Bag An Autumn Whacker

Location Location Location
Location is key at any time of year, but even more so when the water temperature starts to decline. With autumn well under way, the fish are going to be searching out those last larders of natural food within the dying weed beds; not only does the weed start to disappear, but with that the natural food will also slowly die off and carp know that!

Although autumn can be a great time for catching fish in their best condition and coming up to their peak weights it can sometimes be a head banger. Personally, I don’t believe in the big feed-up anymore because the amount of high-quality bait that goes in all year round helps the fish get to where they need to be earlier in the season. This being said, it is often a renowned time of year for catching the big ’uns!

Always looking, even for the most subtle of signs.

Spot locating is a big part in the autumn, looking for the last larders of natural food can often give you the edge needed!

Due to the daytime hours decreasing I often find myself hearing or seeing a lot more throughout the hours of darkness, so it’s definitely key to be vigilant at all times, especially after dusk. If you arrive at the lake and are struggling to find signs of any carp, no fizzing or shows, then I will start where the bird life seems to be most active. Like the carp, the birds will also be looking for the last larders of naturals and it can often mean the fish are present with them as well, so it’s always a good starting point if you don’t have anything to go on. You can always slacken your bobbins off slightly and fish for any indication of fish in the swim and if not then a move can be on the cards.

Once I believe I’ve located where the fish seem to be held up I will often look for those softer areas of lake bed, avoiding those real firm areas that may have been the go-to earlier in the year; these more dirty spots could be silt or low lying weed and are normally stuffed with naturals such as bloodworm and shrimp. This is what the fish will be looking for so if you can introduce bait and rigs into these zones it stands you in good stead of getting a pick-up throughout your session.

Prime The Zones
Due to the daylight hours decreasing I love to have my spots rocking and ready for when I come to do my sessions. I will get out as regularly as possible to get down to the lake and bait up, which may be two to three times a week. Yes it’s a lot of effort, but if you can get the carp revisiting your areas and actively looking for food, it stands you in good stead when you come to do your session; not only are they getting used to eating your bait and accepting it as a food source, but they will also get into a pattern of revisiting those areas knowing that there is going to be an easy meal waiting for them, which is exactly what you want.

Carp that are almost “conditioned” into visiting an area will definitely increase your chances of a pick-up when you do come to fish.

I will generally try to get down the lake a couple of times a week to pre-bait.

Bait Choice And Application
When it comes down to my bait for the autumn I prefer to use slightly bigger baits than usual, and I will often use an out and out boilie approach. I believe those bigger carp are looking for an easy meal and something like an 18mm boilie fits the bill perfectly at this time of year. Now this goes for fishing with as well as pre-baiting with too. When it does come to baiting up, using just boilies makes life so much easier; you can Spomb them out if you want to, or you can just rock up after work with a throwing stick and a bucket of bait and pepper them out to your desired area.

As previously mentioned I will normally opt for an 18mm bait and the boilie of choice throughout the summer and autumn has to be the Odyssey XXX for me, but not straight out of the bag – I like “pimping” them up and increasing the food signals for this time of year to really get them working throughout the water column.

Baiting up missions just before dark.

Big baits & big hooks hopefully equalling big carp!

The way I go about doing this is by adding my desired amount into a bucket and covering them in lake water; I will then add a generous amount of Liquid Liver followed by the same in salmon oil. All of these together give me an extremely soft, washed-out bait that will not only be giving out attraction on the lake bed, but also slicks will come up throughout the water column due to the inclusion of the oil.

Another thing is with the baits being so soft, the carp can eat and pass them a lot easier, which should result in a more aggressive feeding response.

Match The Hatch
When it comes to this time of year the carp are in peak condition and are fully aware of their surroundings. Their eyesight is at its full potential, meaning you need to be thoughtful about everything you do and use. They’ve seen bright pop-ups all through the spring/summer so I will always use a match the hatch style approach. If I can get away with it I will also fish these straight on the deck, so a hardened 18mm XXX bottom bait that has been corked out just to neutralise the weight of the hook.

If the spot is too choddy/weedy then I will fish an XXX corkball pop-up just on top of the weed on something like a Ronnie rig, just so it is still nice and subtle, not being too obtrusive popped up four inches above the weed, like a choddy might.

My chosen hookbaits are match the hatch odyssey xxx hard hookbaits that have been glugged in salmon oil.

I like to drill these out...

...then insert a cork plug which helps critically balance the bait.

Weather Fronts
Weather fronts play a big part for me at any time of year, but especially throughout the autumnal months; if there is a band of low pressure coming in with big winds and drizzle, or maybe a full/new moon coming, definitely try and plan your trip around these times. They always fill me with more confidence than a still day with bright sun and extremely high pressure; in those sorts of conditions it can often be extremely hard work and definitely frustrating.

Weather changes are frequent throughout the autumn. when that low pressure comes in, get on it!

Step-By-Step: James Armstrong's Pimped-Up Boilies

1. I will add my required amount of XXX boilies into a bucket.

2. Next up is the water, i will either use boiling water or lake water, its just a confidence thing.

3. Make sure all the baits are covered in water.

4. Add a generous amount of liquid liver...

5. ...followed by some Salmon Oil for the slick factor.

6. The longer you can allow these to soak the better, but i normally leave them for 48hrs minimum.