A few years ago, I had spent the Spring through to late Autumn, fishing in the Colne Valley on the Mets & Thorney Weir complex on a joint syndicate ticket. Although these two lakes are classed as day ticket fisheries, the season ticket option worked well for me. I was living 10 mins away and working less than a mile from the lakes, I could do as many overnighters as I wished. Plus the countless short morning & evening sessions, without having to keep finding pound coins (for the day ticket machine) meant I also saved a bit of money too. I had a very good season using a mixture if the GS Crab & MC Nut boilies in 16mm & 18mm sizes. I felt like the more bait I was using the more successful the session was, and I caught plenty of good fish up to and around the 33ib mark. However, as the season went on I did spend more time fishing the Mets Lake, rather than Thorney Weir. It was far less pressured at the time, and the Mets had more of a syndicate feel to the lake, which is the way I prefer my own fishing to be. That said, with the winter fast approaching I decided I was actually going to change tactics, for this season, and concentrate my efforts on the Thorney Weir lake. Thorney Weir is a very shallow lake with a good cold-water form. The lake also held a very good head of carp and was known to be generally far more productive than the neighbouring Mets Lake. So, catching a few winter carp could be a far more achievable target. Fishing a few sessions throughout the season, and speaking to some of the locals, I had mapped out some of the deeper areas of the lake knowing these were the areas I would be looking to fish through the colder months.
A 32lb Mirror from the Autumn
So, as January was soon approaching, I decided to concentrate my efforts on a snaggy tree lined margin area that was actually around 8 – 9 foot deep. The margin to my left was a perfect distance for applying bait with a catapult, along with having the benefits of being on the end of a south facing wind so I was very happy with my selected area. If I can find deep snags in the winter these would always be areas I will head for, as I feel snags provide good cover for the fish to hold up during the colder months. The tactic, I went with to maximise my short winter sessions, was to pre-bait the area three to four times a week with around a kilo of boilies each time. I was pre-baiting with the smaller 14mm MC Nut boilies and still using matching pop ups for hook baits. This bait also works extremely well in colder months, as its very easily digestible for the fish. I firmly believe pre-baiting during the colder months is an essential edge to my fishing; consistent application of free bait not only gains the confidence of the fish to your chosen area, but it gives them no reason to move away from the areas once there.
As the daylight hours are very short this time of year, I was purposely staying on a little later at work and arriving to the lake in the dark. This allowed me to keep baiting the swim without other anglers seeing my approach. Although, I must add, if there were anglers present (in swims nearby) I would actually abort baiting that night and try again the next evening if possible. Finally, after 5 or 6 baiting trips I was set for my first overnighter. I rushed down the lake, after work, around 3:30pm and it was just light enough to get the rods out in place on my selected spots. At this point, I also applied around 10/15 free bait offerings, as the baiting up had already been done in the previous weeks. By around 8pm, that night, I received a take which resulted in a lovely 23ib 8oz Mirror. Delighted with this result, I also noticed on the unhooking matt, it was also passing my bait. Which confirmed to me that the fish were extremely confident eating the bait and my plan was working! I followed this up with a small common in the early hours and was happy with my result on a freezing cold January overnighter.
MC Nut: Highly Digestible
I carried on my process (pre-baiting 3-4 times) during the week and was due to do a full day session the following Sunday. However arriving for my final pre-bait, ahead of the weekend, on the Thursday night unfortunately someone was already in residence in my chosen swim; which is guess is to be expected on a day ticket venue. As I planned to turn around and drive home (which I did more than once over the two months), I recalled catching a small mirror from the Mets Lake in early November. The area in question was another deep margin channel, with depths of around 8 foot, which ran behind the back of a snaggy island. Like Thorney, the Mets is a relatively shallow lake and this deeper channel seemed another good area for holding fish during the colder months. As I already had the bait with me I thought I would pre bait this swim as a second option. Also, after observing how quiet the lake was between Spring-Autumn, I knew there would be very little chance of someone fishing this swim during the winter months.
The margin channel was close enough to the bank allowing me to walk approx. 30 yards alongside it and pre-bait using a bait scoop. Not pre-baiting this area, before that night, I decided to go back again on the Saturday night. This also allowed me to check if the swim on Thorney was still taken, it was, so I baited up again on the Mets. As this was only my second time pre-baiting this swim, I used around 1 kilo of the 14mm MC Nut boilies. That Sunday day session proved to be very successful, catching two scaly mirrors of 16 and 18lbs. During the session my brother Scott also popped down, for a cup a tea and a chat, he also did the honours with the photos.
I carried on religiously 3-4 times a week, pre-baiting the deep channel on the Mets, either before or after work. Along with a kilo of whole boilies, I also introduced cooked hemp and chopped MC Nut (chopped boilies) to increase the volume of bait to the area.
At the end of my mini winter campaign, I managed to get in 6 short day sessions (some only 2 hours long) and 1 overnighter, rewarding me with 9 carp weighing up to 23lb 8oz. Although they weren’t huge fish, by the lake’s standard, this really didn’t bother me as I managed to catch on most sessions. And I don’t think, even this amount of fish, would have been achievable by standalone fishing. The effort put into my pre-baiting, including breaking ice on occasion, I feel lead to my consistent success… As the saying goes, good things come to those who bait….