Six months have passed since I became a full time bailiff here in France at Lillypool lake and without doubt I have learnt more in these six months that I could ever have imagined. I think that most anglers know we never stop learning. I have met so many people, each with their own individual way to be as successful as possible in the pursuit of carp. These experiences have given me so many ideas of how to improve my own fishing.
This was highlighted by the last angler to visit the lake – Steve – fishing during the first two weeks of December. I was not too hopeful of a bumper session, but using some unexpected tactics, a good session was definitely had. My own opinions on winter fishing changed in the process.
First and probably the most important part to success in winter would be preparation, but not the usual preparation we all do before a week’s fishing in France. I actually mean being prepared for the colder weather and trickier conditions. Steve, being a regular winter angler was definitely prepared. All the necessary clothes and equipment to ensure that no adverse conditions could affect his session are mainstays in his tackle bag. Even a small fan heater to take the edge off the cold in the shower room prior to a shower is in Steve’s arsenal. Keeping warm and comfortable certainly helps to stay focused and motivated, making sure that your mind is firmly on the fishing.
Where are the fish?
After getting settled, we had a good chat on tactics and where we thought the fish might be. We agreed that the deeper water was probably the place to start.
A few days into the session and unsurprisingly Steve had taken quite a few fish, but then the bites slowed down considerably.
Arriving for my next visit to check on progress, Steve has moved swims to the opposite side of the lake. He has seen fish moving whilst walking around the lake, but couldn’t get to them from his first choice of swim. After a brief chat, I am very surprised to find out that the fish Steve has seen are in the shallowest part of the lake. He has already taken 4 from the spot, there is no doubt that the fish are here. We discuss another spot that I know has been successful in Summer. I’m far from confident but the lines into the deeper water are fairly slow, so we agree it’s worth the gamble.
24 hours pass and both spots are producing fish. We are somewhat surprised and although an odd catch is still coming from the deeper water, it’s the shallows where the most activity is. We have a lengthy discussion on why we think the fish are here, neither of us coming to any conclusion that we are happy with. The results, however, are unquestionable.
I had ‘slipped in’ a reasonably successful 48 hour session just a few days prior to Steve’s arrival. Three fish this time of the year would normally be a decent result. I had changed all my rigs, baiting patterns and choice of spots to my standard winter tactics. We are in the ‘fish for a bite’ months, or at least that is what I thought.
After a closer look at what Steve is doing, it’s the polar opposite to what I was expecting!. Aggressive rigs, a baiting strategy similar to what I see used in peak season and fish on features in shallow water. It definitely is December. I think someone forgot to tell the carp.
Over 40 runs and 35 fish banked (not including his sideline pike on most days) has yet again led me to realise that we as anglers should always keep an open mind, keep learning and don’t just do something because that’s what everyone does.
We all use 2, 3 and even 4 rods, maybe next time you’re fishing in the more difficult months, thinking outside the box and doing something a little different with one of those rods could produce some surprising results for you too.