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Damo Lee Features

Making The Most Of It

Kodex consultant Damo Lee explains why autumn is definitely not a time to be missed

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Autumn is many carp anglers’ favourite time of year, especially mine. With the fish on the feed and getting ready for winter, it means that there’s usually a good chance to put a fish or two on the bank. As with any time of year, there are always things you can do to put the odds a little more in your favour.

In my opinion the most important aspect of fishing during the autumn is watercraft and being able to locate the fish. This alone can increase your chances of getting a bite. During this time of year I've found the fish tend to show more in the last bit of darkness into early morning. I always make sure I am awake and ready at least an hour before first light so I know I haven't missed a chance of seeing them. For some lakes I have been on previously, this would be the only chance you’d get at locating them and if you missed it, it would be a constant guessing game as to where they would be held up.

If I am unable to get to the lake at first light I like to keep an eye on the weather and what it’s doing. I always keep an eye out for new weather fronts coming in, especially after long periods of settled weather and air pressure. There have been many times I have turned up at the lake knowing a fresh wind and air pressure drop is coming in at some point during my session and decided, therefore, to set up on a peg with no fish in sight. By doing this I know I can get the rods out before they turn up and put myself in the perfect place for when they do. This has paid off massively for me, many times. 

Not all venues are the same though and this can be caused by many reasons. The only way to guess what the fish in the lake will be doing on a given day is knowledge of what they have done before in these conditions. Something you can also find out by asking the locals that have experience of said venue, if they are willing to offer advice... Or you can learn through experience. My own fishing lately has been on a local club water in Worksop. By concentrating on one venue at a time I feel this helps keep me ahead of others and gets me in a zone where I’m fully confident that I'll know where to locate them all the time. I always keep note of where and when the fish show, to help locate them on future sessions.

During recent years, I have noticed is that the fish seem to become really active in the last hours of darkness into early morning at this time of year. I always stay mobile so I am able to move onto them when I need to, even if that means moving swims in the dark. That can be a troublesome if you aren't prepared right and are carrying a lot of tackle, but my big Karp-Lokker barrow bag really comes into its element at such times.  

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Now on to the type of spots I’m looking for at this time of year. The lake I’ve been fishing is full of weed most of the year and it can be a nightmare as to where to place your hook baits, but when it comes to autumn the usual spots in and around the weed beds I've fished in the summer aren't the ones I'm after. The fish will now be on whatever naturals are available and the softer areas of silt are where there's going to be plenty of grub. It’s all well and good fishing in these areas as it will get you bites, but the one for me is the harder spots within the thick silt. I find these spots by casting a bare lead around my swim until I feel the right drop through the rod tip. What I’m looking for is an area of firmer silt, which is usually like that because it has been cleared off by the fish. Once I've found the harder areas I then make sure I pull the lead over them. I'm looking for my lead to glide across the silt rather than being dragged into it.

The main reasons I want my rig on this type of spot are that it is likely to be where the fish come back to feed when in the area and  also I know that I can fish with 100% confidence.

Also, always keep your eyes open for shows in a certain area. The fish can really give themselves away by doing this and letting you know that there’s something in that area that they like. It’s certainly worth putting a rig on it but also take a note of it so you can easily cast to it again.

What you put into your fishing usually speaks for itself with results. It’s always the anglers willing to go the extra mile that catch what others may think is more than their fair share, but they’re just getting what they deserve. Whether this be moving in the dark or storm conditions, by making the extra effort it often leads to a well-deserved result!

Now when it comes to bait and how you apply it in autumn... This can be the difference between success and failure. We all know that autumn is a great time to be out because the fish are on hunt for food! This is especially after a warm summer when they’ve had a good spawn. The fish use the autumn time to put on enough weight to help sustain them through the winter months, which usually means they will be somewhere on your venue having a good feed at some point of the day.

My main baiting approach for the autumn is boilies Turner baits krill and crab. I try to apply enough of the chosen bait throughout the year so that the fish see it as a good food source when it comes to this time of year. When I have done this I always bait fairly lightly during my session. The way I see it is that I’m fishing for a bite at a time and fishing with massive beds of bait can sometimes go against you when using this approach, depending on the venue and stock of fish.

When it comes to applying bait over these areas, I like to spread the bait over a large area with a throwing stick and then fish my rods across it. I find spread baiting like this will grab the fish’s attention and then hold them in the area for longer as they search out all the bait. It also helps to get pickups as the fish will be travelling between each bait rather than be pinned to the bottom.

At this time of year one tactic that can really pay off is pre-baiting. This can be done in many ways. The best way to do it in my opinion is to be at the lake on a regular basis and keep spots primed with smaller quantities this will keep them visiting the spots on more regular basis to feed. The way I see it, by pre-baiting, I'm fishing whilst not having rods out and it puts the odds in my favour for when I’m back on the bank. One thing I will still do though is, if I think I have a better chance elsewhere, I won’t hesitate in moving away from my pre-baited area. Putting in large quantities can sometimes tie you to a swim, but if I see fish showing away from my area it’s definitely time to draw the line, up sticks and get on them! There’s nothing better for confidence than knowing you’re on the fish and thinking that it won't be long before one of my CX-i alarms goes into meltdown!

I only use a few different rigs throughout the year and they'll change due to the type of area I'm fishing or what kind of baiting approach I'm using. Like I said above, at this time of year my fishing is based on boilies. This makes it perfect to fish with some type of pop-up rig. My favourite pop up rigs for this would be the Ronnie rig or Choddy topped with a Crawford Specials high vis pop up. I feel both these rigs will give you perfect presentation every time at this time of year. The picture below shows a nice capture that can be credited to the above tactics. I hope all this helps you to put some on the bank as well.

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