One of the best ways to get amongst the fish during winter is to keep an eye on the conditions around you, in order that you can keep an open mind about the effect this may have on the fish. The general consensus is that you have to head for the deeper water and sit it out for hours on end, but in my experience, if the going is slow you might be better off reeling them in for a bit and going for a good look around all areas of the lake – deep or shallow. You might be surprised at what you find – no matter how cold it’s been!
A good example of this would be a trip up to the day ticket lake I had last week to see two lads fishing the Main Lake. They were on for 24hrs and had the place to themselves. They arrived at lunch, set up on the Main and had still had nothing when I went up to see them early the following morning. They said it had been very quiet with few signs of fish moving around and conditions were probably to blame.
One thing I always say to guests on the water is to keep an eye on the other lakes if the Main Lake is quiet. To a degree, I think this goes in one ear and out the other with many who fish the lakes. I’m not entirely sure why, I think it’s because they assume that with them being right next to each other, the fish will be in the same mood no matter which lake they are in – but this could not be further from the truth.
Whilst it’s a given that fish will respond to external factors like the onset of night and day, temperature and such like, how these factors apply themselves to a water – even those right next to each other – can be completely different, and likewise different parts of a lake can also respond in different ways.
The point I’m making is that whilst the part of the lake you’re fishing may not be producing, that does not mean the whole of the lake is the same – it could just be that you are fishing in the wrong place – and the only way you will find that out is to go and have a look around at all areas of the lake; either before you set up or after a long enough period of inactivity.
Whilst talking to the lads I asked if they’d ventured round the small lakes to which they said they hadn’t as they just assumed it would be the same situation there too… big mistake!
You see, whilst the waters are all right next to each other, they are all quite different in terms of characteristics and topography. Whilst the big lake is large, clear and deep, the two small ones are quite shallow, with one usually coloured and the other gin clear. Although it had been a cold, clear night, a lovely winter sun was now bathing the pools in warm sunshine and the temperate was rising fast as a result. Therefore, I had a pretty good idea that there might be some fish showing at the top end of the clear, shallow pool… and they were!
How did I know they would be there? Simple deduction really; despite it going cold in the night, the weather the day before had again been sunny, so would still have held a good temperature overnight, and now, being very shallow and clear, would be the fastest place to warm up in the bright sunlight.
After a pleasant chat with the lads I thought I’d go and have a look to see if I could spot anything, and I wasn’t disappointed. Mid-January and as you can see from the images, I was greeted by over a dozen carp all milling around in water only a foot deep; some rooting around on the bottom, others feeding happily off the top!
They ranged in size from around seven pounds to mid doubles, and if I’d have had time, I honestly reckon I could have banked one in a matter of minutes with the stalking rod. They were happy as Larry, all playing around and enjoying a bit of winter sun. To be honest, the fish were impossible to miss – and had the two guests just taken a few minutes out to go and have a walk around the pools, they’d have seen them – and I’m sure would have been on them in a shot!
So, next time you’re sitting behind silent buzzers, give some thought to what the conditions are doing; both prior to your arrival and since you’ve been there, and if you think there’s a chance they may have affected a change to a certain part of the water you are fishing, go and have a look!
Just because the fish were not there when you arrived, doesn’t mean they’re not there now!