Monday, 19 December 2016

Winter Campaign Struggles

December marks the start of winter and usually by the middle of the month even the most stubborn trees have lost their remaining leaves, revealing the twisted antler shaped branches and bark that looks colder than a toads back is ever more present.  This was my second visit to the syndicate water after having blanked the first time, this session had to be rearranged due to the lakes being frozen over the previous weekend due to the temperatures plummeting to minus 4. 

On my arrival the conditions seemed good for a bite, so feeling quietly confident I loaded the barrow in the carp park, signed in at the lodge then headed to the lake to watch for any signs of fish.  I left all the gear on the barrow as I observed the water for half an hour and even though dusk was just a few short hours away it is normally time well spent, especially if you spot any activity in the colder months.  That has to be my number one tip in winter, watch the water as much as possible.  Unfortunately I saw no signs of fish, no bubbling and certainly no head and shouldering so I decided to start in the swim I fished on my previous session, purely because this is where I saw signs of fish just a couple of weeks ago, hoping they have not strayed to far from their winter haunt.  It is the furthest swim from the carp park, so I started my trek through the sodden grass
I punched the rods out carrying chods on each one to the  likely areas I thought the fish may be holding up, sat on the bedchair and enjoyed a quick brew.  I had no intentions of putting the bivvy up just yet, I was going to keep watching the water and if I saw any fish movement was more than happy to relocate to a swim from which I could reach them.

Fishing for carp in winter can be classed by many as boring and I will be honest many years ago I was one of these anglers, however my approach to winter carp has changed over the years and I work harder for bites in winter than at any other time of the year.  Observation is my main activity at this time of year and spotting a carp not only gives you confidence it also tells you that the carp are active and possibly feeding and more importantly in which part of the lake.  

On this occasion the carp were proving elusive, so as the light started to fade I popped the bivvy up and had a bite to eat, recast both rods and spread a handful of boilies over each spot ready for the hours of darkness.  For me the hours of darkness are not an excuse to jump into my quilted sleeping bag zip up the door and wait until I'm awoken by the bite alarm or first light.  Alot of carp anglers take portable tvs or their Ipads and Im not knocking this, winter night are a long affair, however im just saying that is not for me.  My time spent fishing is limited so I want to know if the carp are boshing down the other end of the lake regardless of what time of day it is.

I sat outside the bivvy until gone midnight hoping to hear the tell tale splosh of a carp breaking the surface and then using the moonlight to spot the ripples to reveal its location however this never happened so I retired and set the alarm for an hour before first light.  
The following morning turned out to be dank, overcast and wet although the temperatures still remained favourable the bobbins remained still.  I felt as if I should of received some action from my couple of sessions so far however having no prior knowledge of the venue until I set eyes on it just a few weeks ago so it was a case of learning the carps habits from scratch.  I stuck with a chod on one rod, made with my favourite chod material and opted to change to a wafter on the second rod and have bit of a cast about during the day trying to drop a bait on a carps nose.  The venue is fairly uniform in depth with an average of only 4 feet no real areas stood out for me, apart from fishing close to features such as the reed mace.
It turned colder overnight revealing a beautiful bright morning, droplets on the bivvy sparkled in the sunlight and spider webs glistened along the otter fence.  I was told when I joined that they were challenging lakes and it is certainly turning out that way.  Given the conditions, I believe the fish would of been feeding at some point during the last couple of days, so perhaps it was wrong swim choice or wrong tactic and with Christmas just around the corner time was running out for my first fish from the venue before the 6 week close season that starts early January.  I feel I am learning about the venue with every visit and am hoping to return before the new year.  What I do know is, whenever that first fish does fall it will be a fish Ive worked for and certainly earned.

 The video diary to accompany this piece can be viewed on my youtube channel by following the link below.