Carpers Yard

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Day Ticket Fishing Tips - Sandhurst

Ricky Preston

Ricky Preston gives us an insight into his winter fishing tips and in particular how he tackles the infamous carp day ticket venue that is Sandhurst in Yateley.

Venue Choice

For me, the venue I choose for the winter months is very important. I'm looking for waters that offer a good stock of fish. There really is no good in fishing places that have a low stock, I've learned over time that it simply isn't worth the small amount of time I have. The depth of the venue is also important. It's imperative to target shallow waters through the cold months, the lack of depth will mean that weather conditions have a greater effect on fishing. The slight change in air temperature, wind direction, or pressure are further exaggerated on shallow lakes and can really get the fish on the move and active again improving your chances of a bite. Sandhurst is a venue that I'm drawn to during the winter, it has all of the above whilst offering some really big fish - and nice dark ones at that. It also offers a fantastic stock and hits of fish can be made when all the stars align.

Approaching Your Chosen Pit

The number one thing, more so than another time of year, is location. With up to 16 hours of darkness, I have to know that I've done what I can to find them. Its a long time to be sat cold if you don't feel like your in the right zone, I will walk the lake multiple times looking for any signs of carp, all while paying attention to what the other anglers are doing, recognising and logging any bites around the pond can stand you in good stead for the rest of your session, allowing you to know when to have the rigs in place and to expect any action.

The Session

On a recent visit to Sandhurst whilst lapping the lake, I’d got wind that there hadn't been a fish out for a good few days and the weather was horrendous - it was clear to see I was going to be up against it. I decided to push the barrow around and just stand for a while in a well-known swim called “The Pipes”, you have a great view of the whole lake from here and have a lot of water to play with. I sat there for a good few hours, made a cup of tea, and tied a few rigs up but by 2 o'clock id seen nothing fish-wise; but one thing I had noticed was the abundance of birdlife sat out over one area of the lake. I watched these birds and it was clear they were unsettled - spooking and looking down into the water. Those birds had given the game away and I was sure there was fish underneath them. It gave me the go-ahead to stay put and blast two singles out into the zone and call it a night.

Waking up the next morning nothing had happened. The sun started to rise and had some warmth to it. I knew this was a good thing and before I knew it, a decent carp threw its self out over where I was fishing - HAPPY DAYS! The singles had been out all night with no reward so I began thinking of different approaches. I came to the conclusion I needed to give them a little extra attraction - just to get them to drop down on that hook bait. There was only one way forward and that was solid bags!

After making the change, later that afternoon one of the rods ripped off and I was rewarded with my first carp of the session - a pretty mirror at 25lb, buzzing! Another couple of hours passed and another mid 20 scaly mirror was in the net, a real looker and one I was delighted to catch. I decided after this to roam the third rod around in the zone. The following night was uneventful but the next morning, the rod I was moving around was away. Instantly I knew I was attached to something a bit more special. After a good fight, my suspicions came true when I slipped the net under a really decent common. After hoisting the fish up, the scales tipped round to 38lb and I was made up. A Sandhurst original and one full of character.

That bite was the only one of the day, and I eagerly awaited the following morning. When it finally came so did a bite, this time from the middle rod resulting in another 20lb mirror. That afternoon the middle rod was away again, and again with another 20lber. This was building to be one of those really special sessions, and despite being in the thick of winter it was still incredibly enjoyable.

With one night left, I’d got the drop on a morning and afternoon feeding spell, so I nestled down for a good night's sleep in the hope I had one last chance before I had to be off. With 9 o'clock looming everything was packed away and the rods were rested on the floor, this is something I always like to do, it's so important. A huge proportion of my time is spent looking for fish so when I feel like I'm on them its then about maximising the time the rigs are in the water. This has worked for me time and time again when I've often managed a bite after minutes of the rods being out still with all the kit on the barrow or vice versa, rods on deck at the end of the session with everything else packed away. This happened to be one of those times and minutes before it was time to reel in, the rod jutted on the gravel and I was in. The bite had come off the right-hand roving rod and again it felt like a good one. At eighty yards it stripped another forty off me and before I knew it, it was out in the middle of the lake, the lead had dropped and the fish heavily rolled on the surface, the size of its tail was huge and it just cemented in my mind it was one that I’d certainly want in the net. After fifteen minutes of one of the hardest fights, I’d had this year it went in. A colossal mirror of 39lb and oz’s, I was absolutely buzzing. I had a long two and a half-hour drive home and it was done with a huge smile on my face, thinking what had just happened.

Solid Bags And Rigs

Hook bait choice was a 12mm dumbbell wafter in yellow, I did have a couple of white but yellow seemed to be the one this session. I often find myself with just these two colours in winter they are definitely my favourites. I always use a big hook where I can, even with small hook baits. On this occasion it was a size 4, with the hooks on the deck under the bait - if the carp can make that out I think we are all in trouble. The hook link has to be as flexible and subtle as it can give the hook bait full movement so when the fish sucks, the whole contents of the bag shoots into its mouth with ease. The length is generally five or six inches long, I alter this to the size of the fish I'm fishing for - the bigger the fish the more rope I’ll give them to hang themselves.

Lead wise, I like to fish a flat pear inline and I fish this drop off style and generally don't go heavy and stick to 2.5oz. I accompany this with three-foot of a flurocarbon leader, allowing everything to be as discrete as possible since the water is gin clear, so this is a must. The contents of the mix is based on boilie crumb. My favoured boilie at this time of the year is Proper Carp Baits Crunchy Nut, along with a scattering of 4 and 6mm pellets. This all goes into a small solid bad and is probably only half-filled, it's around a golf ball size which is more than enough for that one bite. Tight Lines and good luck to you all over the winter months.

Ricky Preston