I’m often asked how much bait I use in the winter and how often I re-bait my rods. Much will depend on the type of session I’m doing. If it’s a winter overnighter, I will tend to bait up once when I get there, and I’ll happily leave it in until the morning, and if I’m confident it went out well, will leave it right until I pack up at around 9am.
As it’s dark through the night, you can’t really keep casting it around and you’re not really going to be up looking for signs of fish all night, so you are better off picking a spot to lay a trap; in effect, putting out a little bit more bait in one go and sitting on it for a while.
My usual overnight tactic in winter is to fish loads of crumbed up boilies with some 10mm and 12mm free baits mixed in. I’ll compact it into wide mesh PVA stocking and send it out with a single 15mm tipped wafter hookbait. When the mesh hits bottom and melts the contents explode outwards giving a great little spread of bait as you can see from the water shot.
If I’m fishing a day session in the winter, it’s all about observation. Rather than putting out one cast and leaving it for hours on end, I’ll more often than not adopt a roving approach and recast every 60 – 90 minutes based on whatever the water is telling me. With this approach, I will keep the bait simple, often using a maggot tipped artificial bait, again fished with wide mesh PVA filled with a few fast breakdown pellets and maggots.
I’ll then keep scanning the water endlessly, looking for any signs of activity. I usually have a few pre-tied mesh balls ready to go, so should I spot something I can reel in a rod, slip on a new mesh bag and cast it out onto the spot within a minute. Once out I’ll usually give it an hour or so, and then reel in and try a new spot. You have to remember that in the day fish may be drawn into various parts of the water at different times of the day dependant on temperature fluctuations, light levels and such like, so it can pay to keep moving around in the hope of finding a fish that’s prepared to have a mouthful of food.
Yesterday was a good example – I fished a day session in sub-zero conditions with snow on the ground and cat ice all around the margins. I did not spot a sign of a fish all day, so just kept casting the rods around every hour or so. Two rods I kept fishing to the same spots, and one rod was put out to a new spot every hour – on the third cast to another new spot, off it rattled within ten minutes of going out.
As I’ve touched on in other pieces, don’t be afraid of reeling in to go and check other parts of the lake, too, and if you spot something – move! Likewise, I always have a good look around before I set up on a day session. Yesterday, I spent a good half an hour walking the pools to try and work out which spot would give me the best options through the day.