Big Match Bonanza!

When it comes to big-weight bag-up venues they don’t come much bigger and baggier than Leicestershire’s The Glebe fishery. But what is the plan if you’re fishing a match when you know you’re going to need a massive weight to go home with a brown envelope or qualifying place in a big-money final? Well, Dan Hull reckons you should approach it with no set plan, although you must use positive tactics to catch big weights!

Although he owns and runs Shearsby Valley Lakes, not far from the Glebe, Dan is no stranger to catching big weights here, as he demonstrated in qualifying for the 2018 Golden Reel final with a weight of 315lb, using today’s tactics. We’d set him the task of demonstrating one of the best big-weight methods there is – paste on a 5m line and down the margins.
After settling in at a peg on the venue’s Lake 6, Dan set up two pole rigs; one at around five metres on a top kit and two of his XK65 pole, at the bottom of the near slope, where it is flat and before silt levels build up where he found around five feet of depth, and the other for down the margin. Here he looked for any shallow area with a flat bottom, not sloping away, and found a “slab-sized’ area two feet deep at a metre from the bank. It is much more important when fishing paste to find an area with a consistent depth than worry about being tight into the bankside vegetation.

Both rigs featured a Middy XK55 float, in a 4x14 size for the 5m line and a 4x12 for the margin. These were on 0.20mm Lo-Viz main line with 0.16mm hooklengths and a size 12KM-4 spade end hook, on a crimson 20-24 Reactacore elastic. Not brutal gear, but strong enough to start on and easy enough to go up or down depending on the fishing. It would enable Dan to minimise both the time spent playing fish and swim disturbance, but also allow hooked fish to swim out of the feed area.

The margin rig was shotted with a bulk just under the float and nothing else, which would allow the paste hook bait to freefall the rest of the depth. This often catches fish on the drop, even on paste. On the 5m rig on this calm day Dan would start with the shot strung out from half depth back up to the float, again keeping the last half free of shot. This helped when shipping the soft paste out and presenting no disturbance when the bait was falling through the swim. He could always change it to a bulk 12 inches from the hook if it became windy later on, to prevent the float tearing the hook out of the paste.

His feed for the pole lines was simple: two tins of Dynamite Spicy Chilli Hemp mixed with a tin of XL sweetcorn. Hemp is a great holding bait and the corn gave an alternative option if required. Dan prefers the Chill hemp to natural hemp as that is what most other anglers will be using and he likes his bait to stand out from the crowd.

Initial feed for the margin was… nothing – Dan would leave this line until much later in the session, as he would in any match – and the 5m line received a large potful of the hemp and corn mix. True to his “no set plan” plan, after plumbing up and feeding his two pole lines Dan began on the feeder to fish the far bank. This was to allow his initial pot of hemp to attract the attentions of the carp, and would be topped up with another half pot every half hour or so until it was time to fish it.

Flexing one of Middy’s new 5G feeder rods Dan was casting his cage feeder just inches from the heavily undercut far bank. The Method is banned at the Glebe so the cage is favoured, together with a regulation 20in hooklength. In the feeder were 2mm Swim Stim Green pellets, with dead red maggots on the hook.

After a “slow” start Dan switched to the Green Swim Stim groundbait, mixed dry so that it exploded from the feeder as water is absorbed, packing the feeder with a few dead maggots capped with the groundbait.

This was much more to the carp’s liking and a procession of fish soon found their way to the net, using either a bunch of maggots or hair-rigged corn.
In a match Dan would use his catch rate and other anglers as a guide; if they starting catching on the pole he would consider switching, but if not then plug away on the feeder. Today it was just Dan versus fish, so after an hour and a half of steady action and topping up the 5m line, he decided it was time for a go on the paste.

The paste itself is made from the same green Swim Stim groundbait, but this time adding it to the water, until the desired soft, overwet consistency was reached. Dan transferred a handful at a time to another bait tub to enable him to tweak and adjust the mix to achieve the best catch rate, without spoiling the rest of the batch – soft if the fishing was good, stiffer if bites were slower coming. The first hook baits he tried were practically dripping off the hook and around the size of a golf ball. Into the pole pot fixed a little way down the top section went a helping of hemp, capped snugly with the wet paste. This prevented any hemp spilling out when shipping out, and helped the paste drop out of the pot when the pole was turned over. The 5m line was solid, with carp from the first drop in. In a big-weight match this is definitely a winning tactic!

Finally, with two hours of the session to go and around the time he would consider doing so in a match, Dan fed the margin swim. The margins are best left until late in the match to finish on, as this is where the carp like to feed at the end of the day. Again, the feed was just half a potful of hemp and he went straight in over the top of it with his big paste hook bait.

The first bite quickly followed… and a flying Glebe skimmer leapt from the water, as they often do here and at other shallow venues. This was the first in a procession of bream and skimmers, proving they have a liking for paste as much as the carp. However, rather than trying not to catch them, Dan carried on fishing the margin.

At venues like the Glebe the skimmers are a good average size and it is foolish to discount or ignore them, even in a big-weight contest, as they can make up a valuable part of your weight. In fact, Dan had around 100lb of skimmers in his total weight when he won the Golden Reel qualifier.

After five hours’ prolific sport, catching plenty of carp and skimmers, Dan had easily achieved well over the 200lb mark, proving how his big-bait, big-weight tactics could help you qualify for that next big-match final… but you’ll have to beat Dan first!