If you’re like me, you’ll still be enjoying the last ounces this late summer has to offer. However, as sad as it is to talk about sub-zero temperatures, if you want to carry on catching during the Autumn and on into the Winter, then you’d best start planning now. With the winds consistently blowing from the north or east, the fish will be on the move, heading towards deeper, wind free areas of your chosen venue. The more effort you put in now, the better your catch rate will be when the frosts do start to bite.
I’ve talked before about watching the water for fish. This time of the year, it’s so important to spend as much time on the banks, ideally at first or last light. Even in the depths of winter, bream and carp will show themselves, and the two are rarely that far apart. If you see bream rolling, you can bet the carp won’t be far away. Both have similar feeding habits and needs. Over the next few weeks, right up to and beyond the first ground frost, fish will be continuously moving towards their winter grounds.
On big expanses of water (100 acres +), I’ve known bream and carp to move several hundred yards. There is no definitive answer, although there are a few pointers. Often, they will head for the deepest part and always away from the cold winds. These areas are ideal for spotting fish with a mill-pond like surface and deep water it will be easy to see your quarry. It is important that once you know where they spend the winter, you start trickling your bait in now and keep it going.
Both bream and carp slow down into a torpid like state for one reason only, lack of natural food source. Once the frosts hit there is very little natural food around. Because of this, fish slow down purely because they don’t have any energy. Fish are cold blooded and don’t think, “sod this, staying in today,” they just don’t have the energy to go crashing around all over the place.
If you keep the feed going in, they will keep active and keep feeding. That said, you have to know where the fish are, no good baiting where there’s no fish. Now fish aren’t going to eat or move as much as they do in the summer, so when you do bait up be mindful of this. Ideally, feed little and often.
Best to avoid high-protein values and high food content as fish find this difficult to digest as the water cools. Generally, most bait companies produce winter baits. These are invariably the bright coloured sweet baits. I’ve mentioned it before, fish get their sweet tooth in winter because the last sustainable food sources in the Autumn are the berries falling from the trees.
Old classics like Mulberry Florentine from Rod Hutchinson, and any of the tutti-frutti boilies on offer, Vortex from Stcky, Nash’s Tangerine Dream and so on. Avoid the heavy fishy smelling baits this time of the year, and you won’t be far wrong. Alternatively, there is a bait from SSP called ‘System-X that is loaded with ‘medi-pre-biotic.’ The prebiotics help the fish digest food and retain all the best that this bait has to offer. Fish find this bait using their senses because it’s good for them. Nothing artificial, a quality bait like no other, which works year round.
Most of my biggest Bream and Carp have come in the colder months. The bigger fish feed longer and harder during the cooler months purely because they have a larger body mass to maintain. If you fish a heavily stocked venue and can’t cherry-pick the big lumps, you will find it a whole lot easier during the colder months.
There’s only so many TV repeats you can watch over the next few months, so get out and nail some lumps. Once you do, you’ll never look back. Double skinned bivvies, good clothing and boots, a nice bed and sleeping bag. Add your kettle and frying pan and enjoy having the lake to yourself. I just love those windless mornings when the mist hovers and from somewhere you hear a slap, the ripples appear… Moments later, single tone and your into a PB…