Autumnal Approach - Text Only

As the days grow cooler nobody wants to be sat behind motionless rods, Chris Cox shares his autumnal approach to ensure his catch rate keeps going throughout winter.

The leaves, which for so many months have provided us with luscious green scenery, are finally dropping. Unfortunately, carp-catching rates can dwindle somewhat too, but with the correct approach and some luck, you can have a very productive autumn campaign. It requires careful planning to sustain this into the dreaded freezing months of January and February, though.

My target water this season has been the historic Horton Church Lake, part of the RK Leisure portfolio. The water has some very old, very big fish swimming in its depths and I have been lucky enough to have some of these legendary characters in the folds of my landing net throughout the season.

I have been using Sticky’s Krill boilies so far this season but, as the water cools, a switch to a highly digestible bait will be required. The one such bait at the forefront of my mind is Manilla. Manilla has a much lower oil content than Krill, but still maintains a very high protein level, meaning any carp that eat it will be getting a highly nutritional food item to supplement their dietary requirements. With the addition of sweetcorn, I have the perfect winter bait at my disposal.

The time for stalking a few feeding carp in the margins will start to dwindle for another season, as they move out of the margins and begin searching out the deeper water. However, never neglect areas of pronounced snags and tree roots, as these areas offer the fish plenty of protection and shelter in the colder months, even if they are shallow. I have walked many lakes in the depths of winter, in temperatures below freezing, and found fish in four feet of water beneath submerged snags.

Carp on most venues will have been highly pressured all year, so now’s the time to do some vital preparation work to put yourself ahead of your fellow anglers. Finding the carp’s preferred winter holding spots will be essential for a productive autumn and winter campaign, as carp will start so visit these areas with much more frequency. Start to map those areas with a marker float or a bare lead to build a picture of the area in more detail. Silty areas in the deeper parts of the lake are a good starting point and areas that see little angling pressure can also be productive. I tend to find generally deep areas of the lake with silty gullies or depressions to be exceptionally good areas to target.

If you find an area that feels right and has good previous cold-water form, start to introduce some bait. This doesn’t have to be kilos and kilos of bait but if the bait is introduced frequently the carp will always be aware of the opportunity to feed in your chosen area.

Paying attention to the time that fellow anglers get bites is also pivotal to sustaining your catch rate. As the temperatures really drop and the carp’s metabolism starts to slow down, feeding at certain times of day or night may become more regular, so seeking out the window of opportunity for a bite becomes vitally important. Make sure you are on the bank for that particular time!

If your chosen area looks bleak and there are carp showing or showing signs of feeding activity in other parts of the lake, up sticks and move quickly; that little extra effort to keep yourself mobile and stay on the fish can pay off big time!

Rig wise, keeping things simple is something I highly recommend! This is not the time for trying a new rig you have heard about. Stick to your tried-and-tested tackle and tactics that gives you confidence. I will be sticking to the ever-faithful hinged stiff links, accompanied by a Sticky Signature pop-up. Pop-ups are great at this time of year as they will ensure your rig is well presented over the leaf litter and general detritus littering the lakebed.

Historically, Horton Church has notoriously bad winter form, so I will keep a few waters with good form in cold temperatures in mind too, as there is no point being very uncomfortable on these winter sessions, sitting behind motionless rods.

A spot of carping on the local canal or productive day-ticket water can keep a smile on your face if your target water shuts up shop.


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