Yes, now's the best time to fill your boots! The next few weeks up to mid- or even late-December are among the best of the whole year as the carp start to take note of falling water temperatures, which in turn triggers an active feeding spree as they prepare for winter. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking they are going to be any easier to catch!
Now as we head into autumn the big girls - like the Le Queroy mirror in the photo - are coming out to play, the nights are drawing in and the temperatures are falling so now more than at any other time of the year you need to be on top of your game in order to be successful. Not only is your quarry at its most cautious and suspicious, after a whole spring and summer of heavy angling pressure, but you yourself are also likely to be under pressure from anglers who are competing with you. You need to find an edge over all the others fishing the lake so lets run through a few ideas that may ensure that you are the guy with the edge.
Trout pellets and other types of pellets are nothing new; they have been in general use for years and have accounted for countless numbers of big carp. However they are now getting pretty hammered on most waters and I doubt there is a carp lake in the land where trout pellets have not been used before…So why am I now extolling their virtues? Well, they still have their place and as the carp get wise to a big carpet of trout pellets scattered far and wide across the lakebed, we have had to come up with more sneaky methods to fool them. Of late it seems that PVA bags, stocking mesh parcels and other tricks have been all the rage. However, there is so much more scope for pellets and related bait items as the autumn draws on and giving them a boost of attraction is one way to putting yourself in with a great chance of a big carp.
In the photo you can see ordinary trout pellets that have been treated with a light coating of Liquid Robin Red. They are then meshed in PVA stocking mesh and again doused in LRR (Liquid Robin Red) so that the whole mesh parcel is well drenched in the magic liquid.
Alternatively, why not try our Supersoft pellets, which are available in a wide variety of options including choice of colour and flavour. They are very different from the normal pellet in that the break down really rapidly and I describe the benefits of this here: https://www.haiths.com/haiths-baits/boilie-soup/
These are Robin Red SuperSoft Pellets that have been glugged in Liquid Robins: Green, Gold and Orange. Each have their own unique identity; they are not just the same product with a different colour, far from it. Thus by offering a variety of colours and tastes you can really spice (pun intended!) up the attraction coming off your bait carpet.
Alternatively why not try processing three or four different types and sizes of pellets? Here you can see several sizes of trout pellet together with some CSL Pellets, Hemp Pellets and SuperSoft Pellets. A blend of different pellets often works more effectively than a carpet made up of one type of pellet alone. Most of the top bait firms make dedicated pellets that are designed to compliment their own base mixes. For instance Dynamite Baits offers a large range of terrific pellets including their own version of a Robin Red Pellet, while Trigga pellets from Nutrabaits are also very effective.
I like to blend together different sizes as well as different flavours, and you can spice up the blend still further by including both fast and slow breakdown pellets.
This is a blend of hemp and CSL pellets along with trout pellets in several different sizes. The blend produces a strong smelling bait carpet that is constantly developing and evolving releasing a steady stream attraction into the water. This is due to the vastly differing breakdown rates, the hemp and CSL pellets breaking down in about 15-30 minutes whereas the trout pellets take up to 4 hours depending on size. Keep topping up the carpet of pellets on a little-but-often basis to maintain its pulling power.
Even good old trout pellets are worth a try and these days there is a lot of choice, from massive halibut pellets down to the tiny salmon fry crumb pellets. Again it is worth experimenting with various blends of shapes and sizes as well as blending pellets with different buoyancies. I prepare much of my bait many months in advance, storing it in a collapsible bait bucket, which accompanies me on every trip. It is kept in the car and I transfer what I need to a smaller plastic bucket when required.
My standard bait carpet consists of a blend of crumbed and chopped ready-made boilies of many different flavours, several types of pellet, and a scattering of whole 8mm ready-made mini shelf life boilie. I also add a light dusting of soy lecithin powder which acts as an antioxidant. I also have a sneaking feeling that carp like it too, though I have no evidence to support this!
The bait carpet is invariably introduced by spod, which, believe it or not, I still prefer to the modern Spomb-type baiting tools.
Of course, for a man of my advanced age, a bait boat is infinitely less wearing and a great deal more effective, in my opinion.
Boilie crumb is an excellent way of fooling ultra-cautious carp, but it can be a pain to make. However, you can use a food processor to create crumb very quickly and effectively. I use one of my missus's cast offs but I often see them at car boot sales, usually going for a song.
There are now several manual boilie chopper/crumb makers on the market ranging from the huge (Ridge Monkey) to the small, and in my opinion, more practical like this one from Mistral Baits.
I use a huge amount of mesh PVA during the course of a year as there are times when a scattering of small individual patches of bait are far more effective than a single, albeit much larger bait carpet. I usually prepare in advance a large number of PVA mesh parcels during the winter months and these too are stored in an Expander Bucket. When I want to go fishing I simply transfer the required number of the pre-tied mesh parcels to a smaller container and when I arrive at the lake, all I need to do is catapult maybe a dozen or so far and wide around the swim. Then I attach an identical parcel to the hook to disguise the hookbait.
I like to use a catapult with softer elastic, which are more stretchy and fire these comparatively bulky PVA mesh parcels further than more powerful, less stretchy versions.
I use many meters of this stuff during the course of a year and I'd be lost without it. In my mind there is no better way of presenting a hookbait than when it is sitting in a small individual patch of 'bits'.
For fishing at longer ranges I use one of those groundbait slings that are generally used for firing out balls of groundbait to extreme range. They work just as well with stocking mesh parcels, though these tend not to be as aerodynamic as a round ball of groundbait. This is my preferred sling, the Ballz-Out version from Atomic Tackle.
Pellets and paste make a deadly combination. Try laying down a carpet of pellets - these are our SuperSoft Pellets - and then fishing a little ball of fishmeal paste on the hair has accounted for loads of carp for me and the other field testers. As we have seen, the SS Pellets break down very quickly to form a lovely cloud of particles on the lakebed, and an enticing ball of paste fished over the top will usually bring success.
This stocking mesh package is usually regarded with a measure of disbelief by other anglers who seem to think it is too big. Perhaps they are right but as I mainly fish small venues these days perhaps my thoughts are clouded by that fact. Obviously you must prepare your stocking mesh to suit your casting style and the size of the venue. That said, this little bundle of goodness has put plenty of carp on the bank for me over the years…
Including this one…
Here's a neat little wheeze for you. I am sure you have all heard about washed out baits, those that have been soaked in lake water so that much of the flavour, solubles and colour escapes from the bait thus making it - so they say - more attractive and less a cause for suspicion. OK, I'll take the latter but more attractive…really? Washing out all the attraction and solubles goes right against the grain as far as I am concerned so here's a different take on the subject I call it Washed - IN Baits. First place a kilo of bait in a decent sized bucket and then add the following:
A blend of Goose Liver and Squid Liver Oil. Mix the liquids together in equal amounts. You'll note they create a nice thick orangey bland of attraction.
Pour the food liquid blend over the bait…
And add a dash of flavour. Any one of these will do though I really like the Vanilla Liquid.
Add a touch of Betaine.
Now top up the bucket with water – preferably lake water but tap water will do at a push. Leave the baits to soak in the attractor-boosted water for 24 hours, adding more water as it is drawn into the baits. after which they will be ready to use.
You will notice that after a couple of days the baits swell considerable and go quite soft so they present a totally different baiting situation to the carp. Not only are they big, soft and fluffy in texture but they also flood the bait carpet with extra attraction, which starts to leach out as soon as the baits hit the bottom.