Tom Maker explains how keeping it simple but effective with his go-to mix will keep the bites coming in the colder months
Autumn Tips with Scott Lloyd - Text Only
Scott Lloyd runs us through what bait changes he makes coming into the late autumn and also what areas he looks for when targeting big carp
At this time of year, the mix that I use drastically changes. In the warmer months, I tend to use around 70% particles and the rest boilie and pellets. As the water cools down, I go almost exclusively boilies, with just a handful of tigers and hemp in the mix.
The reason for such a small amount of the hemp and tigers is that I still want that element of crunch down there. Carp absolutely love both baits and I think a lot of it is down to the crunch factor. I don’t know whether they just enjoy the crunch or if it is the vibrations hemp and tigers give off when a carp begins to feed, which then entices other carp to feed. All I know is by having that small amount of mix out there makes me super confident that the fish will stay feeding in the area until it is all gone.
The boilies, particularly The Krill, make up for the main bulk of the mix. The carp will take all the nutrients and goodness into their bodies and by this time of year they just want it. They love it throughout the summer months too, but I feel the autumn is when they really do chow down on those richer, higher nutritional baits.
TOP TIP – CHOPPED BOILIES
The fish will be looking for boilies, but after a year of being caught on them, they can be a little cautious around them. I do something very simple to my bait, but I feel it entices quicker bites and feeding responses because of it. By breaking the baits in to halves, chops and crumb, the carp don’t feed as cautiously on it.
Fishing on Stoneacres a few years ago I had access to a boat and it really opened my eyes to what the carp really wanted. It got to a point where I would put 3-4kg on a spot and by the middle of the night I could hear the fish showing over it. When I checked it out the following day, the spot was trashed, and they had eaten every last morsel.
People think that carp are just pigs in ponds and they have to eat our bait, which I suppose on some lakes is true. I think that on the places that I fish, they are mugging us far more than we think. If they didn’t want to get caught, they wouldn’t, they would simply feast on naturals and never touch our baits. Carp grow in lakes that anglers don’t fish so they don’t necessarily need us.
Where I’m going with this is that by putting something out there that they know is good for them, they know tastes good and they can benefit from it, they will be willing to take a chance on getting caught because it is too good to resist. Normally carp have to work really hard for long periods of time to harvest the natural food larder, which in the end doesn’t give them much. By eating boilies, they can get what they need much quicker and easier. I compare it to having the choice of a roast dinner in front of you or a salad 10 miles away; you are probably going to feast on the roast!
TOP TIP – GIVE IT TO THEM
It is staggering just how much bait carp can get through. This is the only time of year that I actually want to be fishing over big beds of bait and feel that it is an advantage to do so. I prefer boilie only, but if that is too expensive, bulk the mix out with some pellets too.
The Krill is my go to bait, until the water goes really cold and it has been for the past 4 years. I have got a huge amount of confidence in it, which is key when using boilies. I will always use something that I know and have confidence in, and The Krill has such a great track record for producing fish and lots of them.
I am a firm believer in a good bait doesn’t blow and fishing on the day ticket lakes such as Christchurch, I see a lot of people holding the latest and newest bait, thinking that it is going to change their season. You often find that 12-months later it will be forgotten and another one is released, because the fish know it isn’t great for them and it isn’t worth taking the risk eating it.
I often get asked how much I put in. It depends on the lake I am fishing and the circumstance, but as a general rule I try and fish 7-8 accurately cast spombs to the spot. If I have got loads of fizzing and showing over the area and I get a bite, I might introduce a little bit more the next time. If I don’t get a bite, but think the fish have been on me, they could have turned me over, so I still give them a little bit more. However, if you are unsure as to how many fish are actually on you, 8 Spombs is a safe bet and enough to get a few fish feeding and tempt a bite.
TOP TIP – NOCTURNAL ACTIVITY
The carp tend to be much more active during the hours of darkness. Quite often, you don’t see anything show during the day and it can make you feel a little despondent. However, by sitting up at night, you will find that most of the activity is happening then. If you want to find where the fish are feeding, set a few alarms and sit up to hear it.
In regards to hook baits, I like to fish a match the hatch style bait and always make sure that it is balanced. I have watched so many fish feeding from the trees and I have observed them hoovering baits up from 6 inches off the deck. I have also seen fish hugging the bottom and gliding over a patch of bait with whole, chopped and crumbed baits, thinking that it would have eaten the lot, but only taken the crumb. That’s how delicate they can feed sometimes, which is why I use something that is balanced and able to fly up in to the carps mouth with ease, no matter how cute they are feeding.
A Krill Wafter straight out of the tub is perfect and sits brilliantly over the mix that I use. I fish these in conjunction with what I call the Noodle Rig, which is an aggressive bottom bait presentation. It incorporates a large and long shrink tube kicker and should the fish pick the bait up, they find it very hard to deal with it. Due to the buoyancy, it will also reset should it be spat or moved about, meaning that I will always be fishing.
TOP TIP – BRIGHT ONES
I will often fish a match the hatch type of bait in the autumn, but I always carry some bright hook baits. Fishy baits such as the Signature Squids are an absolute classic and will work brilliantly over a bed of bait, or as a stand alone single.
Firstly, you want to find the areas where carp are holding up. I have found that the firmer silt and dying weedbeds are often the best holding areas, so this is where I start. The naturals, such as snails, leaches and Bloodworm will be dropping out the weed to sit in the silt for protection, and the carp know this, which is why they use these areas so much.
I am looking for silty gravel; a thin layer of silt that sits over the top of the hard spots. I have seen it from a boat many times, a spot will start off with a small piece of gravel poking through the silt and after the carp have harvested it, the gravel is really exposed, and the spot will be glowing. I like to fish the edge of these spots, as this is where they normally start harvesting.
TOP TIP – FIND THAT SPOT
Spend as much time as you need trying to pinpoint that spot. I am looking for something that has a good drop going down and a smooth pull over it. I want it as big as possible, because I believe the fish at this time of year want an easy meal. It is different to the summer, where small holes may be more fruitful. A large, silty area that the fish can use to graze over is ideal.
When trying to find these areas I use a 5oz lead, this gives me the best response and transmission through the rod tip to find the smooth areas and the odd rattle from the gravel. I then pull it back until I hit some weed or variation in the bottom.
Although the deeper areas are on the whole, much more productive, you will still find fish venturing onto the shallow bars. Fished in the right conditions, you will find that even in the cold the shallow areas can be just as productive as the deeper areas.
With the spots that I fish varying in colour, I always fish a fluorocarbon leader. I find that this, in conjunction with big blobs of putty, is more invisible than anything else. It also sinks brilliantly and suits pretty much all of the situations and lakebeds that I am faced with.