With limited rod hours and coming off the back of an injury, Jonny Fletcher had to rethink his options if he was to make the most his winter campaign

Having broken my leg in the autumn, I was really buzzing at the prospect of getting the rods out during the winter. Thankfully, after 8 weeks, I had regained enough mobility to get out on the bank again, and the smaller lake on my syndicate ticket was the perfect place to target. Not only did it have winter form, but it also had a few swims which allowed me to fish out of my van, as unfortunately I still wasn’t quite 100% on my feet.

Due to the lake being quiet, I decided to bait a spot out in front of the most easily accessible swims. I went in very heavy with the feed too, as the temperatures were still incredibly mild for December. I was absolutely buzzing to get back out fishing but wanted to keep my time as a premium. As such I fished morning sessions, as I thought this would be the best bet to reduce the number of hours I was sat behind motionless rods.

Having broken my leg in the autumn, I was really buzzing at the prospect of getting the rods out during the winter. Thankfully, after 8 weeks, I had regained enough mobility to get out on the bank again, and the smaller lake on my syndicate ticket was the perfect place to target. Not only did it have winter form, but it also had a few swims which allowed me to fish out of my van, as unfortunately I still wasn’t quite 100% on my feet.

Due to the lake being quiet, I decided to bait a spot out in front of the most easily accessible swims. I went in very heavy with the feed too, as the temperatures were still incredibly mild for December. I was absolutely buzzing to get back out fishing but wanted to keep my time as a premium. As such I fished morning sessions, as I thought this would be the best bet to reduce the number of hours I was sat behind motionless rods.

On my first session back, I got the rods out over the bait that I had put out the previous day. At around 9:45am, I had a bite which resulted in a lovely looking low-twenty common. It was my only fish of the day, so I decided to bait up as I left and come back the morning after.

The following morning came around and I was back in the same swim. At roughly the same time as the previous morning’s bite occurred, I had a one toner, which unfortunately resulted in a cut off on an unseen snag. I was gutted, especially as that was the only action of the session and with Christmas fast approaching, I knew my time was going to be limited.

On my first session back, I got the rods out over the bait that I had put out the previous day. At around 9:45am, I had a bite which resulted in a lovely looking low-twenty common. It was my only fish of the day, so I decided to bait up as I left and come back the morning after.

The following morning came around and I was back in the same swim. At roughly the same time as the previous morning’s bite occurred, I had a one toner, which unfortunately resulted in a cut off on an unseen snag. I was gutted, especially as that was the only action of the session and with Christmas fast approaching, I knew my time was going to be limited.

Despite not being able to get down to the lake to fish during the period leading up to Christmas, I could still visit to bait up. I continued to introduce a simple mix of Manilla Active and standard Manilla, along with mixed particles and the matching Cloudy Liquid. This combination certainly got them visiting the spot regularly, and I was chomping at the bit to get back to the lake with some rods.

With Christmas out of the way, I eventually returned to the lake with some rods. It was late at night, so I decided to introduce some bait and wait until first light to put the rods out. I had their routine down by this point, so I was confident I wasn’t missing out on anything.

This decision turned out to be the right one, as a few hours after casting out, at around 10am, I landed a lovely double figure mirror. While I was sorting that fish out, my other rod ripped into life and that carp turned out to be a little bigger, a mirror of around mid-twenties. I soon followed them up with another double, before having to pack up. It was clear that the fish had really got focused on the spot, and it was simply going to be a case of waiting for the bigger ones to turn up.

To try and entice the bigger fish into the area, I baited with a lot more bait than before and returned the next day. It was warmer than any other day so far, and as the sun kissed the surface, I felt super confident.

I had my first bite extremely quick after getting the rods out and soon netted the culprit, only for the other rod to receive a bite at the same time as well. This one felt totally different though, it was heavy, slow and plodding. Eventually, she rolled over the net cord and it turned out to be the biggest fish in the lake, a carp known as Fingerprints at 35lb 10oz. Not only had my plan paid off, but it was also a lake record too! I got my friend Mike to help me with the weighing and photos, thanks mate. Despite the lake not having very many members, I still wanted to keep the capture quiet. I had to capitalise on the opportunity!

As I was fishing over all manner of bait items in several different sizes, and the fact the fish were obviously feeding well on the spot as they were so tuned in on the feed, I didn’t want to use an obvious hookbait. Therefore, I decided to opt for a low-lying Spinner Rig, baited with a glugged ‘match-the-hatch’ Manilla pop-up, topped with a bit of plastic corn to blend in with the loose feed. This rig, used in conjunction with a helicopter setup, allowed me to consistently present the rig over the silty spot every time. The Spinner speaks for itself in terms of success, and I found that by scaling each component down such as the hook bait and hook size, I think it complimented the mix perfectly.

STEP-BY-STEP ON HOW TO MAKE
a low-lying spinner rig

It just goes to show that sometimes introducing plenty of bait can really pay off, despite the time of the year

Time was ticking by and it was getting towards the end of the holiday period, so with work looming once again I planned a few more morning’s angling before I called it a day and I was forced to return to my usual Friday overnighters.

The next session that I fished was my usual morning session, managing an old 27-pounder around 11AM. After that I decided to stay on that night. I was not going to fish, but I got the bait in during the afternoon and just chilled out; this way ensured that I could flick the rods out accurately as soon as it got light the next morning.

No sooner had Tom arrived to shoot this feature and the stove had been lit and the left-hand rod was away with an incredibly old looking low-twenty mirror. What a lovely result that was…

After that I was able to squeeze in one more session before reality set in, which saw me bank another one of the lakes bigger residents, with a clean looking 34lb 14oz mirror. What a way to round off a mad spell of winter angling!

I really couldn’t have asked for a more productive period of angling, not just in terms of my return, but it was in the mid-winter too! It just goes to show that sometimes introducing plenty of bait can really pay off, despite the time of the year, and if you can really tune into the lake and work it out, you don’t need to waste endless dark hours of your time or take time off work to have a good session!

After that I was able to squeeze in one more session before reality set in, which saw me bank another one of the lakes bigger residents, with a clean looking 34lb 14oz mirror. What a way to round off a mad spell of winter angling!

I really couldn’t have asked for a more productive period of angling, not just in terms of my return, but it was in the mid-winter too! It just goes to show that sometimes introducing plenty of bait can really pay off, despite the time of the year, and if you can really tune into the lake and work it out, you don’t need to waste endless dark hours of your time or take time off work to have a good session!

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