Tackling Pressured Day Ticket Venues during the Autumnal Months.

33lb 08oz Hardwick mirror in Oct.

Watching the water on Hardwick.

The Big Plated at 40lb 02oz.

A 31lb 14oz Hunts mirror caught in Nov.

You need a good bait.

12 October 2010

After fishing easier fisheries as a youngster in order to gain my bearings, as many anglers do, my attentions gradually started to turn to waters that held significantly larger specimens. With my sights set firmly on beginning to target larger fish, at the same time as fishing on a student’s budget, I had to choose the correct venue. There was no way I was going to afford a syndicate water and it seemed logical to opt for local day ticket lakes close to my home. Luckily, I live around 30 minutes from Linear Fisheries, probably one of the most popular day tickets in the country. It held the stamp of fish I was looking for, but it also attracted many anglers week in week out. Although tough going, I have learnt a lot from my experiences over the past three years at linear and fortunately, with a little help from Nash tackle, I have managed to snare some stunning linear lumps around this time of year. It is with this in mind that I hope to pass on my opinion in regard to approaching this type of busy day ticket venue in the autumnal months.
By this time of year the fish have taken a lot of pressure. Through the spring and summer months, anglers of all abilities are pitching their wits against very cute carp. The amount of rigs and varied presentations they see every day of the week make this time of year one of the most difficult in regards to outsmarting our quarry. In regard to rigs, I would suggest something you are confident in and not over complicating things. When I started fishing these types of venue, I thought I had to do something extra, something progressive. The fact is, there aren’t any super rigs out there and eventually I returned to using a simple coated braid; The Missing Link form Nash in 25lb. The only thing I do differently is shorten or lengthen the rig dependent on my baiting situation (i.e. shorter over a spodded mix of particles etc.). Rigs are not the be all and end all to catching a fish. The only thing you need to get right here is a sharp hook of your preference, I use the Fang Twister in size 10 over particles; a wide gaped hook with a viscous straight point and a Fang Uni in size 6 when fishing boilies or pop ups over a spread baited area and also presenting it correctly, i.e. length and matching colour to lakebed.
Concealment of end tackle
Many a time I have walked onto a water at 5pm Friday evening, only to find one peg free. Many a time however, the peg has been full of fish activity. On the majority of pressured venues, out of access areas such as no fishing banks, middle areas of the lake or snag areas almost always hold fish. Why is this? I put it down to lack of angler pressure and lines entering the water. Concealing your approach will undoubtedly help you convince the fish into believing that the area is ‘safe’.
Concealment of your end tackle is of great importance at any time of year. If my line and end tackle are made to be out of the way to the best of my ability, then the carp are more likely to feed in the area I am in, compared to matey next door! My own preference is to use a fluorocarbon mainline to allow the mainline to sink away from the patrol routes of any carp possibly entering the swim and I ensure after casting I strip off plenty of slack to allow it to sink. The only time I won’t do this is in weedy conditions. The invisibility factor to fluorocarbon is all well and good, but I have to admit that on Linear I have found that the amount of sediment in the water clings to the line and makes them quite visible. Constant cleaning with a wet cloth/towel when reeling in combats this situation and is something I have never witnessed anyone do on this type of venue.
If the weed allows, I will also utilise back leads, often both flying and clip on styles together. I find the Nash TT flying Backleads in 15g are perfect. Being heavy, they don’t fly back too far and pin that all important last 6-20ft down onto the bottom dependent on how you use them. In some circumstances you want the backlead to fly further back and therefore I would use the lighter versions. For example, if I was baiting two spots; one behind a bar and one just in front, the line behind the bar would need a good length pinned down to avoid interfering and spooking fish from the other spot. Granted a tough leader or mainline is needed when fishing over obstacles such as bars and the like and I find Nash Bullet mono in 15lb or utilising Nash Fluorocarbon soft as a leader in 25lb to be more than suitable at combating any abrasion issues. I feel that the last few feet of your end tackle to the hook link is probably the most important part of concealment. My personal preference is the Nash Diffusion Camo Leaders. These have transformed my fishing, full stop! There unique make up allows the leaders to almost disappear over any lake bottom and this in turn allows for minimal disturbance to the lake. Whereas other leaders are matched to distinct lakebeds, such as weed, silt, gravel and clay etc. the Diffusion leaders allow me to cast over any lake bed and be confident of excellent presentation. With the Linear waters in particular this is of vital importance when casting to showing fish or stalking. Although the leaders sink well, I always use some Nash Total Mass Putty to pin it down further still, using three or four blobs along its length. If you are experiencing weed problems, even at this time of year, then these conditions require the lead being discharged as soon as possible and the Nash Weed Safety Bolt Beads do this with ease. If the waters are not weedy, then I would always prefer an inline lead. The hooking potential I find is far more effective than swivel type leads and is something that in my experience, many anglers don’t utilise.
One thing swaying the odds slightly in our favour is the fact that with the evening’s drawing in and the hours of darkness extending, the carp are eager to feed up before the depths of winter take hold. Now this is all well and good, but in my experience you cannot just throw any old bait out into the pond and expect a greedy carp to snaffle it! If I haven’t been applying my own bait into a water for the previous few months, then I would research thoroughly on your venue’s previous catch reports. There will always be a bait that has been doing better than others and this was exactly the case with Linear. By investigating the bait further, flavours and additive information shaped my ideas and eventual decision on what bait to use. Colour is also of benefit and Hunts Corner Lake in particular on Linear, really responds well to white baits, therefore the Amber Strawberry in 10mm alongside my usual bait really brought consistent success whilst nurturing the fish onto my usual bait, with which I continued to catch on throughout the winter months. If in doubt always choose a bait with a proven track record which you are confident in. Some prefer to use baits they have used and caught on in the past and this is certainly the path I would take, however others prefer to use the most recent bait, something new to the carp. I’ll leave that decision up to you.
We have now been able to settle on a bait of preference, be able to utilise everything in our armoury to conceal our end tackle and construct simple effective rigs. However, none of this would be relevant if your location is wrong. Location can sometimes be very difficult on these busy day tickets due to angler pressure, but even when you only have one peg to choose from, locating features in front of you can be the difference between catching and blanking. 90% of anglers I see on these venues still, STILL, chuck out the marker float first and try and find a gravel bar or hump. Before I even think of looking at the marker float, I make sure that for the first few hours I chuck singles, zigs or bags out into likely looking areas to try and tempt any carp that are in the area. A friend of mine did a week session on St John’s this year and didn’t use a single boilie, particle or grain of corn. Before getting set up he chucked three zig rigs into the area and caught that well from the off, he continued using them all week and left the marker and spod in the car – good angling! If I have caught fish on the single approach, I will leave the marker work for at least two or three hours after my last bite. Gaining knowledge of what is in front of you and how the fish enter and exit the swim is priceless. I approach a swim very differently from most. Firstly, I will only attach a lead to my marker rod and begin to cast about the area in front of me. I will only use a marker if I am zig rigging to find the depth or if I need to bait up from a different angle than from my swim, i.e. from a non fishing area or the opposite bank. I always carry a pen and paper, marking each spot I find down and always clip up. My personal preference is to find two spots, sometimes three and clip up using the line clip on the spool. The areas I am looking for include small gaps or channels in the weed, bars, humps or firmer silt areas. However, if I do find a bar or hump or larger area of silt then I will not fish on the gravel areas or in the middle of a spot. By observing the Linear fish in the margins, I have found that they are very wary of the middle of spots. They will feed on these spots, but regularly feed more confidently on the edges of these areas. As a result, I am trying to find where gravel turns to silt, down the sides of a bar or hump or falling just short or just beyond weed beds, instead of casting straight into the middle of a clearing. Taking time to do this, I have found brings better results.
Once a spot is located I will line it up with a far bank marker and reel in. I mark two pegs 12ft apart (a rod length), attaching the lead to one and paying line out and wrapping it around each peg until I hit the clip, counting each turn. If, for example, I counted out 12 and a half turns, there are 4 yards to 12ft so I would be fishing at 50 yards exactly. Marking this down on my piece of paper for future sessions, I would then reel the marker line in, clip up the rod to 12 and a half turns and cast out. By clipping the spod to this range too, I can bait up quickly and accurately without the need for a marker and constant recasting to gain my range. Once this is done, some marking tape or elastic placed by the butt ring when the line is still in the clip allows for each rod to be recast after a capture with ease. By writing the distance and far bank marker down, even if I turned up on a Friday night in the dark, I could still hit the same spot on my next session. On top of this, using pegs to mark the distance stops you having to walk rods yards down the bank away from your peg and leaving sticks poking out of the ground everywhere!
Finally if I can only find one spot in a swim, I have no problems in placing all three rods very close together. I usually place two rods onto the spot and prefer to utilise the third as either a roaming rod or using it to place a single bait or bag just off a baited area. By doing this, it mimics a stray spod or left over piece of bait, which fish regularly come across and in my opinion, approach with less caution. By again observing fish feeding in the margins, the larger fish will regularly hang off baited areas, preferring to pick up scraps when any danger has been nullified by greedier, smaller carp. In fact, this is exactly how I caught my first UK 40, a single bag placed a rod length or two off a baited area, give it a go.
These tips will work at any time of year, but coming up to autumn means that although the fish will drop their guard slightly in order to feed up prior to winter, they have had months of pressure which results in a heightened sense of how to get away with it and evade capture, resulting in us anglers having to try and stay one step ahead. I have some great captures in Autumn from Linear and will be employing these tactics again this year, to try and tempt a few more! Best of luck and hope to see you on the bank some time.

Josh Bennett.