CHOOSING THE RIGHT BAITS TACTICS IS CRUCIAL AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR. NASH TACKLE’S RICH WILBY RUNS HIS OWN FISHERY AND KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT’S WORKING AND WHAT ISN’T
On my day-ticket fishery, it’s been fascinating watching different tactics rip the place apart and then blow a month or so later. It’s not that a method stops working all together, but once a lot of fish have been hooked on it, it will become less effective, what I call blown. In the spring months, a white pop-up fished six inches off the deck was deadly. Then spodding slop over 4-5ft zigs took over. After that, spodding beds of pellets was best with a PVA bag over the top. At the moment, a nice spread of top quality boilies seems best and pellets seem to be a waste of time.
So the big question is how do you stay a step ahead of the rest?
The last thing you want to do is miss out on the going method, but I think if it’s been working for over three weeks it will be past its best and you will end up fishing the same as everyone else. I never want to fish like everyone else; I strive to be different all of the time.
Most waters I visit seem to have trends, regular anglers doing the same old thing and the rest of the anglers trying to follow them. The advantage you have as a regular on any water is that you should know it like the back of your hand. Every day-ticket lake I have ever done a few sessions on seems to have little hot spots on certain days, which you would be lucky to find on your first few goes on new waters. Some of these spots are not obvious by any means, so being a switched on regular angler is a massive advantage on its day. However, many regulars I see on the bank get stuck into a routine or certain area of the venue because it has produced the goods once or twice before. Therefore, a new angler to the venue may turn up with no pre-conceived ideas and just go with his gut instinct, fish an unfancied part of the lake with a different tactic and be successful. We’ve all seen someone catch the biggest carp in the lake on their first trip.
I’ve watched very inexperienced anglers come to my fishery and catch straight away, simply because they’ve been different. A few months ago I watched a guy who loves his chub fishing come over to my place to try and catch his first double figure carp. He used a big chunk of tinned tuna wrapped in stocking mesh, as that is what he was confident with on the rivers for big chub. I honestly didn’t think it would work, but an hour after I had written his day-ticket out I was photographing a 20lb common for him. It made me laugh, but reinforced into my head that being different can bring very quick and good results.
One thing that I’ve noticed on many day-ticket waters in the last few years is that pop-up baits are used less and less. Most anglers like to “tip” their hookbaits off to add some visual appeal and balance the hook, but very few anglers on day-ticket waters fish a bait a couple of inches of the deck. And to add to that, very few anglers I see fish a standard bottom bait out of the bag simply hair-rigged, plus I see even less fish a double bottom baits, which is one of my favourite presentations, as I’m sure carp find it harder to eject. So these simple, old hat tactics can be very successful on modern day venues where the bulk of anglers have forgotten about them.
Hi-Viz - ideal for a quick bite
PVA bags, sticks and Nash Tackles Chain Reaction Pellets are also very popular on my day-ticket lake and I have to admit that I rarely cast out without something extra on the hooklink. But everyone uses crushed boilies or pellets in their PVA bags, so at this time of the year I stick to just a handful of boilies in the bag and it works a treat everywhere I take it.
I was speaking to a very good angler the other day who is top rod on his water by a mile this year. I asked him what was the main reason for his awesome results and he put it down to keeping things very simple and using a rig that he has stuck with for over 20 years, which is a 8 inch braided hooklink, knotless knot, size 8 hook and a hair with an 18mm bottom bait. He said everyone else on that pressured lake is using the latest rigs, along with all manner of high attract hookbaits. He thought by stripping his hooklink down to just the essentials and keeping his bait as natural as possible would be an edge and his results proved he was right.
I love to play around and tweak my rigs so they are perfect, but at times I do think everyone on the lake is most likely using something similar. In the past I’ve caught so many fish on simple braided or mono hooklinks without any rings or tubing that I do think taking a step backwards could be a real bonus on pressured day-ticket waters.
At my Airfield Lake, I guess 95% of anglers use a semi-fixed lead and, although I highly rate them, I think they are not the best set-up to use all year round. I will certainly be using running leads in the next few weeks during my tuition session and my own fishing. That extra sensitivity a running lead offers along with the extra movement can really help with finicky carp. The other day I got “done” good and proper by a fish on a semi-fixed clip. I got about four bleeps on the Siren, a big boil on the surface, and then nothing. Many of the takes I’ve got or seen in the last month have been really slow or jerky, so I’m convinced the carp are trying to shake the hook out before running off and in this scenario a running lead is mega effective because the carp can’t use the weight of the lead to help them ditch the hook.
The other question I get asked all the time is what swim is best. Yes, every lake seems to have a consistent area, but I know all 14 swims on my day-ticket lake can and have produced big hits on the right day. I always favour the neglected swims, especially for short sessions, so in my experience it can usually pay off to ignore the “best” swims because everyone else will know about them and they’ve most likely been hammered, especially at this time of the year. Even as a young up and coming carper I always liked to be away from the crowds doing my own thing in a neglected part. If you turn up to lake for the first time, simply look at how worn out the swims are, that should tell you straight away which ones have seen the most attention and disturbance - most often, they’re the swims nearest the car park!
Small bags of just boilies has worked well for me
Particles are a cheap and cheerful option
But the superior food value of a quality boilie could give you an edge at the moment