Greg Ellis is reminded that sticking to what you know is usually the best course when times are hard.
Now we’re in winter mode and it’s acceptable to slow up on your catch rate compared to the previous few months, it’s still worth putting in that little extra effort on your sessions. It’s also very important to still have the confidence in what you’re using, by which I mean sticking with what’s been working leading up to the dry spell.
Okay, I’m a fine one to talk about all that, as I’m known to chop and change as soon as the going gets tough. I’m always trying to nick that extra bite when not a lot is happening around me, but nearly always revert back to the same rig, bait, setup, etc. that I’d been using all year long and doing well on. This doesn’t just happen in the winter months; it can happen at any time of the year and I bet most of you reading this can relate to what I’m saying. How many people get lost in their own head trying things they’ve never tried before in their angling when the bites are hard enough to get as they are? Keep doing it your way, keep the confidence in yourself and your own tactics and you’re halfway there. I’ve fallen victim to this many times and I’ve just been reminded that it’s far better to ride out the bad spell with confidence rather than feeling lost.
On a recent trip to Kingsmead 1 I was feeling pretty lost with my angling. Even though I’d caught my fair share of fish from the venue throughout the season, I was riding the bad spell whilst doing things I never normally do and it wasn’t a good situation to be in. I had all three rods set up with different tactics on the business end. I had one rod set up with a 10ft zig, another set up with a pop-up rig I’d never used before (therefore I’d never caught on it before), and finally my third rod was set up with my usual blow-back snowman rig that I’d had most of my success on previously. I was trying all sorts leading up to this session, as you can probably tell.
I arrived at the Lake on the Friday night under the cover of darkness at around 8pm, as I usually do. The Lake hadn’t done a bite for nearly four weeks – nobody had even got a pick-up. Nothing had even been showing much to let you know if you were on them or at least near them. As you’d imagine, my heart wasn’t really in it and I was stuck in that rut of almost feeling as if I was going camping rather than fishing. You know the feeling – we all get it. I walked the Lake slowly and listened carefully, but it was flat calm and lifeless, seemingly devoid of fish. I bucketed a swim up the top end that had good form from winters past. I’d also put a few kilos of Cell out there on the Sunday when I’d left the previous week. With nothing else to go on, it seemed like my only decent option. I just hoped that a few carp found that bait I’d given them and stayed around in the general area… Here’s hoping, eh?
On my return with my barrow after finally finding the energy and drive to load it, knowing I was probably going into another session of camping and adding another two nights to my growing string of blanks, I decided different and my gut instinct pulled me back. I put my barrow down and wandered back to the first swim I’d passed. Being stuck in the true Kingsmead tradition of thinking that all of the fish hold up in the main bulk of open water at the top end of the Lake, it’s easy to overlook certain areas and concentrate on those that have been the most productive in previous years. It was still looking bleak to say the least, but after a while of listening and hoping I heard the distinctive sound of a carp flopping out in the darkness. I could just about make out from the ripples where I needed to be and with that I headed back to retrieve my bucket and grab my barrow. I had been thinking and wandering around the Lake for two hours and it had paid off in a big way. I’d actually located one, and when a carp shows on a water like this in the winter it’s almost certain that it’s not alone.
The three rods were put out on the different setups and a few more fish showed during the night. I thought the zig was in with the best chance of a bite, as the fish seemed to be showing over that more than the other spots. Nothing happened during the night, but as morning broke, so did my run of bad luck and I managed to land three fish in quick succession in a mad little feeding spell that lasted a couple of hours. All fish fell to the same rod – and that rod was the blow-back snowman setup I’d had most of my fish on during the season. The moral of the story here is pretty obvious: I tried to change and nick a bite, but the results came to what I knew best, so why try to fix something that isn’t broken? That saying is so true in so many ways. It just goes to show that if you’re willing to walk a dark lake on arrival and just listen out for signs then you might just see or hear the one fish that could lead to a red-letter session, as it did for me. I landed a 45¾lb mirror and commons of 35lb 6oz and 21lb. The fish were there and I definitely got lucky by being in the right place at the right time, because if I hadn’t got that sudden hunch to turn around and have another look then I’d be on track for one of my worst winters ever!
Stick to what you know and what you’re confident in, and it will all come good in the end. And remember: spring is just around the corner!