Is there a better feeling than sitting by a large natural water early on a summer’s morning, as you wait for the tip to pull round with yet another bream? Unfortunately, this idyllic scenario doesn’t last all year…
As winter begins to roll in, the water cools and the fishing becomes more difficult. This doesn’t have to mean the end to the bream fishing, though. If you follow Shaun Little’s advice you can enjoy year-round success on the feeder…
It’s no secret that feeder fishing is becoming hugely popular in the UK and Europe and it seems that more people are now looking at it as a year-round option for their fishing rather than just something to do in the warmer months. The problem is that on large expanses of water, like Kingsbury Water Park where we are today, the fishing can become difficult as the water cools – 100lb bags are rare and it soon becomes apparent that it’s the anglers who work hard that get the results.
Pick Your Swim
Deciding where to fish in winter can make or break your session; obviously every venue is different so it’s hard to give a “one distance works for all” piece of advice. What I would say though, is stick to the distances that worked in the summer as the fish are used to feeding at these ranges.
On most venues in summer you’ll feed a couple of swims, one at a reasonable distance and a closer swim. I’ve found that in winter it’s rare for this closer swim to produce and I prefer to stick to my distance swim. I like to really work one swim rather than try to split my time and effort between two. I know some people won’t agree with this theory but when bites are few and far between I don’t like to come off a swim and risk missing a feeding fish turning up.
This would be different if I was targeting a venue with a good head of small fish like roach, but to keep things simple today I’m sticking to my approach when targeting decent skimmers and bream.
Fish like this make the hard work worth it.
Today I’m fishing at around 45 metres and I’ve set up one of the new 3.6m Matrix Horizon XC Class rods. This is designed for casting feeders up to 60g, which will be plenty for today – even if the wind gets up I’ll have no problem hitting the spot with this rod.
I’ve an Aquos 5000 reel loaded with braid, which helps you to spot the tiny skimmer bites in winter, but it is really important to fish with a shockleader – 8lb mono in my case – especially when fishing lighter hooks and hooklengths in cool water as it helps to reduce breakages.
On the line I’ve got a 30g medium cage feeder and this is fixed in place with a float stop either side, and below this I have a twisted loop and a quick-change swivel. The important part though, is the hooklength.
This is 0.12mm Power Micron to a size 18 SW feeder hook and the key point is the length. As a minimum in cool water I’ll use a 1m hooklength. This gives the bait a slow fall as I’m convinced a lot of the fish watch the bait fall through the water and the more natural the fall the more bites you’ll get. The other reason a long hooklength is important is down to the way I feed my swim, which I will cover next.
Shaun used the 3.6m Horizon XC Class rod to hit the 45m swim!
Change The Way You Feed
Your feeding needs to reflect the weights you expect to catch – putting in 1kg of worm and three pints of casters for a 10lb return doesn’t really add up. You can’t approach every session wanting to catch 100lb of bream, so as the water cools you really need to cut down the feed in the peg.
I’m covering the time between summer and the deepest depths of winter and if it’s freezing then you’d feed tiny amounts, possibly in a three-hole cage feeder, but in this transitional period you can still feed some bait… but groundbait.
The particles on the outside will be released on impact with the water creating a large feed area.
As I mentioned I still use a medium size feeder that actually holds a fair amount of groundbait. The mix I’m using is 80 per cent Bait-Tech Special ‘G’ and 20 per cent Karma, and this is mixed on the dry side as I want it to explode out the feeder very quickly in the shallow water and spread over a bigger area. Fishing in this way can be brilliant when used in conjunction with a long hooklength as the fish get used to seeing bait falling through the water.
One thing I must point out is how I load my loose offerings into my feeder. The conventional way is to load any loose particles into the feeder and then plug either end so the ‘feed’ is right in the centre and gets down to the bottom. As I’m looking to create a larger feed area and I want to encourage the fish to feed away from the feeder, which may spook them, I ensure that my loose offerings are just part of the plug at the end of the feeder. Loading it in this way results in the bait – a few maggots and casters in my case today – coming out on impact and fluttering down to the bottom.
Have A Little Patience
The session I’ve had today is the perfect example of how important it is to have patience and belief in your tactics. I’ve started the session casting every five minutes for the first half-hour to slowly build up the swim and then I increased it to 10-minute casts. I don’t think you need to keep bait going in all the time if you’re not getting bites, as it’s usually a sign there aren’t actually any fish there.
If I start getting bites then I’ll go back to five-minute casts and keep the bait falling through the water.
It takes an hour and 20 minutes to get my first bite, and it’s a lovely skimmer of just over 1lb. It was actually a switch to a bigger bait that rewarded me with the bite. Switching from double red maggot to two worms and a maggot saw the tip pull round just a minute after casting in. This again emphasises the point that the fish see the bait falling through the water, as the bite must have come just as the bait settled.
Now I feel there is a fish or two about I try to cast every five minutes and in the next hour I catch a further five skimmers, with the biggest over 2lb. Bites then tail right off and I feel like I’ve had my golden hour, something that will often happen at this time of year, where the fish will feed for a while before switching off or moving. This is why I feel it’s important to concentrate on just one swim as it can be too easy to miss your chance.
For the rest of the session it’s a case of really working to try to get a bite; I regularly switch hook baits and even fine down my hook size and try a single maggot but eventually I step back up to a bigger hook and bait and I’m rewarded with two more fish in a quick burst.
My last fish comes right at the end of the session when I had five quick casts five metres past where my swim was. I don’t like to do this too early in the session as it can be detrimental to the fishing, but it can be worth an extra fish or two at the end of a match.
I’ve finished the session with nine fish for around 16lb, which would be a really good weight for this time of year. I’ve kept my tactics simple and made a real effort not to feed too much bait, and this in conjunction with the long hooklength has really worked well today.
Despite the weather turning and fishing becoming increasingly difficult it’s well worth sticking with the feeder, and if you can follow some of my advice the rewards are there to be had, and the end result can be even more satisfying when the hard work pays off.
Hard earned but very satisfying.
In the latest episode of Matrix's The Practice Les heads to the stunning Patshull Park to prepare for the forthcoming Feeder Masters qualifier and a two day festival. Will he sort the best pole and feeder tactics to help him in his future matches.... Watch the full video here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5RNd1xUIPc&feature=youtu.be
Throw out the rulebook and forget everything you’ve ever read about winter carp fishing baits. Matrix man Deane Swift has been cashing in on meat in freezing temperatures! No joke. Here’s how…
Going against the grain doesn’t always pay when it comes to fishing, but Deane Swift is a man who has won many a match on his local circuit and has a particularly fearsome record on one of his local waters, Puddledock Farm in Essex, where we are for today’s shoot.
Usually, the big 100-peg snake lake is used for matches, but due to it being frozen over (an indication of just how cold it is today) Deane has sat on the Road Lake instead – a pond he is far less familiar with.
Kindly fishery owner Steve left the aerators on overnight to prevent this lake from coming to the same ice-covered fate as the big snake lake… a good job, with overnight temperatures dropping to around minus 4ºC!
For years these temperatures have commanded the use of other ‘winter’ baits like corn, maggots, bread and even pinkies… so when Deane mentioned that he’d been doing the damage with meat it had to be seen to be believed. The high-oil offering is far more associated with warmer water, from spring until late autumn, with anglers often steering clear of meat fearing that it’s not an offering readily accepted by winter carp with low metabolisms. Over to Deane…
Meat is a fantastic winter bait when used in conjunction with a straight lead approach, so why shouldn’t it work in conjunction with the pole? At the end of the day you can use finer tackle than you can generally get away with on the rod and line anyway.
In addition a pole approach gives you the option of dripping in a few cubes of meat with ultimate precision if they do want a bit of feed put their way.
I’ve fed two lines, one at 14.5 metres at an angle to my right. It’s just over four feet deep here, so I’m using a 0.3g Matrix 7 float mounted on 0.14mm main line to a 0.12mm Matrix Power Micron hooklength to a size 18 Drennan B911 barbless hook.
The lake has been dredged, so there’s a deeper channel closer to the bank – an 11m line off at an angle to my left gets me into this channel where the water is deeper. For this I’m using a very similar rig that features a 0.4g version of the same float. Both rigs are matched to orange-coloured grade 10 Matrix Stay Fresh hollow elastic
I’ve put a small Kinder-style pot on the tip of each top kit, which will allow me to feed literally four 6mm cubes of meat over the top of the float.
The Secret Edge
I am a huge believer in flavours and, for me, it has to be sweet all the way. I have done a lot of experimentation over the years, but now Sonubaits F1 is THE flavour I totally rely on.
Prepping my meat with this superb liquid flavour takes some time, but there is no wastage as I always just freeze and re-use any leftover by glugging it in a little more flavour every time I refreeze it. The meat is simply 6mm cubes of Plumrose, which I put into a bag and douse in the F1 liquid.
When you freeze the meat it seems to have a beneficial impact of drawing the flavour in, making it more permanent than if I were to simply cube some meat up on the bank and pour some flavour over the top.
Over the years sweet palatants have been a key player in the success I have enjoyed and this is now my ‘ultimate’ go-to additive. It’s brilliant!
The action intensified as the day wore on...
The Key Benefits
When it comes to meat it’s well-documented about its slow fall through the water but this fact, along with many others, contributes to why it works so well. Aside from the flavour I add, the whitish colour is, I believe, a huge factor in its success. Bread is one of the best winter baits and that’s white in colour – it’s no coincidence that hi-viz baits pay in clear water.
I fed both lines and just approached the session with a view to keeping things very, very simple. Just as you would with a bomb, you can try fishing the lines without feeding and see what unfolds, but even feeding two, three or four cubes adds to my confidence so I just pot this tiny amount in very accurately and I’m then prepared to wait for bites and indications to materialise.
The action begins with a couple of smaller brown and orange goldfish before the odd carp starts to arrive. Not knowing this lake, in particular, I was unsure what to expect, but the response proves to be very positive indeed from very early on in the session.
As the session carries on I drip feed a frugal amount of bait into each swim and the carp follow – not thick and fast, but in tricky winter conditions, I couldn’t have asked for more! The bites are very positive and both swims produce the goods with the longer 14.5m swim off to the right-hand side proving the more fruitful of the two. The rigs are shotted with strung bulks of No10 Matrix Easy Shot, which get the bait down quickly but afford a slower fall in the lower 18 inches of water where feeding fish are likely to be.
Even as the cameraman calls time on the session the bites are coming more regularly as the day winds down. The weather has been very bright, which has been fantastic for enjoying a day in the great outdoors but, as we all know, cold, bright, flat-calm conditions are some of the most tricky catch fish in.
I’m pleased with the result and it just goes to prove that going against the grain can really pay… even at times when you could really think it might not!
Puddledock Farm Fishery, St Mary’s Lane, Upminster RM14 3NX
Tel Steve on: 07788 716837
MF says: Into flavours big-time!
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