Tackle Saver man Steve Shorrock does the business at this year's Natural Baits Festival held at Weston Pools Fishery!
So, that time of year has come round again and it was time for the Weston Pools Match/Pole Fishing Natural Baits Festival. Sponsored by Tri-Cast and FabTrays.
Having fished this event for the first time last year I was really looking forward to it this time around. Weston Pools is a fishery I visit regularly and already this year I have had my fair share of success at the venue, namely during the FabTray Festival in early August where I managed to finish in 2nd place overall after the five-day event. So, I know the place fairly well and was confident that should I get my tactics right I would stand a chance of a good finish this time around. Obviously, that is often easier said than done and the calibre of angler in attendance meant my work would be cut out! Regardless, my target was a top five position from the 70 anglers taking part.
This year I was keeping it very simple. My main attack was going to be maggots or caster depending on the draw which would target a bit of everything from the mixed stocking at the venue, and corn and hemp to fish short in order to target the bigger carp.
I managed to get myself in nice and early to the draw queue and pulled out 17 on Weir. This is not a bad peg by any means. But there are far better areas of the lake to be. Once I've started setting up, my neighbour for the day was Match Fishing’s Jake Fowles who arrived and sat on 18. We had a chat about the sections. The great news was that I was first in the section running from 17-6. With that, I was a lot more confident than being in with 14 & 15 especially with Welsh International Ben Roberts on 14 and Richie O'Connor on 15, both venue experts and tough to beat on any day. My main attack was going to be Casters at 13meters. Corn short and down my edges. I've started on my top kit plus one on Corn whilst I primed my shallow line. After 5 minutes I've had my first fish, 4lb mirror in the net. Not a bad start. Then two small stockies, the line then died. Not wanting to go on my shallow line too soon, I've plumbed up a new line to my right. I've sat there without a bite for 20 mins. I could see the whole lake was struggling in the first hour with only a few Carp coming out of my section. Time to try my shallow line. I'd feed this heavily for the first hour. I started off on a Jigga set at three feet which would help me to gauge what depth the fish were feeding at. First slap over and my elastics ripped out, only a small stockie, but a positive sign. The following hour has seen me have a fish every single drop in on this line, however, there were a lot of 8-12oz fishing coming out amongst the occasional big F1 up to 4lb.
Persevering on this line for the third and fourth hour while I introduced bait in my margins in the hope for a late flurry was the plan from here. I could see all my section and no one was really catching exceptionally well, and I was on one a bung. Last hour I've looked down my edge, no indications after 10 minutes so it was back up the bank with that rig and back onto my shallow line for the remainder of the end of the match.
Given the rotten hangover, I was suffering with from the night before I'd not paid my normal attention to what was going In my net. Admitting to a steady 90-100lb to Jake next door. I was confident I'd got the section win but surprised even myself when the scales came round and I weighed 152lb. Which won the lake and most importantly gave me one point. After chatting to some of the lads there seemed to be only weight above that. 154lb by Keiran Marsden. So a second in the match and Festival. Just the start I wanted.
Unlike a lot of other venues, Weston does the draw the night before for the second day of the festival, straight after the first day’s match has finished. It’s Not something I'm a massive fan of as it can ruin your evening if you draw a stinker, but the great thing with Weston is that even a bad peg on its day can through up a weight.
With the sections being Canal & Weir or Stretton & Belvedere. I was in the queue for Stretton + Belvedere. I've drawn 18 Stretton. Not a good peg if I’m honest! Looking at the sheets from Day 1 could see 18 hadn't been drawn. I really didn't fancy it with zero bait going in the peg. There were some Carp caught on peg 22 though so I could only hope for the best.
As it happens I know this peg well, having drawn it in last years event and during the August festival. There are a lot of ide in this area so my approach was much the same as day one. Caster at 11meters. Corn to my right pallet and on the black platform to my left, plus top kit plus one.
This time I took some hemp to my peg as this had worked well for some of the lads who had fished the lake the day before. My section has run from 10-18. With Andy Neil on 12 and the match being won off 14 the day before I wasn't confident on getting my second section win that was surely going to be needed. I've started short again while feeding shallow. I've had two small crucians in the first 30min. My Tackle Saver teammate David Smith was on 17 and catching ide well long. So not wanting to fall behind I've gone to my shallow line. Surprisingly I've not caught any ide like David was. I've had to wait for bites but was catching decent F1's when the float did go under, these never really came in any numbers though.
After two hours I had about 35lb. I've introduced corn and hemp to my platforms for about an hour while fishing my 11mtr line still and nicking the odd F1. Two hours to go and I felt I was about 3rd in the section. Time to look on the pallets. I've gone down to my right and straight into a carp. This snapped me, back in and into another and lost that too. I couldn't help think they were going to cost me! Back in and had a quick run of four commons and mirrors to about 3lb each before the line became iffy with missed bites and tiny indications.
Following a re-feed to my right I've managed to sneak a couple from my left-hand margin so decided that rather than plunder one line I would rotate both and focus the rest of the match on these two swims. Picking off odd fish from each. I didn't feel I'd done enough for the section. The wait for the weigh-in felt like an eternity. Watching the section get weighed it was going to be tight. With each angler in the section weighing in upwards of 80 and 90lb. The scales have arrived at my peg and my three weighs have me a total of 107lb! The section win was mine. A perfect two points and a total weight of 259-4.
The talk after the match was Kieran had managed a section win, so it would all come down to our weights. With Kieran managing 94lb from a lesser fancied peg on canal it looked like I'd won the festival. At the presentation, this was confirmed. I was 2017 Weston Pools Match/Pole Fishing Natural Baits Champion. My name alongside the likes of Andy Bennett and Joe Carass who both hold this title before me It was a very proud moment. Having put everything into my fishing this year chasing a lot of big match qualifiers unsuccessfully I felt it was finally paying off.
A massive thank you to Richie and Cagsy Parry and all at Weston Pools for a well-run festival. To TackleSaver for their support and fantastic bait for the weekend.
I’d like to dedicate the win to my Dad who I lost three months ago to Cancer. For you big-man. He put up with years of listening to me chatting nonsense about a sport he knew nothing about but was always there to listen.
Saturday, September 9th saw the final of the MAM (Match Anglers Matches) take place at Staffordshire’s Heronbrook Fisheries, an event organised and run by David Marshall and sponsored by Mosella UK.
Ninety anglers had made their way through a series of 16 qualifying rounds and were competing to win the £2,000 first prize, runners-up prizes of £1,000 for second place and £500 for third. Further to that ,every five-peg section would be worth £100. So it was all to play for.
This event has been well supported by some of the best anglers in the UK, and qualification was achieved by winning your five-peg section in one of the 16 qualifiers that were spread around the UK.
Despite the poor weather conditions on the day it turned out to be a fantastic event, with some equally impressive weights coming out around the venue’s many lakes, all of which were used for the MAM final. Matrix-backed Ben Townsend did enough to win on the day with an impressive 201lb from Peg 8 on Canal Pool. Here’s how he saw the day’s events unfold…
With a busy summer of matches I only booked on to one qualifier this year, which took place at the prolific Tunnel Barn Farm, but I had a good day and won the match, catching shallow with slop, to book my place in the final.
With Heronbrook being 140 miles away it’s not somewhere I’ve fished much; however, with the joys of social media I’d been keeping an eye on results, went with a rough plan of heavily feeding maggots on a top kit, caster shallow down the middle, hard pellets over, and the standard groundbait and maggot down the edge. I expected the latter to be a good line as it was a late-finishing match.
In all honesty I was hoping to fish my favourite bait – meat – but was told it hadn’t been working. I still cut a few tins up the night before, just in case!
Before the draw the talk was Meadow or Match were the lakes you’d want, Pegs 8 and 10 on Canal also got mentioned more than once, so I was delighted when Canal 8 stuck to my hand. A few people mentioned starting on pellets down the middle so I added this to my plan.
However, the plan didn’t wor and the first 20 minutes only saw two foul hooked, and lost, F1s. So I quickly reverted back to the original plan, reachong for my rig for fishing over, where I had two-and-a-half feet. Tapping in 4mm Spotted Fin Catalyst pellets and fishing a banded 6mm I was soon off the mark, catching F1s, but again foul hookers became a problem.
I considered fishing shallow over but as with lots of fisheries at the moment, after a long summer the far bank was very overgrown so I didn’t feel I’d be able to slap the rig, especially with the wind making things even more difficult. Feeling the fish were charging along the far bank, not really feeding, I made the decision to come back half a section into three feet. This was instantly better, I started to pick up carp as well, and was well and truly up and running.
The swim did present some issues, though; with reed beds both sides of the swim I was going through some hooklengths. Stepping up produced no bites so it was a case of just plodding along despite the fish in the peg seemingly knowing where every snag in the area was!
I’d found a lovely two feet at six sections down the right edge, so shortly after the halfway point it was time to start feeding this, and in went a big pot of groundbait, a mix of Spotted Fin Super Carp, Super Sweet and Milled Micros, plus some dead maggots.
While this settled I tried my caster shallow line. I hadn’t seen any signs so didn’t expect much but had a run of 10 F1s quickly, but then the wind changed direction and the peg went flat calm and it died. Changing depths was no good and all I could catch were roach.
A switch to my top-kit line where I had been loose feeding maggots since the start of the match again only produced silvers, and in all honesty I felt the match was slipping away from me.
A quick rethink saw me reaching into the bag for some meat, and I proceeded to feed this quite heavily on the top-kit line as well as deciding to feed a new edge line at four metres down my right-hand edge – six big pots of groundbait and some corn went straight in to try and get a response.
After two quick fish down the edge I had just fed heavily they soon spooked, so a look on the meat line was in order. Amazingly I was straight into carp, big F1s and barbel, but just like the edge I could only catch a couple before they spooked. They’re certainly on the change now going into the cooler months.
That said, I now had two lines that I was able to rotate and alternating between, and both helped me keep a steady run of fish coming.
At the weigh-in I put 201lb on the scales and knew I had a chance.
Back at the café it was close, but I’d just done enough, with three weights in the 190lb region from the fancied Meadow and Match lakes but nothing that broke the 200lb mark.
I am absolutely delighted to be the Match Anglers Matches Champion, and the £2,000 prize pot is quite handy as well!
1st Ben Townsend, Canal 8, 201-0-0
2nd Dave Childs, Meadow 12, 198-12-0
3rd Ken Oldham, Match Lake 18, 193-9-0
4th Lee Riley, Meadow 4, 190-6-0
5th Robbie Griffiths, Meadow 44, 188-4-0
As well as running a fantastic series David Marshall also aims to raise money for the children in angling, and this year the series of matches has raised £682. Well done David and all the guys who have fished and supported the MAM matches.
Keep a lookout for next year’s qualifiers on the MAM Facebook page. Tickets go on sale in January.
On Friday I attended a Cheshire Maver Club Match on Heronbrook, I drew peg 10 on Meadow, a good peg but with the wind blowing down to peg 1, and the peg being flat calm didn't fancy it too much, Spent the first 30 minutes on the feeder, didn't have a bite, had a look on my shallow line, had a couple of F1s, but then nothing, tried fishing deep shallow again you would nick a couple then they would dissappear, think the peg really needed a ripple for them to settle properly. About 3 hours into the match had about 30lb and was going nowhere, watching a few other anglers catching steady shallow. At this point in the match I decided to get my head down and fish for carp, as it was the only way I had any chance of getting back in the match.
I started feeding groundbait some big pots of EFG131 mixed with Luxus Active down the edge and fishing paste over the top, and then started catching some decent carp, the stamp of the fish were averaging about 6lb so, Spent the rest of match down the edge on corn and paste, feeding another big pot after every couple of fish, to finish the match with 15 F1s and about twenty proper carp for 155lb 8oz, which was good enough for second in match, just behind the winner who weighed in 159lb.
The combination of EFG 131 and Luxus Active worked a treat and really helped me pull the larger fish into my peg, with the natural attractors and high amount of particles, definitely worth a try if your looking at catching some big carp down the edge on the pole.
Last Saturday I decided to get booked on at Partridge Lakes for the Open, it's is probably one of the only venues in the country, where the open matches at this time of the year are sell outs most weekends. With plenty of anglers on the match, a good peg was needed to have any chance of framing, but my drawing arm let me down again, peg 66, Covey 3. Properly couldn't have drawn much worse. I knew it would be a hard day so decided to fish for everything that swims. I Nicked a couple of F1s on a top kit early on 6mm Red Jpzs, whilst feeding my caster lines, then spent most of the day catching roach, ide and the odd F1 shallow on Scopex Amino flavoured casters, as expected the fishing was hard, you would catch two fish and then would have to change depth or swims to get another bite, the caster swims had started slow down completely, so decided to have another look down the edge.
I managed to catch a couple of nice carp and had a late run of F1s on a single 6mm Jpz, feeding Marukyu's new F1 Black Groundbait, and 2mm Focus Pellets. Finished the match with 57lb 13oz, which won the section! and also second on the lake, so was well pleased, especially with such a poor draw, some days you have to make the most of a bad peg, and when the fishing is a little bit harder, I don't think you can beat the Classic JPZ pellet to get you out of trouble!
Want to improve your canal fishing? If the answer is yes then you simply cannot afford to miss this guide from Graham West and Lee Newson.
Canal anglers don’t come much more experienced than Preston Innovations’ Lee Newson and Graham West. The dynamic duo have put in thousands upon thousands of towpath hours over the years, and certainly know how to keep those fish coming.
We decided to put them on a popular stretch of the Grand Union Canal at Three Locks, near Leighton Buzzard, to see how two different approaches can yield some amazing results.
Lee’s Squatt And Punch Attack
“I am all about catching large numbers of fish. It is what I have always done since serving my apprenticeship under mark Pollard on these very venues. Mark was always exceptional at catching big bags of small fish on this 137-mile waterway, and I can safely say I learnt from the best.
“For me, I believe that getting to grips with building weights of small fish will stand you in fantastic stead for any type of fishing. Cutting your teeth as a younger angler on canals such as this teaches you so much and it certainly proved to be a great learning ground for me.
“Catching between 150 and 300 fish is what I do best and I believe it to be the safest way to put together a good weight on this canal. This sounds like an awful lot of fish, but you won’t see an angler who is appearing to rush here. Catching small fish quickly is about rhythm, not speed. Some of the best anglers at catching numbers of fish barely look like they are rushing, but they make sure they come back with a fish every time they ship back. Efficiency and smoothness are key.
“Simplicity is another big part of what I do. Everything is kept simple, from tackle to baits, but everything is done for a reason. My bait table for today consists of a pint of squatts, a handful of pinkies, a few big maggots, two pints of liquidised bread and half a bag of groundbait.
“I am going to just fish two swims today, breadpunch at five metres and a groundbait and squatt attack at about 10 metres just going up the far slope. These two areas will allow me to keep fish coming for the duration of this session.
“Starting on bread is a great way to have a strong first hour. Just one ball the size of an apple will draw plenty of fish to get your match going. It’s important to make the most of this as bread fish are often a good stamp and 2 or 3lb can be caught in no time. This is where my no-nonsense approach to rigs scores – but more of that later.”
Breadpunch usually guarantees a few early bites.
… and for his groundbait and squatts line.
Westy’s Quality Fish Approach
“Like Lee, I have grown up fishing the Grand Union and there is no doubting that the small-fish approach is a consistent way to target this venue. But, this canal is stuffed with quality fish that can be caught from almost anywhere, and nowadays I like to hedge my bets a little and try and catch a few of them.
“Big perch, bream and smaller skimmers are all very realistic targets on most pegs here, especially if you target them in the right way. It’s too easy to try fishing large hook baits and before you know it you are three hours in with hardly anything in the net.
“I much prefer to use baits and rigs that still allow me to catch smaller fish, but also give me the best chance of picking up those all-important bonus fish.
“Today I am going to fish three lines, the first of which is a groundbait and pinkie swim at 10 metres. This will be fed regularly with balls of groundbait with pinkies and the odd squatt. However, I won’t loose feed all of the time, like Lee. I will feed every now and then with a full pouch of squatts to keep the fish on the bottom. Fishing baits like single pinkie, single maggot or double squatt on the hook isn’t too selective, but just seems to single out those better fish from the shoal.
“The second swim is positioned down the inside shelf but is actually fished at 13 metres down the canal. I find this to be a great area to catch really big perch, so I feed it with chopped lobworms and a few casters and chopped maggots – a real perchy mix!
“The final swim is right across the canal, touching the boats on the far side. On some days this is the only place where you can catch, especially when the boat traffic is heavy. It is only two feet deep across to the boat but nevertheless it is often the best place to catch bream.
“This is going to be fed with small balls of groundbait laced with worms, along with some casters.“
A Flying Start
Lee is the first out of the traps and as predicted his breadpunch approach has got him off to a great start. It is noticeable how quickly and effortlessly he is catching dumpy weight-building fish, fish that many anglers would have to play and net!
No messing, no faffing around.
“I really don’t mess around on this canal. Over the years I have tried all manner of rigs and tackle, ranging from the absurdly light up to the heavy. Let me tell you that on this canal, if you are on fish then you really don’t need any super-fine tackle or light faffy rigs.
“My rigs are simply a bulk and one dropper. They feature Preston Innovations F1 Maggot floats, which aren’t exactly your standard roach float for the canal, but they are great; I dot them down into the surface film and find them easy to read. I also think shotting a float like this gives you superb presentation, as the floats sit perfectly in the skim that can affect lighter floats.
“The elastic is also beefed up. You won’t find any soft set No2s here – I use a No5 through just one section of pole. I find this soft enough not to bump fish but it also gives me the clout to swing most of the fish I hook. This is all about making the most of the sometimes short catching window. If I can catch 3lb in the opening hour (very possible, too) then it sets me up perfectly for a good match.”
In stark contrast, Westy has quite a slow start. He is picking up the odd small fish but nothing like what Lee is catching. “I would expect my swim to come on strong as the session goes on. Skimmers in particular are funny fish and can take a while to get their heads down. The same goes for big perch; they patrol these canals in numbers looking for a snack, so it can take time for them to arrive. This is where fishing a pinkie over the groundbait works as I keep catching a few small fish to keep me ticking over.”
Westy Fights Back!
“Although it isn’t a match today, there is always a competitive edge to sessions so to see Lee so far ahead is a little annoying! Fortunately my peg is starting to come good. The perch haven’t turned up yet but luckily some good skimmers have started to feed and I soon add 10 to the net. A single red maggot is proving to be their downfall, presented on a heavy 4x14 rig slightly overdepth.
Fewer but finer.
“Interestingly the far-bank swim hasn’t given up any fish yet and the lobworm swim has only thrown up a small wasp-like perch. The canal hasn’t moved much today and the boat traffic is minimal, so maybe the fish are happy sitting down the middle of the canal in the deeper water.”
Poetry In Motion
Lee switches to his groundbait and squatt swim, which has been loose fed for a good 90 minutes now, and it is absolutely solid with fish!
Specially made to fit in your hand.
“The bread really started to slow up despite a great spell on it, and my gut feeling is that the fish had backed off and were only too happy to feast on the loose-fed squatts.
“A switch to this line has got me flying again and I am also picking up the occasional skimmer too – lovely bonus fish. I only fed two balls of groundbait at the start on this line and try not to top the swim up again. Sometimes, though, a boat can be going a little too fast and really stir up that horrible silt. If that happens then I will feed another ball just to ‘reset’ the swim after such a dramatic disturbance.
“Loose feed is the key, though, and I try and keep a constant stream of squatts going through the swim to hold and attract fish. Again the simple positive rigs are all that’s required. Just like Westy, I also like to try a bigger then normal hook bait and a pinkie or single white maggot are favourites of mine.”
Against the boats is usually a reliable perch swim.
A Great Session
It has to be said that both anglers have absolutely bagged up today! Lee has caught 20lb of roach and skimmers on his simple two-pronged attack, while Westy hasn’t been far behind and, as predicted, his peg became incredibly strong in the home stretch with lots of hand-sized skimmers. He even managed a late big perch (although it was taken on a pinkie and not his ‘perch’ swim).
It was no surprise to us to see why these two anglers are such feared competitors on the canal circuit.
This is canal fishing at its absolute very best.
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Top northern angler Jamie Wilde reveals his all-time top 10 tips for rod-and-line success with carp when the water temperature plummets!
1. Go Large!
Clearly, the size of the fish matters in any match, although every carp counts and adds pounds to the final weight. Taking your time and being patient can be the difference between losing and landing a fish.
Bites can be very hard to come by during winter months so bigger fish like this can really make a difference.
2. Bait Preference
In the winter months, it is always beneficial to have an array of hook-bait choices. My four favourites, that I always ensure I take to the bank with me, are corn, meat, pellets and bread.
Not every day is the same as the last and having a variety enables me to experiment with what the fish want. Changing hook baits can lead to extra fish in the net. If it seems you are having more liners than bites you could try either popping your hook bait up off the bottom or casting shorter distances until you receive a bite.
You can also vary the size of your hook bait depending on the size of fish you are fishing for; I generally find an 8mm size piece of meat or pellet seems to work best as this will catch fish of all sizes.
3. Fill It Up
When refilling your spools it is crucial to ensure that the line is level to the lip; this then allows both efficiency and accuracy when casting. Doing this allows you to cast longer distances to find feeding fish within your peg. I always recommend using a minimum of an 8lb line when either bomb or feeding fishing for carp.
My preference is for a large model of reel – a 4000-size minimum – with plenty of cranking power.
4. The Butt Rest
This for me is one of the most important things when feeder fishing. I don’t see any reason for the rod to rest on your knee. The majority of the time carp hook themselves, therefore there’s no need to be sat waiting to strike at each bite.
Positioning it correctly, on my front box leg, enables me to be within reaching distance of my reel once a bite takes place. Using a butt rest can stabilise your rod, limiting vibrations down the line. Another benefit is that your rod cannot be pulled into the water.
5. Free Spool
Always set your drag to the right tension to save line breakages on savage bites. Having your clutch set correctly allows the perfect hook-hold and fewer hook-pulls. I like to set my clutch so that the reel spool spins when the rod is arched around in the rod rest.
When feeder fishing or bomb fishing for carp I very rarely drop below a 6lb hooklength, because I don’t believe this results in fewer bites. You need to make every fish count and using a lighter line can result in line breakages and lost fish, which in a match situation can be costly.
I like to use a 2ft hooklength – this allows the hook bait to sink slowly when the bomb or feeder is feathered in and sometimes can provoke a bite as the bait flutters to the bottom.
Always make sure you have plenty of spare hooklengths prepared as time out of the water to tie a new one can lead to missed fish. I also make sure I have different hook baits made up ready on separate hooklengths to make quick changes.
7. Go For 90 Degrees
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to positioning their rod rest. I often see some anglers with their rod almost pointing straight, facing the way they are casting; this for me is not beneficial. I believe you can’t see what activity is going on in the peg – line bites, for example.
Having your rod rest set this way can also cause line breakages, as there is no give in the rod tip. I like a 90-degree angle to my rod so that the tip cushions the bite when the rod tip goes round. Having this also gives you time to react to the bite if the fish decides to swim away.
8. Loose Feed?
Despite the weather conditions, I will always have a ‘throwaway’ line where I loose feed pellets. Some days I find that you will catch on this line and some days you won’t, but feeding in this area out of the way can give you another option to try at a later time, usually at the end of the match.
I tend to feed just four pellets every five minutes to keep the fish occupied. If you don’t catch on this line, a single hook bait cast around your peg, away from the loose-fed area will be the better option.
I always judge the size of the pellets I need to use on the size of the fish I’m targeting. Very rarely do I use a pellet below 6mm, because I find it hard to feed them accurately and in a tight group.
9. Stop Bead
Where allowed I will always use a stop bead on my feeder setup. This allows me to speed the process up when loading my feeder. I find this helps to stop the feeder sliding down to the rod tip.
Another option of using this (again where allowed) is to slide the stop bead to the back of my bomb, giving a bolt-rig effect. Doing this sets the hook on a perfect hook-hold. This also seems to help when reeling in, helping the hooklength not to spin up.
10. Through Action
I always evaluate my peg and think about the distance I have to fish, therefore I can decide which length rod to use. In most cases, I tend to use a shorter rod being either a 9ft or 10ft model.
Using a through-action rod limits the amount of hook-pulls I get throughout a match. The new Colmic Adventure Scrape range covers most aspects of commercial fishing. Having a long, stiff, landing-net pole and a big landing net is essential so you’re prepared for all sizes of fish.
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Make the most out of every peg that you draw this month with Andrew Mann’s peg planning tactics…
Have you ever fished a perfect match? I often come away from the bank knowing full well that I could have made better decisions and got a better result. More recently however, I have started to plan out my matches. I used to think that fishing was too unpredictable and wild for a strategic plan to be put in place. However, especially on commercial fisheries, implementing a plan for your session will improve your results!
Planning my session begins before I get to the bank. For example, before today’s session here on the Mickey Mouse Lake at Docklow Pools, I knew that I’d be targeting both silver fish and carp. Before even arriving, I had a plan to fish at close range for the silvers in the early part of the session, with the hope of catching some carp in the latter part down the margins.
On The Peg…
It isn’t until after drawing your peg that the detailed planning really begins. I like to place my box down on the swim that I’ve drawn, and sit down to really think about the match ahead. Sometimes, I’ll sit for up to 10 minutes considering options. Today, I’m faced with a luscious swim full of options, but to get the best from it, I need to carefully choose where I fish, when I fish there and what I fish there.
Rule Of Three
The matches when I feel like I’ve done worst are always the ones when I’ve fished too many swims and made things overcomplicated. I stick to having a maximum of three swims. I’ve found this is the right amount to give you scope to catch various species and sizes of fish, without ending up in a muddle!
The first swim that I want to choose is a banker, where I’m going to get plenty of bites and catch efficiently to build up a weight of mixed species. The chances are that I won’t be able to catch big carp all the way through the match, so this swim will be vital in keeping my weight topped up. I need to be able to feed it accurately too, which is why I’m placing this swim just five metres out, straight in front of me, at the base of the nearside shelf.
While sat on the swim thinking about my plan, I also notice that there are quite a lot of fish moving out in open water in front of me. Normally, I would think about fishing on the bottom on the long pole, most likely with pellets. In fact before arriving at the swim, I had in my head that this would be an ideal long-pole attack.
However, after seeing an odd carp cruising about and lots of quality fish topping, I’m now planning on feeding an odd cube of meat, while attempting to ‘mug’ an odd cruising carp when the opportunity comes.
I feel like the best place for me to catch a number of big fish to potentially win the match off this peg, is down the margins. I’m presented with two options for this – one to the left and one to the right. I like to pick what I think is going to be the most favourable margin. I always try and choose the side that has the most fish-pulling potential. Today for example, I have an island to my left that leaves a very narrow gap to draw fish from. The near bank is also very open, with little cover in the way of bankside vegetation. However, to my right, I’m fishing towards the main body of the lake. There are loads of reeds and shade from several big trees growing beside the lake. This is a much more favorable area to target, and I’m certain it will bring the best result.
Pinging just two or three clubs of meat is enough to keep fish hunting on the long-pole swim!
Once set up and ready to fish a match, it’s vital that you remain in control of what you are doing, and that’s where sticking to the plan really helps. Watching anglers around you can be a big advantage in certain situations. For example, if someone starts catching down the edge, it’s a sure sign that fish may be moving in to feed. However, it’s vital that you don’t get sucked into chasing fish. If the guy next door happens to catch a 10lb carp out of the blue on the pellet waggler, the last thing you should do is pick that up and try and fluke one the same. Stick to your plan and you’ll catch him up later.
My basic plan for today is to catch on the short swim for as long as possible, while pinging just on odd piece of meat on the long pole. I am going to leave the margins alone until later in the match. If I feel like there’s an opportunity to catch a cruising fish, I will, and if the short swim needs a rest, I have the option to try the longer meat swim.
Starting The Match
At the off, I’ve simply shipped out to five metres and fed five or six times by hand with around 30 casters. I’ve also pinged three cubes of meat out onto the long line four or five times. Starting on the bottom on this short swim, I’m into fish immediately. I’m feeding as often as I possibly can at the minute to try and draw in lots of fish and already I’ve started getting bites on the drop as my rig is settling. Roach, ide and an odd chub are hitting the net regularly, and picking up my shallow rig, I begin to catch even quicker.
A Welcome Boost
After around an hour, I’m confident that I’ve got close to 20lb of silver fish in the net, and action is still thick and fast. However, I have just seen a swirl where I’ve been pinging meat, so I’m making a quick move to try the swim. Baiting up with my favourite ‘banded meat’ and looking at my watch, I’m giving it just five minutes so that I don’t miss out the silver-fish action. It seems that I don’t need to worry however, because as soon as my rig hits the water, there’s a huge swirl and my elastic is dragged out! After a short-lived battle, I’ve bagged a 6lb bonus carp in just two minutes. I see this as a free ticket to have another look out on this long swim, but all the time I’m feeding casters on the short line maintaining the plan of building a weight from there. A chub around 2lb follows on the long swim, before another quick look leaves me biteless for two minutes. This is long enough to urge me to get off this swim and continue putting fish in the net on the short line.
After another good spell of catching well on the short swim, I see a mugging opportunity on the long line, as a couple of large dark shadows cruse into the swim. I have a rig assembled for flicking out to these fish with a long line between float and pole tip, with the float set just six inches deep. My bait choice for this is always meat, a visible bait that sinks incredibly slowly, maximising the chances of a fish seeing your bait. Hard pellets or corn may fall that little bit too quickly for a fish to see it and grab it as it cruises past. A deadly trick when looking to ‘mug’ fish like this is to make sure you have your mugging rig hooked-up and ready to go beside you. I actually hook my hook into my pole sock, and lay the top kit beside me so I can quickly grab it and ship out to mug a lump.
This time, it works a treat and swinging my long line out towards the front of the cruising fish I quite literally watch a lean common engulf my cube of meat, before angrily swirling off like a torpedo, straight between the tree stumps out in the middle of the lake. I manage to turn the fish by lifting the pole high – a great trick if you feel like the fish is about to bottom your elastic out. This sudden change of angle often turns the fish. It certainly works this time for me, and I’m soon shaking a 12lb Docklow common into the landing net.
Areas of scum like this are perfect target areas for mugging fish!
A Free Match Win…
Sticking to my guns, I’m straight back on the short swim and as I’ve continued feeding this throughout, it’s no surprise that the fish are still feeding well here. Having my mugging rig set up and ready to go, I manage to sneak a couple more carp over the next couple of hours, both which have come right over the swim where I’ve been pinging meat all day. I’m sure the fish weren’t keen on feeding, but the noise of an odd cube hitting the water has intrigued them. When I’ve seen them, I’ve simply dropped a bait in front of them and they’ve fallen for it.
I can’t stress enough the importance of catching these ‘free’ fish. At the end of most matches, the result is often tight and those odd fish that cruise past can quite literally be a free match win. The great thing about mugging is that it takes just a few seconds to ship-out and try for a fish. Once it has swam off or you’ve caught it, you can drop back onto the silvers swim and continue putting fish in the net.
The Finish line
With the final hour of the match approaching, I’m planning to set a margin trap to give me a final weight boost. In my opinion, the later you can leave it to feed the margins, the better it will be. I’ve often left it until there is just 50 minutes of a match remaining, and find that fish come straight to this. I’m certain that the fish have modified body clocks based around match hours, which is why they often feed later on when their guard has dropped. The later you leave the margins, the more you’ll catch there!
For today’s feature, I’m feeding this with exactly one-hour of the session remaining. Rather than potting in loads of feed, I’m feeding just half a pole pot of hemp and 6mm cubed meat – enough to draw in a couple of fish and get them competing. Whenever I feed pots and pots of bait down the edge, I seem to foul-hook and loose a lot of fish, so more recently I’ve started feeding less and had great results.
I actually feed this swim another two times before fishing there, to get the fish used to the feed going in, and create plenty of competition for the fish. After the first pot of feed I could see the water colouring up, and now after three feeds and putting a few more silver fish in the net, I’m ultra confidant of catching some there!
One At A Time…
After feeding the next handful of hemp and meat down the edge, I follow this in with my rig baited with a single cube of meat. It’s vital that you pay attention to where you feed when fishing the margins in this way. You are only feeding a small area of bait, so you need to be fishing right over the top of it. Pick a marker, and ensure your top kit and cupping kit are exactly the same length! Quite literally seconds after lowering in my rig, my elastic is dragged out – proof the feeding tactic was right.
After landing a 5lb mirror, I re-feed with the same handful of bait, follow this is with my rig, and I’m immediately into another fish. This way of resetting the margin swim after each fish is devastating in the latter stages of a match, which is proved when I put a run of eight carp together to finish the day. Had I fed the swim earlier, or introduced too much bait, I’m certain I wouldn’t have caught this many.
Although I’ve caught really well, I’ve kept feeding the short swim. On some days, you can drop in down the margins and catch a couple of quick fish before they spook and bites stop. If you can quickly drop back in on the short swim and continue putting fish in the net, it makes the margin fish a real bonus. However, if you continue to sit down the edge catching nothing, you may actually end up catching a lower weight than you would do if you had continued to fish and catch in open water.
As you can see from the catch shot, having a clear plan has helped me put together this stunning net of fish today. By basing my day around putting fish in the net on the short swim, talking any free big-fish opportunities during the day, and attacking the margins late, I’ve ended with well over that magical 100lb mark. Plan your match carefully, stick to the plan, and those brown envelopes are sure to find their way into your pocket.
Name: Andrew Mann
Pole: Daiwa Tournament
Name: Docklow Pools Fishery
Location: Docklow, Leominster HR6 0RU
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International Match Fishing: Ireland Explored…
Irish feeder international, and two-times World Pairs Champion Phil Jackson demonstrates one of the most demanding but exciting methods of feeder fishing.
If I can’t get a bite when fishing in Ireland, I often put on a heavier hooklength and bigger hook. The fish in Irish waters are the wildest you’ll ever find, and migrate through huge systems of rivers and loughs. They don’t know what a hook or line is, and after a lifetime of fishing for them I’ve learnt that they don’t care either. In fact, the reason for scaling up rather than down is because changing to a bigger, more visible bait will often catch the attention of a fish.
Today, you join me on a lough in County Monaghan, where I want to demonstrate some aggressive feeder fishing tactics that have won me many big events here in Ireland. I’m lucky enough to be a good friend and travelling partner of Cathal Hughes, and fishing positively with strong tackle on the feeder at long range is a tactic we’ve had a lot of success on in the World Pairs events we have won.
The first thing to decide when facing a huge Irish lough is how far out to fish. One thing that you will notice about most Irish venues is that they are very clear. This often leads to the bigger fish backing off into depths where they feel safe. For this reason fishing at long range on the feeder is a very effective tactic.
Daiwa TDR reels stand up to the rigours of Irish feeder fishing with braid and heavy feeders
However, anglers are often put off by the thought of using such tactics. I absolutely love it, though, and with just a small amount of the right tackle it really is easy!
Today, we’ve arrived at the lough and it’s flat calm. I haven’t seen a single fish top anywhere, which tells me a long-range attack could be the order of the day. Often, if fish are closer in in the shallower water, you will see them topping there. Today, I’ve clipped up at 60 turns, to begin with.
How To Count Turns
When I use the term ‘clipped up at 60 turns’, I mean that when I cast out and hit the clip, it takes 60 full turns of the handle to wind the feeder back to the rod tip. This is a great way of gauging distance. If you need to setup several rods to fish over the same swim, you can clip them all up at the same number of turns so that you’re fishing in the same place. This is providing that you use the same reel on each rod.
Once hooked a floating maggot sinks slowly and helps fool bigger fish like these hybrids
Rod And Reel Requirements
There is no hiding from the fact that you do need some specialist gear to do this kind of fishing. However, the tackle doesn’t have to be expensive, and it’s available to everyone.
On the rod front, I use 12ft or 13ft heavy feeder rods. My personal choices are Daiwa Tournaments. These are very powerful, and due to the backbone in them, allow me to cast very straight and accurately at long distances. They’re expensive but I do this kind of fishing most weeks, so I’m happy to spend the money on the right rods. Where possible I use the 12ft versions, for fishing in calmer conditions or distances up to 70 turns. Sometimes, however, you have to venture even further, and need that extra leverage to punch out a feeder to distances of 80, 90 and even 100 turns.
On the reel front, I use a Daiwa TDR ???. this gives me amazing amounts of winding power, and I can crank in big, heavy feeders without the reel straining or wearing out.
Braid And Shockleader
You cannot do this sort of fishing without using braid as your reel line. Braid is incredibly thin in diameter, super-strong and has zero stretch. These assets of the material mean that you can cast long distances with it, rely on its strength and durability to cast and wind in heavy feeders and fish, and have ultimate bite detection at long range thanks to zero stretch.
When fishing for species like roach and skimmers, the bites are often rattles and taps on the tip, and you need to pick up and hit them. Braid allows you to do this, but if you were to use mono, you probably wouldn’t even see them in the first place. You don’t need to strike hard – firmly lifting the rod off the rest to the side is enough to hook them.
I always use a shockleader when using braid. This is very important as it offers some stretch and strength when casting, and also when playing fish. When I have my feeder in my left hand and my rod in my right hand, my shockleader runs from my feeder, up to the rod tip, then back down and around the reel four or five turns. This length of line takes all the strain and demands of fishing this method.
The line that I use for the shockleader is 8lb Daiwa Hyper Sensor. To tie it on, I use a loop and a blood knot. I simply tie a small loop in my braid, and then tie the line to this loop using a blood knot, as shown in the diagram.
Sinking The Braid
One of the most difficult things about fishing with braid is that it doesn’t sink very well – it naturally wants to float, especially when it’s new. The braid that I use is nearly two years old and the more you use it, the better it sinks. I like to get the braid wet at the start of a session by launching a bomb into oblivion, and getting it all sunk in the water.
However, your bites often come as the hook bait settles, and when this happens you need to get the braid sunk as soon as possible. I do this by giving the rod a quick tug back and half a turn on the reel at the same time as the feeder is falling. Once the feeder settles, place the rod on the rest and hold the tip under the water, slowly tightening up to this without moving the feeder.
I use two kinds of feeder for long-distance work. The first is a cage that is weighted at the base with a weight going all the way around the bottom of the feeder, made by Kevin Leach. I use these when I want to release bait quite quickly, sometimes when the feeder is still falling.
This is a great way of pulling fish into the swim to begin with. Creating a little bit of cloud with particles falling through the water is a great way to draw in fish in these large expanses of water.
When there are hundreds of fish swimming around off the bottom, the chances of them being attracted to a feeder quickly falling to the bottom is slim. However, if you suddenly have a big cloud of feed fizzing in the water column, fish will home in on this from a long way off, following it to the bottom to feed. If you were targeting these venues and fish on a pole, you’d probably feed some soft balls of groundbait to draw in fish to begin with. That’s exactly what I like to try and do on the feeder too.
The other feeders that I use are known as window or bullet feeders. These are very much like a maggot feeder, and have a solid weight at their base. This makes them very aerodynamic, and you can cast long distances with ease. Another advantage to these feeders is that you can fill them full of particles, such as casters, chopped worms and hemp. There are days when the fish really home in on particles, and when the fishing is good you can hold them in the swim better by using these feeders filled with particle baits.
Window feeders allow you to cram in lots of particles with just a tiny plug of groundbait
To keep the particles in them, you simply plug the little window opening with some groundbait.
Adopting the right casting techniques is vital when fishing long distances on the feeder. You can have all the right gear, but without the correct technique you won’t be able to hit the spot.
It’s worth saying at this point that I am right-handed. The first thing that I do is pick a far-bank marker. Today I’m choosing a tree on the shoreline opposite. I always stand up to cast, and leave a drop between the rod tip and feeder of around 1.25 metres.
The key to hitting distance is to compress the rod as much as you can, giving it maximum elastic energy at the point the feeder is released. This is transformed into kinetic energy when you release the feeder, powerfully and smoothly punching it out.
Jacko’s Casting Steps:
Always stand up when casting long distances.
Make sure you have a drop between the rod tip and feeder of around 1.25 metres.
Hold the rod and reel in your right hand, and push this out away from you towards the lake.
You can now grab the bottom of the butt of the rod with your left hand.
Lift the rod and smoothly bring the feeder behind you – it’s vital this is a smooth movement.
As the feeder comes behind you, you’ll feel the weight of it tighten up on the rod as it drops behind.
At this point, you need to get a feel of when the feeder is nearly at the maximum point behind you. When you feel this push the feeder smoothly but powerfully forward with your right arm, and pull down hard on the rod butt with the left. All the time you’re doing this you need to be looking at and aiming for your marker.
You need to work out the right point of release to let go of the line. Ideally you need the perfect amount of power and height so that the feeder firmly hits the clip and lands with everything very tight to the rod.
To help keep everything tight, I always cast with much more power than I need, and then lift the rod up and over my left shoulder. The feeder will hit the clip at this point, and almost pull the rod forward, cushioning the feeder into the water, with everything as tight as possible.
This prevents a big bow developing, especially on windy days. You can then get the braid sunk as quickly as possible.
When you bring the feeder behind you to cast, make sure you keep looking at your marker, and don’t glance away to look behind you. This will keep you on target.
Jacko’s Feeder Rigs
I always set up two feeder rigs when fishing at distance. One is a fixed paternoster, and the other is a free-running paternoster. I don’t think that any rig gets you any more bites, but on certain days you seem to hit more bites on certain rigs. I really haven’t got a clue why, but today has been a typical example of this.
When I started getting bites I was using the fixed rig, and I was missing one in every three or four. However, switching to my free-running rig, I started to hit nearly every one. It’s a bit of a mystery, but the lesson that I’ve learnt is to always have both assembled.
I feared the worst this morning, with calm conditions after a cold night. Starting the session fishing at 60 turns, I went a whole hour without a single bite. Despite trying all the little tricks in the book, I simply couldn’t get a bite.
My next port of call was to venture even further out. Picking up my 13ft rod, I removed the clip at 60 turns, and cast around 15 metres further, before clipping up there. Counting the turns back, it was 74 turns. I decided to have three quick casts here with a large 40g cage, and gave the rod and reel a quick pump and wind after the feeder had been sinking for six seconds. It took around a count of 12 for it to hit the bottom, so by twitching it here I would release the bait from the feeder well off the bottom to hopefully draw in some fish.
Switching to a bullet window feeder with just a few casters plugged with groundbait, and two floating red maggots on the hook, I got a fast dig on the tip. Firmly picking up I was into the first fish! It just goes to show that even when fishing a distance, going further out can make a difference. The first fish, a roach around 8oz, soon came to the net.
I soon settled into a great run of these fish, with some Irish hybrids also making an appearance. Most of the bites came as the hook bait was settling, and baiting up with two floating maggots definitely helped. These sink slowly with the weight of the hook, maximising the chances of a fish taking the bait at this vital stage.
A great way of enticing bites on the feeder is to actually move the feeder and hook bait. Where the feeder lands on the bottom, most of the bait will be released in a small pile. If you don’t get a bite as the bait settles, twitch the feeder back around two to three feet, so that your hook bait is coming back into this pile of feed. Often, a fish will grab the hook bait as it’s moving and virtually hook themselves, so be ready to pick up and wind them in!
I’ve ended today’s session with around 20lb of roach and hybrids in just a couple of hours. It took a while to get the first bite, and I had to venture out even further than where I first started. However, with the right kit and a few little tricks up my sleeve, I’ve ended up with a lovely net of fish on one of my favourite methods.
Don’t let a long-distance feeder attack scare you - match-winning rewards are there for the taking!
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Thursday- 15th June
Rover Match - Canal Peg 12
I Couldn't fit the tackle in the car, only managed to put in some rigs and essential bits, fished using my mums tackle. With over a hundred anglers on the Match drew 28th, with all the best pegs on Twin Oaks gone, I decided to have a go for a few F1s on Canal peg 12, Had a quick walk round the lake before the draw and the wind looked spot on, started across at 16m on banded focus pellet whilst feeding casters at 9m, caught a few across but it was too slow. Switched to my shallow line on banded caster and bagged up shallow, had to keep changing depths to keep them coming. Throughout the day the peg started to fade, come the last 20 minutes I could get a bite shallow, so had a look down the edge and had a nice big mirror and one massive F1, when the scales came, I thought I had about 150lb, in my four nets, but ended up weighing 171lb, with the match being across the entire complex I didn't know if it was enough, quickly headed down for the presentation and was absolutely buzzing when I found out it won the match! with 111lb 12oz coming second, It was a great start to the week winning an invitation to the Preston Innovations festival, winners week, a free holiday, a few quid, a new pole roller and a nice shiny trophy
***Top Tip, when fishing casters give them a couple of sprays of Amino Scopex before tipping them into water, and also add a few sprays into the water I normally work on 10 sprays for a pint of water ***
Thursday - 22nd June
Rover Match - Peg 24 Twin Oaks
Thursday was my third and final match, of my trip to White Acres, Again it was the Rover match, I was hoping for an early draw but ending up pulling out 48 out 50 anglers. Alot of Lakes were being used in the festival including canal the lake I won from the previous week. After standing there watching all the flyers getting picked, I opted for 24 Twins Oaks, the back lake of Twin Oaks holds a good head of F1s, so decided to get a few pints of casters and fish for F1s instead of carp. Started the match on the hybrid feeder, loaded with 2mm Focus Pellets and Marukyu Black Fishmeal groundbait, it didn't take long for my first fish, a decent 3lb F1, managed to a few more F1s in the next 30 minutes, but felt like it wasn't quite right. Decided to have a look at my 9m caster line shallow, fishing banded caster. My first 7 fish were all small perch, but I stuck with it, after 25 minutes hooked my first F1, again a good fish about 3lb. The next few hours I caught steady on the my shallow line, I could only see the odd carp getting caught so was happy putting decent F1s in the net. Like my first match on Canal the F1s were changing depths, anything from 12 inches to 2.5ft. Going into the last hour my shallow line was fading quickly. The last 45 minutes I really struggled to get a bite, so decided to fish 14.5m shallow and also have a go on the feeder again, to see if they had backed off but didn't have a bite. I Decided to fish on the deck on banded pellet underneath my shallow line, fouled hooked and lost 4 F1s on the run, it was clear the fish were still there at mid depth but had just stopped feeding, I stopped feeding completely and manage to catch another 3 F1s on the deck. With only catching 6 fish in the last hour I feared that my weight wasn't to be enough.
The scales came round and my dad was the best weight with 80 odd pound, my four nets went 145lb 8oz,
Luckily my weight was enough to win the match again!
England ace Matt Derry explains the setup and feed required for a session on the slider float.
Words and photos: Steve Martin
It’s pretty much nailed on that when it comes to fishing matches on large, deep-water lakes, most anglers will make a grab for their feeder rods. The types of venues that come into this category would be gravel pits and natural lakes, where many of them are controlled by angling clubs and are not seen as commercials.
The fish stocks in the lakes would also vary differently, as the main quarry would mostly be roach, perch, skimmers, bigger bream and possibly tench. Any carp that lurked in the depths would more than likely be big, old fish so again, unlike a commercial, it’s the one species that’s rarely going to be caught when there are 20-plus anglers on the water.
You will certainly catch on the feeder on the venues, but often the bites are at a premium, and yes, when a fish takes the bait, it’s likely to be a good size. However, the wait for one big fish, say a bream, means that you could have missed out on catching a similar weight to that fish, or even better, in the same time, if you had targeted the smaller species instead.
You could also catch those fish on the feeder, but it’s not the most sensitive of methods, and often you will miss bites altogether and end up with a ragged hook bait, which decreases the chance of catching.
That’s where fishing the slider comes into play. It’s not a popular tactic and it’s often given a wide berth, by club anglers especially. However, with a little practice, and patience, it’s an exciting way to catch fish, as you are not sitting twiddling your thumbs, waiting for a bite, as you are with a feeder.
Kamasan Startlets’ Matt Derry loves fishing the slider. It’s a method that he’s had to perfect in recent years, as he is a member of the Drennan Team England squad for the European Championship in July, and as it’s float only it’s the tactic needed when fishing beyond the pole line. We joined Matt at Kingswood Lake near Cannock, which is controlled by Blackfords Progressive Angling Society, where the water is 19 feet in places, making it the ideal venue to demonstrate the art of slider fishing.
A quick look at Matt’s gear revealed he would be fishing with a 13ft rod and a reel loaded with 0.22mm Daiwa ST line. He explained that the line needs to be a higher diameter as it has to take the punishment of casting 15g plus. It clear to see why, as the floats that Matt uses are nothing like your traditional waggler, or pellet waggler, even.
The float he selected had a bulbous, loaded base – rated at 3g + 12g, a very slim stem and a slightly wider bristle. The 3g was the actual loading of the float, and the + 12g was the additional weight needed to correctly cock it. The profile of the float was designed to give it great stability in the water, but at the same time be incredibly sensitive when a fish takes the bait.
To set the rig up, Matt first pinched a No4 around three feet up the line. He then threaded on a microbead followed by the float, which had its eye slightly crushed. He had done this to ensure that the float is stopped by the bead, as often the big eye can slip over the stop.
Crush the eye at the base of the waggler to ensure it doesn't slip over the bead.
The micro swivel and No4 shot act as the 'dropper' above the hook link.
Mark the depth of the stop knot on the rod, the same as you would on your top kit.
Next, he threaded on a 10g Drennan inline olivette and then tied on a micro swivel, before he pinched on three AAA shot above this, which he explained would be just about the right loading, but it might need a little tweaking. A quick cast out into the deeper water confirmed the weight was okay, with the bristle sitting half an inch out of the water.
So just how do you go about plumbing up a slider? Matt pointed out that it was actually quite simple. First, he tied a stop knot onto the line, above the bead, using a length of his reel line. He commented that it’s important to use the same line, as a different mono could easily slip or, worse still, damage it, and to make sure you leave tags of about three inches so that the knot goes through the rod’s eyes smoothly.
He then removed the No4 shot above the bead and placed it above the other shot, then carefully pushed the stop knot up the reel line to what he believed to be about the right depth. As a plummet, he added an SSG above the other shot.
Having picked out a far-bank marker, Matt then spent a short time casting and adjusting the position of the stop knot until the float settled at the correct depth. He explained that when casting a slider, once the bulk hit the deck he would wind back four or five turns, and then open the reel’s bail arm and allow line to spool off until the float broke the surface, with just some of the bristle showing. Once he was happy with the depth, Matt then held the bulk against the reel’s bail arm and marked where the stop knot was by making a mark on his rod. He would then use this mark when adjusting the depth, so he could gauge how far overdepth he was fishing.
Allow line to spool off the reel, so that the float resurfaces directly above the feed.
He then removed the extra SGG and slid the olivette and 3AAA up the line – leaving the No4 shot (the dropper) above the swivel. Where the main bulk was set was important, so as to avoid tangles on the cast. Matt did this by next attaching his 12in hook link – a size 18 Kamasan B911 F1, tied to 0.12mm mono – to the swivel, and then holding it parallel against the reel line above the swivel, he moved the bulk up the line, so that when the float hung down, there was a 2in gap between the bristle and hook.
With the rig now sorted, Matt explained how to fish with it. Once you’ve cast out, you need to sink the line and wind back a few turns. Then, as when plumbing up, you open the bail arm to allow the float to slide up to the surface. When the float rises, most of the stem will become visible and then, as the dropper settles it will sink until only the bristle is sticking up. Bites will then be either the tip being pulled under or a lift bite. Which indication will be governed by how much overdepth the rig is being fished. A few inches and the tip will disappear. Eight inches or more and the float is more likely to lift, as the dropper comes more into play.
Feeding, when fishing the slider, is not dissimilar to loose feeding, but instead of firing out a few maggots and casters, it’s small nuggets of groundbait instead. Matt’s recipe for the session was 25 per cent each of Sensas Canal Black and Gros Gardons, plus 50 percent of Terre de Somme. This created a heavy mix, which he had overwetted to make it bind better and sink quickly. The natural leam also created an attractive cloud in the water. A few casters and dead red maggots were also added to keep the fish-focused when they moved in on the feed. Matt added that he would feed six to eight nuggets at the start of the session, and then feed after every cast.
The water at 30 or so yards out, where Matt had plumbed up, was around 15 feet deep, and there was a tinge of colour, so bearing in mind the bright, clear conditions it was an ideal depth to tempt a few silvers, and hopefully some of the venue’s bigger bream.
There was a little breeze on the water too, which wouldn’t affect the tow too much, but if the wind got up and the water started to pull Matt would fish as much as a hooklength overdepth, with the dropper resting on the bottom.
The session was kicked off with eight nuggets of feed, and he made his first cast with double pinkies on the hook, and the rig set to fish two inches overdepth. He quickly started to get indications, and after two occurrences of trashed hook baits, he picked up a small roach. More small silvers followed, and no matter what the size, Matt fed after every cast, as this would slowly build the feed in the swim. In theory, a small nugget of feed hitting the water made the same noise, as if it had been a feeder, and it’s known that fish will investigate noise, so it has the same effect.
Matt caught a small hybrid and skimmer, as well as the small roach, but the action was a little slow. He had also missed a few lift bites, which he concluded was due to the fish feeling the dropper before taking the bait confidently. To counter this, he played around with the amount of line on the deck, until the bites became more positive.
The next hour also saw him play around with hook baits – double pinkies, double red maggots, double dead reds and a pinkie/maggots cocktail – which resulted in some bigger silvers and a small perch. Double pinkie seemed to bring the best response. To try and get the bream interested, he added some chopped worms to his feed. The move worked, as after half-a-dozen more roach, he netted a bigger skimmer and a decent perch.
The conditions had changed too. The wind had almost dropped and the water looked like a sheet of glass. Not ideal, but at least it was a little easier to see the float, as while the breeze was on the water, the changes in light made it difficult for Matt to see, due to the glare. Thank goodness for polarised glasses!
Matt would take catching silvers on the slider over watching a static feeder tip any day!
The action did slow down in the latter part of the session but the fish, when they came, were of a better stamp, plus Matt picked up the best fish of the day – a big skimmer. His 12lb-plus catch was possibly a little less than he had hoped, as the venue’s bream failed to feed, but it’s a weight that, on a day when the fishing was more than a little challenging, could be have been enough to frame. You would also have to ask whether he would he have caught so many smaller silvers on the feeder. Now that’s something to ponder…
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Modern-day commercials are full of fish, but in match conditions, it can be anything but easy to catch them as soon as those nets go in. Des Shipp explains how to maximise your results.
Such is the angling pressure on modern waters, particularly the more heavily fished ones, that the stocks seem to have wised up to sloppy approaches and mundane feeding tactics.
That’s not to say that these fish can’t be caught. Some days they give themselves up far easier, but when the weather conditions are cooler, or overnight temperatures drop, they can be anything but ‘easy’.
I’ve brought the Match Fishing cameras to Ivy House Lakes today, in Wiltshire. It’s a place I have some knowledge of, having fished here a little. One of the recent matches was tough going, but a thoughtful approach to tactics and feeding kept me in touch with the fish on what could have otherwise been a very bleak day – no pun intended.
Many on the match struggled, such were the conditions, so I kept things lighter on the rig front in anticipation of a tougher match.
Having drawn in a corner on the day I thought a long margin line, slightly into the deeper water down the shelf, would be key. It proved to be, so that’s the area I’ll concentrate on explaining in most depth for this feature.
I fed several lines on the day, as I have also done today; the other main one of note being an open-water swim straight in front of me at 14.5 metres.
The rig for this is made using a 0.4g Preston PB Inter 2 on 0.13mm Reflo Power to a 0.11mm hooklength. A strung bulk completes the rig along with a size 16 Preston PR 434.
The rig for fishing towards the margin, in around three and a half feet of water, is a 4x14 Preston PB Inter 8 mounted on the same line and using the same hook. The shotting pattern is taken care of with strung-out No10s to allow a slow fall of the expander pellet hook bait. It’s all about lifting and dropping the relatively light rig and allowing the hook bait to ‘work’ for you as naturally as possible.
Now, this is the key area to success really. I have plumbed two lines across to the right-hand margin, one at 14.5 metres and one at 16 metres, but both the same distance away from the bank so I can use the same rig in two swims.
What I found on the match was that the fish were hanging off the back of the feed. So, I only pot bait in at 14.5 metres and intend to fish on that line to catch ‘mug’ fish, but fish past it at 16 metres when they back off.
Loose feeding is a key part of the strategy, with the aim being to loose feed bait over and just past the 14.5m line. That way I can always work the rig on the 16m line, which will be at the far extreme of the feed area where the ‘crafty’ carp hold back and venture onto the edge of the feed.
These fish have become wise to piles of bait and, as such, hang back with caution. Therefore a few pellets ‘flirted’ over the area with a rig offering a slow fall of the hook bait is THE key way to approach them.
The open-water swim is a key go-to area while you build the margin line as it’s important not to exploit the margin until fish, hopefully, carp, have built in confidence feeding there.
Bites on the margin line are often delicate too, hence I dot my float right down to maximise the rig sensitivity.
Des targeted the skimmers while he built up the margin line.
The open-water line on today’s session proves important for catching the resident skimmers – something that’s crucial on trickier days to help you to keep putting weight in the net while you build your other lines.
I want to briefly cover why I have not put my margin rigs right up against the bank in the shallowest water. This is simply because the fish aren’t wanting to feed there confidently at the time of shooting this feature, so coming away into three feet or so where the water is deeper is a more logical place. Don’t always assume these fish want to be right up in the ‘rat holes’. On many days you will reap better rewards by targeting them where I am today. Plus, it’s all too easy to get distracted by waving tails when you’re fishing in very shallow water – you won’t have this problem in three feet. This also has a knock-on with your feeding: when you can’t see the fish it’s less easy to get carried away with piling too much feed in and destroying your swims.
Des potted in pellets...
After two hours of nurture and with half a dozen good skimmers in the net it’s time for a look up the long margin swims. I have been potting modest amounts of bait on the 14.5m line, consisting of micro pellets and softened expander pellets (the same as I will be using on the hook).
... and pinged a few over the top.
I have regularly been loose feeding softened 4mm pellets over the top too, in frugal quantities to create some noise and keep that all-important bait going through the water column.
My swim-building is rewarded by a small but perfectly formed carp, but the next drop-in reveals no bites, liners or indications. Now the extension goes up the back of my Preston M90 pole to get the rig to the far extremes of the feed area at 16 metres.
The light proves tricky and the reflection on the water from the still bare surrounding trees is doing little to help.
The same rig was used at 14.5 and 16 metres.
The approach is a success, though. The float dips sharply and wham, another carp is stripping my 11H elastic from the pole as it makes its getaway.
Working the swim in this way is exactly the right thing to do. Now it’s a case of try and repeat.
By that I mean try the 14.5m line again and if no bites occur then I pot a modest amount of feed in (see image) and continue to loose feed just six to 10 softened 4mm feed pellets over the top between the 14.5m and 16m lines without feeding past where the rig will be when presented at 16 metres.
This approach has helped me to secure many a match win either in trickier conditions, or when fishing heavily pressured fish, or both.
Small but perfectly formed
I’ve ended the session with several carp and a handsome net of fine skimmers. These skimmers are so important to build weight elsewhere (usually in open water) while you nurture other swims. I haven’t truly exploited these silvers today as the nature of the shoot was to demonstrate the margin approach first and foremost. However, with my considered approach, you will be conquering crafty commercial-water carp in no time!
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Amer Jawad gets his commercial head on to catch a weight from a busy canal.
Words and photos: Steve Martin
Late spring is the time of the year when the UK’s canals come to life, as the cold, clear cut becomes coloured once the boats venture out from their winter moorings. The increase in traffic can often dissuade some anglers from entering matches on the venues, as on some days your hook bait can spend more time out of the water than in, and the frequent wash from the boats means that you have to keep re-feeding in an effort to focus and catch the fish down the middle, and slightly up the far shelf.
Don't fish too close to the feature, to avoid snags, and find a good depth
It all sounds rather negative, but that’s exactly Amer Jawad’s mind-set, as he has discovered a tactic to catch quality fish based on a method you would usually use on a commercial fishery.
“Once the water becomes coloured, many anglers will look to fish maggots, pinkies, and even squatts over a bed of groundbait, and that works when the boat traffic is minimal,” Amer pointed out, as he plumped up the first of his rigs for his session on the Grand Union Canal at Leighton Buzzard.
“When there are a lot of boats, especially on the weekends, fishing the channel is often a complete non-starter, but there will still be plenty of fish patrolling the far bank,” he added. “It’s just a case of getting the bait and feed right, and it’s now the time of the year when chopped worms and casters start to come into the equation.
Worms are the main attractor in Amer's Toss Pot feed.
Two finely chopped dendras will give off plenty of juice
A few casters are also added - big canal fish love 'em
A plug of groundbait helps to create a concentrated nugget of feed
“However, those fish on the far side don’t show up in shoals, so it’s a waste of time dumping a load of feed at the start and then thinking that the fish will arrive. All you would be doing is feeding the fish off before they get close to your hook bait.
“My solution is to feed and fish for a bite, much as you would do when fishing a commercial at this time of the year. The big advantage of feeding mainly chopped worms every time is that they give off amino acids into the coloured water, which creates a flavour trail that will pull the fish towards the bait.”
Those comments about commercial tactics are backed up by the type of float Amer had set on his rig, as the 4x12 Mick Wilkinson Carbon Slim Hollow would certainly look more at home on a carp-bagging water. The float was set on 0.11mm main line, to which he had attached a 6in 0.10mm hook link with a size 16 Kamasan B560 hook. The rig was then shotted with all the bulk – six No11s, plus three No12 half-Styls – all set 10 inches above the hook. The rig was slightly undershotted to take into account the weight of the worm hook bait that Amer planned to use. With skimmers being his main target, he would fish two inches overdepth, and push the hook bait up the shelf so that it rested on or close to the feed.
“I’ve pointed out that I plan to feed for each fish, and to do this I’m going to feed with a Toss Pot from the off, loaded with two finely chopped dendrabaenas, plus three or four casters, which I will plug will a pinch of groundbait,” he continued. “I expect bites to be at a premium, and want to catch what’s there, so feeding a bigger pot would kill the line stone dead.”
Amer also pointed out, as he plumbed up his second rig – identical to the first, except the hook size was an 18 – that it’s key to explore the far-bank features, as every peg will offer a different challenge.
“Often there will be reeds or brambles, and you need to fish as close as possible to them, but to intercept the fish as they pass I suggest that you look for a little depth – about 24 inches,” he explained. “I have a tree in front of me, and there is a good depth around two feet off the bank. However, I’ll have to be mindful that there is a snag to the right – possibly roots – so I’ll have to draw the fish away to the left quickly, to avoid getting snarled up. I hope the No5 solid elastic will cope with that!”
The boat traffic had already started to increase, as Amer switched his attention to the groundbait he planned to use. It was a dark mix made up of 75 per cent World Cup Competition and 25 per cent of the Wonder Black mix from Belgium-based brand Champion Feed. This was mixed so that it was slightly overwet, as he wanted the feed to carry the worms and casters down to the deck quickly.
“The water is already bouncing due to the boats using the locks, so I need the feed to sink and settle quickly or it could be washed away from the swim, and the fish with it,” he explained. “I will only feed when the water becomes still, so I have to get it right every time.
“Ten to 12lb will be a good weight, so I would be looking to catch 1lb-plus every hour, which is why it’s key that I get the feeding right and try not to force the peg. You really need to have patience if you want to catch the bigger fish.”
To start the session, Amer nipped a 1in worm head on the hook – a bait that, he explained, stood out so that it was the only option for a fish when it moved in – and shipped out with his Toss Pot loaded with a nugget of feed, but as the canal was towing he dropped the rig in without feeding. It wasn’t until the water had almost stopped moving that he finally tipped the feed in. Soon after, the water started to pull again and Amer struggled to keep his light rig over the feed with the flow akin to a river due to the activity of the locks. However, once the water calmed down, he was able to keep the bait over the feed, and 15 minutes in he connected with a small skimmer.
He re-fed again on the next put-in, but moments later another boat appeared and it was likely that the draw on the water as it passed would have pulled the feed away, so he fed again once the flow had decreased. Again, it was a waiting game, but when Amer was able to hold the hook bait steady over the feed for a period of time, he got a bite. It was small skimmers, tiny perch and gudgeon at first – how do those small species manage to swallow a big worm head? However, about an hour in he connected with his first big fish – a bream of around 3lb. Before he shipped out again, he explained the merits of fishing with a fresh hook bait every put-in.
“Like the chopped worms that I add every time, a new worm head will leach out amino acids, which adds to its attraction,” he explained. “It’s also more lively too. An older bait becomes less attractive after a while.”
It became clear as the session progressed that Amer, would only catch a fish when he was able to keep his bait held over the feed. Any movement and the fish were not interested. His tactic of only feeding for a bite, however, was bringing rewards, as he caught three or four quality skimmers during each hour, along with small fish, so he was building quite a weight. At one point during the session, when the boat traffic had lessened, he foul-hooked a couple of fish, so as he felt there were now a few fish in the peg to he cut back on the amount he fed to one pot for every two bites unless a boat passed.
The final part of the session saw the bites drop off, and although Amer did bag two of the biggest bream of the day, there didn’t seem to be the amount of fish in the peg, as there were earlier. The boat traffic had dropped right off, and this caused him to surmise that the fish had most likely moved away. His negative approach had certainly worked when the canal was busy, as it forced the fish away from the deeper water, so he was able to ‘mug’ fish that moved close to the far bank. With fewer boats passing, fewer fish were moving to the far side, so there were less to target.
He had, however, more than doubled his estimated target as his catch of bream, skimmers and hydrids looked well over 25lb when the net was pulled out of the water, and Amer was certain that had he fished the peg in a positive way by feeding and fishing the more traditional lines, he would have struggled to catch half that weight.
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Today I headed down to the hugely impressive Weston pools fishery in Oswestry to contest the three-day spring festival and I was really looking forward to it as it’s probably my favourite fishery because every lake on the complex is out of the ordinary with a large head of different species including barbel , all of them are extremely hard fighting which is no doubt down to the high oxygen levels in the water due to the aerators being left on all the time.
After another early start I had a pretty stress free journey down arriving with plenty time to spare before I needed to book on, so I went for a quick walk around the complex to see if anything had changed since my last visit a couple of months ago where I struggled on Belvidere but the conditions wasn't great for catching carp & barbel and every lake looked immaculate, apart from canal which they had to shut due to a problem with the water this was a shame I usually do quite well on it and this meant they had to re-jig the pegging for the festival we also strangely had a few no shows .On arriving back to the cabin I had a chat with a few of the local lads that I hadn’t seen for a while and there was a lot of sponsored anglers knocking about plus nearly all the Welsh national squad so you could say it was going to be a tough but enjoyable couple of days, when everything had been sorted there would be a straight draw today with 10 anglers on Weir & Belvedere and 12 on Stretton & Clay pit, the second day would be another straight draw with all the lakes in except clay pit so it would be very tightly pegged and the last day would be the opposite rotation to the first day.
It was soon time for the draw and we had a minute’s silence for the people who lost their lives in the Manchester bombing the previous week which was a nice touch. Then the usual scramble ensued to try to get an early dip and I hung back towards the rear and when it was my turn to have a pick in the bag of doom I pulled out peg 17 on Weir, which I was reasonably pleased with as I got my best weight from this lake during the natural bait festival last year and after unpacking my gear I had a short walk to find my home for the next few hours. On arrival I found that I was one away from the aerator but like every peg on here I had two long reed lined margins plus plenty open water and another thing I like about this lake is the fact that you can’t really see many anglers around the lake so you can just concentrate on what's going on in front of you .
Top four line where I would be fishing corn so used a 4×14 MD diamond float with a wire stem because the tow can be quite bad on here and I hoped this would make it more stable, I had an inch spread bulk starting above the six-inch 012 Garbo hook length .
13m line where I was going to fish casters on the deck and used a 4×14 MD roob style float with a bulk plus dropper shotting pattern , main line was the usual 014 Garbo and hook length was a six-inch 012 Garbo .
Shallow for fishing over the top of my long line I had two rigs set up one at 1ft the other at 2ft , on both I had a MD mini mag float which had a few number eleven stotz spread along the 014 Garbo and hook length was a six-inch 012 garb
margin rig at the side of the reeds at four meters where I found a flat area in three-foot and with it being relatively protected from the wind I used a 4×12 MD maggot float with a bulk plus dropper shotting pattern spread along the 014 Garbo main line and my hook length was a six-inch 012 Garbo .
Bait for the day was ;
2 pints of corn
2 pints of casters
2 pints of fishery 4mm pellets
tub of assorted hard hook pellets
When the all in sounded I began on my four meter line as this was where I caught most of my fish the last time that I was on here and I deposited a large kinder pot full of corn then tried to keep my rig still over the top of it but it was towing quite badly so I needed to re adjust my rig to add a few inch of line on the deck, it took awhile for me to start getting indications which I kept missing but persevered with it as I expected the carp to turn up sooner or later but apart from a small stockie and a big skimmer the first hour was a waste of time. I had been loose feeding casters on my long line since the start and I began seeing a few swirls so I took the opportunity to pick up my shallow rig this produced a couple of decent ide straight away but then I kept missing bites which usually mean there all small fish present when using banded casters , I tried alternating the depths but never got back in touch with the fish so I dropped onto the deck underneath my shallow line and this produced a couple of barbel and f1s but it wasn't really working for me .
With half the match gone and not a great deal in the net I choose to drop onto my left hand margin were I had fed some pellets every thirty minutes since the match started and I hoped that it would produce to get me out of trouble although it was noticeable that it was fishing hard today so I wasn't that far behind, I began picking up the odd f1 and big crucian in the next hour but I needed to catch the carp if I was going to pull back on those anglers in my section. I had purposely left my right hand margin alone which is where my empty peg was so that it would be a safe area for the carp to back off into, I changed my bait to an 8mm pellets and taped in half a dozen 4mm pellets so I was fishing for one carp at a time and I set myself a target of ten before the all out, doing this worked really well for me as I managed seven big fish in the next hour before they backed off and I added on an extra section going towards the point of the margin this got me back among the fish but only f1's & stockies .
When the hooter sounded to signal the all out I felt that I hadn’t done enough to be in chance with getting the section as I had fifty pounds on my clicker plus my silvers, after packing up a had a chat with the other anglers in my section it seemed that a few had struggled but a couple admitted to a similar weight to me so it could be close and when the scales arrived at my peg 75lb was winning which also won the lake, my three nets went 62lb this put me second in section right to the Welsh international Darren frost who had 66lb so that pushed me back down to third and out of the default section money not the start of the festival I wanted although I did end up 5th on weir, but I did learn a great deal and I needed to catch silvers because all the other anglers had double figures of them which definitely cost me today.
After packing up I meet up with the rest of the anglers while we waited for the results and to do the draw for Sundays match, 166lb had won the match from peg 6 on Stretton but Belvidere had performed the best with eight of the twelve anglers catching over 90lb and obviously I would like to be on that lake, but it looked like I had run out of luck because when I went to have a go in the bag of doom I pulled out peg 16 on weir right at the side of where I was today and with nearly every peg in on the lake it was going to be very hard work but at least I could hopefully put into practice what I had learned.
The next day I headed off to my home for the next few hours I was a bit subdued as I expected the fishing to be a lot tougher today especially as I would be sat in the middle of five anglers and with three end pegs in my section I didn’t fancy my chances of getting good points but I would of course be giving it my best shot, after unpacking my gear I decided to set up a few rigs which I hoped would help me put the odd fish in the net and these where;
13m line which I had decided to change to pellets and used a 4×14 MD wire stemmed float with an inch spread bulk starting above my 012 Garbo four-inch hook length which had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band.
Shallow for fishing over the top of my long line I had two rigs set up one at 1ft the other at 2ft , on both I had a MD mini mag float which had a few number eleven stotz spread along the 014 Garbo and hook length was a six-inch 012 Garbo that had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band .
top four line which I also changed to pellets and used a 4×14 MD wire stemmed float with an inch spread bulk starting above my 012 Garbo four-inch hook length which had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band .
margin rig for fishing at five meters along both margins and I used a lighter float then yesterday with an MD 012 maggot float with a bulk plus dropper as I felt that I would pick up a few fish on the drop in three-foot , my main line was the usual 014 Garbo and hook length was six-inch of 012 Garbo which had a size 18 guru lwg hook attached with a mini bait band .
Bait for the day was just ;
2 pints of fishery 4mm pellets
2 pints of casters
small tub of various size and colour hard pellets for the hook.
When the all in sounded I decided to feed a dozen pellets on my four meter and thirteen meter swims before going onto my left hand margin shallow with banded caster because my mate who fished this lake yesterday caught a lot of silvers by doing it , I had missed out on catching these fish which cost me a better finishing position and it didn’t take too long before I began getting indications, with a couple of big ide hitting the net in the first ten minutes I then had a run of tench and crucians which added about ten pounds to my net during my opening hour then things went a bit quiet. I kept loose feeding casters on my margin swim to try to draw the silvers back and I then had a look on my four meter line where I had kinder potted a few 4mm pellets every fifteen minutes so I expected a response straight away despite it fishing hard my float didn’t even move for half an hour not exactly what I wanted, a switch to my long line wasn't any better but by pinging three 4mm pellets every five minutes to try to draw something into the peg it took about thirty minutes before I finally caught a barbel it was very slow going all around the lake with not much being caught, so I spent the next couple of hours rotating my swims trying to catch what I could but with two hours of the match remaining I only had about twenty pounds in the net.
I decided to spent the rest of my time on my right margin which I had purposely neglected to feed so that it would create a safe area for the carp to sit in which is usually a good ploy on a high pressured water and I tapped in a few 4mm pellets before flicking my rig out so it fell along the slope before keeping my float still over the top of it, within ten minutes I had a carp in the net and I set myself a target of catching ten of them if I was going to do any good on the lake after my slow start to the match. I kept putting some fish in the net and it was noticeable that you would often get a couple quickly before waiting ages for a bite so I decided to rotate both my margin swims to see if I could get them working for me but strangely the left hand one never got going as I only had small skimmers or gudgeon from it, this left me concentrating more on the right hand side but I needed to rest it from time to time so I kept having a look on my four meter swim directly in front of me this produced a couple of carp and by rotating between them both had me catching the odd fish, just as the all out sounded I lost a decent carp which I felt could prove costly and despite me not quite hitting my target I was sure that I had caught enough to compete in the section.
When the scales arrived at my peg 47lb was winning the section my three nets went an agonising 43lb just missing out on the section by a couple of pounds but I suppose when your luck is out your luck is out and the lost carp cost me which was only to be expected on these tight matches the section I was in only had ten pounds difference between first to last, although I felt that I had done reasonably well from the peg I was on finishing fourth on the lake and yet again I had learned quite a bit plus enjoyed the day which is the important thing. On arriving back to the cabin we had a bbq and a pint while we waited for the results to be announced before doing the draw, I was in the rotation of Belvedere & Stretton so at least I wouldn’t be on weir again and when it came round for my turn in the bag of doom I hoped for a decent peg so I could finally catch a few fish, when peg 12 Stretton stuck to my hand I was reasonably pleased because 80lb had come of it today although yet again I would be up against it for good section points, as the lower numbers had produced all festival and the match was won from peg eight by Matt Godfrey with 130lb so there was a few fish present.
So here we go it was time for the last match of the festival and after the heavy overnight rain plus grey skies I hoped that it might be a good days fishing with the fish having a feed , we was only allowed on the lakes after ten o’clock so I managed to have a quick word with a few of the anglers who had fished Stretton over the last couple of days but to be honest I already had a plan in mind and was looking forward to finally catching a few fish. When the gates to the lakes opened I made my way round to peg 12 on Stretton which would be my home for the next few hours and it was situated at the end of the leg meaning I had a bit of open water to target plus two empty pegs either side of me so it all looked promising, I decided to set up a few rigs to cover my options:
13m line where it was six-foot deep and as it wasn't towing through I used a 4×12 MD maggot float with a bulk plus two dropper shotting pattern which was spread along the 014 Garbo main line, attached to it was a six-inch 012 Garbo hook length with a size 18 guru lwg hook.
shallow line for fishing over the top of my long line I had two rigs set up at different depths both had a MD mini mag float with a bulk above the six-inch 012 Garbo hook length attached to it was a size 18 guru lwg hook with a mini bait band as I was going to be using banded caster.
Top three-line where the shelf flattened out and I used a 4×12 MD roob styled float which had a spread bulk above the four-inch 012 Garbo hook length that had a size 18 guru lwg hook with a micro bait band.
margin rig for fishing at the side of both platforms where it was 3ft deep so I used a 4×12 MD maggot float with a bulk plus dropper spread along the 014 Garbo main line which had a six-inch 012 Garbo hook length attached.
Bait for the day was:
2 pints of fishery 4mm pellets
2 pints of casters
small tub of mixed hard pellets for the hook
When the all in sounded I had a quick look on my left hand margin at the side of the platform where I had felt a couple of fish when I plumbed up earlier and I hoped that I might snare a carp or two before they vacated my swim, I lowered my rig in so my 8mm pellet went in quietly as possible and after a couple of minutes I had an indication on the float which resulted in a hand sized crucians not exactly what I had in mind but I decided to give it another go, I’m glad that I did because my float had only just settled when a sharp lift of the pole resulted in the elastic streaming out of the pole tip and after a spirited fight I had a near double figure carp in the net . As there was still a few fish in the swim I decided to keep fishing the platform and began tapping in a few 4mm pellets from a couple of feet above the water which helped draw the carp back into the area, I kept alternating how I laid my rig in and dropping my pellet in right at the side of the bank helped me add some weight to my net but after an hour bites began to tail off.
I had a look on my top three-line towards my left and tapped in a couple of 4mm pellets before lowering my rig in slowly among it as they fell, by lifting & dropping I managed to attract a few bites first from small crucians then the odd big f1 or carp but if I over fed it the fizzing was awful causing me to have line bites of foul hooked fish and I had to keep setting up new swims, surprisingly I found it best not to feed more than two pellets at a time with an 8mm on the hook and then sit it out waiting for a proper bite this resulted in a few more carp and for the next few hours I was happy putting a few fish in the net. For the past hour I had loose fed casters quite heavily by hand at four meters towards my right hand margin where there was some over hanging vegetation and I hoped that I might catch a few f1s shallow underneath it, I started on the deck first getting bites straight away but not from the expected species as I had a raft of small ide + gudgeon and I even tried shallow which didn’t improve things so I decided to stop feeding it in case it interfered with my margin swim on that side.
With the last two hours fast approaching I decided to spend it rotating my two margin swims and I picked up some nice carp for the rest of the match but strangely my right hand side produced a much smaller stamp plus more f1s, apart from losing the odd fish and getting snapped I felt that I had fished an ok match but I couldn’t see anyone in my section so I was unsure how I had done. As I began packing my gear away a couple of my neighbours came down to see how we had got on and with us all admitting to a low eighty pounds I could be a very close run thing, when the scales arrived at my peg 91lb was winning the section I knew I hadn’t got that but my three nets went 83lb and as I followed the weighers up to the remaining anglers they both beat me by a couple of pounds pushing me down to 4th so yet again a solitary lost fish cost me second in section which was about right for my festival.
So I had finished in a disappointing 14th place with nine points and lack of recent venue knowledge cost me as it took me awhile to get back to grips with the place, but of course I still really enjoyed myself even if the fishing was not up to its usual standard although in my opinion this made the festival even better because every section was extremely tight with nearly all of those I contested being split by just ten pounds, I would like to thank Weston pools for running the festival plus all the anglers contesting the matches and I can't wait to get back there for another match.
Re-Blogged with kind permission from Gary Mathews. If you wouold like to follow Gary and his blog, check it out here https://matthews580.com/
Match Fishing catches up with MAP-backed star Tony Curd for a lesson in tackling the sometimes avoided, but fish-filled areas of a swim – the silt traps.
We have all been there – that fizzing cauldron of wasted match time and effort trying to catch from what can only be described as a Jacuzzi, which gives the illusion of being black with fish but often delivers so little.
As our commercial fisheries mature all of them have areas in each lake where silt settles; whether it is in open water or down the track on a snake-style lake it’s a common area that many avoid due to foul hooking, the Jacuzzi effect or just simply because you cannot catch despite the deceiving signs of fish present. Up until recently I joined this train of thought and almost wrote it off as a bad job, only utilising these areas as a shallow line during the warmer months.
As more and more venues stock F1s on a regular basis, this has forced anglers to keep catching consistently throughout a five-hour match to build a winning weight, and this means having more swim options available to use. For this feature, I have come back to the very peg at Coleman’s Cottage Fishery, in Essex, where fishing on the silt line became clear to me as a true winner during the winter and spring months before the fish move into the shallower water properly.
That particular match I was experiencing one of those matches where I was doing reasonably well fishing my other lines, but I was having lots of quiet spells that usually spell ‘game over’ for winning or even framing on most matches, and I needed a good run of bites to see me over the line.
In a moment of madness, I plumbed up my short line on a swim at around 10 metres down the middle of the lake, tapped in a few pellets and left it alone. Five minutes later a single bubble followed by a cluster meant it was time for a look – dropping in I had a bite immediately and a run of fish followed.
Not only were the fish more settled over the silt, where they felt happy to stick around for longer, they were of a much bigger stamp that I couldn’t catch anywhere else. That match was a success thanks to the change to the silt line and the following matches saw me set it up each time with plenty of success along the way.
A light plummet shows the swin depth, the heavy one shows how deep the silt is.
What struck me as the biggest advantages for cold-water fishing was that it was not only the deepest part of my peg but it was the one area of my peg where I could be a little bit more positive and it was noticeable that once the fish turned up, I could have a prolonged spell without having to move very often. For that reason it became the line I’d leave late and more often than not enjoy a strong finish to most of the matches I was fishing.
While fishing this line is not revolutionary I did come across several stumbling blocks during my initial forays and getting these right made the world of difference to the amount of bites I got and more importantly bites converted into fish in the net.
The first issue I discovered was actually plumbing up in the first place – I like to use heavy plummets as a matter of course and my 30g version saw my rig coming back covered in black silt up to quite a depth, often covering my shot! While this helped me to gauge the depth of the silt it was nigh on useless to get a rig set properly, so some very light 10g plummets were the best bet to get it right initially, ensuring my rig was plumbed up to the bottom of the body of the float. This I feel was quite important, as once the fish started to dig around it gave me that little bit of leeway left or right of my intended area if any silt got moved or gouged out as the fish rooted around.
That leads me nicely into the next alteration I needed to make to my rigs for fishing in the softest areas of my swim – as mentioned, by plunging a heavy plummet into the swim you can get a rough idea of the depth of the softest part of the silt that is most likely to be disturbed as your match progresses. What I like to do is take the depth of this into account and add it to the line above my float. On more than one occasion I have been catching well and suddenly I’m biteless, with plumes of bubbles still appearing. I was fairly sure that the fish were still there, and checking the depth with a plummet revealed the problem. Half an hour before, I had been fishing perfectly plumbed up; now I was six inches off the bottom and on course for foul hookers, frustration or perhaps no bites. So, going forward it became a matter of habit to keep a check on whether the bottom had been scoured out by the feeding fish should my bites suddenly subside – it’s very rare that there isn’t an explanation for everything in fishing and by thinking constantly you’ll soon be ahead of the game!
A shorter line above the float could see your rig rendered useless so I’d always advise using a lash of at least a foot to enable you to adjust your rig as you go on. It also became a great indicator to me when to check for these changes to the bottom of my swim by using very well-dotted-down floats – to the point that if my hook bait became suspended off the deck my float would almost sink from sight and a sure sign that changes needed to be made.
A soft elastic is important to prevent hook-pulls...
... leading to more fish in the net!
I feel the bait choices you make when fishing in these conditions is a very important one to get right and the last thing I ever want is something that magnifies the need for the fish to disturb the bottom any more than is necessary so baits like maggots are out of my approach. Pellets, being dormant, give the perfect effect for these soft-bottomed lakes.
More important than that, though, is how you actually feed your peg, and the best way I have found to start this line is to pot in a very small amount of 2mm Bait-Tech Carp & Coarse Pellets – roughly two small Kinder pots – around 10 minutes before I intend moving onto it. For me, micros are only ever about drawing some fish and continuing to feed them can see you end up in a mess with fizzing and preoccupied fish, so as a matter, of course, I like to change over to feeding 4mm hard pellets instead. These give me fewer items per feed, which are easily picked up by the fish with minimal disturbance and therefore more proper bites! My choice hook bait is always 4mm and 6mm Bait-Tech Xpand pellets, which sit nicely on the bottom complementing the feed perfectly.
What I have found to be a real edge, though, is dosing my Xpands in the new Bait-Tech Juice; once pumped and stored in water certain batches of expanders are prone to breaking down during the match but adding this to them it gives a glaze that prevents them drying out as quickly. I also have no problems with pellets splitting later in the day, and it seems that F1s love the stuff
Setting my tackle up for the session on Pathfield Lake I kept it simple, with positive rigs of 4x16 MAP WD1 floats on 0.15mm MAP Power Optex to an 0.12mm hooklength, finished off with a size 18 B911 F1 hook – I set two duplicates up but they were both fished in the same (5ft) depth on two lines: one at the bottom of the near slope at six metres and one at the base of the far slope at 10 metres. These lines see me on the softest part of the lake bed, which is perfect for early springtime fishing. My shotting pattern was a simple spread bulk of No8 shot spread out at 1in intervals from my hooklength connection. I really do feel the bigger shot give me more positive bites in these situations and also help to cut down on any foul-hooked fish.
Elastic on both rigs was a very soft yellow 5-8 MAP TKS Twin Core; I feel this is very important as we often find ourselves fishing for a mixture of fish on modern commercials and, especially where F1s are concerned, it’s important to use a soft enough elastic to ensure none of these pull off unnecessarily, while still being able to land any carp you may run into.
To kick off I started on the nearer line, which I fed with a big pot initially containing the equivalent of two medium Flexi-Pots of micros with a few 4mms added. Dropping in over the top with a 4mm expander, feeding a small amount of micros with an odd 4mm each put-in, I only had to wait around five minutes before an odd bubble started to appear and it wasn’t too long before the float shot under and the first of an initial flurry of F1s up to 2lb was on its way to the net!
Action was brisk on the short line and I was soon thinking about trying to single out a few better carp. Picking up the potting kit again I cupped around 20 4mm pellets in on the 10m line and went on it 10 minutes later after spying a single bubble – these usually mean carp.
Use one of these to regulate the amount of pellets you feed
Slowly lowering the float into the swim and tapping in a few more 4mms over the top of it the float sharply shot straight under and my yellow elastic was soon stretched across the lake – this was no F1! Sure enough, a 7lb ghostie popped up, which would be a real bonus in a match. This was soon followed up with a 5lb F1!
By switching between both of my lines according to what activity I could see and being careful with the bait I introduced into my peg. This was not only the amount but the size of the pellets, depending on whether there were fish present or not. If there weren’t then introducing micros for a period to draw a few in and feeding larger, 4mm pellets when they were there I didn’t suffer any of the stereotypical issue commonly experienced when fishing a silty venue – I managed to catch consistently throughout my five-hour session, putting around 120lb into my nets on two lines that not many would even bother to give a thought to.
Different? Definitely! Winner? No doubt!
More fish than you could shake a silty stick at!
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On Saturday, it was second and final day of our venture to Alders Farm Fishery and this time it was on The Match Lake "Ash". After speaking to Trevor Price, the Fishery manager and local expert, he informed me that the fishing would be alot better than the previous day, he wasn't wrong!
Marukyu backed angler Martin Stokes reports back from the Alders Farm Fishery in Milton Keynes...
On Friday I fished the beautiful Alders Farm Fishery in Milton Keynes, for me it was the first time at Alders. The venue itself is a stunning place that is full of carp.
The match was a special event for all the Pro Staff and sponsored anglers at Marukyu.
The lake for the day was called Pines, and I drew peg 17, which meant nothing to me, with pretty much every peg in on the lake I knew the fishing would be slightly hard.
Started the match fishing 15m on the pole shallow, about 18 inches deep fishing a banded 6mm Marukyu Focus Pellet flavoured with Amino Scopex feeding 6mm Fishery pellets again flavoured with Amino Scopex. I had a good start putting a few small carp in the net, over the next hour the wind start to increase blowing strongly to my left, I could tell that my peg was fading as the carp started following the wind to the other end of the lake.
Three Hours into the match it was clear that my area of the lake didn't stand a chance of winning the lake as many top class anglers were struggling for a bite.
The few carp that were in the peg stopped feeding completely, at this point I decided to pick up my feeder rod, with small pellet feeder loaded with soaked 2mm pellets and a little Marukyu Pellet Skrunch Groundbait and a couple of dead red amino maggots.
Luckily my peg had a small island with a few overhanging trees, so looked a perfect feature for holding a few sneaky carp.
I spent the last couple of hours, nicking the odd fish odd fish on the pellet feeder, it was hard work casting tight under the tree in a strong crosswind, but them carp were hiding under it and wouldn't move. Have to admit I was fishing the squirrels a few times.
I Decided to have a few a chucks with the "New Marukyu 4 Bands" that were given out before the match and have say that they are a little bit special, so keep your out for when the get released in a few weeks.
Come the end of the match, apart from my casting skills being a little rusty I was pleased and didn't feel like the peg was worth much more. I weighed 67lb 13oz, which was the best weight from my end of the lake and was good enough for 4th overall with the top three weights all coming from the other end of the lake where the wind was blowing.
I Have to save, even though the fishing was hard, it was a great event at a stunning venue, and was a pleasure to meet some of the new lads that have joined Marukyu this year. The match was covered by Tom Scholey at Catch More Media so keep your eyes out for the short film that will be released in a few weeks!
We caught up with Wayne Swinscoe at Meadowlands Fishery for a lesson in catching winning weights of silvers on deep venues.
MF: What’s the difference between tackling large and deep venues like this one here at Meadowlands, compared to your average 5ft to 6ft deep commercial pond?
WAYNE SWINSCOE: I think the main thing is the fact that you are much more exposed to the elements on venues like this. Larger bodies of water are affected much more by the wind. That means they can really tow at times. Being anything from eight to 15 feet deep also means you have to be much more positive and robust in your approach.
On shallower lakes, you can use much lighter pole floats so you can lay them in nicely. On a lake like this one, you have to be much more positive and lower heavier floats in to get a bait down to the catching area. The extra depth and undertow also mean the way you feed and where you choose to fish plays a crucial part.
A lot of Swinno's bites are left bites.
What would be your typical target?
You can expect silver-fish weights of 40lb or more on these waters, so they can play a massive part even if carp are also required to make the frame. To catch the bigger weights you’ll usually need bream and skimmers. These are the main weight builders. However, you could easily catch 20lb-plus of roach here on Lambsdown, so they cannot be ignored either. Bonus tench, hybrids and big perch are also on the cards, but I always treat these as a bonus as you cannot target them specifically.
How many swims would you typically plumb up?
I think one or two pole swims are ample on big waters like this. That could be one short and one long, or one left and one right at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock angles. It all depends on the conditions – and don’t forget the wind normally picks up later in the day, so you always need to try and anticipate what’s going to happen later on.
Some days, just like today, conditions are less than favourable and that’s when I will concentrate all my efforts down one hole. I would rather do that and work one swim than spread things all over the place and never be quite sure where I should be fishing.
We’ve noticed the bottom is sloping today. What advice have you got for swims like this?
Here at Meadowlands, you’ll struggle to find a flat bottom to fish. More often it will deepen up anything from eight inches to a foot every pole joint you add. I, therefore, plumb up really accurately, right at the end of my pole so that I know the exact depth my rig is at. I then also plumb up a section further and a section closer to cover myself.
On sloping venues like this, I think it’s really important to feed around 18 inches short of the float. I don’t honestly know if the feed does roll down the slope but it gives you peace of mind that you’re fishing in the right spot to get bites. Around 13 metres is a comfortable catching range and should still be about fishable if the wind gets up. Conditions are rarely favourable enough to be going as far as 16 metres.
It’s towing a lot today, so do you hold the rig steady or let it go with the flow?
Dipping the pole tip helps keep the rig steady.
There are days when holding the rig dead still on a spraybar works well, but I’d much rather try and search the length of the swim first before deciding that’s the right way to go. I always like to use any tow to my advantage and search the swim. By that, I mean trying to the left and the right of your feed as well as above and below it.
It can be deceiving as some days the wind and tow will be going in completely opposite directions and you’ll get more bites to one side of the feed. Sometimes that is the opposite side to what you expected.
It’s also common to find two very distinct catching areas; one directly where you’ve fed and one as much as six feet or more downstream, even though all your feed is going down the same hole. I think when the lake really tows the fish line up as if you were fishing a river. That’s a useful point to bear in mind, as you can often pick off fish from the main feed area but also nick an occasional one or two much further down the peg.
What about rigs?
Simple, tangle-free rigs are vital for deep water. I use slim G-Tip 2 floats when the fishing is calm and rounder-bodied and thicker-bristled G-Tip 3s when conditions are rougher. Today I have a 1g G-Tip 2 and a 1.5g G-Tip 3 set up to cover both extremes. These are shotted very simply with olivettes around two feet from the hook and three No9 droppers spread below. Main line is 0.12mm to a 6in 0.08mm Drennan Rig Line hooklength. I’ll step this up to 0.10mm if the fish are feeding freely.
For the hook, I’m a massive fan of Drennan Silverfish Maggots as the points are so long and fish don’t seem to come off them. A size 18 is ideal most of the time, as you can easily bury a caster inside or fish double maggot. If I’m fishing worm heads I like a size 16 and I’ll drop to a 20 on really hard days with single maggot.
Wayne's a big fan of these hooks for... silver fish!
Can you tell us what you plan to feed and why?
My tried-and-trusted groundbait is a 50/50 mix of Bait-Tech Super G Green and Pro Natural Dark. I sieve this before mixing, however, to remove the bigger seeds and bits as you don’t want dry particles drawing fish off the bottom. I also mix it quite wet so that it goes straight down. I might include up to a third of the mix as damp leam, too. Skimmers seem to really like leam, plus it adds weight and reduces the overall feed content.
Wayne cups in around half-a-dozen of these and wants them to go straight down!
I will cup in four to six balls at the start, around 18 inches closer in. These will usually include a generous amount of maggots and casters.
Would you use pellets as well?
I think maggots and casters are the most reliable baits to feed, but the warmer it gets the more likely pellets are to play a part, so I will always have some with me. If it’s out and out skimmers then loose feeding 4mms and fishing a big 6mm expander on the hook can work particularly well. However, it’s very difficult to present pellets so well on a windy day like today.
You will also miss out on any quality roach and perch that are swimming about. Half my weight today has been made up of stamp roach so they should never be ignored on days like this.
What about other baits such as worms and pinkies?
Worms are very much the same as pellets and best included on warmer days. You don’t need loads – a quarter to a third of a kilo at the most. I like to chop them up fine and also make sure they are really clean before chopping as I don’t want any peat at all mixed in with my worms when I’m bottom fishing. I’ve added a pinch of worms to my feed at the start and tried worm on the hook but maggots and casters have definitely been better today.
Pinkies can have their day, particularly in the depths of winter, but I’d much rather be more positive and feed casters and maggots instead.
Do you prefer live or dead maggots?
It’s fashionable to use dead maggots these days but more and more I find I catch better using live maggots on the hook. Skimmers seem to respond really well to one or two live maggots, but I’ll bring both and experiment.
Will you try fishing off the bottom at all?
I generally fish anything up to four inches overdepth with this style of fishing. The windier it is the better for catching on the deck. You’ll probably find that it’s easier to catch a few inches off the bottom on shallower venues as you’ll be using lighter rigs so the fish will feel much less resistance. Trying to do that in 10 feet or more of water with heavier rigs is much less effective.
However, catching really shallow can often still be an option, particularly on warm and sunny days. When skimmers are the main target, however, I generally prefer to keep them on the bottom where they are much easier to catch.
Do you loose feed as well?
I like to pot in several balls of groundbait at the start and then regularly top up when bites dictate. That will typically be another small ball every 30 minutes or so packed with feed. I also think loose feeding is very important and bring two or three pints of casters. You don’t want to get carried away with loose feeding, however, as the fish can come off the bottom and cause missed bites and foul hookers.
To overcome this I’ll feed a couple of larger pouches more sporadically. If it’s an out-and-out bagging-up day for skimmers then I might cut out the loose feed entirely and just pot in groundbait. It’s all about reading the swim and working out what’s best on the day.
Is there a set pattern on matches like this?
Quite often you will catch roach and perch early and then a few skimmers will move in midway through before a few bigger skimmers turn up in the last hour. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can catch good skimmers from the off and then they peter out. In an ideal world, the fishing will get progressively better and better the longer you fish as more feed goes in and more and more fish find it.
What do you do if it goes quiet?
This happens a lot on this kind of water. Sometimes the fish will just drift off. Sometimes it means a predator is in the peg. Sometimes better bream will push out the roach completely. Sometimes it’s because a carp has turned up. There is not a lot you can do when this happens other than search the perimeter of your peg to try and keep eking out a few fish.
Another reason for a swim going quiet that I’m sure many people don’t fully appreciate is that you haven’t fed enough bait. You’re rarely more than 20 yards away from a fish on a decent commercial, but you’ve got to keep topping up to make the most of it. They’ll soon clear you out and drift off if you let them.
You’ve also set a quivertip rod up. Why’s that?
On really gusty days like today you’ll often have no option other than to chuck a bomb over the top of your pole swim. To do this I like to be really accurate, so before the start I’ll put my rod on the rest, attach a 1oz lead, pop it in my pole pot, open my bail arm and ship out to the exact distance I’m fishing. I then drop it into the swim and clip up. I then also mark the line next to the line clip with a permanent marker. This now means I can try a yard further out or closer in and still know exactly where I’m fishing.
My setup is very simple and consists of a 3/8oz bomb fished on a paternoster, 4lb main line to a 2ft to 2½ft hooklength of 0.12mm Rig Line and a size 18 Silverfish Maggot. The rod is an 11ft 6in Matchpro Combo with a light ¾oz or 1oz tip.
Double maggot is a great hook bait on this setup, but don’t ignore double caster either as that’s actually produced my two biggest bream today. You could use a small feeder instead of a bomb but I think this completely alters the way you’ve been feeding, so I’d rather continue to top up with larger balls via the pole and loose feed casters over the top as normal. It’s a useful trick to have on standby and bought me an extra 8lb to 10lb of fish today.
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Alan Scotthorne takes a closer look at one of the best fish catchers on the planet. Here’s a five-time world champion’s take on the Method feeder!
Feeder fishing has really taken off over the last few years and it’s not hard to see why. You can comfortably fish a feeder in practically any conditions you’re faced with. You’re giving the fish a concentrated pile of food on the bottom with a hook bait right next to it. It’s a positive approach and wins a lot of matches. It’s also not expensive to get yourself kitted out to compete on the same level as everyone else. There are now even feeder-only matches springing up all over the place; not just here in England but all across Europe.
There are loads of feeders to choose from so it’s just a matter of picking the right size and weight for the day depending on the conditions, the baits and the species you are targeting. Today I have come to Barston Lakes in the Midlands to show you one feeder technique in particular and that’s the Method. Where allowed, it’s the deadliest way to catch carp on the tip. It’s, therefore, a key technique we all must try to master. Here are a few pointers in getting the most out of this match winning method.
Top Tip – Boom
I always twizzle the last 12 to 15 inches of my main line to create a doubled-up boom. This is the area that gets the most punishment, both in the lake and when a fish is in the landing net, so it makes sense to double it up.
Where To Fish
There are different types of venues in England, from narrow snake lakes to large, open and exposed waters like this one. Each presents a slightly different challenge but the basics are always the same. Here, it is very wide but also relatively shallow, with around 4ft all over so there are no deeper holes or drop-offs to worry about. When this is the case it’s the distance you fish that can be the most important consideration. In match conditions, you will probably have everyone in a row casting out into the middle of the lake so it’s important to try and find yourself your own bit of water. Sometimes that will mean casting further than those around you; sometimes you might be better off starting much shorter. I know this lake is dominated quite a lot by distance fishing and a 50 to 70-metre cast can be commonplace.
The wind can play a large part too. A strong head wind will seriously hinder your casting potential. Today I have a tricky headwind but I have deliberately chosen to start at 70 metres to give my Acolyte Plus 12ft Feeder rods a really good flexing. In a match, I would probably have started at 60 metres, to begin with, and see how things progress. I have actually clipped up at this range too and use some Cygnet Distance Sticks to measure the exact range, so I know exactly how far I’m chucking. These sticks aren’t essential but they are a useful aid if you are feeder fishing a lot and also want to have two rods clipped up at exactly the same distance. They are a more accurate alternative to counting the number of turns on your reel.
Another big consideration is the number of specimen carp anglers that visit your lake. Barston sees as many specimen anglers as it does match anglers and these guys like to cast big leads a long way. They also regularly use spods, throwing sticks and bait boats to get plenty of bait out into the middle of the lake. The more pressure a lake gets from carpers the more that will affect the behaviour of the fish. They know where all the high-protein bait gets fed and match anglers need to pay attention to this.
The best angler in the world with one of the world's best fish-catching methods. A deadly combination!
Top Tip – Hands Free
Always use front and rear rod rests with the Method. This ensures your hands are free to do other jobs, but make sure the front rest is a design that won’t allow the rod to get ripped off and dragged into the lake on the take!
Clip Up Or Not?
To begin with, I like to maintain a fixed feed area in my peg. Later on, you can try unclipping to search further and shorter – or better still have a second ‘roving’ rod set up for this purpose. Feeder fishing is no different to any other method and a slow build up of bait in a specific area will often lead to the peg getting better and better. Often the last hour is when it will really kick in.
By clipping up at a set range you also establish an area of undisturbed water beyond this where you can try casting later on.
Another good reason why I like to clip up is to ensure the feeder lands properly. Several times today I haven’t quite hit my line clip and could instantly tell by the noise the feeder made on impact. When this happens I won’t hesitate to reel in, rebait and recast. When I am waiting up to 10 minutes for a bite I want to be certain the feeder has gone in right, with the feed still intact. I cast quite hard to ensure I hit the clip and then bring my rod sharply back just before it reaches the distance. This straightens the line and also acts as a brake, effectively slowing it down and reducing the feeder’s impact. You are aiming for a reassuring plop rather than a great big spladoosh!
Alan uses a free-spool reel when Method-feeder fishing
It’s important to tailor the rod to the distance you are fishing. My rod for today is a 12ft Acolyte Plus as I’m fishing a long way out. At this kind of range, you have to reach a good compromise. You want enough backbone lower down for casting but still some forgiveness in the top section for playing carp, F1s and skimmers. If I was fishing shorter I would use a 10ft or 11ft rod instead as shorter rods can have a more forgiving casting and playing action.
I’ve matched the rod to a Series 7 BR 9-40 reel which is a reliable workhorse model. This also has a freespool mechanism which I like to use when I’m not clipping up. I’ve loaded this up with Drennan Feeder & Method Mono. You want something that’s strong, hardwearing and sinks well. I am using 6lb today which is a great all-round choice. If I was specifically targeting big carp closer in then I might use 8lb.
However, 6lb is thinner and casts much further. To achieve even greater distances I will use 5lb line combined with an 8lb shock leader. The shock leader is necessary to take all the pressure on the cast.
Barston is renowned for its lumps and thet're suckers for a Method attack
I prefer to use Drennan In-Line Flatbed Method Feeders which are of a good, strong and robust design that casts ever so well. The 25g model sees the most use and is always my choice when I am casting to an island as the weight grips well on a steep slope. However, I am using a heavier 35g today purely to reach the distance.
I have also gone for the larger frame size as the main target are big carp so I prefer to give them a reasonable amount of bait to home in on. If I was targeting smaller carp and F1s and was casting much more frequently then I wouldn’t hesitate to use the smaller frame size instead. In general though, for open water and when I expect to wait longer for bites I prefer to use a larger feeder.
Incidentally, when these feeders first came out I was never convinced they could land the right way up all of the time. It was only after lots of experimenting with countless casts on a gin-clear lake that I was completely satisfied. Every single time these feeders settled the right way and I have never doubted them ever since!
Top Tip – Boilie Boost
This venue sees a lot of specimen carp anglers who feed lots of boilies, so I like to add a sprinkling of white shellfish boilies that have been ground down in a blender. Where allowed they can give your mix an extra boost of attraction.
My hooklength is 0.18mm Supplex which is strong enough for double-figure carp but also acceptable for the F1s in this lake of which there are plenty. Around four inches is the usual length for a Method feeder hooklength but this is something the fish must be very used to. For this reason I also experiment with slightly longer five inch versions and this has worked quite well today. It’s worth experimenting as sometimes going shorter or longer than the norm can make a difference.
To attach my hooklength I use a Cralusso Quick Snap Swivel combined with a medium Drennan Swivel Stop Bead. The hook is a prototype pattern I’ve been field-testing in sizes 12 and 14.
There are three main choices when it comes to what you mould around the feeder; groundbait, pellets or a mixture of the two. Some venues will show a marked preference but again it’s worth experimenting. My groundbait is Sensas Stimul-8 with some extra crushed marine pellet and fishmeal added. I like quite a strong mix for maximum attraction. The pellets are wetted enough so that they cling around the feeder well but quickly break down once the feeder hits the bottom. I use mostly 2mm micro pellets but also add some 4mms to vary the particle size. A couple of bowls on my side tray mean I can easily vary the ratio of pellets and groundbait as I see fit.
You can also vary the actual volume of bait you mould around the Method and on a place like this I am a big fan of ‘double skinning’. That simply means forming your feed around the Method feeder as normal with the help of a mould, then adding a little bit more feed to the mould and forming a second layer on top.
Top Tip – Hard Pellets
Try adding some dry pellets to your wetted 2mm and 4mm feed pellets. This is a good trick when there are lots of silver fish about and also makes sense if you are fishing with a hard pellet on the hook.
In no particular order, my top Method feeder hook baits are boilies, hard pellets, punched meat and dead maggots. Again, these will vary depending on what’s happening in the swim. Boilies and hard pellets are much more resilient if small fish are a problem but meat and maggots are softer, lighter and less likely to be rejected.
A selection of Alan's favourite Method hook baits.
Today a pink Crab & Krill Bandit Dumbell boilie has easily been best, but I have also had fish on an 8mm piece of punched meat and a couple of big F1s on a bunch of dead maggots. It definitely seemed like the fish preferred a bold, contrasting hook bait today though, especially the bigger ones, including an immaculate looking linear mirror that must be at least 15lb. It doesn’t take many fish like that to build a winning weight and that’s why the Method Feeder should never be ignored!
Tel: 01675 444890
Marsh House Farm Lane, Barston, Solihull, West Midlands B92 0LB
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Whatever happened to hailing in bait? Is there no fun in fishing any more? Dan Webb delves into the art of frugal-feeding F1ers.
I’m an angler that likes to feed. Yes, I fish a lot of canal matches and smaller venues but I love nothing more than turning up at great big wild venues with a baby bath full of groundbait and filling it in!
Maybe it’s just my inner child, which got me into fishing at a very early age. It’s not just the catching of fish and being outdoors, it’s the casting a long way and using big catapults! To me, that’s an important part of fishing. The trouble is, that’s all changing and I think there is one man to blame – the F1 hero.
The F1 hero is the guy who puts a miniscule amount of bait in a tiny pot, carefully ships out a fiddly rig with six inches of line to the float and taps out six pellets. He then spends time lifting and dropping at little ‘dibs’ of the float. There isn’t even a big Zorro strike to please the inner child.
We are now producing a breed of anglers who idolise the frugal feeder. After winter matches, people even boast how few pellets they could feed and still catch! What happened to the fantasy of being able to chuck a waggler 40 metres then drop a ball of groundbait bang on top? Every now and again, though, the F1 hero catches us out. He bags up by feeding a lot of bait. But how does he do it? By hand? By catapult? Please make it by spod! No, it’s by big potting. Zzzzzzzz, you’re the man, F1 hero – your accurate feeding with a big pot puts us all to shame. Your majestic ship and drop shows both skill and trailblazing bravery that us mere mortals can only dream of.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like to catch an F1 or two. It’s another part of the great diversity that is match fishing. Go back a few years and I used to spend all my free time, that wasn’t taken up by team matches, at Lake View, F1 fishing. During my time there I experienced plenty of precise pellet plopping, but then there was also the maggot!
Even in the spring and autumn, a proper heap of maggots would catch a lot of fish. I used to happily ping my way through four to six pints of them down the track of the snake lake and enjoy an odd brown envelope or two.
Although Lake View did have its frugal feeders, my heroes were Steve Draper and Monty Hornet. They were always there or thereabouts and caught a hell of a lot of fish, and most importantly, they used to feed masses of bait too! Twelve pints of maggots and casters would often get slung at those F1s. Trouble is, the catty just wouldn’t cut it with that amount of bait and Steve even used to have home-made bucket cups attached to his top kits just for dropping big handfuls of maggots on top of his float! Not exactly the pinnacle of feeding skill, but at least he gave them some grub!
Of course, I’m not blinkered enough to believe that feeding is always right. A lot of matches are won up and down the country on the straight lead cast around the peg with a single hook bait. There are a lot of people who bash this sort of fishing, saying it’s unskillful, but I totally disagree. There is a massive amount to it and a lot of tricks to be learnt to be the best.
That doesn’t change the fact, however, that it’s the most boring, miserable, mind-numbing excuse for a day’s fishing imaginable. I just want to shake them and shout “For god’s sake man, feed something you corn-hoarding creeps!” And before you ask, NO, glugging does not count as loose feed!
Notice how I haven’t even mentioned dobbing bread? There is very good reason for that. I’ve tried and tried, but it’s no good – I just can’t keep awake long enough to write it!
As you might have guessed, I’m in a bad mood and it’s made me a bit irritable. I’ve just fished the Angling Trust Winter League Final where my team, Black Horse, finished sixth out of some of the best teams in the country (result drop, CLANG!). My time was spent at Decoy with half of the team pellet plopping and straight lead snoozing while the other half were bread chucking, squatt blasting and tench snaring on the drains. Yes, I enjoyed myself and caught a few fish, but as I was netting carp I was dreaming of catching roach. Even when fishing the straight lead I sat pinging my catapult pretending I was feeding something, just to try and make the experience more interesting.
With a couple of weeks spare I’m now dusting off the big boy’s gear ready to spend some time down my favourite reservoir filling it in. A bit of casting as far as I can, blasting bait to the horizon and maybe a bit of big wag and slider fishing will keep my inner child at bay for a while.
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!
Top Kamasan Starlets team man, and Preston Innovations brand manager Scott Geens explains how the key to consistency often lies in targeting multiple species…
Good anglers win matches, but great anglers win leagues. I have always really enjoyed league and team matches as you always have something to fish for – whether it be one point or ten the incentive is always there for you to keep going.
As much as I enjoy the occasional open match too, they are often very predictable, with certain boss pegs or fliers dominating proceedings, if a good angler happens to draw them. There are also ways that you can turn average pegs into winners, but often these involve fishing in a feast or famine type way – which isn’t conducive to consistency.
Whether it be a team match or a league, the key to scoring good points is almost always keeping busy, and keeping some small fish going in the net – and this is going to be the focus of my feature today.
To illustrate how I like to approach this type of ‘points based’ match I have brought the Match Fishing cameras to the beautiful Packington Somers Fishery near Meriden, a former host of big matches including the Sensas Challenge, and also a venue that runs a lot of its own league matches.
Alongside a big head of hard fighting carp, Geary’s Level where you join me today is rammed with silver fish. These include some real quality skimmers, crucians, tench and roach. A stocking that lends itself perfectly to the catch-everything attack that I am going to employ today.
So let me clarify first what I mean by ‘catching everything.’ After all, there is little point having a busy day putting together 30lb of silver fish if you need 100lb of carp to score good points. You must bare this in mind too – and always look to cover your options. If you think there is a chance of a good weight of carp, make sure that you feed lines for them and crucially fish for them when and if you think that they are feeding.
How many times do you see anglers targeting carp, but not actually catching them though? This is wasted time – especially given the fact that so many of our commercials have such a big head of other fish that these guys could be using to build a weight, and give themselves a better chance of coming away with valuable points at the end of the match.
My golden rule is almost always to try fishing for carp if you think they will figure, but set yourself a keen time frame and stick to it. Don’t ever fall into the trap of sitting and waiting too long for something to happen when there are other, albeit smaller, fish to catch.
The Right Bait
Let's talk about baits first and there are two key things that you need to think about before deciding what baits to fish. Firstly, the size of fish that you are targeting. If, for example, you know that you are targeting a large number of small silver fish, but you need to catch a big weight of them, you should be looking to fish the short pole so that you can catch quickly. You also need to fish a bait that will get you a bite relatively quickly, something like maggots, pinkies or small pieces of worm.
Double caster often sorts out the better fish.
By contrast, you might find yourself in a situation where you are looking to catch quality fish, and again you have to tailor your approach accordingly. This is the situation that I am in today. The lake is relatively shallow and I feel that these quality silver fish will feed more confidently further out from the bank – so this is where I target them, on the long pole at 13m. If you are shipping a long way and targeting good stamp fish, you don’t want a bait that will attract the attentions of small fish, so a decent sized piece of worm, a piece of corn, pellet, or caster will most probably be the choice of bait.
The second consideration when it comes to bait selection is the temperature and wind. Warm weather and more importantly high water temperature means that the fish will feed aggressively, so you should be prepared to be positive. To me, this means feeding fishmeal groundbait (I use Sonubaits Match Method) rich with worms. I will pot in a fair amount of bait at the start (six balls rich with bait today) and top up aggressively when bites subside to hopefully bring more fish into the swim.
Scott is the man behind the Preston inline plummets
By contrast, colder weather might see me more inclined to feed less bait, and if the water temperature was really low, I might even introduce a sweeter mix (Sonubaits Lake) without any fishmeal in there at all.
Also, pay careful attention to the wind. Remember, if you are to catch the biggest fish you will have to present your bait well, so if you think that the wind could hamper your presentation, don’t fish too far out. A breeze or slight wind can actually be a really good thing when you are looking for a big mixed bag, so never be reticent about coming closer in these conditions. Secondly, make sure you take the wind into account when deciding on your rigs, which is the area that I will look at next.
The Right Rig For The Job.
I have already mentioned the importance of good bait presentation when it comes to putting a big weight of mixed fish together, and 90 per cent of this is down to the rigs that you choose to use.
One of two distinct patterns invariably works for me. We will call the first one the ‘ligger’ and as the name suggests, this is for presenting a bait hard on the bottom. If there is a breeze or a wind on the water, this will be your main attack and the key thing to be sure of is that the weight of your rig is heavy enough to hold your bait still against any wind movement or tow. Use a pole support if necessary and fish up to 12 inches of line on the bottom if you think you need to. The key thing is your bait is presented still and where you want it.
My second mode of presentation, which I think will be important today is what I call an ‘on-the-drop rig.’ This doesn’t necessarily mean that the fish will eat your bait on the drop by the way, more that they will often watch it as it falls through the water, then follow it down and eat it off the bottom.
Light floats generally work well when it comes to this kind of rig although it is important again to think about how quickly you need to catch. If you are looking for a few very crafty fish then fishing super light floats (3x8 or 4x10) can be devastating. If however, you think that the fishing will be relatively good as I do today and so need to catch a lot of fish, you need to fish a float size that allows you to do this. This means a 4x12 for me today, with a string of seven No11 shot.
Finally elastics, this can be one of the most difficult things to get right when targeting a wide variety of species. Today, I am using a Preston No7 Hollo elastic in conjunction with a Rolla Pulla Kit. Importantly, this means that even the smaller fish that I hook don’t splash on the surface when I hook them, but any better quality specimens can be brought under control at the netting stage thanks to the Rolla Puller Kit.
Reading The Peg
After cupping in my initial balls of groundbait, I go straight in with my ligging rig and a piece of worm to see what has come to the party!
This ball is going striahgt to the bottom
A couple of small roach, a stockie carp and a small skimmer come in quick succession, before my swim goes quiet. This can often be a good sign, as it means something bigger has moved into your swim and pushed the small fish out of the way.
I sit biteless for around three minutes, before my float slides away and my first big skimmer of the day is hooked. At a little over 2lb, it’s a welcome bonus, and is soon greeted by the waiting net.
The next thing for me to try and work out is how to top the peg up. Sometimes, a ball after every fish is required to keep better fish coming. Other times, simply loose feeding casters over where you are fishing is all you need to do to keep catching. Most commonly though, something between the two extremes is best.
The only potential drawback with loose feeding if you are not careful is that it can cause fish to come up in the water. No problem if you plan on fishing shallow – but when you don’t have a great amount of depth like today, and with a multitude of species present, I would rather try to keep the fish on the bottom where I can catch them easily.
The best tactics today seem to be to introduce a large pouch of casters after every couple of fish, and top up with groundbait only when I go a long spell without any better quality skimmers making an appearance.
After around four hours fishing, we call time on the session, and I pull out my net to reveal almost 40lb of mixed silver fish, with a few of the venue’s small stockie carp thrown in for good measure. Interestingly, as we drive off the lake I notice that the arm to the right of where I have sat is absolutely heaving with carp, which are shoaled up together ready for spawning. No doubt in a match situation, the pegs in this area would have beaten me. But my catch-everything approach would almost definitely have won me some coin and eked out a result from an area where I don’t think there were a lot of carp to catch.
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Stu Redman gets his super-bright bait dyes out to show you how you can make your maggots and pinkies stand out from the crowd!
Just in case you have been living under a rock or something, the fluoro bait phenomenon is well and truly happening! Those of you who frequent Facebook with any regularity will surely have spied some rather luminous looking maggots and pinkies on various anglers’ side trays. Many anglers have seemingly noticed an opportunity to get a bit of an edge when it comes to the effectiveness of their baits, particularly when the water is still clear and a hi-viz bait will work well.
Just think about how anglers are catching on Method and Hybrid feeders these days, and most of the time they are using super-bright high-visibility hook baits. So the question must be asked, why not take the same theory and apply it to pole fishing?
‘Mad scientist’ Stu Redman is one man who is never afraid to do things a little differently. For years he has been an advocate of altering his baits either with flavours or colours. However, it is his latest creation that has really got people interested – even our very own Joe Carass has given it a go. But what is it and how does he go about it? We just had to find out.
The Hi-Viz Theory
“Being a bit of an experimentalist, I am always on the lookout for any new baits that might just help to give me the edge. Flavours are always a big help but when it comes to the colder months I don’t believe they have the same effect. The fish become more reliant on the sight rather than smells and for me, making your baits stand out is a huge edge.
“At first I tried making my baits white and for a while, I had some great success, but once I switched on to the fluoro colours, my results just took off. I started posting videos and blogs on Facebook about my new fluoro maggots and pinkies and the messages just started pouring in. Better still, they are so simple to prepare!”
What Do You Need?
“There are a few different things you can add to your maggots to give them the fluoro effect, but by far the best stuff is the Star Baits Add It Fluoro Ink. This gear is absolutely lethal and will dye anything it touches, so be warned!
“The dyes are a powder rather than a spray; this works nicely for maggots and pinkies and not only dyes the baits but the powder serves to soften them slightly. They come in various colours but I find the pink and orange to be particularly effective. They will also dye baits like meat, pellets and bread.”
Step One: Firstly you need a sealable freezer bag and a tub of the powder dye.
Step Two: Put a handful of clean pinkies or maggots into the bag.
Step Three: Carefully remove the lid and pour a small amount of the powder on the bait.
Step Four: Don’t go mad with the dye, this is potent stuff!
Step Five: Seal the bag to trap some air inside, note the amount of dye.
Step Six: Give the bait a really good shake; a lot of the dye will stick to the sides of the bag.
Step Seven: Keep shaking until all of the dye has come off the side of the bag.
Step Eight: The difference between normal pinkies and Stu’s hi-viz specials is plain to see!
Do They Work?
“Absolutely! I am convinced that these bright baits help catch you those extra, crucial fish during the winter months. Not only do the actual baits have that lovely colour but they also leave a small trail of colour that hangs through the water. I am sure any passing fish will instantly home in for a little look.
“Better still is the response anglers around you give you when they spy the specials in your bait boxes. Immediately they know they don’t have them and it can be a brilliant advantage in your head.
What a haul for the fluro king!
“I have found that they are particularly effective for roach and F1s. F1s in particular definitely seem to have a penchant for brightly coloured baits, and even if they are used to tip another bait to give them a highlight, it is well worth trying.”
Roach Bagging Bonanza!
“Just to show you how good these baits are, I have brought the Match Fishing cameras along to a short stretch of the River Nene. This is a typical winter hotspot and the fishing really can be fantastic as the stretch fills up with fish from the main river.
“I know that I will be catching a lot of fish today so am going to fish positively. As for groundbait, Sensas Roach And Silver Fish Natural is all that I have opted for – a lovely sticky mix that will carry plenty of bait.
“The venue is only narrow so I am going to fish just past the middle at eight metres, which is on a nice flat bottom. Three balls are fed at the start, with plenty of pinkies and hemp in. This should be enough to kick the swim off nicely, while I also plan to feed a small nugget after every three or four fish, depending on the response of the fish.
“Rigwise it is very simple indeed – a 4x14 Malko float tied on 0.12mm Sensas Feeling to a 0.085mm Supplex hooklength. A size 18 Maver ES40 is the hook of choice; a nice sharp barbless hook that is plenty strong enough for swinging chunky roach but also has a nice level of finesse about it.
The roach were a good stamp but still swingable
“The rig couldn’t be simpler in the shotting department. I am using a 0.3g olivette that is free running on the line and stopped in place with one No10 just above the hooklength knot (10in hooklength). I then have one No12 dropper on the hooklength. It’s a super-simple rig but one that doesn’t tangle and gets the hook bait into the catching zone quickly and efficiently.
“One key point that is well worth mentioning is the depth. This stretch fluctuates in depth frequently so a depth marker in the margins is a good idea as it rises and drops regularly (several times an hour) and the key catching depth is just tripping the bottom, so it can pay to keep a keen eye on the depths as the session progresses and keep altering the depth.
“A great little piece of advice is that if the fish are slightly deep hooked then the rig is probably a little too deep, and if you miss bites it is too shallow. Once you fine-tune the depth so that every roach is hooked in the top lip you will know that the rig is set up perfectly.
“The action is what can only be described as frantic from the first whistle! There are many of these winter haunts around the country where the fish shoal up in the cold weather and today is proving to be a real red-letter session. It is quite simply a roach a chuck.
“To keep the hordes of fish feeding I am simply feeding a nugget of groundbait after every few fish but also regularly feeding a pinch of pinkies. Bites are coming as soon as the rig settles and my simple and effective rig is making the most of the situation.
“I end with a huge net of river roach, easily over 40b in fact. A colossal day’s fishing by any standards, I think you will agree. And while I can't prove that the fluoro bait was the reason, it certainly did no harm. Get out and give them a try, because they really do work!”
Name: Stu Redman
Lives: Stamford, Licholnshire
MF says: Always looking for an edge
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On Saturday I had a trip to Fir Tree Fisheries in wigan, to take part in one of the charity qualifiers in association with Adlington Angling centre and Adlington Angling Club to help raise money for Christies.
Fir Tree is a venue I had only fished once before, about 6 years ago, and had a shocker to honest. Today I drew peg 34 which meant nothing, with alot of anglers fishing, I knew fishing the far bank at 16m on the pole would probably be my best bet of catching a few.
Started across on an Marukyu's Amino Focus 6mm pellet, feeding Fishery pellets flavour with a bit of Marukyu's Scopex Amino, within minutes I hooked a 4lb mirror which I lost at the net, the next few hours were slow, nicking to odd small carp and a few stocky F1s, but nothing over a pound.
Started a couple maggot lines in the track and down the edge in hope of lining up some silverfish, but it only produce one small chub,
Made the choice to just fish pellets for the rest of the match. Had a dob across on pellet and caught 3 mirrors, but then nothing. I could see a few anglers starting to catch a few stocky F1s, so started feeding some micros and 6mms, across again at 16m in a different swim, had a steady last hour catching about 35 stockies, to finish the match with 50lb 14oz, which was good enough for 2nd in the match, that carp I lost at the start cost me the win. The winner had a cracking net of silvers which went 52lb, so well done that man. I did qualify for the final but can't make it because I'm on holiday. Well done to all the lads who ran the match, it was a pleasure being part of the event and hope you carry on raising money for such a good charity and best of luck to all the finalist
Words & Images by Martin Stokes
Dan Webb lets some of the England Feeder team's cats out of the championship bag...
There seems to be this idea flying around that this little piece I'm writing each month might not be entirely serious. Someone even said to me they thought it was funny! Understandably, I haven't taken this very well, so I'm trying my best this month to write a hard-hitting technical feature to really put those ghosts to rest. I'm also probably going to have to keep my head down after this goes out because I'm sure the England Feeder team will have beef with me for giving away a big secret of theirs. What am I talking about? Murphy's Law!
Now, Murphy was an exceptional angler in his own right in the 1940s, but his career was dogged by tragedy. His law, which was passed by Parliament in April 1956, states: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” The following spring the Sod amendment clarified that this should only happen to the person who needs it least.
We have all experienced Murphy's Law at some point in our fishing: The day you forget your tip rod is the day you draw the peg with the island chuck. On the windiest day of the year, it's you that draws the widest peg. The morning of the first frost and the bream have shut up shop is when you finally draw the bream peg.
But what if I told you that you could use Murphy's Law to your advantage?
This law was used to great effect by the England Feeder team in Ireland in 2014. During practice the team realised that you got most bites when you were least ready for them. If you watch YouTube footage you can clearly see our boys occasionally glance away from their rod tips. A watched tip never moves and on a fish-filled venue such as Inniscarra, a quick check of the time was often enough to get a bite. The biggest master of this was Steve Ringer because on his way to winning the World Championship he used combinations of looks at the crowd and taking his hand from his rod to scratch his ear to keep bites coming.
This year, however, the venue in the Netherlands was so poor, just mere glances away from the rod tip wasn't enough to induce bites. During practice, reigning World Champion Steve had to visit a 24-hour pharmacy to buy cream for his severely damaged ear from all of the intense scratching.
It was Dean Barlow, however, who came up with the solution. Thanks to the team sponsor, Preston Innovations, each angler was presented with their own white embroidered yoga mat. To keep the other teams off the scent of what they were doing, they were referred to as ‘casting mats’. The first session that they were used, Dean ran out clear winner with a good run of skimmers that all took his bait while he was on his mat, behind his box in the Lotus Position. Dean mastered an incredible leap from his mat to grab his rod and strike in time.
The tactic worked a treat but after Day One of the World Champs, the team were joint first with France and Hungary. Things were going alright for the team on the second day, except for Adam Wakelin. With little in the net, Adam needed a bream. But with just minutes of the match left, it didn't look like it was going to happen. Then next thing he did was utter genius. He left his peg to use the Portaloo three pegs away, leaving Tom Pickering to watch his rod from behind the ropes. Sure enough, mid-flow, the rod tip ripped round and Tommy shouted: “Fish on.” Adam burst out of the toilet and sprinted back to his peg. The rest, as they say, is history as Adam landed the fish with five seconds to go and England won their second consecutive world championship by a narrow half-point margin.
Remember where you heard it first. Shhhhh, Mum’s the word!
Thinking angler Giles Cochrane takes you through a simple yet deadly approach that just keeps on winning him matches!
When tackling any commercial in the winter there are a few basic approaches that work well and have done for years but, due to the popularity of certain methods, ultimately they lose their effectiveness. Perhaps it has more to do with the ease and convenience of the approach and the number of anglers using them that leads to fish wising up and becoming more difficult to catch.
The Method feeder and pole, for example, now result in much lower weights than they did in previous years and consequently, I seldom set up either through the winter. Chucking the Method through the summer does account for some respectable weights of fish but it’s nowhere near as effective as a straight lead and loose-feeding approach, simply because the fish have associated it with danger and have learned to avoid it. Not so with the lead, as fish have difficulty distinguishing between the loose feed and hook bait.
By feeding just two grains at a time...
... You can avoid spreading your feed too far.
The solution then, when fishing winter matches on the same venues, is to revert to the straight lead, or so it would seem. However, the reality is somewhat different and fish such as F1s are not so keen to pull the tip round. The cause of this problem is due primarily to the number of fish competing in the peg, which means that in order to get wraparound bites on the lead, you need a lot of fish in your peg!
Fish do not often respond to large quantities of bait being chucked at them in winter, as we might be inclined to do in the summer to get them competing – quite the reverse actually. You will get the odd bite on the lead during the first half of the match but often wasting far too much time on a method that is not productive. For me, the solution to this problem is to fish the waggler and corn.
I accept that the pole is a good alternative approach, or at least it used to be but, as with all good methods, it loses its effectiveness, purely because fish seem to settle beyond the range of the pole in the colder months.
My theory on the subject of fishing the lead is that F1s pick up the bait, but eject it without us knowing, so the ultimate approach would be to fish the waggler as it is possible to see some indication that the bait is being sucked in.
The waggler and corn is not a new method and has been around for a long time but as very few people fish it, the fish have not wised up to it as quickly as with more popular methods. This is not an easy approach to master as F1 bites can be a nightmare to sort out but there are ways around this and this feature is based on putting fish in the net, when all other methods have failed. The bites you don’t see on the lead will show up as a twitch or some sort of indication on the waggler if you do it right.
As with all baits, there's a right way and a wrong way of fishing corn.
To begin with, your basic approach should be based on how you would attempt to fish for silvers, so treat F1s like roach and you won’t go far wrong. I use inserted crystal wagglers up to 2g but mostly around 1 to 1.5g. The loaded ones are better as I don’t like to put too many big shot around the float and a few BBs are all you need. You need a float you can cast with ease so short pellet-waggler-type floats are no good for this as they are too short and catch most of the surface drift. You will need a static presentation and longer wagglers are ideal as most of the tow tends to be in the top six inches of water.
This is a great method for cold-waters F1s
I dot my floats right down in the water to reduce any drag caused by surface tow from crosswinds. Besides that, there are plenty of indications that you won’t see with an inch of waggler sticking out of the water.
To make this method work you need a low-diameter main line. Anything more than diameter 0.12mm will sink too deep, causing a belly to form, dragging your float offline, which will make bites impossible to hit. Everyone has their preferences when it comes to line so I’m not telling you to use anything other than sticking with what you have complete confidence in. Even 3lb (diameter 0.14mm) is far too heavy and believe me, you will miss far too many bites as a consequence.
This is the rod action you're looking for...
... to land more fish, not lose them!
An important aspect of making this approach work for you is the ability to sink the line effectively. I use Fairy Liquid and dilute it 50/50 with water. Spray this on your spool before the start and repeat when necessary. I give the reel handle a sharp turn and this is normally enough to sink the line. I would advise against sinking the rod to the butt and striking upwards as sound travels much further in water and is likely to have an effect on the fish… like scaring them witless within a five-peg radius!
Preparing Sweetcorn -
1. Tip it into your landing net - one tin should be enough
2. Give it a dunking to rinse the juice off
3. Gently squeeze off the excess water. Easy.
As for hooks, I tend to use size 18s and 20s as I think F1s eject the corn too quickly when they detect bigger hooks. I don’t think fish can see hooks but they certainly know when they’ve picked one up, much like you, eating your Sunday dinner with a hair in your mouth. By dotting the float right down and using smaller hooks, I have a far better chance of connecting with the bite.
As for rods, you can forget the shorter pellet-waggler designs as you will miss too many bites. People will dismiss this but it is only when you are drawn next to someone using a longer rod that you see the difference. Mostly, pellet-waggler rods are too stiff, which makes playing F1s and carp a lottery on smaller hooks. The rods I use I have designed myself for finesse-based approaches as I felt that there was nothing on the market that would give me the confidence to use the smaller hooks and lighter lines.
In effect, the rod should continue to bend to accommodate the size of the fish. Playing big fish effectively is down to the rod you use and stiffer rods, for me, cause more problems than they solve. It’s about putting more fish in the net than your opponents so use rods that will do this and not the opposite. Ideally, for all my carp and F1 fishing I use 12 to 13ft rods. Anything shorter is not viable and will affect my ability to land 99 per cent of what I hook.
The key to success, as with all methods, is feeding. It is possible to get bites consistently and all day long, while those around you are struggling, but corn is difficult to feed accurately. I never feed more than two grains at a time; firstly, because fish do not respond to the ‘carpet effect’ and will back away from large quantities of corn, and secondly, try feeding more than two grains and people around you start complaining that you are feeding their pegs.
Giles favours long insert crystal wagglers for F1s...
... and rods should be a minimum of 12 feet long.
The most effective way to build your peg is to feed two grains, wait 30 seconds, twitch the float and feed another two. This approach can be instant and I would normally expect to get bites by the second chuck. You need to keep the fish competing so I never exceed the amount of bait I started with. Keep it to two grains and you won’t go far wrong, drawing fish from anglers around you who are not catching on the pole.
After a few hours of doing this, you will start to miss bites as many of these bites are actually liners caused by too many fish in your peg. The last hour is when I normally chuck the lead as it can be devastating, but it’s the consistent feeding that eventually created this situation. About one tin of corn a match is all you’ll need but don’t be wasting your money on the expensive free range/Fairtrade nonsense. Tesco budget stuff is about 30p a tin and spot on for this.
One final word about this method – plumbing up! You will need to get this precise. I use a BB shot on the hook and I tend to cast out, sink the line and give the float about 10 seconds to appear. If it appears too quickly, you will be overdepth. If it doesn’t appear then add a few inches at a time until it does. Fishing overdepth with corn is never a good idea as you need to be able to detect the bait being sucked in, not spat out!
This is by no means an easy method to master but with some practice and by following these basic tips, it will result in far more bites and ultimately more fish in the net than those who sit it out on the pole or feeder. It works for me!
Get it right and the rewards are there for the taking.
Angler File -
Name: Giles Cochrane
Sponsors: Tri-Cast Weston Pools/Concept Design Rods
MF Says: The Angling Philosopher!
Venue: Weston Pools
Location: Weston Cotton Farm, Weston Lane, Weston, Oswestry SY10 9ER
Number: 01691 671812
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Last Thursday, I decided to do something a little bit different, and do a feature with the guys from fishing in the northwest. The lads are great and do some great work, helping new anglers gain lots of information and tips on, loads of north-west commercials and natural waters.
After a bit of discussion, we decided to pay Lloyds Meadow Fishery a visit, the lake we fished was Badger, A lake I fished for the first time only a few weeks ago. This time was decided to go for some of bigger carp in the lake on the pole, now the weather had improved.
I started the session by mugging a few early at 15m on 6mm Marukyu Focus Pellet banded, but was priming a caster line at 6 meters.
With an hour of the session gone, I had a look on the caster line, fishing a 3rd of a worm, feeding casters. I had a run of Carp before they backed off.
I started pinging 4mm Focus pellets to prime a shallow line, at 14.5m, caught some big Carp on 6mm Focus pellet.
I spent the rest of the day alternating the two shallow lines left and right, to allow each swim to settle. Mugging a few cruising munters inbetween.
Last hour managed a good run of fish on the 6m line shallow again, fishing and feeding 6mm Focus pellets.
Had a great day catching some nice carp, and ended the session a bit early because my two keepnets were both getting full.
I didn't use a plummet all day, every fish was caught Shallow!
Small 18 hooks to 0.13 line. Fished light even for big Carp
A long line from pole tip to float was key so you didn't spook the carp.
Little and often pinging pellets, to draw them into the swim.
4x14 PR Chianti
4x12 PR Chianti
0.2g Drennan Crystal Dipper
Bait tray for the day
A bag of 4mm Marukyu Focus Pellets
A bag of 6mm Marukyu Focus Pellets
A handful of worms
2 pints of casters
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Lewis Breeze explains how to make the most of your peg, if you are lucky enough to draw opposite the moored boats in a marina.
Words and photos: Steve Martin
The UK’s canal system can be almost as busy as its motorway network during the summer months. However, once the cooler weather arrives, most canal boats are moved to moorings to overwinter in a marina. Once moored, the boats create the perfect sanctuary for fish to use as protection from predators in the clear-water conditions.
Marinas offer plenty of cover all year round, especially once the boats stop and the water clears.
Sadly, many of the marinas are off limits to angling, as they are set off the canal with no access, but in some parts of the country there are no barriers, so you are able to fish from the towpath – across to the boats or into the open water between them.
It’s safe to say that if there was a marina included in the match length, those pegs would be the ‘fliers’ that everyone would want to draw. However, once you arrive at the swim, it’s no normal canal peg, so how do you fish it?
Canal expert Lewis Breeze has fished the Venetian Marina near Nantwich, in Cheshire, since he was a lad. However, the fishing on the short section of the Shropshire Union Canal was stopped for a number of years, and it had only recently been reinstated, with the odd match now fished on it.
Lewis had picked a peg that was in the centre of the marina, well away from the lock to his right and the narrow bridge to the left. These were the entry points to the marina, so he wanted to avoid as much of the disturbance that any boat entering or exiting could have made had he fished closer to them.
With a boat moored directly across from Lewis, he explained that this, as you would expect, would be his main target area. He felt that the fish would be shoaled close to the cover, rather than in the deeper water of the main channel, even though the water was coloured. This was an unusual quirk of the canal, as the water usually goes clear in the cold.
Lewis started the session fishing a 5mm punch, but would go larger of the better fish turned up.
Roach and skimmers were Lewis’ main targets for the session, and due to the cover that marinas offer there are often some big specimens to be caught, which is why the moorings are seen as the hot pegs. He added that he expected to catch small fish early and hoped the bigger fish would move in later in the session. To maximise his chances, he would fish a bread line as his main line of attack, to catch anything, and a caster line to draw in the better stamp fish. He also added that he would have a third line to fish for a bonus perch down the track, as one big stripey can often be a game changer!
A helping of hemp boosted the drawing power of the casters!
The bread was to be fished at 13 metres – just off the boat, straight in front of Lewis – with the casters a few metres to the left. His theory was that the bigger fish would hang just off the main feed area, and by loose feeding casters regularly, it would gain their confidence to feed. The perch line was to be fed with a small helping of chopped worms and casters to the left at around six metres.
A firmly squeezed helping of bread to prime the punch line.
To fish the punch, Lewis attached a rig to his No2 Slip elastic, comprising a 4x12 Garbolino DC22 on 0.10mm main line. To this he added a 5in 0.07mm hook link with a size 18 Kamasan B511 hook. The rig was shotted with a spread bulk of No12s above the hook link.
For the caster line, Lewis had a 4x10 Preston PB8 set on 0.10mm main line with a 5in 0.08mm hook link and size 18 PR 333. The No12s were set ‘shirt button- style’ above the hooklength. That rig was attached to a No8 Slip elastic to cope with the bigger fish that Lewis expected to catch on the setup.
The perch line paid off late in the session with this bonus 2lb stripey
Both rigs were plumbed up to fish slightly overdepth, and as he did so, he pointed out that unlike a normal section of canal, the water at the top of the slope was quite deep. In fact, it was a good metre deep by the boat. Another clue as to why the fishing and the quality of the fish can be so good!
Positive loose feeding will draw the fish away from the boats
The perch rig was a lot meatier, as it needed to strike home the size 14 B560 hook – hence the reason for the 6-8 hollow elastic – and allow Lewis to play a bonus fish without fear of a break. The rest of the rig saw a 4x18 Sensas CCX2 set on 0.12mm main line with a similar strength 5in hook link. The loading was three No12s bulked directly above the hooklength and an olivette set a further 12 inches above the shot. This was set to fish a big worm hard on the bottom.
A lump of stodgy bread every put-in kept the fish on the deck
A 4x18 sensas CCX2 for the worm rig.
To kick-start the session, Lewis would feed a small baitdropper of chopped worms and casters down the track, where, he explained, he would leave the feed to attract any perch in the vicinity, topping it up every 30 minutes, but not fishing it for at least two hours. He might get one chance of a bite, so he wanted to give the feed plenty of time to draw a fish in.
He would feed hemp and casters on the shell line, and again not fish it for a while at the start to allow the fish time to locate particles. He would, however, ping a few casters over the top every 10 minutes.
Casters were fed every 10 minutes at the start, then more frequently as the session progressed
The bread line would be primed with a big, fairly firm ball of liquidised feed, which Lewis had frozen, thawed and then passed through a pinkie riddle. This then created a light, fine, fluffy feed once water was applied by an atomiser, to bind it and give it some weight.
A small amount of chopped worms and casters to tempt the perch
The white crumb only formed part of the feed, though, as before he added the water Lewis also mixed in an equal amount of a dried bread mix, which he had prepared by drying slices of a white loaf in a low oven, then crumbled them up before finally passing it through a flour sieve to create an extra-fine feed. Once mixed, this finer feed would create a lingering cloud in the water, which would attract, but not fill the fish up. It was also very versatile, as by adding more water, the feed would become stodgy, so that it fell quickly to the bottom before breaking up, which made it perfect for topping up, once the bites started to slow.
Lewis stated that a firm squeeze of the bread mix was fine, as there was no tow on the water, so he wasn’t too bothered if the feed started to break down in midwater. Once the bread was fed he then added the extra water to form the heavier stodge, which he would feed later.
With all three lines fed, Lewis went straight over on the bread with a 5mm disc of punch, which saw his float dip within moments of the bait settling, and as he swung the fish to hand, he commented that it was one of the great things about bread on the canal – it’s an instant bait, and with that in mind, he added that he would only ever feed and fish the one bread line at a time, to ensure he didn’t miss out on any fish.
It was a small roach every put-in for Lewis in the first 30 minutes. He had banked on a few stamp fish to move in sooner, so to see if the bigger fish were hanging back from the initial line, he switched to the caster line.
That move failed to get any interest, so after another baitdropper of chop and casters was fed down the track Lewis returned to the bread line, where he now started to feed a small amount of ‘sloppy’ bread via a Toss Pot on every put-in, having first added more water to the feed. This modified crumb created a milky cloud on the way to the deck, without adding too much more food. He explained that with so much water to draw the fish from, you can risk being a little more positive with the feed to try and entice more into your swim. Lewis also upped the frequency of the loose-fed casters.
The extra feed did its job, as the bigger fish started to show, including the first skimmer of the session. However, the slop created another problem as Lewis was getting bites on the drop, as the fish came up to the slow-sinking bread. These were the smaller roach, which he was trying to avoid, and they were trashing the hook bait before it reached the bigger fish.
A quick fix was required, and to push the fish back down Lewis added some dry crumb to his sloppy feed, so that it became more stodgy. He also changed to a pinkie hook bait, which would survive the attentions of the smaller fish better than the punch. This resulted in him hitting more bites, but the fish were again on the small size.
Lewis fished three lines on the day: (1) Bread directly in front, (2) casters to the left - away from the bread line - and (3) worms further to the left, down the track in the deepest water.
Two passing boats prompted Lewis to feed his perch line for a third time, before he had a second look on the casters. It was still slow, but he did start to get fish – better roach, plus a big skimmer. After catching the latter, he tried a worm head on the hook, which produced a few more good roach, but he had to wait a while for each fish.
Then a clue as to why the action wasn’t as good as he expected – the surface of the water over his bread line erupted, as a perch hit a shoal of small fish. That attack seemed to kill both silver-fish lines, so Lewis re-fed both, and also the perch line, after which he then decided to drop a big worm in the deep water.
A bite came almost immediately… from the smallest perch in canal! A second look produced a 4oz fish. It looked as if a nest of small perch had moved in over his feed, so Lewis had one more look on the worm, commenting that he’d given the other lines time to settle. The float danced and then dipped, and this time when he hit the bite, there was solid resistance, and a few moments later he had a bonus 2lb perch in the net.
Returning to the bread line, Lewis continued to catch small roach on pinkie, feeding bread, plus a bigger roach on a single maggot. However the bites were now at a premium. It seemed that the predator presence had spooked the fish somewhat, and time was up anyway.
Name: Lewis Breeze
Team: Drennan Northwest
Sponsors: Sensas, Dave’s of Middlewich
MF says: Marina master
Venue: Venetian Marina
Location: Shropshire Union Canal – Middlewich Branch, Barbridge Junction to Middlewich Juntion, Cheshire
Tickets: Canal & Rivers Trust Waterways Wanderer ticket £20
Number: 0303 040 4040
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Inside Out Method
Fishing with my hookbait outside of the feeder has been very effective over the past couple of months. It can be a deadly way of fishing the method feeder when the fish aren’t attacking the feeder confidently.
Light Is Best
I always try and use the lightest float and line I can get away with at this time of year, it definitely catches me more fish. As the water starts to warm up I will step up my tackle, but using light lines, floats and smaller hooks works best for me in the winter/spring months.
Less is More
It’s amazing how little bait you can feed on commercials, but still catch loads of fish. F1’s in particular respond to the tiniest amount of bait at this time of the year. Literally, three maggots or five micro pellets is enough bait to get an initial response from a fish, then you have to be patient and wait for a proper bite. I see far too many anglers feeding with massive CAD pots and ruining their pegs. I use a small sprinkle pot, this holds more than enough bait! The ‘less is more’ statement couldn’t be more applicable at this time of the year.
Make Some Noise
Making noise is very important in fishing, even at this time of year. Fish are inquisitive and they’re attracted to noise so I always have a line up my sleeve where I catapult or throw bait. You’ll be shocked at the difference making noise can make.
This is an area that lots of anglers get confused about but I think it’s simple. I fish 1 to 2” over depth on commercials, to the bottom of the body of my float. I’ve found this to be the most effective way to plumb up, no matter what bait I’m using or what fish I’m targeting. I’ve been using a Line Safe Plummet for the past six months and it’s essential for gaining pin point accuracy.s’ 5 Commercial Tips
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Where once bloodworm ruled supreme, bread and hemp seem to dominate on Alan Scotthorne’s local canal. We met him to see how he utilises two of the best roach catchers available.
I have fished my local Stainforth & Keadby Canal for many years because it is so close to my South Yorkshire home and offers such consistent sport. Roach are always the main species, with just the occasional match won with skimmers and bream. From winter through to spring it has a reputation for being dominated by bloodworm and joker. However, times are definitely changing…
Despite its dominance, there has been a growing trend where other baits are being used more and more in matches and with surprising results. I think it was probably all brought about by the fact that one winter, around three years ago, bloodworm and joker was not available in England for a very long five-week period. This was due to the really low temperatures throughout Europe and it meant anglers had no option but to try other baits. Of these, two really stood out for catching impressive weights of roach: bread and hemp.
Hemp for feeding (left) and Monster Hemp hook bait (Right)
Hempseed has always been considered a great summer bait for roach. It is capable of very large weights and roach can get into a feeding frenzy at times. Using these little black seeds in winter, however, was a rarity on the Stainy. That was until some anglers discovered it could lead to weights of up to 20lb!
It has now become very common to feed hemp on a long-pole swim. This year in particular you have really needed to catch on hemp in the last two hours of a match to do well. The overall size of roach you catch on hemp is far superior to the ones caught on bloodworm, too. I don’t know what the explanation for this is. I can only think that joker attracts all the small fish and the bigger and wiser roach don’t get a chance to get to it. This is borne out by the fact that, after introducing joker, the first few roach you catch are normally of a good size, in the 2oz to 3oz class. Soon after, though, most of the fish are less than an ounce and not such good weight builders. Added to this is the problem of lots of small perch being in a swim fed with bloodworm and joker. It is therefore difficult to win a match by just fishing bloodworm and joker for the entire duration. Catching the much bigger roach on hemp is therefore vital and these traditionally begin to appear much later in a session.
It doesn't take much bait to catch a lot of fish
Another very effective option instead of bloodworm has been fishing with punched bread. This is also being used on my local canal for roach with great effect and they are normally a slightly better size than the bloodworm fish.
Unlike hemp, bread is also quite an instant bait that can bring an immediate response. It therefore makes sense to start by fishing with bread and end the session with a flurry of better fish on hemp.
By being quite aggressive with the way you fish with bread, it is possible to catch well for at least two or three hours. That is precisely how I have approached today’s session. I have caught 90 fish on punch before finishing the session with much bigger roach on the seed.
I have spent some time this season fine-tuning my hemp and bread approach, so I want to share with you how I make the most of these low-cost baits.
Preparing Bread Feed
This is Alan's initial amount of feed
Using cheap loaves of sliced white bread, I remove the crust from each slice and then spread it out on a flat surface for a couple of hours so the bread dries out a little. I then put these slices through a liquidiser and pass the resulting crumbs though a pinkie riddle or sieve. This creates perfect liquidised bread for feeding.
I normally liquidise several loaves at a time, portion it in polythene bags and store it in the freezer. Then, the night before a match I take two or three bags out so they are fully defrosted in the morning.
My liquidised bread feed is okay for shallow venues, but this canal is 2.5 metres deep, so I need something to help it go straight to the bottom before breaking down. I therefore also add Sensas Punch Crumb. This fine white groundbait is stickier than liquidised bread and gives the mix much more binding power. A third to half of my mix is Sensas Punch Crumb and, using a drill and whisk, I spray it with an atomiser while whisking until it binds together easily. I then add red 2mm aquarium gravel for extra weight. I prefer red, but I know others choose to use white, so it is just personal preference.
Bread For The Hook
Next is the hook bait. For this I prefer good quality, medium-sliced Warburtons. I bring three slices to use just as they are. I also have another three that I’ve placed in a microwave on full power for 20 seconds and then compressed with a rolling pin to flatten them slightly. This gives me two hook-bait consistencies to try; normal bread straight from the bag is best when bites are coming quickly, but microwaved bread stays on the hook much better. Importantly, keep the slices in an airtight bag to maintain their freshness.
How To Hook Bread
1. Alan usually starts with a 5mm punch. Pull the hook through the slot and up into the bread...
2. ... before drawing the bread out of the punch head...
3. ... then gently move the pellet of bread onto the bend of the hook
How To Hook Hemp
1. Gently force the bend of the hook into the seed that has only just split
2. The seed will grip the hook well enough to stay on.
Where To Fish
This is a typical canal with a slope on the near side going out to about five metres. The bottom is then flat until it starts to rise again around five metres from the far bank. I will plumb to fish on this flat area at about six to seven metres. The canal is affected by boats and lock gates, so it will occasionally tow slightly and usually from left to right. By fishing where the bottom is flat, it allows you to run over the baited area much easier than if you were fishing on a slope.
At the start I feed just one large ball of bread feed that just fits inside a 250ml Drennan pole pot. Because I know that this canal can move at times, this is cupped in a metre to the right. This means if the canal does start to run I can set up my rig above the baited area and then run over it with ease. Interestingly, I have found that a lot of fish intercept the punch hook bait when it is above the baited area. When the canal is flowing, I think the fish must swim through the baited area and then drop back below the bait; hence you catch a lot of roach upstream of the feed and not just downstream like you might assume.
The ball of bread feed is squeezed hard so I know that it will get to the bottom exactly where I want it. The extra weight of the gravel also means it will reach the bottom quickly, even if the canal is flowing. I know for a fact that the fish will soon spread the bait out across a wider area as they attack the ball and give you a slightly bigger area to fish over.
Bites normally come instantly after feeding bread, so once I am catching I can monitor the amount of bites I’m getting and decide when a re-feed is necessary. This happened after about 25 minutes today and by this stage, I had already caught 20 fish. Roach are aggressive feeders, so I topped up with two more big balls of bread in the hope that this would last a little longer.
The canal then flowed for a period and, as expected, the fish fed very well when this happened. I caught really well until I had a lapse in sport and a big pike became a nuisance, grabbing a better roach on the way in. It was no match for my 0.075mm hooklength, however. Once netted, I took it for a walk and released it further up the canal for its troubles!
Positive Bread Rig
Rigwise, fishing with breadpunch is very similar to fishing with bloodworm. I therefore have a simple setup consisting of a bulk of No8 shot with three No10 droppers spread over 40 centimetres. This is a good starting rig with a 0.6g Drennan prototype pencil-type float that I have been working on.
This is on 0.107mm Drennan Supplex line with a 15 centimetre 0.075mm Supplex fluorocarbon hooklength to a size 18 Kamasan B511 hook. I leave around 80 centimetres of line from float to pole tip so the rig can travel across the baited area easily. This is connected to No3 Preston Slip elastic through just the long tip section of my Acolyte pole. This cushions the strike well but also ensures fish can be swung to hand easily.
I have started using this shorter length of elastic more and more on venues like this and with lighter elastics up to No6. It is better for controlling bigger fish and makes swinging fish of different sizes much better. It even helped to succumb a 12lb pike in double-quick time between the roach action!
I set the rig three centimetres off bottom because this seems to be the optimum depth. I can then work the rig over the swim and top up with more feed whenever I feel the fish are backing off. This has kept the swim ticking over and in a little less than three hours I’ve caught around 90 fish for over 8lb. A great start!
My usual hook bait is a 5mm pellet of bread, but Drennan produces a cracking set of six punches with brass heads ranging from 2.5mm up to 7mm, so it’s just a case of experimenting with what the roach want on any given day. Normally it is the size of fish that dictates the best size of punch.
I also find it better to use a bread board that I have made myself from MDF. This doesn’t damage the punches but gives a hard base to punch onto, helping with speed when hooking up. A rigid side tray also helps when repeatedly pressing down hard with a punch.
Switching To Hemp
While fishing my closer bread swim I regularly catapult hemp much further out on to a long-pole swim. That is at 15 metres towards the base of the far shelf. As soon as I have positioned my rig into the closer swim I loose feed the hemp swim with a catapult. This helps to slowly build up the area ready for the last two hours.
I feed up to 30 grains every drop-in and after missed bites, so I had probably fed this area around 120 times while fishing bread. You have to be disciplined with the regular feeding but it really is worth it if the roach are there and ready to be caught.
Hemp tends to sort out a better stamp of roach
Preparing Good Hemp
I prefer freshly cooked hemp and always have two sizes. For the hook, I use Sensas Monster Hemp, but it can sometimes be difficult to cook. The best way I have found is to place it in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. I then carefully pour off the water and replace with cold water and reboil. I repeat this up to 10 times. The finished hemp is then nicely split and the shoots are snow white and perfect for roach.
For feeding I use normal sized hemp cooked in the same way. I think changing the water regularly really helps to ensure the kernels are bright white and contrast well with the black shells. This is important because roach hunt by both sight and noise.
I set up two very different rigs for hemp. The first is my positive rig and features a 0.4g Drennan AS6 pole float that has a 1.5mm hollow bristle and a carbon stem. This is set at exact depth with just a single bulk of No10 shot positioned 80 centimetres from the hook and no droppers at all. This is quite an unorthodox setup but allows the hemp to fall very naturally. When you get a bite on this rig you rarely miss it! It also seems to pick out the bigger fish. A 0.09mm Supplex fluorocarbon hooklength to a size 16 Kamasan B511 hook to No5 Preston elastic completes the setup.
My next rig is a little more traditional and consists of a 0.2g pencil float with strung-out No11s. It also features a 0.08mm hooklength to a size 16 B511 and is usually fished around 20 centimetres off the bottom.
I hook hemp by forcing the bend of the hook into a seed that has only just split. With a little practice, you can feel when the hemp is wedged nice and securely. This should grip the hook well and still leave enough of the hook point showing to hit bites.
There are other ways to hook hemp, such as pushing the hook through the small indentation (where it was originally attached to a stem) and out of the split, but I feel this masks the hook slightly so I prefer the way I’ve already explained.
Feeding And Presentation
Once I begin to fish the hemp swim I often find it is better to not actually feed while your rig is in the swim. This just leads to missed bites and all sorts of silly indications on the float as the fish dart around in a frenzy! So, when I ship in with a fish or rebait, I then feed with the catapult. This is normally with up to 40 grains of hemp to keep the fish down near the bottom, where they are easier to catch.
I often vary the presentation and lift and drop the hook bait until I find out how the fish want the bait falling through the swim. The angler that works hardest with this bait definitely reaps the rewards.
Usually, the longer you can wait and build up a hemp swim the better, so be patient. That is why it works so well in conjunction with a more instant bait like bread. It is a great way to catch roach, so get out and try both of these relatively cheap baits for fantastic results!
Venue: Stainforth & Keadby Canal
Location: Thorne, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Day tickets: £3 on the bank; £2 juniors and concessions
Controlling club: Thorne District Angling Association
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On Sunday I paid a visit to Heronbrook to fish the spring league with the Maver Bagem Lads, I was put on the bridge and new canal section. Didn't fancy it on new canal, as it has been struggling to compete with bridge the last couple of weeks. Guess where I was drawn? New canal, to be fair it was end peg 10, with loads of room, so did fancy it for a few bites.
Started on the pole at 9m fishing and feeding pellets, hooked a 7lb carp straight away, happy days, after that had a good run of stockies average about 8oz each, didn't have to wait long for bites, after two hours decided to have a go across at 16m on 6mm banded pellet, with hope of catching some decent carp, but yet again just caught stockies, decided to go back on the 9m line as the wind was starting to blow, had another good run of small F1s, with the odd 2lb pounder. With a couple of hours of the match remaining, decided to chuck with the method in hope of another proper carp, but I didn't have any look.
I decided to try and force the peg going into the last hour and half, and it proved to be a good decision started loose feeding maggots down the edge and 6m, only had one decent F1 down edge, but had another good run of F1s and stockies at 6m.
Ended the match with about 130 fish which went 97lb 14oz, which was the best weight off new canal, so picked up a few pennies, finished 10th overall out of over 120 anglers, but more importantly finished with 3 points out of 30, to help the team rise up the league.
Bait tray for the day.
2mm Marukyu Focus Pellets.
4mm Marukyu Focus Pellets.
6mm Marukyu Focus Pellets.
Marukyu Pellet Skrunch groundbait.
Scopex amino flavoured Maggots.
Scopex amino flavoured 3.5mm Expanders.
scopex amino flavoured 4mm Expanders.
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It’s not every day us mere mortals of anglers get asked to trial a new product, that’s normally left to those at consultant level within the big companies but at the same time not all companies that are influential in the angling world are the size of the major tackle brands; so when I was asked by Andy Wootton and Nigel Malko both of Commercial Indications several months ago about trialling some new float tips I couldn’t refuse. My first thoughts leaned towards a new shape or was it the nitinol (Bendy Wire) that is now all the rage? No, it was quite simply a new colour tip or several new colours to be exact with which one is still undergoing testing as we speak, I asked Andy why they were looking at producing new colours and how they would improve my own as well as anyone else fishing from what we already know and have trust in? His simple reply to me was do I struggle to see floats or certain colours at distance? Being partially colour blind I would have to say yes, I do especially in certain lights, I was intrigued as he wasn’t giving too much away in terms of benefits in fact pretty much none, I had to just try them in differing situations, and with the winter period approaching it was a good time to try as the weather changes constantly and that hard to see glassy surface is quite commonplace on most days. He sent me a set of each colours and I wasn’t to get in touch with him until I had spent enough time trialling them; the 2 colours that were sent were neon pink and a bright blue.
On first look at each colour I could start to see they could have a potential to make the difference but only time on the bank will tell, it was quite difficult though as he asked if I could try and keep them under wraps from prying eyes especially as nothings secret these days with social media. So let’s look at each float and see what it brings to the table, the pink float I was a little apprehensive as to whether it would make much of a difference against a red or even an orange tip as it’s not too dissimilar in colour, at close range most people will be able to see all 3 colours just as well as each other but the longer you go it just seems to stay as bright as it does at 2m whereas the red and orange definitely seem to lose their contrast. But it’s when the sun is shining it really comes into its own over the other 2 colours, it looks more like a starlight than an actual tip it is so bright with the sun passing through it. Now the Blue is very interesting and I know since they posted a picture on their social media page they have been inundated with questions and requests to buy from anglers all over and it caught my eye straight away but again only by thoroughly testing it will it can we judge how well it will fair or fail in today’s angling. My first time out with the float the light was poor in fact very dull so no piercing light to obscure it, I was surprised how well it showed especially when fishing long its quite weird to be looking at a blue float and even against a background with an array of colours from overhanging bushes, reeds and mud it was very clear to see as there is very little in the way of natural foliage for the float to blend into. I was impressed how both floats did on each occasion in fact I was very impressed how much of a difference they made.
The next session was going to be the test for both these floats the weather was one of those days that was bright with the sun trying its dammed hardest to breakthrough, it was fairly breezy so a nice cross ripple on the water good fishing conditions for catching but an absolute bloody nightmare to see your float at times. I chose to fish at 13m a distance I felt comfortable at and where I felt I could make the most of being able to see any movement on the float as the style required me to dot the float down to a dimple; this normally doesn’t bother me but sometimes leads to having two identical rigs set up normally with a red and black tip so I can keep switching. Again, the pink was up first, and although it is such a bright float I did lose it at times in the glare of the surface so I had to do the head dance a few times; now don’t get me wrong it was still so much easier to see than the red which is generally used in most situations, the black comes into its own against very light backgrounds. Up next was the Blue, what came next for me was something that I believe is going to change many anglers out there it was unbelievable how it showed up in all lights, at times it was difficult to see which I would expect for any colour but not once did I lose it in the glare, the light passes through very well and I for several sessions I was stunned at how good this colour is.
Will this be beneficial to all anglers? Maybe not as many can see just fine but there are plenty of anglers who I speak to on a regular basis who struggle to see either certain colours or at distance as their eyes are not what they once were. There are days and situations where dotting the float to a dimple is needed and one of these colours or the one being tested could now offer anglers who wouldn’t normally adopt this as they simply can’t see it a chance to dot it down further ultimately increasing their catch rates. Don’t discount the traditional colours as each all have a place and there will be many who will simply refuse to even consider one of these colours but it really is hard to get past how the pink is so much brighter and the blue for me was the outstanding performer in changeable conditions; they are here to stay they have a company who can produce these on mass and I’m glad I’ve had the privilege to be a part of testing of these tips which have just hit the market.
They are not available for individual sale which will be a disappointment to many of the float builders out there but floats are available right now from the commercial indication range, currently floats are available fitted with both pink and blue in hollow sizes 1.5mm, 1.7mm & 2mm; there are plans for the future heading towards winter for smaller sizes such as 1mm & 1.2mm.
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Outspoken and opinionated he may be, but whenever he writes something it’s always worth reading. Welcome back, Giles Cochrane…
Weston Pools is a fantastic match and pleasure fishing complex because it offers anglers a range of species to target with a variety of different approaches. However, from a match angler’s point of view, this can be a daunting prospect.
It took me a little while to realise that I needed to target F1s, ignoring the barbel and carp as the F1s feed shallow for most of the year and are big enough to put a reasonable weight together in the last few hours if necessary.
My approach to winning matches at Weston Pools is simple and based solely on reading the ‘bites’ to ascertain whether the fish have come up in the water.
A short line between pole and float maximises the bites to hooked fish ratio
I make no secret of the fact that I disagree with too much emphasis being placed on rigs, line diameter and hook sizes because you are not focusing on the most important aspect of match fishing: feeding!
This feature is designed to demonstrate the most effective way to catch F1s. My choice of floats for the job is largely irrelevant because it is purely down to personal choice but use something robust and forget the pretty, delicate ones.
Giles favours solid elastics for F1s
I use Darren Milne Slims with 2.5mm tips in 4x14 and 4x12 sizes because they are strong and take a battering. It really doesn’t matter which brand of line you use or the diameter as it makes no difference, and the same can be said for hooks. Use what you have confidence in and don’t be tempted to change by the latest fads that everyone else is using. I use PR 27s because I find eyed hooks better for shallow fishing but to each their own.
This is the part of the feature you’ll have to read twice: I use diameter 0.17mm line direct to a size 14 hook when fishing caster shallow for F1s. I never use hooklengths because I use line that is strong enough to cope with any rogue carp or barbel. I see no point in tying a weaker hooklength into the rig. It’s about landing what you hook.
Fishing shallow is the best way for a big weight of F1s
As for elastics, I use solids for shallow fishing because I feel I have far more control, particularly for F1s as I like to ship back the pole, break down to the top kit and net the fish in one movement. I find hollows to be too soft and pulla kits make them fight harder, resulting in lost fish at the net. Winning matches has never been about landing fish quickly – it’s about landing fish effectively! If they don’t go in the keepnet then what difference does it make to anything you do?
I start every match by feeding one line at around 11 to 14 metres with chopped worm through a Kinder pot, starting on the deck and gauging the bites; more often these are liners. You need to work out where they want it. The secret to winning matches is knowing when to switch to fishing shallow. This is the most effective way of catching a big weight of F1s so the sooner I can get them off the bottom the better.
Feeding one line works well at Weston Pools because you won’t confuse yourself. I feed neat worm and a little soil through a Kinder pot but loose feed caster over the top. It’s far easier to regulate the feed by doing it this way and to determine at what depth you want them to feed.
It might take you 30 minutes to get the first bite but after two or three fish missed bites will become a problem. Scaling down your line and hooks and line diameter is not the answer; fishing shallow is! Within minutes of catching your first fish they will be shallow, even in December as this feature demonstrates. Once I’ve missed two consecutive bites, I switch to the 4x12 rig set at around two to three feet deep. I continue to pot in chopped worm, loose feeding caster over the top, but I am effectively catching on the drop with small worm heads on the hook. On some days it is possible to catch steadily on this rig for the rest of the match but on other days the bigger F1s want the caster. The chopped worm certainly speeds up the waiting time to catching shallow, but by loose feeding casters your shallow caster line has been primed from the start and they will be queuing up for it. Don’t bother to look for signs of fish feeding shallow, you won’t see any! F1s do not swirl for the bait like carp, in fact I find it better to treat them like big roach.
Most of the bites that people miss when fishing caster shallow tend to be from big F1s (3lb plus). By shortening the line between the pole tip and the float it transforms the rig into a bolt rig, which is the best way to maximise the ratio of bites to hooked fish. I believe that when fishing 12 to 18 inches deep, you need a big hook to convert bites into fish and a size 14 is perfect. It might look a little odd to your fellow competitors but who cares – they ain’t eating your casters! Fish cannot see hooks because they are only looking for casters.
It's not about looking pretty, it's about being efficient
Small pieces of worm were best for fishing on the deep
Creating competition in your peg is essential and the most important part, and to do this I feed five or six casters every few seconds! Fish come to the vibrations caused by bait hitting the surface and not the quantity you feed. You should be feeding around 20 to 30 times a minute.
Despite what people tell you about worm being an expensive way of fishing, consider this: I use half a kilo of worm and roughly five pints of casters over two matches at Weston Pools. It’s really all you need.
This is how to judge the quality of your peg!
You might need to practise shipping out with short rigs for the caster approach but to make this easier I use 4x10 floats with one No8 shot down the line. Too much weight down the line will cause tangles and spending your match cutting rigs off the end of the pole with scissors is likely to be detrimental to your catch rate.
Remember, feeding is everything and is the only way you’ll be able to transform average pegs into winning pegs – it’s as simple as that! You only know your peg is rubbish after five hours of fishing it properly, not before you get to it!
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Dobbing is a bit of a Marmite tactic; it can be seen as extremely negative but it also catches a lot of fish, especially when the temperature plummets. Is there really any skill in it? We joined up-and-coming star Craig Goldstraw to discover the secrets behind his dobbing success.
What is dobbing? It’s actually quite a vague description of a method that can take many different forms. Saying you caught dobbing is a bit like saying you caught on the feeder, or on the waggler; yes it gives an idea of how you caught, but with so many variables you’re still left pretty much in the dark.
The most common assumption that most of us make is that if you caught dobbing, you caught on bread; after all it’s the only bait a lot of anglers ever try when dobbing, but in the last few seasons I’ve been having a lot of success dobbing other baits, mainly maggots, and I’ve found that a simple switch of baits can get you bites in an area you previously thought was devoid of fish.
Think red, not bread!
I don’t know exactly why maggots are so effective for dobbing but I do have a theory: fish see maggots dropping through the water all year long on most venues and therefore seeing a maggot in midwater is nothing new. Bread is rarely used on commercials and although it can be effective on certain days I do think that it’s an unusual sight for the fish and they have a lot more time to inspect a bait in winter and can easily turn their nose up at anything that looks out of place or unsafe.
One other thing I’ve discovered, which again leads me to think that maybe bread isn’t always the best bait for dobbing, is that the colour of your bait can really make a difference when it comes to catching. Surprisingly, whenever I’ve tried dobbing with white maggots they haven’t produced half as well as red maggots, which leads me to think that maybe sometimes a darker colour can sometimes be more effective than a bright colour. With this in mind the bright colour of bread could actually put the fish off at times, rather than attract them.
Well, that's the shotting taken care of.
The final plus point to fishing maggots, and this is one that I think can be a match winner in winter, is that maggots are not as selective as bread and you will pick up other species. As you’ll be fishing off the bottom these are usually, roach, rudd, ide or chub, but a couple of pounds of these throughout the day can be equivalent to another carp, and the difference between framing and not.
The Right Swim
Like any tactic, dobbing won’t guarantee you catch, regardless of what bait you use. The type of swim you’re fishing can actually have a big impact on your choice to even try dobbing as some swims, especially open-water swims with no notable features, rarely produce a lot of fish to this tactic.
The ideal swim for dobbing is one in which you can reach either the far bank or an island with the pole, and any additional features such as reeds or branches or overhanging grasses can also help to hold and attract fish that can then be dobbed.
The final element that contributes to the perfect dobbing swim is depth; having 12 inches against the island or far bank may be perfect for summer but in winter, especially as the colour begins to drop out of the water, the fish prefer a little more water over their backs.
Take your time with the bigger carp.
The ideal depth for dobbing is around three feet; if you can find this depth against the features you’ll usually find it holds a few fish all year round.
My Dobbing Rig
Fishing the correct bait, and ensuring it’s presented naturally, are both massively important when it comes to dobbing, and having one without the other can easily leave you biteless.
Unlike most tactics when dobbing you’re not feeding and therefore the only way to catch is to trick the fish into thinking that your hook bait is a random offering dropped into the water. With this in mind the manner in which you present your bait must be as natural as possible and this means fishing light: light floats, delicate shotting, thin, supple lines and small, lightweight fine-wire hooks.
I never feel the need to set up loads of rigs when dobbing as one rig can usually cover all my needs. My float choice is a 4x10 Middy Carp Grey; it’s important to have a light float with a buoyant tip as this will be supporting the weight of your bait. You’ll also find that when fishing against the far bank you’ll fish into various light conditions and shadows and therefore a visible tip is really important.
Main line is 0.12mm Middy Lo-Viz to a 0.10mm hooklength. As I mentioned, this not only helps to give your bait a natural fall as the thinner the line the more supple it is, but it’s also difficult for the fish to spot underwater as they inspect your bait. Hook choice is a size 16 Middy 63-13, a lightweight hook that is still strong enough to land any carp I’ll hook when used in conjunction with a light hollow elastic and a puller kit.
The rig is shotted to give my bait the most natural fall possible and so the majority of the shot is placed just under the float with just one No10 shot just above my hooklength.
To demonstrate my dobbing tactics we’ve come to Cudmore Fishery. The lake we’re on is around 14.5 metres wide and has an inviting far bank of stickups and it certainly looks fishy.
The first job is to plumb up, just to get a mental picture of the depth on the far bank, the nature of any shelves and the depth in any clear spots against the bank. I like to plumb up both sides of me as far as I can reach, and in this case it’s meant slipping on another couple of sections and fishing at 19 metres. The more of the far bank you can cover the more chance you have of picking up fish.
I have just less than three feet against the reeds and a bit less where it cuts in, so I’m going to start the session fishing two feet deep. This way I can be safe in the knowledge that wherever I drop my bait it’ll be sat off the bottom, hopefully in the line of sight of a few fish.
I’m quite methodical when starting my dobbing session, I want to make sure I cover all of my swim so I start directly in front of me and then switch between the left and right, slowly working outwards, making a mental note of any areas where I get a bite, indication or a fish.
With the far bank reeds in reach, this was a perfect dobbing swim!
Baiting with double red maggot I ship out and lay my rig in; I like to give it a few minutes with a little lifting and dropping just to see if anything is in the area but bites on this method are usually pretty instant if the fish are there.
After 15 minutes of trying various spots I hook my first fish to my right; it’s clearly a carp as several feet of elastic are pulled from the pole and I guide it away from the danger of the far bank. Once in the open water, I take my time to ensure that I land what is a lovely common around 3lb.
I drop in at the exact same spot next time but it seems it was a lone fish. Dropping further to my right I get a couple of indications, which leads me to think the fish may be further off the bottom. I shallow up six inches and am rewarded with an instant bite, which turns out to be a small ide. Several more follow from the same spot to give my catch a quick boost. With that area drying up I switch back to my original depth and go as far to my left as I can reach, and once again I’m rewarded with a quick bite that sees an angry winter carp make a bid for freedom! I put as much pressure as I dare on the light tackle and eventually I have another carp beaten and in the net.
A nice catch from a short session on a cold day.
The temperature is really cold today and bites are hard to come by but I spend the next hour picking up the odd ide, and even a skimmer that was caught well off the bottom before I finally latch into something big again. It’s another carp of similar size and it’s soon joining the other in my keepnet.
I fish on for another hour but only a couple of ide are my reward so we decide to call it a day. It’s not been a frantic session and each carp has come from a different spot, which makes me think that they’re not here in any numbers. The three carp plus the silvers have pushed me into double figures in just a short session, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have caught that weight if I’d fished bread.
Dobbing really can be a brilliant method and when used in conjunction with the right bait – mainly maggots – it can put fish in your net when many other methods fail. It’s certainly a method I’ll be relying on in the next few months and one I think should be in every commercial angler’s armoury.
Angler File -
Name: Craig Goldstraw
Sponsor: Joiner, Middy/Bag ‘em
MF Says: Chief Punisher
Venue File -
Venue: Cudmore Fishery
Location: Pleck Lane, Whitmore, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 5HW
Phone Number: 01782 680919
Day tickets: £8 adults; £6 OAP/disabled/juniors
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The pellet cone is a great tactic for cold weather when a bite or two can make the difference between a dull session and a match win. It’s all about setting a one-bite trap in the correct place, ready to tempt a passing lump into having a go.
Pemb Wrighting is highly adept at catching in all conditions and the pellet cone is one of his go-to methods when the temperature drops: “It’s great for offering a small pile of bait with the hook bait most prominent – the fish doesn’t have to be feeding hard to want to investigate and then a bite won’t be far behind.”
Today, Pemb has chosen Sumners Ponds Fishery in Horsham, West Sussex to demonstrate the effectiveness of the pellet cone and with the weather veering between Arctic blasts from one of the many winter storm systems and bright sunshine, the Guru-backed ace will need to bring his A game to get a result.
As with any method, location is important and even more so with the Pellet Cone due to its bite-at-a-time nature. “Using your watercraft skills is essential, as always. But when you’re angling for a fish at a time, it’s even more vital to be targeting areas where they’re holed up and the angler who can anticipate where these hot spots are will be successful.”
“Here, I’m starting off by targeting two general areas in front of me – one is an island and that’s an obvious feature whatever the weather. The other is a little harder to work out but, in my opinion, more likely to produce fish in this weather, and that’s a sunken island off to my left. I’ll explore both of these areas thoroughly with the pellet cone and I know that if any fish are resident, I’ll soon get a bite or a liner.
“Incidentally, liners are an important clue at this time of year – if you’re getting them, you’re not far off the fish and dropping short or switching the hook bait to a more visual option, such as corn, or something smelly like meat, might tempt them into having a go.”
“Back to the sunken island; it’s deeper than the other island feature and I prefer to target the deeper areas when it’s cold, as these will retain the heat a bit longer when the cold wind is affecting the upper layers, as it is today. It’s freezing when the wind gets up!”
“I’m dropping just short of the island so my rig will be sitting in the deeper channel before the island, and I’m flicking the odd pellet or two over the top to keep any fish in the area looking for food. This is a great tip if you know the area you’re targeting holds a few fish – maybe you’ve seen them bubbling, rolling or disturbing the bottom – but no bites are forthcoming.”
“As the session goes on, I expect to be exploring the water in front of me and there’s a likely looking area to my left with some deeper water where I’ve seen fish bubbling earlier, so this will be worth a look.”
A little cracker!
“This is where the pellet cone comes into its own – if I fed over the top and they’re not feeding heavily, I could easily spook them or they might have had their fill after a handful of pellets, but with the pellet cone I can be sure that my bait is the most attractive thing in the area and if they want to feed, there’s only one option – my hook bait.”
Pemb's Perfect Cone Setup...
When the pellets are ready to go, I'll turn mt attentions to the hook bait, in this case, meat. A neat 8mm punched piece is ideal and having the Punch Box certainly helps to keep the bait fresh and to hand. I'll hair rig this to a size 12 QM1 hook to 0.19mm N-Gauge
A great little tip is to use the handle of baiting needle to ease the compressed pellets out of the cone without damaging them. I then thread the hooklength with the come onto the X-Safe Speed Stem, add a dollop of Goo and it's ready to go.
Next, I'll select the right size cone and press the pellets into it, just firm enough so they stay on during the cast but break down one they hit the bottom. I'll then use a fine baiting needle to thread the hooklength through the cone and nestle the hook and bait just inside it.
Pemb carries three sizes of pellet cone, and throughout the session, he’ll use all three depending on the distance he needs to cast and the temperature.0.
The Surrey-based product developer explains: “If it’s freezing cold and the fish aren’t active, I’ll definitely kick off with the smallest pellet cone. This provides such a small pile of bait that even the most inactive carp or bream will pick up. The small one is also good for a longer cast as it offers less resistance.”
“The medium size cone will come out when I know there are a few fish or larger carp in the area, to provide a larger pile of attraction via the micro pellets breaking down. The larger cone will come into play if, for example, I’m targeting a closer in spot which doesn’t require a big cast or if conditions are good and the fish are getting their heads down. The more attractive nature of the bigger pile of pellets will help to draw the freely feeding fish in.”
Hook Bait Choice
A majority of Pemb’s pellet cone fishing revolves around the use of four hook baits, all of which play a subtly different role in maximising the opportunities in front of him.
“Kicking off with corn, this is a favourite for clear water and really cold conditions. It stands out so well on the lake-bed and fish are used to eating it, so it’s a safe bet for a wary carp or two.
“Bread is another favourite, and I love a three or four punched pieces – it’s probably the best all-rounder at this time of year. However, it’s not the one when there are nuisance fish present as they will make short work of bread hook baits. “Meat is my go-to big fish hook bait when the water is coloured. It chucks out loads of scent and a dose of Goo enhances this no end – I carry a couple of different bottles and usually one will stand out as working best at this particular venue or in these conditions.”
Don't leave home without some sliced white bread.
“Lastly, pellet is a great option in warmer weather when they’re really having it and feeding well. I’d simply band a 8/11mm pellet and use it like that.”
Pemb gives his pellet cone and meat hook bait a good dose of Pineapple Power Smoke Gook and it isn’t long before a chunky Sumner’s Pond mirror finds his way to Pemb’s waiting net, proving that this deadly combination is irresistible on even the coldest of days.
Tough going, but this is when the cone comes good!
Name: Pemb Wrighting
Sponsors: Guru & Bag 'em
MF Says: The Future's Bright...
Venue: Sumners Ponds
Location: Chapel Road, Barns Green, Horshame, West Sussex, RH13 OPR
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Jamie Hughes explains how a single-minded, catch-everything approach can be the key to match wins this winter!
For this month’s feature, I’d like to talk about something that is becoming increasingly popular on commercial fisheries, and a method that I really look forward to using once the weather begins to cool.
Approaching a commercial with a ‘fish for everything that swims’ approach can lead to an awesome day’s sport and is also a brilliant way of remaining consistent during matches when the carp aren’t feeding quite as well as during the summer months.
Over the years there have been many pieces written about combining a carp and silvers approach during matches; usually a case of catching a few lumps to begin with then topping up with a weight of silvers and finishing with a few more big lads late on.
While this is undoubtedly the correct way to approach some venues (generally those where the carp are a large average size), at most fisheries that I visit regularly, such as Weston Pools and Lingmere Fishery, simply fishing one or two lines and catching whatever fish come along for the entire session can be almost unbeatable!
Now, I must stress that for a mixed species approach to work you need to be fishing a venue with a good stocking of different fish. Both of the venues I mentioned are home to a huge amount of carp and F1s but they also have an extremely high population of what I would like to call “alternative species” such as tench, barbel, crucians and, most importantly, ide.
In general, these species are a good average size so catching them for an entire session can still lead to a good weight and with the addition of a few carp a match-winning net can be caught in the easiest possible way.
For demonstrating this tactic I've come back to my usual haunt of Weston Pools and the awesome Canal Pool, where I intend to fish just one line for the duration of the short session.
Now before I go into the usual rigs, bait and feeding details, I would like to go over my reasons for choosing just one line of attack.
Firstly, and possibly the most important factor, is what I wrote about in the October issue of this magazine: COMPETITION between fish is vital if you want to get the most from any peg, so by feeding just one line I should have a much larger group of fish in my chosen area than if I was to feed several swims and split the fish up into smaller groups all over the swim.
Secondly, by having all of my attention focused on the one area it is much easier to gain an understanding of what fish are present in the peg, how they are feeding and the best ways for me to catch them. My theory is that different species of fish will enter the peg at different points in the session and each must be fed and fished for in the correct way.
With the weather still being good my chosen line for the session was at seven metres, for the sole reason that I could feed casters that distance accurately by hand, meaning I can group my feed much tighter than if I were to fish longer and require a catapult to reach the area. As the temperature falls and the colour drops out of the water I would have no choice but to feed my lines further out, as fish would be reluctant to venture close to the bank.
I believe that the tighter I can group my bait the better, as there is less chance of missing out on fish that are hanging off the main feed due to stray baits landing elsewhere. Also, competition between fish is increased as they tussle to feed in the tight area.
Choosing what bait to feed for this method could not be simpler – maggots, casters and worms are pretty much the only three options and I will choose a bait depending on the conditions and how I expect the fish to feed.
The fish weren't the only ones attracted by Jamie's bait!
Possibly the most common choice for feeding short, maggots are my choice in the coldest weather or when fish are likely to feed at all depths. Due to their slow-sinking nature, they work brilliantly in attracting new fish into the peg and help to bring fish such as ide off the bottom on warmer days, where they can be caught faster.
Three maggots make a brilliant change bait.
If I intend on cupping my feed then maggots are my only choice, but when loose feeding they can be a little difficult to group tightly at distance or in windy conditions.
This tends to be my bait choice during the summer when I want to catch fish on the bottom. While they can be brilliant for catching F1s shallow when thrown in a slop, for other species they are best fed in a soil mix and by a pole cup.
These are my choice for today’s session. Casters have all the same properties as maggots, with the added bonus of being heavy. They can be fed very accurately by hand in all conditions and make a lot of noise to attract fish; they also sink faster than a maggot, which helps to keep fish on the bottom.
Fresh casters, and plenty of them!
As always, I have as few rig options as possible but will always have a couple of options to present my hook bait in different ways. In a similar way to how I fish hard pellets for carp, I have a slow-falling rig for when fish such as roach and ide are present in the swim and are feeding through the water. In today’s case, with the peg being five feet deep, this is a 4x12 slim carbon stemmed float shotted with No11s spread throughout the entire rig.
My second rig is a heavier 4x14 float, shotted with a bulk 15 inches from the hook and two No10 droppers. If I am waiting for bites and there are no signs of fish feeding off the bottom, then my time is best spent on this rig as it settles far quicker than the light rig, which saves a lot of time each cast and also is a lot more stable and keeps the hook bait still on the bottom.
Hooks, line and elastics need to be tailored to the size of fish and conditions on the day. Generally, a light hollow elastic combined with a 0.10mm to 0.12mm hooklength and light-gauge wire hook is perfect.
The key to making the most of my peg is to be using the correct rigs at the correct times, depending on what species are present. The amount and timing of my loose feed also needs considering carefully. For this session I planned on feeding everything by hand and began feeding around 10 casters every 30 seconds; this allowed me to pull lots of fish into the area without giving them too much feed.
For the first period my light rig was ideal and several chunky ide were caught just after the rig had settled. I find that at most venues ide are first on the scene and just like perch, gorge themselves on as much bait as possible. This seemed exactly the case today as after 45 minutes I have a good weight but bites quickly slowed, the ide disappeared and were replaced with some crucians, carp and barbel.
Swapping rigs allowed me to make the most of this change, as did cutting right back on the regularity of my feed and a pattern quickly emerged, showing the ide were continually re-entering the peg in small groups throughout the day. Their arrival was signalled by several missed bites on the heavier rig, but by swapping over to the slow-fall rig I could catch several before they backed off and the other species moved back in.
A nice bagful of ide, with a good helping or barbel F1s and carp mixed in.
On the day it was also vital that I fed in the correct way, depending on what rig I used. Ten casters every 30 seconds was right for the light rig, while changing to 30 casters every two minutes was far better and stopped any false bites when using the heavy rig.
In just a couple of hours, I put together a decent weight that would be well on the way to a winning weight here at Weston. I swapped rigs several times over the session, which I believe has maximised my fishing time and also made the most of the short feeding spells of each species. Of course this method isn’t the way when large weights of carp are needed to win, but in the tricky days of autumn you will more often that not outscore those applying a more selective approach and without doubt have a much more enjoyable day’s fishing.
Angler File -
Name: Jamie Hughes
Sponsors: Map, Bag 'em Matchbaits
Venue File -
Venue: Tri-Cast Weston Pools
Location: Weston Pools, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 9ER
Number: 01691 671812
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Match Fishing magazine gets on the bank with the first two graduates of the Guru Match Academy!
You’d have thought that, at just 14 and 15 years of age respectively, Rob Swan and Will McCranor spend most of their days locked in a dark bedroom playing computer games and glued to their iPhones, like many teenagers in modern society.
In actual fact, when not working hard on their studies during term time you will more than likely find them on the banks of one of their local fisheries, giving the adults a run for their money on an open match or festival.
Both are the very first graduates of the brand new Guru Match Academy. This is an event run by Guru, which sees a group of young match anglers coached over a two-day period, where over those two days the Guru stars decide between them which pair of youngsters involved is going to gain a sponsorship deal worth over £1,000!
We caught up with Rob and Will at the picturesque Partridge Lakes Fishery, in Warrington, to see how they were getting on since successfully acquiring their sponsorships with Guru.
A nice F1, but would it be enough to beat Will?
To spark both of the lads’ competitive nature it was decided that we would use the day to have a small head-to-head match between them both.
Regardless of the early start and the bitterly cold weather, both were in good spirits on the morning of the feature and their excitement was clear to see. Rob, a happy, lively character excitedly bounced around while Will, who is a little quieter ordinarily, was wearing a huge smile.
Following a conversation over a cup of tea that was very much needed to warm us up, it was decided that we would use consecutive pegs on the complex’s Covey 4 lake. Pegs 85 and 86 were on offer and using a coin we flipped for pegs, resulting in Rob sitting on Peg 85 while Will was placed on 86.
Both lads quickly made their way over to the on-site tackle and bait shop and bought themselves a couple of pints of fresh maggots each, and made their way to their designated pegs.
It didn’t take too long before we noticed some differences in the styles of Rob and Will. Rob was clearly very concise in his setup; his box, for example, consists of just one deep unit, inside is a bait tub with all of his essentials – a plummet, some scissors, a pen, a couple of disgorgers, some electrician’s tape and… a ruler (we’ll get to that shortly).
Will, on the other hand, had multiple trays of rigs tied up, all very neat and tidy, drawers full of bits and bobs, some of which he might not use, but there for those occasions when they may just come in handy. Hooklength boxes in abundance, there was no way he didn’t have everything covered; the effort and hard work he must put in away from the bank is admirable.
That wasn’t to say Rob was not prepared, in fact the opposite was true. He had plenty of rigs tied up, all stored tidily in EVA boxes. However, what made him really efficient was that many of his go-to rigs were stored away, already attached to the top kits in his holdall.
MF was impressed by Rob's attention to detail throughout the day!
What was interesting about Rob’s approach to the peg was how precise he was when plumbing up. It is also where that ruler comes into play. Rather than just sticking a plummet on and finding any old depth, Rob’s ruler has been adapted so he can hook it at one end and carefully wrap his rig around it – one turn equals one foot, two turns are two feet and so on.
Once his rig is set at his preferred depth, usually the depth he knows he has caught fish at on previous visits, or where he feels the fish will be sitting, he proceeds to find that depth around his peg. The next stage of his precise setup then involves marking exactly where on his pole he was when he found that required depth. Using insulation tape and a pen to write on the details he then marks exactly where on his pole he needs to hold it to ensure he is in the same spot every time.
Let Battle Commence
Both anglers had a similar approach to the day. A maggot line down the middle of the lake seemed like the banker with it being so cold, then lines in shallower water both to the island and down the edge would provide good options should the fish be sat out of the deepest water.
At 10.15am the match got underway, but both lads were biteless after the first 30 minutes, despite working hard to make something happen in their respective pegs. A look on the long pole then back to their original starting points still resulted in nothing. “Imagine if I blanked on my first-ever feature!” Rob joked.
Will Started to pile on the pressure once he had a couple of fish in the net.
We didn’t have to wait too much longer for some action, though, and before long Will had hooked the first fish of the day and a good few yards of green No10 Dura Hollo was being pulled out of his pole. After a short, yet cagey battle a mirror carp of around 5lb lay in his net. Head on the task at hand Will proceeded to re-bait and ship back out on the hunt for his next fish.
Shortly after that Rob managed to hook and land his first fish of the day, an F1 of 2lb that was caught using double maggot down the middle of the lake where he had been loose feeding two or three maggots fairly regularly. Knowing he was still behind he lowered his rig back in and it didn’t take long before his float dipped again, and another F1 graced his net, this time of a slightly smaller stamp. “Getting worried now, William?” he shouted across to his team-mate, turned competitor for the day.
Another nice carp for Will as he takes a commanding lead.
Almost on cue Will again hooked a slightly bigger fish and used his side puller kit to good effect to land another mirror carp, this time of 2lb in weight. He didn’t need to provoke Rob with a sarcastic comment, though; at this point he knew he was out in front with bigger fish than those Rob had caught so far.
Interestingly, both anglers had very similar setups and opt for handmade patterns throughout. Rich Wilson Dinks seemed popular, with Will using the standard Dink in a 4x12 for his maggot line down the track while a 4x12 RW F1 Dink was preferred on the island swim where he had three feet of water to the point of the island.
Rob had a RW Dink set up for his long-pole lines in 4x12 – again in three feet of water – the carbon-stemmed alternative known as a Maggie in 4x14 for down the track and one of the newly released Malman Titans for down the edge, a pattern of float that features a type of wire that can be bent but will always return to its original straight layout.
Both opted for a robust 0.15mm diameter main line across all of their rigs but it was at the business end where slight differences were made. Rob’s hooklengths were all tied to 0.13mm diameter Guru N-Gauge and a size 18 LWG hook. Will on the other hand, had decided on a slightly lighter setup and was using a 0.11mm diameter hooklength and a size 18 Guru F1 Maggot.
Having jumped on to the lake on one of its scheduled rest days we had been warned that the venue’s maintenance guys might be round at some point during the day. It just so happened that they were actually stocking the lake while we were there! To our surprise within 30 minutes of those fish being introduced both anglers had actually caught one!
It did seem that the activity in the lake gave the venue a bit of a kick-start and before long both of the lads were catching a few fish. They even managed to pick up an odd one shallow despite the temperature not rising much at all throughout the day.
With just half an hour of the short match remaining things had slowed down for Rob. Will on the other hand, seemed to be having his best spell of the day and following a ghost carp that put up a spirited battle, four more small carp and an F1 followed in quick succession.
Another fish finds itself in Will's net.
A last gasp flurry of smaller F1s ensured Rob was hot on Will’s heels, but due to the size of Will’s fish it was pretty much a given what the outcome of the day was going to be.
Work Hard, Reap the Rewards
Having watched these two lads throughout the day it doesn’t take too much to see exactly why they have got to where they have. Despite their age both Will and Rob are hugely devoted and passionate about the sport and put the effort in both on and off the bank.
In testing conditions, where it looked in the early stages that both would struggle, they were able to work their pegs well to make something happen. Neither panicked and both remained composed, believing that they would catch if they just plugged away.
Having spoken with both anglers at length about the Guru Match Academy, both Will and Rob feel that it is something that any young angler who is serious about their fishing should get involved with. “It not only offers the fantastic opportunity of sponsorship but coaching from some of the best match anglers in the country, an opportunity that will improve the skills of those involved massively,” Rob stated.
Name: Rob Swan
Pole: Daiwa Airity
MF says: Heading for the top
Name: Will McCranor
Pole: Preston Innovations GXR 3600
MF Says: A bright future beckons
Location: Partridge Lakes
Address: Glaziers Lane, Culcheth, near Warrington WA3 4AQ
Contact: 07469 981743
What Is Match Academy?
Match Academy is an exiting new event run by top match brand Guru and was held for the very first time at Makins Fishery on August 22nd and 23rd this year. The aim of Match Academy is to identify and develop the next generation of angling stars by focusing on talented youths aged between 13 and 17 years old.
All involved submit an application and successful applicants receive a day’s tuition from top Guru-sponsored anglers such as Andy Bennett, Steve Ringer, Adam Rooney and Pemb Wrighting to name but a few.
The event is run over two days with a range of match fishing skills covered. This year 30 anglers took part and from them two were chosen to be on the receiving end of an amazing money-can't-buy Guru sponsorship deal worth over £1,000!
The Chosen Ones
By Guru brand manager Adam Rooney
“Choosing one angler from each day was really difficult, as every student had great attributes and the team and I had a really hard job on our hands.
“Day one we chose Will; although he didn’t win the match, we were so impressed with how well organised and composed he was. Nothing phased him and on a difficult peg he managed to hold his own, swapping from bomb and waggler to the pole. His timing and chilled-out approach really showed he has what it takes to be a successful angler.
“Day two we chose Rob; now this cheeky chap grabbed my attention before the students had even wetted a line – his attitude and friendly approach on arrival was superb, which in my eyes goes a long way. The standard of angling on day two was fantastic, it was such a close contest it was going to be a hard shout on who to pick. However, from feedback not only from the tutors but the film crew and media team, this little man had a lot to offer. His organisation, composure, awareness and overall skills were that of a seasoned professional. But what made it for me was his happy-go-lucky friendly attitude and passion for the sport.”
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Five-times world champion Alan Scotthorne looks at targeting quality fish in the cold and explains why a plummet is your best friend!
At this time of year on commercial fisheries the target fish should be firmly on the bottom, so all that slapping and shallow fishing has almost gone out of the window! This is when the trusty plummet becomes your best friend, so here are a few tips that should help you get the best out of this simple device.
Dan Webb recalls the recent Northamptonshire County Cup, and a less than profitable trip to Ireland…
Well, there it is… 12 months have passed since I started writing these, er, chronicles. Yes, chronicles, I like that! Much has changed in that time, although I am a little disappointed that my two-page spread has now dropped to only one page and hasn’t in fact taken over at least 12 pages.
To try and remedy this, I’ve sent Tom 300 photos from my recent trip to Ireland, so he has no excuse for short changing me again! I’m sure at least one of them will be good enough for a cover shot. I may not be an Andy Geldart, but if Des Shipp is handsome enough to get on the cover then I’m sure I am!
Anyway, as I’m writing this I’ve just competed in the nationally prized and prestigious Northamptonshire County cup. No, you’re thinking of Warwickshire, I’m talking about Northamptonshire, the county famed for its… well, that’s not important. Anyway, the Northamptonshire County Cup this year was on the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire. (I thought that too, don’t ask!)
As I was walking along the bank I could see an angler giving me the eye. As I passed he stopped me to ask if I was the lad who wrote for Match Fishing magazine. With a little pride and a cheeky smile I said I was. After explaining that I was actually 32, yet didn’t mind being called a lad, we had a good chat about the mag. I found it a little strange that he didn’t actually mention any of the things I’d written… and then the penny dropped. He thought I was Matt Godfrey! (I notice you haven’t mentioned how you got on – I take it you didn’t win anything then? Ed.)
Also in the last 12 months, I hope I’ve managed to provide a service to the people. Rob Perkins for sure must see me as some kind of good luck charm, as days after I named him as one of the worst drawers ever in this very mag he only went and won the Division One national. Even Alanis Morissette would be stunned by the irony of that one!
Just how big were the waves?
Well, after all this hard work writing 800 words a month, I decided to go on holiday. I’d already been on a family holiday, so I wanted a bit of ‘man time’ and could think of no better destination than the magnificent Lough Muckno in Co Monaghan, Ireland, along with 50 other like-minded individuals.
I thought seven days of late nights, early starts and fighting the elements wading out in an Irish lough would be the perfect rest! Couple that with the town council donating several thousand euros (a better investment than our pitiful pound) in prize money and free evening meals for every competitor provided by The Old Coach Inn and you suddenly have a very special event!
The weather was pretty good for October and the fishing was amazing, which lulled me into a false sense of security. I thought I’d fished in some wild weather until I drew on the point of White Island on the Wednesday. Gale-force wind is something most anglers have experienced, but fishing on a big open water adds a further dimension!
The vast expanse of water generates really big waves and being sat out in the water, laying gear down on the grass to stop it blowing away just isn’t an option! I also made the schoolboy error of setting my footplate level with the water. At that height the biggest waves crashed over the canopy on my side tray and the spray and foam went over the cushion on my box, filling the trays with water! The waves would hit with such force that my platform would shake and I feared it would buckle underneath me. I had to keep checking on mini Mark Pollard on the next peg, because I was sure he was going to drown! I did say it was a man’s holiday!
Luckily I got away unscathed from that one but it didn’t stop the festival organisers from presenting me with a life jacket for the next day. I wasn’t feeling my best, however. I’m sure it was the bag of crisps I had after last night’s Guinness, as I felt fine before that!
In a state of slight disorientation while setting up in the morning, I tripped on a rock in the water and ended up sitting down in Lough Muckno. Luckily my waders survived but my leg was left battered and bleeding. Despite it being October I wore shorts for the rest of the week so that everyone could see my Muckno scars! I’m not very good with Greek mythology but I’m sure I must have also damaged my Achilles elbow, as try as I might I just couldn’t win the festival and had to watch that Simon Willsmore drink all the prize money!
Plenty of fish but no prizes...
I even tried to sabotage his groundbait by weeing in it on the last day, but it looks like I actually relieved myself in Lee Klimczuk’s by mistake as he got beaten both sides, something many thought was impossible! It upset him so much that he even went home early (not to the hotel, to England!), leaving poor Polly with the unenviable task of dealing with the winnings. Unfortunately Matrix hasn’t designed a winnings trolley yet!
So here I am, home, exhausted and limping but boy was that a great trip. I love the place and can’t wait until next year! I just hope I’ve got round to telling the wife I’m going before this goes to print!
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January 22nd, Peg 151, Covey Six
Today was the second round of the Partridge Lakes winter league and after managing a second in section on the previous round I hoped that I could build on that this week, but after my performance on the teams of four I wasn’t that optimistic.
Something that provides plenty of opinion and conflict is the surge in people wanting to make their own floats, not for personal use but those wanting to make a few quid something I once did a fair few years back too before all the craze. For me and it really is only my opinion I have no issue with this as long as the ones making them are honest and offer something of balanced quality, and not just sell any old float as it really is easy to buy the ready to build kits off eBay or other internet sites and just slap them together and charge people.
The Floats on test up close and personal
For years floats have been built by hand and in recent years have become even more refined, I’m not sure who was the first to really make an impact on the pole fishing scene but the likes of Mick Wilkinson, Gaz Malham and Mick Bassett have been producing floats for years now, each have huge followings with some of the top names using them and for very good reason. They were the ones that started a craze that majority of the top tackle companies have failed to follow for many years; it was the fact that they built sturdy floats that lasted much longer than most commercially bought models. We've all suffered with bent wires & tips, along with annoyingly both stems & tips coming out of the bodies and paintwork splitting very easily; the change these guys offered brought us homemade floats at a great price that were balanced, strong and cheap. Since then especially very recently they have stepped up the game with new materials such as the introduction of foam, hollow tips, paint finishes and the new nitinol wire or bendy wire as it's more commonly referred as; all of which amount to more robust and versatile float being made. Over the last few years we have also seen companies from outside the UK that are sole traders of floats starting to bring their designs into pole fishing and some are very good, especially the silverfish or natural water patterns, as they have vast knowledge of what’s required simply because of continental style fishing, one particular company that has gained a good following is Dino Floats, offering patterns covering a lot of applications in the UK.
The difference in the shotting for what are supposed to be the same size of float
There are plenty of people out there now making floats and with too many to mention, and with the likes of social media readily available it created a market; but for me, there is a huge difference amongst them? I am a bit of a tart when it comes to floats not for looks but quality I’ve gone through phases of buying and trying so many different ones for both silvers and carping and gone full circle again, putting faith in major tackle companies to offer a float range that suits my styles of fishing, but there hasn’t been many to really stand out eventually making the decision to make my own. There are 3 major tackle companies in the last 12 months that have looked at this and really stepped up their game to offer anglers a range that are well built, balanced, finished and don’t break the bank, Drennan’s AS series, MAP’s commercial range and the new Des Shipp range from Preston; the fact that the homemade companies prices have gone up with inflation of materials and competition now is starting to make the likes of these commercially produced floats look more inviting to the angler on a tighter budget once again. I understood why people turned away from these floats to ones that were simply built to last, but by having some of the world’s best anglers behind the scenes they have clearly been thought out to offer the right variety required for today’s fishing and they really are not to be sniffed at again and worth a look if you’re in the market.
A selection of the floats showing those with a side eye sat perfectly and those with a spring eye sat much higher in the water or on the surface
For the guys that are making and building this is where similarities can differ greatly, I’m not saying that anyone is wrong but for me and many that I know a lot of the builders are just throwing the materials together without prior thought to how to balance them properly, how long stems and tips are, what sizes of each to use through to choosing the right eye for the pattern. Don’t get me wrong I have no doubt there will be plenty that are very good and have taken the time to test their floats to make sure they are perfect for the job, but one thing is for sure we have all seen some shoddy ones too and clearly no thought has gone into their build, something I personally stay away from. In comparison, they aren’t any cheaper than the ones that are made from scratch or even some of the best from tackle manufacturers in fact majority are more expensive so are they really worth it? Some are some aren’t, but something I personally don’t want to keep spending money on to get right, especially when the sport is already at breaking point with prices for tackle.
All the floats shotted to around 7mm of the bristle showing
On the other side of things from experience, there are guys out there that I have personally seen the pride they take to not only source the best materials but also create and test patterns to ensure they are balanced for what they are intended to do. I recently asked several guys I know who actually turn their floats and some bought from guys on Facebook who are building them for some samples to test to see the differences between and ask why they use the materials they do. It was quite interesting, some patterns are still without fault, but the difference from some I have seen is quite astounding but for sure I learned a bit myself and how much it has developed since I stopped making them.
I went to my good friend Tez Naulls (TN Floats) workshop and spent 4 or 5 hours with him discussing from how we used to use floats right up to the latest materials to buy, I have read about what foams the top guys are now using but wasn’t aware of how many you could choose from? I have always believed when balsa is used it can vary in density and even the grain structure can change the properties which leads to differing shotting even on the same weight floats, but having seen the foams to the same theory can be applied; however as these are man-made the structures, weight and density can be controlled to a specification which helps as long as the same foam is used. It was very interesting to see how the foams differ too he showed me 3 and how they are applied; H160 the most commonly used on the open market which gives a more open cell, it is soft and suits light floats for silverfish as it is also very soft before finishing, Hd200 is what he uses for general work, for the likes of F1, Shallow, and Slim patterns targeting smaller Carp, F1’s and larger silvers and finally a new Hypertech foam which is absolutely rock solid aimed at Margin or bagging floats when carping. There is still a place for Balsa based floats especially for silverfish and more natural water floats as they seem to just sit better in the water more so when going into larger sizes. After speaking to these guys they are also fans of side eyes over springs for most patterns although each do offer a spring or figure of eight for those that wish, and the same goes for tips as many will go the easy route of a hollow tip over solid, glass or cane but again for me each have a place for different situations even on the likes of commercial fisheries and they have tried and tested patterns with these fitted. After having a go at building a few to try it’s easy to see why the builders can turn out so many floats in quick time, as they literally are gluing the materials together, the materials are available already pre-sealed/prepped ready to go and the easiest option of hollow tips and spring eyes are quick to assemble over a solid tip or side eye which takes some practice to get right. One thing I made sure to ask was why the use of a green tip? I have never used one and up until trying these samples didn’t intend too as I am partially colour blind but I was quite amazed how well they show up in the light, this I can see will be a huge advantage for those who struggle at distance, will it improve my fishing? I’m not sure as yet but for many I would like to say and have been told it does. It was interesting to see how playing about with the air gap in a hollow bristle can change a floats action, seeing 3 floats identical other than the size of air gap and how they sit differently to each other when shotted the same also can change how a float or a bait is used.
The last float going into the shotting tube
During the test I carried out I chose the most common slim pattern or Chianti style as people refer too, all were a 0.4g size but this is where the differences ended. For those that were turned/built from scratch were finished to a much higher standard as the hole for starters could be tailored to the size of stem being used whereas the ready bought ones seem to come as standard with a 1mm hole; this makes fitting a 0.5-0.8mm stem a bit fiddly to centralise and was clearly not an option as most had a 1mm stem fitted. All were referred to as F1 or Pellet floats but the stem material, thickness and lengths varied hugely and having a 0.5mm carbon stem Vs 1mm glass changed the balance quite a fair bit, the bodies again differed somewhat considering the pattern is regarded as the same and the tip material, thickness and length all affected the shotting patterns and ranging from 1.2mm-2mm changes the sensitivity of the float dramatically which can be the difference in seeing the tiniest of bites or not. One thing I did notice during the shotting of these floats was how much a spring eye can hold a float up on the water’s surface even with the shotting to take the tip to around 7mm showing these eyes on some of the floats when lowered slowly sat up against the eye whereas the side eyes didn’t do this. Don’t get me wrong many will look at a float for what it is and not look too much into it but when using floats for shy biting fish such as Roach & F1’s or where you want to manipulate the rate of fall then having a float that is balanced and doesn’t need you to give a little lift & drop to set it properly is far more important than one that just looks good but performance is poor.
All the floats on test including tackle used to shot them
There are many out there that will offer some top quality floats for anglers I have no doubt, but there are some not so good ones too, and I can see that some tackle companies are trying to take back to the scene with their own progression, but if you want a specific float or one of their common patterns I can’t recommend highly enough that you get in touch with Tez Naulls (TN Floats), Gaz Malham (Floats), Rich Wilson (RW Floats) or Rob Marsh (BG Floats), they certainly won’t break the bank either with prices ranging from only £1.50 - £2.30.
Alternative view of picture number 11
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Des Shipp’s Commercial Edges
Who better to give you 10 top tips for catching carp on the short pole this month than England superstar, Des Shipp!
1 - Keep Quiet
One of the most important things to do when you’re planning to catch at close range is to remain as quiet as possible.
Wise fish in today’s commercials are very wary of bankside disturbance, so try to keep any banging and movements on the bank to a minimum while setting up, and more importantly, when fishing.
2 - The Magic Depth
Fishing in the right depth of water is essential if you plan on catching on the short pole, and I often see people fishing far too close for my liking, in too shallower water.
Where possible, the minimum depth that I like to target is four feet. I have found that big carp feel comfortable feeding with more water over their heads. If they want to come into water shallower than this, the chances are you will catch the same fish down the edge.
3 - Elbow Accuracy
Fishing the short pole often means that you’re fishing on the near slope of a commercial, which means that there is lots of scope to be inaccurate. If you’re fishing on a slope and place your rig a few inches further out than where you’ve plumbed up, you will be fishing off the bottom, where you probably won’t catch fish! Come a few inches closer, and you’ll have line laid on the deck, which may cause you to foul hook fish.
I always try and make sure I plumb up, feed and fish right on the end of a section and place my rig in line with a far-bank marker. I believe it’s essential to make a conscious effort to check you’re in the right spot every time you ship out.
4 - Float Choice
The float that you use for fishing short is very important. I like a float with a thick, hollow plastic tip. This is very buoyant, and will allow me to spot the difference between line bites and proper indications when a carp takes my hook bait.
If you use too thin a bristle, you will end up striking at false indications and in turn foul hook fish. Try and ignore small wobbles and little drag-under indications, and only strike at very sharp, fast dinks. The float doesn’t necessarily have to zoom under, but you will find proper bites are much faster indications than liners.
5 - The Big Lift
I often get asked why I lift the pole up high after hooking a fish on the short pole. I often lift into the bite and, once I connect with a fish, lift the pole right up several metres high!
Firstly, I do this to make sure that my hook is in properly. Secondly, when fishing short for big carp, you often find that fish power off like a train, and can easily break your hooklength. By lifting the pole high after hooking them, however, they seem to stay at close range, and if they do power off you have lots of extra ‘give’ as you can drop the pole to allow them some more running space.
6 - Play And Feed
When fishing at close range, you’re often looking for an early or late run of fish, and to make the most of a short swim you ideally need to catch several quick fish on the bounce.
To make sure that there’s a fish waiting for you next time you ship out, try and learn to feed while you are actually playing a fish. When you initially hook a fish, others in the swim will spook, but once you get back to your top kit and the hooked fish is away from the swim, you can throw some free offerings accurately on to your short swim by hand, to get the fish back for when you ship out after landing the fish.
7 - Keep It Tight
I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your feed in a small, tight area when you’re fishing short. Especially when fishing on a shelf, fish will hear your feed enter the water, home in on the bait and quickly mop it up as it lands on the bottom.
If your hook bait is falling right among the feed, the chances are that fish will take that too, and you’ll catch them very quickly. Try and make sure you’re ultra accurate when throwing in your feed, and if you’re not accurate, use a small pole-mounted Cad Pot!
8 - Light Rigs
This tip sits alongside the tip above. My favourite shotting pattern to use on a short-pole swim is a strung-out pattern, with Stotz evenly strung in the bottom third to half of the rig depending on the depth.
Experience has taught me that carp in particular cruise into the near shelf and then dip down to feed when they hear and see bait enter and fall through the water. Presenting a hook bait that falls into the swim like the loose feed may catch you some extra fish on the drop. I like to combine the slow-falling strung-out rig with the accurate throwing mentioned above. I often throw in some feed, and then flick my rig over the top so my hook bait falls with the feed.
9 - Push The Peg
There are some days when a steady, regular feeding pattern on the short swim just doesn’t work. When this happens you can sometimes pull fish into the swim by feeding more than everyone else.
If I’m not getting any bites on the short swim going into the last 90 minutes of a match, I won’t hesitate to feed a big amount of bait with a large pole pot. You can sometimes catch two or three very big fish by doing this with baits like corn or meat, and give yourself a last-gasp weight boost in a match.
10 - Timing
It is very rare that you will catch on the short pole throughout a match. It’s a great method to start the match on, as there are often some fish hanging around the near shelf before the pressure of the match starting hits them.
Spending the first 20 minutes of a match on the short pole while priming your other swims will often get you off to a good start. Finally, you need to be patient later in the day too, as fish may not venture in to feed on the short pole swim until the late stages in a match.
I like to prime it throughout the day, and will wait until the last two hours to try it. If there are no fish there, don’t give up! They may arrive with 90 minutes to go, an hour to go, or even less!
At White Acres fishery, you can prime a short swim all day to catch two or three big carp on it in the final 15 minutes of a match!
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Mark Pollard reflects on a very successful trip to the Emerald Isle, and recounts his lessons learnt…
The Irish festival scene has seen a huge rise in popularity in the past few years and in turn winning over on the Emerald Isle is becoming increasingly difficult. Well, that’s the case for most, although if you’re a certain Mark Pollard it seems that winning in Ireland is about as easy as getting your hands on a pint of Guinness!
We joined him on his return from another successful visit to Ireland, where he managed to frame in five out of five festivals!
Fish To Win
A festival-winning fish? Redworms and maggot was a great hook bait for skimmers!
I would say the most important nugget of advice I could give to anyone visiting Ireland and who wants to do well is be positive. The fishing in Ireland when I was last there (for a full five weeks in September), was the best I’ve ever known it and with such good fishing on offer you have to make the most of it.
Fishing for skimmers and roach in the UK may be about fine lines and small hooks but for feeder fishing the past few weeks I’ve been using 0.14mm main line and a size 14 or 16 hook!
You also have to be quite focused on what your target weight is. On the harder sections when you only need 4 to 6kg then catching roach is a good idea and a positive pole approach can work. On sections where 10 to 15kg plus is winning then you have to go into the matches looking to catch these bigger weights; yes you can have a great day catching 8kg on the pole, but the glory lies in finding the skimmers and hybrids.
Get Your Feeding Right
The past few weeks I’ve felt that on the whole I’ve got my feeding right. I use the same tried and tested mix for every match, which consists of two parts Frenzied Hempseed groundbait, two parts Silver X Roach Original and one part brown crumb. I feel that it’s the perfect mix for both the pole and feeder, and having just one mix that you know works helps to keep things simple and allows you to concentrate on the more important aspects of your match.
Hybrids love a slow-falling bait, so fishing a long tail offers perfect presentation.
Key baits are always maggots, casters and worms, especially redworms. I use dendrabaenas for chopping but I don’t think redworms can be bettered for a hook bait. The biggest problem in Ireland can be eels – they don’t count! They love worms and by introducing just a small amount of worm and a lot of casters I found that I had far less of a problem with them this year.
Another great trick I’ve used when hybrids have been the target is to introduce crushed casters through the feeder. Not only does this give off all of the attractants but it also creates a nice cloud as the feeder falls through the water.
Exposing Your Tackle
One thing you will find with Irish festivals, especially when you go over there for a few weeks, is that any weaknesses in your tackle will soon get found out either by the harsh weather or the constant use.
As you’re fishing from the water a lot of the time you need a solid box and everything to hand so you’re not constantly wading back to the shore.
Rods and reels take a lot of abuse and I’ve spent the last five weeks fishing five days a week using a Horizon S-Class rod coupled with an Aquos 5000 reel and it’s been the perfect combination. Even with a horrendous headwind I could use the power of the rod to punch out the feeder and still hit my clip every time. The majority of the fishing I’ve done in Ireland this year has been at around 45 metres and having the correct tackle, casting action and ensuring you can comfortably and accurately hit the same spot cast after cast is really important if you want to build up a swim of confidently feeding fish.
Braid is a must for feeder fishing in Ireland as some of the bites can be very tentative; as braid has no stretch bites are shown direct on the tip and allow instant contact with the fish. My reels are all loaded with 0.10mm Submerge Braid to which I attach a leader of 10lb Carpmaster mono. I set up a couple of rods for each match and use the distance measuring sticks to ensure they’re both fished at exactly the same range.
Feeder choice is also really important, and the main feeders I’ve used this year are small cage feeders, for tough days when I don’t feel I should introduce much bait, and dome cage feeders. These allow me to not only bait up really quickly with one hand but also pack the feeder full of casters and just a small plug of groundbait. I’ve switched between a small and medium in 30g and 40g and this has covered 95 per cent of my feeder fishing.
The final aspect of my feeder fishing that has really helped to put more fish in my net has been fishing with a long tail. I’ve been starting with a hooklength of 24 inches but this has been increased to nearly double that length when the hybrids have been difficult to catch. Used in conjunction with three floating maggots you can get a very slow fall of your bait and many a hybrid has been nailed in the past few weeks on this tactic.
Keeping an open mind while I’ve been in Ireland has really helped me produce good results on the harder days. One tactic in particular that has helped me do well is the waggler. Now this is something a lot of people ignore but on its day it’s hard to beat.
On the World Pairs I actually had a weight of over 20kg to win the section and it was all taken on the waggler. I won’t mention the angler who was at the next peg but he’s also part of the Matrix team and brilliantly went on to win the event!
My setup usually incorporates an insert waggler, 0.12mm hooklength to a size 16 hook with a bunch of maggots and I either feed casters or small balls of soft groundbait.
It’s also not all about rod-and-line work. As I mentioned, some days you just have to get your head down and do a weight on the pole. This can be really enjoyable, again positive tactics are a must. I like to cup in around five to six balls packed with feed and I will use 2 to 3g rigs to get the bait down quickly to fish over them. A solid No6 elastic through three sections is all I ever use and enables me to swing most fish and speed up my catch rate.
Although these are tactics, tackle and baits I’ve used in Ireland this year they also work on a vast majority of natural waters here in the UK, so even if you’re not tempted to have a taste of the fishing overseas then by adopting some of the ideas I’ve mentioned you can be sure to put more fish in your net.
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Matrix sponsored angler, and former Junior Fish 'O' Mania champion Cameron Cross ponders one of the biggest questions in modern match fishing...
Whether it’s political votes, the fight against terrorism or Leicester City winning the Premier League, no subject has caught my attention of late more than anglers and the matches they choose to fish.
For a while now I’ve been reading through pages upon pages of anger-filled arguments, spreading across social media like a fire in a firework factory, with every argument becoming the breeding grounds for another. The source of the issue seems to be stemming from the matches in which anglers choose to participate, and one’s rewards from doing so. At this present time I find myself perched firmly on the fence, and can see the positives and negatives from either side of the arguments, as well as the comments that have neither use nor ornament.
It seems with so many matches to choose from nowadays anglers are struggling to agree which are the correct ones to go on, if there are such things?
I’m a big believer in pushing yourself in anything you do, and if you’re not in it to reach the top there’s very little point being in it at all, but enjoying it at the same time is a key factor!
Speaking from a junior angler’s perspective, which I am now on my way out of day by day, I believe surrounding yourself with the best possible opposition is vital to improving and pushing yourself towards the realms of the sport’s elite in years to come. Since starting match fishing seriously, I’ve tried to fish against the best I can, which brings a barrel of problems in itself, from getting to the matches to affording them in the first place. I’ve been lucky so far, up to a point, with the people I’ve met and spent time with on the bank in my angling career, in the fact they’ve welcomed me with open arms and been willing to answer the bombardments of questions I’d throw at them some days. From these matches I have gained very little reward of the financial kind, or my name next to a winning open match weight, but what I did win – and continue to do so for that matter – is experience and knowledge, which are priceless in my eyes.
I’d challenge anyone to name me another sport in which you could arrive at your peg, to be greeted by a world champion often no more than a pigeon’s tit away, and spend the day inspecting his every move for future reference? Beating them is a bonus in my eyes, but to try and compete and hold your own against them while learning from the best in the game is a far more valuable opportunity. The anglers that I try to learn from while fishing these matches, however, have earned everything they receive in the form of sponsorship and success, and have all spent years progressing to where they are, and continue to move forward. The elites of the sport seem to get the best rewards in forms of sponsorship and the biggest following within the various media platforms, which they rightly deserve, so on that one I’m going to have to say I’m not quite sure what all the fuss is about.
Now let’s flip the coin, and at the opposite end of the scale seem to be the anglers that choose not to fish against the so-called ‘best opposition’ they can, week in week out, but instead are happy to fish much smaller matches, often not challenging themselves as much as they could do, and in return gaining a much greater financial reward and many more match wins under their belt. They often opt to fish a select few venues that ‘play into their hands’ and keep them safely within their comfort zone. These anglers soon carve themselves into the forefront of the angling media, whether that’s in the shape of magazine articles or social media write-ups.
This is where it gets interesting, and the arguments occur. Now if anyone ever asked me for advice on this matter, I’d personally tell them to go for the first option without even batting an eyelid, as I feel, especially for younger anglers, surrounding yourself with the best possible opposition can only be worth it in the long run, but what do I know? I also can understand, and the reason I’m still perched on this forever shrinking fence, why anglers do just fish smaller matches, and that not everyone has the mind-set like myself, where I see myself as a 6ft 2in tall sponge taking on board every bit of advice I can get, and disregarding the parts I disagree with.
I understand that some anglers just purely go out to enjoy their fishing, and are more than content fishing the smaller matches that they do, and have no care of progressing in methods they see themselves as ever needing. These anglers instead enjoy fishing matches they feel they can often stand a chance of winning and enjoy doing so when this happens. After all, that is the aim of the game!
Also it seems that fishing with friends on the bank is a key part and probably why the club match scene is as big as it is, and these pros far outweigh the cons of stepping into the unknown.
The fact is, the best in the game get the best deals, which they rightly deserve. If people can get sponsorship in any shape or form it’s well worth doing so to progress in your angling career and a great opportunity this brings in the process, but at the same time sponsors expect to be seeing rewards for this – they’re not a charity after all!
I think a lesson everyone should take from all of this is that everyone goes fishing for different reasons, and as long as we all enjoy it and keep going, who really cares? So let’s all just enjoy the great sport we decided to spend our valuable time on, and if we disagree with another angler’s options or position in the media, simply ignore it and turn your attention to the ones you agree with.
The Build Up
It was back to Partridge lakes today for the third round of the teams of four winter league. The weather leading up to the contest had taken a turn for the worse with a slight drop in temperature (although it still wasn't as cold as it should be for the beginning of December). The conditions had however, had a big impact on the weights that had come out recently and it had also been frozen at the start of the week, but, on the open match Saturday it had been ice-free so I was unsure on how it would fish after all the melted ice water had gone in but I was looking forward to it nonetheless.
On the trip down to the fishery I was surprised to see that the canal near me had frozen over and I was half thinking that I should turn back for the ice breaker but fearing that this would make me late I decided to head on but still hoped that Partridge would be ice-free. On arrival I feared the worst as the majority of the lakes were covered but luckily just cat ice which was a relief because smashing out channels in the ice with my pole if it was any thicker doesn't usually end well!
The team were in a surprisingly confident mood as one of them had managed to win the open here on Thursday, it was soon time for the rolling draw to start and the team captain came back with some reasonable pegs for a change. 121 covey five, 14 spey, 4 ribbon and I was on 171 covey six an area that I had fished before at this time of year but struggled, plus the peg is up against the flyer 173 so felt I would have my work cut out for decent team points today.
On arrival at my home for the next few hours I managed to tap out a couple of channels through the cat ice quite easily with my cupping kit ,towards my left hand side I cut it out to eleven meters which was half way up the far bank slope at around four feet deep and I didn't really expect the fish to be in any shallower water. Towards my right side I just cut it half way about six meters which would be my channel swim and i was quite pleased with how things had turned out as I had left lots of ice for cover for the fish to hide in. I was looking forward to giving it a good go because this type of fishing is something that I don't do a lot of these days!
My main swims for today were as follows ;
Pellets in four-feet which was tight to the side of the ice and I used a 4x14 Malman Roob float which had an inch spread bulk above the four-inch 0.10mm diameter Garbo hook length as this was a very positive rig it will show up the slightest touch on the float.
Maggots in four feet, I used a light 0.2g RW Maggie float which had a bulk+two dropper shotting pattern and my main line was the usual 0.14mm Garbo which had a six inch 0.10mm garbo hook length attached to it, this should enable me to grab the attention of any passing f1 as my hook bait fell in the bottom third of swim.
Channel in six-foot as it was relatively still on this swim as i was getting protection by the ice so i used an 0.3g RW Maggie float which had a bulk+two dropper shotting pattern and my main line was the usual 0.14mm Garbo which had a six-inch 0.10mm Garbo hook length attached to it.
The Bait List
-2 pints of red maggots with a handful of white mixed in
-1 pint of micros
-1 pint of crushed expanders
-Small tub of 4+2mm expanders
For a change I was set up with plenty time to spare but it was just ten minutes before the all in when the sun made its way from behind the far side trees which were in front of me and I just couldn't see anything on my original swims so I hastily had to re plumbed up a couple of new ones on the opposite side of my ice channel which at least meant I could fish my four-feet rigs at the start.
When the hooter sounded in the distance I began on my pellet line and tapped in a thumbnail sized nugget of Sonubaits Crushed Expander groundbait as I didn’t really know what to expect from the fishing today, I then lowered my rig over the top of it but the glare from the sun was making things really awkward and with no bites coming in the first fifteen minutes I decided to risk tapping a few micros in to see if I could attract the attention of a passing f1s.
The lad to my left had already caught two fish so there seemed to be a few fish in the area, although to be honest I couldn't be sure if it worked or not as I was lifting into phantom bites because i was struggling to see my float with the low winter sun and on one of these lifts I foul hooked an f1 which I lost under the ice as i began shipping back.
Thirty minutes into the match I decided to go onto my channel swim because at least I was able to see my float but did feel that there was a few fish present on the four-foot line so hoped the sun might move enough for me to go back on my original swim soon. At this point of the contest the north easterly wind had started to get up as a consequence you could hear the ice cracking and it wasnt long before most of it from the margin to the channel had melted this had an impact on the fishing as everyone down the split where I was sitting remained biteless for almost two hours although I did see a couple of anglers catch from the opposite bank. During this middle spell of the contest I feel that I might have over fed the peg because I was setting up new swims at four-foot along the far shelve and also tapping in maggots which I felt was the best depth to try to find a few f1s but it didn't work.
Beginning to fear the worst with a blank on the cards but when I dropped onto my channel swim I finally managed another bite and not long after I had my first f1 in the net.
By kinder potting in six maggots every five minutes then lowering in my rig on a tight line I managed to add two more fish and I would only get an indication thirty seconds after my rig had settled so was constantly laying my rig in through the water.
After twenty minutes of activity the swim died on me, in hindsight I really should have put more lines in at this depth but instead I went searching along the far bank at four foot because that was the area that the other anglers seemed to be getting the most indications and I did manage a couple more f1s but it was noticeable that I would only be able to catch one fish on each swim.
On reflection after the match I feel I could have searched the water in between the pegs because that is what the lad to my left did and he overtook me in the last hour of the match. Whereas I really struggled as I had to resort to going tight across with all my shot under the float by doing this I had a really slow fall of the hook bait and hoped that this might attract the attention of a carp but I only managed a chub.
When the all out sounded it called time on a rather frustrating match I really needed to be more active searching my peg more to find out where the f1s were located. My corresponding silver fish league is potentially causing some bad habits and having a detrimental effect on my f1 fishing.
I knew that I had been beaten by the anglers either side of me but was hopeful that I had managed to get the better of the others in my section. One of the first to weigh in peg 173 managed 13lb , I had 6lb , peg 169 had 10lb , peg 167 had 9oz and peg 165 had 8lb which i felt was well within my grasp today so ended up a disappointing 4th in section.
On the team front we had a reasonable day with 12 points despite my poor performance this put us mid division on the day but more importantly kept us in touch with the leaders in overall 7th position with 33 points. There is still a long way to go yet , unfortunately I am going to miss the next round as I need to concentrate on my two remaining winter league matches at Old Hough where I need a couple of good results if I want to stay towards the top of the league but after that all my matches will be at Partridge lakes and I may even enter in the individual series if there is still places free
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Today I have been on the Stainforth & Keadby Canal in Thorne with members of the Facebook group Angling Info. I was asked by the admin team if I would do something slightly different for the guys rather than just a meetup and fish; I was asked to do a coaching session on the use of Bloodworm & Joker and for me, the Stainy is the only place to go to show it’s potential. An event on their page was created and people started booking on, on the day there were less than anticipated but to be honest that was always going to be the case due to cold weather overnight and the fact some are just unsure about using the bait as it’s unknown to many. I always look forward to fishing on here regardless of the time of year I wish I could justify fishing the winter leagues but having to work shifts limits the amount of matches I can fish.
I had posted on the event page a breakdown of my tackle and pictures so they all had an idea of what to turn up with but if struggling I had plenty of rigs that could be used so they would benefit from having a good balance. The one thing I asked for them not to do was shot any rigs they make up as I wanted to show them how I do it and the reasons why, and on the bank to not prepare any baits as the weather can have a massive effect on how much to use; it’s quite funny though as did come in for a bit of stick about this event from some members thinking because they don’t see your face on the leagues you know nothing about a venue! I’m not naïve to think that all things I do or anyone does is perfectly right but if it works then it must be on the right track, we can all learn things and even the best are always learning and have been taught by someone at some stage just like I have on this very venue; It’s quite frankly sad that these types are the ones that never offer even just a little time to those wanting to learn especially on a group that is dedicated to helping the less experienced.
Anyway, back to the day, we met up at the usual café at the Delves Fishery in Thorne itself to discuss how they wanted the day to pan out; having answered most of the guys’ questions over several weeks beforehand there were still plenty to be asked, it was quite clear that non-who had turned out had ever even seen bloodworm in the flesh before. Matt Richardson who organised the day said if I would sit in the middle of the section between 2 juniors his son Will and Kevin Housham’s lad Dylan and everyone else spread down either side of me. I had set up and plumbed up my swims ready to go and got everything else sorted and broke each bait down separately ready to explain what each is used for and why it’s prepared in a certain way. I know most will think mixing groundbait is sucking eggs and to be honest for most of today’s fishing it is especially on commercials, but when it comes to canals and canals in winter bait prep is much more critical to not ruining your swim before you even start; I think the same can be said of what groundbaits to use. As the day was an introduction to using Bloodworm and Joker a key area to point out was how to keep the bait fresh not just if you want to use it in the days to follow but also during the session, and this is another good reason for keeping the baits separately; many groundbaits have salt as part of their mixture something the worm doesn’t like so instead of making the full mixture up at the start it’s important to add the quantity of worm to any/if groundbait is used for top up balls for throughout the session. One area that did raise questions several times throughout the day was the consistency of my mix, now I’m sure if you asked 10 anglers why they mix it like they do you will get varying results, and for me I like my mix especially my top up balls to bit fairly wet; I believe by having my mix this way I know it is getting to the bottom and breaking down slower than a dryer active mix which will hopefully keep the fish feeding over this worm concentrated ball for longer.
The one thing they all came to see was the worm itself, most had ordered a match pack between 2 anglers so had 500g of Joker and 50g of Bloodworm individually wrapped and supplied by the ever-consistent Sam Wildsmith. First up was the Bloodworm as simple as it gets for prep, a small bait tub filled with around ¾ - 1” of water and the worm then tipped in straight from the newspaper they are packed in; I think every one of them couldn’t believe how easy it was or how active they become when they are put back into water. The joker again was opened from the paper and set in quite a solid block, explaining that both damp leam and grey leam can be used to separate the joker and the drier the worm (good idea to change the paper the morning before the session) the less leam is required to separate them, or by using grey leam less can be used as its very dry. For what many think is a delicate bait Joker are quite hardy little buggers and the leam can be rubbed quite vigorously through the worm and after about a minute most of the worm has separated and started to move about a bit more. So what has taken around 2 minutes of explaining the worm it is now ready to use both Joker in the feed and Bloodworm for the hook.
I baited up 2 lines one at 7m and the other at 13m both are just on the edge of the slope either side of the canal where the bait is just out of the channel and away from silt and debris offering a clear patch to create a bed of bait. I put 4 balls of 60% groundbait, and 40% of soil and damp leam mixed 50/50 on the 13m line and 6 balls of the same mix in at 7m; I explained that if they were to fish a match on here speed is important as well as is reading the swim for changes such as when to top up, so by creating a larger bed on the shorter line I am hoping to get the shoal in and feeding confidently for when I need to come off the longer line. I set 3 rigs up 2 identical both on 0.11 Powerline to a 0.07 hooklength of Colmic Stream Fluorocarbon with and some handmade floats I had made from Rob Marsh (BG Floats) in a 0.6g & 0.8g the 3rd rig is the same float in a 1g but to 0.12 Browning Hybrid Power and the same hooklength all 3 were used in such a short period due to the canals tow. I only fished for a short period to show them lowering the rig in, the bites and how shotting the rig is important to read these bites especially a lift bite, through to being efficient and quick due to the number of happy snapping pike in the canal.
Once they were happy it was time for them to mix up their bait, shot their rigs and get under way, Rich Hall came with no B&J and opted for maggots and casters. All anglers caught well and at times struggled which was a good time to point out that topping swims up was needed; Rich started just as well as everyone else but struggled later in the session when everyone else’s swims picked up so I gave him the rest of my joker to add to his mix and it wasn’t long before he was catching again. Even the 2 youngsters were getting into good rhythms and Dylan was having fun hooking into quite a few pike which seemed to be in abundance between his and my peg and at the end he had a good double on for over 40 minutes before it unfortunately, bit through the hooklength. Will, on the other hand managed to snare one around 6-7lb as well as putting a good net of fish together. Overall at the end each angler caught in the region of 4-6lb of fish which I think was a successful for their first time on the bait and some a canal and only fishing just over 3 hours, I said at the start of the day if they each walked away having learned 1 thing I would be happy so I was over the moon when they said they learned plenty.
Please visit my website for a more in-depth breakdown to fishing this so underused bait http://www.anglingantics.com/single-post/2015/08/08/Bloodworm-Joker-Neednt-Be-Complicated
And also the day was filmed live of the prep and part of the fishing https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-itpGMbd1sU
Tackling Big Natural Venues
Match Fishing takes a road trip to bonnie Scotland, where Scottish international James Woodrow uncovers his tactics and tricks for tackling the daunting but beautiful Loch Ken…
You join me today on the banks of Loch Ken, a water we regularly fish matches on here in Scotland. Some anglers are scared of this venue, while others, myself included, thrive on the buzz of fishing it.
At over nine miles long it’s a colossal venue, and until very recently, legering has been the dominant way to catch fish on this vast expanse of water. In the last few years, the huge shoals of roach seem to have ventured much closer to the bank, well within reach of the waggler, pole, and even whip!
Of course, there are numerous daunting match venues like Loch Ken all over the UK, and getting the tactics right to draw fish into close range and then catch them, can be difficult. Today, I’m hoping to give away some tricks that you can use to make the most of these fantastic waters!
Draw The Fish In…
The first thing to consider on big venues is how you’re going to attract the fish in close enough to catch them. These fish will only venture close to the bank for one reason, and that is to feed.
There’s little scope for messing around with small amounts of bait for this game. The shoals of roach and hybrids here flock into the shallows to feed, and will settle in the swims that have enough bait for them to settle and graze.
To start the session, I like to create a bed of groundbait by balling in nine large balls of groundbait. I squeeze five of the balls very lightly so that they break up quickly and create a carpet area on the bottom for fish to settle on. The other four are squeezed much firmer, meaning they break up after a little more time, creating prolonged activity and a steady release of the feed within the balls.
I’m convinced that the noise of the balls hitting the water almost certainly attracts fish on large venues. I’ve fished several matches here where the anglers either side have cupped in their bait, or started by loose feeding, and every time I’ve got off to a very strong start.
For this reason, I try my best to make sure I’m the first to ball in my bait at the start. Noise also has a big influence on how I re-feed or top up the swim during the session. I’ve had a lot more success when I loose feed casters compared to maggots on big venues like this.
Firstly, casters make a lot more noise when they hit the water, which is sure to attract fish. Secondly, casters can be fired in a lot more accurately than maggots, especially if there’s some wind on the venue, as there often is on these places. Another good little trick is to use your maggots as a secondary boost if you need it. You may catch well for two or three hours feeding casters, before things go very quiet. Changing to feeding maggots at this point can sometimes instigate fish to feed again.
Ball It Short
I have started today’s session by balling in my groundbait, making a conscious effort to throw it in just short of the pole tip. Fishing on the outer edge of your baited area is deadly on big venues like this. The fish naturally home in on the feed area from out in the middle of the loch, so the first bait they come to is the outer edge.
In my experience, the fish you catch here are always a bigger stamp. The smaller, ravenous fish get right in on the main baited area, while the bigger ones sit just back from it, picking off loose feed falling past the groundbait and small fish. Balling the main bait a foot short of the pole time helps me fish on the outer edge.
The wind also has a nasty habit of turning around and blowing towards you on big venues like this. This can cause your rig to blow in away from your feed, especially if you ball in your feed right on the pole tip, meaning you won’t be fishing over your main feed area.
Straight after balling in my groundbait at 13 metres, I ship out and lay my rig in. As it’s settling, I fire a good two-thirds of a pouch of casters over the top. Like the groundbait, I always aim a little shorter, so the overspray and back end of the loose feed extends just past the pole tip.
This overspray is really important. It’s this bit of bait landing beyond where I’m fishing that brings in the fish from out in the main loch. These caster making noise and falling through the water over a wide area get the fish competing, darting around the swim, and draw in new fish.
Despite throwing in all that bait at the start, I can’t stress enough the importance of feeding like this from the outset. With so much water to pull fish from, and so many feeding fish flocking in to feed, the only way to keep them in your peg is to feed regularly.
First drop in today with a single dead red maggot I’ve caught a roach around 3oz; proof the initial feeding has been effective. Missed bites have been a little annoying at the start of the session, but this can be expected.
All the activity in the area, with the groundbait fizzing up, can cause the fish to be a little scatty, and dash about all over the swim. It can sometimes be a case of having a little patience and waiting for the fish to settle during the first 20 minutes of a session. Quite a few dace have hit the net early in the session, but I’m now settled into a good run of roach.
The million-dollar question, of course, is what to do when the action slows? The first thing to do is make sure you notice it. Keep tabs on how often you’re shipping back with a fish on, and as soon as you feel it’s slowing, you need to make a move.
If you’ve been loose feeding regularly enough, you should never stop getting bites. You may notice that your stamp of fish goes smaller; you begin to miss more bites, or the wait between bites gets longer. This is probably because the fish have spread out a lot more, possibly because a predator has moved into the swim, or due to you catching too many of their mates.
When this happens, I like to re-focus them by feeding some more groundbait. I simply have a top-up mix that is rich with casters and hemp, and try feeding small hard balls, that I make with one hand, as accurately as possible. I’m confident to do this by hand, and try and throw the balls just short of the pole tip.
If you’re not happy throwing in the balls, simply pot an odd ball in every five minutes or so. This helps to create a small hotspot of feed on the bottom where the fish should re-focus. Again, don’t stop loose feeding at this point. This is vital to keep drawing in fish.
Despite my attack being very positive, I like to use fairly light rigs on this venue when the conditions allow. The reason for this is because the water is clear, and I’m loose feeding a lot of bait. After much experimentation, I’ve found that you miss fewer bites and catch slightly bigger fish by presenting a hook bait that steadily falls into the swim.
Another good thing about lighter rigs is that you can ship out, lay the rig in, and have time to loose feed before the rig has settled. The last thing you want to be doing is striking at bites halfway through loose feeding, often meaning you miss the bite while your loose feed goes everywhere!
The swim today is only five feet deep, and I’ve set up a 0.4g Sensas Series 18 as my heavier float, while a 4x12 Preston Chianti is used as my lighter one. Elastic is very important. You need something that is soft so fish don’t splash on the surface when you strike, but also allows you to swing in chunky 4oz fish to quickly get them out of the way of pike!
I only ever use a dead maggot on the hook, for several reasons. Firstly, a dead maggot is much softer than a live one, and when fish suck it in they tend to hang on to it for much longer than they do a live one. Secondly, a dead maggot falls a little bit slower than a live one, and it may just give fish a split second longer to see and take the bait as it falls into the swim.
Finally, there is much less chance of a dead maggot doubling back over the point of the hook, causing bumped and lost fish.
Cast A Whip...
1. Hold the hooklenght in one hand and the whip in the other
2. Bring the whip behind you while still holding the hooklength...
3. Then push the top hand and pull with the other to 'cast' the rig out!
Upping The Ante
The fishing has got better and better as the session has progressed today, and interestingly the fish are coming right in on the feed! The heaver 0.4g rig has been best, and I’ve also found that a caster has been quite an effective hook bait for selecting a bigger roach or two.
With the fishing being so good, I’ve ended the session by catching on a whip! This doesn’t often work here, but on good days when the wind is favourable you can have some golden spells fishing the whip, that can really boost your weight. I’m using a 7m whip today, with a 7m long rig. This means that when my float is set at five feet deep I’m fishing just short of 13 metres, right on top of the feed I’ve been introducing on the pole.
A great way of deciding whether the pole or whip is better is to time yourself and count how many fish you catch in a 10-minute spell on the whip, compared to how many you catch on a 10-minute stint on the pole.
Today, the whip has given me a brilliant weight boost at the end, and I’ve finished the session with close to 200 wild Loch Ken silvers, in a bag pushing 20lb! With the right combination of positivity and finesse, you can make the most of big natural waters like this!
Enter The Silverfest!
The last two years have even seen an event created to celebrate this, in the way of the Van Den Eynde and Daiwa-sponsored Silverfest! This is a two-day float-only festival that has proved very popular already in its first two years. It normally takes place at some point in the final two weeks of September… keep your eyes peeled in the Coming-Up pages of Match Fishing magazine and its Facebook page for details nearer the time.
What's On The Ken Menu?
1. Dead maggots are best for the hook!
2. Hemp features heavily in James' top-up mix...
3. As do casters, which are also loose fed over the groundbait.
4. Ball this lot in at the start to create a caroet of feed for the fish to graze over.
5. Maggots make a great change feed bait if it goes quiet on the caster.
Location: Glenlaggan shoreline, near Castle Douglas DG7 3NF
Day tickets: On the bank
This time of year the fishing slows right down, and commercial carp and F1s can be really tricky to catch.
On one of my local venues Partridge Lakes Fishery, the method of dopping bread on the pole is working really well. It allows you to search your peg to locate pockets of fish without running the risk of over feeding. A little edge I like to use is to flavour the bread with a little of Marukyu's Super Krill Boost Juice. Krill is definitely my favourite addictive in the colder months and can be used on any baits, pellets, maggots or even bread. The Boost Juice colours the bread red, which is something a bit different from the plain old white loaf and also prevents the bread drying out. Dipping a couple of maggots or even pellet in the Krill Juice can also make a great dopping bait, and definitely worth a try.
Get out there, wrap up, keep warm and get on the Krilliant Dopping!
How to prepare the Krill flavour bread -
With the cold weather upon fishing can be that little bit harder, but as Anglers we all love a good old challenge.
Thursday, I decided to have a visit to Brookside Fisheries. It's a venue I don't fish too often, the main match Lakes are stocked well with F1s, but a decided to fish a lake, called Kingfisher, this is stocked with a bit of everything.
Lakes that are stocked with a variety of different species are always good fun this time of year, you just don't know what you are going to catch.
My rigs for the session were a simple, 0.13 mainline to a 0.12 hook length with a small 18s pellet hook, and a soft number 10 elastic. This would allow me to land pretty much everything I hooked.
Soft pellets, are a great bait to get a bite this time of year, so I went with my good old favourite, the 6mm Jpz from Marukyu, and some soaked 2mm pellets with a few sprays of Scopex Amino, I find adding a little bit of flavour helps a lot this time of year, I don't tend to feed as much, so the flavour and smell of my bait plays an important role, in attracting fish into your swim, rather than running the risk of over feeding.
I started the session fishing the pole at 13m, after catching some small roach, I started to catch some nice skimmers. The fishing was good getting a bite every minute. After about 40 minutes I hooked into a nice carp about 4lb which was a good fight on light tackle, I went back in and hooked another big fish, which pulled my elastic half way across the lake, after a good fight I landed a lovely looking Ghost carp which had a hint of Koi. A beautiful fish to catch on a cold winters day.
The session went well, resulting in about 40 skimmers, 20 roach and 12 carp. A decent net full, using only a few flavoured micros and a handful of Jpz pellets, it just goes to show when the weather is cold, sometimes less is more!
International Match Fishing
The License To Pull!
Match Fishing takes you to Italy’s most prolific match venue, the mighty River Arno, where Steve Gardener is victories in one of the most demanding matches on the calendar…
The River Arno in Pisa, Italy, is my favourite fishing venue in the world. It is totally unique by way of the species you catch and the style of fishing required to catch them. At over 100 metres wide at the narrowest point and ranging from eight to 16 feet deep, it’s not for the faint-hearted. One event on my calendar year after year is the Red Tetragon Pairs match on this venue, and this year I was lucky enough to win it with my partner, and Italian legend, Milo Colombo!
The target species are predominantly catfish, ranging from 1oz to double figures! The average stamp, however, is between 8oz and 2lb, and these fish have razor sharp fins that flare up to spike you. Each pectoral fin has spikes along them, as does the dorsal fin. I’ve had to learn a specific way of gripping the devils by grabbing them over the back of the head with three fingers to unhook them. There are also big carp that run to double figures, as well as carassio, bream and skimmers. These don’t very often get a look-in, though, because the catfish are so aggressive. Oh, I forgot to mention the mullet! These grow to 4lb or more and don’t half pull when you hook one.
Anyone can enter the pairs competition and if you fancy something different, I really would recommend it!
Milo and I picked up over €2,600 for winning. As a pair you draw a 20m-long section of the river to fish. The result is worked out on section points and you add your weights together and get a score of where you finish in your section. Of course, the obvious thing to do is spread yourselves out so there’s a decent gap between you, but the nature of the river means that you can’t always do that.
On some pegs there are massive boulders on the bottom and you have cliff-like drop-offs of a metre or more where you want to fish. Normally, we get the poles out as soon as we get to the swim and try to find a couple of flat areas to fish. Sometimes we may be sat 10 metres apart, while other times we’ll be sat right next to each other.
Pairs come to fish the event from all over the world – Belgium, France, Spain, England, and of course Italy make up a real mixed field, who have a great laugh and enjoy this intense sport. There is a practice day on the Friday, but you’re welcome to go before this to practice too, and the event consists of two five-hour matches fished on the Saturday and Sunday.
There is a bait limit of 20 litres of groundbait and the same of stickymag. The key is making sure that you pace yourself each hour so that you don’t run out. Often, I’ll separate my mixes into four or five bowls so that I can pace my bait out throughout the match.
Maggots and groundbait really are all you need. Sometimes we have a few big worms for the hook too but I generally stick to using between five and 10 maggots on the hook. The groundbait consists of a base mix of Milo groundbaits that are quite heavy and sticky. These allow you quickly form a heavy ball – vital when you’re regularly feeding and need a mix that goes straight to the bottom in deep and often moving water.
One addition we have been putting in the mix is strong fishmeal, in the way of Bait-Tech Halibut Marine Method Mix. This gives the mix some real potency and is a small addition that can make a difference. In the coloured and deep water I think it simply helps them hunt out your bait quicker.
The stickymag is mixed up like concrete! A mixture of maggots and fine gravel are mixed to a 50/50 ratio to ensure the balls are hard and heavy. Into a large bucket of these we use three whole tubs of sticky-mag. You have to virtually spoon the stickymag out of the bowl to get it and form a ball.
On the Arno the stickymag must be rock-hard... and plenty of it!
Rigs Of Steel
There’s no scope for pussyfooting around with rigs. Main line is 0.25mm and hooklengths are 0.20mm. Of course, with such heavy line you need heavy hooks and elastic. I use size 8 and 10 hooks in the Milo Suehiro S463 pattern. These are forged with thick wire and a huge gape! This is matched with a 2.82mm Milo Concept Hollow elastic. Ideally you want a bit of elastic to come out on the strike, but only a few feet out when netting the fish so you have the power to get their heads up quickly.
The float sizes and kinds used vary massively depending on flow. Every time I go on this river the flow is different. Some days you may be able to hold your rig virtually static with a 5g round-bodied float, while other times you need flat floats to 40g to hold the rig still.
Now that's what you call a plummet
My approach with rigs is the same on all rivers, whether it be targeting catfish abroad or roach in the UK. I like to have a rig that I can present about half the pace of the river. This means I’m slowing the bait down but still running it through the swim pretty quickly. On this latest trip, a 5g round-bodied pattern was about right.
The next rig is for slowing the bait down even more and I aim to be able to run this rig through at a quarter of the pace of the river. This way the bait is slowly trundling over the feed area searching for fish. A heavier float of 8g to 10g was ideal for this.
Floats need to be round bodied. This helps you control it down over the baited area without it riding up out of the water. When you hold back on the float, you need your bristle to remain set properly and not have any of the float body lifting up.
My final rig is the nailing weapon for holding my hook bait bang still over the feed. For this I use a flat float and err on the heavier side. Anything from 10g to 30g, depending on the float, is used.
Shotting consists of a bulk and a couple of large droppers. On heavy floats I use drilled bullets as my bulk shot, while on the lighter 5g to 10g floats, a simple bulk of large lead shot is neat and effective. Of course, in Italy it’s easy to nip big shot on the line because you are allowed to use lead! Droppers are generally No1 shot. When a fish moves one of these you see a very positive bite.
Noise is very important when feeding for catfish. Throwing in your groundbait and stickymag feed is essential – I don’t even set up a pole pot. They are also very greedy and if you feed too much or too often they will simply fill up and become difficult to catch. Ideally, you need to make regular noise and feed regular bait, without overfeeding the fish.
To start I feed 20 balls. These are the size of small tangerines. This way, I make lots of noise to attract fish without presenting them with too much bait.
Feeding throughout the session is simple and I always seem to end up feeding a ball of groundbait or stickymag every time I ship out. This allows you to get into a rhythm. When possible, I ship out and flick my rig into position and stand up to feed a ball of stickymag or groundbait as it is settling. Often, catfish will dash into your swim just after the ball hits the water and you will get super-fast line bites from them. By feeding as your rig is settling you can avoid this. Because of the bait limits, I normally feed twice with groundbait and then once with stickymag. In reality it’s the maggots that the fish want, but by keeping a small amount of these in the peg the fish are always searching for them, meaning you get a quick bite after dropping your rig in.
Sometimes the fish do leave because all the anglers along the match length are fishing similarly. If you feel that the fish are shying away from you, introducing a couple of quick balls of groundbait and an increased amount of stickymag for a short spell can bring the fish back into the swim.
I had weights of 62lb and 84lb in the two matches this year but felt the fish had been pressured a little and exploring the swim with different rigs was vital. At the start of the day, fish were right on top of the feed and sometimes just above it. To maximise on this bagging period you needed to use the heavy rig and make sure you were super accurate when placing the rig in the swim. The fish move above the bait searching for food, so as soon as you drop your rig in you get a bite.
As the session progresses the fish begin to thin out and this is when they drop downstream further. This is when you need to pick up the lighter rigs and work your bait over the feed to find the fish. I have found that you can catch a lot of bigger bonus fish right downstream at the bottom of the feed area. Bonus carp and mullet seem to hand out here, as if they are feeding on the scraps of bait that drift down from the more aggressive catfish munching on the main bait area. Sometimes I’ll purposely place my rig further down the swim to try and bag these bonus fish.
The final thing is patience, something that is vital when doing any aggressive fishing. You get a lot of bites and are sure to miss some. Another inevitable problem is foul-hooked fish. You need to keep calm and smooth, and fish through any frustrating periods. I generally ease off the bait and settle back into the feeding routine 10 minutes later. When the float does go under I always wait a few seconds to make sure it doesn’t suddenly pop up from a liner. Often, the slower bites are the ones to strike at, while the super-fast ones are liners.
It’s been a pleasure sharing the experience and tricks I’ve learned with you. If you fancy a change in your fishing, there’s nothing stopping you making the trip that I do year after year!
These spiky catfish are prolific, but have to be handled carefully when caught
Excuse making is Dan Webb’s topic this month, an art he is particularly accomplished in…
You’ve just got home in a foul mood. You chuck your kit in the garage and kick the dog. The kids run away scared. As you crack open a cold one from the fridge the wife asks: “How did you get on today?” Why did she ask? She never asks! She finds talking about fishing as interesting as you find listening to her recall what Sharon from number 26 said to Tanya about Clare’s new hair! She most probably knows you’ve had a bad day and just wants to wind you up. “No good, bad draw,” you say.
How often do we use that excuse? It’s a very easy one isn’t it? Over time we become more and more skilled at finding justification as to why our peg just isn’t as good as everyone else’s. When we win a match, of course, the draw only plays a small part and our overwhelming skill and mastery of fishy science has allowed us to beat all the mere mortals around us. Bad days, though, are definitely down to the draw!
Then there is Baz, the guy with the individual sponsorship from Cloud 9 tackle and has not paid full price for casters since 1996! Baz draws like Picasso and puts more fish on the scales than Captain Birdseye! The man is always on fish, he doesn’t know what a bad peg looks like! Even when he does draw average he moans like crazy and still frames!
The trouble is, can it all be down to luck? I once accused both Mark Pollard and Matt Godfrey of drawing well and while Matt gave me a series of verbals that I couldn’t possibly repeat, Mark just simply said: “I make bad pegs look good!” Although he said it as a joke it did actually get me thinking. It’s very easy for a draw to look quite good on the weigh board when a big weight has been recorded among a few good ones. Take that weight away and put a poor result among those average weights and suddenly the draw doesn’t look very good at all. Was it the angler or the peg? Can we ever be sure? Maybe we should be looking at ourselves before we blame the draw?!
As with every rule, there are always exceptions. I do know a few anglers who can almost pick their pegs before the draw. If there is a peg that everyone wants to be on, they are there. The incredible thing, though, is that even when they do draw a bad section, it will be the one day that the section fishes its nuts off and everyone there catches loads more than normal! I’m sure I’d increase my chances of drawing better if I studied the pegs less, because these guys don’t even have a clue that they are draw bags! They just naturally assume they are god’s gift to fishing and that’s what makes the whole thing worse!
As with everything in life there is always cause and effect, and in order to bring balance back to the universe there are also those poor souls who are condemned to a life of horrific draws! If ever there is a shallow, narrow, featureless arm with hardly a bite to be had, everyone knows an angler who is bound to draw it! The day a boat crashes and gets stuck in a peg you can guarantee it’s theirs. The day they draw the bush peg is sure to be the day after it’s been cut back to a stump. No matter how bad a day you’ve had or how bad you think your draw has been, spare a thought for Rob Perkins, who draws like that every week!
Well, it’s certainly been a while since I last updated you with my extraordinarily exciting life. It’s amazing how I blink and months disappear. Work has been interesting to say the least and looking back I’m amazed I managed to fish the matches I have.
Being so busy I pulled away from the big majors this year. It can be a long hard road chasing the dream and if you’re not fully prepared and in the right frame of mind to do it, having had plenty of experience at this, you are better off not bothering. I wasn’t going to drive a million miles, catch nothing having pushed poor pegs to destruction and got the severe ump in doing so. My limited free time means more to me than that!
So… intent on enjoying myself, me, Eggy, the Wern, Donk, Bob and Mikey Williams fished the South Wales Summer league. Teams of 5 event that a good few of the local lads fish. 6 rounds over 3 venues meant a bit of diversity and with the newly crowned Supercup Champions, Nobblers, Frenzee South West and a few other good sides fishing it would be a good craic, bit of local needle and a few bites…
As it goes our Milo team won the league comfortably winning 4 out of 6 rounds and only dropping 2 points. The fishing wasn’t easy on times but it was nice not to be in a fish race and have go and catch some. The Wern did his trick with the draw bag and sat me on a few nice pegs. The stand out days for me were two days we fished on Hartleton lake near Ross. 17lb of small roach over a bed of overwet Pro Natural Dark managed a section win and 2nd overall in the first match there. Back for the last round and even though the pegging was different I somehow managed to sit on the same peg as previous this time catching 26lb of roach on a single tin of hemp for another section win and 3rd overall. A lovely change to get the silverfish gear out in summer. Well done to all the lads, they all fished well and took their chances.
With this done it was time to start thinking about the Welsh national that was to be held at Weston Pools. Now, I don’t need any excuse to visit Weston, more than a little bit of man love going on between me and there. a couple of practise trips saw us pick up a few quid and start to get our eye in. What's more, Donk and I managed to bung a day off and get up there for the Natural Baits Festival being held the two days prior. Strange to what some of you may think I do know what a castor and worm looks like.
Before I go on, I must say a massive congratulations to Cwmbran Nobblers for winning the Supercup. Being a local side to me I know all of these lads well and I was chuffed to bits to see them win it. They are all great anglers and I know how much they’ve wanted this title for some time. They had put in the hard yards and done a lot of work in preparation and in fairness they did a right number on it… the bit I love about this event at Barston is the venue itself. It’s made for it. Big carp, big F1s, big chuck feeder fishing, roach and skimmers on pole.. all plays a part so you need to be on your game to make sure you come back with the goods. Shaun Wilson was 2nd in the match with 90lb of brutes on Pellet waggler yet the next section round from him team mate Phil Weaver had the job of getting his head down to catch 35lb of small fish on pole and maggots. Brilliant event at a brilliant place… looks like Wales are winning in Fishing and Football this year…!
Back to Weston and the festival.. don’t look around the car park or you may turn around and go home again. Bennett, Hughes, Carass, Barlow, Scholey, O’connor to name but a few… all wanting to take your hard earned.
The excitement for this was something me and quite a few others haven’t experienced for a while. We all mentioned it, it was bristling. I guess we all knew we were in for some serious fishing and none of us really knew how it would react to natural baits only. Speaking to a few, like me and Donk, they had brought the kitchen sink in terms of maggot, castor and worm etc.. Joe Carass on the other hand.. ‘hope they like maggots Bodge!’ was the reply. ‘I’ve got 2 gallon! Nowt else!’ this worried me as I’ve seen Joe fish before. Fresh and newly married, Joe was clearly a happy man with nothing but fishing on his mind. Equals danger.. believe me!
The draw bag of dreams opened and in we went. Good start… good start.. please please… peg 1 Clay pit! Wallop! And we’re off! Id luckily drawn this recently so knew straight away what the plan was. A quick chat with Bagger Bennett and I was off to empty the lake of its contents.
Sat on the boards, have a look at that for a pretty picture. Wouldn’t matter if the lake was empty would it.. nice place to spend a day. To make things even better (or worse depending how you look at it) Tugger sat across from me on peg 29. Fancied him there! Richie O’Connor on 19 which although normally poor had form of late and I was soon looking at a tough day at the office. Cleggy walks up and shows me a picture of a million f1s sat in his swim.. looked like a bait ball! Oh the joy!
The bait list was simple. casters, worms and Juice covered corn. Castor and worm slop shallow and corn down the edge. There's not a lot else you can do as the place it proper bottomless. It’s a mental lake because of the depths its quite clear. With my glasses on I can see fish 5 feet down as they are coming up when playing them. amazing to see but its heart wrenching stuff.
The match started and it must have been all of 2 minutes before I was attached to a chunky F1. Things looked good and the more I fed the fish seemed to be in the swim. I had a belting start and bagged proper for a good hour. I looked at my watch and 1.5 hours in I thought I’d had 55-60lb. net limits at Weston are 60 so I immediately swapped onto my next net. Although it slowed compared with the first big hit I had a lovely day. I switched to the edge only to start catching proper carp. These things are crackers. I don’t think I’ve ever had fish pull like it anywhere. It’s as if they want to beat you up for jamming a hook in their gobs. So much so you worry for your pole such is the force and turn of speed these things have. you would swear they were foul hooked.
I had a lovely match but so did everyone else as I saw Richie put his 4th net in with an hour to go. Tom was extracting units from his edge and Chris (never had a bad peg) Jones was slaying them on 9! (that’s the point.. the best peg in the world AND America! So I’m told.
I'd caught well and although it was very close I thought I may just have sneaked it. as the scales came down I reached for my first net. It was stuck on something.. wait, no, it’s not stuck it’s just heavy… hang on.. oh shit! As I lifted them out my heart sank as I knew I was going to get knocked back for being over. 60lb limit, 60-70lb counts as 60lb and anything over 70lb you lose the net. A few nervous looks came my way as I tumbled these F1s into the sling. They actually looked bigger than when I had caught them. I’m normally pretty sharp with these things so it came as a bit of a shock to me that Id caught so much in the first hour and a half. Basically, that one net weighed 71lb. There were a few looks at each other.. some ums and arrhs and even a ‘I’ll ring Richie..’ no, chuck them back it’s over the limit. Rules are rules. I weighed the rest of my catch to end up with 114lb. I should have weighed 190lb. Richie then went on to win the lake with 168lb. I ended up 5th! obviously I was talk of the town that night but it seemed it was me who was least affected by it. It was my fault, a mistake on my part… not as if you do these things intentionally! done now! Its only fishing boys… let have another pint of cider and not worry about it!!
On the results front it was that man Joey F1 who’s maggot mania had destroyed stretton. He won the day with a massive 196lb. Bagger won his, in fact most of the usual suspects won theirs.
Day two and with a small (not really! Massive!) hangover we were off to canal for day 2!
70 anglers fishing and would you believe me and Frosty had swapped pegs from the day before. Canal 42 I was to sit on and although a great peg normally for some reason of late it hadn’t been very good. A good long chat with Frosty and we were both set up and ready for action. 42 is next to an inviting looking bridge but with that man O’Connor sat the other side of it I was reliably informed we’d struggle there. I started short on maggots and got off to a flyer with 15lb in so many minutes. This soon died and I was left searching for a large part of the match. Odd fish was all I could muster until I went down the edge. It wasn’t great but at least I was hooking the odd fish. Sodding fish, Christ they pull. In a blink of an eye these thing strip all your lacy from your pole and bottom you out.. it’s incredible. The head shakes are so violent I got broke twice and most of you will know the sort of gear I use!
I’ve had an 8lb barbell… that pulled my arms off. It gets to a point.. I can’t pull any harder as I'd smash my kit up.. this thing just swims about with no thought for me what so ever. Left me feeling belittled and ashamed!
I caught an odd barbell but it was mainly better carp. I was fishing down to the end of a spit and the odd one would run around the back of it. I hooked one thing that really took the p##s! in a split second this fish had shot around the spit and the 6 joints of pole I was holding was now at a right angle. There was a serious amount of pressure on it and I thought it was going to come back as it couldn’t possible pull any harder… it then proceeded to drop a gear and one almighty bang was left with me holding 2 feet of number 6 section with carbon lying everywhere! I picked up an in-tact number 5 but alas the number 4 was now in lot of pieces and half of it was still attached to the top kit the fish has buggered off with! If anyone finds it please leave to one side for me! ;-)
I could see Jordan opposite giggling and when asked if he enjoyed that he said he’s never seen a pole bend like that before… impressive stuff!
I weighed a naughty 90lb for nowhere only needing 111lb for 2nd on the lake. By my own admission Id fished a poor match clearly affected by the previous days f##k up. Richie next door fished another brilliant match to weigh 99lb but it was Lee Peanut who won the lake with a well angled 136lb.
As the results came in it was tough at the top. Joey F1 was my bet and he didn’t disappoint as his maggot approach caught him 150 odd to win the lake for a 2nd day. Well done mate.. thoroughly deserved!
Bagger Bennett was 2nd and Connor Barlow 3rd. well done to all who fished. An amazing event.
Sunday after the festival was National Day and with 12 teams of 5 lined up nobody could see past the favourites Drennan North West. This was the one we wanted to win. My Shakespeare Superteam Bait-Tech side comprised of myself, Donk, the Wern, Eggy and Bob and as this was the first time we had all fished under the team banner we were keen to make it count.
There's only one man to draw in team events.. The Wern is awesome. His ritual is to ask what pegs you want.. he asked me.. I named 5.. he brought me one of those 5! Easy no?
Split over 5 lakes I offered to take one for the team and head down the Clay pit. Although secretly my favourite lake I wasn’t going to make that to clear to the others. 29 was my home and I must be honest I ran to it. Lee was off to wrestle beasts on Belvedere, Bob on weir, Donk on Stretton and Eggy seems to get on particularly well on Canal. We had rain that night and the temperatures plummeted. This was definitely going to have an effect but how many would go there looking for a bagging match having judged it on the previous festival results?
Setting up on the peg that man Richie rocked up in the car park. As I glanced across at peg 26 (bung hole) I hoped he wasn’t heading there… that glint in his eye as he got out of the car said it all.. joy.. another battle ahead!
We all had our plans and mine pretty much mimicked my day on there in the festival. Only difference being I had a few pellets with me. It was a hard day and fish continuously backed off. Rather than keep pushing them out of rang I hung back and looked to rest the shallow lines and let them regroup. An odd look in the edges provided the odd fish but with peg 1 and Ben Roberts on 4 seemingly bagging it looked to be between me and Richie fighting it out for 3rd. A battle I was winning until Richie started plundering units down both edges. I had a cushion but this was disappearing fast but with my edges not producing like I had hoped I was staring down the barrel. 10 minutes to go and I was starting to twitch. Sometimes you simply know that 1 or two fish will make all the difference. The float rammed under and I was attached to a small and angry carp. Back in and I was in again. How and why they had decided to turn up then is anyones guess. I now had to try and get thejm in a quickly as possible to get in for another before the whistle. Not easy when they are fighting like they do. I managed 4 in that last few minutes but felt it wasn’t enough.
I was surprised to find out peg 1 had weighed 82lb. I thought he had 182lb! Ben the same. 77lb I thought was a lot more. probably as I was facing them all day and must have seen them both catch all their fish.. I estimated at 70lb and Richie the same. A bit dejected I thought I was going to be 5th but was pleased to bung 81lb on the scales to pinch 2nd. The curse of 1lb had cost me again! Too much last time, too little this time! Still, that will do as every point counts!
Back at the ranch and we had amassed 17points. No enough we thought. Eggy 3rd, Bob 2nd, Lee and Donk 5th, me 2nd. Top result looking at it and looking around the lakes. John Harvey won individually with 130lb. Well done mate! And.. it seems as most teams had had a bad or indifferent result which meant our 17point was enough to win by 6 points. Nice to finally win it. It’s a nice event, we all know each other and have a great laugh. A massive thanks to Richie, Mike, Giles and everyone at Weston. Superb as always!
Back to Viaduct for the all winners final last Saturday! This is usually my start to the autumn and winter fishing at Viaduct as I never seem to get there during summer these days! 70 turned up for this with a grand up for grabs all talk was of Cambell lake as it was fishing incredibly.
Into the bag and yet again another big match was greeted with a poor draw… I don’t know what I’ve got to do to get a chance down there…
Spring peg 24 was my home for the day and although a nice peg for the lake I knew deep down it wasn’t going to be strong enough to win the match. Bomb rod, 2 waggler rods, short pole and edge was the plan of attack. This also gave me chance to test a few new baits we are working on for next year. I’ve been catching a lot recently on corn doused in Juice. I’ve caught loads on it and although it not the ‘done thing’ at viaduct I elected to fish it over meat. (gasps in horror!)
I had two lines out, one as close to the island as I could feed next to the trees and the other halfway in open water where id ping pellets for skimmers and odd carp. I started on the bomb with a glugged 11mm.. no signs and after half hour without a liner I picked the waggler rod up and dropped onto the shorter line. A quick bite saw carp number 1 on and a small 5lber was soon in the net. Another 8mm in the band and into the red Juice, back out and it wasn’t long before number 2 was on. This slowed a little but I was soon on 5 small carp. Not much being caught elsewhere meant this was a slow and steady day.. don’t force anything..
With the waggler all but dead and strangely no skimmers feeding I had a drop in the edge where I had gently been throwing corn. The float sat there before thumping under and as big brute wallowed about before being scooped. This pattern of slow and steady continued and although it was only an odd bite these fish were too big to have them solid in the peg, you had to wait for single fish. Big enough however that you can easily play the waiting game for them. I managed 4 from the edge, each time resting it and drip feeding Juiced up corn. 2 of them must have pushed 20lb and I ended up with 9 in total for 91lb and a lake win. The 4 edge fish went 65lb so you can see why it’s worth waiting for. All caught on double corn. Looks like I’m a corn freak these days rather than a meat head!
Andy Power got a sniff and proceeded to smash it from unfancied 105 on Cary. 225lb all caught early before they pushed out of the narrows. Talk about taking your opportunity! Another grand for him.. well done the ginger prince!
Tunnel beckons.. winter is coming at last! Time for a bit of grafting in our fishing… can’t wait.
Until next time…
I hadn’t been to Ireland for approximately 15 years, since doing an Autumn Portumna Festival. With the recent resurgence in interest in the Irish scene and the quality of the fishing, now seemed like the perfect time to make a return.
There is literally a festival every week in Ireland and with so much choice, initially I couldn’t see the wood for the trees. After speaking to Gary Miller and Chris Vandervleit, we were soon convinced that the World Pairs was the one to do. They’d had a cracking previous 2 years doing it, finishing in the top 10 last year and hadn’t a bad word to say about it.
The obvious choice for my partner was long-term travelling companion Danny Grimsey and he took it upon himself to do the rotation draw on the Friday night before the festival, as apparently I hadn’t been drawing very well lately. Well he could have done a better job as we pulled out rotation 5 which put us in a group containing all of the previous winners of the World Pairs! We had the Irish crack (craic!?) duo of Phil Jackson and Cathal Hughes, the brothers Ringer, Adam Wakelin and Lee Klimczk, Lee Addy and Paul Keeley. Which was a bit annoying as it would make it harder to win daily monies. He’s sacked for next year!
Day 1 Connollys Shore & Culleys, Lake Garadice
Ok, so it really was a baptism of fire for me as I had the worst possible start on my peg 5 Connolly’s Shore draw. I initially fished the feeder at 40 metres and the pole at 13 after balling it in. I’d fished the open the previous day on Garadice and had seen Will Freeman empty it on a Window Feeder which he likes to fish on deep pegs as it gets the particles down to the bottom. My peg was similarly deep at 20 feet plus so I plumped for a similar approach. It worked for him yesterday, it seemed logical. I could hardly catch a fish and it seemed that whatever I tried it just didn’t make a difference. Open end feeders were tried, smaller feeders were tried, more and less worm. I just couldn’t get a bite, whereas the rest of the section was bagging. I needed the pole to come good to get me out of jail, however I never had a bite on it. It summed the day up when I started a new line at 60 metres only to catch a 2lb eel which I thought was a big Hybrid. It didn’t count as they were are a protected species in Ireland! Late on my platform must have slipped off of the edge of the rock and I was on the cusp of falling backwards onto my rods and top-kits luckily I JUST managed to keep my balance. My weight of 2210 was way off the pace and my chin was lower to the ground than a snakes belly. Fortunately, Danny had fished excellently in his first ever festival match in Ireland, drawing peg 9 on Cullies (where Will had been the day before) and fished a window feeder for 15510 of quality Hybrids and was close to beating Cathal Hughes off the next peg.
Day 2 Horse Island & Inish Fava
It was over the border on day 2 into Northern Ireland and to the fantastic and beautiful Erne system. I had drawn Horse Island peg 5, which involved a boat ride across Lower Lough Erne to the uninhabited (I think?) Horse Island. Now this was to be wild fishing at its finest with not another soul in sight (fellow anglers excepted). Chris Vandervleit had drawn Horse Island the day before and had caught on a groundbait feeder early, before changing to a window feeder later. I had a better start than the previous day and was getting a fish a chuck, the only problem was their stamp, they were mainly small perch, with hand sized hybrids and roach interspersed. At the next peg Julian Kendrick had a brutal run seemingly catching big hybrids every cast for an hour. I just couldn’t get a single one and a switch to the window feeder didn’t improve things.
As with the day before I’d fed the pole and after about 2 hours I had a look and immediately got bites. I soon worked out what was happening and after getting off my box to put a new rig on I was soon catching a roach a chuck at about 3.5 feet deep in 8 feet of water over loose- fed caster. I stuck with this all day and manged to draw the fish into 7 metres at one point although they kept backing off and I ended up where I started at 13 metres. I had 151 pole fish to go with probably 30 feeder fish for 17100. I wish I’d have had a whip set-up as I think I could have really clattered the roach on this. A better day, which saw me win my 6 pegs by default, although I was still some way off the pace of the better anglers who had caught those crucial big hybrids. Danny had a good solid day with 11700 of roach on the feeder. He was a bit unlucky to have a weedy peg which caused him some fish losses and ultimately cost him the chance of section money.
Day 3 Grassy Bank at Garradice & Lough Scur
Back to the south and I was of course back at my Garadice nemesis and specifically peg 6 on the Grassy Bank, whilst Danny was on the rocks at Scur. Going by the previous days weights the higher numbers in my section were better and the pump house at Scur looked better than Danny’s draw.
Starting on the feeder again produced very little response with only 5 fish in the first hour, although the guys around me were also struggling which meant for once I wasn’t getting an early tonking. Onto the pole and unlike the previous day there were not many fish to be caught shallow and I was soon feeding regular balls of groundbait and catching a mixture of roach and perch on the deck. It was such a frustrating day as I had a big bed of Canadian Pond Weed in front of me which resulted in several fish losses and even more frustratingly getting regularly hooked up on the way out. The only way to get a rig out there was to put my pole joints together and drop my hook bait at my feet before shipping out like a maniac!
It was a tough day, and I felt that I’d fished a solid pole match and was narrowly beaten into 2nd place in the 11 pegs by Paul Keeley next door. By his 8700 to my 8250. I’d had more fish than him, but crucially he’d had 4 decent hybrids on the pole which again I couldn’t find (you may have noticed that a theme is developing here!). Interestingly Phil Ringer in my section had used a very small feeder and had cut right back on his feed to catch 6 kilos of big Hybrids early on, before literally not having a single bite apart from eels for the rest of the day!
Danny had a decent weight from his area weighing in 10550, including some hair raising big hybrids on a whip. He’d also lost a very big fish on the long pole which he’d played for some time before it broke him. It would have either been a pike or a very big hybrid.
Day 4 Greenies & Killideas
If we were to salvage anything from the festival we needed a massive day and needed to draw pegs 1-4 at Killideas to achieve this. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as Danny drew 9 at Killedeas and I was on peg 2 at Greenies.
The transportation to Greenies was something I’ve never experienced before. The car park, track and fields were all now resembling a swamp after 4 days of anglers and heavy overnight rain. Initially all of your gear was taken via a quad bike with a trailor to a huge cattle wagon which was then towed by a tractor to the Lough. The tractor was slip sliding everywhere and even the farmer said it was touch and go whether we make it or not! Phil Ringer even had a go at driving the quad! When we arrived at the Lough the gear was then ferried down to anglers pegs in pairs in the quads trailor. I can assure you this would not be fished in England as it would be logistically impossible!
The wind was very strong and in my face and as a large weight was required I simply set up 3 feeder rods. I needed 20 kilos plus and it was big hybrids on the feeder or bust for me. Again, I simply didn’t fish a good enough match and weighed in 9250 with Adam Wakelin giving me a massive tuning off the next peg with a 23 kilo weight. Again I’d caught lots of small fish, but had given the quality hybrids the swerve. A word on Adam actually, I can see why our feeder team is so very good. He fished an excellent match, his casting was metronomic and he simply didn’t make a mistake. He fished a relatively small open end feeder all day and didn’t feed very much bait at all. I’d tried to force things and had hammered 4 pints of casters through the feeder which was exactly what the big hybrids didn’t want. My casting wasn’t good enough in the windy conditions at times either. He almost sneaks his fish in, as he gloves lots of them out and catches deceptively well. If he picks up his landing net regularly you’re in trouble!
Danny had done all he could from Killedeas and his 8650 was another solid return. We were out of it now but still wanted to go out with a bang on the final day.
Day 5 Brackley & Bunerkey
We’d escaped with some fairly benign conditions by Irish standards up until the final day, when we certainly didn’t escape. The wind was due to gust in excess of 50mph accompanied by torrential rain. Even hardened Irish angler Francis McGoldrick described the forecasted wind as ‘seriously naughty’ which filled me with dread.
Unfortunately the forecast wasn’t wrong and my draw of peg 7 on Brackley did at least have a big bank of trees behind us which I hoped might offer some restbite. It was again the standard horror show of a start on the feeder approach after balling the pole for me. I knew that Bream were to be required to have a chance of winning the section and after speaking to others it appeared that 50 metres was to be the range for these. Unfortunately for me my chosen starting line was a real snag-pit and despite dragging a bomb around before the match and feeling nothing it appeared that there was indeed quite a bit there. Every fish I hooked snagged me solid immediately and I was cut off a few times too. I didn’t fancy going longer as the wind was really whipping up now so I tried coming 10 metres shorter only to encounter the same problems. To be fair lots of people seemed to be snagging up and it was perhaps just a very snaggy area. The only guys that didn’t seem to suffering were those in the top 3 pegs who all seemed to be regularly playing Bream.
I’d wasted an hour for basically nothing and it was nice to hook a decent roach straight away on the pole which annoyingly was snaffled by a Pike. There were a lot of decent fish on the pole, quite a few of which were chunky hybrids. Whenever I hooked a better fish I had to bully it in as quick as I could as there was more than one Pike ready to strike. It must have got to around the 3 hour mark when the wind got ‘seriously naughty’ and it was completely impossible to hold a long pole any longer and for my poles safety and my own sanity I packed it away. I flicked a small feeder just past my pole line and had odd fish. My final weight of 7750 was disappointing, as there were a lot of decent fish on the pole which I couldn’t make the most of due to the conditions and to a lesser extent pike. If decent presentation had been attainable I’m sure at least double would have been possible. It was academic anyway as the top 3 pegs in my section all had 30kgs of Bream! Phil Ringer was one of these and it meant that him and Steve accelerated up to 3rd place in the final standings.
Danny had somehow managed to hold 13 metres of carbon from peg 2 at Bunnerkey for another solid 9850. This gave us a combined total of just over 100 kgs and a ‘thanks for coming’. Congratulations to German pair Jens Koschnik and Thorsten Klisters, who had successfully front run from day 1.
As had already been said by many other anglers I would highly recommend giving the World Pairs a try if you’ve never been. The hospitality, organisation and fishing is first class and it was a highly enjoyable week. At this point I’ll mention our accommodation of ‘The Anglers Rest’ in Ballyconnel which is owned by Irish International Francis McGoldrick. Nothing was too much trouble and everything is there you could possible require. Fresh bait every day, a walk in bait fridge, groundbait for sale and fantastic food and drink at reasonable prices. The steaks have to be seen to be believed. I can’t believe there would be a better place to stay in Ireland.
Myself and Danny will be back next year and we made notes on our phones of our mistakes on the boat home and also the additional tackle we’d need before we come back again. We were under gunned to a certain extent with our rods, reels and feeders when the wind really blew. The only draw-back that I can think of is the amount of driving involved, we did over a thousand miles in the week (door to door). It’s also relatively expensive if you dodge the money like we did for most of the time!
Dan Webb has been counting the pennies this month, and is not convinced his investment in the worm market has been paying dividends…
What can £30 buy? One-half of a meal out with the wife? A pair of shoes for the kids? A good night down the pub? (If that’s not enough, you need to take a long hard look at how much you drink!) A trip for two to the cinema? For most people (excluding Pete Goodman), £30 isn’t to be sniffed at! It’s affordable but at the same time not the sort of amount of money you want to give away too often! I love my fishing and I don’t mind paying for good bait, but when £30 only covers the price of fish food, that’s when I start to get upset!
As I’m writing this, I’m just days away from my next credit card statement where the normal diesel, floats and McDonald’s coffee bills have been grossly inflated by masses of bait after practising and fishing the Drennan Knockout Cup at Tunnel Barn Farm (thanks very much for the invite Tom, I hope you didn’t mind the subtle hints)!
It’s that time of year, around spawning time, when those picky commercial fish just want to start gorging on a worms. A kilo of worms causes a noticeable dent in the wallet but add to that four to six pints of casters in case they come shallow and suddenly thoughts of remortgaging come to mind!
Spending money on bait is a consequence of going fishing, but when it costs more to feed fish for five hours than the wife at a restaurant, that’s when it gets too much.
I feel like I’m putting a pound coin in my Cad Pot every time I ship out. I get a twisting, swirling sensation in my stomach that’s aggravated every time I miss a bite. It’s another expensive blob of bait that’s failed to catch a fish! More often than not, I find I’ve left my chopped mess in the sun a little too long and the debate starts up in my head: “That bait’s gone off, if you want to win, Daniel, you must chop some more.” Then the other little voice sparks up: “No no, they are only fish, they will eat what you give them, please, please think of the children!”
Why can’t those fussy finned bandits go wild for nice cheap pellets while spawning? Unused pellets can be packed away at the end and kept for months. If the kids are going without new shoes this month, at least the leftover bait that their sacrifice has funded doesn’t end up in the bin! Why can’t F1s crave corn in the spring? Imagine how happy everyone would be turning up with a gallon of corn to every match! “Oh dear,” I’d say, “I’ve got three pints of corn left, shall I freeze it? No, it’s only cost me £2.50, I’ll just give it to the fish as a thank you!”
All this is a long way away from me sobbing into my worm and caster mix as I tip away tonight’s take away money into the lake for the fish to eat!
Luckily, I managed to get through to Round Two of the Knockout Cup so all those worms didn’t die in vain, but there was one little thing that did upset me. A quick chat with Dale Shepard, the match winner and taker home of £1,000 in prize money, revealed a secret; he’d fed four pints of peat with his worms! Not only had I fed four pints of neat chopped worms and won nothing, Dale had bulked out his feed with the mud that comes free with his worms, and just to rub salt into the wound walks off with all the cash too! I’ve got to admit, it did hurt!
I’ll be realistic now, bait is never going to be super cheap but corners can be cut to an extent. The middle ground is meat. Commercial fish do love a bit of cheap tinned pink reconstituted abattoir scrapings. The only problem is that this cheap worm alternative has a dark side. Not only do these messy sinister pink cubes cover your pole and bait boxes in an evil, impenetrable fatty slime that never washes off, but its real cost is long term. Its fatty revenge slowly eats at your pole and catapult elastics and ruins your waterproofs. The seasoned meat bagger can often be identified after a rainy day by his wet legs caused by his leaky waterproofs.
I’ve heard several different ways to describe the expense of fishing. Some say it’s as expensive as you want it to be. Others say you don’t need to spend a fortune to catch a few fish. I say that these people are idiots because I’m sure that if I didn’t go fishing, I’d have a Ferrari and my daughter would have two new pairs of shoes each month!
But some people just make it too easy for it to be expensive. Just who are these loonies who pay £30 for a Fish ‘O’ Mania ticket and simply don’t turn up?! This year, there has yet again been a fight to get tickets and many qualifiers have been sold out only for up to 40 people not to turn up! If you know who any of these people are, do yourself a favour and ask them for their leftover bait!
How time flies when you organise an event and I still can’t believe it’s been 15 months since the first one. Well here we are back at the prolific Tunnel Barn Farm Fisheries in Warwickshire, this is the venue of choice simply because its centrally located attracting as many anglers from both sides to attend, it has the required facilities such as a shop, café and accommodation and it can hold our required number of anglers with room to spare. Last year was our first year and it attracted 130 anglers from all over the UK this year we boosted numbers by just over 50% taking the number of anglers to 200, we also had exclusive use of the fishery giving us 9 lakes to use.
We have kept the same draw format as last year which we felt was right for a large number of people to draw in a short space of time and this year was no different and I was told we got all anglers in and out of the door in just 15 minutes; it’s a great system which allows each angler to draw and not have to stand and wait to put their name on a list or find section boards, they quite simply put their draw ticket in an envelope which has their allocated number on it and drop it into a bucket and head straight for their peg. The downside to the system is I don’t get to fish as it requires each envelope opening and placing that angler on the relevant section board, but it does have its advantages that we can go around and take photos, ensure people are doing ok? Especially the disabled anglers amongst us.
I must say it wasn’t without fault this year due to no shows which always causes the biggest headaches, especially when it’s a team event and a 2 team event too it becomes even harder, we also had an issue with a couple of pegs which needed to be switched so this can cause confusion with the system of equal pegging of North South North South and so on; and something I am working to remedy in time for next year’s event.
So what is the North Vs South all about? It’s basically a fundraising event to support our national teams that require the desperate funding that should be provided from our sporting and governing bodies but sadly they receive very little or none at all. Rather than just fish another standard match which will attract all types and experience of angler Gary wanted to do something a little different, and after asking me I gave a few options for which he settled on a 2 team event incorporating as the match is called Northerners Vs Southerners, anglers from the Midlands have the choice of who they want to side with which has created personal battles amongst mates too. The event has grown from last year in the support we have received from some of the major tackle and bait companies along with a few friends that have also been very generous to contribute prizes, it’s the hardest part of running a fundraiser as many are sceptical about giving out prizes especially to something that is relatively unknown and still in its infancy; but something we rely on to ensure that as much money raised is donated to the chosen cause. I am dumbfounded that something that started as a bit of a laugh has grown so much that we can even appear on the likes of Match Fishing Live and Tom Scholey & Matt Godfrey’s very own Bagging Bro’s until the past 2 weeks I didn’t realise how much people were talking about it all over social media, can a fishing match really cause this much competitiveness’ not on an individual level but from one where pride really does count.
The venue itself wasn’t fishing at its best which is always a debate amongst anglers, after all we want to go to one of the UK’s premier waters and everyone to bag up, but as with fishing at any venue this can sometimes prove difficult. The fishing was varied with some proving how good it can be whilst others found it really tough but most had an enjoyable day from what I have been told. There were many anglers from both teams who said they needed to do a bit more homework to get the most out of the venue while others got their methods and tactics spot on and one thing I have since found out is most of the Southerners are not taking it lightly this year and most are using it as a stepping stone to really take it to us Northerners in 2017.
I was expecting certain lakes to produce the top weights but once the weigh-in was done they came from all over the complex, some sections were close all round others was very varied; even talking to the staff and Gary there were certain anglers who we all fancied to frame in the top 5 and for me one angler in particular was Jordan Holloway who drew on Extension and wasn’t left disappointed when he came 5th from Extension 38 with 114lb 7oz. Maver Midlands Adam Rumble was the overall winner on the day drawing fancied peg 22 on Extension to put 153lb 9oz of mostly F1’s caught shallow, Last year’s runner up Ryan Shipp was ever consistent again to finish 3rd overall from new pool 38 with 115lb 9oz; In fact there was only 1lb 2oz separating 3rd through to 5th so 1 more F1 would have swung it for them.
The pay-out consisted of the top 5 anglers and each of the section winners by default, and it was well a note that it was good to see some of our disabled anglers taking section wins with Tez Naulls most notably from peg 24 on Club Pool with a weight of 91lb 7oz, but also framing was Jon Weedon and Dick Clegg also taking some good weights 82lb 2oz and 76lb 2oz; and I couldn’t go without mentioning the South’s team captain scoring the lowest section weight of just 20lb 9oz well done that man Mark Eves.
As we always do also we make sure the Juniors are catered for too and this year it was a much more tightly contested affair with just under 13lb separating the top 4. Again for the second year running little Miss Maver Sarah Taylor took the top prize and winning yet another pole with a winning weight of 54lb 1oz, second again in the frame was Jake Alden running her close with 50lb 10oz, 3rd and 4th from a hard fished High Pool was Andrew Cranston 43lb 13oz and Josh Newman with 41lb 4oz Josh also claimed a section win too against some stiff competition.
The draw and the results is always the hardest part of the event for myself as I need to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible, and it doesn’t always help when you have over 150+ anglers peering over your shoulder; but between Gary and myself plus the fishery staff we managed to work through the results quite quickly. I did the section placings whilst Gary worked out the points within each section, and members of the staff totalled them up and it was close, very close in fact only 3 points separated both sides something I wasn’t expecting; I knew it wouldn’t be a walk over like last year for us Northerners but to be within 3 points was unbelievable.
Well I had the honour this year of presenting the trophy, but in true NvS fashion of the where the banter never stops I called up Mark Eves to hand the mutual handshake trophy to him only for him to give to my own team captain Emma Pickering as once again us Northerners remain victorious and undefeated in the much acclaimed epic battle of the year. We remain the victors but I must say its only spurred the Southerners on to come back fighting harder in 2017, something we will make sure is even more hotly contested as we are looking at improvements and one thing I am being told to do is run it over 2 days which will not only make it more interesting but also give the local pubs a bigger headache listening to the friendly banter, but more importantly to raise even more for the teams at the same time.
I would like to say a big thank you to Gary Bull for starting all this, a match with a difference something our sport desperately needed, also a huge thanks to my travelling partners Tony Ralph and Matty Tuttle for keeping pretty much everyone who stayed over at Tunnel entertained over the weekend.
I can’t leave without saying a huge thank you to our supporters this year, we have had some fantastic prizes donated and each of them we will be sending personal thank you from all of us at the NvS and the anglers who make this event possible. And a massive thanks to Jon Hilton and his team who support us with medical cover and lifeguards that constantly walk the banks throughout, although I think he might have to cam up one side of the van so it doesn’t put the fish off in his swim as clearly only 5lb of fish weren’t scared of the big yellow ambulance.
- Shimano/Normark UK (Graeme Douglas)
- Browning UK (George Kenrick)
- Dynamite Baits
- Dennis Lee (ZT Hooktyer)
- Maver UK (Sarah Phoenix)
- Preston Innovations (Frankie Gianoncelli)
- Bait Tech (Hayley Goldsmith)
- Frenzee (Andy Oldham)
- MAP (Mike Robinson & Matty Pillay)
- GURU (Pemb Wrighting)
- Bob Nudd (Coaching Day for 2)
- Amer Jawad (Coaching Day)
- Emma Pickering (Coaching Day)
- Ringer Baits (Phil Ringer)
- Gold Medal Groundbait (Clive Branson & Anthony Sneyd)
- Darren Millis & Michael-and Lola Homer @ Angling4Heroes
- Jake Alden
- Stinky Stuff (Mark Potter & Warren Douglas)
- Kevin Jury
- Alan Lee (Miracle Baits)
- Fishing Republic
- The staff at the Durham Ox pub in Shrewley for not kicking us out!
And finally Mike, Sarah Underwood and the staff at Tunnel Barn Farm Fisheries
Details of next year’s event will be published once we have sorted dates with Tunnel and will be found at www.nvs2015.wix.com/mysite or on our Facebook page www.facebook.com/groups/www.nvsfishing.co.uk/ so stay tuned.
Top 5 Individuals
|Pos||Name||Weight (lbs)||Lake & Peg|
|Adam Rumble||153lb 9oz||Extension Pool Peg 22|
|Brad Parks||133lb 10oz||High Pool Peg 48|
|Ryan Shipp||115lb 9oz||New Pool Peg 38|
|Mark Malin||114lb 8oz||Bottom Pool Peg 30|
|Jordan Holloway||114lb 7oz||Extension Pool Peg 38|
Top 4 Junior’s
|Pos||Name||Weight (lbs)||Lake & Peg|
|Sarah Taylor||54lb 1oz||Extension Pool Peg 9|
|Jake Alden||50lb 10oz||Top Pool Peg 8|
|Andrew Cranston||43lb 13oz||High Pool Peg 8|
|Josh Newman||41lb 4oz||High Pool Peg 16|
|Noel Wright||68lb 8oz|
|Aiden Mansfield||86lb 10oz|
|Emma Pickering||74lb 6oz|
|Alex Harper||82lb 1oz|
|Tony McGuire||98lb 4oz|
|Frankie Gianoncelli||58lb 11oz|
|Jon Weeden||82lb 2oz|
|Dave James||96lb 15oz|
|Joe Carass||71lb 2oz|
|Sam Sim||73lb 9oz|
|Paul Brandrick||93lb 5oz|
|Dick Clegg||76lb 2oz|
|Pemb Wrighting||96lb 11oz|
|Tez Naulls||91lb 7oz|
|Geoff Edwards||73lb 10oz|
|Ben Townsend||81lb 12oz|
|Josh Newman||41lb 4oz|
|Mark Eves||20lb 9oz|
|Dave Burley||78lb 9oz|
WINNERS NORTH VS SOUTH 2016:
The Northern Monkeys
Jamie Hughes likes to keep in touch with the ever changing behaviour of fish. Here is why he thinks hard pellets are starting to rule over soft…
Pellets have always been the bait in which I have the most confidence. I have spent years perfecting the way that my bait is prepared and also the best ways of presenting the bait through my rigs. For a long time fishing with softened micros and a soft hook pellet/expander was the best way to approach most fisheries that I visited and at times is still a great method.
Note how Jamie keeps some pole behind him.
The massive change that I have recently noticed though, is the fish’s increased preference to hard pellet feed and hook baits. My theory is that they have been fished for so often with the standard soft pellet approach that the fish have simply wised up to it! Also when you think about it, as we almost never feed any expanders due to their light makeup they are only used as a hook bait, this means that every time a fish eats an expander, it gets caught!
You can quickly see why they would start to avoid soft pellets! Because of this change my approach to pellet fishing has had to change dramatically and for this feature I would like to focus on possibly the most popular method of fishing hard pellets that is known as pinging.
Stability, strength and visibility are three key features of a pinging float
Pinging, simply involves feeding hard pellets generally little and often by catapult into an area of the peg. Noise created by the baits landing on the surface is brilliant for attracting loads of carp and the steady stream of pellets creates competition between them.
Of course it sounds pretty simple, but there are several key aspects that have to be considered in order to make this method work correctly.
Light, balanced tackle is a must in Jamie's book.
The first thing I would like to focus on is the actual pellets that need to be used. How your pellets are behaving when in the water is possibly the most important factor in hard pellet fishing. The last thing that you want is to feed a pellet that breaks down or softens before even reaching the bottom of the lake.
Despite what many people think, there are really just 2 of types of pellet available to anglers, these are the standard coarse pellet, sold by most bait companies and secondly a much denser pellet produced by Coppens. These pellets are all pretty similar, with the only difference being the fishmeal
and oil content which varies with each batch of pellets.
Carp of this size are suckers for pinging
Firstly the Coppens pellets. As I mentioned these are a much denser and often heavier pellet, which are perfect for helping to keep fish on the bottom, their dense makeup also means that they take a long time to break down. The downside of these pellets is that generally they sink quickly, making them not ideal for shallow fishing.
On the other hand, coarse pellets such as Bag‘ems Super Naturals are a far more versatile bait for use with this method, they are also the baits sold as fishery pellets at many venues across the country. These baits are much lighter than the Coppens variety, which results in a slower fall through the water, they also have a much quicker breakdown rate, although this can be slowed down with a small amount of pellet oil.
Even big fish can be landed on balanced tackle, as long as you take your time.
The reason I am so interested in the way my pellets behave in the water is because by understanding what state my pellets are in after a certain amount of time, I can regulate my feeding to prevent too much bait being fed and eventually pellets breaking down in my peg before being eaten.
The slower a pellet breaks down the better it is for fishing on the bottom
Broken down pellets will only cause problems such as gill feeding or small-fish trouble. My ultimate aim is to always be presenting my hard pellet hook bait among other hard pellets, this gives the fish minimal options and gets me more bites.
Try several catapults to find the one with which you can be most accurate with
My thoughts on feeding are that basically you have two aims. Firstly attracting fish into the peg is vital, this is best done by catapulting 3 to 5 pellets every minute or so, this creates a lot of noise on the surface but also offers the fish few options which in turn should create competition for the pellets, without over feeding. Your second aim is to get the fish
feeding where they are easiest to catch, by this I mean either shallow, through the water or on the bottom. By changing the amounts of pellets and the regularity that they are fed, it is easy to quickly establish where in the peg the fish are happiest.
Let me explain... As I mentioned, by pinging regular small amounts of pellets, a lot of competition is created between the fish, what it also causes is the fish to rise up in the water column to intercept the bait, this can be great in hot weather or when the fish are happy to feed shallow, but on the other hand if there’s not a huge amount of fish in the swim, then line bites and foul-hookers can quickly become a problem.
For this reason in the early part of a session, I like to play safe and catch as many fish on the bottom as possible, before pushing the peg and hopefully catching shallow in the later stages. In order to achieve this more bait has to be fed less regularly.
I often find that by feeding 20 to 30 pellets immediately after hooking a fish, it can really settle the peg down, as by the time you have played the fish, rebaited and shipped out, everything in the peg has settled on the bottom causing less missed bites.
Of course there is rarely a feeding pattern that will work for the duration of the match, but hopefully by altering things depending on what is being shown on my float, I am able to keep in touch with the feeding moods and put a few more fish in the net by reacting quicker than everyone else.
As with all my fishing, the rigs for pinging pellets are kept as simple as possible.
As a rule two rigs will cover most situations when the fish are feeding on the bottom, of course I will also have shallow rigs set up, but I'm going to cover that in the next feature in a lot more depth.
Carp and F1s almost always home in on the noise of pellets hitting water
My two rigs for fishing on the bottom work in different ways, firstly I have a rig to fish all the way through the water column. This is a light 4x12 carbon-stem float (in four to six feet) shotted with spread No11 shot through the entire rig. I use this as my starter rig as it tells me exactly how the fish are feeding in the peg.
When pinging I expect the fish to behave in three different ways, depending on my feeding;
Firstly by continuing the little and often feeding, I would expect to get bites just after the rig has settled as the fish follow the hook bait to the deck, if this happens then my time is best spent on a slow falling rig.
Alternatively, if I am getting very few indications and waiting in excess of a couple of minutes for a bite, then my time is best spent on my second rig which is a 4x14 wire-stem float, shotted with a bulk of No9s and two No11 droppers. This rig will settle around 8 seconds faster than the light rig, which may sound like nothing, but if I lay this rig in a hundred times then I gain almost fourteen minutes of fishing!
The third occurrence that I would expect to happen would be to miss several bites in quick succession while using either rig. This tells me that the amount of fish present in the peg has increased which has forced them to rise off the bottom, competing to get to the feed first. A quick try with a shallow rig should usually confirm this, but if that fails then as mentioned before, larger amounts of feed less regularly should push them back to the bottom.
The last factor that I feel needs thought putting into when pinging, is the makeup of the lake bottom where you choose to fish. It is extremely difficult to fish this method over thick, silty bottoms, as the fish tend to root around for the hidden pellets causing lots of bubbles and very few bites, I would try to combat this with minimal feed but as a rule you are wasting your time trying to fish pellets on the bottom in these circumstances.
My ideal peg would be a nice gravel or sloping bottom where any silt is unable to settle, this creates a clean peg where all the baits can be seen by the fish, resulting in positive bites.
Hopefully my theories have shown that by putting a little more thought into your approach when pinging, there are a lot of little improvements that can be made. It has certainly changed the way I view my pellet fishing.
Just one of many big commercial hauls that Jamie has nailed on his pinging tactics
Sponsors: MAP & Bag‘em Matchbaits
I thought I would write something a little different from the norm to highlight that some anglers don’t have the luxury to make an impact on their local commercial or natural water like most anglers have. I speak for all the Armed Forces anglers but in particular the British Army.
As an ex-serviceman myself I can fully appreciate how hard it is for these guys to find the time to fish as an individual but even harder to come together as a team; obviously each one signed up to carry out a duty to the queen whether that be based at home in the UK, abroad at an overseas regiment or on operational tours worldwide.
Throughout the calendar year these guys may only get to see the bank a handful of times and be expected to compete under their individual Corps or Army banner, so when it comes to events like nationals or inter service events they have to fight even harder to compete against the already established and shall we say, match fit teams.
A Corps is basically a section of the Army that specialises in a certain area: Infantry, Engineers, Artillery, Logistics and so on, there are 21 different Corps throughout and some are sub divided again. This in itself produces a huge rivalry between each division that leads to good competition.
When it comes to selection it could be, and is very likely at times of high operations throughout the world to be very difficult to not only pin enough anglers down to fill a team but also for those anglers have the time to be allowed to practice.
They not only have issues with availability of anglers but they also have to fight against all other sports throughout, as we all know the Army is a physical unit so when requesting time off to go fishing for a weeks practice it is always very challenging as fishing is not seen as a serious sport mainly because it doesn’t involve running around in some capacity.
Over the past I have spent some time with several guys practicing on the banks of the New Junction Canal and said I wanted to write an article which will hopefully highlight to each Regimental Commanding Officer how serious fishing is as a sport not just for serving guys but as a whole in the UK and Europe.
We know as anglers how demanding and tiring it can be but those who don’t participate in it do not. Something I tried to change when I was serving, but with the power of media and particular social media we hope we can bring its attention to the powers that be to make an imminent change.
Basically, the UK is split into 6 groups and units serving in both Germany and Northern Ireland used to each form a group but due to the Armed Forces moving away from these countries they no longer have the numbers to take part; so for anyone that is based within a group catchment area will form part of their league for the season.
Each group fish the same number of matches throughout the year in which several have to be held on natural waters creating a good all-round anglers rather than those just suited to commercials. At the end of the season each group will hold an AGM where the secretary will put forward a list of names to the Fosters Army Team Captain and Manager who he believes is of high enough standard to compete at Army level.
From here they will attend scheduled practice sessions and this will result in the team for that event being selected; this is why the need for natural waters also being a part of the calendar to ensure that the team is as strong as it can be.
At the end of the season the whole of the Army Angling come together for their annual festival, each group have a turn at hosting the festival so it is usually widespread at the larger venues throughout the UK, venues that can comfortably house the 100+ anglers taking part.
The festival is split into different events ranging from individual, charity, through to team events. It is always a great weeks fishing wherever it is held and is the seasons highlight. This year’s festival is being primarily held at Woodlands Lakes in Thirsk, with an event taking place on the River Tees and also the team event on The New Junction canal, so even during the festival it is varied.
The festival also serves another purpose, it is a great opportunity to bring all of the anglers together, to encourage and coach those who are just starting within the federation or less experienced.
There are individual two events which are held over two separate days; The first is the Masters, this is for the more experienced anglers and those that are deemed good enough to compete at Corps level. Whilst this event takes place the less experienced anglers can sit behind any angler and watch, ask questions and learn as much as possible for 6 hours.
The second day is the Clubman this is the reverse of the masters where the experienced guys can go around and coach people as they fish also, anglers who fish in the masters are no longer eligible to fish the clubman again as they have made the step up.
There are other matches such as a charity fundraiser, to an open plate which involves any reservist or ex serving guys and the individual Army Championship to determine the years Army Champion; but the one event that I have always loved through the festival is the Inter Corps team event, again selection was always a part of the process to make the 6-man team but the one where pride takes over any individual result.
As I am no longer serving I am unable to fish the event, but was asked by the current Royal Engineers captain Gaz Arnold who I served with during my time in the army, if I would do some coaching and practice sessions with his current squad in readiness for this event.
The last time my Corps won the event was 5 years previous on my very last day in the Army on the same section of the same canal. I jumped at the chance as I wanted the title to return to us in an event where we dominated for many years going back into the 80’s but have recently lacked experience on natural venues. To give us a further boost, I also arranged a coaching day with England International Lee Kerry at the end of the week, he would offer his invaluable input to the team plan something I can’t recommend highly enough.
After speaking to local tackle shops and Lee himself we had a very good idea of how to approach the week, and it was great to see three of the anglers who had never fished a canal before adapt to it as quickly as they did. This was one of the main reasons for the week’s practice especially when they would be fishing against some fantastic anglers and some even better natural water anglers.
Understanding a venue is key to success to be able to adapt to any given situation, and throughout the week noticing the changes in conditions such as water clarity and weather conditions and how they affected the feeding, once the guys figured out the changes they could react to keep the bites coming.
One key area which the less experienced anglers learned was feeding and how crucial this was, not only playing a part in their event but something they now have a much better understanding of which they can adopt into all their angling.
I know that some areas of the approach that were discussed, highlighted and practiced up to the day were not initially grasped by eberybody, but once you see one of the world’s best in Lee Kerry doing it and proving how important it is, it sunk in and they all went away as ready as they could be.
After some last minute pointers and sound words of advice the team was ready. The next night a match plan was made and discussed making best use of the tips that Lee gave to ensure that on the day the team could make the best start possible.
The match itself got off to an absolute flyer with all the teams anglers catching fish from the word go, it was my job to ensure they kept catching throughout the match making minor adjustments along the way, we had heavy rain the day before and with the sun beaming down the canal it made it very difficult later in the match.
There were several other guys bank running the canal helping their own teams out so it was down to keeping the guys concentrated and themselves remembering what they were taught and when to notice the changes to keep bites coming. It was in no way fast and furious something Lee stressed to them would be the case so it was hard to judge just how well they were doing.
Once the scales arrived it was nervous for us as a team as the other teams knew how much preparation had gone into the practice week, only a win could save any blushes from the abuse we would receive if we did not win.
When the scales arrived at our sixth man it was a mixture of elation, pride and relief to see the lads take the win and in some style. They finished with a near perfect score of eight points out a possible six with four section wins and two section seconds. Achieving what the guys did in six days I have never felt so proud and it’s one of my best moments in angling having played a small part in their achievement.
The Royal Engineers Corps Team consisted of Sergeant Gaz Arnold (Team Captain), Staff Sergeant Tez Proud, Staff Sergeant Graeme Dickson, Corporal Mark Kirkbright, Sapper Ryan Gibson and Lance Corporal Bobbi Sands.
One angler in particular I was very impressed with was Ryan after a nervous and shaky start to the week he became very consistent and during the match he performed fantastically by not letting others around him who caught bonus fish break his concentration.
He remained focussed and very disciplined throughout and to say a week earlier he had never fished a canal before, he has even gone on to win the open plate over the last two days with a perfect two-point score. A fantastic effort by all who fished on a very hard day to turn up from as far as Germany and put in a performance and massive well done to Mark Kirkbright for taking the overall win.
|1st – Royal Engineers (RE)||8 points|
|2nd – Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC)||20 Points|
|3rd – Royal Signals (R Sigs)||23 points|
|4th – Royal Logistic Corps (RLC)||27 Points|
|5th – Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME)||30 Points|
|6th – Infantry (INF)||31 Points|
|7th – Royal Artillery (RA)||32 Points|
|1st – Mark Kirkbright (RE)||4kg 120g|
|2nd – Tez Proud (RE)||3kg 270g|
|3rd – Garry Evans (AGC)||3kg 250g|
After offending most of the angling world with his last couple of rants, our irreverent scribe Dan Webb turns his savage tongue on his own breed – canal anglers!
It's been said that I've been a little rude in this column over the past few months. Some have even suggested that I'm a judgemental hypercritical keyboard s£&t slinger! It seems that I've slated and picked holes in every niche of fishing except the forms that I'm best known for. So then, there's nothing for it; you’re gunna get it now canal anglers!
Canal anglers are a strange breed, it's all about poles and moaning about boats and carp are seen as vermin. They look down their nose at anyone who fishes anything else other than the cut and on the rare occasion that they are seen fishing anywhere else, they make tedious jokes about No2 elastic and 28 hooks. Some would think nothing of sitting on a commercial snake lake and shouting 'down the middle' at an imaginary narrow boat! Although I do enjoy a good canal match, it's nice to catch a fish that pulls back a bit or use a rod and reel! But for some of these guys, that's just a step too far.
I'm sure through plenty of time mixing with cut nuts, that there are two distinct breeds. Those who ‘squat’ and those who ‘squat not’.
Those who ‘squat’ will always be seen plumbing right up into the rat holes in the shallowest of water ready to spend a day wearing out carbon fibre whilst targeting the greatest number of the smallest stamp of fish they can. They will think nothing of shipping 150 fish for 4lb and think they've had a great day.
At times, that 4lb will be nearing last in section but in their defence they'll tell you that they had the best small fish weight in section and were the only one not to catch a big fish. Little wonder that, as you don't tend to catch many bream, chub or big perch on squats fished off the deck in 14 inches of water. Never the less, they are happy with this and stick their head up high with pride after having pulled out a superb half way in section from a very average peg.
What gives these snooty nosed gits even more pleasure is their pitying of the squat nots and their ugly fish caught on noddy methods.
Of course the ‘squat nots’ don't see it that way. They laugh at these silly super fast fools shipping blips at 100 miles an hour when one drop in with a big worm could mean wiping out two hours of the squats hard work! The ‘squat nots’ don’t spend all week at work (or more typically pottering round the allotment enjoying their retirement) just to have an exhausting Sunday catching eggs with eyes.
They go fishing to win and to catch proper fish and if that means spending all day sat like a garden gnome for one bite then so be it! And even then when they watch the squats weigh in they will make snide comments and laugh at their wasted day.
Of course, not everyone found on the canal bank fits these two stereotypes.
Canals also attract their fair share of all-rounders or canal specialists that are a little more rounded. These guys can be spotted at the weigh in by nets of smaller fish along with the odd lump or two. The often slightly more modest character is usually far more successful than the one trick pony squats and squat nots and attracts jibes from both of them! Squats like to sneer at the mixed catch and claim that it's pure luck that the tench didn't break them (although luck doesn't really come into it when 0.15 Reflo Power and 10 Dura Hollo come into the equation!).
‘Squat nots’ also love to mistakenly point out that the match winner might have caught even more if he hadn't wasted so much time catching those weight building small fish. Don't try to argue with them, they just don't get it!
There is one thing though that both the ‘squats’ and ‘squat nots’ do have in common: Their hatred of bikers, walkers, boats and anyone else using the canal. They see anyone else setting foot near the cut as mortal enemies to be glared, tutted and shouted at! A misguided boater who goes up the far bank of the canal to keep away from the anglers is not seen as a fool with no common sense who needs to be politely asked to keep to the middle, but is instead viewed as an inhuman monster placed on this earth to ruin an angler's day!
With all this absurdity taking place on a path peppered in dog mess and lined with weird eccentrics, is it any wonder that most sane anglers can only take canals in moderation and enjoy the odd commercial or river session too?
Des Shipp’s Pellet Waggler Masterclass
Des Shipp explains when fishing the waggler can give you the edge over other methods…
Fishing the waggler is a tactic that requires almost unparalleled hard work and perseverance. However, done correctly, in the right situation it can prove to be devastating, just as I proved in a recent Maver Match This qualifier at Gold Valley Lakes, where I qualified for the £65,000 grand final!
Why The Waggler?
The first and probably most obvious reason for choosing to fish a waggler over the pole is its versatility and range. You can simply fish much further out using a waggler than you can the pole; it is therefore suited perfectly for large lakes or up to features where the pole cannot reach or using a feeder isn’t suitable.
It also thrives on tightly pegged venues where fishing the waggler can create space for yourself by fishing an area of the lake nobody else is venturing into.
In modern commercial fishing, when somebody refers to the waggler, nine times out of 10 the pellet waggler is what is being referred to. However, I would be perfectly happy to reach for an insert or straight waggler should the conditions suit.
To help, here is a quick run through of what each variety is useful for:
My number-one choice for carp in the upper layers and arguably the busiest method out there, but hard work definitely pays dividends!
A nice dumpy pattern helps with hooking fish; the buoyancy of the float can aid with self-hooking – don’t go too big, though, you are looking for a plop that imitates that of a pellet landing in the water when casting!
A sensitive pattern of waggler, perfect when a degree of finesse is needed, this is my go-to float of choice when fishing for roach, skimmers and even F1s on commercial fisheries using baits such as maggots, casters or worms.
The tip is thinner than the rest of the float and this aids sensitivity and bite indication.
A more buoyant alternative to the insert waggler, this has a multitude of uses.
The straight waggler comes into its own when there is a tow on the lake; its buoyancy means you are able to lay line on the bottom of the lake without the float being dragged under by the tow.
It also makes a brilliant float for fishing shallow for carp using baits such as meat or pellets; its structure means it has a dibber effect.
A Simple Hook bait!
Got It In The Locker?
Having the ability to fish with any type of waggler, and being completely comfortable in getting it out of the bag whenever I feel it’s suitable, puts me on the front foot at a lot of venues.
To use the Gold Valley Lakes Maver Match This qualifier as an example, I opted for a pellet-waggler approach to the match. On the day I drew Peg 50 on Gold Lake, which gave me plenty of room to go at and draw fish from. I knew that I stood a good chance of the match win from there!
It was a particularly hot day with plenty of fish cruising around the lake. I therefore expected to catch in the upper layers of the lake, an area where the pellet waggler is particularly prolific.
Gold Lake is large in size and is occupied by some big, wary carp. These tackle dodgers have seen it all before and are often the wisest occupants of a lake, so will back off from the hustle and bustle of anglers on the banks towards the middle of the lake… prime waggler territory. Due to the size of the fish often caught on this method, between 20 and 25 fish was almost certainly going to be good enough to do the business on the day.
I found having the rig set at three feet deep worked best, although ordinarily I would fish anywhere between 12 inches and two feet. The lakes at Gold Valley are quite deep so I felt that this extra depth meant I had given myself more of an area to target while still focusing on the upper layers of the swim.
My 23 fish on the day weighed in at 172lb which was just over 20lb clear of the runner-up; averaging just over four fish an hour but each of those weighing on average 7½lb it is clear to see how a weight can be built up quickly.
The key is to not stop working. Feed, cast (past feed area), feed, reel into feed area, feed, reel in and repeat. You should never have your rod or catapult out of your hand!
This could not get any simpler!
Float size depends on how far I am likely to be casting, and on the day a 4g Preston Innovations Dura Pellet Wag was just about perfect. It features a small, interchangeable disk that stops the waggler from diving on landing, and being a small, dumpy float that is extremely buoyant helps with the hooking of fish as they can often hook themselves against the resistance of the float.
How the waggler enters the water will be the difference between getting a bite or not in the majority of cases. The float should enter the water with a nice ‘plop’ (similar to the noise of an 8mm pellet landing in the swim) and sit upright instantly. Not crash into the water, dive two feet down and slowly rise back to the surface! Like I said, this can be the difference between getting a bite and not and you would be surprised how far a little bit of practice goes.
The float is then attached using the Preston Innovations Float Stop Kit, which comes supplied ready to slide straight onto your reel line and each setup comprises four float stops and a link swivel.
One float stop sits above the float and the remaining three sit below the float and act as a boom to keep the rig from wrapping around itself, reducing the risk of getting tangled or running into any problems throughout the match. This is vitally important when casting and reeling in on a near constant basis.
You don't need locking shot with these!
My rod of choice depends on how I want it to perform. I have two main options, either an 11ft 6in Power Float, which has an all-through action that I like to use when bigger carp are on the cards, or a 12ft Super Float rod that I see as more of an all-rounder and its action is very ‘tippy’.
Both of these rods allow me to fish with relatively low-diameter lines as the action of the rods cushion any darts the fish may make. A 4 or 5lb Power Max reel line is as heavy as I would fish even when targeting big fish in this manner. You would be surprised how much stick it takes to have this snap.
To finish off the setup either a PR 36 or PR 38 hook tied to 0.15/0.17mm diameter Reflo Power will handle anything I am likely to come up against. A band in a hair and an 8mm pellet is my number-one bait of choice.
Work Hard, Reap The Rewards
Fishing the pellet waggler is all about hard work and getting into a rhythm. It is a method that needs your full attention in order to get it right on the day. Although you are only feeding on average three pellets at any one time you may do this three times every minute during the match and in between this you will either be casting, reeling in or playing a fish!
Similar to fishing shallow on the pole, finding the depth at which the fish want to feed will help with catch rate. A good starting point for the pellet waggler would be two feet. You then also need to work out whether the fish want to feed inside the feed area or off the back of the feed. It is therefore important to cast two metres or so past your feed area, feed, then reel into the feed; this will give you two opportunities to get a bite.
The key is to keep busy. If you are sat there impersonating a garden gnome you are doing something wrong. If nothing is happening then you need to make it happen. What you have got to remember is that when this method works, the size of the fish you are catching is generally big.
This is where match management comes into play; if the fish that you are catching are averaging 5lb a piece you only need four fish an hour to finish a standard five-hour match with 100lb. Breaking your session up in this way will help you to work out whether something needs to change or you are on the right track. However, it is those who keep working that will consistently produce weights capable of winning matches…
Venue File -
Woodland View Fishery
Location: Hay Lane, Droitwich, WR9 0AU.
Day ticket: £8
Contact: 01905 620872
Angler Profile -
Sponsors: Preston Innovations, Sonubaits
Sometimes you just have a day's fishing that you will never forget, well last Thursday I had one, catching my personal best match weight ever.
Forty years have flown by since the Sheffield Star first announced it was to host a major fishing competition for club match anglers. Who could possibly have thought that it would not only still be running today but positively thriving?
“This is the 20th year I have been involved (writes organiser Bob Roberts) and I’m proud to see it is as popular as ever. The late Colin Dyson asked me if I’d mind taking over his Green Un column (a local sports newspaper) in April 1997 until ‘he got a little better.’ Alas he never recovered but it’s a fitting tribute that the reigning Club Match Angler Champion is now presented with the Colin Dyson Memorial trophy, in his honour, a trophy provided by the late Jack Purchase to honour his memory.
The competition had dwindled since its heyday when breweries and tobacco firms were allowed to pump money into sports events and it was a struggle to raise the 40 anglers who took part in the 1997 final. Nowadays I get hundreds of entries each year and the competition to be crowned what’s effectively the champion of champions is intense.”
Clubs in the newspaper’s circulation are invited to submit their match results and hundreds respond. The match winners, more than 250 different anglers, some qualifying many times over, go through to the semi finals where each section winner is rewarded with a chance to fish the sponsored final. This is where dreams can be realised. Who wouldn’t want to be crowned Club Match Angler Champion in the UK’s biggest grass roots event?
Parkes’ Smashing Hat-Trick
Final Number Forty (22 Qualifying Finalists Fished)
Bank End Fisheries, Blaxton, Match Lake
A perfect day with broken cloud and a light breeze promised much at this perfectly manicured fishery. It certainly didn’t let us down. The lowest weight returned was a respectable 53 pounds while the average catch topped 91lbs.
Kevin Parkes, a 44-year-old joiner from Mosborough made history by winning the match and becoming the first angler ever to be crowned champion on three occasions – pretty good going considering a quarter of the field were previous champions making it probably the most difficult final ever to win but he achieved it the hard way smashing two number 4 sections, a top kit and trashed 5 rigs in the margin rushes.
Feeding a line just 12 inches from the bank with chopped worm, meat, maggots and groundbait, Parkes set off on pellet waggler, catching a couple of carp, before coming inside where he found the fish queuing up to pounce on his red maggot baited hook.
Top Six Weights:
1. Kevin Parkes 159-9 (Peg 5) £900
2. Graham Webster 134-0 (Peg 20) £675
3. Richard Wardle 128-3 (Peg 30) £550
4. Omar Munaser 126-6 (Peg 4) £375
5. Brian Searle 124-4 (Peg 26) £325
6. Rob Burgin 112-0 (Peg 28) £50
Prize winnings shown included cash and tackle (to the value of). Section winners also received cool bags retailing at £49.99
A huge thanks go out to Sheffield newspapers for hosting the competition, Daiwa Sports for providing the fantastic prizes, Bank End Fisheries for providing the final venue, Pauline and Geoff Hurt – tireless and brilliantly efficient organisers (as always) and all the club match secretaries who submit their results, week-in and week-out.
Well this is my first year entering the Daiwa Pole Fishing Masters, which saw 112 anglers take to the prolific Tunnel Barn Farm Fisheries to compete over 3 days to become the UK pole champion. Anyone wanting to compete with the very best in angling then look no further than this event, its run by Pole Fishing and heavily backed by Daiwa and is certainly one of the hardest yet most exciting events to be involved with.
I had been waiting months for it to come around and couldn’t wait to get started, I had been given some info from lads who had fished the Inter Services national only days before and it was very clear that no one method was working hard and fast so I opted on the side of caution by taking several baits with me, but the main being Casters, Worm and Meat.
Day 1 saw me draw a nightmare peg which I have had the pleasure of quite a few times Peg 17 on Extension Pool, I say it’s a nightmare as it’s only around 7-8m to the island in front, even by fishing in line with the platform to my right I only managed 11m tight to the island; I chose to do this to give me as much room as possible just in case I needed to start other swims throughout the match, I also targeted the platform to my left into the bay for the big carp that can often be caught down there, and finally a topkit and 1 feeding micro’s and soft pellet on the hook for anything that swims. Starting on my short line whilst building up the far bank swim also offering the fish somewhere to back off from those to my right who chose to go straight over from the off, again hoping this would give me a better chance as the match progressed. I was into a small F1 straight away close in which was a good start only around 12oz nothing of size, this followed quickly by another of around a pound, but then disaster struck just as I lifted to net the fish my elastic broke which in a competition like this is so much time wasted sorting out another rig. I set another kit up quickly and was back fishing again in a few minutes but I couldn’t believe it my elastic went again, both brand new a couple of days beforehand I have put it down to a bad batch which is getting sent back. From here I caught fairly steadily for most of the day with a quick run of fish off the island before it died, so stuck it out on the short line until I felt it was time to have a go down the margins in search of some lumps, it wasn’t to be I did manage 2 around 3-4lb each in my last 2 put ins but most of my F1’s where of much smaller stamp than what I could see others catching. At the weigh-in I felt I had fished a good match but felt I had been done by much bigger fish, I was surprised to see my 45lb weight put me 4th in the section with Paul Holland smashing everyone off fancied peg 22 with 114lb.
Day 2 I not only pulled out the same lake again but even the same section but this time on what I felt was a much better peg 24, with a good 14.5m to the reeds on the far side I felt I had plenty of room to catch much more, I spoke to Ben Brighton who was on the same peg on day 1 and he said those around him all struggled, but I felt it could fish better than day 1 which we spent most of it in the rain. My plan was to fish caster at around 7m and follow them out towards the island, I plumbed the island in front of the reeds only to find nearly 3 feet of water so not exactly what you want when fishing long, I again went short this time with meat as most said it fished well with meat. I started short and had a good run of fish for 20 minutes before bites tailed off, time to switch to the caster line as signs of fish where now there, it was a fish a bung again for 20 minutes then it just switched off completely, I tried everything from going on the deck to short and long only picking up the odd fish. Then the heavens opened literally I have never fished in such a downpour and I fish in Scotland a lot, it was un-real; when it first came it covered half the lake and as if an invisible wall was in its way the half was still bright sunshine, then after a couple of minutes it moved across the whole venue for a good hour and half; once it disappeared everyone’s’ swims came alive and I could only keep trying whilst watching. I knew Andy Benwell had caught really well off yesterday’s winning peg 22 and Jordan Holloway also caught off peg 21, at the weigh-in I was gutted to see only 29lb go on the scales which put me last in my section, Andy had done 88lb by mostly fishing tight over to the bare bank where it was only around 12-15 inches deep, but I was so happy to see Jordan had obliterated everyone in our section and later found out the match with 141lb all on caster shallow.
Day 3 I was well out of the running but felt I wanted Extension again just to round off the festival, and the only luck I really had was I managed to do it and pulled out peg 3, a good peg but a wide one, as its 16m rather than the 14.5m to the island. I had been told on this peg go with caster shallow at 8m then follow them out, and meat short that’s it. I had a steady first few hours picking up fish which I felt confident in I could see Jake Gallagher on peg 7 starting to catch quickly shallow, but for those around us it never got out of 2nd gear, the last 2 hours was horrendous as I struggled for bites like so many throughout the 3 days, even Sandra Scotthorne who also was on her 3rd visit to Extension was on peg 1 only had a handful of fish but then she managed to put a good run together and at the end just did me by a few pound and Dan Jones to my right who was my next peg partner on day 1 too also had a good run from the far side to finish up with 3rd In the section, Paul Holland was also back on Extension who managed to win with just 66lb.
It was an exhausting event where a few rookie mistakes have cost me, and in the company you are with these highlight just how costly they are, even just bad luck of elastic snapping can put you back a good 5-6 fish. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though I am lucky to have stayed with several of the best anglers in the world where I could pick their brains, look at their tackle and to be shown some valuable tricks.
I have always been a believer of if you don’t ask you don’t get, and after witnessing Matt Godfrey walk around asking as many anglers the same question just so he can be as accurate as possible was a real eye opener even with the talent he has; I now realise we can all ask more and no-one should be afraid too, they are all a book of knowledge. I know many believe including mates of my own that the top anglers only give you a fraction of what they know or out of date info but after seeing them help plenty of unknown anglers this week that perception couldn’t be further from the truth, yes they might not tell you everything after all they are match anglers too but they will certainly help 100%. I also appreciate these guys get thousands of questions but what I have learned is information is key to success don’t be afraid keep asking them at venues, through social media, emails etc. and don’t give up; it’s well worth just sitting back and watching all of these guys if they fish your local venues of how they do things, from swim choice, feeding patterns and even how to lay a rig. Again I know plenty of anglers who frequently say that having balanced tackle, line diameter, hook or float choice etc. makes no difference but seeing these guys in action even when I thought I was pretty good at something was quite amazing, they really do look at every aspect in detail and understand fishing, all part of good watercraft for what I witnessed this is going to be invaluable to me and will make a huge difference.
I would just like to say a huge thank you to Tom Scholey, Matt Godfrey, Jake Fowles, Jordan Holloway, Ian Kent, Luke Sears & Ben Brighton for the laughs we had same again next year. A huge thank you to Joe Carass and all the staff already mentioned at DHP along with Daiwa for hosting such a fantastic event; and I have to thank Mike, Sarah, Les and the Staff at TBF for such a great venue and hospitality.
Like most anglers, I work five days a week and quite often work weekends. A couple of weeks ago I had a Wednesday off work, so I decided to have a go at the open match on Blundells Fishery in Warrington.
I fish here regularly at the weekends but I had never previously fished a midweek open match. With turnouts of more than 40 anglers at weekends, the midweek matches are normally about half that and I was excited by the amount of room we would all have.
I fished the match the Saturday before and came fourth on the lake with 74lb but knew I would need about 120lb to win the match on the Wednesday.
They are always rover matches and I pulled out number 34 out of 60, so a pretty average draw. A lot of the early pegs were being taken in the area where the wind was blowing because fish have a tendency to follow the wind on a lot of venues.
I decided on Peg 17 because I knew it was an area that tends to hold a few fish, plus the wind was blowing into that end of the lake.
I started the match fishing short on maggots and nicked a few decent carp, while I fed my all-important shallow line with 6mm Focus pellets.
After an hour I decided to have a look on my shallow line and I didn't look back for the rest of the match.
I always like to use a light 0.1g float when fishing shallow and when I start missing bites I increase the float size when it becomes solid. I ended up fishing a 0.4g and F1s were simply hooking themselves.
A banded 6mm Focus pellet was the best bait by far and I ended up weighing 183lb 9oz. It was only good enough for 2nd overall, with 190lb winning the match. It was an enjoyable action-packed day and it shows that sometimes working weekends has its perks. It was certainly the best day’s fishing I have ever had on a Wednesday!
After working all weekend, I had the bank holiday Monday off work, so I decided to go to my local fishery, Meadow View. The match was a special charity memorial for Dave Berry, the former fishery owner. It took place across the whole complex and with well over 40 anglers booked on, it was great to see so much support to celebrate a top bloke.
After purchasing a few tickets for the after-match raffle it was a draw time. The fishery consists of three lakes – Linnet, Thrush and Lark. The talk before the start was that you needed to draw on Linnet to have any chance of winning. When I pulled out Peg 38 on Lark I wasn't exactly running to it. Lark is the largest lake and can sometimes be a real challenge. I had a chat to a few on the regular anglers and they said that 13lb was the best weight from that end of the lake on the open match the day before.
On all the lakes the carp were cruising around under the surface, but I was told that they would be more interested in sunbathing rather than feeding. I fancied the chance of mugging a couple on the long pole early, so set up a few shallow rigs.
At the all-in, I picked up my mugging rig and flicked an 8mm Marukyu Focus Pellet in front of a big carp – it took it! After a good fight a 16lb mirror carp was in the net. Happy days.
I managed to mug another carp about 10 minutes later. This time the fish nearly took me to the other side of the lake. It was a good job I had a side puller on my top kit. It was a rare Meadow View grass carp (my favourite species of fish) and a real struggle to get in my landing net because it was so long.
At this stage of I had well over 20lb in the first 20 minutess, with just two fish!
Halfway into the match it was clear that the carp weren't playing ball, with only the odd small one being caught. I knew my two lumps were a real bonus, so I took a gamble to started feeding 6mm fishery pellets aggressively on my 16m pole line. The fish in Meadow View are big old carp and quite often back away from feed. However, decided that I had nothing to lose, with only a few anglers having a carp or two.
After 15 minutes of pinging pellets I hooked into an 8lb mirror carp. Then I didn't have a bite for over an hour.
In the last 30 minutes I had a good run of carp from 3lb to 6lb, all caught shallow at 16 metres pinging 6mm fishery pellets, with a 6mm banded Marukyu Focus Pellet on the hook.
When the scales came round to me the best weight on my lake was just over 30lb. I weighed 62lb 10oz, which comfortably won the lake. Once all the others were weighed in I had finished second overall, with the match being won off Linnet. It was a hard day’s fishing but a totally enjoyable one. The event was a great success and a pleasure to part of, with a lot of money raised for charity.
I didn't win anything on the raffle but I bought the missus and me a takeaway out of my winnings.
Overall a great sunny bank holiday Monday; it’s a shame every Monday can't be like that!
Tight lines and see you on the bank soon
Last weekend I managed to get out on open matches both days.
Saturday May 7th I went to the beautiful Partridge Lakes. With more than 80 anglers booked on, it has to be one of biggest open matches in the country.
I drew Peg 51 on Covey 3. It looked pretty good with loads of features to target but to be honest most pegs look the business at Partridge.
I started the match fishing towards a large reed bed on the far bank. I find that when the sun’s out, cover and shade can be great fish-holding areas. I caught seven small F1s in the first 30 minutes, so it was a good start. Worms and casters have been by far the best bait on Partridge Lakes of late. I like to give my worms a little extra flavour by adding a glug of Marukyu’s Boost Juice
After a good start across, the bites slowed down and I started to catch a few silver fish, which is never a good sign. I had a quick look on my shallow line at seven metres but nothing came from it. I had an empty peg to my right that seemed like a another good shaded area to target. After feeding a few Cad Pots of chopped worms and casters I was into a proper fight with a lively 5lb mirror carp. This line produced about eight carp and a few F1s. Bites were slow but when I got one they were decent fish.
With just over half of the match gone I was pretty much on a par with all the other anglers I could see.
The last hour I decided to fish short down the edge. By fishing a short pole you can feed a lot more aggressively and catch a bit quicker. I ended up catching about another 20 F1s. At the all-out the scales came round and the best weight on the lake was 36lb; I knew I had more than that. I weighed in 60lb 8oz, so I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, a peg around the corner that I couldn't see weighed just over 80lb to win the section.
I felt I fished a good match and don't think the peg was worth much more.
Another great day’s fishing at one of my favourite venues in the country and I can't wait until my next visit.
Tight lines, and see you soon.
Last weekend I managed to get out on open matches both days.
Saturday May 7th I went to the beautiful Partridge Lakes. With more than 80 anglers booked on, it has to be one of biggest open matches in the country.
I drew Peg 51 on Covey 3. It looked pretty good with loads of features to target but to be honest most pegs look the business at Partridge.
I started the match fishing towards a large reed bed on the far bank. I find that when the sun’s out, cover and shade can be great fish-holding areas. I caught seven small F1s in the first 30 minutes, so it was a good start. Worms and casters have been by far the best bait on Partridge Lakes of late. I like to give my worms a little extra flavour by adding a glug of Marukyu’s Boost Juice
After a good start across, the bites slowed down and I started to catch a few silver fish, which is never a good sign. I had a quick look on my shallow line at seven metres but nothing came from it. I had an empty peg to my right that seemed like a another good shaded area to target. After feeding a few Cad Pots of chopped worms and casters I was into a proper fight with a lively 5lb mirror carp. This line produced about eight carp and a few F1s. Bites were slow but when I got one they were decent fish.
With just over half of the match gone I was pretty much on a par with all the other anglers I could see.
The last hour I decided to fish short down the edge. By fishing a short pole you can feed a lot more aggressively and catch a bit quicker. I ended up catching about another 20 F1s. At the all-out the scales came round and the best weight on the lake was 36lb; I knew I had more than that. I weighed in 60lb 8oz, so I was pretty pleased. Unfortunately, a peg around the corner that I couldn't see weighed just over 80lb to win the section.
I felt I fished a good match and don't think the peg was worth much more.
Another great day’s fishing at one of my favourite venues in the country and I can't wait until my next visit.
Tight lines, and see you soon.
Last Sunday, May 8th, I decided to stay local and have a go on the, in Lymm.
For anyone who doesn't know this fishery, it contains mainly big, old, wise carp that can sometimes be difficult to catch. The average size is about 6lb, with the odd proper munter going over 20lb.
My peg for the day was 31 on Lark, a pretty average draw because it was in the middle of the lake. I was pretty pleased when I could see a few big ghost carp swimming about shallow when I was setting up. Like a kid in a sweet shop, I couldn't wait to get my 16m pole out and mug a few.
I spent the first 30 minutes of the match dropping a piece of punched meat in front of any carp I could see, but they were more interested in sunbathing than feeding.
After a frustrating start I decided it would be a waste of time targeting fish shallow because these carp were clearly not feeding.
One of my favourite types of fishing at this time of year is the Method feeder. Using a banded 6mm Marukyu Focus pellet on the hook and some of the fishery’s own micros on the Method feeder, I had a few chucks about and was soon into my first carp, a nice fully scaled mirror of about 5lb.
Bites were slow coming but when I did hook a carp they nearly pulled the rod in every time! It was strange because hardly any fish were caught on the pole. I decided to stick with the Method feeder for the rest of the match because it was the only thing I could get a bite on.
After the five hours I had caught nine carp and two small skimmers which weighed 37lb, good enough for 2nd overall on the match with 24lb coming third. The bloke who won weighed in just over 43lb with only eight carp, so I only needed a few better sized fish for the win.
It was still an enjoyable day’s fishing. The beauty of Meadow View is that you can always get right back in contention with just one big carp, which can make for a really exciting match!
I had some absolutely awesome bites on the tip rod and it was nice to pick up few quid for my efforts.
Tight lines and see you soon
Sunday, April 24th – Partridge Lakes Open Match.
The last match of the week, I decided to have a go back on Partridge Lakes for the open match. With 85 anglers on it, it just goes to show how popular a venue it has become over the last few years.
I drew Peg 98, so it was my first time sat on Covey 4. I decided to start across on the worm and had a nightmare start, losing two big carp. One went straight through the stick-ups and the other straight under my peg. I spent the next three hours struggling to get a bite. I had a couple down the edge in front of the pallet to my right and a couple across but I was going nowhere. I could see Peg 97 catching well down the edge towards the bridge but I couldn't buy a bite. I then decided to focus on my far-bank lines for the rest of the match. I had three swims and decided to put a big pot of chopped worms and my ever-faithful Amino casters on each line. I spent the rest of the match alternating these three lines and caught steadily for the rest of the match.
I finished with 39lb 12oz and felt the peg was probably worth more. I should have spent more time fishing the far bank, rather than trying to catch them all over the peg. I guess you can't get it right every time.
Overall the complex fished pretty hard by Partridge’s high standards, probably because of the drop in temperature and the cold rain. You only needed 60-odd-lb to get in the top six!
I enjoyed a great week of fishing, with plenty of fish. The best bait on both venues without doubt were casters sprayed with Marukyu's Amino Coconutty and chopped worms.
Tight lines and see you out on the bank soon.
On Saturday it was back to one of my local venues, Blundells Fishery, for the open match. After six weeks away from the place, I knew the fishing would be slightly different from my last match on the venue.
It has a rover match across all the lakes. With about 40 anglers on it you need to draw a low number to get on a decent peg. I drew ball 4. Happy days, so I went on Peg 59. This is at the end of an island and you have plenty of room and you cannot get boxed in by other anglers.
I got off to a good start, catching F1s steady for the first half of the match, switching between casters shallow and Amino-flavoured corn down the edge.
The last 90 minutes I really struggled for bites. The F1s followed the wind up the lake.
I ended up with 102lb 9oz, which was 6th overall in the match. The venue fished really well, with a standout weight of 177lb winning it! The fishing had certainly picked up a bit since my last visit.
So it was here, the first Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier of the year. I always get excited on qualifiers for these big-money matches. They can be a bit of a lottery, but if you draw a decent peg you can be in with a chance.
For the last four years I have been trying to get a ticket for Partridge Lakes without any luck, but this year I managed to get on both qualifiers. With 200 anglers fishing it, and about 30 reserves hoping to get a ticket, it was a sellout. The beauty of Partridge is that the match could be won on any lake.
My home for the day was Peg 42 on Covey 2. The Coveys are the lakes the fishery uses in all its open matches, so I had a good idea of how I would fish the peg.
With all the pressure on the lake, I knew catching shallow would be a lot harder than the previous day. The peg had a lot of reeds to my left and I could see a few fish knocking the stick-ups. I knew this would be the best area of the peg to get a few bites.
At the all-in I decided to try and nick an early fish from the reeds. I went over to my left with just a big piece of worm on and within minutes I was into a decent fish. Following a hard fight I landed a mirror of about 7lb, which is really big for the Coveys. The average size is 1lb to2lb.
I went over to the same area and fed nothing again and a few minutes later I got another bite. This time the fish headed straight for the reeds and I lost it. I decided to rest that swim for a while. Because of all the commotion of losing that fish it would have spooked any others in that area of the peg.
I went over to the far bank but there were no signs of fish.
Like the previous day, I had been loose feeding a few casters on my shallow line. I had a look on that line an hour into the match, with the hope of catching a few ide or small chub. I had a good run of ide and put about 15lb of them in my nets before they moved out of the peg.
I decided I would focus on my left-hand margin for the rest of the match because this was the only area of the peg that I could constantly get bites from.
I ended up with 54lb 12oz, which was only good enough for 4th on the lake, and I just missed out on a section win. I had a really mixed bag of ide, chub and F1s but I never felt there was the volume of F1s on the peg to challenge for a place to qualify. It was still a great day out and a decent weight looking at the others on the lake. One qualifier down, three to go!
Tuesday, April 19th – Partridge Lakes Open
I decided to visit Partridge Lakes on the open match for a practice before the Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier the following day. I drew Peg 107 on Covey 5, not the best of draws, with the weather nice and sunny for a change.
On most of my visits to Partridge I seem to draw on Covey 5, so it’s probably a lake I know the best, having won a few quid off it. The stamp of F1s seems to be a lot smaller compared with Covey 1 to 4. Covey 5 and 6 are newer lakes, so you know you have to catch a few more fish. Both of the canal lakes (Spey and Marsh) were in the match, along with Covey 5 and 6.
At the draw the talk was that you needed to draw on Spey to have any chance of winning the match, and they were right.
I started the match by fishing across. I caught a couple of F1s on worm early on but felt it was too slow. My main plan of attack was to focus on my shallow caster line at seven metres. One thing I have been doing recently is spraying Marukyu's Amino Coconutty on my casters. I like looking for those little edges that get you that extra bite in matches.
The shallow line I always like to feed for the first hour before having a go on it. After 60 minutes I went on it and was into an 8oz ide within seconds. It wasn't the 2lb F1 I was hoping for but it was clear there were a few fish to be caught. After a good hour of catching ide and the odd F1, the bites slowed, so I decided to have a go down the edges. After spending 15 minutes down both sides all I had to show was a few small skimmers, but at least I had rested my shallow line, hopefully resulting in the fish feeding a bit more confidently on the casters without a line in the water.
Another look on my shallow line and this time a decent F1 was ripping my elastic out. I caught ide, small chub and a few F1s steadily for the rest of the match, resulting in 64lb 14oz, which was good enough for 4th on the lake.
It was a pretty decent result. I had beaten every angler I could see but the section was won from the other end of the lake. It gave me a boost and a bit on confidence going into my Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier the following day, which was the major reason for entering the match.
The Build Up
Round 1 of the Supercup had soon came round and following a practice session over the Easter weekend the Stockton Heath Angling Group (S.H.A.G) team were confident in the days leading up to the match which was being held at Goose Green Fishery near Alderley Edge. The practice session went well for the majority and we were able to use the information gained to help formulate a plan to follow on the day of the match. This would largely focus on catching a weight of Roach on the short pole line, Skimmers on the long pole and the potential of a bonus fish or two on the feeder early on. Going into the match I had given everybody a target weight of between 20 & 25lb which I believed would be good enough per man for us to do the business with some sections capable of more, others maybe not quite as good.
Following a quick walk round the venue with the Trafford AC captain whilst pegging out we soon got on with the draw. The layout of the Supercup is pretty simple, 6 anglers per team, 2 man sections (one per team..) and a simple case of beating the one opposition angler in your own section, the highest number of section wins per team win.
Each section had been situated in areas as evenly matched as possible, this meant the initial draw wasn’t massively important, however the placement of our own anglers across the lake was, we got draw ‘A’ which were the odd numbers and between the team did our own draw; from this I got peg 3, the opposite bank from where I was during practice.
Following the team plan I had three main lines set up;
– 6 metres (Caster)- here I had three rigs set up to cover the 7 feet deep swim. I had both a 0.5g & 0.4g AS3 float set up for fishing on the deck. The bigger of the two patterns with a bulk and droppers and the lighter with a strung out shotting pattern, a 0.10 diameter hooklength and a size 16 Gama Green hook completed both setups. The same hooklengths were also used on a lighter 4×12 Chianti rig set up for catching shallow.
– 13 metres (Groundbait & Pellet)- here I had a depth of 10 feet, a 1 Gram Drennan AS6 float down to a 0.10 diameter hooklength tied to a size 16 B911 hook, size 8 Dura Hollo the elastic used.
– Method Feeder
I kicked the match off by putting 5 balls of groundbait on my long pole line, I had opted for a 50/50 mix of Sonubaits F1 dark and brown crumb, a mix I am confident Skimmers, Roach and carp will all happily feed over. In the mix I had mixed in some micro pellets and a few grains of corn.
I started off on my method feeder line a few feet from the island, but with just a single Roach to show for my efforts and with others around me also chucking across to the island and struggling it was clear that the fish didn’t really want to be across there.
I had been feeding casters regularly by hand on my short pole line and the line instantly produced bites, I found that my bulked shot rig worked best as there seemed to be alot of fish competing in the swim so getting to them quickly worked well, the fish in the venue were definitely not rig shy. The next hour produced well from this line and although the roach were not of a particularly good stamp I was catching alot very quickly.
When the line started to slow down I decided to give it a rest and have a look on my longer pole line to see if any fish had settled over my initial feed. It took a couple of minutes but a quick indication on the float and my first skimmer of the day had fallen for my 4mm pellet hookbait, this one around 6oz in weight.
My next few put ins all resulted in small roach taking the bait on the drop and I didn’t feel my bait was getting chance to get to the bottom without them intercepting it. I decided a grain of corn may be a better option to help filter out some better fish. I wasn’t wrong, I waited a little longer for bites but my next couple of fish were of good quality. A hybrid of around 1lb, another skimmer of a similar size and my first proper slab of the day, probably approaching 3lb.
The next 20minutes saw me alternating between corn and pellet hookbaits to try and entice further bites but the swim had slowed up, I’m not a fan of feeding over the top of Skimmers as I feel it spooks them but fealt I needed to introduce more bait. Another couple of balls of groundbait went in and back onto my short line I went in order to let some more fish settle…
The rest of the match was a case of alternating between the two pole lines trying not to exhaust either one but at the same time trying to keep putting fish in the net. My short line constantly produced bites but unlike in our practice session where I was catching plenty of Roach in the 6-8oz bracket the majority of my fish were around 2-3oz. My long line seemed to produce 3 or 4 fish at a time and then slow up completely, it seemed as though the fish would move in quickly over the feed, eat everything then leave, in hindsight a particle rich initial feed potentially double what I had put in may have held the fish for longer.
I managed a couple more smaller skimmers, another nice hybrid and a Bream along with plenty of Roach before the all out sounded. The opposition in my section had struggled for large parts of the match and I was confident I had beaten him, looking around I could see others on my own team had struggled and other sections were going to be close…
The Weigh In
The weigh in got underway quickly and from what my team were saying it could potentially be a close one. We had almost certainly lost two of the sections it on the flip side we’d also won atleast two, the remaining two sections were going to be close..
Section A got us started and we knew our guy had struggled, a bit of a whitewash saw Trafford AC get the point with a weight of 25lb 13oz compared to the 8lb 15oz of the Stockton Heath rod.
Section B was where both myself and the Trafford captain had drawn, hopefully an opportunity to restore some order. I was first to weigh in and my net of mainly Roach with a couple of bonus fish weighed in at 23lb 9oz comparing to the 12lb 3oz of the opposition, we were back level!
Following this we had a section loss in section C, annoyingly just 3lb in it including a 10lb carp caught by the Trafford Angler which wiped out what had been a solid performance by our man who had worked hard for 17lb 4oz of small roach.
Another instant reply though and in section D we came out on top again by a good margin at this point with 4 out of the 6 sections weighed in it was all square.
However, the next two sections didn’t go to plan, a match winning weight came from the Trafford Angler and venue regular in E section with a weight of 36lb, a winning margin of 21lb.
With one more section to weigh and sitting at 3-2 down we needed a win in the final section, further to that a big win as the cumulative weight for Trafford was also much greater. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be and a narrow section loss meant we ended up 4-2 down on the day.
Unfortunately a short lived Supercup experience for Stockton Heath Angling Group in their first year in the competition! Things could have easily gone the other way with a bit more luck on our side. Two of the sections being lost by a very narrow margin but that’s just fishing!
On a personal note my match went well, I’ve caught steadily throughout the match and was able to rotate my lines to keep fish coming ensuring I did enough to beat my man to win the section.
A big good luck to Trafford AC in the next round and onwards in the competition!
I have had a couple of big matches over the last two weeks at a very local venue, Lakeview Fisheries. Being only five miles from my house I decided it had to be one of the Fish ‘O’ Mania tickets I would apply for. I had already been fishing the complex quite a lot during winter for Lakeview’s Middy Extreme winter series. These are matches fished every Wednesday and Saturday and the winner from each goes through to a final where £1,000 is up for grabs, plus plenty of section prizes to be won. I managed to qualify back in January for the £1,000 match. This final was to be fished on the Saturday, March 19th, only one week before the Fish ‘O’ Mania qualifier, so it would make good practice if nothing else.
On the day of the final around 50 anglers made the draw. With cold weather and the fish shoaling together, a good draw would be essential to win. I drew Peg 9 on Canal Pool, a peg that had held a few fish on previous weeks, so I was quite happy.
Once I had finished setting up I had a rig plumbed for every possible eventuality, from dobbing bread a foot deep to pellet and maggot rigs for fishing full depth down the track, hoping to maximise my chances of getting it right on the day and to learn what was and wasn’t working. I learnt very quickly that the fish that had been sitting in this area had moved further down the lake to Pegs 4 to 6. I really struggled to catch anything early in the match, only putting four F1s and one carp in my net in the first three and a half hours! With an hour and a half left I decided to feed more positively in an attempt to stop any passing fish. I fed groundbait and maggots tight against the next platform and fed all my other lines more regularly.
This had an immediate effect and although I didn’t spend the last hour hauling, I did catch another five F1s and two small carp, weighing in 25lb.
Steve Haywood won the lake with 45lb and the match was won from a different lake altogether. On the plus side, I had learnt a lot and felt much better about the following week. Although I had caught fish late by feeding regularly, the guys who had drawn on a lot of fish had done the damage dobbing bread and/or maggots.
With all this in mind, I spent a long time preparing hooklengths and rigs suited to what I would need for the following week. I made all my rigs up on 0.13mm Preston Reflo Power, giving me the option to fish 0.11mm hooklengths for F1s or 0.13mm hooklengths if I had more large carp in my peg. For fishing Lakeview I like to use Preston PB Inter 1 and PB Inter 8 floats. The Inter 1s are great for all the pellet fishing down the middle of the lake in the deeper water, usually in a 0.3 or 0.4g, and all the shot bulked above a 4in hooklength. The Inter 8s are great for shallow water, so I use these in 4x10 and 4x12 for fishing tight to islands or dobbing shallow. When I am dobbing I try to use small No11 shot and spread them the full length of the rig. This allows the bait to sink very slow, looking more natural.
It was soon the day of the Fish ‘O' Mania and all the talk on the morning revolved around people wanting to draw pegs on Reef or Oasis pools. These haven't been fished a lot recently but due to them holding 10lb-plus fish it could always throw up good weights on such a busy match! At the draw the nerves kicked in, as they always do for me on big matches. I managed to draw Peg 19 on Reef but, to be honest, this really didn't mean a lot. Being the only lake on the complex that I have never fished, I really didn't know what to expect!
I plumbed about mapping my peg and found it was fairly deep, averaging five and a half to six feet. After spotting one or two fish swim past only a foot or so below the surface I knew it was worth starting off shallow with maggot and dobbing bread.
I spent the first two hours dobbing bread two feet deep tight across to the island in three feet of water using my 4x10 rig. This went well, putting 14 carp in my net for roughly 45lb. Unfortunately, due to the horrific wind and rain, a few anglers began to pack away in the third hour, leaving four empty pegs on the end of the lake. It seemed clear that I was losing my fish as soon as these anglers left the lake. The fish swam past me and the next guy into the undisturbed water and could be seen topping in these empty pegs. I only caught two fish in the 4th hour but both being 9lb carp I couldn't complain, boosting my weight nicely when I caught least.
The last hour was also difficult but changing to fishing pellets at full depth to my right at the very limit of my peg and catching four smaller carp and losing four due to foul hooking, I had done all that I could.
The word spread that two anglers on Oasis had caught in excess of 100lb. I was sure I had secured a section win and possibly frame over all. With 130 anglers on eight lakes you can never tell who has caught from where until the final weigh.
I weighed 76lb and had clearly won my lake and I’d had a lovely day.
At the presentation I found out that I had managed third overall. It’s always nice to frame in such a big match!
I am absolutely over the moon to congratulate my good friend Sam Brown on the match win and qualifying spot for the Fish ‘O’ Mania semi-final, weighing 149lb! He absolutely deserves it and I am so happy for him.
Top Five Overall
1st Sam Brown 149lb 14oz – Peg 17 Oasis
2nd Wayne Heywood 124lb 5oz – Peg 14 Oasis
3rd Ben Sharp 76lb – Peg 19 Reef
4th Barry Bush – Peg 16 Oasis
5th Luke Dobson – Peg 18 Reef
Thanks for reading my blog and you will hear more from me very soon.
The Ultimate F1 Fishing Guide.
Martin Stokes runs through his favourite Marukyu Products to help catch one of the most popular species of fish our commercial fisheries the F1 carp.
F1s are one of my favourite species of fish to catch throughout the year, they have now become one of the leading stockings in commercial fisheries all over the country. Due to their size and fast growth rates they have become a real winner with both the commercial fisheries owners and modern day match anglers such as myself.
In the summer, the F1 venues I fish, you need to catch 100, 200 and sometimes 300lb of them to win matches. But even in the winter they still continue to feed in the colder water when other fish slow down.
Personally my best weight of them is over 217lb, I have fished some matches and caught over 170lb of them, and come nowhere in the match.
My rig choice and bait choice changes throughout the year when targeting F1s. So here's a bit of a season to season guide, to my approach when catching them ...
Scopex, Coconutty and The One are my three personal favourites when fishing for F1's.
The hardest time of year to catch them, light rigs are a must. The way you feed your peg, is the key, with too much feed and you can completely destroy your peg. The fastest you can find the depth the F1s want to be in, the better day you will have. Once I have found this depth, fish to different areas of my peg with the same depth. This gives me the best chance of catching a good weight throughout the day. Catch one or two f1s from one area then change to another area, don't expect the fish to feed in the same area all day.
My bait choice is simple, I have a lot of success this winter on double white maggots that have been sprayed with Marukyu's Amino+ Scopex feeding Amino Maggots, when fishing deep venues I like using small balls of Groundbait to help get the bait on the bottom, Marukyu's Luxus Black Fishmeal is perfect for this, as it contains a small amount of food source but a lot of attractors which helps encourage f1s to feed.
The Favourite Winter F1 Pole Rig.
Drennan AS3 0.3g
0.11 Preston Power Line
0.10 Preston Power Line
Drennan Silverfish Pellet size 18
The time of year, F1s start to wake up a bit more, but feeding is still important. Up the feed a little bit, but don't chuck to much in. Fish tidy with medium sized cat pots rather than the smaller ones.
A great way of catching F1s in spring is the method feeder, dead maggots or a band 4mm/6mm Amino Pellet is a perfect hookbait. I go to White Acres at the start of April and the amount of F1s you can catch on Jenny's lake using the method feeder is unreal. The new 2mm Marukyu Sticky Pellets are great, I always tend to go for the Sweet Fishmeal flavour when catching F1s. One of the great things about the new sticky pellets is that you can soak small amounts quickly, rather than soak too much at the start of the match, and end up chucking the away after the match.
My Favourite Spring Setup.
9ft light feeder rod ( I use the 9ft CarbonActive by Preston Innovations)
6lb Guru Drag Line.
15g Small Preston method feeder (inline)
Preston Quick change bead.
PR36 (18) (micro bait band) 0.15 hooklength
Baggin Time!!! Big weights are on the cards this time of year. There are only two ways I like to fish in summer, margins and shallow. It's almost becomes a fishing race at this time of year. Big weights can be achieved by just fishing a top kit down the margins. Loose feeding and big pots can really work, loose feed to draw fish into your peg and cup in big pots to keep the F1s feeding on the bottom.
My favourite summer method has to be fishing shallow on the pole, I like to fish as far out as I can throw my bait. Hard pellets are my go to bait, 4mm/6mm Amino Pellets are perfect for loose feeding, I like the noise of hard pellets, I really think sound plays a massive part in shallow fishing. A bag of Marukyu's Skrill pellets are always in my bag bait this time of year, they can be a great edge for shallow fishing, because there dark colour seems to always get an extra bite or two. Feeding sloppy groundbait can also be great when shallow fishing, Luxus Active Sweet fishmeal with a splash of liquid krill is my go to mix. You can get away with heavier rigs when the F1s really start having it, stronger lines also reduce the amount of tangles when fishing the pole.
My Favourite Summer Pole Rig
Drennan Crystal Dipper 0.2g
0.15 Preston Power Line
Size 18 Matrix Riggers
Autumn is a lot like spring, there are a couple of the things that I like to change. Pole rigs have to be a little lighter than summer, margin fishing still plays a massive part in my fishing in the early months of autumn, 4mm expander pellets flavoured with your favourite Amino+ Spray are great, but if I only had one hookbait at this time of year it would be a Red 6mm JPZ pellet. Feeding soaked 2mm Amino pellets or 4mm Jpelletz, they both seem work great along side the JPZ's.
The method feeder can be a great option, sometimes using ground bait can work better than pellets, As the weather turns cooler, F1s can sometimes shy away from pellets, maybe because they have seen a lot of pellets over the summer months.
My Favourite Autumn Pole Rig.
JH series 3 4x12
0.13 Preston Power Line (main line)
0.11 Preston Power Line (hooklength)
Drennan Silverfish Pellet (size 18)
The F1 carp craze is going from strength to strength, so get out on the banks and catch some of these great fish! (Well, I would say that, because they are my favourite).
See you on the bank soon and tight lines
Our new blogger Ben Sharp reports back from Castle Ashby AT Winter League that was held on the 27th February.
Following on from a couple of good results in my most recent matches, I decided that I would try something a little different from the standard matches where F1 or carp are the dominant species. This would come in the form of a silvers-only match at Hampton Springs Fishery in Malpas, Chester.
I had been meaning to make an appearance here before now but other matches or events had prevented me from making the trip. Instead, Helen Dagnall and Dave Brooks, who had been asking me to book on with them, just rubbed it in telling me how well it had been fishing!
However, a free Sunday and I booked myself onto the match.
I had been keeping an eye on results and had also read a feature about Jamie Hughes at the venue, so with this information I didn’t think I could go far wrong.
Hampton Springs consists of eight fishable lakes with plenty of variety across the complex, with waters containing a mix of pretty much every species possible – carp, F1s, tench, barbel, skimmer/bream, big perch, roach and ide, to name but a few! The complex also has good toilet facilities and an on-site café, with parking next to every lake.
I arrived at the venue with plenty of time to spare before the draw, following the 35-mile journey from Lymm. This gave me a good opportunity to look at the lakes. Four would be included in the day’s match: Poplars, Alice, Rock and Meadow.
Although the original plan was for the draw to be in the standard pegged layout, because of the expected heavy winds the organisers decided that a rover-style draw would give the competitors a bit more of a chance to pick pegs out of the wind and in areas that would produce fish.
Although this was without a doubt a good idea, and one that made perfect sense, for me, making my first appearance at the venue since the summer and not knowing it or its pegs like the rest of the 20 or so anglers, who had all fished Hampton Springs on an almost weekly basis over the last couple of months, it meant deciding on where I would pick to fish from was going to be difficult!
From the draw bag No7 stuck to my hand (meaning I had 7th pick of any of the pegs on the four lakes included). Not a bad pick but by the time it was my turn to pick a couple of pegs that I did fancy had already gone. In the end I ‘panic picked’ Peg 22 on Meadows, the same lake I fished in the summer.
On arrival at my peg it was instantly apparent what my first mistake of the day was. Instead of being sensible and picking a peg where the wind would be off my back, I had chosen to fish with the wind cutting from left to right up the length of the lake. Not ideal!
I decided to set up three rigs, focusing on two main lines. One line at 13 metres, which comprised a 0.4g AS5 float (which I have noticed perform very well in windy conditions. Its slim profile seems to cut through the water rather than being effected too much by any tow or wind) down to a 0.10mm-diameter hooklength and a size 18 B911 F1 hook. This was teamed up to a size 8 Dura Hollo elastic. The swim was five and a half feet deep.
My second line, the one I envisaged I would catch the majority of my fish from was at siix metres. Here I found six feet of water, the deepest part of the peg, and I set up two separate rigs. The first consisted of a 4x14 Carpa Chimp float, a pattern with a rugby-ball-shaped body and a wire stem. My thinking being to have a wire stem to keep the rig nice and stable in the windy conditions. This was down to a 0.08mm hooklength and a size 16 Gama Green hook.
Rig two used the same hooklength but a 0.4g AS3 float.
My plan was simple, start on the long line feeding micros and fishing a dead red maggot or two over the top, hoping to catch a couple of decent fish from here. Skimmers, F1s, crucian carp, maybe, bearing in mind ‘proper’ carp did not count.
I would build my short 6m line up feeding casters, hoping to catch a real mixed bag of species from here once it had been primed.
At 10.30am the match started. I fed a small amount of casters on my short line. Just enough to cover the bottom of my cup, probably 20 to 25 just to put a little pile of bait into the swim but knowing I was hoping to loose feed this swim by hand, where the wind would allow it.
On my long line I cupped in a small amount of micro pellets with a small pinch of dead maggots mixed in and followed it straight in with a 4mm Bait-Tech Xpand pellet on the hook.
Despite the wind making it extremely difficult to present a bait on this line I did expect it to produce a few fish.
However, this wasn’t the case and after a difficult first 40 minutes where presenting a bait was near impossible with the wind and also happened to be biteless, I had no other choice but to see if any fish had settled over my short line. I had been feeding five or six casters on a regular basis by hand over this line.
It didn’t take long before my first fish of the day was in my net, a roach of about 6oz. I’d have taken these all day! My next few put-ins also produced roach, all ranging between a couple of ounces and 6oz.
After eight or nine my next put-in took alot longer to get an indication. When the float did finally dip I seemed to bump something of a decent size.
I went straight back in following a change of hook bait and got a bite within a minute of laying my rig in. This time I did manage to hook the fish, only to pull out of it just as it was coming up to the surface! I suspected it was a big perch, which the venue is known to house. They are renowned for having really bony mouths, and not setting the hook properly can often result in them getting off.
No matter, I continued to pick up roach and ide from my short line, continuing to loose feed casters over the top.
Ninety minutes into the match I’d had 15 to 20 roach and ide, all falling to a single-caster hook bait.
Similar to earlier in the match, my line went quiet. This time, however, I was prepared for what I expected was about to happen. When the float dipped I went for a proper strike into the fish to ensure that I set the hook properly. This time it wasn’t going to get off and I slipped my net under a lovely big perch.
At this point it did seem that a few slightly bigger fish had moved into the swim and pushed the roach and ide away. I was waiting longer for bites but my next couple of fish were a skimmer of just over 1lb and a scrappy crucian carp again around the 1lb mark. However, after a good run of fish it seemed as though coming onto this line earlier than I wanted was starting to show. I always feel that this line needs around an hour for the fish to properly settle over it.
I took this time to give my long line another go to see if any fish were sat waiting for me there, and also to give my 6m line the chance to build back up, with fish hopefully settling back over my feed.
The long line did finally produce a couple of fish on this second visit, although only little blades of skimmers of a couple of ounces. I had tried dead maggot and pellet on the hook with no real success. Before long the wind picked up once again, making this line redundant yet again.
With just under two hours remaining, and approximately 10lb in the net, I was really in need of a good run of fish between now and the end of the match. The guy on the peg to my left had thrown his four or five small fish back and packed up for the day. The angler to my right was also struggling and finding it hard to get regular bites from his swims. The only person who seemed to be catching relatively consistently was Mark Davies directly opposite. He had caught a couple of F1s along with a barbel and a good-sized perch.
Going back onto my 6m line I was almost instantly into fish, again roach and ide being the most regular species.
After a few of these the swim went quiet once again. This time, however, it was not a perch. Instead, I found myself playing a good-sized barbel on my size 6 Preston Innovations Slip elastic. I have this teamed up with a Puller bung, which was essential in helping me land these hard-fighting fish.
Over the next hour I managed to put another three in my net, each as hard fighting as the other and all between 11/2lb and 21/2lb. I actually found that laying my rig in about a foot past where I was feeding bait got me bites when fishing right on top of the feed wouldn’t. Following these barbel I hooked my first carp of the match. I had done well to avoid them up until this point! Annoyingly, it proceeded to effortlessly stretch my elastic right up to the aerator to the right of my swim, wrapping my rig into the obstacle and ruining it. Typical!
Luckily I had a spare rig set up, which meant I didn’t lose too much time. Unfortunately, the commotion must have caused the other fish to spook and it took a little while for my next bites.
I proceeded to put what fish I could manage in the net up to the end of the match, with mainly small ide falling for my caster or maggot hook bait. Again I found I was able to pick fish up fishing past my feed area.
With a couple of minutes remaining, almost simultaneously, Mark and I hooked decent fish. His didn’t seem to put up much of a fight and he managed to get it into his net, a perch that I could see from across the lake to be a good few pounds. My fish took a bit more persuading and with the all-out passing there was no need to overly rush the fish in, although the prying eyes of my competition around the lake were wishing the fish off my hook. A barbel of around 2lb was the outcome and a good end to the match.
Meadow was the second lake to be weighed in, following on from Rock Pool, where the biggest weight was Paul Cooper with 23lb 2oz from Peg 28 (The peg I was told was favourite for the day’s match).
I was first to weigh in on Meadow following a DNW from Peg 24. I had guessed at between 18lb and 20lb so wasn’t too far out when my mixed net of fish registered 22lb 8oz, putting me into 2nd place. Already that early lost perch had cost me!
To my right had a good run of fish late in the match and weighed in with 11lb 4oz.
On Meadows the weights seemed less consistent than some of the other lakes, with a couple of people choosing not to weigh in following a difficult day. Mark, who had had a few more bonus fish than me and a 3lb perch last chuck, weighed in with 24lb 12oz, enough to secure himself 2nd overall in the match and meaning I had the second highest weight on the lake.
With Alice and Poplars left to weigh in and those who had been on those lakes admitting to having caught quite a lot, it was looking unlikely that I would make it into the frame, which was the top five overall.
To my surprise, I managed to sneak into 5th overall. Andy Spencer won the match from Alice Lake with 29lb and Wendy Locker slotted into fourth place, beating me by 2oz! In fact, there was just 2lb 4oz between 5th and 2nd.
1st – Andy Spencer – 29lb (Alice)
2nd – Mark Davies – 24lb 12oz (Meadow)
3rd – Paul Cooper – 23lb 4oz (Rock)
4th – Wendy Locker – 22lb 10oz (Poplar)
5th – Jake Fowles – 22lb 8oz (Meadow)
It was a very enjoyable day at Hampton Springs Fishery. I decided on fishing this match knowing it was a change from the norm and I wasn’t disappointed. Catching eight species during the match meant I never really knew what I was going to hook next. If the wind had stayed down I believe I could have stayed on my long line for longer, giving my short line more opportunity to develop, which ultimately would have meant that I would have caught more consistently throughout the match. For the second match in succession a lost fish has almost certainly cost me a place or more in the overall standings. It’s something I need to eradicate from my performances. Nevertheless, I am happy with the end result, keeping up my run of framing in every match I have fished in 2016!
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When I arrived the lake we were fishing was very coloured and really cold so I knew that it was going to fish very hard.
I drew an area that doesn’t really produce but the upside of it was that I had a lot of room. The weather was really bad with wind and rain but I had the wind over my back, which meant I could present my bait well, which is key in cold-water conditions.
A group member, Darren Tracey, who commented on a post that we put on our Facebook page asking to show us your fisheries, suggested our next outing for a review day. So we contacted Darren and arranged a date to meet up and fish with him and another group member, Barry Smith, who also asked if we could review the venue, Greens Lane Ponds.