WORDS BY // DIVIDED BY SEASONS & SCOTT EYREIMAGES BY // JAMES BALL, SCOTT EYRE & FRIENDS
Scott Eyre is a qualified angling coach who has been working within the industry for a number of years now. We catch up with Scott to talk about the winter season and tactics worth considering to keep your catch rate going whilst the temperature drops! We all know how difficult it can be to produce a bite whilst the carp are less active, feeding less frequently and less aggressively.
How important is venue choice when winter fishing and how will a venue’s depth of water and other influencing factors contribute to success?
It all depends on the angler if I'm honest, some will have their targets they want to chase, as for myself I have just secured my first dedicated winter ticket on a lake with some beautiful big carp in its depths. However, Before I secured my ticket I would drop onto a well stocked lake throughout winter to ensure I was keeping a bend in the rod and enjoying myself rather than sitting out in sub zero temperatures seeking out that bigger carp.
With regards to the importance of understanding water depths during the colder months, just because the temperature has dropped the carp may not always be in the deepest section of the lake. The shallows will be the first spot to warm up in the short daylight hours so I always keep an eye on those and often have a trap waiting for when they do turn up! Other key areas to look for are beds of weed and lily pads that have started to die down, as these will be full of natural food sources and the carp will almost certainly be held up there.
How do you go about uncovering the location of carp during the winter sessions when you cannot see as much activity in the water?
Watercraft has to be the number skill any angler should have in his box. In preparation of a longer session I will spend a minimum of an hour or two watching for any possible signs of fish being present. If I haven't seen anything of significance I will turn to a more modern approach and use my deeper pro plus. I know most anglers will say it's cheating but sometimes my time is limited and I want to make sure every second counts. A few casts in each area will show me a very detailed map without spooking any wary carp!
How important is water temperature and what is your knowledge of thermoclines during winter?
The water temperature is very important to me during winter, as I said before the upper layers will be the first to warm up once the sun hits the lake so methods like zig fishing is still a good chance of turning a blank into a good session. The mid layers of the water column can chill much quicker than you would think and really force the carp higher or lower so an adjustable zig can be a massive edge. I have caught off of the surface in mid December before as well as on the lake bed so I wouldn't rule out the upper layers at all during winter.
What baiting strategy would you use to produce a bite and why would you choose that approach?
I will always try to gain as much knowledge as possible from the anglers on the lake as well as the bailiffs. I'll also keep an eye on any social media coverage to learn what has been recently working. I'll find out any rules on bait restrictions that may be in place too. With that being said a great winter tactic and one I always go to is to fish for a bite at a time, so small PVA bags or sticks which is just enough for a mouthful is a great place to start. If the fish do move into the area and are clearly hungry I will introduce more bait with a 'little and often' approach to keep them within the area. Smaller food particles like hemp or maggots will often keep them grubbing around looking for more.
It’s easy to over complicate rig setups unnecessarily in today’s angling. Are rigs important to you or do you just prefer to keep a simple approach?
Rigs are extremely important to me along with the lead setup. I use the Heli safe a lot of the time as it gives me so much versatility with any lake bed that I will be fishing over, whether it be weed, silt, or gravel. As for rigs I always keep them simple. I use the Ronnie rig a lot as it's an ideal way to present bait in so many different situations. If the area is really clear I will fish a standard claw rig on the bottom.
What advice would you give to anglers who disregard the winter season for carp angling?
I feel it's a big mistake! The carp are there to be caught and even if they aren't biting you can still learn so much about the lake by just simply being there. This can place you a step ahead for the warmer months before the new season starts.
What do you consider to be the top 5 bankside winter essentials to take with you whilst out in the cold weather?
For me comfort is key. If you are cold and not enjoying it you will not be fishing effectively! My top 5 would have to be:
1. Thermal layers under my winter suit tucked in to keep any breeze of my skin.
2. A good sized kettle to keep those brews coming!
3. A hot water bottle in my bed before I get in it.
4. My groundsheet so the cold isn't rising up into my bivvy through the night.
5. Waterproof boots are a must there is nothing worse than damp socks and cold feet.
Do you have any interesting winter carp stories to share with us, or moments that you look back on and think about during previous winter sessions?
One that always gets brought up is a trip I took with my brother to an old haunt of ours that we started out on. I was fishing locked up under a bush to the right of my peg which constituted of a wooden platform. As we sat and talked about varying things my bobbin pulled up and my Steve Neville started to sing so I leapt up and ran towards my rod.
Of course I slipped, slide tackled my rods with left leg under and my right going over! I still managed to grab rod and start to play what I hoped to be my first carp of the day, with a damp sore backside and a tonne of embarrassment I reeled in the big slimy bream that had picked up the rig. All while my brother was in fits of laughter behind me!
Don't forget to follow Scott on his Instagram @cyprinus_scott and keep an eye out for his new video diary coming soon!