BIG CARP CHOW-DOWN
talks through the baiting changes he makes to his he targets approach and the areas feed-up during the big late autumn
THIS month is one of the best in the carp angling calendar. The fish are feeding hard, packing on weight, and the weed has begun to die back, opening up plenty of new spots to target.
In order to get the best from this prewinter time of bounty, it’s important to tailor your approach to suit the carps’ needs and to plunder the areas they’ll be searching for food.
LESS PARTICLE, MORE BOILIE
In late autumn the bait mix that I use changes drastically. In summer I tend to use around 70 per cent particles, with the rest comprising boilies and pellets. As the water cools, I switch to a mix made up almost entirely of boilies, with just a handful of tiger nuts and hemp thrown in. Carp love both these baits and I think a lot of that is down to their ‘crunch factor’. Whether it’s the sensation of chewing the baits themselves, or the vibrations emitted when they do so which helps trigger and stimulate other fish into feeding, I don’t know, but having them present in my loosefeed makes me superconfident that the fish will stay feeding in the area until it’s all gone.
As I said though, it’s boilies that make up most of my bait mix. The carp are desperate for the rich array of nutrients they offer and late autumn is when they really ‘chow down’ on them.
When I was fishing on Stoneacres a few years ago, I had access to a boat and that really opened my eyes to what the carp wanted. I would put 3kg-4kg on a spot and by the middle of the night I could hear the fish showing over it. When I checked the following day, the spot was trashed and they had eaten every morsel.
RISK AND REWARD
A lot of people think that carp are just ‘pigs in a pond’ which have to eat our bait. However, if they didn’t want to, they would simply feast on naturals and never touch boilies. Remember, carp grow big in lakes that never see an angler, so they don’t necessarily need to eat boilies. What I’m trying to say is that by putting something out there that they know is good for them, that they know tastes good and that they can benefit from, they’ll take a chance of getting caught because the rewards on offer are too good to resist.
Carp have to work really hard to harvest the natural food larder, which in the end doesn’t give them loads of nutritional benefit. By eating boilies, they can get what they need much quicker and easier, so they will take that risk. I compare it to having the choice of a roast dinner in front of you or a salad 10 miles away...you’re probably going to pick the roast!
KEEP THE FAITH
Until the water goes really cold, the Krill is my go-to bait, and has been for the past four years. I’ve got a huge amount of confidence in it, and that is the key; use something that you are confident in or that you know has a track record of producing fish, and lots of them too. I believe that a good bait doesn’t ‘blow’. Each season, I see a lot of people ladling in
“From up a tree, I’ve observed carp hoovering baits up from fully six inches off the deck”
the ‘latest bait’, thinking that it’s going to change their season. Fast forward 12 months and this new wonder bait has failed to produce the goods, because the fish know it isn’t great for them and it isn’t worth taking the risk eating it. These same anglers then move on to the next new bait, and the scenario repeats itself. I can’t stress this enough – find a bait you trust and stick with it. If you’re not catching on it, it’s probably down to other factors, such as fishing the wrong areas, using inappropriate rigs, or applying the bait incorrectly.
DON’T GO OVERBOARD
I often get asked how much bait I put in at the start of a session. It depends on circumstances but, as a rule, I’ll cast seven or eight Spombs to my spot – enough to get a few fish feeding.
When it comes to hookbaits, I like to fish a ‘match-the-hatch’ approach and always make sure that my hookbait is balanced. I’ve climbed countless trees through the years to watch fish feeding, and I’ve observed them hoovering baits up from fully six inches off the deck. I’ve also seen fish hugging the bottom and gliding over a patch of whole, chopped and crumbed baits, thinking that they would eat the lot, only to witness them eating just the crumb. That’s how delicate they can feed sometimes, which is why I use something that is balanced and able to fly up into the carp’s mouth with ease, no matter how ‘cute’ they are feeding.
A Krill Wafter straight out of the tub is often what I opt for, and these sit brilliantly over the mix that I use. I fish these in conjunction with what I call the Noodle Rig, an aggressive bottom bait presentation that incorporates a long shrink tube kicker which the fish find very hard to deal with. Due to the bait’s buoyancy, the rig will also ‘reset’ itself should it be spat out or moved about.
With the spots that I fish varying in colour in autumn, I always use a fluorocarbon leader. I find that this, in conjunction with big blobs of putty, sinks brilliantly and is far less visible than any other kind of leader.
So, what types of spots produce best in late autumn? As with the rest of the year, there’s no substitute for finding the carp before you start fishing. Once I’ve noted where they are showing, I then try to find any firm silt and dying weedbeds in the immediate area. Naturals, such as water snails, leeches and bloodworm will be dropping out of the weed and burrowing into the silt for protection. The carp know this, which is why they use such areas so much in the autumn.
Ideally, I’m looking for ‘silty gravel’, and what I mean by that is thin layers of silt over hard spots. I like to fish the edge of such spots, as this is where they normally start harvesting. To find these I use a bare 5oz lead. This gives a great transmission through the rod tip, and helps me to find smooth areas with the odd rattle from the gravel. Once such a spot is found, I then pull the lead back until I hit some weed or a variation in the bottom, before clipping up.
In general, deeper areas will be more productive at this time of year, but if the conditions are right they will also migrate occasionally to shallow water. A lot depends on the natural food larder available, and if that happens to be on top of the bars, that’s where the fish will often be.
Getting the best out of your carp fishing in late autumn is all about understanding what the fish are looking for in terms of nutrition, and where they are likely to be feeding. It’s then just a case of offering them what they want and, of course, hoping your luck is in. I hope you have your best November ever!
ABOVE: Carp will recognise a good bait and will keep eating it, despite the risks involved.
A semi-stiff hooklink and a rig sleeve help the hookbait to kick away from the lead. The long shrink tube kicker makes it hard for the carp to eject the bait, once taken. Scott has ultimate faith in balanced hookbaits. A Sticky Krill wafter barrel is...
RIGHT: In the clear-water conditions of late autumn, Scott opts for a fluorocarbon leader, with blobs of tungsten putty along its length.
ABOVE: A bare 5oz lead is all you need to find the perfect spots to target.