Think Tank

Carpworld - - CONTENTS - - Carp­world

This month’s panel give their thoughts on whether or not to change your strat­egy to ac­com­mo­date the changes brought on by the clocks go­ing back and the nights start­ing to draw in...

Do you still con­tinue to per­sist


As au­tumn dis­ap­pears over the hori­zon and is re­placed by the long dark nights of win­ter, many guys pack their kit away and head for the sanc­tu­ary of a warm fire. For me, how­ever, noth­ing ap­peals more than crisp morn­ings, de­serted banks and carp wear­ing their most glo­ri­ous colours.

In short, I’m a lover of win­ter an­gling, but the time I have tended to spend on the bank in re­cent years has be­come far more se­lec­tive, as I tend to strip it all back and con­cen­trate on short day ses­sions. There are a num­ber of rea­sons be­hind this, but the main one is the carp are so much more ac­tive dur­ing the day than they are through those long, dark, cold nights.

I make sure my kit is as min­i­mal­is­tic and as pre­pared as I can get away with, swap­ping my main tackle bag for a trimmed-down ver­sion and hav­ing fresh rigs ready to go at the drop of a hat. This means that I’m able to take ad­van­tage of small win­dows of op­por­tu­nity and makes stay­ing on fish that lit­tle bit eas­ier.

I al­ways pick a venue within a man­age­able dis­tance from home – ideally less than 30 min­utes away, and some­where that holds a rea­son­able stock of carp. The depth is also im­por­tant, as a nice, shal­low venue (less than about 8-feet) will tend to fish bet­ter dur­ing the long term, than a deeper one. Shal­low wa­ters are far more re­ac­tive to changes in the weather and so too are its in­hab­i­tants.

Once I’ve se­lected a water, I try to keep some bait go­ing in two or three times a week, in one or two ar­eas. It doesn’t have to be much – 40 to 50 Switch boilies spread over a zone will hold the fish’s in­ter­est, as the nat­u­ral larders lose their ap­peal and give you a great area to drop back on should you turn up and not find any­thing to go on. That said, there’s no sub­sti­tute for lo­ca­tion, and gen­er­ally dur­ing the colder months if you can find one, you’ll find a few. So I al­ways turn up be­fore first light and po­si­tion my­self with a good view over the water and a brew in hand. I’ve found bite times can be­come very lo­calised dur­ing this pe­riod of the year, so I al­ways keep a note of where and what times I’ve had fish, as this can help you cut your ses­sions down even shorter and keep you one step ahead of the carp.

I use this time of the year to earn back some Brownie points at home and catch up with friends I’ve ne­glected for most of the spring, sum­mer and au­tumn – and by fish­ing days only, it gives me a great life bal­ance whilst still al­low­ing me to scratch that itch to get out on the bank when­ever I want.

Over the past few years my an­gling has nat­u­rally evolved into al­most solely overnight ses­sions. This is mainly due to a busy work sched­ule. I of­ten find my­self ar­riv­ing at the lake dur­ing the evening which is okay when the tem­per­a­tures and day­light hours are on my side, but mov­ing into the au­tumn months and win­ter, I do have to adapt my ap­proach to give my­self the best chance of a bite.

Overnighters dur­ing the win­ter are test­ing, and, in my opin­ion, you have to be re­ally in tune with your water to max­i­mize these ses­sions. Par­tic­u­larly with the venue I have been fo­cus­ing on this last sea­son, I have no­ticed that the bite-times are mov­ing later and later into the morn­ing, as the sun takes pro­gres­sively longer to rise and warm up the water. This is an overnighter an­gler’s worst night­mare, be­cause if you can only fish these short ses­sions, but are hav­ing to pull off the lake be­fore the bite time, it is al­most not even worth the ef­fort in some cir­cum­stances. All venues are dif­fer­ent so I am just speak­ing from ex­pe­ri­ence, based on where I am right now, but for me I do be­gin to wind down the overnighters and in­stead fo­cus on short day ses­sions when­ever pos­si­ble.

I still think it is key to stay as in the loop as much as you can with re­gard to what is be­ing caught and record­ing the bite times as ac­cu­rately as pos­si­ble to try and pin­point a time to have a rig in po­si­tion.

The banks are gen­er­ally qui­eter dur­ing the colder months and I find that these shorter day-ses­sions are usu­ally more pro­duc­tive for me per­son­ally. It is def­i­nitely more a case of spend­ing the right time, rather than spend­ing as much time, dur­ing the au­tumn/win­ter months for me, whilst keep­ing in the know.

This time of year, when the nights start draw­ing in and the tem­per­a­tures start to drop, is with­out a doubt my favourite time to be on the bank for nu­mer­ous rea­sons. One of which is that it only takes a cou­ple of frosty nights for the vast ma­jor­ity of an­glers to hang up their rods un­til next spring, mak­ing the banks much qui­eter and giv­ing me more op­por­tu­nity to move around the lake if re­quired.

As we drift from au­tumn into early win­ter, I like to try and cap­i­talise with some ex­tra bonus fish. As the weed dies off, there is cer­tainly less nat­u­ral food around and the carp are on the look­out for some ex­tra pick­ings to see them through the cold win­ter months.

For me, per­son­ally, I don’t change my fish­ing rou­tine much at all, which con­sists of two nights mid­week and some short five-hour ses­sions around my shift work. Rather than cut­ting back on my fish­ing time over this pe­riod, if any­thing, I will try and make the ex­tra ef­fort to get down to the lake more dur­ing the hours of dark­ness. I’ve found tra­di­tion­ally, on the ma­jor­ity of the lakes I’ve fished in Oc­to­ber, Novem­ber and De­cem­ber that the night time can be a very pro­duc­tive time to be on the bank.

Even if I don’t catch, it’s rarely wasted time, as the carp cer­tainly like to show them­selves at night, even in the cold­est of con­di­tions and, more of­ten than not, they will give their lo­ca­tion away of­fer­ing me an ad­van­tage for my next visit.

I can give lots of ex­am­ples over the years where I have ben­e­fited from this, but one that stands out in par­tic­u­lar was only last sea­son whilst fish­ing Kingsmead 1 on the Hor­ton Com­plex. I had just fin­ished a late shift at work and, in­stead of go­ing straight home, I de­cided to pop over to the lake for just an hour to see if I could see any carp ac­tiv­ity. Af­ter al­most an hour of watch­ing the water in win­try con­di­tions, I had wit­nessed two shows in a swim called Starry’s. The dis­play cer­tainly didn’t last long but by just mak­ing that ex­tra ef­fort of get­ting down to the lake it gave me a good in­di­ca­tion on where the fish were hold­ing up. Fol­low­ing a quick trip back home and with the car quickly loaded, I headed straight back to the swim armed with the in­for­ma­tion I had gath­ered. I cast two baits to the ex­act area where I had seen the ac­tiv­ity in the hope that the fish would still be around in that area. It wasn’t un­til the fol­low­ing morn­ing that the ex­tra ef­fort paid off, but I wound up catch­ing a stun­ning Sut­ton­strain carp weigh­ing 33lb.

Even though I caught dur­ing day­light hours, which quite pos­si­bly could of been the bite time on the lake, I cer­tainly wouldn’t have got my fish lo­ca­tion cor­rect – the rea­son be­ing I didn’t see any shows the whole time I was there in the day, and I cer­tainly wouldn’t have had any idea of the where­abouts of the fish in over 30 acres of water with­out the knowl­edge I gained that pre­vi­ous evening.

Whilst a lot of peo­ple may pre­fer to re­tire the rods for the win­ter, per­son­ally I still fish right the way through. It’s ac­tu­ally one of my favourite times to be out an­gling. Crisp, clear nights make way to beau­ti­ful sun­rises and you just can’t beat the warmth of that first morn­ing brew as you climb ten­ta­tively out from un­der the sleep­ing bag. Not to men­tion the banks are qui­eter and the carp are at their high­est weights and look­ing at their best.

Don’t get me wrong, it can be a hard slog. The seem­ingly end­less nights and count­less hours spent watch­ing a life­less ex­panse of water can get a lit­tle de­press­ing at times, but the re­wards are still there to be had if you’re pre­pared to put the ef­fort in. From my ex­pe­ri­ence on the lakes that I fish, bite times can be very spo­radic and un­pre­dictable and not just dur­ing the hours of day­light like you might ex­pect, so it’s quite dif­fi­cult to pre­dict the best times to be on the bank.

There are of­ten just tiny lit­tle win­dows when the fish will get their heads down for a brief pe­riod and, ob­vi­ously, the longer you can spend lake­side, the more chance you have of be­ing there for one of those short feed­ing spells. This rings true at any time of year of course, but it’s even more sig­nif­i­cant in win­ter – so I still pre­fer to fish 48-hour ses­sions wherever pos­si­ble to max­imise my chances of a bite.

My syn­di­cate water is an old glacial mere – thou­sands of years old and, as a re­sult, it is teem­ing with nat­u­rals. So it tends to ac­tu­ally fish bet­ter as the weather cools and the nat­u­rals start to die back, with the carp then forced to turn to an­glers’ baits. It all de­pends what you want out of your own an­gling I sup­pose.

Ob­vi­ously, we all go fish­ing to catch carp, but I don’t fish easy wa­ters and I’m happy to sit it out and wait re­gard­less of the time of year. One thing I would say is that it’s im­por­tant to fish a water that at least has some win­ter form, as we all need that glim­mer of light at the end of the tun­nel to keep the fire burn­ing through what can be a very test­ing time of year.

As a hap­pily mar­ried man and fa­ther to a five-year old daugh­ter, 90% of my fish­ing time con­sists solely of sin­gle overnighters. This means that when­ever an op­por­tu­nity oc­curs, I take it with both hands and get the rods out. Once a year I go fish­ing for a week in France and the rest is al­ways con­structed of soli­tary nights. As a re­sult, there aren’t many Fri­day nights where you won’t find me on the bank­side un­less it is win­ter.

Okay, it isn’t the most ideal fish­ing sit­u­a­tion, but you def­i­nitely won’t catch ’em from your couch. Fish­ing a sin­gle night in be­tween work is some­times pretty hard go­ing and will def­i­nitely take its toll in the long run, so I only do this when I feel I’m re­ally onto the fish. Some­times you just know (feel it) when the carp are hav­ing it, and it is then that you sim­ply have to be there and make the ex­tra ef­fort.

I don’t have to tell you that fish­ing over a week­end is usu­ally the busiest time on a lake and, as such, it is there­fore also the most dif­fi­cult time to be suc­cess­ful.

Do I still per­sist with fish­ing overnighters as the nights draw in? My an­swer is loud and clear – of course I do!

This pe­riod of the sea­son is the time to be out and about, es­pe­cially as the carp will start to munch and pack on their fat re­serves be­fore win­ter proper ar­rives. Ar­riv­ing af­ter work in the dark, get­ting the bivvy up, cast­ing the rods in, etc., is of course a royal pain – ev­ery­thing is a lot eas­ier when it’s still light. But for the fore­see­able, there is no way around this. To make life that lit­tle bit eas­ier ev­ery­thing comes down to prepa­ra­tion. My hook­links are al­ready tied and baited, some­way be­fore­hand.

Some­times they have been soak­ing a cou­ple of days in a bait-soak like So­lar’s Stim­ulin Amino, the Quench, or Top Ba­nana. Hook­links are made from trusted and tan­gle-free ma­te­rial, so it is one less thing for me to worry about.

Hav­ing fished dif­fer­ent swims in the past, mark­ing rel­e­vant dis­tances with the aid of a pair of wrap-sticks and not­ing them down in a book or on the iphone, I’m able to get baits on my best spots around the lake in no time. I don’t even use a bivvy – an um­brella and So­lar’s 5-sea­son sleep­ing bag is all I need to keep me warm. I prob­a­bly don’t have to tell you that if you’re able to pre­bait cer­tain swims at this time a year, your chances of catch­ing are greatly in­creased.

If the hours of dark­ness are too long for you, make sure you’ve got some­thing to read, make your­self a good brew, go to bed early or fish to­gether with a friend to kill the time. I can’t deny the feel­ing that the sooner it gets dark, the ear­lier you can ex­pect your bites. Most of my bites oc­cur in the first hours of dark­ness un­til early morn­ing any­way and that goes for most of the sea­son. So long as you’re well pre­pared, there is no rea­son why you shouldn’t go out fish­ing when the days are get­ting shorter and the nights are a lot longer. It’s the best time of

year, so make the most of it!



GREG SHEP­HERD Age: 33 Favourite Venue: Patch­ing Pond UK PB: 39lb 12oz

IMAGES1. The lit­tle-and-of­ten ap­pli­ca­tion of a good-qual­ity boilie such as the Switch will keep fish re­vis­it­ing an area2. Ar­rive early, get the ket­tle on and let them give the game away3. A lovely day­time, late-novem­ber scaly carp – enough to brighten up any­one’s day3

3 1

LOUIS RUSSO Age: 29 Favourite Venue: Any­where with a good stock of Eels UK PB: 35lb-plus

IMAGES1. A few hours at the right time of day, are far more prefer­able for me these days – not by choice, I add 2. Some­where, away from the rat race, al­lows me to try my luck against less-pres­sured carp3. This time of year al­ways yields fish in their best clothes!2

IMAGES1. Once the leaves have started to fall in num­bers and there has been a frost or two, the banks qui­eten off sig­nif­i­cantly – per­fect!2. Keep­ing your ear to the ground and be­ing pre­pared to travel light, and move re­gard­less of the weather will pay div­i­dends. Note the lack of legs on the pod...3. What’s not to like?4. This stun­ning 33-pounder made my win­ter last sea­son3 4



MICHAEL BROMFIELD Age: 48 Favourite Venue: Hor­ton Com­plex (some­times) UK PB: 43lb 8oz

IMAGES1. Day­break at this time of year – one of my favourite pe­ri­ods to be on the bank2. The re­wards are al­ways there, although bite times can be very spo­radic in my ex­pe­ri­ence. Con­se­quently I still favour a 48hour ses­sion where and when­ever pos­si­ble3. You can al­ways find some­thing to do dur­ing the qui­eter spells 2



STEPHEN MAY Age: 30 Favourite Venue: Blake­mere UK PB: 30lb 12oz

IMAGES1. Keep at it! A stun­ning 46lb mir­ror taken on an overnighter as the evenings started to draw in2. So­lar’s Stim­uli Amino, Top Ba­nana and Quench – use a bait you have to­tal con­fi­dence in dur­ing the colder months 1


WES­LEY LAGAERT Age: 39 Favourite Venue: Waes­mere Syn­di­cate UK PB: 47lb

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