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