Campaign the Equinox

For me the autumn has always been an interesting time of year, sometimes it can be great, other times it can prove tricky, but I have always found if I’m consistent with my angling I will often reap the rewards. There are, however, many factors that come into my autumnal fishing that I may not pay as much attention to throughout the summer months.

Prebaiting Is Key

I understand prebaiting is not necessarily possible on all lakes, especially if you fish day-ticket venues. If you’re lucky enough to have a syndicate ticket on the other hand, it’s often doable. I find there’s a huge difference between wanting to get something going and actually doing it.

This particular venue that I’ve been targeting is owned by Stanwick Lakes Fisheries and it’s around a 40 to 45-minute drive from my home; some would say that’s local, but when you work a full-time job and have other commitments, an hour and a half round trip, without taking out the time for actually baiting, soon adds up. But if you want to achieve the best possible outcome you have to make the effort.

I had been baiting up three times a week for a few weeks before I planned on starting my campaign. I started off heavy with the bait, introducing around 7kg each time, this was just to get the spots established fast. Once the area had seen bait for around two weeks, I could then reduce the amounts to a 5-litre bucket each trip, just enough to keep the zone ticking over while I wasn’t there. The lake in question also has a big stock of tench, the bird life is also rife, so I’m sure they were getting in on the action as well when I wasn’t there.

When prebaiting I want to hold fish in the area for as long as physically possible so I opted for a mix containing lots of small food items – Live System boilie crumb, small pellets and sweetcorn; this would keep fish grazing the spot for ages, meaning when I came to do my session, the spots had been primed and there were more than likely still fish in the area.

Choosing The Right Area

With most of my autumn angling I’m looking for areas of the lake that are generally dirtier than the rest, with the weed growth slowly starting to diminish, as are the natural food larders, so I find by searching out the softer silty spots they can often hold beds of bloodworm and other invertebrates. I will also check beforehand which end of the lake a westerly/south-westerly wind will blow into as you can often get some big winds throughout the autumn and the fish often follow them.

Lastly, I’m looking for depth, somewhere I can keep ticking over into the winter months if I need it to. The deeper water will hold the warmth for a longer period so when those cold nights start trickling in, I’m confident I will still be in with a chance even in the harshest frosts.

The First Trip Nerves

After weeks of prep the first session had arrived and I was full of anticipation at work, just praying I would be able to get into the swim after all the effort I had made with the prebait. When I arrived, the swim was free and I wasted no time in deploying three rigs to the baited area. The last time I’d baited was two days ago so in my mind, all that bait was gone. I went about introducing 15 large Spombs on to the spot; this time however, the mix was different, I wanted the carp to clear the spot out faster, moving between mouthfuls more, in return making them easier to hook, so the mix consisted solely of Live System boilies, 6mm pellets and some bloodworm liquid to give me the natural addition.

I decided to use D rigs, the spot had obviously been cleaned off enough so I felt a less intrusive ‘match the hatch’ wafter hook bait would score better over a hi-viz pop-up.

That night I managed just the one bite, but a 30-pounder so not to complain; the conditions weren’t entirely in my favour, but I just had to have a go and see if they’d actually been visiting the zones.

Late Night Show Time

Having fished this lake on and off for the past two years I’d learnt a lot about it. It’s quite weird in the aspect that they don’t show a great deal, in the spring they would behave like normal carp, but throughout the summer and autumn I could count on one hand how many fish I’d seen show. This campaign was different; I sussed it as one night I decided to sit up until 1am, at midnight one gave the game away, I saw it slide out under the moonlight. It didn’t make a noise but its flanks caught the moonlight perfectly for me to see it. I decided to stay awake even longer and that night I saw another six more shows, now the game was on.

Over my short campaign through the autumn, it would be like clockwork, midnight would arrive and then they would start showing in the zone. Imagine if I were to turn up in the daytime without any prebait to jump on, god knows where I would have started! It just goes to show, they certainly change their habits through the autumn and being awake and aware in the hours of darkness can get you on the ball, understanding the areas they are starting to frequent.

Moon Phases

Everyone has their own opinion about moon phases and whether or not they produce big fish, they’ve especially been renowned for throwing up big commons. However, this fish I’ve been targeting is a linear but from my past experience, a big ’un of any description will turn up during these periods. Some say it’s to do with gravitational pull, me personally, I have no clue, but from what I’ve caught in the past during the moon phases has led me to believe there is certainly something in it!

During the autumn we have the period of the equinox and that full moon is one I never try to miss; luckily this year it fell on a weekend so I didn’t have to book any time off work. This was actually my third session into my campaign and my expectations were high. Having fish every trip leading up to this, my confidence was through the roof and although I hadn’t caught loads, I felt so close to catching the one I wanted.

Like clockwork bite time arrived in the early hours and the right hander pulled up tight. I was attached to a very slow, powerful fish, and after coaxing it out of all of the dead weed beds present in front of the spot I eventually put the net under an extremely long linear. In my mind I knew which one it was, but I had to get confirmation to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. My mate was in the swim next door and he instantly clarified my thoughts. There she was, in the bottom of my net! When first light broke we lifted her out for some photos and admiration then she was sent back on her way.

Although my campaign was short, it just goes to show that when you get it right, put in the effort, and be consistent within your angling, things can go to plan. Not always, but when they do it makes it all the sweeter. I managed a number of incredible carp during my few weekend sessions, topped by an incredible 40-pounder, which now stands as my PB. But the graft will never stop and it’ll soon be time to take on a new adventure.