Whatever happened to hailing in bait? Is there no fun in fishing any more? Dan Webb delves into the art of frugal-feeding F1ers.
I’m an angler that likes to feed. Yes, I fish a lot of canal matches and smaller venues but I love nothing more than turning up at great big wild venues with a baby bath full of groundbait and filling it in!
Maybe it’s just my inner child, which got me into fishing at a very early age. It’s not just the catching of fish and being outdoors, it’s the casting a long way and using big catapults! To me, that’s an important part of fishing. The trouble is, that’s all changing and I think there is one man to blame – the F1 hero.
The F1 hero is the guy who puts a miniscule amount of bait in a tiny pot, carefully ships out a fiddly rig with six inches of line to the float and taps out six pellets. He then spends time lifting and dropping at little ‘dibs’ of the float. There isn’t even a big Zorro strike to please the inner child.
We are now producing a breed of anglers who idolise the frugal feeder. After winter matches, people even boast how few pellets they could feed and still catch! What happened to the fantasy of being able to chuck a waggler 40 metres then drop a ball of groundbait bang on top? Every now and again, though, the F1 hero catches us out. He bags up by feeding a lot of bait. But how does he do it? By hand? By catapult? Please make it by spod! No, it’s by big potting. Zzzzzzzz, you’re the man, F1 hero – your accurate feeding with a big pot puts us all to shame. Your majestic ship and drop shows both skill and trailblazing bravery that us mere mortals can only dream of.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like to catch an F1 or two. It’s another part of the great diversity that is match fishing. Go back a few years and I used to spend all my free time, that wasn’t taken up by team matches, at Lake View, F1 fishing. During my time there I experienced plenty of precise pellet plopping, but then there was also the maggot!
Even in the spring and autumn, a proper heap of maggots would catch a lot of fish. I used to happily ping my way through four to six pints of them down the track of the snake lake and enjoy an odd brown envelope or two.
Although Lake View did have its frugal feeders, my heroes were Steve Draper and Monty Hornet. They were always there or thereabouts and caught a hell of a lot of fish, and most importantly, they used to feed masses of bait too! Twelve pints of maggots and casters would often get slung at those F1s. Trouble is, the catty just wouldn’t cut it with that amount of bait and Steve even used to have home-made bucket cups attached to his top kits just for dropping big handfuls of maggots on top of his float! Not exactly the pinnacle of feeding skill, but at least he gave them some grub!
Of course, I’m not blinkered enough to believe that feeding is always right. A lot of matches are won up and down the country on the straight lead cast around the peg with a single hook bait. There are a lot of people who bash this sort of fishing, saying it’s unskillful, but I totally disagree. There is a massive amount to it and a lot of tricks to be learnt to be the best.
That doesn’t change the fact, however, that it’s the most boring, miserable, mind-numbing excuse for a day’s fishing imaginable. I just want to shake them and shout “For god’s sake man, feed something you corn-hoarding creeps!” And before you ask, NO, glugging does not count as loose feed!
Notice how I haven’t even mentioned dobbing bread? There is very good reason for that. I’ve tried and tried, but it’s no good – I just can’t keep awake long enough to write it!
As you might have guessed, I’m in a bad mood and it’s made me a bit irritable. I’ve just fished the Angling Trust Winter League Final where my team, Black Horse, finished sixth out of some of the best teams in the country (result drop, CLANG!). My time was spent at Decoy with half of the team pellet plopping and straight lead snoozing while the other half were bread chucking, squatt blasting and tench snaring on the drains. Yes, I enjoyed myself and caught a few fish, but as I was netting carp I was dreaming of catching roach. Even when fishing the straight lead I sat pinging my catapult pretending I was feeding something, just to try and make the experience more interesting.
With a couple of weeks spare I’m now dusting off the big boy’s gear ready to spend some time down my favourite reservoir filling it in. A bit of casting as far as I can, blasting bait to the horizon and maybe a bit of big wag and slider fishing will keep my inner child at bay for a while.