I love fishing during the autumn, the lakes still look wonderful with the leaves turning, and the fish are still feeding. However, it’s often the case that day sessions can pass away very quickly this time of year, as the evenings are drawing in earlier. Making the most of your time can be a simple affair though.

We are all guilty of setting up in a swim and hoping it will happen at some point in the day, but sometimes it doesn’t. Therefore, it is not always best to put all your eggs in one basket. One key technique for maximising opportunities is to bait a few margin spots around the lake, on the off chance an extra opportunity appears.

Baited Rig
Carp Fishing Stalking Setup

Take this weekend for instance; a good friend, Oxfordshire carp breeding legend Ross Jelfs and I set out for a day session on the amazing Frimley complex on the Surrey / Hampshire border. We arrived around 11AM and after a walk round Pit 2 we set up in the middle of the lake, just where we had seen a few fish fizzing around the weed beds. It seemed to be the best area to start as there weren’t any other signs around the lake but before we setup we walked the lake, baiting likely places to stalk later in the day. The spots that we chose where only feet from the bank, next to features like lilies and holes in the weed beds. We primed them with pellet corn and crushed boilies. As the lake is intimate this only took a few minutes, and we were soon ready to set about putting our rods in position in the main swims that we had chosen.

We elected to bait lightly, as we could see the fish where already present and feeding in the swim, fishing with solid PVA bags to present our rigs in the silty gullies between the weed beds. But after a few hours it was clear the fish where not interested in what we had to offer. We suspected that they were harvesting what was left of the natural food larders, before it started to be hard to come by, so we decided to take a look around on the spots we had baited earlier in the day. Straight away it was obvious they had been visiting a couple of areas, as the bait was gone. We re-baited them again and hurriedly scampered off to retrieve our stalking set ups.

I like to fish nice strong gear whilst stalking, as most of the time the places I fish are at close quarters and can be in snaggy weedy areas – therefore the line of choice on my reels was 18lb GT-HD. This was fished with an inline lead and a size 4 Mugga hook tied as a German Rig (which is my take anywhere rig).

As soon as I arrived at the first spot, there was a fish feeding on the little gravel spot, only feet from the bank. So after letting the fish move off, I placed the rig just over the weed bed on the clear gravel spot. Minutes past and I saw a shadow carefully edge out from under an overhanging tree, as another fish appeared. It didn’t hesitate and went straight down on the bait, but unfortunately it detected something was wrong and bolted off. In hindsight, I think my line may have been draped over a bit of weed, but it was a good sign, so I baited the spot again and moved to the next spot…

GT-HD 18

Again, there was a lovely looking mirror moving away from the spot, so with no time to loose I placed the rig and climbed up a small tree that overlooked the spot. Around 5 minutes passed, and the same fish was back and heading straight for the baited spot. Within seconds I was jumping out of the tree with the clutch spinning as the carp was heading for a weed bed under an overhanging tree. Subsequently it was a quick battle, with the fish getting its head covered in weed before I glided it over the net cord. What a result! It turned out to be an immaculate linear mirror.

It just goes to show that it only takes a few minutes to turn a potential blank around! So after a few photos we were quick to get the fish back and carry on as the light was starting to fade. We did have a couple more chances, but time was against us and we had to make the 6PM crossing over the trainline.

There’s always next time and the lovely fish in Pit 2 aren’t going anywhere…