Luke Stevenson's Autumn Tips

The Autumn is now well upon us and before we know it, the grounds will be littered with golden leaves and the first morning frost won’t be far away. To many big carp hunters, the autumn is considered the best season to be out on the bank.

Autumn is renowned for its harvest, where the carp will begin to bulk up in readiness for the winter ahead. At this time of year, they are hungry, actively looking for food and quite often, huge sheets of fizz can be seen over the pond as the carp thrive on the naturals, often in the deepest, siltiest areas of the lake.

With spawning well behind them, the fish are back to their peak condition, with any sores or scares hopefully now healed. Almost back up to their peak weights, the autumn is a brilliant time to angle and a lovely time to be out on the bank. Fresh, golden sunrises, with carp sloshing over bait epitomises autumn fishing, a season Luke Stevenson enjoys more than any other.

Throughout his carping life and bought to more common attention in recent years, Luke has enjoyed some highly successful autumn campaigns, where he has quite literally made the impossible become possible. Over the course of last autumn, Luke spent time on Carthagena, a challenging seven-acre pit in Hertfordshire, containing some of the oldest and most treasured carp in the land. Luke landed an unprecedented * carp, from a water that can be extremely challenging. Luke’s success gained a lot of attention in the big carp scene and we, along with many others, were fascinated by his approach and what tactics he implied to outwit these often-difficult fish.

“Keeping things simple and doing my own thing” was the first explanation Luke gave when reminiscing on his Autumn Campaign. “When going to an old-school syndicate like Cartha, a lot of the regulars and older members will often fall into certain habits and follow the same principles, whether that be fishing the same known swims, the same spots and wraps or the same baits, and although local knowledge is great to take on board, it can often be an advantage to do completely the opposite.

I will always fish to what I see and try to work things out for myself. Keeping mobile was a big part of my approach and a style I’ve always implied throughout my angling. During the autumn, the fish definitely become more active at night, so listening for shows through darkness is a big part of my autumn fishing. Not only that but then being prepared to move on these shows is really what makes the difference. I always travel as light as I can and am ready to move at whatever time if it means getting on fish. Moving swims in the early hours is just part of my angling and it’s something I don’t even think twice about. Many of my autumn bites have come after moving at midnight and flicking PVA bags onto showing fish. So, my first tip or edge when it comes to autumn fishing, is listening for shows through the night and then acting on them. Quite often, everyone else will be asleep and miss these subtle shows, so that’s definitely an edge you can bring into your fishing.

Another favourite autumn tactic of mine is to target the deep, silty water, ideally areas left alone and neglected by others. These areas of silt are where the natural goodies live, things like bloodworm which the carp absolutely love to eat. In the autumn especially, you’ll often go through slow periods where the carp are just harvesting on the lake’s naturals, it’s at times like these where maggots and casters can really come into their own.

Moving onto bait, I favour bits and pieces in the autumn. The carp have now had their fill of boilies and have been hammered on them all summer, so switching things up seems to get them grubbing. I still hear a lot of people say it’s all about the boilies in the autumn, and of course, this can be the case, but when the bites begin to slow up and catch rates drop, I’ll switch to maggots or casters. I’ve never been one to use gallons of the things, but maybe a pint or two in the mix, along with some boilie crumb and chops, along with 12mm whole boilies is a right little treat for the carp. Adding liquids, and a few other bits into the mix such as a handful of hemp or even a dash of corn would be my preferred autumn mix, giving you a variety of hookbait options.

By staying up late and establishing where the carp are showing, I’ll often plumb the spot the next day to find a suitable area to present a couple of rigs, ideally in a good depth of water over some smooth silt.

I keep my rigs fairly simple, in which I always try to fish with nice slack lines, favouring the Kotour in 15lb. Leadcore leaders with Heli Safes and light leads of no more than 2oz are used to keep disturbance to a minimum, especially when casting to shows. When fishing in the silt or on soft bottom, I like my hooklinks fairly long in length, certainly no shorter than 10 inches, of which I favour N Trap Soft, which is a nice subtle material to blend into the lakes bottom, yet still offers enough stiffness to ensure my rig presents itself.

When fishing a pop up, I like to use a hinge stiff rig, a tried and tested big fish rig that really has stood the test of time. A size 4 Kamakura Choddy and a few inches of 25lb Mouthtrap are used at the business end, to which I tie to my N-Trap via an albright knot, and then mould my putty around this. I strip a small section of the N Trap coating off before my putty, just to give my hookbait and hook additional movement.

If I feel the bottom is clean enough, then I’ll opt for a bottom bait where possible, favouring a simple blow back rig incorporating a size 4 Kamakura Wide Gape and a small shrink tube kicker to turn the hook, offering devastating hook holds.

One of my last tips when it comes to autumn, is definitely trying to plan your sessions around the moon. So many captures through the years have fallen on specific moon phases, and they are certainly worth paying attention to when targeting large carp. This autumn, we have full moons falling on 2nd October, 31st October and 30th November, with new moons falling on 17th September, 17th October and 15th November, so bare these dates in mind, I’ll certainly be planning my trips around these dates!

Overall, autumn fishing, like any season, revolves around spending time locating the fish. Find out which areas they are showing and feeding in, find suitable spots around the shows and use rigs that you are confident in. You don’t need masses of bait, but bits and pieces in the silt will often get you quick bites, or even just single PVA bags cast at showing fish will be all it takes. Travel light, scale your kit down and fish from the barrow until you’re on them. Once you’ve got something going, you can reap the rewards, and, in the autumn, the rewards really are there for the taking".

Further information on Luke's autumn fishing can be listened to on the Korda Thinking Tackle Podcast, episode 14 as well as on Cypography End Game 'Cartha On-Lock' in which he recalls his past few autumns with some lovely video footage capturing some very special moments. If Luke's passion and rewards can't get you buzzing to get out on the bank, then nothing will!