NIGEL SHARP

LEARN­ING TO READ THE SEA­SONAL CHANGES ON A LAKE WILL LEAD TO MORE CARP HIT­TING THE NET

Angling Times (UK) - - CONTENTS -

“KNOW­ING WHERE THE FISH LIKE TO HOLD UP RE­ALLY COMES INTO ITS OWN AT THIS TIME OF YEAR”

GET THEM ON DIGESTIBLE BAITS

I use fish­meal boilies in sum­mer, but I like to wean the carp on to a more digestible, sweeter bird­food-based boilie through au­tumn and win­ter. Fish­meals con­tain a higher per­cent­age of oil, and don’t go through the fish so quickly, so by the time win­ter ar­rives the ma­jor­ity of the boilies I use will be the sweeter, more digestible type.

Through­out au­tumn it’s im­por­tant to keep your spots topped up on a lit­tle-and-of­ten ba­sis. Even 10 baits next to a bush give the fish a rea­son to keep vis­it­ing the spots, and if you ease up it could be the end of that spot.

Also, get into the habit of bait­ing up be­fore you leave, and bait more spots as well be­cause, with fewer an­glers around, you can use a more mobile ap­proach.

LOOK OUT FOR PAT­TERNS

Know­ing where the fish like to hold up re­ally comes into its own at this time of year. Vis­i­ble ac­tiv­ity on the sur­face can be brief some­times just 10 min­utes a day - so mak­ing a note of when it oc­curs is hugely ben­e­fi­cial.

There’s no point get­ting to the lake at dawn to watch the water if the shows nor­mally take place in mid-af­ter­noon. This hap­pens on one of my lo­cal wa­ters – at 2pm you’ll of­ten see five or six fish show, and then noth­ing un­til the same time the fol­low­ing day. Fish grow lethar­gic in cold water, so suss­ing their feed­ing pat­terns can be the key to a suc­cess­ful au­tumn and win­ter cam­paign.

FIND THE WEED

Get into the habit of pho­tograph­ing the lo­ca­tion of weed and lily beds be­fore they die back for win­ter. Both are great fea­tures to tar­get, of­fer­ing the carp nat­u­ral food and warmth, and the root sys­tems and stems will still be present even when the green­ery has dis­ap­peared from the sur­face.

On my cur­rent lake I’ve no­ticed the rudd shoals are now top­ping over what was a weedbed just a few weeks ago. They’re mi­grat­ing to where there is food, and the carp will do the same.

BEAT THE BIRDS

Seag­ulls are crafty birds, and it can be hard get­ting any bait into your swim with­out them rob­bing it first. For this rea­son I like bait­ing up last thing in the evening at this time of year. With up to 14 hours of dark­ness, you can get your bait down on the deck well be­fore the seag­ulls - and tufted ducks - find it and dive down for a mouth­ful.

Watch­ing the ducks in day­light also al­lows you to de­ter­mine whether or not your bait has been fed upon. If the birds are pass­ing over the area with­out drop­ping down, chances are it’s been eaten by the carp. If they do find the bait and spend time div­ing on it, you know you’ve prob­a­bly not had fish on your spot.

DON’T GET TOO COMFY!

It might sound odd, but I make sure I don’t get too com­fort­able in win­ter. Car­ry­ing a lot of clut­ter means you’re less likely to move swim and some­times the sub­tlest sign can put you on to a few fish in au­tumn.

You can eas­ily miss these signs if you’re holed up in a twin-skin bivvy with the sides and door down. I al­ways have my bivvy front open dur­ing day­light hours to give me a panoramic view and catch any­thing in my pe­riph­eral vi­sion.

MAP OUT DEPTH CHANGES

We’re al­ways told to tar­get deep water as the tem­per­a­tures drop, but some­times such spots can hold a lot of cold, static water that doesn’t move be­cause the lake’s un­der­tow can’t reach it. I’ve al­ways done bet­ter in ar­eas that are shal­low, but near to deeper water – such as is­land mar­gins or plateaux.

If you get a spell of high pres­sure and the sun comes out for 20 min­utes you can of­ten see fish move on to the shal­low ar­eas to soak up the brief blast of warmth. By putting bait on these shal­low spots I’ve had quite a lot of fish, even in 18ins of water in Jan­uary.

AN­GLING PRES­SURE CAN HELP

A bit of an­gling pres­sure on a lake def­i­nitely helps to keep the fish mov­ing in au­tumn and win­ter . In the past I’ve walked around with a bare lead, cast­ing it into spots to keep the fish mov­ing, and I’ve even gone so far as to jump up and down on snags to shift carp out!

Over the past decade I’ve caught plenty of big fish in the first week of Jan­uary, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s be­cause of the lit­tle burst of an­gler pres­sure on the lake over the Christ­mas pe­riod, when you get an in­flux of an­glers with time on their hands.

A com­bi­na­tion of noise, bank­side move­ment and the in­tro­duc­tion of fresh bait def­i­nitely keeps the fish mov­ing.

TERMINAL TWEAKS

I use the same rigs all-year-round, and never re­duce my hook size in the colder months, but I will of­ten shorten the length of my rigs, or the booms on my hinged-stiff set-ups.

Carp feed more slowly in colder water, so if one puts its mouth around my hook­bait the shorter rig brings it into con­tact with the weight of the lead much faster.

In the past I’ve spooled my reels with fluoro­car­bon in or­der to pin my line down and spook the fish less.

How­ever, I found that I felt less in touch with the lake be­cause I wasn’t get­ting any line bites, which I like to use as a lo­ca­tion aid.

Nowa­days, I will ac­tively fish for line bites, and with a lit­tle prac­tice – by watch­ing how the bob­bin set­tles back down and how sharp the ini­tial knock is – you can de­ter­mine roughly how far away from your rod-tip the fish are brush­ing into your lines. All this helps you stay in touch with what’s go­ing on.

By all means be comfy – but not too comfy.

Carp will seek out the rem­nants of weed beds.

Wean them onto bird­food baits.

Bait up in dark­ness to beat the birds!

Lily roots pro­vide win­ter warmth.

I ac­tively fish for line bites, and get re­sults.

Watch for fish on the sun-warmed shal­lows.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.