Opening The Window - Steve Ringer

Opening The Window

We’ve managed to get special permission today to fish on one of the syndicate lakes at Packington Somers, and the reason I wanted to fish here is because Broadwater Lake is full of roach. Being a syndicate water, the anglers that fish here target the bigger fish like carp which means the smaller species like roach and skimmers etc are largely left untouched.

It’s a beautiful lake too that’s surrounded by mature deciduous trees and late autumn is a great time to fish here because the leaves have changed colour. There are other syndicate lakes here at Packington too as well as the more well-known day ticket waters like Molands and Gearys. Broadwater Lake, like most of the other lakes on the complex, is a former gravel pit so the depth can be irregular and the water quite clear.

The Target

The target today is to catch roach, and that’s the main reason I’ve brought you along to Broadwater Lake. After chatting with John Burchill, the fishery manager, he suggested this would be a great place to demonstrate how to catch this species on the feeder.

Although the lake apparently has a good head of roach and they are seldom fished for, conditions are against us as it’s gone really cold. We’ve also had a couple of weeks of constant rain which has coloured the water, compared to its usual colour, and that means cold water has been getting in which could make the fish reluctant to feed. There’s no need to walk anywhere here either and I’ve opted for peg 3 which is right next to the car park.

Bait Choice

When it comes to baits to roach fishing I like to keep it simple with just a couple of types of particle baits to put through the feeder (as well as the groundbait) and my hookbaits. Roach fishing is all about speed when they’re feeding so it’s best to keep the bait list nice and simple.


Groundbait is such an important choice at this time of year and it’s even harder for me today because I don’t know the venue having never fished here before. I don’t know what baits get introduced here by the regulars and I don’t know what, if any, groundbait gets fed and whether the fish are used to seeing fishmeal or not.

In the end I’ve decided to go with a 50/50 mix of Ringers European Feeder, which is a traditional style sweet mix, and Ringers F1 Black which is a sweet fishmeal mix. This produces a medium dark mix which I think will be perfect today as there’s a tinge of colour in the water rather than it being gin clear.


My number one particle bait for roach for putting through the feeder, is casters. I’ve got 3.5 pints with me today and I doubt I’ll use anywhere near that many… a couple of pints will probably be enough for today’s session.


I’ve got just under a pint of live maggots with me, although as I’m setting up they’re not moving around much because I bagged them overnight in the fridge. The air temperature is so low that they’re struggling to come round! These are for the hook and live maggots are best for roach because they hang on to them and give you better bites.


Here’s one bait you might not associate with roach fishing but for me it’s always a bait I’ll have on my sidetray. Sweetcorn is great for picking a better stamp of fish. It’s also great for putting through the feeder to attract a bigger stamp. The carp boys no doubt feed some as well so the fish could be used to seeing it.

The Set Up

I don’t know what to expect today so I’ve had to set up to cover every eventuality so I’ve set up both 12’ and 11’ rods. Looking at the lake it looks as though I’m in a bay, but that might be because I’m limited in what I can see because of all the trees around.

One thing I have found though after casting around with a lead, is that it’s quite shallow and I’ve only just about got a two count in the deepest part of the swim which I reckon is about eight feet deep. It seems to get a bit deeper the closer in I come so there’s no need to cast 50m or 60m today.

After leading around I decide to start at 24m were I’ve got a two count… at 35m it’s less than a two count which I reckon is about six feet. My reels are Daiwa TDR4012 models loaded with 0.10mm braid direct. It’s worth mentioning at this point that you can’t normally fish braid here but John the fishery manager has given me special permission today so I can show you the best set-up for fishing for roach so you can see it in action.

The rig is standard for roach fishing and let me start by saying that I’ve got a running rig, which is important for this species. You see the bites better and hit more of them on a running rig and those two reasons alone are enough for me not to consider anything else. I’ve got my feeder boom running on the braid and I attach the feeder to the boom.

Below that I’ve got a small swivel covered with what I think are called grip stops (but don’t quote me on that) and then I’ve got five inches of 6lb Powergum tied to the other end of the swivel which gives me that stretch that braid can’t offer. Hooklength to start with is 80cm of 0.16mm to a size 14 hook.

That might seem a bit heavy for roach but they’re not fished for in this lake so they shouldn’t be line or hook shy. Feeder choice is a Guru 20g three-hole Slimline to begin with to get some bait in the swim, and then once the fish arrive the plan is to switch to 20g window feeder.

First Cast

The plan for roach is to fish fast so I’m starting on a single maggot and, hopefully, this will be the hookbait I use for the duration of the session. I might switch to corn if I feel I’m getting too many small fish and feel there are bigger fish in the swim, but generally for fishing fast single maggot is the way to go.

As far as hooking the maggot goes, I prefer to hook it all the way through the thick end rather than just nick it lightly on, I find I miss far less bites doing it this way. I’m filling the feeder with two or three grains of corn and a few casters to begin with and I’ll keep doing this until I hopefully begin to get a few bites and then I’ll alter the amount I’m feeding depending on the how the fish are feeding.

I’m not plugging the feeder hard either because it’s quite shallow and I want to cloud the swim up to begin with to attract them into the peg. I’m confident that I’ll be able to catch a few today but I’ve got no idea if it’s going to take a minute or an hour (or more?) to get that first bite.

I only give the first cast a minute because I want to keep the feeder going in regularly to get some bait going into the swim, and when I pick the rod up on my first cast I can feel a fish on and there’s a small 2oz roach on the end!

Next cast the tip goes round as I’m mending the line to try and keep the tip slack, and this second fish is bigger at 4oz so not a bad start at all really. I’m not looking to strike at every single tap and movement because I’ll miss too many bites, it’s better to wait until the tip goes round positively before picking up.

Trying To Catch Faster

I’m 30 minutes into the session now and I’ve had 17 fish so far ranging from 1oz to about 6oz so I’ve not anything big and I’ve not really been catching fast enough to get into a proper catching rhythm. It’s gone a bit quiet now though so I’m carefully trying to figure what to do because earlier it felt to me like there were a lot of fish in the swim.

As I said earlier, I’m on an 80cm hooklength but I think I’m going to change down to a 50cm to see if that makes a difference. I do like to fish longish hooklengths for roach because I always feel they are happiest taking a bait on on-the-drop, but I’m thinking there are a lot of fish here and I should be catching them faster.

The other thing I’m looking to do fairly soon is switch to the Window feeder because I’ve got a feeling I might have over-attacked it on the Slimline and fed too many particles. I get a 5oz roach first cast on the 50cm but I had to wait longer than I’d like for a bite, it’s like the fish are feeding on the bottom at the moment which is unusual for roach, but they are hooked in the top lip.

Opening The Window

I’ve switched to the 20g Window feeder now which casts a lot better than the Slimline, even at this short distance. The Window feels more like a straight lead when casting and it also sinks faster so I can get my bait down to the bottom quickly.

Small refinements things like this can give you an edge when it’s a small fish race and can get you extra fish. The Window also helps me feed less because I naturally don’t try and cram lots of particles in like I do with a cage feeder!

I can tell straight away that by switching feeders I’m getting bites a lot faster, and they are also a bigger stamp so it’s a double whammy for the Window! I’m still using a single maggot on the hook because for the size of fish I’m catching and the speed I’m catching them, the single is perfect.

Tiny Details

What I’ve done now is come a couple of reel handle turns closer in. These TDR reels wind in about 85cm of line per turn of the handle so a couple of turns brings me in just over 1.5m closer. All I do is reclip the braid so the original clip is still on there if I need to move back.

I’m always trying to think how I can catch faster when I’m fishing for roach and although 24m isn’t exactly a long chuck, if I can catch them closer it will speed me up. What I will say though is if this was a match, I would only give three casts and if it didn’t work I would unclip the braid and go back to the original distance which I still have clipped up.

Today though the fish are there and I’m catching from the off at the shorter distance, and they seem to be a slightly better stamp too. I’ll definitely stick with this for a while and if it continues, I could come another 1.5m closer in. It might not seem much but in a match if you use these little tips for speeding up your fishing it could be worth another ten or 20 fish at the end of five hours and with the stamp I’ve been catching today, that could be another 2lb onto your weight.

A Step Too Close

I had a great spell closer in and wound in another couple of turns on the reel handle so I was effectively fishing at 20m. This was good as well and I had a great spell of catching roach quickly. Not massive roach, the biggest so far has been about 10oz, but the fish have definitely increased in stamp since I changed to a 50cm hooklength, changed to the Window feeder and moved closer in.

In fact, the fishing was so good at 20m I decided to take even more line off and come into 18m but I fear this has been one step too far because it’s really slowed down since I came in this short. I’m still catching fish, but it’s only an odd one so I think what I need to do is start moving out again.

I can’t believe that coming in to 18m can make so much difference when you consider how good the fishing has been at 20m, but it definitely has! It’s still ok, but instead of being on 50 fish per hour pace, I’m now down to 30 fish per hour. I’ve switched to the mini Window feeder and I’ve tried cutting the casters out altogether, adding the casters back but no matter what I try and I can’t get the swim to rock again!

Small change, Big Difference

After catching a couple of tiny 1oz fish at 18m, I unclip the braid so I’m now clipped up at 20m. First cast there with the mini Window the tip goes round as soon as I put the rod onto the rest, and it’s a quality 8oz roach! How can that be?!

Second and third casts back at 20m and I’m catching quality roach quickly again and I can’t believe that going just two metres further out can make so much difference. If someone had told me that I probably wouldn’t have believed them because there’s hardly any difference in depth, it just seems that the main shoal of fish dwindles away at 20m!

I’m loving this now, and fishing the mini Window is just like fishing the straight lead for roach really, with the only difference you can feed a small amount of bait every cast.

Steady Away

Since I last updated you, it’s been very steady rather than spectacular. The stamp of fish has been those that you can just about swing in, any bigger and they would have to have the net slid underneath them. I’ve had spells where I’ve had to wait for bites but what has been interesting is that I haven’t been able to catch shorter.

Since the last update I tried coming back to 18m again when I was catching well, but it was just the same and the differences between those two distances is incredible. What I’m doing now I’m back at 20m, is if I do have a quiet spell I start casting left and right by a metre or two and that seems to be working.

I think because I’m casting in the same spot, I’m spooking them because they’re not used to being fished for and are backing off. So casting left and right and then catching a couple before moving back to the main spot is working well. I’ve also got my groundbait really wet now and am feeding some casters as well which seems to be the best ploy today.

Tailing Off

It's safe to say that it’s really tailed off now and I’m not getting anwhere near as many bites as I was an hour ago. It’s hard to say why because making changes to the groundbait, altering the amount of particles I’m putting through the feeder, casting left or right… nothing seems to be working now and it’s as though the fish have moved out of the swim.

I’m slopping the groundbait up now and although I’m still getting the odd fish, I’m going nowhere at the minute so my next port of call will be to take some line off and go out further past 20m.

I have had a lot of ducks and grebes in the swim though the last 20 minutes or so and I’m wondering if that has had anything to do with the lack of bites in that time? Even the slop isn’t working though and I’d expect to catch smaller fish on this tactic but even that isn’t working at the minute.

Negative Approach

I did end up moving further out again after I last spoke to you, and since then I have had a few fish. I wouldn’t say it’s been immense though but I have been adding fish to the net consistently. To give you an idea I reckon I’ve had 12 fish in the last 20 minutes that have ranged in size from two to 8oz.

There’s not long left in the session now though, and I’m trying to come up with something that will give me a good burst of fish to end with. Over the last hour I’ve been feeding only six casters in with the groundbait which is really negative, but this fishing for bites approach has kept me ticking over.

When the fish were in the swim and feeding, the bites were coming within seconds of the feeder hitting the bottom, but once it’s slowed down those bites have gone and I have to wait a while before I get a bite… or I don’t get one at all and have to recast. I have had a few fish come off as well over the last hour and that’s sure sign that they’re not feeding properly.

End Result

Well, time’s up and it’s been a really interesting session. At times the peg has been solid and I’ve not been able to get the feeder back in fast enough, while at other times it’s been a real struggle to get a bite. I’m not if it’s because the fish in here aren’t used to a feeder going in on top of them all the time, or whether it was something else that caused bites to tail off?

In a way I’m glad it did though because it gave me the chance to show you guys what I do when it does go iffy. By changing my mix, changing the amount of particles I was feeding, casting to the left or right and even coming in closer to make the most of them when they were there, are all little tricks to use to keep the bites coming.

It’s been a great day’s fishing though at the end of it and I’m really pleased with this 30lb -35lb net of roach, with the exception of one small skimmer and a perch.