Winter carping at Vaux by Chas Cook
Catching carp in winter has a reputation for being difficult but I believe I’ve developed methods at Vaux which turn the odds in my favour. Let me give you an example;
On Thursday, 24th November a good helping of mixed giant maize and wheat, cooked and prepared in bulk, were fed to the carp at Vaux over a deep spot in the middle of the lake where they are always fed in winter.
Prior to this and up to 2nd December, this carp feeding spot could not be seen as it is in deep water and there had only been a small amount of carp faeces showing in the lake. Carp faeces indicate what they have been feeding on; these sausage shapes, bound by a glutinous substance so that they float, are easily recognisable.
Heavy rain overnight on 1st/2nd December brought a good change of water into the lake from the river, which always stimulates the carp to feed whatever the time of the year it happens. On 2nd December I could see an excessive amount of carp faeces in the lake and at about 11.30am carp started showing over the previous week’s baiting, rolling and jumping out of the water.
At about midday the air temperature was 15° and the water temperature 9°, so having seen this carp activity, I immediately had three rods out on the deep spot.
I put out two of the rods with glaçons packed with maize and wheat, the hook lengths baited with boilies greedy pig style, double 20s, and the third rod with a pva bag filled with carp and trout pellets, plus a single boilie.
Boilies are not my normal choice for fishing over particles;I usually use pop-up maize or real maize on the hook length, but the boilies were readily and speedily available.
All three rods were on semi-tight clutches, no bait runners, and I was using my summertime rigs on each of them because they were already made up and attached; fluoro carbon Mainline 12lb, fluoro carbon leaders 2m, 4oz leads, one with inline and two on distance lead and clips, hook lengths were stiff boom with a short supple section attached, size 6-7 Mugga hook tied KD style (ie aggressively).
At 2.20pm both glaçon rods went within seconds of each other, indicating steady takes and resulting in a 49lb 12oz mirror and a 48lb 10oz mirror, which were weighed and returned to the water.
Both rods were baited again and put back out to the same spot. Different boilies were used each time on the rods, taken from the freezer at random. At 3.30pm one of the glaçon rods went again, with a steady take, which resulted in a 37lb common. I did not put that rod back out again.
At 4.10pm the remaining glaçon rod went, once more a steady take, again resulting in a common at 38lb. There were no takes on the rod with the pva bag filled with carp and trout pellets even they they are low oil.
Although the carp continued to roll and crash, I finished for the day at this point.
I monitor Vaux lake 365 days of the year. I monitor bait disappearing off the feeding spots by netting and checking carp faeces to assess carp feeding patterns. As I mentioned in my October News Report, ‘Chas’s fishing holiday’, I have found that some carp, the large ones, are eating only the maize and some, the smaller ones, are eating only the wheat.
Also in that report I explained my method mix using liquified roach and dace. I first experimented with this mix when I was fishing with an associate for large pike last winter. I baited a set of trebles with roach deadbait which I dropped with the glaçon over an area previously baited with maize and wheat for carp, which always shows a lot of activity because the roach feed on this carp winter feed.
As the glaçon melts, a chum area is formed around the deadbait and disperses through the water even in winter because of all the oil from the roach. We had good results catching pike using this method, but we also noted at the time there was an increase in the carp actively feeding on these spots where the glaçons had been placed, resulting in two carp being caught unintentionally on small deadbaits.
Seeing how this liquified fish glaçon stimulated the carp, I have been using them during my summer and winter sessions with a combination of particle mix and the liquified roach, but on each session using different end bait; greedy pig double boilies as explained above, on a previous session giant pop-up 35mm and 40mm pop-ups and on another a combination of giant pop-up greedy pig rigs, double 20s, 30mm and 40mm pop-ups. On each occasion I have caught 40lb+ carp
The first year that I fished Vaux in winter I adopted normal English tactics, using smaller leads, scaled down hook size and small baits, and my catches were unimpressive.
During the last seven winters I’ve adopted different tactics and instead of scaling down, I actually use bigger baits in winter, the reason being that Vaux has a lot of natural food coming through at this time of the year and the carp are used to feeding on large baits such as chestnuts, beech nuts, acorns and large quantities of seed coming off the small trees lining the banks.
There have been several anglers over the years who have caught carp on uncooked chestnuts and who have also substituted beech nuts, which the carp absolutely love, with brazil nuts and almonds, all with good results.