Plan Your Year

Probably the most daunting month of the entire calendar. Often brutally cold and always tricky to extract a carp from, January can indeed be testing. Almost every winter we get a big Atlantic storm at the start of the year and if I could, I would be eager to capitalise on this and get a session in dur-ing the turbulent weather. Boilie crumb and maggots would be the bait choice.

This can be a good month, especially toward the third week. I think this is entirely rooted in light levels which will be very much on the increase. Even if the weather stayed really cold throughout the entire spring, the carp would start to get more and more active simply due to the increased light. February sees the first of the big hatches and is often a time I start to consider zigs. This can be a real big fish month. For fishing on the deck, it’s still about boilie crumb and maggots.

This can be a tricky phase, despite the promise of spring not being far away. Again, it’s often a time to look at zigs and also for activity in thick reed beds. The carp will start to show around now and any bite action tends to shift from being nocturnal through much of the preceding winter, to day time activity. This is the month that the floater gear goes back into the van – early opportunities can easily be missed if you are not prepared.

This is when things really start to happen! The biggest mistake people make when chasing big, old carp is to start piling in the bait. The main lesson I have learnt over the last ten years or so is that singles, zigs, bags and light baiting techniques are far more likely to get a response from an old, fat carp that is bulging with spawn. Find the carp and fish for a bite is the best advice at any time of year – particularly now.

The first hot weather – it is heaven for those loving stalking in the margins and floater fishing! I have now switched back to the Krill fishmeals. Always be on the lookout for the thick new, fresh weed beds – the carp adore them. Shallow ground with weed will be the place to look.

Perhaps a bit of prep for a push for a river carp on the Glorious 16th? Something I keep meaning to do again – maybe this year I will! The carp will be likely grouping in numbers and if they are about to spawn then they can go crazy for a floater.

The carp will have spawned everywhere. Now is the time for salty particle mixes! Bite times will mostly be at first light. Hard workers will find rewards by stalking in the heat of the day. Tigers and hemp will be high on my list.

A much better month than it was 25 years ago – a lot of our most coveted big fish make an appear-ance in this month. It’s still often particle dominated although rich, oily fishmeals really come into the game for the big girls. Additives like Salmon oil make fantastic boilie glazes in the heat of the summer. Bite times narrow, often down to just a single chance at first light on harder waters when it is really hot. Look for cooler, rainy spells.

The beginning of the autumn phase which can be the trickiest quarter of the season. The fish will have had a lot of pressure all year and by now, with natural food at a peak, they can afford to be choosy. The angler daring to be different will win! Small bait traps with naturals work well and I’m starting to think about tigers and casters…

Cooler nights and shorter days lead to much more nocturnal activity. Traps of hemp, caster, tiger and chopped Krill are the order of the day. Big baiting for the mythical autumn feed up is best avoided on pressured waters. Boilies can work well if applied sensibly and unpredictably.

The first consistent frosts often appear and the leaves fall in abundance. Bites in daylight are rare and every night is spent walking, listening and looking for the carp to give themselves away. If the weather breaks and becomes consistently cool, the floater gear goes away now. If it’s consistently cold I am usually back on the Manilla by the end of this month. Stringers and light scatterings of bait are the primary weapons.

This can still be a good big fish month but there is no doubt that things are getting harder! At this stage I will have made the move back onto boilie crumb and maggots. Location is all about noctur-nal manoeuvres. They will still show at times and of course it is all about getting on them!