"Well... things have finally started to sink in after this Saturday's crazy events! sitting here, writing about winning a 3rd Fisho title is something I could never have imagined.
The draw for pegs on the previous night saw me pull out peg 7 which immediately gave me a massive chance, but the Arena lake can be very temperamental when under pressure and with 25 anglers pegged in a line so it proved. I felt that the match would be won somewhere from fisho pegs 5-15, as this area is where the fish are happiest to feed, so to find myself in this zone was a brilliant start.
I went into the match with a very loose plan of what I was going to do, silver fish had been feeding well in practice but some newly stocked carp could also be required to do well.
I began by trying to dob a few cruising carp that were in my peg to begin with, 2 fish after 15 mins was a great start and really settled me down, allowing me to focus properly on the fishing, after this the next hour was spent trying to catch anything on casters at 7m and 13m, it was slow to say the least and very clear that carp would be needed to put a winning weight together. I had fallen to around 6th place at this point and 2kg behind the leader. For the last 3 hours of the match, I focused all my attentions on catching carp. By feeding casters at 13m an occasional fish would show a bit of interest and by slapping a Bag’em 6mm pellet I could get an odd bite off fish cruising into the swim. I had a steady 2 hours doing this catching around 13 carp for 20kg, this put me ahead by around 6kg with an hour remaining.
For myself, the last hours was pretty uneventful with just a carp and 2 f1s added to my total. Fortunately, I had already done enough and despite an awesome comeback from Andy Power who put 12kg on the scales in the final hour to finish 2nd, my final weight of 26.900kg took the honours.
Id, like to say a big thankyou to Bag'em matchbaits, Map and everyone that supported me, without my family and friends winning, would have meant much less.
Can’t wait to do it all again next year…….’
Jamie Hughes explains how a single-minded, catch-everything approach can be the key to match wins this winter!
For this month’s feature, I’d like to talk about something that is becoming increasingly popular on commercial fisheries, and a method that I really look forward to using once the weather begins to cool.
Approaching a commercial with a ‘fish for everything that swims’ approach can lead to an awesome day’s sport and is also a brilliant way of remaining consistent during matches when the carp aren’t feeding quite as well as during the summer months.
Over the years there have been many pieces written about combining a carp and silvers approach during matches; usually a case of catching a few lumps to begin with then topping up with a weight of silvers and finishing with a few more big lads late on.
While this is undoubtedly the correct way to approach some venues (generally those where the carp are a large average size), at most fisheries that I visit regularly, such as Weston Pools and Lingmere Fishery, simply fishing one or two lines and catching whatever fish come along for the entire session can be almost unbeatable!
Now, I must stress that for a mixed species approach to work you need to be fishing a venue with a good stocking of different fish. Both of the venues I mentioned are home to a huge amount of carp and F1s but they also have an extremely high population of what I would like to call “alternative species” such as tench, barbel, crucians and, most importantly, ide.
In general, these species are a good average size so catching them for an entire session can still lead to a good weight and with the addition of a few carp a match-winning net can be caught in the easiest possible way.
For demonstrating this tactic I've come back to my usual haunt of Weston Pools and the awesome Canal Pool, where I intend to fish just one line for the duration of the short session.
Now before I go into the usual rigs, bait and feeding details, I would like to go over my reasons for choosing just one line of attack.
Firstly, and possibly the most important factor, is what I wrote about in the October issue of this magazine: COMPETITION between fish is vital if you want to get the most from any peg, so by feeding just one line I should have a much larger group of fish in my chosen area than if I was to feed several swims and split the fish up into smaller groups all over the swim.
Secondly, by having all of my attention focused on the one area it is much easier to gain an understanding of what fish are present in the peg, how they are feeding and the best ways for me to catch them. My theory is that different species of fish will enter the peg at different points in the session and each must be fed and fished for in the correct way.
With the weather still being good my chosen line for the session was at seven metres, for the sole reason that I could feed casters that distance accurately by hand, meaning I can group my feed much tighter than if I were to fish longer and require a catapult to reach the area. As the temperature falls and the colour drops out of the water I would have no choice but to feed my lines further out, as fish would be reluctant to venture close to the bank.
I believe that the tighter I can group my bait the better, as there is less chance of missing out on fish that are hanging off the main feed due to stray baits landing elsewhere. Also, competition between fish is increased as they tussle to feed in the tight area.
Choosing what bait to feed for this method could not be simpler – maggots, casters and worms are pretty much the only three options and I will choose a bait depending on the conditions and how I expect the fish to feed.
The fish weren't the only ones attracted by Jamie's bait!
Possibly the most common choice for feeding short, maggots are my choice in the coldest weather or when fish are likely to feed at all depths. Due to their slow-sinking nature, they work brilliantly in attracting new fish into the peg and help to bring fish such as ide off the bottom on warmer days, where they can be caught faster.
Three maggots make a brilliant change bait.
If I intend on cupping my feed then maggots are my only choice, but when loose feeding they can be a little difficult to group tightly at distance or in windy conditions.
This tends to be my bait choice during the summer when I want to catch fish on the bottom. While they can be brilliant for catching F1s shallow when thrown in a slop, for other species they are best fed in a soil mix and by a pole cup.
These are my choice for today’s session. Casters have all the same properties as maggots, with the added bonus of being heavy. They can be fed very accurately by hand in all conditions and make a lot of noise to attract fish; they also sink faster than a maggot, which helps to keep fish on the bottom.
Fresh casters, and plenty of them!
As always, I have as few rig options as possible but will always have a couple of options to present my hook bait in different ways. In a similar way to how I fish hard pellets for carp, I have a slow-falling rig for when fish such as roach and ide are present in the swim and are feeding through the water. In today’s case, with the peg being five feet deep, this is a 4x12 slim carbon stemmed float shotted with No11s spread throughout the entire rig.
My second rig is a heavier 4x14 float, shotted with a bulk 15 inches from the hook and two No10 droppers. If I am waiting for bites and there are no signs of fish feeding off the bottom, then my time is best spent on this rig as it settles far quicker than the light rig, which saves a lot of time each cast and also is a lot more stable and keeps the hook bait still on the bottom.
Hooks, line and elastics need to be tailored to the size of fish and conditions on the day. Generally, a light hollow elastic combined with a 0.10mm to 0.12mm hooklength and light-gauge wire hook is perfect.
The key to making the most of my peg is to be using the correct rigs at the correct times, depending on what species are present. The amount and timing of my loose feed also needs considering carefully. For this session I planned on feeding everything by hand and began feeding around 10 casters every 30 seconds; this allowed me to pull lots of fish into the area without giving them too much feed.
For the first period my light rig was ideal and several chunky ide were caught just after the rig had settled. I find that at most venues ide are first on the scene and just like perch, gorge themselves on as much bait as possible. This seemed exactly the case today as after 45 minutes I have a good weight but bites quickly slowed, the ide disappeared and were replaced with some crucians, carp and barbel.
Swapping rigs allowed me to make the most of this change, as did cutting right back on the regularity of my feed and a pattern quickly emerged, showing the ide were continually re-entering the peg in small groups throughout the day. Their arrival was signalled by several missed bites on the heavier rig, but by swapping over to the slow-fall rig I could catch several before they backed off and the other species moved back in.
A nice bagful of ide, with a good helping or barbel F1s and carp mixed in.
On the day it was also vital that I fed in the correct way, depending on what rig I used. Ten casters every 30 seconds was right for the light rig, while changing to 30 casters every two minutes was far better and stopped any false bites when using the heavy rig.
In just a couple of hours, I put together a decent weight that would be well on the way to a winning weight here at Weston. I swapped rigs several times over the session, which I believe has maximised my fishing time and also made the most of the short feeding spells of each species. Of course this method isn’t the way when large weights of carp are needed to win, but in the tricky days of autumn you will more often that not outscore those applying a more selective approach and without doubt have a much more enjoyable day’s fishing.
Angler File -
Name: Jamie Hughes
Sponsors: Map, Bag 'em Matchbaits
Venue File -
Venue: Tri-Cast Weston Pools
Location: Weston Pools, Oswestry, Shropshire, SY10 9ER
Number: 01691 671812
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Jamie Hughes likes to keep in touch with the ever changing behaviour of fish. Here is why he thinks hard pellets are starting to rule over soft…
Pellets have always been the bait in which I have the most confidence. I have spent years perfecting the way that my bait is prepared and also the best ways of presenting the bait through my rigs. For a long time fishing with softened micros and a soft hook pellet/expander was the best way to approach most fisheries that I visited and at times is still a great method.
Note how Jamie keeps some pole behind him.
The massive change that I have recently noticed though, is the fish’s increased preference to hard pellet feed and hook baits. My theory is that they have been fished for so often with the standard soft pellet approach that the fish have simply wised up to it! Also when you think about it, as we almost never feed any expanders due to their light makeup they are only used as a hook bait, this means that every time a fish eats an expander, it gets caught!
You can quickly see why they would start to avoid soft pellets! Because of this change my approach to pellet fishing has had to change dramatically and for this feature I would like to focus on possibly the most popular method of fishing hard pellets that is known as pinging.
Stability, strength and visibility are three key features of a pinging float
Pinging, simply involves feeding hard pellets generally little and often by catapult into an area of the peg. Noise created by the baits landing on the surface is brilliant for attracting loads of carp and the steady stream of pellets creates competition between them.
Of course it sounds pretty simple, but there are several key aspects that have to be considered in order to make this method work correctly.
Light, balanced tackle is a must in Jamie's book.
The first thing I would like to focus on is the actual pellets that need to be used. How your pellets are behaving when in the water is possibly the most important factor in hard pellet fishing. The last thing that you want is to feed a pellet that breaks down or softens before even reaching the bottom of the lake.
Despite what many people think, there are really just 2 of types of pellet available to anglers, these are the standard coarse pellet, sold by most bait companies and secondly a much denser pellet produced by Coppens. These pellets are all pretty similar, with the only difference being the fishmeal
and oil content which varies with each batch of pellets.
Carp of this size are suckers for pinging
Firstly the Coppens pellets. As I mentioned these are a much denser and often heavier pellet, which are perfect for helping to keep fish on the bottom, their dense makeup also means that they take a long time to break down. The downside of these pellets is that generally they sink quickly, making them not ideal for shallow fishing.
On the other hand, coarse pellets such as Bag‘ems Super Naturals are a far more versatile bait for use with this method, they are also the baits sold as fishery pellets at many venues across the country. These baits are much lighter than the Coppens variety, which results in a slower fall through the water, they also have a much quicker breakdown rate, although this can be slowed down with a small amount of pellet oil.
Even big fish can be landed on balanced tackle, as long as you take your time.
The reason I am so interested in the way my pellets behave in the water is because by understanding what state my pellets are in after a certain amount of time, I can regulate my feeding to prevent too much bait being fed and eventually pellets breaking down in my peg before being eaten.
The slower a pellet breaks down the better it is for fishing on the bottom
Broken down pellets will only cause problems such as gill feeding or small-fish trouble. My ultimate aim is to always be presenting my hard pellet hook bait among other hard pellets, this gives the fish minimal options and gets me more bites.
Try several catapults to find the one with which you can be most accurate with
My thoughts on feeding are that basically you have two aims. Firstly attracting fish into the peg is vital, this is best done by catapulting 3 to 5 pellets every minute or so, this creates a lot of noise on the surface but also offers the fish few options which in turn should create competition for the pellets, without over feeding. Your second aim is to get the fish
feeding where they are easiest to catch, by this I mean either shallow, through the water or on the bottom. By changing the amounts of pellets and the regularity that they are fed, it is easy to quickly establish where in the peg the fish are happiest.
Let me explain... As I mentioned, by pinging regular small amounts of pellets, a lot of competition is created between the fish, what it also causes is the fish to rise up in the water column to intercept the bait, this can be great in hot weather or when the fish are happy to feed shallow, but on the other hand if there’s not a huge amount of fish in the swim, then line bites and foul-hookers can quickly become a problem.
For this reason in the early part of a session, I like to play safe and catch as many fish on the bottom as possible, before pushing the peg and hopefully catching shallow in the later stages. In order to achieve this more bait has to be fed less regularly.
I often find that by feeding 20 to 30 pellets immediately after hooking a fish, it can really settle the peg down, as by the time you have played the fish, rebaited and shipped out, everything in the peg has settled on the bottom causing less missed bites.
Of course there is rarely a feeding pattern that will work for the duration of the match, but hopefully by altering things depending on what is being shown on my float, I am able to keep in touch with the feeding moods and put a few more fish in the net by reacting quicker than everyone else.
As with all my fishing, the rigs for pinging pellets are kept as simple as possible.
As a rule two rigs will cover most situations when the fish are feeding on the bottom, of course I will also have shallow rigs set up, but I'm going to cover that in the next feature in a lot more depth.
Carp and F1s almost always home in on the noise of pellets hitting water
My two rigs for fishing on the bottom work in different ways, firstly I have a rig to fish all the way through the water column. This is a light 4x12 carbon-stem float (in four to six feet) shotted with spread No11 shot through the entire rig. I use this as my starter rig as it tells me exactly how the fish are feeding in the peg.
When pinging I expect the fish to behave in three different ways, depending on my feeding;
Firstly by continuing the little and often feeding, I would expect to get bites just after the rig has settled as the fish follow the hook bait to the deck, if this happens then my time is best spent on a slow falling rig.
Alternatively, if I am getting very few indications and waiting in excess of a couple of minutes for a bite, then my time is best spent on my second rig which is a 4x14 wire-stem float, shotted with a bulk of No9s and two No11 droppers. This rig will settle around 8 seconds faster than the light rig, which may sound like nothing, but if I lay this rig in a hundred times then I gain almost fourteen minutes of fishing!
The third occurrence that I would expect to happen would be to miss several bites in quick succession while using either rig. This tells me that the amount of fish present in the peg has increased which has forced them to rise off the bottom, competing to get to the feed first. A quick try with a shallow rig should usually confirm this, but if that fails then as mentioned before, larger amounts of feed less regularly should push them back to the bottom.
The last factor that I feel needs thought putting into when pinging, is the makeup of the lake bottom where you choose to fish. It is extremely difficult to fish this method over thick, silty bottoms, as the fish tend to root around for the hidden pellets causing lots of bubbles and very few bites, I would try to combat this with minimal feed but as a rule you are wasting your time trying to fish pellets on the bottom in these circumstances.
My ideal peg would be a nice gravel or sloping bottom where any silt is unable to settle, this creates a clean peg where all the baits can be seen by the fish, resulting in positive bites.
Hopefully my theories have shown that by putting a little more thought into your approach when pinging, there are a lot of little improvements that can be made. It has certainly changed the way I view my pellet fishing.
Just one of many big commercial hauls that Jamie has nailed on his pinging tactics
Sponsors: MAP & Bag‘em Matchbaits