I’m out shooting this article in late October which, contrary to what some people might tell you is not winter. October, and indeed November and early December are actually classed as Autumn but I’ll accept the latter as a winter month.
However, from a fishing perspective, with water temperatures really cooling, now is most definitely Autumn and it will be so for another few weeks.
Age old folklore would have you believe that you should be lashing the bait in right now as ‘the carp know winter is coming and they will feed heavily’ but I don’t think this is anything more than a bit of a myth, on many venues at least. Herein lies the key to autumn and early-winter fishing, venue is everything and, vitally, the key influence is water temperature.
This is the single biggest dictating factor when it comes to the amount of bait I use, how I use it and even the type of bait itself.
I’ll generally switch from fishmeals to a nut-based bait now. As much as modern fishmeals have undoubtedly improved in recent years in terms of year-round use, I still believe that a nut-based bait reacts differently to cold water and also remains far more effective. I want the baits to wash out, and I do a few things to aid this, which we’ll look at shortly. So, at this time of year I have now switched to Manilla as opposed to the Krill which I have used until now and, before we look at specific tips and tactic I’d recommend this as the first step. Okay, so specifically, there are a few pointers I’d definitely offer up as the autumn is in full flow and winter fast approaches.
I spend most of my fishing time in spring and summer on a vast inland sea with an extremely low stock, however once I feel that the water temperature has dropped below a comfortable level I begin to look elsewhere. There isn’t a magic number in terms of the water temperature, it’s more of a feeling and it can vary from venue to venue. It very often coincides with the clocks going back, which is worth bearing in mind. A run of cold winds, for example, can be a hugely accelerating factor, but once it starts to cool then it’s a downward spiral for the next few months.
The bait behaves very differently once the temperature plummets, but more importantly the carp most certainly do. We cannot influence the latter but we can tailor our approach accordingly.
Now is the time that I’ll head for venues with a few more fish in or where I feel my time on the bank will more likely be rewarded with a bite or two, namely a larger stock of fish per acre of lake, regardless of its actual size. It’s demoralising spending winters on tough pits and it can definitely put you on the back foot by next spring.
I enjoy social fishing in the winter time too so now is the time that I hatch plans with my mates for a few trips to venues more suited to getting one or two pals together, Linear being the classic example. I’ve also got a small club water close to home, the location making short winter trips much more appealing.