Age: 47 Favourite Venue: The Elphicks complex UK PB: 54lb 4oz mirror
With the hot summer temperatures of 2018 becoming a distant memory, the unusually long, unbroken spell of warm, dry weather had a negative effect on many UK carp lakes this year, and the Essex syndicate I fish was no different. A huge outbreak of algae made fishing throughout summer much harder than usual, and even though a weed-removal specialist had been called upon to clear some areas and make the lake more fishable, the usual re-emergence of heavy weed growth was pretty much non-existent, as thick green algae acted as a barrier to the natural sunlight. As a result, much of the lakebed turned into carpet of dying weed and stinking, jet-black silt.
My baiting strategy as the September equinox approached, however, was the same as ever during this period – and that was to up the amount of bait I’d apply more than at any other time of the year, ready for when the carp start to go on the feed. In situations where I feel I can’t get away with presenting a bottom-bait effectively, I often choose to use a slow-sinking DNA S7 Half Tones pop-up on a hinged stiff rig, designed to sit just above the autumnal bottom debris.
To make sure my free offerings are still giving off strong food signals amongst any dead weed, foul-smelling silt or algae, I have been adding generous amounts of matching Hydro Spod Syrup to my simple mix consisting of S7 chops and hemp. It’s a combination that has served me well this past couple of months, but I’ll be making a few subtle changes to keep my results consistent as we head into winter.
From mid-september, I usually start to introduce some Nuttas, which is a fantastic, nutty, birdfood-based bait. The first time out with the Nuttas since last winter saw me land a 40lb 10oz mirror from my syndicate this September, which was a nice reminder for me as to how effective the bait is. As the water temperature drops and the lake’s natural food stocks deplete, I also introduce a few more small food items into my mix – such as 8mm Nuttas boilies, corn and maggots, and I’ll also add some Betastim liquid for extra attraction, which can really give you an edge. The Betaine-based liquid is a natural feeding stimulant with an intense sweet taste that coats particles such as hemp really effectively. I’ve had some big winter hits using Betastim in my spod mix, as it simply keeps the carp returning to the spot.
As the lake temperatures plummet further still, I’ll be chopping and changing my hookbait colours and flavours to find the one that works on any given day – but my basic smallfood-item mix will generally remain the same now until spring and on those inevitable winter sessions where the fish simply refuse to play ball and get on the bait, a zig, or single hookbait approach will hopefully bring a few bonus fish.
1IMAGES1 - A 49lb 8oz January-caught mirror from Pullens. It was taken over a bed of 8mm Nuttas boilies, soaked in Betastim2 - A 40lb 10oz mirror from this September, coming on my first night of the session on Nuttas3 - My first Elphicks 40 of last winter nailed on the hinged rig, fished over a Hydro Spod Syrup mix4 - The North Lake’s Big Ghostie fell to a Milky Malt pop-up over my winter spod mix in February