Plan B

By : Matthias Plöger

Every Autumn I find myself being drawn to the banks of the river. Autumn is often the best time in my region in Germany to catch one of the highly sought-after river carp. Autumn at the river is simply magical. As the fog rolls over the surrounding fields, the carp are preparing for the winter, often feeding regularly in anticipation of the cold months ahead.

Before the fall of the Autumn, I often prepare spots, regularly baiting and ensuring the areas are clean and presentable. On the build-up to my first session, I often visited the lake several times per week. 

I regularly travelled over 1000km per week to and from the river ensuring that I can keep bait trickling in on my spot ready for my first session. To the delight of my flatmates, I am often regularly cooking fresh kilos of particles into my shared kitchen to keep on top of my baiting campaign. I find that pre-baiting has become an essential aspect of my success on the river. Busy work and personal lives often mean that everyday anglers just like myself cannot fish as regular as we would like. Often making the efforts to drive to the river before or after work is tiring but worth it! 

On the eve of my first planned night on the river, I spent hours lying in bed watching the clock with a burning sense of excitement and anticipation. 3 am came around and despite being exhausted from work, I decided I couldn't wait any longer. Throwing my gear into the boot of my car I was soon making my way tot he river. Arriving before first light my rods were cast to my pre-baited areas and I sat back bursting with anticipation as to what was going to happen.  Unfortunately, the session was uneventful, Not wanting to fall at the first hurdle, I set about fishing overnighters between work for 2 weeks to no avail. 

Enjoying the peace and tranquillity of fishing in the region I was left scratching my head. I knew from my previous years spent on this river that it didn't give away its prizes easily. However, it had never been quite this difficult. Whilst exploring the lower section of the specific stretch of the river, I stumbled across a lake which backed onto the banks of the river. Interestingly, after talking to a close friend which I knew had fished in the region before, he informed me that the lake I had discovered which backed onto the river contained some carp. After seeing a few of his old catch pictures from the lake I knew that I had to give the lake a try whilst the river was fishing so poor. The lake was similar to the river in many ways, quiet and free from a lot of angling pressure. This enticed me back time and time again. I needed a place where I could relax from the stress of everyday life and with the focus solely on my angling.

Enjoying the peace and nature surrounding the lake I decided to focus my efforts on the lake whilst keeping an eye on the river. Once again preparing spots with bait. I decided to focus on a section of the lake that was overgrown and extremely hard to access at first. I knew that this would be a good area for the fish to gather, as it was clear nobody had fished the area in so long. The state of the overgrown banks forced me to have to set my rods up in the water away from the marginal snags.  I prepared my spots well, using the large quantities of bait i had made fort he river.  My first planned night was once again approaching fast and I must admit that feeling was similar to the feeling I had before fishing the river.

My efforts were rewarded on within my few nights at the lake. Finally, all of the pre-baiting had resulted in success. Although, I only managed to catch two small common’s and several unbelievably large bream I was confident that I would be able to continue catching throughout the Autumn. Working during the day and fishing at night, I was regularly visiting the lake and applying bait to my spots. Finally, with a few days off from work and my university work quietening down I had the chance to spend two nights at the lake, which seemed like an eternity to me after weeks of short 12 hour overnight sessions. 
I enjoyed being able to spend the morning at the lake. Often, fishing the short overnight sessions I felt like I was leaving the lake at the prime time to catch fish. I leaned back, made myself a coffee and embraced nature as it slowly prepared for the cooler months ahead. At 10 am the first rod was away. Following a spirited battle, I soon slipped the net under the fish. I was relieved and the memory of the previous tough few weeks was a fragment of my memory. That specific day ended up being extremely successful, landing a further 5 fish. The night was quiet as usual and the next day picked up from where the previous left off, landing a further 4 fish. It became obvious that my previous efforts were pointless as the night passed once uneventful once again. I knew that I needed to adjust my spare time to be able to visit the lake during the day time. Managing to secure 2 days off during the week due to adjusting my study time and swapping a few shifts, the plan worked out. 

I got off to a good start and I had my ambition back, I started to wonder what was possible in this lake. Altering my baiting approach from particles to boilies I noticed that the fish became significantly easier to catch over a spread of boilies than they often were whilst feeding over particles. Refining my approach to bait allowed me to build up unbelievable results, catching numerous fish over a short period. One of my most memorable days saw me slip the net under 16 fish in one day with a number of these being over 20kg! Unbelievable. 

Of course, my Autumn didn't exactly go to plan. All of my efforts preparing the river resulted in several blanks. However, having a plan B is always a good idea when approaching difficult and unpredictable venues such as the river. The lake offered me some of the best fishing I have ever witnessed. Adjusting my approach allowed me to identify the best times to be at the lake. It also allowed me to identify the best baiting approach which significantly increased my success rate! The moral of all this is to always keep your options open and do not allow yourself to get blinkered in the hope of results that are extremely hard to come by. Always remember, there is always a plan B!

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