Winning tricks from John Whincup
Match ace reveals two-pronged attack
PICTURE the scene. You’ve drawn an island swim and have half a chance of doing well in the match. But are things as simple as shoving the pole up to the feature, firing bait in and emptying the place?
In summer that might have been true, but by late October it’s a different story. The last vestiges of warmth are hanging on but nights are colder, daylight hours much shorter and the fish won’t be as hungry as in those heady July days. As the habits of carp and F1s change, so must the approach of the angler.
Nevertheless, an island is still prime real estate. Even in cold weather a few carp can always be found hugging them, and they should not be ignored. Indeed, an island was the key to Jon Whincup’s recent £25,000 payday in the Parkdean Masters Final at White Acres, although his approach was very much a ‘sit-and-wait’ job.
Knowing that fish would be in the area, the Frenzee/Bait-Tech man went out to the island and bided his time, picking off every fish that came into the peg to record over 90lb. And, according to the man himself, it’s a tactic that’ll work on any commercial fishery peg with an island.
“An island screams fish and I would plan on catching quite a few fish from it, even if there was a cold spell, but I find that there are two definite routes you can go down when it comes to feeding - either potting or pinging bait in,” Jon said.
“The pot works when I want to be negative and trickle in a bit of bait, while catapulting is very attacking and great for when there are a few fish in the peg. Conditions dictate this, but I would always begin with the pot and then change over if I think the swim needs it.”
Provided the island is within pole range, Jon reckons the presentation and accuracy you can get is vastly superior compared to the feeder, but rather than going right up to the mud bank of the island itself, he sets his stall out a few metres away in the deeper water. There are a couple of reasons for this.
“Firstly, the water is too shallow right up against the island and although an odd fish may feed here, it will be literally just that – one or two carp during the day. As the nights get colder, carp will look for deeper water and if I can find 18 inches to 2ft of water a metre or two off the island, then that’s great,” he said.
“Secondly, shallow water means a greater chance of foulhooking fish and getting millions of line bites. On a mild day the fish will still be active and bumping into the line. Coming into deeper water cuts this out.”
To demonstrate how to tackle an island, Jon camped out on a swim on the Six Island Lake at his local Decoy Lakes complex. Plumbing up revealed 2ft of water at 14.5m, a metre or so away from the small island, with the lakebed just beginning to slope away into the main lake.
“I’m not too bothered about fishing on a slope unless it was very sharp and dropped away,” Jon continued. “It’s tempting to go close to the island but they often have overhanging vegetation that you get tangled up in, or worse, that a hooked fish will swim into and get snagged up - as happened to me on the Parkdean final! Find that ideal depth, set the float to touch bottom and you’re ready to go.”
Jon’s rig doesn’t take into account the changing weather though. As he points out, you may be waiting 15 minutes for a bite so when you hook a carp, you don’t want it to bust you! His mainline is Frenzee’s Loaded Mono in 0.20mm, to a hooklink of 0.16mm in the same material finished with a size 18 Frenzee 1420 hook. The float is a 0.2g Frenzee FP700, ideal for shallowish water, finished off with Frenzee’s light blue grade hollow elastic.
“It’s vital not to force the peg and think that you should be catching within seconds of the float settling. This doesn’t happen in late October so feed and wait. Do it right and the float will go under!” Jon added.
This carp took a banded 6mm pellet, just off the island. Another plump Decoy Lakes carp is netted.
Don’t fish too close to an island. Jon found about one metre off was right today. Loosefeeding is best when the carp are feeding well, but start with a pole-mounted pot.