Winter bite time - Mark Bryant

Time? Recently it would seem that this commodity is rapidly speeding up as I’m getting older! More and more I struggle to find this simple four letter word, praying for a few more hours in the day.

All of this of course is my own doing, choosing to fill my life with a number of different fishing-related projects that fill my time to bursting point.

With the rise and growth of Baitworks in the last few years, this has forced me to taken on another additional factory to handle our ingredients on its own. This has come as welcome news as I was considering yet another move to bigger premises (we only moved into the current one 18 months ago!). This new factory can aid us in yet more expansion with out the need to move (again).

One of the other projects is an event that we have run every year for the last five years. We basically bring in a well-known speaker for a night and raise money via the door and raffle takings etc. We have been blessed in the past with anglers such as Simon Scott. Jason Heyward, Adam Penning and Terry Dempsey.

All of these anglers kindly give their free time and talk for free. Free! Why? Well, we give back every penny made on the night (around £3,000-4,000) to local waters in the area. A fantastic gesture from all our speakers because they believe in our ethos at Baitworks to give something back.

This event so far has purchased 115 carp that have then been given free of charge to local lakes, clubs etc, who otherwise would not have been able to stock fish due to financial restrains. The importance of progressive stocking programs is absolutely vita with the current predation issues that are facing our sport at present and I¹m afraid, are only going to get worse.

Hey, what strange winters we are having? To go from a total whiteout a few years ago to this tropical, mild and wet winters has changed everyone’s winter fishing as we know it.

Some lakes that are local to me have always had areas of the lake that would consistently have winter fish holed up in them. These may be snags, old weed beds or just simply an area of the lake. For the past two (wet, mild) winters the fish have been so active that these areas have been void of fish.

I have found them in all sorts of areas, some of which you would never think they would spend time in! This has changed my approach to winter fishing when these conditions are prevalent.

You see, in the past when we get the full on cold weather, the carp, being creatures of habit, will gravitate to their usual haunts for safety and security. When this happens and more importantly if you know this area, you can apply a steady trickle of bait because of the almost captive audience.

I have found this situation can be very consistent for action and you can almost tempt a bite every session as the fish will not move far from this area. This makes for a very consistent winter.

Now, throw in slightly milder conditions and we have a winter carp that is still getting all over the pond making location somewhat tricky! I much prefer the milder weather but can’t help thinking that my winter bites were much better with regular frosts on the ground!

This winter I have been fishing very short sessions, shaped around very short feeding spells. This has been very successful for myself, especially when you know the lake well. Churn Pool is a lake that is local to me here in the Cotswolds and has fantastic winter form.

Being stream-fed means that there is a constant flow of water moving throughout the lake. This constant flow has a double edge. For one, any warm rain that we receive will run off the surrounding fields and flow in to the stream that feeds the lake, this very quickly increases the temperature.

The second is that when it’s very cold the simple movement of water from inlet at one end to the outlet at the opposite end is enough to keep the fish moving and also the water temps fairly constant.

With a few videos to shoot for our new website I set about fishing for a few short day sessions with Justin Badman, who works with me at Baitworks. It took us a few hours to locate the majority of the lake stock but once we had fished a few different area with no liners, we eventually found them all at one end of the lake.

Fishing long to the far bank in a new part of the lake gave us a number of liners on all rods signaling their presence. We positioned the rods all over this area with different baits within our range soaked up in various liquids.

This method rewarded with a fish a piece in the afternoon. A lovely 20+ for me and a stunning 28lb+ for Justin. The bites came between 1-4pm from this particular area. With this well noted, we returned the following morning to the same area.

Again the process was repeated and like clockwork between 1-4pm we had another three carp between us up to 23lb. With a couple of videos shot we returned home and then planned for the remained of the week. It seemed pointless to fish the mornings in this area as the bites were all after 1pm.

With this in mind we worked at Baitworks in the mornings and then by midday we were opening the gates to Churn Pool to fish the productive spell. This yielded carp every day for us that week.

We ended up with a dozen of so carp between us, with Justin having the lion’s share as the fish were approaching from the right of the swim. That’s my story anyway!

Looking back over the week I actually feel that by not fishing for them 24/7 helped us and maximise our chances. If we would have fished around the clock I’m sure that we would have caught for the first day or so but I’m sure that they would have quickly moved to another area due to six lines consistently running through the area.

Only fishing for four hours out of the 24, we only ever nicked a couple each day during the main feeding spell when the fish chooses to feed. A sort of a smash and grab approach without the need to sit through 12-14 hours of winter darkness that numbs the sole and mind!

If you can work out the lake you are fishing in the winter the results can be fairly predictable. Get out there and maximise your fishing.

Well that’s about it for me. I will be popping out for a few more day sessions over the next few weeks, so I hope that my run of luck continues.