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Master The Autumn Season

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Last Updated: 21st October 2014

For me autumn fishing begins on the autumn equinox, so called because this is the time when the sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is equal. It is this signal that alerts the fish to begin feeding in earnest in readiness for the onset of the winter and this occurs each year around the 22-24 of September.

This period sees a massive rise in the big-fish captures around Europe and it is no surprise that all anglers in the know do their very best to be out on the bank at this time, particularly around the ‘harvest moon’. This describes the full moon closest to the actual equinox and historically this is THE time to be out hunting big carp as this is their trigger for them to begin feeding hard for the onset of winter. This makes even the wariest carp very vulnerable to capture as their greed overrides all else.

On the more pressured waters in the UK and mainland Europe the actual full moon itself sees a substantial rise in angler pressure, but personally I have always found that the periods running up to and immediately after the full moon are far better times to be out on the bank. When the moon is big and bright it’s rarely the best time to be fishing and without doubt the day times see heavier feeding spells if you know what your looking for. Let me explain a little more; You see, in recent years I’ve paid far more attention to ‘moon set’ over ‘moon rise’. Just like sunrise and sunset the effect on the fish as the moon rises and falls is just as influential, although ‘moon set’ is particularly so.

Just like when watching the sun rise and the lake comes to life in the mornings, the effect upon the fish is equally as obvious and profound as the moon is setting and its powerful pull wanes. These days with most people owning and using smart phones there are plenty of Apps available to help you keep track of the phases of the moon and the more detailed show exact details.

For instance as I sit and write this on October 11th the moon sets at 11.50am tomorrow. Without an app to tell you it would be impossible to know this, but the effect on the fish will be profound and if I were to be fishing tomorrow I’d certainly make sure I’d have the rods in at this time and be watching the lake intently.

I’ve been aware of the incredible effect that the lunar calendar has on my fishing for many years, but its only since apps like ‘fish cal’, ‘moon strike’ etc have been on the scene that I’ve been able to fine tune my fishing to such a degree.

Subconsciously for the last decade or so I’ve always aligned my foreign trips with key moon phases and it always pays off. When I head abroad, often with no more than a week at my disposal, timing is everything so I do all I can to make every trip a successful one. I’ll be honest though, apart from the more critical periods around the spring and autumn equinoxes I don’t follow the lunar calendar very closely at all, far preferring to fish on climatic conditions over anything else, BUT I never ignore the period around a new moon.

Of course, I’ve been writing about lunar influence for many years and these days you can bet money that on the more pressured lakes the rise in angler pressure at key times can be quite dramatic as more and more people have been educated to the effects of the moon on our quarry. The fish adapt, as they always do, and certainly in the last few years, although I know it will happen for me around the equinox, it’s more likely to be anything up to a week either side of the full moon and particularly on or around ‘moon set’ when the lake can seemingly come alive out of nowhere.

Modern big-carp hunting is rarely the solitary pursuit it once was and these days you need more than one string to your bow and my edge, if you like, is research and it always has been. No matter where I’m fishing I ensure that I know exactly what’s gone on over the previous autumns as far back as I can trace. I know where the bigguns have been caught from, and I need this info because I like to prep an area or two with bait regularly, preferably swims that are away from the ‘known’ swims to put myself in with the very best chance of being able to turn up and drop onto them at any time. I don’t like to gamble these days, my style of fishing is very contested, especially as big-carp fishing is becoming seasonal, by which I mean that more and more anglers now know when the key times are, when the prime moons are etc and when the fish are at their best weights, so the lakes become very busy at these times and almost empty at others.

I stick to what I know and that is top quality bait introduced onto good areas for as long as I can before actually fishing them, or until the fish tell me to fish them. I cannot stress the importance of good bait highly enough. There are a plethora of bait companies these days and while some produce top-quality products there are countless outfits who produce bait that looks the part but is made up of cheap ingredients and attractors. Pressured carp in these busy times have choice and plenty of it and they can be fussier than you would think as they encounter bait at every turn, so the obvious answer is to use the best bait you can and put in onto the best spot.

By the start of September I ensure that I have my freezer full of good bait in readiness, and for me that is a mixture of Solar’s legendary and ever reliable Club Mix, although now I use the new Chilli Club, and the equally effective Seafood Take-Away baits in 18mm and 14mm. I like to start to prep my spots in good time as they may be dirty having not been fed on and need time to clean off before I start to fish them. Going the extra mile ALWAYS pays off in carp fishing and I try to bait up without being seen, even if this means going to the lake in the early hours and in bad weather to ensure I can introduce bait without prying eyes watching. Angling etiquette is not high on many anglers’ priority these days and I don’t put in the effort I do only to turn up and find someone sat there capitalising on my hard work, or trying to!

It’s all very well me sat here telling you how to plan an autumn campaign, but what if you have very little time? Well, the answer is always the same from me and that is that observation is key. I’ve said it countless times and it never changes, and that is to go looking for a chance. I always prefer to go looking at night, full moon aside. I constantly see lads with just one overnighter a week at their disposal come flying down the lane and skid into the car park straight from work and tear off around the lake to get set up and get there night’s fishing in. Truth is, they would be far better off not rushing to the lake. Let the traffic die down and arrive after dark, have a cup of tea and a chat with the other lads if possible and have a nice leisurely walk around looking for an opportunity and drop onto an area where they see any activity.