DAY-TICKET DI­ARY

By bait­ing lightly and keep­ing things sim­ple, Matt en­joys a su­perb five-fish overnight hit at a pic­turesque lit­tle venue

Angling Times (UK) - - WHERE TO FISH - WITH MATT CUFF

MANY well­stocked dayt­icket lakes can, at first glance, seem to of­fer rich and easy pick­ings.

With dozens of fish per acre, lo­ca­tion is un­likely to be a big is­sue, and with plenty of hun­gry mouths to feed the carp should be in­clined to eat bait, de­spite the po­ten­tial risk of a trip to the bank. The re­al­ity, though, can be frus­trat­ingly at odds with this sce­nario, es­pe­cially at this time of the year. By now, af­ter many months of an­gling pres­sure, the carp will have seen it all, with just about ev­ery bait and rig un­der the sun hav­ing been put in front of them. This is where good an­gling skills - rather than the lat­est boilie or fancy end-tackle con­fig­u­ra­tion – are re­quired to be con­sis­tently suc­cess­ful.

Stealthy ap­proach

For this overnight ses­sion, I vis­ited one of my favourite venues – Acorn Carp Fish­ery, near Bris­tol. I’ve fished it many times, drawn back by the stun­ning head of scaly mir­rors and golden com­mons to over 30lb. With a huge num­ber of fish in the teens and twen­ties cat­e­gory too, it’s a great place to hone your carp fish­ing skills.

The lake is only three-and-a-half acres, and fish­ing ac­cu­rately makes a world of dif­fer­ence. Most an­glers tar­get the ob­vi­ous fea­tures – is­land mar­gins, bridges and reedbeds – and this can be pro­duc­tive, but there are also plenty of quiet ar­eas where the fish can tuck them­selves away. I al­ways check out the quiet cor­ners, and it’s sur­pris­ing how of­ten I’ll find some sub­tle bub­bling or other dis­creet signs that fish are present. Watch­ing the wa­ter stu­diously, es­pe­cially af­ter dark and first thing in the morn­ing when every­thing is quiet, of­ten gives the game away.

That said, the open wa­ter ar­eas can also be pro­duc­tive, and on my lat­est trip this is where a few de­cent fish were show­ing when I ar­rived at the lake late in the af­ter­noon. Not want­ing to spook them, I left the marker rod in the car and re­lied on my knowl­edge of the venue to flick a cou­ple of rigs out close to where the fish were ac­tive, which I knew was an area of smooth, clean lakebed, while the other rod went out tight to an is­land mar­gin di­rectly in front.

If I had been new to the venue then I would have used just a light lead to feel the lakebed for ar­eas of in­ter­est. It’s far more stealthy than us­ing a marker float, and is all you re­ally need to lo­cate ar­eas of in­ter­est, such as seams of gravel or firm silt.

Win­ning wafters

My rigs for the day were rel­a­tively straight­for­ward, but my hook­baits were de­signed to give the fish some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent.

From past ex­pe­ri­ence I know that, like the stocks in many day-ticket venues, the Acorn carp are well ca­pa­ble of deal­ing with pop-ups, which is why I use wafters in­stead. These look just like bot­tom baits un­til the fish suck them in, at which point the bait shoots back faster and far­ther into their mouths than they ex­pect, catch­ing them off guard. I fish these on tiny rig swivels, tight to the shank of the hook, but with enough move­ment to avoid im­ped­ing the hook turn­ing into the bot­tom lip.

When it comes to bait flavours, this sea­son I’ve been us­ing NashBait Scopex Squid, both on my day-ticket jaunts and my syn­di­cate, and at Acorn I’ve had great suc­cess by go­ing easy on the bait, us­ing just a hand­ful of boilies per rod to be­gin with, and only top­ping up the swim af­ter each bite. As the fish­ing is at short range I use a cat­a­pult to fire out just four baits at a time.

The catty also gives a nice spread of bait, which helps to keep carp mov­ing around be­tween each mouth­ful. This makes hook­ing them much eas­ier, as they are al­ready mov­ing on to the next bait as they pick up the hook­bait.

Early morn­ing feed-up

A quick fish – a mid-dou­ble com­mon from the is­land mar­gin – got the ses­sion un­der­way in style, but then every­thing went quiet as evening ap­proached and light faded from the late au­tumn sky.

This didn’t worry me un­duly, as the morn­ings tend to be more pro­duc­tive at Acorn at this time of year, so I set­tled down for the night, full of an­tic­i­pa­tion for what the morn­ing might bring.

Sure enough, as dawn be­gan to break across the sky the fish be­came more ac­tive and from then un­til late morn­ing the ac­tion was pretty con­sis­tent, with an­other four de­cent fish hit­ting the net. These were evenly split be­tween the three rods, which was a great con­fi­dence booster and tes­ta­ment to metic­u­lously keep­ing notes of pro­duc­tive spots from pre­vi­ous ses­sions. This, I feel, is a se­ri­ous edge at day-ticket wa­ters, and means you can get the rods out with the min­i­mum of fuss, and with min­i­mal dis­tur­bance, on to ar­eas where the fish like to be.

Had I not come to the fish­ery fore­armed with knowl­edge of the lake and its make-up, and the bulk of the ac­tion had come on just one rod, then I would have used that rod as a ref­er­ence tool and cast about with a bare lead to find other, sim­i­lar ar­eas of lakebed, and then made notes of these for fu­ture ref­er­ence. As I packed away at the end of my 24 hours at the

lake, I was happy with my tally of five fish, de­spite hav­ing had much big­ger hits from the fish­ery in the past, and much big­ger fish too. I would have ex­pected at least one of the five to have been a twenty, but that’s just the luck of the draw some­times, and an­other day I might have struck gold and landed one of the lake’s gor­geous 30lb com­mons.

Acorn is typ­i­cal of many mod­ern fish­eries, be­ing well-stocked with crack­ing-look­ing fish and the chance of a real ‘lump’ thrown into the equa­tion.

Many of my most mem­o­rable ses­sions have been over the win­ter months, so if you’re look­ing for some guar­an­teed ac­tion over the next few months, why not try it out?

If you do, try to avoid fall­ing into the trap of fish­ing the same spots as ev­ery­one else. Do some­thing a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent and I can al­most gu­ran­tee that you’ll catch the carp with their guard down!

For loose­feed, Matt cat­a­pults a small pouch­ful of boilies around each rig.

LEFT: There’s no short­age of re­ally pretty mir­rors in Acorn Carp Fish­ery.

“The morn­ings tend to be more pro­duc­tive at Acorn at this time of year”

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