3 February, 2015 |6 Comments
This is the time of the year when applying a bit of strategic thought into a way of plucking out the better stamp fish from your swim on the pole, whether in match conditions or just out for a pleasure session can make a huge difference in your final catch and what it comprises of.
Just a little bit of off the bank revision time in your feeding approach before you go guns blazing on the day really can make a difference in the size of fish you induce into feeding, and can reap some huge rewards. The key factor to remember when targeting larger carp on commercials during the colder months of the year is what baits to feed and more importantly how much to feed.
As a golden rule the less you feed the more results you’ll receive over an average of sessions but to comprehend what I would call a “negative in order to be positive” style of feeding approach, a little bit of water craft is paramount, so let me explain.
When the water is clear during the winter months, fish are far more “spooky” and for this reason alone whether it’s a pole over their heads or a carpet of bait being ploughed at them, the larger wiser fish naturally back away and tend to herd up in the untouchable safe areas of the lake. That said in the morning before all the bankside disturbance begins to take place the fish are more wide spread and for this reason the more you think like a fish rather than a human the more you can understand why fish herd up when all the bankside disturbance takes place.
With this in mind a frugal feeding approach really does decrease the chances of fish being spooked away from your bait, more importantly always remembering to try and catch on a shorter length of pole before you venture further out. Too many anglers especially in the winter make the big mistake of going on the long pole from the off, yes they might catch straight away but when they run out of carbon their wheels fall off and run out of bites in the process. After all if this isn’t true then why can’t we just stay at one length all day and catch consistently! Remember a fishing session isn’t a race it’s a marathon!
So how is it possible to entice fish into feeding without actually feeding them? Well this is where thinking outside the box can help. Many specimen carp anglers are targeting more and more waters thought the winter with a ‘cloudy spod’ approach. The principle behind this is to create a cloud of attraction in your fishing area that the fish feel safe in, enticed to feed but the attraction holds little to zero food content; this is where your hookbait steps in!
C.S.L…Corn Steep Liquor, is a liquid that actually falls to the bottom if you cup it in and creates a highly visible scented carpet of attractants to entice fish into the “Zone”. If you swill your pole pot around as it enters the water you will be left with a hanging cloud of attraction. It is a bait that actually gets better as more fish are attracted to the swim as any fish hovering over the top will stir up the liquid further. This liquid reminds me a bit of smelling the aroma down the street from the fish n chip shop and all of a sudden the only thing on your mind is FOOD, you walk all the way up to the shop only to find that it’s not open for another half hour, GUTTED.
This liquid does this trick, so in a way you’re actually stimulating the fish into feeding and by offering just a single bait over the top the rewards are instant. A lighter alternative is the XL coconut liquid this will leave a whiter but more subtle cloud, ideal for fishing a flake of bread into.
For hookbaits if there’s one bait I ALWAYS rely upon to catch me fish throughout the year it has to be the sweetcorn but even more so in the winter as this wonder bait is so visible in the clear water, just a single grain of corn can attract a passing fish into snatching it up instantly, and combined with C.S.L it’s the perfect recipe for an extraction session.
During the winter months I am a firm believer in using a light elastic so I use a no8 latex set soft, this elastic is perfect set up for all sizes of fish and also blends well with fishing fine lines and small hooks which is a must when the water clarity is high as a finesse approach results in more bites. Now this is the interesting part, if I’m targeting the larger stamp carp in the lake I will still use the same elastic as what I’d use for small carp and f1’s, why?
The beauty about light elastics when carp fishing is that once the hook is set the carp very rarely realizes it has been hooked and as a result it drifts away from your feeding zone without spooking other fish that might be still there, this factor is so important as if I were to use a heavier grade of elastic a larger carp would fight with a lot more aggression and so increase the chances of effecting what happens to your swim as it bolts on its run for freedom. It is more than often the case that you can land very big carp in a surprisingly short time with a light elastic grade and once you’ve got the balance correct between elastic and line diameters it’s very difficult for a fish to break you.
There’s only one float pattern I use for nearly all my commercial carp fishing, the Malman Speedy, this float is perfect for presenting commercial baits in most situations and depths. The majority of time I use a 4 x12, main line 0.12, to 0.10 hook length as for hook choice, Tubertini 808 size 18. The shotting pattern couldn’t be simpler; this particular weight float takes 9 no 10 shot spread out.
Now when we talk about spread shot for carp fishing the first thing people think about is spread out shot to create a slow natural fall of the hook bait through the water column but actually the main reason and only reason in my eyes for spreading the shot out is to disperse the weight This in turn minimises resistance when a fish intercepts the bait on the deck, amplifies the bite you receive and more importantly fools the fish into accepting the bait with more confidence.
To preach my theories I’ve gone on the Strip Lake at the prolific Lindholme lakes fisheries nr Doncaster, South Yorkshire.
I’ve set up on peg 17 which is situated in the centre of this lake. The strip pond holds a good head of F1’s and also has a good number of larger carp also and with all sizes of fish to be caught it’s the perfect lake to pluck out the larger size fish without getting pestered from all the other smaller carp and f1’s in the lake. This is why the corn is such a good bait for selecting the larger stamp fish, as fed correctly you can really deter all the other unwanted fish from intercepting the hook bait first.
As I explained earlier my aim of the session is to gradually work my way out, so to start the session I’m opening two lines at 9 metres. The beauty about this lake is it is quite uniformed in depth so all that’s needed to cover as many as 15 swims is one rig! The interesting part is unlike most people I never plumb up at the start of the session any further out than where I have intentions of starting my first swim as I’ve learnt to believe that even a pole over the fish can ruin what could be a safe haven for the fish. For this reason when I decide to venture further out I then plummet up mark my spot and then feed, this approach I’m sure gives you a better chance of catching wiser larger fish from your peg.
Starting at 9 metres I feed two lines at 10 and 2 o’clock with CSL from a kinder pot. I then lower a single grain of corn over my left hand line. After a bite less first minute I then rotate over to the right hand line, lower the rig in and instantly receive a bite from a prime 5lb mirror carp. After another biteless twenty minutes I then decide to venture two metres further out and repeat the process by plumbing up and finding the identical depth for another two fresh lines. I mark my new spot against far bank features and then feed.
Interestingly enough at this distance I didn’t receive any bites on either line, so ten minutes later I opened another two lines at 13 metres. It was at this point where I started to catch well as now I’m edging towards the middle of the lake where there’s a larger percentage of fish. By minimising the amount of feed I introduce is preventing any fish in the area from being spooked.
The key point to remember with feeding liquid is you are laying a trap for the fish and for this reason it is not an approach at this time of the year where you keep topping your peg up with liquid, however if I catch a fish I will go back out to see if there is another carp waiting to intercept the first offering that comes down. If I haven’t received another bite I will then top the peg up to see if it pulls any fish back into the feed zone, if this doesn’t work then my peg is telling me that I need to go further out and start a fresh line.
After catching several decent F’1s at 13 metres, both these lines dried up completely so now it was time to extend further. After opening two fresh lines at 14 metres I was into a decent carp straight away and after landing I dropped in on the other line and again was rewarded with yet another mirror carp.
It wasn’t until I reached 16 metres when my catch rate really picked up and started catching big f1’s mixed with the odd carp on a regular basis. By the end of an enjoyable session I had amassed 25 fish with just 25 grains of corn and a coffee cup full of CSL and was rewarded with a cracking net of winter carp and big f1’s.
It just goes to show with a bit of thought how you can have a great days fishing even in the coldest of conditions.