Adam Clewer on the Inconsistency of winter sessions and the allure of trying again!!
I am typing this sitting at home, the ﬁre is crackling with several inches of hot embers warming the living room, and Bill my border collie is resting his head on the hearth snoring enthusiastically. I’ve recently returned from another slow session. I say ‘slow’, but this time of year actually necessitates haste, the sun setting so early means there really is no time to waste on 24-hour sessions. I arrived at the lake mid-afternoon, affording myself what I believed to be plenty of time to stroll the water and locate some ﬁsh. How wrong was I?
Nature was well and truly asleep, perhaps in tune with the snoring of my ageing dog. In many ways, this shouldn’t have been a surprise. The previous few days had been so cold that many lakes in my local area were frozen. I’d called ahead to the ﬁshery to make sure this wasn’t the case, and was elated to hear the water was indeed still wobbly. However, it was cold, really cold. Robins were ﬂitting about searching for any morsels of bait dropped by the few ﬁshermen that had braved the elements, but other than that, all was still. The carp were seemingly absent; it was as if they had followed the example of swallows, house martins and wagtails and departed for warmer climates.
Ornithology aside, I searched the water for as long as I dared, the winter sun sinking away behind the trees far too early for my liking. Eventually I settled in a swim that afforded me a large expanse of water; not because I had seen any signs of ﬁsh, purely because it gave me plenty of options. I spread the rods over a wide area, avoiding the tendency to ﬁsh multiple rods on the same spot. A simple spod mix of low-oil carp pellets, hemp, and mixed partiblend created my feed, with two or three Mini Impact Spods’ worth baited accurately on top of yellow Essential Cell toppers and Fruit-Tella pop-ups. I refrained from adding too much bait to the swim, aware that I really had little idea where the ﬁsh were and with the water temperatures so low it was unlikely that a large bed of bait would do me any favours.
The chill of the easterly wind intensiﬁed during the evening, but my warm jacket and spicy fajitas kept it at bay. Eventually, though, I sought the warmth of my sleeping bag and hot water bottle. Unsurprisingly the night passed without a bleep on my alarms, and the following day followed a similar trend. As the sun was setting I admitted defeat, reeled in the rods and headed for home. Unfortunately, that recent experience is not rare for me at this time of year. However, I keep going back! It’s utter craziness to my non-angling friends, but for me even the slow hours can be enjoyable at times. Of course, cold feet and leaking shelters are no friends during the winter months, and as I previously admitted, I now carry a hot water bottle!
Nonetheless, the drive to go carp ﬁshing is as prevalent now as it always was – and long may that continue. One reason I keep going back is that occasionally the carp do feed, and remembering past winters, I know that some of my ﬁnest captures have occurred during the winter months. My recent sessions have yielded mixed fortunes, some sessions JUST KEEP GOING producing nothing but icicles on the rods, while on other trips I have enjoyed numbers of ﬁsh; astonishingly with greater success than during the height of summer at times!
On a recent session at Sandhurst I had a cast around with the FishSpy ﬂoat and located several small spots amongst the weed that ﬁsh had been investigating. I knew that carp had been holding up in the area, as occasionally a slick in the ripple would appear, implying ﬁsh had disturbed some of the bait in the swim. The FishSpy conﬁrmed my suspicions and, with minor adjustments to where I was ﬁshing, turned a slow session into quite a good one!
Where am I going with this? Keep going ﬁshing! The next trip could be that red letter day when the ﬁsh do decide to feed. If you are well prepared with plenty of warm clothes and hot food then a winter night on the bank is far more enjoyable than sitting at home watching TV. Go ﬁshing!
Article reproduced with kind permission of Carp-Talk magazine!