Autumn Harvest

“Reap what you saw” In carp angling it is more than just casting your rod out. The more energy you put in with common sense and knowledge of what you are doing, the better the results will be.

It’s a foggy autumn morning as I drive my boat out of the harbour. Lucky for me I know these waterways very well. I sense the presence of a bridge when I pass her, but can’t see her. It’s that time of the year that the lake I’m heading for is at her best. Autumn makes her mysterious and silent. To get to her I have to drive the boat through a system of canals for about 45 minutes. I’m praying that nobody has come up with the same plan and has taken my spot. The only thing breaking the silence this morning is the engine of the boat and the ducks that wake up as I pass them. Not amused at all they throw me their best Donald Duck imitation before disappearing in the mist. I smile and realize how happy the simple things in life can make a man. As I finally reach the open water I take a deep breath and set focus for the upcoming adventure.

3 Weeks op pre-baiting the chosen spot will hopefully pay of. Ain’t there a saying reap what you saw? Or doesn’t that count for carp fishing? I drive the boat into the reeds and fix the backside with two long poles deep in the muddy bottom, to make sure that I won’t be waking up somewhere else in the coming days. Let the games begin.

The luxury of boat fishing is the fact that you are fishing from your own little private island and you can place that island where ever you think it’s best. In autumn I like to target the deeper spots of the lake from 7 up to 15 meters of depth. These produce the most bites between October and January. But only after I have done some heavy pre baiting. If I hadn’t pre baited the swim in a row of three weeks, the chance of a take would have been minimized down to zero. 

As I bring out the first line with my dinghy the mist is being broken by the upcoming sun. Small fish are breaking the surface probably due to being hunted by big zander sharing the lake with the carp. I’m checking the depth on my sounder to make sure I drop the rig spot on. Maybe it sounds a bit autistic but I can’t rest on the boat having the feeling that I might have dropped it not in the square meter where it should be. Little things like this can make the difference between a take or having a lovely stay without any action at all. But I’m in it for the catch! I’m in it for maximum gain. It’s harvest time. To make them happy I throw in some extra freebies. A mix of boilies, hemp and tigernuts damped down with some bloodworm liquid have to do the magic.

But like many times in angling the theory sounded better than reality itself. After getting the rods out my high expectations are a bit tempered when after 8 hours of starring over the water and watching the water birds dive on my spot, there is still no sign of carp activity. Bream rolling on the surface might indicate targeting the deeper spots might have been a bit optimistic yet. But I stick to the plan and give it a little more time. I spend the evening hours working on an article by led-light candle light. The environment I’m in inspires me to write. A loud sound on the roof of the boat makes me wonder whether I’m the only one who is being inspired. The only difference between me and the uninvited guest is that he screams very loud. A small owl has decided that the top of the boat gives him a perfect overview. It’s beautiful to see how fast they adapt to new things in their territory.  After watching each other for sometime he takes off, probably to catch some food. Not long after he took off, a loud high pitched scream indicates the quick following death of a mouse. Nature is beautiful but much harder than our civilization. Eat or be eaten.

After hours of no activity refreshing the rigs isn’t a bad plan. The lake looks so carpy in the early night that I can hardly imagine that there aren’t any hungry carp around. Imagine I would swim her being carpy and all that, I would definitely take that freebie. That’s probably also the reason why I’m not a big fat carp. I would have been out of the water all the time, blinded by the flashlights and sick of the idiots lifting me. When thoughts like this arise, it’s about time to close my eyes and settle down for some good old night rest. 

Completely disoriented I wrestle myself out of my sleeping back by the first sign of a take. It takes me longer than I want to get to the rod. My boat isn’t that big but I was in a really deep sleep and everything takes a little more time. Meters are being ripped of my spool while the carp is speeding for deeper water. I take out the rod and jump into the dinghy in pursuit of happiness. My theory was right. Only during the day they didn’t fancy a bite I guess. Adrenaline is probably thé best wake up booster ever. I’m totally focused now and ready to net this baby. Fighting a fish above deep water out of a dinghy is much more intense. Being in direct contact right above the fish gives you every indication and move the fish makes. The rod suffers under the pressure as I tighten the slip a bit more and start to play the fish. I’m slowly gaining meters and not long after that a beauty slights gently over the netcord. With the feeling of satisfaction and victory arising I set course back to the boat. 

The rest of the night doesn’t bring much sleep. Every time I fall back asleep a carp decides to jump to the chance. How silent they were during the day compared to this. Amazing creatures who we will never totally understand. Carp are like women, when you think you understand them, they proof you wrong. As the sun breaks the day I’m totally torn to pieces but more than satisfied with the results. If there is anybody who would like to say carp angling isn’t a top sport, I’ll be more than happy to take him for a night fishing in the boat.

Instead of waiting for the fish, going out to find the fish and target them in their comfort zone pays off, every time again. It isn’t carp science but common sense that offering freebies in the spot where they love to stay has to produce fish. I know the owl must have been laughing his balls off watching me from a tree close by. Seeing me driving the dinghy out with my headtorch on during the night. On the other hand if he would have been smart enough to pre bait he would have caught more mice that night hahahaha.

Apart from the spots you can reach, angling from a boat brings another great benefit: Serenity. You have nothing more than your own thoughts, besides an owl. There is nobody coming up in the morning walking his dog asking you if that fish you caught really came out of the lake. In which case my answer is most of the times: No I bought it at the market and dragged it out here to photograph it and pretend I’m an angler. No seriously guys. Fishing a boat is really beautiful.

I’m not to tell about the rest of the heroic adventure leading to a massive amount carp that week. Yes the plan worked, but I’m sure you guys are more in to knowing how to achieve the same.

It’s maybe tempting to not prebait for 3 weeks and go fishing right after a few days. But the reason for that is the fact that I’m fishing holding areas and safe zones. Which basically means if I scare off the fish too soon, not having the trust in the bait yet, they will seek for other safe zones and will not return. Yes, I could catch a few fish but not as many as after three weeks of preparation. Every two days I baited up a mix of particles and boilies around 10 kilo widely spread. The mix consisted of 40 percent boilies and 60 percent particles.  For the boilies I don’t use just one kind but 3 different ones, so they get used to just eating anything that’s presented and will not associate a later catch with one type of bait. This worked well, given the fact of a couple of re-catches I did. Which shows they where more than happy to come back to the feeding table. I always baited up late night after work. Which could explain the quietness during the day although later that week the number of takes during the day increased.

Every time I brought my line out, one or two kilo of the particle boilie mix was presented around the hooks bait. This time not as widely spread but in a circle of 3 meter around the hook bait. The only reason I did this was due to the knowledge that there were many fish on the munch. If bites were slow like in the first day I used less bait. Instead of using a bait boat I used the dinghy, because spreading the bait is a bit hard with the baitboat. Besides that I needed the dinghy every time a carp took the bait. Fighting the carp from the main boat would have definitely resulted in many losses.

As a rig I never use anything special. I’m not a rig specialist. A simple rig always does the job. The less fuss you make on a rig the less can go wrong. But that is my humble opinion on the rig subject. It works for me.

Autumn is by far the best time to find fish going crazy on your bait. They are not worried about anything else than eating right before winter. Carp are in fact very lazy and if you can find them and present them bait in the right way they will definitely take the easy bite over a hard one, especially in autumn.

Ed Skillz