SOME OF THE VERY BEST CARP ARE CAUGHT NOW... I’M READY FOR THEM
Misty mornings, colourful leaves and plump carp looking their very best are what I love most about the autumn.
It’s a time when the banks are often quieter, and a timewhen the carp are feeding hard in preparation for winter. If I were to choose just one period in the year to target big carp it would have to be from now through until around Christmas. At last the golden time is here, time to get out the woolly hat and scarf!
Targeting big carp through the autumn needn’t be drastically different from any other time of the year, but here are a few pointers and things worth bearing in mind.
FIRST UP, LOCATION…
‘You can only catch what’s in front of you’ is a well-known saying in fishing, and never was a truer word spoken.
Once the water temperatures begin to cool the carp tend to become more localised in their movements, so it’s particularly important to be fishing the right areas.
The best pointer here is to keep your eyes peeled for showing fish, especially at dawn and dusk, as these are nearly always the best times for spotting any signs. Any deeper water is worth keeping a close eye on, as those areas which may have not have been fed on through the long hot days of summer suddenly begin to get harvested by the carp.
It’s also worth paying special attention to the winds at this time of year as they can prove a huge aid when it comes to location.
The wind and its influence can be a tricky subject to write about, and there will always be exceptions to the rule, but in general I tend to avoid the winds from the north or east, especially if they have some strength to them. Basically, if the wind feels cold then I tend to either fish off the back of it or I try to choose areas that are partly sheltered, such as the lees of islands.
Southerly winds, on the other hand, have been productive for me during the autumn, but only if they’re mild and not too strong. Once they’ve been blowing strongly for a few days I’ve often found that the carp back off, and in this situation it can be better to target the sheltered water instead.
It’s not so relevant in the spring and summer, but some time around November I start taking the water temperatures, and this can also help when it comes to deciding whether to
follow the winds or to fish off the back of them. I can think of times when I’ve been surprised at how fast the water temperature has risen on the end of a mild, choppy south-westerly, particularly if it follows a cold spell, so a thermometer is always a handy addition to your kit.
One of the best things about autumn is the extended feeding spells. No longer are we looking at those short dawn windows which we come to expect during the height of summer. Now that the cooler days of autumn are here and conditions are more suitable for carp to be feeding than they are for sunbathing, there’s a chance of action both day and night.
Whereas through the hot sticky days of summer we may have got into the habit of wiling away the days and not putting our rods back out until last thing in the evening, often setting our traps in the hope of action in the cool early hours of the following morning, in the autumn months things are different, and often the day chances prove to be just as good or even better than the nights.
I quite often find myself recasting fresh baits early in the morning in the hope of daytime action. In short, it’s worth paying just as much attention to your daytime fishing as what you’d normally pay to the nights, as takes really can come at any time.
“KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR SHOWING FISH, ESPECIALLY AT DAWN AND DUSK”
Boilies will always be a favourite and well-proven catcher of big carp through the autumn months, but by this stage in the year it’s likely that they will have already been caught on them a few times, so it’s often worth trying something a bit different to what everybody else is using.
Well-known particles such as hemp, tigers, maize and corn have all done well for me at this time of year, and it’s rare for them not to form at least part of my approach.
When it comes to boilies I’m a big fan of high-quality fishmeals in autumn, as this is when the carp are keen to build up their weight and condition to see them through the winter. Dynamite’s Crave and The Source boilies have both produced well for me at this time of year, but I’m careful not to go too mad with the amount that I use. I tend to start off with small amounts, just 20 or 30 baits around each rod, and then I go from there.
If I’m getting action and I feel that the fish are up for a bit more, I can always up the amount of freebies later on.
If I happen to be fishing a quiet water with no other anglers about, somewhere that’s not getting a lot in the way of bait from other sources, then I like to prebait between trips. When the carp don’t see much bait a little can mean an awful lot, and it’s nice turning up to fish a swim which you’ve made the effort to prebait two or three days before.
However, if it’s a well-fished venue and they’re getting bait chucked at them all the time, I nearly always find it better to just concentrate on putting small amounts out in the right places and at the right times. It’s
always worth remembering that if you only put a few out you can expect a take at any time after starting fishing, but if you’ve put loads out you’re nearly always writing off the first part of your trip.
What rigs you use shouldn’t really differ from any other time of the year, but if I’m using boilies and only fishing with light scatterings, then pop-ups on either hinged stiff or Chod rigs will always be a favourite.
On the other hand, if I’m fishing over a fair bit of bait, boilies or particles, then I nearly always opt for rigs with baits fished hard on the bottom, exactly the same as the free offerings. There are countless rigs for fishing baits hard on the bottom, but my advice here is to keep it simple and use something you’re already confident in. The most important thing of all is a sharp hook.
It’s often overlooked, but you won’t fish properly unless you’re comfortable. Being hunched up beneath a brolly is fine for those quick summer overnighters, but come the wet and windy weather of autumn it’s not really an ideal set-up. If you’re there for any length of time a decent bivvy and groundsheet are important, as is a good sleeping bag and suitable clothing. It might mean more to carry, but staying warm and dry will only have a positive effect on your fishing. After all, it’s not meant to be an endurance test.
And last but not least, while a bottle of cold water and a couple of sandwiches might be okay in the summer, when you’re fishing through the long chilly nights of autumn you really want to be cooking a proper meal and keeping yourself topped up with hot drinks. A good stove becomes particularly important.
Autumn is a great time to be on the bank, and with the uncertainty of winter just around the corner I always feel a sense of urgency. It’s when efforts are doubled and enthusiasm is high. After all, we could be under several inches of snow by Christmas... now there’s a thought.
“AUTUMN IS WHEN THE CARP ARE KEEN TO BUILD UP THEIR WEIGHT AND CONDITION”
Once water temperatures begin to drop, add a thermometer to your kit.
A lovely October mirror. Autumn is a time when the carp are looking their very best.
Fishmeal boilies are proven catchers of big autumn carp. Preparing to unwrap over 50lb of November mirror. I love autumn! If I’m using a fair amount of bait I’ll fish hard on the bottom, with exactly the same bait on the hair as what I’m feeding.
September through until around Christmas is my favourite time for targeting big carp.
Over a light scattering of freebies I favour pop-ups on hinged stiff or Chod rigs.