My Winter Down the Local!
Following on from last year’s successful winter on my local water, I knew my tactics for this coming winter would be more or less the same. It was clear the fish still liked their bait all through the winter; I just needed to make sure I kept putting it in regularly.
My starting point would be a swim on the south-facing bank which had done me a few bites last winter. I would be getting one night a week, so knew prebaiting would be key. My mix consisted of mixed-sized Secret 7 boilies which I’d leave soaking in plenty of matching S7 Liquid Food and Wraysberry Liquid Booster, and then adding pink Himalayan rock salt. I thought the sweet kick of Wraysberry Booster would give me a real edge during the winter. I’d also be adding tigers and corn to the mix.
I would make sure to get down two or three days before my session to give them a good hit of bait, as this would be plenty of time to get them feeding confidently in the zone. I’d focus on just the one spot per swim. I know people say about not putting all your eggs in one basket, but if they weren’t there, I’d simply move.
My first session of the winter came on 21st December and it didn’t get off to a great start, with me losing one very early on to a hook pull, but the prebaiting paid off the following morning with a cracking upper double.
The next session just over a week later was a rare two-nighter for me. This session completely racked my brain, as I just could not get anything going whatsoever, proving just how tricky it can be in winter. In fairness, the whole lake really had switched off, with no fish coming out. In fact, I was pretty sure the last fish out was the one I had the previous week. I decided to persist with the same swim and spot and just put the two-night blank down to the fish not wanting to play ball.
We were now into the New Year and the second week of January. I knew the lake had been fishing very tricky indeed, with just one fish said to have been out since the turn of the year. I’d been persisting with the prebait, making sure I was getting down at least once a week, twice if possible.
There was only one other chap fishing, over on the opposite bank. I was standing chatting with him when I saw one pop its head out twice over the prebait. I got straight into the van and round to the other side. With fish being present, I wanted to get the rods out quickly with little disturbance, so held off on any bait. To my surprise nothing happened that evening, so I topped the spot up just before dark.
The following morning it all kicked off, as I managed four fish in a crazy couple of hours. The biggest again was only a high double, but it was still a mega result considering the lake had only done one other fish so far this year.
My next session was mid-January and the weather was absolutely mega for the swim I was in. It was forecast 40mph southerly winds with plenty of rain! So, I made the choice to get out a little earlier than normal, as work was off the cards that day.
Fishing in these conditions was hard, but a head wind instead of a cross wind meant I could still get the rods out fairly accurately. Baiting was off the cards, though; it would have to wait until later. It was around an hour after getting them out that the first rod was away with another high double, which was followed a couple of hours later by my first twenty of the year, coming an hour before dark.
I managed to get some bait out eventually that evening when the wind died back a bit. The conditions had been mega that day, although they had caused me to doubt my sanity sometimes! However, they had paid off.
The conditions the following morning were a massive contrast – flat calm and no rain – but I did manage a couple more fish that morning, again up to upper doubles.
I did two more overnighters in January in the same swim to no avail. It seemed like the spot had really died off.
February would see me targeting a new part of the lake, this time the west-facing bank, as I knew from checking the forecast we would be getting some strong west/south-westerly winds, and this part of the lake would be getting the brunt of it. I found a nice spot not too far out, which would make life easier. I went about approaching it the same way, if anything baiting harder this time and making sure I was getting down twice a week minimum.
My first session in here was the second week of February and it timed with some mega 40mph westerlies. After a quiet night we had a slight break in the weather first thing the following morning, so I decided a quick recast would make sure the rods were bang on. This ploy paid off, as both the recast rods ended up going an hour or so apart, resulting in two more upper doubles. This made me happy, as I knew the new baited zone was clearly being visited.
I was back a week later and had managed to keep the bait going in through the week. There were some pretty mental conditions forecast – hail, wind and rain – but that’s winter fishing for you. The night passed again quietly, besides the howling storm! However, one of the rods busted off first thing the following morning, resulting in a very plump 23-pounder.
I managed to pull a few strings, as I thought I was due one of the better ones, and was back down for another night a few days later. The following morning, I managed another three fish, with the pick of the bunch being another cracking 23lb common.
I managed one more night in the beginning of March, hoping to get one of the gems of the lake! With a baby due any day now, I knew this would be my last night for some time. Little was I to know we’d all be in lockdown not too long after!
I managed another three fish that session, with all of them being doubles, including a rare bite at 10.30pm, which really surprised me.
Not a bad winter all in all. Looking back, I did 11 nights in total, including four blank nights, with 17 fish landed. The stamp of fish wasn’t exactly great, but I’m sure we would all agree that getting consistent winter results is just a bonus, regardless of the size of fish.