Carp Fishing – Autumn: Part One
James Conway is looking forward to autumn – one of the most productive times of year in the carp fishing calendar - but not everything is going according to plan.
I always look forward to fishing in the autumn as it is a time of year that can be especially productive. The carp start to feed up in order to build up their energy levels for the forthcoming winter and the drop in water temperature, combined with increased oxygen levels, means the carp are in great condition and often at their highest weights.
I had decided to make the most of autumn this year and book a few Fridays off work so that I could fish some 48-hour sessions as opposed to just my usual Friday night sessions and I also decided to stick it out on my local syndicate water in the Lea Valley; with the intention being to concentrate my efforts on an under-fished area of the lake.
After an evening’s session with the marker rod I found two suitable areas to position some hookbaits and the next part of the plan was to start introducing bait - and lots of it. I was going to the lake a couple of times during the week after work to bait up, sometimes even in the dark when the nights started to draw in. I'd then fish Thursday through to Saturday, baiting lightly on arrival and then heavily again before leaving. Baiting up this regularly would ensure that there would always be some bait on the spots, even during my absence from lake.
The bait I was using for this was a general spod mix consisting of various size Bait-Tech pellets, Super Seed Hemp, Scopex Corn and boilies. By using a mix of this nature anything feeding on the area would soon get the spots nice and clear. As a backup plan I also introduced bait into a couple of other areas just in case there was ever a time that I was unable to get into my favoured swim.
This went on for a few weeks, with absolutely nothing to show for my efforts. I hadn't even had any sightings of carp in the area, let alone any action. The lake was fishing incredibly slowly and almost two months had passed since anyone had received a take. I would have usually stuck it out, but with only a few weeks remaining before winter set in, I decided to high tail it and head off elsewhere!
My chosen lake for ‘Plan B’ was a club water in the Colne Valley and with a higher stock than the 35 carp in the Lea Valley lake, there would be a much greater chance of receiving some action.
I arrived after work the following Thursday and by the time I had loaded my barrow the fine drizzle had turned into heavy rain. I waited in the lodge for a while for the rain to ease, but it didn't. The light was rapidly fading, so I settled on the swim closest to the lodge and started to set up in the torrential rain.
One rod was placed tight to the far margin and the other along the nearside margin, both with white hi-viz pop ups. Ideally I would have liked more time to have had a quick plumb around, but I was happy enough with the drops I received on both rods, so I retreated to the bivvy and out of the rain.
The night passed without any occurrences until half seven the following morning when my alarm sounded and the hanger lifted a couple of inches on the rod fished to the far margin. As I looked at where the line entered the water I could see that it was moving from right to left so I struck to find that the fish had kited on a tight line and was now some 15 yards from where it had been hooked. After a brief but spirited battle, I soon landed a small common of 12lb.
By mid afternoon I started to feel that I was in the wrong area of the lake. Even though I had caught the fish earlier that morning, the conditions just didn't seem right. During the night the wind had swung round and I was now in the teeth of a cold westerly. This area is the shallowest part of the lake and I was beginning to think that the carp might have moved out with the arrival of the cold wind.
With this in mind I decided to wind in and go for a walk around the lake to see if I could find any other areas that felt better for some action. When I arrived at the opposite end of the lake it was in complete contrast to where I had come from. The end bay was sheltered from the wind and flat calm. The sun even felt hotter down this end due to the lack of wind and I imagined that if I were a carp, then this is the area that I would prefer to be in. A few tell-tale bubbles by a dying lily bed was enough for me and within a few minutes I was back in my swim and packing up my tackle for a move.
When I arrived in the new swim fish were clearly in the area so I resisted the temptation to use the marker rod in fear of spooking them. The lake is relatively weed free, but as I didn’t know exactly what the bottom was like, I opted to fish both rods with solid PVA bags. These consisted of a mix of various small Bait-Tech pellets, along with some Sweet Coconut groundbait that had been enhanced with some of the matching liquid. The hookbaits were white 10mm Sweet Coconut pop-ups, fished balanced with a shot on the hair, directly under the bait.
They were both cast over to the far margin, one near to a set of snags and the other further along the bank, under some overhanging trees. Prior to casting out I had walked around to the far side and baited both spots with a mix of Halibut Marine and Super Halibut Marine pellets which I had previously soaked in Tuna CSL liquid.
At half past five in the morning the rod fished to the snag was away and before I had time to realise what was happening I was standing in the pitch black doing battle with a carp.
The fight could not end quickly enough for me, as it was absolutely freezing in the cold early morning air and with the fish safely in the net I dived back into the bivvy to put on another layer of clothes before getting the fish weighed and photographed.
The short dumpy mirror turned the scales round to 20lb 8oz, which made the previous day’s move well worthwhile. With the fish returned I soon had another solid PVA bag dispatched to the snag tree. Unfortunately there was no further action for that session but I decided there and then that I'd be heading back there to following week.
Please keep an eye out in the coming weeks for part two...