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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.

Giles Cochrane Weston March 16
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 Cochrane March 16 2
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.

Giles Cochrane March 16 3
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.

Gile Cochrane March 16 4
It's not about looking pretty, it's about being efficient

Giles Cochrane March 16 5
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.

Giles Mochrane March 16 6
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.

CG Cudmore 65B MF March 16
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.

CG Cudmore 47 MF March 16
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.

CG Cudmore 25 MF March 16
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.

CG Cudmore 50 MF March 16
Yum yum!

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.

Getting Dobby

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.

CG Cudmore 19 MF March 16
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.

CG Cudmore 58 MF March 16
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
Age: 25
Lives: Ashbourne
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
Website: www.cudmorefisheries.co.uk
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.”

 Casting 2 MF Feb 2016

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.”

Playing fish 3 Feb 2016 MF

“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.”

Mirror on cone MF Feb 2016
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... 


Pembs Cone set up
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


Pembs Cone Setup 2 
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.



Pembs Cone Setup 3
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.



Size Matters

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.”

Punching hook baits MF Feb 2016
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. 


Catch shot final
Tough going, but this is when the cone comes good! 


Angler File

Name: Pemb Wrighting
Age: 29
Lives: Hampshire 
Sponsors: Guru & Bag 'em 
MF Says: The Future's Bright...


Venue File

Venue: Sumners Ponds
Location: Chapel Road, Barns Green, Horshame, West Sussex, RH13 OPR
Website: www.sumnersponds.co.uk

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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.


The Session


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.

Jpeg 25 Jamie Hughes One Line To Catch Everything
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.

Jpeg 12 Jamie Hughes One Line To Catch Everything
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.

Jpeg 10 Jamie Hughes One Line To Catch Everything
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 Session


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.

Jpeg 21 Jamie Hughes One line to catch everything
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
Age: 32
Lives: Wirrell
Sponsors: Map, Bag 'em Matchbaits

Venue File -

Venue: Tri-Cast Weston Pools
Location: Weston Pools, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 9ER
Number: 01691 671812
Website: www.weston-pools.co.uk 



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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.


Will F1 MF DEC
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.


Contrasting Setups

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.

Rob Impressed MF DEC
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.

Rob Catching A Few Main
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.

Will With A Carp
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.


Increased Activity

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.

Will Caught Another
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.


Angler Profile

Name: Rob Swan

Age: 15

Lives: Carlisle

Sponsor: Guru

Pole: Daiwa Airity

MF says: Heading for the top

main 2 CATCH Pic 2

Angler Profile

Name: Will McCranor

Age: 14

Lives: Coventry

Sponsor: Guru

Pole: Preston Innovations GXR 3600

MF Says: A bright future beckons


Venue File

Location: Partridge Lakes

Address: Glaziers Lane, Culcheth, near Warrington WA3 4AQ

Website: www.partridgelakes.co.uk

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.



Webb’s World


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!

Dan Webb 3 2 MF DEC
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!

Dan Webb MF DEC
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.

Float 2 2
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.


Float 3 3
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.


Float 6 6
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.


Float 7 7
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.


Float 10 10
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.


Float 11 11
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.

Float 12 12
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

1 Stay Quiet Des

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

2 Magic Depth Des

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

3 Elbow Accuracy Des

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

4 Fave Float Des

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

5 The Big Lift Des

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

7 keep it tight Des

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

8 light rigs Des

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

9 Push The Peg Des

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

10 Time It Right Des

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

Mark Pollard Irish 19 2
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.

Mark Pollard Irish 7 2
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.

Mark Pollard Irish 2 2

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.


Be Versatile


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.

Mark Pollard Irish 26 23

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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Garbolino Lindholme’s Alex Docherty reflects on the differing approaches that top anglers take to winning matches..


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!

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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!

The Rigs

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.

image three

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

image four


The Match

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.


Noise Matters!


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.


Immediate Feeding


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.


Focusing Feed


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.


Rig Choice 


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!


Top Tip!


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.



Angler File

James Woodrow

Age: 30

Lives: Glasgow

Sponsor: Colmic

Venue File

Loch Ken

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 - 


  • Microwave 4 slices of thick white bread for 20-30 seconds until slightly warm.
  • Cut the crust off and flatten each slice using a rolling pin.
  • Squirt both sides of the bread with the super Krill Boost Juice.
  • Rub the flavouring into the bread, and wrap each slice tightly in cling film.


Alan Scotthorne On The Slider


There are few anglers better than Alan Scotthorne on the slider float, so here’s a masterclass at Chesterfield’s Poolsbrook Reservoir with the five-time world champ!


One method that always seems to arouse plenty of interest and discussion, yet you rarely see being used in England, is the slider. The single main reason why it is not widely fished is because feeder fishing is normally allowed too. You can fish a feeder effectively in almost any conditions you are faced with, whereas the slider takes a bit more effort.

One thing’s for sure, though, it’s something you have to master if you ever want to represent your country! The feeder is banned in most international events and that opens the door to this brilliant float-fishing tactic.

As you can imagine, I have spent countless hours mastering the art of slider fishing. It even helped me win two of my five World Championship gold medals; once in Croatia for a mixture of grass carp, catfish and skimmers and the second time in Hungary on Lake Valence for small skimmers at range, which are notoriously difficult to catch.

Get the basics right and it’s a great method and a really enjoyable way to fish. Hopefully, my advice and tips will convince you to give it a go!


Alan uses a swivel float attachment to hold the float, and small bead to stop it sliding over its knot.


What Is A Slider?


First things first, I suppose I must clarify what a slider float actually is! As the name implies, it is a float that can slide freely up and down the line. A stop knot fixed somewhere above the float determines the actual depth you are fishing. This stop knot can travel through the rod rings freely, which allows you to cast out easily even when you are fishing a depth that is much deeper than the actual length of the rod.

There are other advantages to a slider setup. The fact that the float isn’t fixed means that when you strike you are doing it through the float not against it, and this creates much less resistance than if the float was fixed traditionally with locking shot either side. You, therefore hook fish and hit bites really cleanly.

Skimmers that sit off the bottom in deep water are suckers for the slider! 

The way a slider rig is set up also offers great presentation as you have a large bulk near the bottom for good stability; that really helps the rig stay steady and cut through crosswinds and skim.

I prefer to use 14ft rods with this method as well and they need to be slim, but with enough backbone to cast a big float and control the line. A Drennan 14ft Acolyte Plus is my choice, but I might swap to a softer 14ft Acolyte Ultra for very small skimmers. I must add that sometimes even if the depth is less than the length of the rod a slider setup can be better than a fixed waggler, for all the reasons I’ve just explained.


The Right Line


You can get into all sorts of tangles with the slider, especially if the wind is in your face, so you must keep things as simple as possible. The main line must be around 0.20mm or thicker. Any thinner and you will get tangles as it won’t create enough resistance to keep the float and bulk together on the cast.

I still use a now-discontinued, cheap brand called Shimano Nexave for the slider. I’ve used this for years as it has just the right properties. You don’t want a hi-tech floating line and you definitely don’t want a heavy, old-fashioned sinking mono that sinks too deep and drags the float towards you and is difficult to pick up on the strike. Somewhere in between the two is ideal.


The new DJK sliders are semi-loaded, which helps the float sit on the bulk when cast.

Slider Floats


I generally use bodied peacock floats designed specifically for this game and the current ones I have are DJK Sliders. These come in 3SSG, 4SSG and 5SSG sizes (one SSG is approximately 1.6g). Importantly, these are semi-loaded by 1g to 1.5g. This also helps to keep the float and bulk together in the air. Any separation between them and you’ll get tangles.

Alan feeds most of his initial bait without a float in the water, and then casts out before checking how accurate he is by firing a few more balls.

I also use a Drennan silicone Swivel Float Attachment. There was a time when I used to squash the eye of the swivel with pliers to help prevent the slider knot accidentally getting stuck. Now, though, I think you get a much smoother flow of line through the swivel if it’s left as it is. This works really well so long as you incorporate a tiny free-running glass bead between the swivel and the stop knot.


The Stop Knot


I create a stop knot with a simple four or five turn overhand knot. I like to use the exact same material and diameter as the actual main line. You must also leave the tag ends really long and mine are around three inches. Any shorter and you create a stiff bristle effect that impedes the travel of the stop knot through the rod rings.

One stop knot is usually fine, although I may very occasionally use two butted up to each other to ensure they don’t slip.


The Shotting


I always cast ‘off the bulk’, which means the slider sits directly against the main bulk when I cast. I use Anchor non-toxic shot rather than a big olivette or drilled bullets for this bulk; I prefer non-toxic shot even if lead shot is actually allowed (as it often is on the Continent) because it is kind to the line and I can easily remove a shot and squeeze it back on again. Lead tends to move, plus it’s more difficult to remove once it’s pinched on. More on this later…

A small bulk of five No8s placed 50 centimetres below the main bulk helps reduce tangles. 

All of my slider bulks are made up of three or four of these large Anchor shot. I never use any more than four shot, to avoid tangles, although very small ‘trimming shot’ to fine-tune things are acceptable. My main shot will typically be AAAs, SAs, SSGs or 2SSGs. I also taper them so that the largest shot are nearer the float. Ensure the shot are butted up tight against each other, as gaps can also lead to tangles.

About 50 centimetres further down the line I will have a second smaller bulk – typically five No8s – and then another 50 centimetres away I will tie a swivel, on to which I attach the hooklength. This hooklength will typically be 30 centimetres but it can be shorter or longer. I might also place one or two No8 shot next to the swivel if I need to create a more positive final ‘dropper shot’.

You’ll know if you have everything set up correctly as the float should fly straight as an arrow. If it waggles it means something is not quite right and you will invariably get some sort of tangle.



I have three favourite hooks for this method. A Kamasan B560 is ideal for light to medium slider work, small skimmers and smallish baits, usually in a size 16. For more positive work I really like the Drennan Fine Maggot in a size 14. This pattern is actually only currently available overseas, but it is similar to a Kamasan B511 but bronze and very strong for its wire gauge. If barbless hooks are enforced then I use a Kamasan B911 F1 in sizes 16 and 14.

My hooklength is the ever-reliable Supplex Fluorocarbon in 0.10mm to 0.15mm diameters. This stuff is surprisingly strong in water and less susceptible to spin-ups on the retrieve than mono.


Plumbing Up The Scotthorne Way


Getting the depth right is something I pay really close attention to as it can make or break your session. It is perhaps not so critical for big bream as you can get away with laying a bit of line on the bottom and still see and hit bites.

Small skimmers, on the other hand, are notoriously difficult to catch and you simply must have everything set correctly to see and hit the bites. That often means having just a couple of inches of line on the bottom if conditions allow. Done right you’ll see the bites from both these shy-biting skimmers and bigger bream without trouble.

I have seen all sorts of techniques people use to plumb up a slider, sometimes with separate rods or special floats or plummets, but I am completely confident in the way that I choose to do it. Line can stretch and give you false readings, so I always plumb up with the actual rig that I am going to use to get things precise. The only way to be certain is to put your plummet on the actual hook you are going to be putting your bait on. Even if I have two or three rods, each one must also be plumbed up separately.

To plumb up I undershot my float by removing one of my main bulk shots and then attach a ¾oz plummet to the hook and cast out. This is why I use Anchor shot as I can remove it easily without damage. Undershotting the float like this helps to give a really positive plummet reading. The plummet is heavy enough to sink the float but if the float is too far overdepth half of it will stand proud of the water. By steadily reducing the depth I can then fine-tune things so that only the very tip of the float is visible, meaning the depth is now plumbed perfectly.

I then take the plummet off, re-squeeze the shot back on and mark the depth on my rod, just as I would with a pole setup.

From this starting point I can then go as far overdepth as I want and know exactly how far the rig is set. This could be just two inches on a still and calm day. If it’s really choppy and towing hard I can increase the depth accordingly and know exactly what’s happening. On extreme days I might even drag some shot on the bottom to help slow the rig down.

This plumbing technique obviously only works when the bottom is relatively flat, like most international-style venues I fish such as the big canals and rowing courses. If the bottom is sloping and you cannot find a flatter area then you have to compromise a bit and increase the depth to guarantee your bait is always on the bottom if your range is slightly out.


If this happens when plumbing up, you'll be fishing around 10in over depth                           

This would mean you're fishing around 3in over depth

This is fishing dead depth!


What Mix?


Slider fishing goes hand in hand with catapulting groundbait as you are invariably fishing some distance out and in deep water. You need a fairly sticky mix to hold plenty of extra particles and to ensure the balls don’t break up in mid-air, but it still needs to break down quickly once it’s on the bottom.

Today I have used equal parts Sensas 3000 Gros Gardons Fine and 3000 Magic with a view to catching some big roach and tench, as well as skimmers. These were the main species I encountered the last time I visited this venue. However, that was much earlier in the year and now it has warmed up most of my fish have turned out to be good skimmers. My chosen mix is therefore a bit too soft and I feel this has encouraged the skimmers to rise off the bottom and I have had a number of fish on the drop.

If I came back again I would definitely incorporate some Sensas Terre de Somme (damp leam) into the mix. This is always a great addition for skimmers and bream and gives the mix greater weight to get the balls quickly to the bottom where the fish are easier to catch. I perhaps should have thought a bit more and brought some today – so an important lesson learnt!

In the mix I will add casters, dead maggots, maybe smaller dead pinkies and finely chopped worms; all good skimmer fodder. On an international event I would probably add joker to the mix, too.

Aim to create a decent carpet of groundbait on the bottom, over which you can catch the fish. Some days, however, you definitely don’t want to feed too many extra offerings, especially with smaller skimmers, as that can often lead to missed bites and foul-hooked fish.


Catty King


I use Drennan Softfeed Catys for all my feeding and have adapted them by shortening the elastic so that they fire out exactly the right distance. I measure them in the number of reel turns of a 4000-size reel, so mine are set to go 30, 40 or 50 reel turns. This can only be achieved with a bit of time and effort on the bank refining things, but is well worth the effort. It is probably one of my biggest edges as people always seem to be amazed how accurately I can feed.

I know that if I pick up my 40-turn catapult, so long as every ball I form is approximately the same size, when I pull back the pouch to full stretch it will fire a ball the same distance with extreme accuracy. Again, practice is key to getting those one-handed ‘sausages’ of groundbait as close as possible as each other. I bet if you weighed mine they would all be pretty close!

The reel’s line clip is also vital for the way I like to feed. I actually cast beyond the feed and hit my line clip so it is around three to five reel turns further out. This allows me to reel in three, four or five turns to sink the line adequately. Once the float is in position I often open the bail arm of my reel and pay out some line, just to let the bulk reach the bottom and settle everything properly. However, in shallower swims like today that is not always so necessary.

I remember when the European Championship was in Belgium a couple of years ago that I actually wanted to feed 25 sausages of groundbait at 40 turns by catapult at the start of the match. I fed the first 20 without even casting the float out to aim at. I was so confident that my catapult and ball size were perfect that there was no need to have a float to aim at.

After feeding those 20 balls I then picked my rod up and cast the float out to the line clip. I then fired out the 21st ball just short of the float and then counted the three or four turns it took to get to the float to this spot. I then fired out the remaining four balls I had made up, right on top of the float.

Feeding this confidently and accurately is something that obviously only comes with practice but it can be done if you work hard and spend some time to perfect. It’s very satisfying when you get it right!


Topping Up


Further top-ups are done according to bites and could be just one ball or more typically two or three balls at intervals. When bites slow that’s obviously the signal to feed. You might not catch instantly either, especially if it’s bigger bream you are targeting. Just have faith and these big fish will normally turn up at some stage on the session.

Today has been a typical slider session as things were slow to begin with after an initial 20 or so balls were fed. I waited a good hour before trying to top up and found a couple of balls every 10 to 15 minutes drew more fish into the peg.

I’ve also gone through the card with hook baits and half a dendra or two or three smaller redworms have definitely picked out the better skimmers among the smaller roach. On other days it might be dead maggots, a maggot and caster cocktail, three pinkies, or even a grain of sweetcorn. When better skimmers are the target, I always try to be patient before striking to allow the fish to properly take the bait.

It’s been great to flex the slider gear once again and really helped me prepare for the busy international schedule I’ve got this year. Get out there and give it a go yourself – you’ll soon realise that it’s a lot more fun than the feeder!


Two dead reds and a white - a stand-out bait!

A live maggot and a pinkie - visible and great for small fish!

A caster and a dead red for selecting quality!  


A dead red dead white - the banker bait!


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!


Martin Stokes. 


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.


The Event


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.



Bait Bonkers


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 



Varied Presentation


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.



Feeding Tactics


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.



Experience Tricks


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


Angler File

Steve Gardener

Age: 21

Lives: Surrey

Sponsor: Milo




Webb’s World


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…

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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…!

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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!

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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!

And Finally…

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!


Webb’s World


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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Section Winners


Section Name Weight (lbs)


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


Darren Hewitt

76lb 5oz


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

Team Results


  Total Points

Northern Team



Southern Team









The Northern Monkeys


Get Pinging!

 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 


Angler File:

Jamie Hughes
Age: 33
Lives: Wirral
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.

So how does angling work in the Army?

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.

The Events

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.

Inter Corps Team Event

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…

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.

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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





Webb’s World!


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:



Pellet Waggler

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!


Insert Waggler

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.


Straight Waggler

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!


The Setup

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

Website: www.woodlandviewfishery.co.uk


Angler Profile -

Des Shipp

Age: 43

Lives: Bristol

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?

K Parkes netting

“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

Special Mentions

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 ext 17 2

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 ext 24 2

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 ext 3 2

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.

day 2 ext 24 4

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.Screenshot_20160604-1957241.PNG

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.DSC_0059.JPG

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

Martin Stokes


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.

Martin Stokes


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.

Martin Stokes


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

Martin Stokes


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.

Martin Stokes 



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.FB_IMG_1461658342569-01.jpeg

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! DSC_0006-01.JPG


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.

The Match

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. 

Ben Sharp


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.


Winter .......

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

Spring ........

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 .......

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

Martin Stokes


Our new blogger Ben Sharp reports back from Castle Ashby AT Winter League that was held on the 27th February.

The Build-Up

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.


The Venue

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.


The Draw

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.


The Match

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.


The Weigh-In

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.

The Results

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!

Please ‘Like’ my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jakefowlesfishing/?fref=ts



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.


Its been an eventful winter for Myles Levy, but one that has seen him have a great deal of success at Tunnel Barn Farm!

Match Fishing’s Joe Carass just had to get the laptop out and tell you about his latest exploits!


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has something he needs to get off his chest!


Fish 'O' Mania champion, Andy Geldart, talks preparation...

Becoming a sponsored angler is something that many people have aspirations for. Drennan’s Jon Arthur lends some sound advice for any wannabe anglers out there.


The art of being a draw bag maestro...

Craig Butterfield reflects on a recent feature with a difference.


Stewart Lister reflects on an enjoyable Veterans Festival.

Martin Holmes tells you how he won this year’s Preston Innovations Festival at White Acres.


Ex England star, Lee Thornton on why team fishing is going nowhere.

Tom Scholey on a great weeks fishing, and a lesson learned the hard way.

Tom Scholey on what the Angling Trust do right.

Lee Kerry on bagging 513lb.

Tom Scholey recalls a match when things didn't quite go according to plan!

Tom Scholey ponders why some match anglers are so secretive.

Craig Butterfield on why sponsorship isn't always what people think...

Joe Carass recounts an extremely busy few weeks that has seen him catch a lot of fish and receive a few batterings too!


Frankie Gianoncelli recalls two brilliant recent matches, when worms have worked well for him!

Our Terminator sets his sights on the country's hottest young angler.

Top matchman Roy Marlow and crew go in search of big game fish...

Tom Scholey on why a post-match pint is vital for the sport.

Ellis Driscoll on winning the Drennan Coca Cola Festival at White Acres.

Dubious observations of a Match Fishing reader...

The man that could end your career…

The Man Who Could End Your Career!

Guest blogger, Dale Calvert, recollects a recent practice session at his local Wrightington Fisheries.


Match Fishing and Pole Fishing Group Editor, Jon Arthur, picks his England Float and Feeder teams.


Joe Carass looks back on the recent success of the Match Fishing Drawbags!


Our new blogger Nick Speed has been in great form lately but just how did he do this week?

Franke Gianoncelli argues that commercial fisheries hold the furture for match fishing.

Joe Carass was staring down the barrel at the weekend but a blinding last hour saw him come good!

Tom Scholey on why Alex Bones is wrong to say modern match methods require a similar amount of skill.


Joe Carass ponders over which flagship pole really is the best available!

Without wishing to get enthralled in a tit-for-tat battle, Tom Scholey’s blog reply to my editorial in February’s edition of Match Fishing entitled ‘The Pursuit Of Perfection’ needs addressing.

Are some methods more skillful than others? Tom Scholey thinks so!

Rob decides to go back to the venue known as roach heaven!

Joe Carass has been back to do battle in the Tunnel Barn Farm Winter League with a hint of success too!

It has certainly been an interesting week for Joe, with mice and more than a few F1s occupying his time!

Rob Wootton returns to the venue that can only be described as roach soup!  

The long and the short of it!


It’s been a good week for Joe’s Match Fishing Drawbags team and here he tells all!

Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has had more than a slice of luck this week!

This week Joe has been back to Tunnel Barn where things haven’t quite gone as planned!


Match Fishing’s Joe Carass has had a good weekend at his regular haunt – Tunnel Barn Farm!


Every one seems to only talk about success stories here’s something Rob Wootton thinks we can all relate to...


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Joe Carass reflects on a summer of fishing that has seen him have more than a few up’s and down’s!


Middy’s Andy Quarmby has been on fire again recently thanks to thinking outside the box!


Middy backed Andy Quarmby has been winning a lot of matches lately and it’s all thanks to making good decisions!

Recent matches have highlighted one thing to me, making a key decision in a match is the difference between winning and being an also ran. Yes I know this may sound obvious but my recent encounters at Pans Hill highlight this quite well I think

Pans Hill Sunday match 29th July (Pans Lake)

Pans lake, for those who have never been, is a typical 14m wide snake with typical depths. It has a large head of mirrors and commons 1-3lb and F1s 6oz-2lb. Typical winning match weights in summer are usually between 80-130lb with plenty of bites to be had.

Recently Pans has not been fishing that great, it has had a blue-green algae bloom since April and whilst it hasn’t had a harm full effect of the fish, they have not been feeding like they should. In fact 83lb is the highest match weight so far this year on this lake.

My usual attack is basically fishing micros and 4mm’s tight across, with two lines, one in a foot of water, and the other in 10” (if you can find this depth! the summers rainfall has meant the lake is brim-full) This simple attack has won me countless matches in the previous 18 months.

However on Sundays match as there were only a few of us, we all received generous pegging and plenty of room. A quick walk around the lake to get the feel of it told me it was going to fish its head off. Recent evening weights had been 70-80lb and the weather looked spot on, plus the fact fish were crashing, and swirling all over gave me a slight hint.

Hoping for a draw on pegs 8-18, I was most disappointed when Peg 3 stuck in my hand! The drawing Gods were definitely against me yet again. After countless moaning, I finally got to my peg and set about what to do. I plumbed up my usual far bank rigs but could only find 18” of water and there was a bit of weed causing trouble. It was at this point I made a key decision, and to go against the grain on what I usually do, and attack the edge. In my head 120-150lb was a target weight and in 18” of water across it was not going to happen. I would still fish and feed these lines for a good start but it was a margin attack that I fancied. So with this is mind I spent a good 20 minutes trimming the edge removing annoying stick-ups etc. Plumbing in the edge I found 8inches of water and then 14inches slightly further out… Perfect!

Bait was five pints of soaked micros, 4mm expanders, and some 6mm meat for the hook. 
Rigs compiled of a 4x12 Middy XK55 Series 2, 0.12mm lo-viz line and an 18 93-13 finished off with double 6-8 orange Middy elastic with a puller and we were all set!

On the whistle I fed the margin and went across, after feeding a small pot of micros I was instantly met with tails and swirls, and missed bites! I did catch a few but I knew it just was not right, I was also catching smaller fish. After 30 minutes it went up the bank and down the edge I went on the 14in deep rig. I instantly caught f1s but interestingly, the mirrors and commons were nowhere to be seen. I was not concerned as the pegs I could see, 5 and 8 were both catching well. I was falling behind. Even on the 14in deep rig I was missing bites, so took the decision to fish 8in, in the edge. I would never usually do this so early in a match, and also I generally find 8inches is too shallow, and they spook and a big weight is not easy, but I was desperate.

In a nutshell, it worked perfectly, and six hours later I won comfortably with 148lb, with 114lb in second place.  After the match I had a chat with second place and a few others (I always talk to other anglers to get a picture of what’s gone on) and the general consensus was they had all suffered small fish and missed bites, and also they had not been able to fish dead tight due to grass and weed problems etc.

If I had fished my normal match I would not have won, I am certain of this.

After the match I was told that the Tuesday evening match would be on Pans as it had fished so well. And this is where another key decision came. I then decided to stop on an hour (the missus really loved this idea!) but seriously, I find it amazing that people don’t do this more often. If I’ve had a frustrating day I always try and have an hour to get my head around it and get my confidence back. Even if I realise I’ve made a real mess of it, at least I’ve learnt why it went wrong, instead of wondering what, if and why. As I was dying to try pellet shallow, as so many good f1s had shown in the match. For 90 minutes after the match I absolutely emptied it with decent sized f1s and a few mirrors thrown up. It was literally a fish as soon as it went in. So with that in mind I booked on the evening match.

Tuesday evening match
Eleven hopefuls turned up for this match, and with a nice warm evening it looked like being a cracker with 100lb possible. In the draw bag again, and the complete flier Peg 9 was used tonight…Surely it had my name on it…. But out came Peg 5. Oh come on surely it’s a mistake I enquired, but no, it was 5 and not 9.

My plan was empty it shallow and then empty it in edge after giving them 90 minutes to settle. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

As I got to my peg, I immediately noticed the water looked a tad clearer, I could see an inch in the margin and alarm bells went off immediately. I assembled the same margin rig as Sunday, and two shallow rigs. One was 10in deep with a short lash for F1s, and one was 6in deep but with a 3ft lash for mugging some mirrors / commons that often annoy you by swimming near the surface and laughing at you. The rigs had 0.14mm Hi-Viz bottoms as expected to bag up, double 6-8 again, size 18 93-13 for edge, and size 18 eyed KM-1 for shallow with a micro band on a hair.

Bait was micros and 6mm meat in edge, and hard 4mm pellet for feed and hook.

On the whistle I fed my margin and went shallow. Immediately the margin clouded up. Maybe I was wrong after all I thought to myself. Anyway, first 40 minutes went well, I mugged about six 2lb mirrors, and had a few decent f1s shallow but it wasn’t easy. A quick look in the margin and immediately caught a fish, then the margin went clear, ie no fish! I Switched to the other side margin and caught a fish, and that went clear! It was at this point that I realised that a big weight in the edge was just not going to happen, but as I had nothing else set up, I would concentrate shallow and pick a few off in the edge. To cut a long story short, it worked ok, I had some good spells shallow and a few in the edge, along with copious amounts of frustration!

At the weigh in Peg 1 who caught steady all match had 72lb, so we were fishing for second place. Amazingly my ‘few fish’ went 79lb to take top spot.

The back up weights were 30-40lb, as people had fished tight in the edge and not been able to queue them up. Interestingly the 72lb was caught in the edge but in 24” of water.

Driving home I was quite pleased with myself. I felt certain if id fished in the edge as planned I would not have won. And also had I not fished on the Sunday and got the confidence to attack it shallow I would not have won

Next time you go fishing, think about that important decision, and don’t always follow the sheep! And if you’ve had a poor day and struggled with something, stop on an hour and sort it instead of going home to watch GB come 10th in some Olympic event


Open a paper, put on the T.V or radio it’s the hot topic in the country right now. Craig Butterfield has his say...


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Match Fishing’s Joe Carass talks about the first round of the prestigious UK Champs!


Harry Billing ended with a good result in the White Acres Garbolino Spring Classic. Here’s how he got on…

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