Fluoro hookbaits are most anglers go to when it comes to Winter. In cooler water, carp are less likely to eat, as it takes longer for them to process food.
Changing Approach for an Oxfordshire Gem – Text Only
Adam Smith explains how he changed his approach to catch one of the finest carp in Oxfordshire.
I had been having a fantastic year, catching over 15 fish to 44lb 10oz. The spots I was fishing were small silty holes in the weed, which was perfect for the Multi-Rig. The pop-up was just about visual, with the entire rig camouflaged beneath the thin layer of silt.
As the year progressed, the water clarity disappeared. This made things really tricky when it came to lowering the rigs, especially onto the small spots that had been producing for me. It meant that I would need to lead around and find harder spots. I am not a huge fan of fishing in the firmer gravelly areas, but this was the only way I could get the rigs on a presentable lakebed. I decided to completely change my approach by taking off the Multi-Rigs, as I didn’t like the idea of a pop-up on the gravel, and I began to use the Snowman Rig. These fish are very cute, and very aware of lines and obvious baiting situations, so I had to have a good think as to how to get round this.
Whatever it is that I decided to do, it would involve boilie fishing. I was using the Krill, as were a few of the other lads, and the fish simply loved it. I have never seen fish react like this to bait. Having access to a boat gives you a good idea of what the fish are feeding on. If they don’t like something, it stays on the bottom until it rots away or the birds clean it up.
I have never come across rotting Krill, only cleaned-off areas where the carp and tench have gorged on the stuff. So, I decided to trim a 20mm Krill bottom bait into a small random shape of around 12-13mm in size. To this I added a 12mm White Chocolate pop-up, also trimmed. I used this to add buoyancy and to act as a sight-tipper on top of the bait.
It was a small hookbait, and with a Size 6 wide gape, it was unfortunately going to pick up tench too. I was catching tench on the Multi-Rigs, so it wasn’t too much of a worry.
On my first session I set up in a swim that I thought they were in, but after watching for a few hours, it just didn’t feel right. I then moved to the other side of the lake and set up in a swim known as the Chow Mein. I found some lovely spots, nice clean areas with some softer parts just off the side. I placed a few blocks out there, and on my way back I noticed a huge weedbed. It would have created terrible line lay, and unless I spent the rest of the day raking it, I had to move again. I eventually settled in a swim known as Horseshoe. It had been left alone for the majority of the year and it looked bang on. I took a drift out in the boat and it was noticeably shallower than the other areas, and I could see a lot of the bottom.
There was a small bar about 130 yards out directly in front of the swim. It had clearly been fed on, and at the front side of it there was a small silty area just before the weed started.
I dropped a couple of rods onto the area, with the hookbait on the yellowy clean spot, and the lead and leader sitting in the silt. With both of them sitting bang on, I went over to a large weedbed slightly to the right of the swim. There was a large clean spot just off the side of it and it looked prime. I did the same again, lowering my hookbait onto the clean bit, keeping an eye on my white tipper to guide me down. As with the other rods, I scattered around sixty 16mm Krill freebies, flattening some and breaking a few in half too.
The rods had been out no longer than 2 hours when I received a savage bite. I picked up the rod and it was solid. I applied a bit of pressure and just gently reeled it in without any dramas. I could make out a large ball of weed coming in, and I was convinced it was a tench.
Around 15 yards out I could see a large back, and it was clearly a carp. I walked straight into the water and slid the net under a large scaly mirror, which turned out to be one of my main targets from the lake, a fish known as Magoo. I was blown away, and after a few phone calls I had a few friends in the swim to give me a hand. She weighed 39lb 8oz and looked in pristine condition. It just goes to show that changing your tactics to suit the situation can massively pay off, and you can begin to create your own luck.