Venue: Lac au Duc, Ploermel, France
Date: Saturday and Sunday, May 26th and 27th
Only a few weeks ago I was competing at the Anglo Dutch Classic festival in Holland and managed to frame once again out of the 115 competitors. A 44kg match win was the highlight of the festival for me. Straight back and I was getting prepared for another high-profile European event.
Sunday saw me travel to Southfield Reservoir for the Feeder Masters qualifier – 60 of us battling it out, split into three zones and the winner of each would go through to the final.
I drew Peg 65, which was towards the far end of the reservoir. The previous day on the team event had been hard, looking at the weights. Pegs in the 70s seemed to dominate but I still felt positive for a few bites
When I arrived at my peg I set up in the water, got myself comfortable and then just took a minute to look and see what lines people were clipping up on. I had in my mind how I wanted to fish but after the big event the previous day and speaking to Lee Kerry, who had been on that match, I changed my plan a little.
I set up three rods to fish three separate lines, with a different approach on each of them: at 18 metres I used my 10ft 6in Maver Diamond Feeder Rod with a 0.12mm hooklength to a size 16 hook; on the 30m line I had a 12ft Diamond with 0.14mm hooklength to a 16 hook, and for my last line at 50 metres a 12ft 8in model with a 0.14mm hooklength and a 14 hook.
I’ve been trying some new hooks out – the Maver Katana – and so far I’m very impressed. The 14s to 18s seem to be the best for me, with the style of fishing I have been doing.
On the all-in I fed my two short lines and then chucked straight to the long line to allow them to settle and give fish the chance to come over them and feel confident to stay and feed in the peg.
Alternating between worm and maggot on the hook, I found changing it about brought quicker bites than constantly chucking the same bait over the top each cast. My first skimmer of 1½lb came after eight minutes into my first cast and another eight followed in the first two-and-a-half hours. On fish count I was up there but my fish seemed a smaller stamp than Joe Farrell’s, who was catching well two pegs to my left.
Putting my long rod down I came on to the shorter lines and caught a few good fish, including two stunning hybrids that tried their best to get away.
With an hour to go I had 14 fish and knew I need a couple more to be in with a chance. From 3 to 3.40pm I was biteless but I knew I was due another visit. My patience paid off and I ended with four more in the last 20 minutes, two of which came in the last seven minutes and were the biggest of the day.
At the all-out I had 18 fish, which I felt might go 25lb. The scales arrived and my fish actually weighed 28lb 10oz, which to my delight saw me win the zone and qualify for the prestigious final in September at Bough Beech.
An emotional phone call to my dad and Sean Kelly followed, to tell them I had qualified as I just couldn’t believe it. The calibre of anglers fishing this event makes me so proud to have got through and the hard work and patience during the day paid off.
My Overall Setup Comprised:
What I Learnt
A big thing for me when learning about fishing big waters like Southfield, and for bream in particular, is using my stopwatch and keeping a close eye on the timings of indications/bites. It tells me if I should take a positive or negative approach and how often to feed.
With so many competitions now on commercial fisheries our rivers have had a bit of an extended break I feel. Some very warm summers have meant our natural waters have had some successful spawning years and now the rivers are as good as they have ever been.
One style of fishing that I was brought up on was the waggler! It’s a method that on its day is unbeatable! It’s one of the most enjoyable ways of catching fish and a method that when mastered can bring some of the very best results.
As a match angler most people would expect anglers like myself to spend all my spare time searching for just matches, but as much as I like my competitions, I like to spend my spare time honing my tactics so I can put into practice what I’ve learnt and hopefully to good use during a competition. We never stop learning in fishing and it’s that what I feel brings us back to the waters edge with anticipation so frequently.
Anyway today I made the short journey to my local river Cam on the outskirts of the university city of Cambridge. This is a fantastic little canalised river which I’ve had so much success in matches on over the years. Today I walked above Baitsbite lock on the Cambridge Fish Preservation waters to fish a baron stretch which holds some very large chub, if they can be located! My peg for the day is an area known locally as the sheds as there are a couple of old boat sheds on the opposite side of the river, some 25m across. On arriving at the swim the first thing I look for is the wind direction and strength, I always anticipate the fact the wind may get stronger during the day.
So with this in mind and the fact I am planning on fishing just the waggler I set up two rods. Both rods are identical, Rive R-Design 13ft waggler rods. Both rods are set up with Daiwa TDX2508 reels and main lines of 0.16 diameter which I find perfect for casting, and a line that peels of the reels with ease. Plus strong and abrasive enough to handle larger river species which I am targeting for today’s practice session. The floats are straight peacock wagglers in sizes 2.5AAA and 3AAA. The lighter float is set for fishing off the bottom and the slightly heavier float is for fishing to depth. The floats are partially loaded so I need less bulky shot around them and less to move around when swapping the depth. Another little handy tip. As these non toxic locking shot can be quite hard, I slightly close them up before putting them on the main line. Then I have these locked in place either side by Guru tight fitting line stops. This means the shot won’t move around when constantly casting and they are easy to move around when I want to alter the depth! The set ups have only number 9’s down the line. The depth set up has a bulk of 4 number 9 shot and three number 9’s as droppers all in the last third of the depth. The shallow set up has 4 number 9’s spaced evenly from half depth to just above the loop to loop of my hook length. Hook lengths are Rive hook length line in 0.128 diameter. If it was during the warmer months I’d be fishing no less than 0.14. But as the weed has died back and the water is much clearer i’am opting for a hook length that is still strong enough but finer. My hook of choice are Drennan forged carbon feeder hooks in a size 16.
Well I always believe simple is best, so I am set up and ready to fish with two simple set ups which I am always confident with. So now an equally as simple bait table. Three pints of casters and three pints of maggots. I have an equal split of bait with me as on some days casters are the bait and on other days the fish will prefer maggots. I like to start on maggots as I feel I can gauge the response with a maggot much quicker than a caster. First thing I do is cast out and get the feeling of the water depths and flow. I can search the whole peg comfortably with the waggler and find it’s a quite even depth right across until the last 5m where it starts to come up fast. The main flow is more in the middle of the river, so my choice of starting line will be just past the middle (18m) where I can fish and feed comfortably and follow the flow of water to achieve presentation.
As I have felt my way into this practice session, the first lesson was maggots weren’t right. I was struggling to feed them out where I wanted to fish. So wet casters were much better to feed in a tight and accurate area as they are that bit heavier to feed when wet. The response was unbelievable! My first large chub was hooked after only 10 minutes of feeding a much tidier line! First fish of the session and all of 5lb’s..!
Going into the second hour the wind was getting stronger and gusting around a fair bit, but picking a comfortable line to fish was the sensible thing to do. Also one thing I have learnt over the years is, chub won’t just drop down the swim but drift further over into the quiet areas of the river, and come back for another feed when ready. So I had a good feeling about the remaining time for today’s session but more of that later as I tried to make the waggler work. Chub number two and three arrived almost together in consecutive casts and again no fish under 4lb! The really was turning into a blinding session. These two fish came further down the swim which tells me they are happy sitting off the feed a bit, picking up bait as it falls down to them rather than coming up and taking the bait shallow. So I don’t see the need to change to my shallow waggler as of yet.
My feeding pattern has remained steady with just 10-12 casters before every cast and follow the float down with them. I am feeding slightly downstream as I can get perfect line and float presentation here.
The third hour was mental ! Six chub, two fish over 6lb and the rest over 4lb, with 1one lost fish. All the chub taking the bait on the bottom and right where I feel my bait is settling. It couldn’t be going any better!
End of the session...
I gave it another hour and had another three chub, all big fish of 5lb each! So I ended a perfect practice session catching twelve chub which would have easily pushed the scales over 50lb...
Well I said I would comment on something earlier in the blog. It would be so easy to pick up a feeder rod and cast it out across the river into the quiet water. Would this have been right? Would I have affected my catch rate on what I feel was the right way to target the swim today? Well below me were two anglers and both blanked! Both fished the feeder right over to a boat. My thoughts after today’s session and what I have gleaned was, the quiet areas of the swim were there, left alone for the chub to regroup until they were ready for another feeding spell. I had to maximise the fish when they came onto the feed and not push them away. These big chub are generally much wiser than the younger fish. So my main lesson was, let the fish come to you and don’t go chasing them. I hope you have learnt from my practice session as much as I did.
Get your Rive products at Fosters of Birmingham