Carpers Yard

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Lockdown Fishing - Day Session Watercraft

Ed Betteridge

If fishing through the winter isn't already challenging enough, being restricted to days only certainly adds another degree of difficulty to the task. That said, we should feel privileged that we can all still get out and enjoy what we love - fishing! Therefore to help make those day sessions more productive through lockdown, we've reached out to anglers in the industry to give their thoughts on how you can still fish as effectively as possible - even with the current restrictions. The first set of tips comes from Ed Betteridge, and even includes his latest video!

"I realise this has been written a thousand times in the past, and I have mentioned it as much as most in the 100’s of pieces I have penned over the last decade and a half, but location is key! And never has it been so important as in short session day only fishing in winter. Even if we fish dawn ‘til dusk, that only makes for 8 hours fishing max, and fish in their winter state are a lot more lethargic and slow-moving than they are in warmer waters. Often, they will hold up in tightly grouped areas and conserve energy, only feeding sporadically picking a few feed items up per day – if at all. In these instances, close enough isn’t good enough, you have to be on them and 20 yards away may as well be 200 yards away. Therefore, location is the absolute key.

How the fish are located will depend from lake to lake, swim to swim, and day to day. I’ve been fishing a local water that is very shallow, I don’t think the stock is high, but pretty much every time I have been down there I have seen fish. The fish aren’t crashing out (that isn’t common on very shallow lakes), but I often find subtle movements of a dorsal breaking surface or a little vortex from a tail wafting a few inches under the water. Climbing trees has been useful to get an elevated view and see more of the swim. Often one small dorsal flick breaking the surface will give me a place to study a little more closely and has resulted in me finding a number of fish held up a foot or so under the surface. Other signs to location are reeds flicking as a fish pushes through them or dying pads being knocked out of the way. If the lake is silty a few bubbles hitting the surface shows signs of movement or if fizzing is found this can be very rewarding.

On the bitterly cold days when the water temperatures are at their lowest, any signs of “fish” can be key. After walking a lake at dawn I have found a few roach and silver fish active at one end of the lake and nothing at the other. This suggests to me that they are in the area that is the most comfortable for fish to be, whether that be temperature, cover, oxygen, or food its hard to say, but if the silvers are drawn to that zone it makes sense that the carp could be too.

Most of the above pertain to small shallower waters, but larger deeper pits can sometimes be harder to locate the carp in, but not always. I fished a very deep pit in Cambridgeshire called Bundy’s a few winters ago, and in there it was common to see regular shows from the carp. I’ve seen huge fish clear the waters surface in depths of winter and listened to the audible crash of re-entry resound off the high banks like an amphitheater. I remember on winter session seeing a 20lb Mirror show right over my hook bait towards the middle of the lake, when I say over I mean 55 feet over! I was standing with the owner at the time and we both agreed that the fish was probably hanging mid-water and venturing nowhere near the deck that was 9 fathoms below it. Yet 20 minutes later I received a bite on that rod and landed a low 20lb mirror in a lake that was stocked with 90% commons!

I have digressed a bit, but my point is on deep lakes they do and will show more than on shallow likes. I have theories on this but that is an article in itself.

If no signs of fish can be found then a gamble can be played on certain zones that look good in the conditions; end of a mild new wind, back of a cold breeze, in a bay sheltered bay that receives a fair bit of sunlight, or one of my favourites - snags. Fish love a snag in winter, it offers them cover, perceived safety and structure. The other thing that is worth looking at is past history. Is there an area or couple of areas where the fish have been caught from in the colder weather in the past? In some lakes it can be narrowed down to one spot in one swim whereas others it’s a little more open.

If I can’t find the fish I will try a roving approach and spend a few hours with the rods out in a few swims. I will keep an eye out for shows in those areas and fish for line bites.

This can be a great way to know if there is movement in the swim, fishing a light bobbin at half-mast on a sensitive alarm can help with location. The good news is winter is that if you find a group of fish and work out why they are there then they can stay in an area for a while which could lead to a run of captures."

Want to watch Ed but those tips to action? Watch Ed's latest video below!