the lake at the right time you will be missing out, so be prepared to tailor your angling trips around the fish.
If that means doing the odd overnighter in the week, so be it – you’ll be angling far more effectively than on day sessions.
TARGET SILT BEDS
As the water temperatures dip, invertebrates that the carp feed on crawl into the sediment to nestle down for the winter. The carp instinctively know about these valuable ‘larders’ and will take full advantage. That’s why you often see bubbling in the autumn as the carp harvest the naturals.
Catching carp under these circumstances can be infuriating, and fishing an unnaturallooking, perfectly round boilie really is about as ineffective as you can get.
Ring the changes with an alternative hookbait such as a little nut or a bit or Peperami – it’s often enough to trip up a carp or two. I’d add a caveat here - if your bait is really ‘rocking’ and the fish are actively looking for it, don’t worry. Just chuck it among the bubblers, before sitting back to await a warbling buzzer!
OPTIMISE YOUR RIGS
Most rigs will work in silt, but take care with any left out for extended periods if your venue experiences any significant undertow. My opinions on lead arrangements have swung quite radically in this sense and I now prefer a lead clip arrangement and a longer hooklink when fishing over silt.
With a helicopter rig, the undertow can cause the leader to get progressively buried deeper into the silt whenever the bow in the line is taken up by the tow, and this drags the hooklink down into the mire as well.
CONCEAL YOUR LINE
The reduction in light levels, weed and suspended algae that takes place in autumn means you need to be even more careful about laying your mainline on the lakebed.
If your spot is within reasonable casting range, using a good fluorocarbon mainline
like Mirage can really help (Nige and I differ on this point!). Used in conjunction with little bobbins, it’s possible to use small tell-tale lifts to learn whether fish are present and feeding in the vicinity of your terminal tackle.
RESEARCH THE HOTSPOTS
There is enormous benefit in getting the fish used to regularly seeing bait over the winter, and keeping a steady trickle going in can work wonders. You can set traps that are likely to be tripped even if a small pod of carp come in and browse lightly in you pre-baited areas.
To this end, do some research on historically productive winter zones, understanding when in winter they produced fish, and work to a loose plan, prepping areas for a week or two ahead of planned trips.
If your lake doesn’t contain loads of silverfish, then using maggots can be nothing short of miraculous! They’re hugely digestible, and can be fished as big balls or on a Mag-aligner arrangement. There’s no need to go overboard either. A gallon of ‘germs’ (costing not a lot more than a kilo of boilies) is ample for a couple of nights.
Spod them out and use a PVA bag to focus the fish’s attention around the hookbait, which should be mounted on a nice soft hooklink (something like Trickster is ideal).
If you get your location right, you could enjoy a veritable bobbins bonanza!
WRAP UP YOUR SPOTS
Using distance sticks to ‘wrap up’ distances to spots you’ve found in the lake makes accurate fishing possible even if you arrive at the lake after dark. If you do a bit of prep work and write down all the spots, noting skyline markers too, it’s simple as sausages to fish as tight and effectively at night as you can in the day.
This is an immensely powerful autumn tool, and I now look back at the pre-wrapping years and despair at the way we used to do it!
At this time of year the fish often show in the early hours – so set your alarm clock, put the kettle on and get out of your pit. You won’t know a thing about fish showing if you’re not conscious!
This could lead to you getting the drop on other anglers and catching some lumps by moving into areas that they are using actively at night. It’s an addictive buzz once you have caught after being proactive!
Choose the venues you fish and your company wisely, and don’t be afraid to occasionally have a social and recharge your batteries. Fishing is supposed to be enjoyable and not trench warfare, so its okay now and again to take your foot off the gas and enjoy a chill-out with your friends just admiring the sunsets and sunrises (always spectacular in the autumn) and maybe enjoying a quiet beer or two. The fish are at peak weights too, and when the buzzer bleeps there’s a good chance it’ll be a true whacker on the end of the line…
I now prefer a lead clip and a longer hooklink when fishing over silt.
Keeping ‘hotspots’ topped up with bait is a great habit to get into.
If there aren’t too many silverfish about, maggots are hard to beat.
Fluorocarbon helps when you want to lay your line tight to the lakebed.