The 2018 Product Release from Bait-Tech is here! It is a list of baits that perfectly fits into the Suffolk-based, family-run manufacturer's extensive portfolio. With one of the largest bait ranges on the market, there is something for every coarse angler to smile about.
Adding to the exceptionally popular The Juice Range is a fabulous sweet fishmeal groundbait and Pellet wafters. Expanding on the famous and continually successful Special G Range they have added Special G Glug and Soft Hook Pellets to match the 3 groundbaits.
A new Big Carp Method Mix with ingredients processed with ADF technology. This process maintains the high nutritional quality of the ingredients and makes them highly digestible. This is more efficient and effective than standard fishmeals and Bait-Tech's ADF fishmeals are from human grade quality fish.
Pro Natural Range has another addition: Fine Lake Dark. There is a perfectly formulated range of Stick Mix Liquids, the Bloodworm pellets are exceptional and there is a perfect addition to their infamous particles: Hemp & Sweetcorn.
With another stylish bucket on the list too - it's going to be a another great year for Bait-Tech.
Here is a taster of some of the new products:
In total there are 15 different bait items and 2 accessories for the 2018 product list which makes this year's release strong and focused. For the complete 2018 product list and more product information please click here.
"We're very happy with the products we are releasing into the market this year" says Managing Director Hayley Goldsmith, "the development work has been an exciting one as we've been working with ADF ingredients - a new way to process ingredients to retain their nutritional value for instant attraction."
Ian Hirst, Sales & Brand Manager comments "For 2018, we focussed on what was missing from the range and we have certainly filled the gap with some brilliant products".
Andy Neal "being involved with product development is a lot harder than you can imagine as there is so much testing and tweaking to be done. The 3 new groundbaits this year are complete winners and I've been testing the Special G Glug for months now and always have a bottle with me. I can't wait for people to start enjoying these products as much as I have been."
Tony Curd comments "For 2018, the brief was simple - fill the gaps and give anglers the baits they need to catch more fish and win more matches. I believe we have done just that - after a lot of testing I'm really excited to see the results these product will help to achieve!"
Is there a better feeling than sitting by a large natural water early on a summer’s morning, as you wait for the tip to pull round with yet another bream? Unfortunately, this idyllic scenario doesn’t last all year…
As winter begins to roll in, the water cools and the fishing becomes more difficult. This doesn’t have to mean the end to the bream fishing, though. If you follow Shaun Little’s advice you can enjoy year-round success on the feeder…
It’s no secret that feeder fishing is becoming hugely popular in the UK and Europe and it seems that more people are now looking at it as a year-round option for their fishing rather than just something to do in the warmer months. The problem is that on large expanses of water, like Kingsbury Water Park where we are today, the fishing can become difficult as the water cools – 100lb bags are rare and it soon becomes apparent that it’s the anglers who work hard that get the results.
Pick Your Swim
Deciding where to fish in winter can make or break your session; obviously every venue is different so it’s hard to give a “one distance works for all” piece of advice. What I would say though, is stick to the distances that worked in the summer as the fish are used to feeding at these ranges.
On most venues in summer you’ll feed a couple of swims, one at a reasonable distance and a closer swim. I’ve found that in winter it’s rare for this closer swim to produce and I prefer to stick to my distance swim. I like to really work one swim rather than try to split my time and effort between two. I know some people won’t agree with this theory but when bites are few and far between I don’t like to come off a swim and risk missing a feeding fish turning up.
This would be different if I was targeting a venue with a good head of small fish like roach, but to keep things simple today I’m sticking to my approach when targeting decent skimmers and bream.
Fish like this make the hard work worth it.
Today I’m fishing at around 45 metres and I’ve set up one of the new 3.6m Matrix Horizon XC Class rods. This is designed for casting feeders up to 60g, which will be plenty for today – even if the wind gets up I’ll have no problem hitting the spot with this rod.
I’ve an Aquos 5000 reel loaded with braid, which helps you to spot the tiny skimmer bites in winter, but it is really important to fish with a shockleader – 8lb mono in my case – especially when fishing lighter hooks and hooklengths in cool water as it helps to reduce breakages.
On the line I’ve got a 30g medium cage feeder and this is fixed in place with a float stop either side, and below this I have a twisted loop and a quick-change swivel. The important part though, is the hooklength.
This is 0.12mm Power Micron to a size 18 SW feeder hook and the key point is the length. As a minimum in cool water I’ll use a 1m hooklength. This gives the bait a slow fall as I’m convinced a lot of the fish watch the bait fall through the water and the more natural the fall the more bites you’ll get. The other reason a long hooklength is important is down to the way I feed my swim, which I will cover next.
Shaun used the 3.6m Horizon XC Class rod to hit the 45m swim!
Change The Way You Feed
Your feeding needs to reflect the weights you expect to catch – putting in 1kg of worm and three pints of casters for a 10lb return doesn’t really add up. You can’t approach every session wanting to catch 100lb of bream, so as the water cools you really need to cut down the feed in the peg.
I’m covering the time between summer and the deepest depths of winter and if it’s freezing then you’d feed tiny amounts, possibly in a three-hole cage feeder, but in this transitional period you can still feed some bait… but groundbait.
The particles on the outside will be released on impact with the water creating a large feed area.
As I mentioned I still use a medium size feeder that actually holds a fair amount of groundbait. The mix I’m using is 80 per cent Bait-Tech Special ‘G’ and 20 per cent Karma, and this is mixed on the dry side as I want it to explode out the feeder very quickly in the shallow water and spread over a bigger area. Fishing in this way can be brilliant when used in conjunction with a long hooklength as the fish get used to seeing bait falling through the water.
One thing I must point out is how I load my loose offerings into my feeder. The conventional way is to load any loose particles into the feeder and then plug either end so the ‘feed’ is right in the centre and gets down to the bottom. As I’m looking to create a larger feed area and I want to encourage the fish to feed away from the feeder, which may spook them, I ensure that my loose offerings are just part of the plug at the end of the feeder. Loading it in this way results in the bait – a few maggots and casters in my case today – coming out on impact and fluttering down to the bottom.
Have A Little Patience
The session I’ve had today is the perfect example of how important it is to have patience and belief in your tactics. I’ve started the session casting every five minutes for the first half-hour to slowly build up the swim and then I increased it to 10-minute casts. I don’t think you need to keep bait going in all the time if you’re not getting bites, as it’s usually a sign there aren’t actually any fish there.
If I start getting bites then I’ll go back to five-minute casts and keep the bait falling through the water.
It takes an hour and 20 minutes to get my first bite, and it’s a lovely skimmer of just over 1lb. It was actually a switch to a bigger bait that rewarded me with the bite. Switching from double red maggot to two worms and a maggot saw the tip pull round just a minute after casting in. This again emphasises the point that the fish see the bait falling through the water, as the bite must have come just as the bait settled.
Now I feel there is a fish or two about I try to cast every five minutes and in the next hour I catch a further five skimmers, with the biggest over 2lb. Bites then tail right off and I feel like I’ve had my golden hour, something that will often happen at this time of year, where the fish will feed for a while before switching off or moving. This is why I feel it’s important to concentrate on just one swim as it can be too easy to miss your chance.
For the rest of the session it’s a case of really working to try to get a bite; I regularly switch hook baits and even fine down my hook size and try a single maggot but eventually I step back up to a bigger hook and bait and I’m rewarded with two more fish in a quick burst.
My last fish comes right at the end of the session when I had five quick casts five metres past where my swim was. I don’t like to do this too early in the session as it can be detrimental to the fishing, but it can be worth an extra fish or two at the end of a match.
I’ve finished the session with nine fish for around 16lb, which would be a really good weight for this time of year. I’ve kept my tactics simple and made a real effort not to feed too much bait, and this in conjunction with the long hooklength has really worked well today.
Despite the weather turning and fishing becoming increasingly difficult it’s well worth sticking with the feeder, and if you can follow some of my advice the rewards are there to be had, and the end result can be even more satisfying when the hard work pays off.
Hard earned but very satisfying.
Make the most out of every peg that you draw this month with Andrew Mann’s peg planning tactics…
Have you ever fished a perfect match? I often come away from the bank knowing full well that I could have made better decisions and got a better result. More recently however, I have started to plan out my matches. I used to think that fishing was too unpredictable and wild for a strategic plan to be put in place. However, especially on commercial fisheries, implementing a plan for your session will improve your results!
Planning my session begins before I get to the bank. For example, before today’s session here on the Mickey Mouse Lake at Docklow Pools, I knew that I’d be targeting both silver fish and carp. Before even arriving, I had a plan to fish at close range for the silvers in the early part of the session, with the hope of catching some carp in the latter part down the margins.
On The Peg…
It isn’t until after drawing your peg that the detailed planning really begins. I like to place my box down on the swim that I’ve drawn, and sit down to really think about the match ahead. Sometimes, I’ll sit for up to 10 minutes considering options. Today, I’m faced with a luscious swim full of options, but to get the best from it, I need to carefully choose where I fish, when I fish there and what I fish there.
Rule Of Three
The matches when I feel like I’ve done worst are always the ones when I’ve fished too many swims and made things overcomplicated. I stick to having a maximum of three swims. I’ve found this is the right amount to give you scope to catch various species and sizes of fish, without ending up in a muddle!
The first swim that I want to choose is a banker, where I’m going to get plenty of bites and catch efficiently to build up a weight of mixed species. The chances are that I won’t be able to catch big carp all the way through the match, so this swim will be vital in keeping my weight topped up. I need to be able to feed it accurately too, which is why I’m placing this swim just five metres out, straight in front of me, at the base of the nearside shelf.
While sat on the swim thinking about my plan, I also notice that there are quite a lot of fish moving out in open water in front of me. Normally, I would think about fishing on the bottom on the long pole, most likely with pellets. In fact before arriving at the swim, I had in my head that this would be an ideal long-pole attack.
However, after seeing an odd carp cruising about and lots of quality fish topping, I’m now planning on feeding an odd cube of meat, while attempting to ‘mug’ an odd cruising carp when the opportunity comes.
I feel like the best place for me to catch a number of big fish to potentially win the match off this peg, is down the margins. I’m presented with two options for this – one to the left and one to the right. I like to pick what I think is going to be the most favourable margin. I always try and choose the side that has the most fish-pulling potential. Today for example, I have an island to my left that leaves a very narrow gap to draw fish from. The near bank is also very open, with little cover in the way of bankside vegetation. However, to my right, I’m fishing towards the main body of the lake. There are loads of reeds and shade from several big trees growing beside the lake. This is a much more favorable area to target, and I’m certain it will bring the best result.
Pinging just two or three clubs of meat is enough to keep fish hunting on the long-pole swim!
Once set up and ready to fish a match, it’s vital that you remain in control of what you are doing, and that’s where sticking to the plan really helps. Watching anglers around you can be a big advantage in certain situations. For example, if someone starts catching down the edge, it’s a sure sign that fish may be moving in to feed. However, it’s vital that you don’t get sucked into chasing fish. If the guy next door happens to catch a 10lb carp out of the blue on the pellet waggler, the last thing you should do is pick that up and try and fluke one the same. Stick to your plan and you’ll catch him up later.
My basic plan for today is to catch on the short swim for as long as possible, while pinging just on odd piece of meat on the long pole. I am going to leave the margins alone until later in the match. If I feel like there’s an opportunity to catch a cruising fish, I will, and if the short swim needs a rest, I have the option to try the longer meat swim.
Starting The Match
At the off, I’ve simply shipped out to five metres and fed five or six times by hand with around 30 casters. I’ve also pinged three cubes of meat out onto the long line four or five times. Starting on the bottom on this short swim, I’m into fish immediately. I’m feeding as often as I possibly can at the minute to try and draw in lots of fish and already I’ve started getting bites on the drop as my rig is settling. Roach, ide and an odd chub are hitting the net regularly, and picking up my shallow rig, I begin to catch even quicker.
A Welcome Boost
After around an hour, I’m confident that I’ve got close to 20lb of silver fish in the net, and action is still thick and fast. However, I have just seen a swirl where I’ve been pinging meat, so I’m making a quick move to try the swim. Baiting up with my favourite ‘banded meat’ and looking at my watch, I’m giving it just five minutes so that I don’t miss out the silver-fish action. It seems that I don’t need to worry however, because as soon as my rig hits the water, there’s a huge swirl and my elastic is dragged out! After a short-lived battle, I’ve bagged a 6lb bonus carp in just two minutes. I see this as a free ticket to have another look out on this long swim, but all the time I’m feeding casters on the short line maintaining the plan of building a weight from there. A chub around 2lb follows on the long swim, before another quick look leaves me biteless for two minutes. This is long enough to urge me to get off this swim and continue putting fish in the net on the short line.
After another good spell of catching well on the short swim, I see a mugging opportunity on the long line, as a couple of large dark shadows cruse into the swim. I have a rig assembled for flicking out to these fish with a long line between float and pole tip, with the float set just six inches deep. My bait choice for this is always meat, a visible bait that sinks incredibly slowly, maximising the chances of a fish seeing your bait. Hard pellets or corn may fall that little bit too quickly for a fish to see it and grab it as it cruises past. A deadly trick when looking to ‘mug’ fish like this is to make sure you have your mugging rig hooked-up and ready to go beside you. I actually hook my hook into my pole sock, and lay the top kit beside me so I can quickly grab it and ship out to mug a lump.
This time, it works a treat and swinging my long line out towards the front of the cruising fish I quite literally watch a lean common engulf my cube of meat, before angrily swirling off like a torpedo, straight between the tree stumps out in the middle of the lake. I manage to turn the fish by lifting the pole high – a great trick if you feel like the fish is about to bottom your elastic out. This sudden change of angle often turns the fish. It certainly works this time for me, and I’m soon shaking a 12lb Docklow common into the landing net.
Areas of scum like this are perfect target areas for mugging fish!
A Free Match Win…
Sticking to my guns, I’m straight back on the short swim and as I’ve continued feeding this throughout, it’s no surprise that the fish are still feeding well here. Having my mugging rig set up and ready to go, I manage to sneak a couple more carp over the next couple of hours, both which have come right over the swim where I’ve been pinging meat all day. I’m sure the fish weren’t keen on feeding, but the noise of an odd cube hitting the water has intrigued them. When I’ve seen them, I’ve simply dropped a bait in front of them and they’ve fallen for it.
I can’t stress enough the importance of catching these ‘free’ fish. At the end of most matches, the result is often tight and those odd fish that cruise past can quite literally be a free match win. The great thing about mugging is that it takes just a few seconds to ship-out and try for a fish. Once it has swam off or you’ve caught it, you can drop back onto the silvers swim and continue putting fish in the net.
The Finish line
With the final hour of the match approaching, I’m planning to set a margin trap to give me a final weight boost. In my opinion, the later you can leave it to feed the margins, the better it will be. I’ve often left it until there is just 50 minutes of a match remaining, and find that fish come straight to this. I’m certain that the fish have modified body clocks based around match hours, which is why they often feed later on when their guard has dropped. The later you leave the margins, the more you’ll catch there!
For today’s feature, I’m feeding this with exactly one-hour of the session remaining. Rather than potting in loads of feed, I’m feeding just half a pole pot of hemp and 6mm cubed meat – enough to draw in a couple of fish and get them competing. Whenever I feed pots and pots of bait down the edge, I seem to foul-hook and loose a lot of fish, so more recently I’ve started feeding less and had great results.
I actually feed this swim another two times before fishing there, to get the fish used to the feed going in, and create plenty of competition for the fish. After the first pot of feed I could see the water colouring up, and now after three feeds and putting a few more silver fish in the net, I’m ultra confidant of catching some there!
One At A Time…
After feeding the next handful of hemp and meat down the edge, I follow this in with my rig baited with a single cube of meat. It’s vital that you pay attention to where you feed when fishing the margins in this way. You are only feeding a small area of bait, so you need to be fishing right over the top of it. Pick a marker, and ensure your top kit and cupping kit are exactly the same length! Quite literally seconds after lowering in my rig, my elastic is dragged out – proof the feeding tactic was right.
After landing a 5lb mirror, I re-feed with the same handful of bait, follow this is with my rig, and I’m immediately into another fish. This way of resetting the margin swim after each fish is devastating in the latter stages of a match, which is proved when I put a run of eight carp together to finish the day. Had I fed the swim earlier, or introduced too much bait, I’m certain I wouldn’t have caught this many.
Although I’ve caught really well, I’ve kept feeding the short swim. On some days, you can drop in down the margins and catch a couple of quick fish before they spook and bites stop. If you can quickly drop back in on the short swim and continue putting fish in the net, it makes the margin fish a real bonus. However, if you continue to sit down the edge catching nothing, you may actually end up catching a lower weight than you would do if you had continued to fish and catch in open water.
As you can see from the catch shot, having a clear plan has helped me put together this stunning net of fish today. By basing my day around putting fish in the net on the short swim, talking any free big-fish opportunities during the day, and attacking the margins late, I’ve ended with well over that magical 100lb mark. Plan your match carefully, stick to the plan, and those brown envelopes are sure to find their way into your pocket.
Name: Andrew Mann
Pole: Daiwa Tournament
Name: Docklow Pools Fishery
Location: Docklow, Leominster HR6 0RU
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We caught up with Wayne Swinscoe at Meadowlands Fishery for a lesson in catching winning weights of silvers on deep venues.
MF: What’s the difference between tackling large and deep venues like this one here at Meadowlands, compared to your average 5ft to 6ft deep commercial pond?
WAYNE SWINSCOE: I think the main thing is the fact that you are much more exposed to the elements on venues like this. Larger bodies of water are affected much more by the wind. That means they can really tow at times. Being anything from eight to 15 feet deep also means you have to be much more positive and robust in your approach.
On shallower lakes, you can use much lighter pole floats so you can lay them in nicely. On a lake like this one, you have to be much more positive and lower heavier floats in to get a bait down to the catching area. The extra depth and undertow also mean the way you feed and where you choose to fish plays a crucial part.
A lot of Swinno's bites are left bites.
What would be your typical target?
You can expect silver-fish weights of 40lb or more on these waters, so they can play a massive part even if carp are also required to make the frame. To catch the bigger weights you’ll usually need bream and skimmers. These are the main weight builders. However, you could easily catch 20lb-plus of roach here on Lambsdown, so they cannot be ignored either. Bonus tench, hybrids and big perch are also on the cards, but I always treat these as a bonus as you cannot target them specifically.
How many swims would you typically plumb up?
I think one or two pole swims are ample on big waters like this. That could be one short and one long, or one left and one right at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock angles. It all depends on the conditions – and don’t forget the wind normally picks up later in the day, so you always need to try and anticipate what’s going to happen later on.
Some days, just like today, conditions are less than favourable and that’s when I will concentrate all my efforts down one hole. I would rather do that and work one swim than spread things all over the place and never be quite sure where I should be fishing.
We’ve noticed the bottom is sloping today. What advice have you got for swims like this?
Here at Meadowlands, you’ll struggle to find a flat bottom to fish. More often it will deepen up anything from eight inches to a foot every pole joint you add. I, therefore, plumb up really accurately, right at the end of my pole so that I know the exact depth my rig is at. I then also plumb up a section further and a section closer to cover myself.
On sloping venues like this, I think it’s really important to feed around 18 inches short of the float. I don’t honestly know if the feed does roll down the slope but it gives you peace of mind that you’re fishing in the right spot to get bites. Around 13 metres is a comfortable catching range and should still be about fishable if the wind gets up. Conditions are rarely favourable enough to be going as far as 16 metres.
It’s towing a lot today, so do you hold the rig steady or let it go with the flow?
Dipping the pole tip helps keep the rig steady.
There are days when holding the rig dead still on a spraybar works well, but I’d much rather try and search the length of the swim first before deciding that’s the right way to go. I always like to use any tow to my advantage and search the swim. By that, I mean trying to the left and the right of your feed as well as above and below it.
It can be deceiving as some days the wind and tow will be going in completely opposite directions and you’ll get more bites to one side of the feed. Sometimes that is the opposite side to what you expected.
It’s also common to find two very distinct catching areas; one directly where you’ve fed and one as much as six feet or more downstream, even though all your feed is going down the same hole. I think when the lake really tows the fish line up as if you were fishing a river. That’s a useful point to bear in mind, as you can often pick off fish from the main feed area but also nick an occasional one or two much further down the peg.
What about rigs?
Simple, tangle-free rigs are vital for deep water. I use slim G-Tip 2 floats when the fishing is calm and rounder-bodied and thicker-bristled G-Tip 3s when conditions are rougher. Today I have a 1g G-Tip 2 and a 1.5g G-Tip 3 set up to cover both extremes. These are shotted very simply with olivettes around two feet from the hook and three No9 droppers spread below. Main line is 0.12mm to a 6in 0.08mm Drennan Rig Line hooklength. I’ll step this up to 0.10mm if the fish are feeding freely.
For the hook, I’m a massive fan of Drennan Silverfish Maggots as the points are so long and fish don’t seem to come off them. A size 18 is ideal most of the time, as you can easily bury a caster inside or fish double maggot. If I’m fishing worm heads I like a size 16 and I’ll drop to a 20 on really hard days with single maggot.
Wayne's a big fan of these hooks for... silver fish!
Can you tell us what you plan to feed and why?
My tried-and-trusted groundbait is a 50/50 mix of Bait-Tech Super G Green and Pro Natural Dark. I sieve this before mixing, however, to remove the bigger seeds and bits as you don’t want dry particles drawing fish off the bottom. I also mix it quite wet so that it goes straight down. I might include up to a third of the mix as damp leam, too. Skimmers seem to really like leam, plus it adds weight and reduces the overall feed content.
Wayne cups in around half-a-dozen of these and wants them to go straight down!
I will cup in four to six balls at the start, around 18 inches closer in. These will usually include a generous amount of maggots and casters.
Would you use pellets as well?
I think maggots and casters are the most reliable baits to feed, but the warmer it gets the more likely pellets are to play a part, so I will always have some with me. If it’s out and out skimmers then loose feeding 4mms and fishing a big 6mm expander on the hook can work particularly well. However, it’s very difficult to present pellets so well on a windy day like today.
You will also miss out on any quality roach and perch that are swimming about. Half my weight today has been made up of stamp roach so they should never be ignored on days like this.
What about other baits such as worms and pinkies?
Worms are very much the same as pellets and best included on warmer days. You don’t need loads – a quarter to a third of a kilo at the most. I like to chop them up fine and also make sure they are really clean before chopping as I don’t want any peat at all mixed in with my worms when I’m bottom fishing. I’ve added a pinch of worms to my feed at the start and tried worm on the hook but maggots and casters have definitely been better today.
Pinkies can have their day, particularly in the depths of winter, but I’d much rather be more positive and feed casters and maggots instead.
Do you prefer live or dead maggots?
It’s fashionable to use dead maggots these days but more and more I find I catch better using live maggots on the hook. Skimmers seem to respond really well to one or two live maggots, but I’ll bring both and experiment.
Will you try fishing off the bottom at all?
I generally fish anything up to four inches overdepth with this style of fishing. The windier it is the better for catching on the deck. You’ll probably find that it’s easier to catch a few inches off the bottom on shallower venues as you’ll be using lighter rigs so the fish will feel much less resistance. Trying to do that in 10 feet or more of water with heavier rigs is much less effective.
However, catching really shallow can often still be an option, particularly on warm and sunny days. When skimmers are the main target, however, I generally prefer to keep them on the bottom where they are much easier to catch.
Do you loose feed as well?
I like to pot in several balls of groundbait at the start and then regularly top up when bites dictate. That will typically be another small ball every 30 minutes or so packed with feed. I also think loose feeding is very important and bring two or three pints of casters. You don’t want to get carried away with loose feeding, however, as the fish can come off the bottom and cause missed bites and foul hookers.
To overcome this I’ll feed a couple of larger pouches more sporadically. If it’s an out-and-out bagging-up day for skimmers then I might cut out the loose feed entirely and just pot in groundbait. It’s all about reading the swim and working out what’s best on the day.
Is there a set pattern on matches like this?
Quite often you will catch roach and perch early and then a few skimmers will move in midway through before a few bigger skimmers turn up in the last hour. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can catch good skimmers from the off and then they peter out. In an ideal world, the fishing will get progressively better and better the longer you fish as more feed goes in and more and more fish find it.
What do you do if it goes quiet?
This happens a lot on this kind of water. Sometimes the fish will just drift off. Sometimes it means a predator is in the peg. Sometimes better bream will push out the roach completely. Sometimes it’s because a carp has turned up. There is not a lot you can do when this happens other than search the perimeter of your peg to try and keep eking out a few fish.
Another reason for a swim going quiet that I’m sure many people don’t fully appreciate is that you haven’t fed enough bait. You’re rarely more than 20 yards away from a fish on a decent commercial, but you’ve got to keep topping up to make the most of it. They’ll soon clear you out and drift off if you let them.
You’ve also set a quivertip rod up. Why’s that?
On really gusty days like today you’ll often have no option other than to chuck a bomb over the top of your pole swim. To do this I like to be really accurate, so before the start I’ll put my rod on the rest, attach a 1oz lead, pop it in my pole pot, open my bail arm and ship out to the exact distance I’m fishing. I then drop it into the swim and clip up. I then also mark the line next to the line clip with a permanent marker. This now means I can try a yard further out or closer in and still know exactly where I’m fishing.
My setup is very simple and consists of a 3/8oz bomb fished on a paternoster, 4lb main line to a 2ft to 2½ft hooklength of 0.12mm Rig Line and a size 18 Silverfish Maggot. The rod is an 11ft 6in Matchpro Combo with a light ¾oz or 1oz tip.
Double maggot is a great hook bait on this setup, but don’t ignore double caster either as that’s actually produced my two biggest bream today. You could use a small feeder instead of a bomb but I think this completely alters the way you’ve been feeding, so I’d rather continue to top up with larger balls via the pole and loose feed casters over the top as normal. It’s a useful trick to have on standby and bought me an extra 8lb to 10lb of fish today.
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Heronbrook Fisheries, Slindon, 13th May 2017
Peg # / Lake
Damian Bracken (Garbolino)
Jamie Hughes (MAP / Bag 'Em Baits)
21 (Match Lake)
Mark Fox (Maver Midlands)
19 (Match Lake)
Steve Openshaw (Lingmere Fisheries)
Qualifiers for Maver British Pole Championship: Damian Bracken, Jamie Hughes & Andy Christie.
Eighty-seven (87) anglers lined the banks of New Canal, Canal, Meadow, Bridge, Island and Match lake for this latest Saturday qualifier event. Conditions on the day were cool to begin with due to plenty of cloud cover and a stiff breeze making things feel a lot colder than during the week leading up to the match. By mid-afternoon, however, there was plenty of sunshine, which brought the resident carp and F1s up in the water where they obliged on pellet and casters.
Winner on the day, and making his way through to compete in his first Match This Grand Final, was Garbolino's Damian Bracken. Damian drew peg 27 on Meadow and caught carp and F1s pinging pellets and fishing caster shallow taking fish to 6lbs for a final 166-14-00. Damian also qualifies for this year's Maver British Pole Championship final taking place at Maver Hayfield Lakes in August. Damian fished a superb match to see off the challenge of MAP's Jamie Hughes just a few pegs away.
Jamie (MAP) drew peg 23 on Meadow and caught carp and F1s fishing pellet over to far side cover and meat short. Jamie found better quality fish to 8lb, but fell just short of Damian's match-winning weight offering 153-13-00 to the scales at the end of the five hours to just miss out on making his fourth Match This final. He does, however, qualify for the British Pole Champs.
Completing the main frame finish was Andy Chrisite. Andy drew peg 39 on Canal and confirmed a lake win with 138-04-00 of F1s caught shallow on caster. Andy will now compete in this year's British Pole Championship final for his efforts.
Former Match This finalist, Matt Arnold, finished in fourth place from peg 21 on Match Lake. Matt started his match fishing a hybrid feeder to take around 40lb before switching to his short line at just 5m on corn to take better quality fish to over 14lbs to end proceedings with a final 129-10-00.
Fifth place was taken by Maver Midlands man, Mark Fox, who drew peg 2 on Meadow. Mark fished most of the match short at 5m offering meat and worm over groundbait and micro pellets before switching to his inside line late on incorporating similar tactics to weigh in 111-02-00.
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.
Dan Webb lets some of the England Feeder team's cats out of the championship bag...
There seems to be this idea flying around that this little piece I'm writing each month might not be entirely serious. Someone even said to me they thought it was funny! Understandably, I haven't taken this very well, so I'm trying my best this month to write a hard-hitting technical feature to really put those ghosts to rest. I'm also probably going to have to keep my head down after this goes out because I'm sure the England Feeder team will have beef with me for giving away a big secret of theirs. What am I talking about? Murphy's Law!
Now, Murphy was an exceptional angler in his own right in the 1940s, but his career was dogged by tragedy. His law, which was passed by Parliament in April 1956, states: “If anything can go wrong, it will.” The following spring the Sod amendment clarified that this should only happen to the person who needs it least.
We have all experienced Murphy's Law at some point in our fishing: The day you forget your tip rod is the day you draw the peg with the island chuck. On the windiest day of the year, it's you that draws the widest peg. The morning of the first frost and the bream have shut up shop is when you finally draw the bream peg.
But what if I told you that you could use Murphy's Law to your advantage?
This law was used to great effect by the England Feeder team in Ireland in 2014. During practice the team realised that you got most bites when you were least ready for them. If you watch YouTube footage you can clearly see our boys occasionally glance away from their rod tips. A watched tip never moves and on a fish-filled venue such as Inniscarra, a quick check of the time was often enough to get a bite. The biggest master of this was Steve Ringer because on his way to winning the World Championship he used combinations of looks at the crowd and taking his hand from his rod to scratch his ear to keep bites coming.
This year, however, the venue in the Netherlands was so poor, just mere glances away from the rod tip wasn't enough to induce bites. During practice, reigning World Champion Steve had to visit a 24-hour pharmacy to buy cream for his severely damaged ear from all of the intense scratching.
It was Dean Barlow, however, who came up with the solution. Thanks to the team sponsor, Preston Innovations, each angler was presented with their own white embroidered yoga mat. To keep the other teams off the scent of what they were doing, they were referred to as ‘casting mats’. The first session that they were used, Dean ran out clear winner with a good run of skimmers that all took his bait while he was on his mat, behind his box in the Lotus Position. Dean mastered an incredible leap from his mat to grab his rod and strike in time.
The tactic worked a treat but after Day One of the World Champs, the team were joint first with France and Hungary. Things were going alright for the team on the second day, except for Adam Wakelin. With little in the net, Adam needed a bream. But with just minutes of the match left, it didn't look like it was going to happen. Then next thing he did was utter genius. He left his peg to use the Portaloo three pegs away, leaving Tom Pickering to watch his rod from behind the ropes. Sure enough, mid-flow, the rod tip ripped round and Tommy shouted: “Fish on.” Adam burst out of the toilet and sprinted back to his peg. The rest, as they say, is history as Adam landed the fish with five seconds to go and England won their second consecutive world championship by a narrow half-point margin.
Remember where you heard it first. Shhhhh, Mum’s the word!
Where once bloodworm ruled supreme, bread and hemp seem to dominate on Alan Scotthorne’s local canal. We met him to see how he utilises two of the best roach catchers available.
I have fished my local Stainforth & Keadby Canal for many years because it is so close to my South Yorkshire home and offers such consistent sport. Roach are always the main species, with just the occasional match won with skimmers and bream. From winter through to spring it has a reputation for being dominated by bloodworm and joker. However, times are definitely changing…
Despite its dominance, there has been a growing trend where other baits are being used more and more in matches and with surprising results. I think it was probably all brought about by the fact that one winter, around three years ago, bloodworm and joker was not available in England for a very long five-week period. This was due to the really low temperatures throughout Europe and it meant anglers had no option but to try other baits. Of these, two really stood out for catching impressive weights of roach: bread and hemp.
Hemp for feeding (left) and Monster Hemp hook bait (Right)
Hempseed has always been considered a great summer bait for roach. It is capable of very large weights and roach can get into a feeding frenzy at times. Using these little black seeds in winter, however, was a rarity on the Stainy. That was until some anglers discovered it could lead to weights of up to 20lb!
It has now become very common to feed hemp on a long-pole swim. This year in particular you have really needed to catch on hemp in the last two hours of a match to do well. The overall size of roach you catch on hemp is far superior to the ones caught on bloodworm, too. I don’t know what the explanation for this is. I can only think that joker attracts all the small fish and the bigger and wiser roach don’t get a chance to get to it. This is borne out by the fact that, after introducing joker, the first few roach you catch are normally of a good size, in the 2oz to 3oz class. Soon after, though, most of the fish are less than an ounce and not such good weight builders. Added to this is the problem of lots of small perch being in a swim fed with bloodworm and joker. It is therefore difficult to win a match by just fishing bloodworm and joker for the entire duration. Catching the much bigger roach on hemp is therefore vital and these traditionally begin to appear much later in a session.
It doesn't take much bait to catch a lot of fish
Another very effective option instead of bloodworm has been fishing with punched bread. This is also being used on my local canal for roach with great effect and they are normally a slightly better size than the bloodworm fish.
Unlike hemp, bread is also quite an instant bait that can bring an immediate response. It therefore makes sense to start by fishing with bread and end the session with a flurry of better fish on hemp.
By being quite aggressive with the way you fish with bread, it is possible to catch well for at least two or three hours. That is precisely how I have approached today’s session. I have caught 90 fish on punch before finishing the session with much bigger roach on the seed.
I have spent some time this season fine-tuning my hemp and bread approach, so I want to share with you how I make the most of these low-cost baits.
Preparing Bread Feed
This is Alan's initial amount of feed
Using cheap loaves of sliced white bread, I remove the crust from each slice and then spread it out on a flat surface for a couple of hours so the bread dries out a little. I then put these slices through a liquidiser and pass the resulting crumbs though a pinkie riddle or sieve. This creates perfect liquidised bread for feeding.
I normally liquidise several loaves at a time, portion it in polythene bags and store it in the freezer. Then, the night before a match I take two or three bags out so they are fully defrosted in the morning.
My liquidised bread feed is okay for shallow venues, but this canal is 2.5 metres deep, so I need something to help it go straight to the bottom before breaking down. I therefore also add Sensas Punch Crumb. This fine white groundbait is stickier than liquidised bread and gives the mix much more binding power. A third to half of my mix is Sensas Punch Crumb and, using a drill and whisk, I spray it with an atomiser while whisking until it binds together easily. I then add red 2mm aquarium gravel for extra weight. I prefer red, but I know others choose to use white, so it is just personal preference.
Bread For The Hook
Next is the hook bait. For this I prefer good quality, medium-sliced Warburtons. I bring three slices to use just as they are. I also have another three that I’ve placed in a microwave on full power for 20 seconds and then compressed with a rolling pin to flatten them slightly. This gives me two hook-bait consistencies to try; normal bread straight from the bag is best when bites are coming quickly, but microwaved bread stays on the hook much better. Importantly, keep the slices in an airtight bag to maintain their freshness.
How To Hook Bread
1. Alan usually starts with a 5mm punch. Pull the hook through the slot and up into the bread...
2. ... before drawing the bread out of the punch head...
3. ... then gently move the pellet of bread onto the bend of the hook
How To Hook Hemp
1. Gently force the bend of the hook into the seed that has only just split
2. The seed will grip the hook well enough to stay on.
Where To Fish
This is a typical canal with a slope on the near side going out to about five metres. The bottom is then flat until it starts to rise again around five metres from the far bank. I will plumb to fish on this flat area at about six to seven metres. The canal is affected by boats and lock gates, so it will occasionally tow slightly and usually from left to right. By fishing where the bottom is flat, it allows you to run over the baited area much easier than if you were fishing on a slope.
At the start I feed just one large ball of bread feed that just fits inside a 250ml Drennan pole pot. Because I know that this canal can move at times, this is cupped in a metre to the right. This means if the canal does start to run I can set up my rig above the baited area and then run over it with ease. Interestingly, I have found that a lot of fish intercept the punch hook bait when it is above the baited area. When the canal is flowing, I think the fish must swim through the baited area and then drop back below the bait; hence you catch a lot of roach upstream of the feed and not just downstream like you might assume.
The ball of bread feed is squeezed hard so I know that it will get to the bottom exactly where I want it. The extra weight of the gravel also means it will reach the bottom quickly, even if the canal is flowing. I know for a fact that the fish will soon spread the bait out across a wider area as they attack the ball and give you a slightly bigger area to fish over.
Bites normally come instantly after feeding bread, so once I am catching I can monitor the amount of bites I’m getting and decide when a re-feed is necessary. This happened after about 25 minutes today and by this stage, I had already caught 20 fish. Roach are aggressive feeders, so I topped up with two more big balls of bread in the hope that this would last a little longer.
The canal then flowed for a period and, as expected, the fish fed very well when this happened. I caught really well until I had a lapse in sport and a big pike became a nuisance, grabbing a better roach on the way in. It was no match for my 0.075mm hooklength, however. Once netted, I took it for a walk and released it further up the canal for its troubles!
Positive Bread Rig
Rigwise, fishing with breadpunch is very similar to fishing with bloodworm. I therefore have a simple setup consisting of a bulk of No8 shot with three No10 droppers spread over 40 centimetres. This is a good starting rig with a 0.6g Drennan prototype pencil-type float that I have been working on.
This is on 0.107mm Drennan Supplex line with a 15 centimetre 0.075mm Supplex fluorocarbon hooklength to a size 18 Kamasan B511 hook. I leave around 80 centimetres of line from float to pole tip so the rig can travel across the baited area easily. This is connected to No3 Preston Slip elastic through just the long tip section of my Acolyte pole. This cushions the strike well but also ensures fish can be swung to hand easily.
I have started using this shorter length of elastic more and more on venues like this and with lighter elastics up to No6. It is better for controlling bigger fish and makes swinging fish of different sizes much better. It even helped to succumb a 12lb pike in double-quick time between the roach action!
I set the rig three centimetres off bottom because this seems to be the optimum depth. I can then work the rig over the swim and top up with more feed whenever I feel the fish are backing off. This has kept the swim ticking over and in a little less than three hours I’ve caught around 90 fish for over 8lb. A great start!
My usual hook bait is a 5mm pellet of bread, but Drennan produces a cracking set of six punches with brass heads ranging from 2.5mm up to 7mm, so it’s just a case of experimenting with what the roach want on any given day. Normally it is the size of fish that dictates the best size of punch.
I also find it better to use a bread board that I have made myself from MDF. This doesn’t damage the punches but gives a hard base to punch onto, helping with speed when hooking up. A rigid side tray also helps when repeatedly pressing down hard with a punch.
Switching To Hemp
While fishing my closer bread swim I regularly catapult hemp much further out on to a long-pole swim. That is at 15 metres towards the base of the far shelf. As soon as I have positioned my rig into the closer swim I loose feed the hemp swim with a catapult. This helps to slowly build up the area ready for the last two hours.
I feed up to 30 grains every drop-in and after missed bites, so I had probably fed this area around 120 times while fishing bread. You have to be disciplined with the regular feeding but it really is worth it if the roach are there and ready to be caught.
Hemp tends to sort out a better stamp of roach
Preparing Good Hemp
I prefer freshly cooked hemp and always have two sizes. For the hook, I use Sensas Monster Hemp, but it can sometimes be difficult to cook. The best way I have found is to place it in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. I then carefully pour off the water and replace with cold water and reboil. I repeat this up to 10 times. The finished hemp is then nicely split and the shoots are snow white and perfect for roach.
For feeding I use normal sized hemp cooked in the same way. I think changing the water regularly really helps to ensure the kernels are bright white and contrast well with the black shells. This is important because roach hunt by both sight and noise.
I set up two very different rigs for hemp. The first is my positive rig and features a 0.4g Drennan AS6 pole float that has a 1.5mm hollow bristle and a carbon stem. This is set at exact depth with just a single bulk of No10 shot positioned 80 centimetres from the hook and no droppers at all. This is quite an unorthodox setup but allows the hemp to fall very naturally. When you get a bite on this rig you rarely miss it! It also seems to pick out the bigger fish. A 0.09mm Supplex fluorocarbon hooklength to a size 16 Kamasan B511 hook to No5 Preston elastic completes the setup.
My next rig is a little more traditional and consists of a 0.2g pencil float with strung-out No11s. It also features a 0.08mm hooklength to a size 16 B511 and is usually fished around 20 centimetres off the bottom.
I hook hemp by forcing the bend of the hook into a seed that has only just split. With a little practice, you can feel when the hemp is wedged nice and securely. This should grip the hook well and still leave enough of the hook point showing to hit bites.
There are other ways to hook hemp, such as pushing the hook through the small indentation (where it was originally attached to a stem) and out of the split, but I feel this masks the hook slightly so I prefer the way I’ve already explained.
Feeding And Presentation
Once I begin to fish the hemp swim I often find it is better to not actually feed while your rig is in the swim. This just leads to missed bites and all sorts of silly indications on the float as the fish dart around in a frenzy! So, when I ship in with a fish or rebait, I then feed with the catapult. This is normally with up to 40 grains of hemp to keep the fish down near the bottom, where they are easier to catch.
I often vary the presentation and lift and drop the hook bait until I find out how the fish want the bait falling through the swim. The angler that works hardest with this bait definitely reaps the rewards.
Usually, the longer you can wait and build up a hemp swim the better, so be patient. That is why it works so well in conjunction with a more instant bait like bread. It is a great way to catch roach, so get out and try both of these relatively cheap baits for fantastic results!
Venue: Stainforth & Keadby Canal
Location: Thorne, near Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Day tickets: £3 on the bank; £2 juniors and concessions
Controlling club: Thorne District Angling Association
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Outspoken and opinionated he may be, but whenever he writes something it’s always worth reading. Welcome back, Giles Cochrane…
Weston Pools is a fantastic match and pleasure fishing complex because it offers anglers a range of species to target with a variety of different approaches. However, from a match angler’s point of view, this can be a daunting prospect.
It took me a little while to realise that I needed to target F1s, ignoring the barbel and carp as the F1s feed shallow for most of the year and are big enough to put a reasonable weight together in the last few hours if necessary.
My approach to winning matches at Weston Pools is simple and based solely on reading the ‘bites’ to ascertain whether the fish have come up in the water.
A short line between pole and float maximises the bites to hooked fish ratio
I make no secret of the fact that I disagree with too much emphasis being placed on rigs, line diameter and hook sizes because you are not focusing on the most important aspect of match fishing: feeding!
This feature is designed to demonstrate the most effective way to catch F1s. My choice of floats for the job is largely irrelevant because it is purely down to personal choice but use something robust and forget the pretty, delicate ones.
Giles favours solid elastics for F1s
I use Darren Milne Slims with 2.5mm tips in 4x14 and 4x12 sizes because they are strong and take a battering. It really doesn’t matter which brand of line you use or the diameter as it makes no difference, and the same can be said for hooks. Use what you have confidence in and don’t be tempted to change by the latest fads that everyone else is using. I use PR 27s because I find eyed hooks better for shallow fishing but to each their own.
This is the part of the feature you’ll have to read twice: I use diameter 0.17mm line direct to a size 14 hook when fishing caster shallow for F1s. I never use hooklengths because I use line that is strong enough to cope with any rogue carp or barbel. I see no point in tying a weaker hooklength into the rig. It’s about landing what you hook.
Fishing shallow is the best way for a big weight of F1s
As for elastics, I use solids for shallow fishing because I feel I have far more control, particularly for F1s as I like to ship back the pole, break down to the top kit and net the fish in one movement. I find hollows to be too soft and pulla kits make them fight harder, resulting in lost fish at the net. Winning matches has never been about landing fish quickly – it’s about landing fish effectively! If they don’t go in the keepnet then what difference does it make to anything you do?
I start every match by feeding one line at around 11 to 14 metres with chopped worm through a Kinder pot, starting on the deck and gauging the bites; more often these are liners. You need to work out where they want it. The secret to winning matches is knowing when to switch to fishing shallow. This is the most effective way of catching a big weight of F1s so the sooner I can get them off the bottom the better.
Feeding one line works well at Weston Pools because you won’t confuse yourself. I feed neat worm and a little soil through a Kinder pot but loose feed caster over the top. It’s far easier to regulate the feed by doing it this way and to determine at what depth you want them to feed.
It might take you 30 minutes to get the first bite but after two or three fish missed bites will become a problem. Scaling down your line and hooks and line diameter is not the answer; fishing shallow is! Within minutes of catching your first fish they will be shallow, even in December as this feature demonstrates. Once I’ve missed two consecutive bites, I switch to the 4x12 rig set at around two to three feet deep. I continue to pot in chopped worm, loose feeding caster over the top, but I am effectively catching on the drop with small worm heads on the hook. On some days it is possible to catch steadily on this rig for the rest of the match but on other days the bigger F1s want the caster. The chopped worm certainly speeds up the waiting time to catching shallow, but by loose feeding casters your shallow caster line has been primed from the start and they will be queuing up for it. Don’t bother to look for signs of fish feeding shallow, you won’t see any! F1s do not swirl for the bait like carp, in fact I find it better to treat them like big roach.
Most of the bites that people miss when fishing caster shallow tend to be from big F1s (3lb plus). By shortening the line between the pole tip and the float it transforms the rig into a bolt rig, which is the best way to maximise the ratio of bites to hooked fish. I believe that when fishing 12 to 18 inches deep, you need a big hook to convert bites into fish and a size 14 is perfect. It might look a little odd to your fellow competitors but who cares – they ain’t eating your casters! Fish cannot see hooks because they are only looking for casters.
It's not about looking pretty, it's about being efficient
Small pieces of worm were best for fishing on the deep
Creating competition in your peg is essential and the most important part, and to do this I feed five or six casters every few seconds! Fish come to the vibrations caused by bait hitting the surface and not the quantity you feed. You should be feeding around 20 to 30 times a minute.
Despite what people tell you about worm being an expensive way of fishing, consider this: I use half a kilo of worm and roughly five pints of casters over two matches at Weston Pools. It’s really all you need.
This is how to judge the quality of your peg!
You might need to practise shipping out with short rigs for the caster approach but to make this easier I use 4x10 floats with one No8 shot down the line. Too much weight down the line will cause tangles and spending your match cutting rigs off the end of the pole with scissors is likely to be detrimental to your catch rate.
Remember, feeding is everything and is the only way you’ll be able to transform average pegs into winning pegs – it’s as simple as that! You only know your peg is rubbish after five hours of fishing it properly, not before you get to it!
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Top northern angler Jamie Wilde reveals his all-time top 10 tips for rod-and-line success with carp when the water temperature plummets!
1. Go Large!
Clearly, the size of the fish matters in any match, although every carp counts and adds pounds to the final weight. Taking your time and being patient can be the difference between losing and landing a fish.
Bites can be very hard to come by during winter months so bigger fish like this can really make a difference.
2. Bait Preference
In the winter months, it is always beneficial to have an array of hook-bait choices. My four favourites, that I always ensure I take to the bank with me, are corn, meat, pellets and bread.
Not every day is the same as the last and having a variety enables me to experiment with what the fish want. Changing hook baits can lead to extra fish in the net. If it seems you are having more liners than bites you could try either popping your hook bait up off the bottom or casting shorter distances until you receive a bite.
You can also vary the size of your hook bait depending on the size of fish you are fishing for; I generally find an 8mm size piece of meat or pellet seems to work best as this will catch fish of all sizes.
3. Fill It Up
When refilling your spools it is crucial to ensure that the line is level to the lip; this then allows both efficiency and accuracy when casting. Doing this allows you to cast longer distances to find feeding fish within your peg. I always recommend using a minimum of an 8lb line when either bomb or feeding fishing for carp.
My preference is for a large model of reel – a 4000-size minimum – with plenty of cranking power.
4. The Butt Rest
This for me is one of the most important things when feeder fishing. I don’t see any reason for the rod to rest on your knee. The majority of the time carp hook themselves, therefore there’s no need to be sat waiting to strike at each bite.
Positioning it correctly, on my front box leg, enables me to be within reaching distance of my reel once a bite takes place. Using a butt rest can stabilise your rod, limiting vibrations down the line. Another benefit is that your rod cannot be pulled into the water.
5. Free Spool
Always set your drag to the right tension to save line breakages on savage bites. Having your clutch set correctly allows the perfect hook-hold and fewer hook-pulls. I like to set my clutch so that the reel spool spins when the rod is arched around in the rod rest.
When feeder fishing or bomb fishing for carp I very rarely drop below a 6lb hooklength, because I don’t believe this results in fewer bites. You need to make every fish count and using a lighter line can result in line breakages and lost fish, which in a match situation can be costly.
I like to use a 2ft hooklength – this allows the hook bait to sink slowly when the bomb or feeder is feathered in and sometimes can provoke a bite as the bait flutters to the bottom.
Always make sure you have plenty of spare hooklengths prepared as time out of the water to tie a new one can lead to missed fish. I also make sure I have different hook baits made up ready on separate hooklengths to make quick changes.
7. Go For 90 Degrees
Everyone has their own preference when it comes to positioning their rod rest. I often see some anglers with their rod almost pointing straight, facing the way they are casting; this for me is not beneficial. I believe you can’t see what activity is going on in the peg – line bites, for example.
Having your rod rest set this way can also cause line breakages, as there is no give in the rod tip. I like a 90-degree angle to my rod so that the tip cushions the bite when the rod tip goes round. Having this also gives you time to react to the bite if the fish decides to swim away.
8. Loose Feed?
Despite the weather conditions, I will always have a ‘throwaway’ line where I loose feed pellets. Some days I find that you will catch on this line and some days you won’t, but feeding in this area out of the way can give you another option to try at a later time, usually at the end of the match.
I tend to feed just four pellets every five minutes to keep the fish occupied. If you don’t catch on this line, a single hook bait cast around your peg, away from the loose-fed area will be the better option.
I always judge the size of the pellets I need to use on the size of the fish I’m targeting. Very rarely do I use a pellet below 6mm, because I find it hard to feed them accurately and in a tight group.
9. Stop Bead
Where allowed I will always use a stop bead on my feeder setup. This allows me to speed the process up when loading my feeder. I find this helps to stop the feeder sliding down to the rod tip.
Another option of using this (again where allowed) is to slide the stop bead to the back of my bomb, giving a bolt-rig effect. Doing this sets the hook on a perfect hook-hold. This also seems to help when reeling in, helping the hooklength not to spin up.
10. Through Action
I always evaluate my peg and think about the distance I have to fish, therefore I can decide which length rod to use. In most cases, I tend to use a shorter rod being either a 9ft or 10ft model.
Using a through-action rod limits the amount of hook-pulls I get throughout a match. The new Colmic Adventure Scrape range covers most aspects of commercial fishing. Having a long, stiff, landing-net pole and a big landing net is essential so you’re prepared for all sizes of fish.
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