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13 Oct 2017
by CARPology
How should you start a winter campaign?
We ask three experts - Iain Macmillan, Ian Poole and Julian Cundiff - how they start their winter campaigns

1. Iain Macmillan

“My own winter fishing normally revolves around getting bites on short day sessions if possible. I have slogged it out on syndicate lakes in the past for very little in the way of results, so nowadays I prefer to go to the more prolific venues in search of action. Venues like Thorpe Lea, Drayton, Sandhurst, etc., etc., will all be at the top of the list, and while certain anglers will frown upon such venues, it’s all down to personal choice in order to keep those bobbins flying.

“As for bait, it will always be bright and fruity and I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times a pineapple pop-up has got me out of trouble. Small Sticks or mesh bags of low oil pellet will also be in the day bag, and there isn’t many carp that can resist either of the aforementioned approaches. 

“There is one small club lake very local to my house that I’ll be having a go on through the colder months, and with it being so local it will allow me to trickle a bit of bait in on most days, then simply drop on for five or six hours. What this also does is to keep the Mojo flying through the dark and dreary winters; you see, there really is no point sitting it out for days and nights on end if you’re simply not enjoying it.

“Stick to the short days like me and your hunger will increase and you’ll fish far better for it – well, it works for me anyway. Winter carp fishing is hard work, but if you get all the areas right and you’ll enjoy it more and ultimately catch more. Enjoy!”

2. Ian Poole

“I think the important thing with winter carping is to have some idea on what you are looking to get out of the months ahead. I tend to put some sort of plan together and then try my hardest to stick to it. Although I fish regularly every winter, the waters I choose to target can vary greatly. One year I might stick to a couple of local venues where I know there’s a chance of a bite or two in even the coldest of conditions, whilst on other occasions I have set my sights on somewhere I know chances will be a little more difficult to come by. When I choose the latter I know the most important things will be the ability to get there regularly whether I am catching or not, because at some point there are sure to be quiet spells. However, I know that if I keep fishing through these more difficult times, I’ll stay in touch with the water and be in pole position when things do start happening again.

“Another reason to keep going is that on the harder venues there are likely to be fewer anglers on the bank and this means it can be vital to keep a little bait trickling in even when things are slow. You might say, well, why bother putting bait in if nothing is happening? However, it’s important to remember that you not catching doesn’t automatically mean the fish are not feeding.

In regards to bait, these days the more productive winter venues usually see lots more angling pressure so in effect we are all helping each other. The regular bait supply helps to keep the carp on the move and this will be good for everyone who visits.”

3. Julian Cundiff

“Well, the first bit of advice I can give you is that it’s never to early to plan it and as I type this at the start of October, I already have two winter venues sourced, tickets purchased and so on. I even have two Fridays a month booked off work in December and January so that I can fish full 24hr sessions, getting there at first light on the Friday and giving me till dinnertime on the Saturday. I even have a ticket for my local canal just in case we have a winter like last year… Please God, no!

“The second important factor is deciding what you want from your winter. For me it can change. Some years I am happy to pursue the bigger fish on my local waters and simply do that by continuing my autumn campaign. The mindset has to change (less bites) and although I use the same bait usually (Trigga Ice ATS) I tweak it for more cold-water effectiveness, crumb, paste balls, etc. However, if it’s action, then I’d pick a local water for ‘hit and run’ tactics and a ‘profile’ one a little further away for 24 hour sessions. Mind you, if I lived near Catch 22, Thorpe Lea or Linear, the same one would do both… but I don’t.

“I am not going to drone on about tactics, as CARPology.net will do a thoroughly good job covering it all, but I would say winter is a ‘mind game’ thing. You’ve really got to want it and be able to motivate yourself so don’t kid yourself it’s dead easy. It can be, but only if you are there and not ‘internet-armchair’ carping.”

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