Steve reveals why you can’t afford to ignore the margins in autumn… even if they look like this!
reveals why you need to keep fishing the margins in the cold
CONTRARY to popular belief, carp will still come into the edges to feed, even in the cold.
This means that anyone ignoring the margins at this time of year could be missing out on an awful lot of fish.
Granted, with the temperature dropping you do need to change your approach from the usual summer margin attack.
Instead of feeding big pots of bait as you would in the warmer months, you need to adopt a more refined strategy.
Once the water starts to go clear, I always feel big piles of bait tend to get treated with suspicion, so for me it’s a case of feeding just enough bait to attract and catch one fish at a time… and then repeat the process!
Get it right and the rewards can be there for the taking. Here’s how to do it…
IS IT DEEP ENOUGH?
The first part to get right is where you feed and put your rig.
In summer you’re looking to get as tight as possible to features but, as the water clears, depth is perhaps more important.
Sometimes this can mean fishing slightly away from the bank to find a little extra water.
Today is a brilliant example of this. Normally I like to fish right against the pallet, but with the water level low this would have meant fishing in just 6ins. You might get away with that in the summer, but not now.
With this in mind I’ve ended up fishing a good metre in front of the platform where I found 16ins of water to fish – a much more sensible depth in the clearer water, in my view.
Had I found 16ins against the pallet I would have fished there. It’s a great feature, but it’s no good fishing against it if the water isn’t deep enough for the carp to feel confident about feeding.
As for the snags, yes there are a lot in this swim but if you set your gear up properly, fish sensibly, and control the fish without bullying them, then there’s no problem!
In this case I was able to hook fish, steer them away from the fallen tree and into the open
water before breaking the pole down and netting them. Just to prove the point, I didn’t lose a single fish all day!
THE BIG BAIT SWITCH
There is no doubt that groundbait and dead maggots are deadly in the warmer months, but at this time of year it’s all change on the bait front. I prefer to go with pellets and sweetcorn instead.
I favour pellets over groundbait in the cold as I just feel the carp are happier to feed on them.
You don’t need loads of bait either – in fact I would say 2½ pints of 2mm coarse pellets and a pint of corn is plenty.
I do like to wet the pellets down, though, and if anything I over-wet them. This is always done the night before, to allow the pellets to fully absorb the water. This helps them settle on the bottom better once they’re fed.
FEED BEFORE YOU FISH
As far as feeding goes, less is definitely more and timing is key.
Usually I won’t look to feed the edge until about 15 minutes before I want to go on it, and this will be with around a third of a pot of micro pellets and corn.
When it’s time to have a look, I will use the large Guru pot and half-fill it with corn and then cap it with the wetted-down micro pellets.
It’s then a case of tapping out the contents of the pot, lowering the rig in, and waiting.
Rig placement is also key – because I’m not feeding a lot of bait, it’s vital that when I empty the pot I place my hookbait right on top of the loose offerings.
Once the bait is fed I’m prepared to be a little more patient than normal and I will wait for around five minutes, providing there are no indications.
After five minutes I’ll leave the edge alone and will look to go back in 20 minutes or so.
However, if I catch a fish then I’ll simply refill the pot and set the trap again.
This way I always feel I’m feeding for one fish at a time and I’m in a lot more control of how much bait is on the bottom.
As far as hookbait goes, it’s all about sweetcorn – it’s a big, bright bait that stands out in the clear water and gives the fish a decent meal with little effort.
As a rule I’ll kick off with a single grain of corn on the hook, as this matches the loosefeed perfectly.
If I start to get odd indications and no bites I will switch to double corn. That often produces a quick bite when a single grain is ignored.
I can only think that double corn, being a bigger bait, just catches the fish’s eye and an immediate bite is the result.
A great little trick, which often produces a response when fishing with corn, is to lift and drop the rig in a bid to entice a ‘reaction bite’.
When the water starts to go clear I’m totally convinced that carp feed primarily on sight, and lifting the float just 4ins-6ins clear of the
water and lowering it back down again often elicits a response.
The reason for this is that the little bit of movement catches the carp’s eye, and it homes in on the hookbait as a result.
A Guru pot full of corn and micros.
Micros and corn are good winter baits.
The margins can still be productive.