There’s nothing like a festive carp fishing session to invigorate you. Arctic wind and regular hail showers didn’t put me off. All wrapped up and armed with some of my own boilies that I’m testing, I was eager to get a bit of time on the bank to see if I could tempt a fish from its winter slumber. Any fish in these conditions would be a triumph.
I have a privileged position being on the fishery most days and have been trickling a bit of bait into a couple of spots I fancied. Priming a swim beforehand is a great tactic if you have the opportunity, especially if your time on the bank is limited.
With the cold weather and less activity in the water, all the colour had gone. At this time of year our lakes go gin clear, and this is typical of lakes up and down the country. With this is mind, I tied up some fluoro-carbon leaders and hooklengths. Fluoro-carbon refracts light on the same wavelength as water making it near invisible in the clear water. It also benefits from being very stiff and has great anti-tangle properties which means you can use slightly longer hook lengths, getting the hook bait further away from your lead set-up.
Another consideration at this time of year is debris on the lake bed. Our lakes are surrounded by trees, which is very pleasing on the eye and makes for a very attractive fishery, however the down side is the leaf and branch litter being blown into the water by the autumn winds.
PVA foam nuggets protect the hook from picking up debris and allows the hookbait to settle gently on the lakebed, especially on those longer hooklengths.
Bait choice requires a bit of consideration too. The bait I’m using is ideal for cold water, it’s a high leakage, high energy seed based bait flavoured with strawberry attractors which I make myself.
Short underarm casts are all that is required to get the baited rigs onto the spots. The tips of the rod are pointed down into the water to keep the line out of the wind, and a slack line is employed to keep the leader pinned to the lake bed.
As I got settled, with hot coffee and mince pie in hand, the right-hand rod screams off! The fish tears around the swim and I must let him do his thing. This one is full of energy and not willing to give-up without a fight, which is unusual for this time of year as they tend to be a little more lethargic.
Finally, I managed to drop it into the net. Ten minutes into the session, 11lb 6oz Common – job done! This turned out to be the only action of my 4-hour session, I packed my barrow with a huge grin on my face. A beautiful carp in freezing conditions caught on your own bait – it doesn’t get much better than that!