My Fishing Year...

A Beautiful winter mirror caught on a long cast.

For most people making the most of your time, is making the most of the time during the stay at the lake, but for me the thought process starts a lot earlier than that…a lot earlier…in fact by the first of January every year.
No matter what my New Years resolutions are, one thing I do without fail each year is sometime between Christmas and New Year is to plan the year ahead….Not to the n’th degree, but at least to the extent that I do have a plan to follow so that I don’t end up running round like a headless chicken diluting my efforts. You know what they say ‘A jack of all trades is often master of none’. Even anglers as talented as Terry Hearn and Dave Lane plan their fishing and target waters at the best times and if it’s good enough for them it’s surely good enough for any visitor to the Daiwa website… 
In an ideal world you could divide the calendar year into quarters, but years of experience on a variety of waters has taught me that that is a theoretical process not based in reality. For the purposes of this piece I will relate how the coming year is broken down. There are four specific periods I set aside for three waters at a different intensity.
Period 1 - January and February
Period 2 - March through to June
Period 3 - July to October
Period 4 - November and December
January and February
This is the period I really think of as my low intensity period when I am just getting back into the swing of things after the grind over the lead up to and after Christmas. Although I do fish, I really only fish when I am up for it and it does not interfere with other things I am doing. I am looking at catching fish each and every time I go so it is vital that the water I am targeting is prolific .. in fact VERY prolific.
The last thing I want to be doing at this time of year is slogging away for a bite or two over two months .. I want a bite or two every couple of hours. So I look for waters jam packed with carp and preferably not too deep and not too large. The smaller and shallower the water is and the more carp it holds the more likely my bait will be inches from a carp….Job done ! Waters like Messingham Sands, Willow Park, Oxlease and countless local farm ponds spring to mind.
The nearer to home the better as sometimes I will be fishing just for a few hours and very rarely will I do a night at this time of year. I want my string pulling every day and if that’s not happening I have got it wrong. I won’t restrict myself to just one water, and often I will fish a variety of waters with friends, competition winners and the like. All good fun and a great way to get into the groove for the spring…
March through to June
By now I will have decided what my targets are for the year and the plan will start to take place. On prolific waters the action can be silly and it can devalue your winter results so I tend to target the bigger fish waters which I can fish after work. As you probably know I do work full time and although I don’t mind the odd weekend or two in winter being used for fishing in the spring and summer months I like to keep the weekends for motor biking, F1 and Moto GP….
All my fishing will be straight from work mid week and then get up at some unearthly hour to go to work. If you think it sounds easy, it ain’t, as many who have tried it will tell you…when they pack it in after a week or two. I will now target only one water and it will have to be close enough to home to allow me to get to it and fishing by no later than 6.30 / 7 pm each session. I am not necessarily looking at huge fish but anything from mid doubles to low thirties.
A prolific bigger fish water is one for me where I have a reasonable chance of a pick up each night and a good chance that most of the fish I will catch are twenty plus. By now I am fishing a minimum of two nights a week sometimes more with the intention of getting a good number of twenties under my belt by June. Generally I will fish really hard at this time of year upping the strength of my tackle and piling the bait in.
Tactics tend to be bog standard and I am looking for multiple catches rather than isolating just one target fish. I may tend to bait one area of the lake so that I really know it like the back of my hand which occasionally costs me but usually it more than evens out. By the time the carp start spawning I want a good number of twenties under my belt and should be thinking like a carp…
July through to October
With a good number of decent fish under my belt if I haven’t had the target fish from the water I tend to stay on it or if I have I will look at targeting another water for a personal best of one kind or another. Maybe a PB Common, Linear or Leather. Maybe there is a particular fish I have seen and want to catch even though it is not a water I want to catch stacks from. For that reason I always have a second ticket for a water other than my spring one just in case I fluke the big one out from it in the spring.
This year I have Tilery and Motorway tickets so if I do catch the big common or mirror on my local water I will be off to Tilery for the big one there. Fishing for one fish or maybe a couple of the big fish is a whole different ball game to my spring approach. I will get as much information on the fish as I can as to where it gets caught and when. Feeds it favors and conditions it likes. Often I will spend more time looking than fishing and unless I feel I am in with a shout I may not even fish at all. If its been caught I certainly wont fish unless it has a history of getting caught a few times in quick succession ( like Shoulders did that I had three times in four weeks from the same spot).
I will give floaters and stalking a good go and sometimes will move swims to get onto fish. I would not write off any swim and bait when fishing would be kept to a minimum. All I want is one bite…a bite from my target fish……..
November and December
On most of the waters in my locality (that is within one hour of my house) if I haven’t had the big one by early November it will have to wait till next year. Once again I move off that water and look for a water with smaller fish (doubles to low twenties) but with a degree of certainty of action attached. Because the clocks have turned back overnighters are out of the question so I tend to fish twenty four hour sessions once a fortnight or so. Get to the water at dawn on the Saturday and fish until dinner time on Sunday. Plenty of action (but not silly) and a chance to get a stack of early winter carp under my belt before it gets difficult in mid December onwards. I am looking for relaxing fishing with a good chance of a decent amount of sleep ( yes I am getting old). Chance to fish with friends but plenty of fish
So as you can see lots of variety but lots of fun and enough to keep me at it…for longer than I dare to tell you.