In winter, a solid bag can be just enough bait to entice a bite. We join Harry Charrington on the banks of the picturesque day ticket water, Scotland Pond at Castle Ashby Lakes, Northamptonshire to reveal why and how to present one.
Winter carp fishing doesn’t need to be as hard as people make out, so long as you fish the right venues, with the correct tactics. I like to opt for a water with a good stock of fish, just like the one I’m at today - Scotland Pond, found in the historic grounds of the Castle Ashby estate. The lake is just a few acres in size and boasts a good head of carp in its shallow depths; both mirrors and commons to nearly 30lb. It always gives you a chance of a bend in the rod so makes the perfect winter venue, come rain or shine.
I arrive bright and early on a drizzly, drab Decembers morning. A couple of anglers are already in situ, typically in the two main island pegs, 14 and 15. Said swims consistently produce during the cold - a lesson for us all to make sure we are there as soon as the gates open, particularly on pressured day ticket venues.
Not to be deterred, I decide to stroll to the far end of the pond where a stream inlet pumps fresh water into the pond - a great feature on any venue. I immediately notice a murky brown tinge to the otherwise-clear clarity. On closer inspection, I can see plumes of silt rising to the surface and the odd dark shape ghost through the turbid water. There are clearly fish present and not just one either. So as to not make too much disturbance and potentially spook the shoal of fish, I whip up two solid bags presentations, well back from the waters edge.Presentation 1. a maggot bag.Presentation 2. a bag filled with 2mm Halibut Pellets.
Although I want to introduce some offerings and attraction around my hook bait, the last thing I want to do is pepper the surface with boilies in a stick, pult or worse still Spomb it out there. The water is so shallow that they would definitely vacate the area with any unnecessary disturbance. A solid bag provides just enough attraction, but little food content - just enough for a bite and to nick one quickly. In winter, as the carp’s metabolism slows, thus using less energy, a solid bag is often enough to fulfill their needs - unlike a heavier baiting approach.
My rigs are kept nice and simple. I tie up a couple of simple inline presentations featuring knotless knot rigs to 6in Reflex Braid. This folds up in the bag nicely and due to its lack of memory and supple nature will lay inside the offerings without kinking or looping up off the lake bed.I keep my rigs very simple
I am going with two baiting approaches today. One will contain torpid maggots, these have been sealed in an air tight bag for a few days and are a bait that I always have with me during winter, and the other just a nice oily, micro pellet, 2mm Halibuts to be precise from the CC Moore stable. I use these all-year round. I will fish a maggot hookbait in conjunction with the maggots and a Northern Special over the pellet rod. Again, both attached hair rig style to some ultra sharp Wide Gape Beaked hooks.My simple, balanced maggot presentation incorporates a sliver of cork on the hair.The Northern Special Mini is the ideal hookbait to fish alongside the pellets.I opt for the same pellets all year round
In winter, I want my bags to melt quickly and so prefer to use the Fast Meltdown bags rather than the slower version. The water is cold and so I want that piece of mind that they melt without potentially leaving unsightly globules over the baits. Once cast, I always watch the water anyway, looking for the bubbles produced by the melting PVA - again, this gives me confidence that everything is presented as it should be.Fast meltdown version of our solid bags is KEY in winter
Before tying any bags, I ensure that the rig, link, hook, my hands and bait are completely dry, by rolling in Krill Powder. This removes and dries off any damp which would melt the PVA.I always dry off my rigs in Krill Powder before tying and solid bags
To tie my solid bag presentation I slide the Rapide Loading Tool into the top of the bag. I then place my hook bait inside and cover with some Krill Powder. I then begin to fill with pellets of maggots and then place my inline lead inside. I continue to fill up to the stem on the inline lead before twisting the bag off below the tool. I twist it nice and tight, ensuring that the bait is compacted, before placing the bag inside the tool and licking the tag end around the tool. I then slide the bag into the tool allowing the tags to sit over the top of the bag and stick to it - ultimately keeping it neat and flush. To ensure it stays aerodynamic, I then lick and stick the corners of the PVA and its ready to go.The items you require to for a maggot filled solid bag presentation.Slide the loading tool into the top of the bag.Place the hook bait inside the bag.Follow this with a light sprinkling of Krill Powder.The inline lead goes in next.Keep filling the bag up to the stem of the lead.Twist the bag.Make sure it is kept tight.Push the bag inside the tool.Moisten the PVA with saliva before folding over the bag.Push the bag back through the tool.Fold in the corners to make aerodynamic.Lick and stick!Job done.
I quietly creep to the front of the swim and soon enough I underarm flick both solid bags just to the side of the cloudy areas with minimal disturbance. My thinking that rather than casting right on top of their heads, I will keep things a little stealthier and play the cautious approach.Depositing a sold bag to the side of the silty cloud of activity
I soon have the kettle on and sit back confidently knowing that I am on fish and that my rigs will be perfectly presented in the silty, choddy pond. Solid bags just give me that optimum confidence that the rig is protected by any leaves or detritus on the cast and as the bag melts.
I begin to receive some savage liners on both rods and I can see carp moving in and out of the zone, causing big plumes of silt to rise to the surface, followed by sheets of bubbles.
The bobbin then slams up tight and I am into a hard fighting Scotland Pond carp. After a spirited fight up pops a lovely scaly mirror and I am soon holding up a beautiful specimen for the camera on a chilly Decembers morning. A right result in the winter and proof that solid bags in the right place can nick you a quick bite even when the temperatures are low!No matter what the size, it's great to get a bend in the rod at this time of year.