Winter carp fishing has been very poor on most waters for years, I did have one good winter a couple of years ago but that was a one off and I did put a lot of effort in. I used to like winter fishing but to do it a lot you have to have time to fish decent length sessions. My pattern of turning up at dusk and leaving before light is hard work and if the carp are not coming out it is sole destroying; there is danger of you just going through the motions, not expecting to catch. So this year I am going to spend my time on a small lake that has always produced carp in winter. The fish are not huge but it is a doubles water that is heavily stocked. The carp are superb looking mirrors and some larger commons with the outside chance of a twenty pounder.

What makes it appealing to me is that there is only a short walk from the car park to the lake and even better, there is a syndicate hut that I can use that is fully equipped with cooker and fridge, ideal for a nice meal and a few cold beers. I can even sleep in it if the weather gets too bad. Ideal for winter in fact, as up to midnight is the feeding time, so pack up then and sleep in the hut. Iím actually looking forward to it. I cannot say I have said that about winter for many years.

I also plan to get some deadbaits out and get some pike. It's been far too long since I did a lot of serious pike fishing and I know my mate Gary has withdrawal symptoms if he does not get a 20lb pike each year. As I said last week in Carp Diary, the weather has a lot to do with poor fishing and I have this feeling we have passed the worst and things are improving. I remember my first winter carp, caught I seem to remember on a cold frosty February night, a 12lb common. Despite having caught carp over 20lb in summer, by then this gold and black creature was like something sent from heaven. My first 20lb pike affected me likewise. Nothing prepares you for the size of your first big pike, they are like nothing else, except perhaps a big catfish, my first 30lb catfish took me back a bit as well! No, pike are fantastic creatures, dare I say, give me a big pike over a big carpÖ.sacrilege!

Changing theme, I was chatting to a match angler mate the other day and he was telling me about some matches he fished on these modern fisheries full of carp. He was saying how amazed he was how close the carp come to the bank and how the tactics used these days are virtually carp fishing ones. Bait up right in the edge, wait for the carp to muddy up the edge and fish virtually a freelined lump of meat or pellet, if allowed, and hey presto. Havenít we carp anglers been doing that for 50 years?!

The funny thing is that the match anglersí think they invented it. The size of these carp in these match lakes now are silly, with people catching mid 20s and big doubles to put together huge weights. The only things that suffer are the poor carp. I know on rivers when they put together big nets of barbel, they donít want to hook big fish as they take too long to play and some people purposely snap off when they hook a big fish. I can see this happening on these carp waters. My mate looses three quarters of those he hooks anyway because they are too big, or he foulhooks loads.

He has the right idea though; he prefers fishing a river or canal fishing for other species where you need angling skill to put a small net of fish together. That is why the recent World Championship on the Seine was good, hard fishing where the anglers there needed to be skilful to win, thatís why England won of course! Finally on this, we carp anglers having those carp matches are going down a rocky road of match fishing in general; if you want to do this go to Gold Valley or Willow park, donít start developing other venues, or choosing real carp waters to hold the matches on. It's all part of keeping carp fishing real. It's not just British carp, it's also preserving what carp fishing history we still have.

Thatís enough I think, get out there, enjoy the autumn, I know I will. Iíll be after the big commons in my estate lake, if I havenít caught one already!

Have fun!