In and Out Winter Fishing
Firstly, I would like to start by apologising to the main man Mr Flewin for the complete lack of content coming from me after a recent successful trip to eutopia that is Ashmead. Now, when I say recent, this was early October and we’re now a few days away from Christmas; where has that time gone?! Since this successful trip I haven’t spent one night under canvas, which, for those that know me and my style of angling, is genuinely out of character. For those that aren’t familiar, my angling is pretty much made up of short overnight sessions, with the odd two nighter if I play my cards right in between a busy work and family schedule…as per 99% of you probably out there reading this!
Despite the lack of night sessions, this doesn’t mean I haven’t been getting out, nor does it mean that I haven’t been maximising my time where the small windows of opportunity allow. I have had to simply adapt, overcome difficulties with life getting in the way and enjoy the small windows that I’ve carved out. As a result, where most are either travelling home from the grind of work life and settling down for their evening meal in comfort of central heating, I am often hastily making my way to the pond, in the dark and often in very cold conditions, to sit there for two, maybe three hours at most.
Now this isn’t for the faint hearted and things do have to be in order…not only bait and tackle, but life in general. Sacrifices must be made, either getting up extra early to get that run or walk in before work, visiting the supermarket to fulfill the wife’s shopping list late at night or to simply start work earlier to permit for a slightly earlier finish, all to allow for a ‘free night’. However, there is one thing that is paramount to these short ‘in and out’ styles of angling and that’s bait. Moreso, bait application prior to and during the sessions.
I would without a doubt say this is the one and most important aspect of my sessions, meaning that I am applying bait at least three or four times a week if I’m fishing or not. I prefer, if life allows, to bait around the same sort of time that I will be fishing, so all baiting sessions would pretty much be conducted after dark (brings with it several advantages!). I think this allows for fish to ‘appear’ or become accustomed to knowing there is a regular supply of food and, hopefully, meaning they turn up at the time my traps are in place.
In the early part of this campaign, we’re talking late Autumn (November 8th to be precise), I was introducing a fair amount of bait. An opportunity in some ways to run the freezer down from the late Summer/Autumn stock up and put it to good use. At this point I had three areas on the go, one would simply be straight boilie to an open water area which offered shallow water, with the other two receiving a plentiful supply of various particles and boilies to far deeper areas. These areas would result in having each basis covered depending on weather conditions, meaning I’m on the end of a more advantageous wind and on the back of a less favourable one.
Early sessions the ‘main area’ received both CR1 and CR2 in a mixture of sizes, with the ‘particle-based areas’ receiving the same but more 12’s and crumb mixed in to start with and then topped up with whole baits later down the line. I was mainly aiming for these areas to be cleaned of any debris from the Autumn fall, with particles being the best choice along with hoping to hold them in the area for longer periods when I wouldn’t be fishing.
Rig wise, would be simple. 12mm matching pops over the ‘dirty’, softer ground till there were signs of ‘firming up’ and German rigs consisting of snowman baits over the shallower, harder and boilie only ground. The earlier sessions were nothing but mad, with the open water area producing the most consistent and often doubling up on take. The particle, deeper water areas were a little slower on the carp front, nicking the odd fish here and there; but it was evident that the Bream had found this area to their liking. To be honest, I didn’t mind this knowing the area would be cleaned with the feeding activity. However, keeping a rig in place long enough for the carp to find was proving to be a bit of an issue. If memory serves me correctly, around thirty seconds or so was the quickest bite from one of these pesky slime balls!
As the sessions and baiting continued, I felt the deeper area was probably a little too deep for the time being. Although fish would be caught from this area, it was the shallower area that would be the most productive. As a result, a new spot would be found, one that I could still bait easily but offered that mid-depth between the shallower and deeper areas. After an initial round of baiting and a few days later, the new area produced one of the ponds stunning residents in the shape of a 19lb scale heavy linear.
As time went on the fishing continued to provide me with plentiful action throughout November with nineteen fish landed, a few lost along with a number of bream all in eleven quick in and out two to three hour evening sessions. There have been numerous fish that have simply been enjoyed, unhooked in the net and slipped back. But the true special ones for the lake have been snapped for the records. Now, when I say special, we’re talking upper doubles and a few twenty pounders to twenty three. For this lake, these are the special ones and have brought a smile to the aging face.
Winter fishing is about enjoyment, getting a bend in the rod regardless of size. I don’t have the pleasure of being able to sit in front of rods for a night or two at the moment, so simply catching fish on very limited time is more than enough for me. The confidence I have in the CR range to provide me with maximising my chances on very short sessions is second to none. I have used the CR1 and CR2 in my early sessions, with both accounting for a lot of fish between them.
The end of November and early part of December the weather took a turn for the worse, bringing high pressure, clear skies, cold winds and early evening frosts. Not ideal at the best of times, but certainly not ideal when your net is freezing up at five in the evening before you’ve even taken it out the van! Safe to say, unfortunately the signs of fish had stopped and the bites quietened off considerably. There were nights I was heading out simply because it was ‘my night’ to do so, but still holding a lot of confidence in nicking the odd fish. Alas there were a couple of blanks, but being out allowed me to keep the bait trickling in even through the coldest of conditions; just at a slightly reduced rate.
As the colder weather set in, tactics changed slightly which brought out ‘The Bag Mix’, Sweet Nut stick mix and tropical toppers. I have found that when scratching around for a bite, this little combination is irresistible and offers the perfect amount of bait and attraction for nicking the odd bite or two. With several bags knocked up for the quick evening session, there were occasions I would run out of bags. Ok the bags attracted the slabs, but one thing I’ve noted and seems to decide how the sessions are heading is the Bream activity. It appears that if they’re on it and willing to feed, then the carp aren’t that far behind. On occasions, I have had to wade through several ‘slabs’ before I would be rewarded with a carp or two. Not all ‘carpers’ cup of tea, but part and parcel of fishing a mixed fishery and simply taking what comes along.
With the colder weather now settling in with the turn of Winter, a slight change in boilie has also been adapted. I still want the CR1 to be the main staple of my mix, but have now also incorporated the Nu-Trine and Strawberry Ice into the free offerings. I’ve also changed to the shelf life baits, which allow me to easily ‘grab and go’ without the need to defrost anything prior to the session; this is also ideal for keeping a bucket in the car for those quick drive by baiting up. Rigs have now also changed again, moving over to the spinner rig and simply fishing high attract pop ups with small parcels of crumbed baits as described above that have been treated to a good helping of Liquid Cloud. The rigs allow me to simply change the hook where required, having a number of hooks baited and attached to stockings ready to go as and when required. No messing, no fuss, just simple easy, straightforward fishing to maximise the time.
Pop up wise, I’ve been mixing the bites up between a number of the CR special range with each of them doing me proud. I’ve taken fish on Peach, Pineapple and N-Butyric, Strawberry and Cream and Squid and Plum. The Pastels in CR1 or Nu-Trine have also served me well either straight from the pot or served with a helping of fruit, sweet or cream from the Pure range; this i must say is probably my favourite method as feel the added attractor is perfect for that extra pulling power on the short sessions.
I have also decided to off the deeper areas and simply concentrate on spanning the rods through the shallower area that has done the majority of the bites. This makes it a little easier for baiting with straight boilie, along with keeping both rods all clipped up ready to go.
December has brought with it some fifteen carp to over twenty pound in nine sessions, making it something like thirty odd fish all from two to three hour evening sessions…mad! Again simple tactics as described above and all from the regular baited area. Without baiting on a regular basis with quality feed and attractor baits I’m not sure I would have had half the amount of fish I’ve been fortunate to land.
There is one fish that I would dearly like to have, a winter target fish that is a bit like finding a needle in the haystack. But till I’m deemed worthy enough for this one to slip up, I’m happy to play the numbers game and enjoy some much needed sport from a cracking little lake.
I’m currently sat by the bank on our Christmas social in crazily mild weather, somewhere in the region of 13C with potential to hit 15C; this for end of December is ridiculous…feels almost spring like in the air with the sun now burning through and the birds singing. I’m hoping that the weather continues to hold out and we can make the most of some decent winter fishing for once. They’re certainly not crawling up the line, but with a little thought and effort they are there to be had.
I would like to take the chance to wish all at CRBaits, their customers and families a very merry Christmas and a fishy new year.
Till next time