Tom Stokes - Autumn Fishing Tips
The autumn can be a great time of the year to catch big carp and there’s no doubt, a change in the carp’s behaviour as we transcend through the autumn months and into winter.
Firstly, the carp become considerably more active through the hours of darkness, where you’ll usually see their nocturnal habits become apparent from late September onwards. Staying up into dark, or setting alarms throughout the night to get yourself up to watch and listen can be a huge edge when it comes to locating carp. Warm clothing, hot coffee and good meals will help keep you out in all hours, something that’s just so important when it comes to fishing in the autumn.
I find that through the autumn, lakes become a lot more ‘spotty’ as the carp narrow down the areas in which they are willing to feed. In the spring and summer, the carp can be very nomadic, getting all over the lake presenting many opportunities around the pond. Whereas in the autumn, they become a lot more localized, where typically, those open water zones over deep water can be prime areas to look. I’ve found the back of the wind can be particularly effective in autumn, where they may get on the end of a wind initially, but soon after, will back off it, seeking warmth and stillness in the calm water.
As the autumn progresses, you’ll see the carp naturally head to these deeper zones, and in the past, I’ve caught them over bait in depths of 30 feet right through into December, when other, shallower waters have completely shut off. Lakes with these depths are generally the better autumn/winter waters and with consistent baiting in the right areas over these deeper zones, you can often get something really rocking.
Other good areas throughout the autumn are in and around the last of the weedbeds and fishing into the silt, great areas to find feeding carp as they look to harvest on the naturals that thrive in these zones.
Typically, I’ve found ‘the big feed up’ to happen much earlier than it used to. When reading old carp literature and hearing epic tales of past autumn captures, it seemed October and November was the time to get them over big hits of bait. Due to angling pressure as well as global warming, I’ve found this autumn feed up now happens much earlier, with August being a far superior time to get them over bait. Going into the autumn, I’ve found less bait, fished exactly where it needs to be is by far the most effective tactic.
Autumn is a fantastic time of year to begin using natural baits, such as maggot, worm and my favourite, caster. With the change in weather, nuisance species begin to slow down their feeding habits, making the use of naturals much easier. Handfuls of caster with maggot tipped hookbaits has served me well in recent autumns, managing ‘Fang’ on this approach in November, fished to a deep zone I’d heard them rolling through the night. At 50lbs, it was an autumn capture to remember, fishing textbook autumn tactics.
To summarise, staying up into the night, listening for signs of showing fish and getting small pockets of baits in the rights areas; often the deeper siltier areas, would be my best advice for autumn fishing, using tight patches of naturals, with natural hookbaits my go-to autumn approach.