DHP recently ran its third annual David Hall Trophy match, at the fantastic Glebe Fishery in Leicestershire.
This event celebrates the life of company founder David Hall, who passed away in 2015, and his immense contribution to the world of fishing and angling publications.
For once the weather was good and the 38 competitors had a nice day out in the sunshine, although some caught rather more than others. This year’s winner was rising star Adam Dowd, who weighed in 223lb of mainly carp, beating Match Fishing editor Joe Carass into second place with 213lb. In third place was England Ladies International Kayleigh Smith with 211lb.
The winner of the Silver Fishpool was Scott Smith, with a fantastic 111lb of bream and skimmers, while the Pro/Am event was won by Matt Godfrey and DHP’s Roger Mortimer.
A collection at the draw raised £139 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
1 - Adam Dowd 223lb
2 - Joe Carass 213lb
3 - Kayleigh Smith 211lb
4 - Matt Godfrey 203lb 1oz
5 - Scott Smith 197lb
6 - Des Shipp 194lb 8oz
7 -Andy Findlay 180lb 10oz
8 - Tom Scholey 167lb 15oz
9 - Mick Wilkinson 157lb 12oz
10- Julie Abbott 146lb 9oz
Pictured is Adam Dowd receiving the David Hall Trophy from match organiser David Haynes.
Organisers of the Evesham Angling Festival are celebrating a new sponsorship for one of match fishing’s showpiece events.
Dynamite Baits – one of the top manufacturers of fishing baits in the UK - has agreed to become title sponsor for The Dynamite Baits Individual Evesham Championship – the headline event of the Evesham Angling Festival. The match, which invites 35 of the nation’s top anglers and pits them against 35 qualifiers, carries a top prize of £3,000 and kicks off the biggest spectator angling event in the calendar.
Dynamite is a great fit for the event,” said festival director Roger Mortimer. “Many of the anglers that compete over the weekend already use Dynamite Baits’ products and we’re delighted to have them on board.”
The Nottinghamshire-based sponsors have agreed an initial one-match sponsorship package that will see winners walk away with samples of its products and commemorative Dynamite clothing as well as the cash and trophies.
“The Evesham festival is something we are really looking forward to,” said the head of Dynamite marketing, Daryl Hodges. “We have sponsored the World Carp Classic for a good few years and we see this as the ideal equivalent in terms of traditional UK match fishing. It’s a really great professional event and fits perfectly with our product profile. “
“The Warwickshire Avon at Evesham is a fantastic natural venue to test real angling ability and an event that is really important in the angling calendar.”
The Evesham Angling Festival takes place on bank holiday weekend – August 26th to 28th – on the Warwickshire Avon in Evesham Worcestershire. It features the finals of three top events – The Dynamite Baits Individual Evesham Championship, The Wychavon Championship and The Match Fishing Team Championship, and regularly attracts bumper crowds of spectators.
Alan Scotthorne takes a closer look at one of the best fish catchers on the planet. Here’s a five-time world champion’s take on the Method feeder!
Feeder fishing has really taken off over the last few years and it’s not hard to see why. You can comfortably fish a feeder in practically any conditions you’re faced with. You’re giving the fish a concentrated pile of food on the bottom with a hook bait right next to it. It’s a positive approach and wins a lot of matches. It’s also not expensive to get yourself kitted out to compete on the same level as everyone else. There are now even feeder-only matches springing up all over the place; not just here in England but all across Europe.
There are loads of feeders to choose from so it’s just a matter of picking the right size and weight for the day depending on the conditions, the baits and the species you are targeting. Today I have come to Barston Lakes in the Midlands to show you one feeder technique in particular and that’s the Method. Where allowed, it’s the deadliest way to catch carp on the tip. It’s, therefore, a key technique we all must try to master. Here are a few pointers in getting the most out of this match winning method.
Top Tip – Boom
I always twizzle the last 12 to 15 inches of my main line to create a doubled-up boom. This is the area that gets the most punishment, both in the lake and when a fish is in the landing net, so it makes sense to double it up.
Where To Fish
There are different types of venues in England, from narrow snake lakes to large, open and exposed waters like this one. Each presents a slightly different challenge but the basics are always the same. Here, it is very wide but also relatively shallow, with around 4ft all over so there are no deeper holes or drop-offs to worry about. When this is the case it’s the distance you fish that can be the most important consideration. In match conditions, you will probably have everyone in a row casting out into the middle of the lake so it’s important to try and find yourself your own bit of water. Sometimes that will mean casting further than those around you; sometimes you might be better off starting much shorter. I know this lake is dominated quite a lot by distance fishing and a 50 to 70-metre cast can be commonplace.
The wind can play a large part too. A strong head wind will seriously hinder your casting potential. Today I have a tricky headwind but I have deliberately chosen to start at 70 metres to give my Acolyte Plus 12ft Feeder rods a really good flexing. In a match, I would probably have started at 60 metres, to begin with, and see how things progress. I have actually clipped up at this range too and use some Cygnet Distance Sticks to measure the exact range, so I know exactly how far I’m chucking. These sticks aren’t essential but they are a useful aid if you are feeder fishing a lot and also want to have two rods clipped up at exactly the same distance. They are a more accurate alternative to counting the number of turns on your reel.
Another big consideration is the number of specimen carp anglers that visit your lake. Barston sees as many specimen anglers as it does match anglers and these guys like to cast big leads a long way. They also regularly use spods, throwing sticks and bait boats to get plenty of bait out into the middle of the lake. The more pressure a lake gets from carpers the more that will affect the behaviour of the fish. They know where all the high-protein bait gets fed and match anglers need to pay attention to this.
The best angler in the world with one of the world's best fish-catching methods. A deadly combination!
Top Tip – Hands Free
Always use front and rear rod rests with the Method. This ensures your hands are free to do other jobs, but make sure the front rest is a design that won’t allow the rod to get ripped off and dragged into the lake on the take!
Clip Up Or Not?
To begin with, I like to maintain a fixed feed area in my peg. Later on, you can try unclipping to search further and shorter – or better still have a second ‘roving’ rod set up for this purpose. Feeder fishing is no different to any other method and a slow build up of bait in a specific area will often lead to the peg getting better and better. Often the last hour is when it will really kick in.
By clipping up at a set range you also establish an area of undisturbed water beyond this where you can try casting later on.
Another good reason why I like to clip up is to ensure the feeder lands properly. Several times today I haven’t quite hit my line clip and could instantly tell by the noise the feeder made on impact. When this happens I won’t hesitate to reel in, rebait and recast. When I am waiting up to 10 minutes for a bite I want to be certain the feeder has gone in right, with the feed still intact. I cast quite hard to ensure I hit the clip and then bring my rod sharply back just before it reaches the distance. This straightens the line and also acts as a brake, effectively slowing it down and reducing the feeder’s impact. You are aiming for a reassuring plop rather than a great big spladoosh!
Alan uses a free-spool reel when Method-feeder fishing
It’s important to tailor the rod to the distance you are fishing. My rod for today is a 12ft Acolyte Plus as I’m fishing a long way out. At this kind of range, you have to reach a good compromise. You want enough backbone lower down for casting but still some forgiveness in the top section for playing carp, F1s and skimmers. If I was fishing shorter I would use a 10ft or 11ft rod instead as shorter rods can have a more forgiving casting and playing action.
I’ve matched the rod to a Series 7 BR 9-40 reel which is a reliable workhorse model. This also has a freespool mechanism which I like to use when I’m not clipping up. I’ve loaded this up with Drennan Feeder & Method Mono. You want something that’s strong, hardwearing and sinks well. I am using 6lb today which is a great all-round choice. If I was specifically targeting big carp closer in then I might use 8lb.
However, 6lb is thinner and casts much further. To achieve even greater distances I will use 5lb line combined with an 8lb shock leader. The shock leader is necessary to take all the pressure on the cast.
Barston is renowned for its lumps and thet're suckers for a Method attack
I prefer to use Drennan In-Line Flatbed Method Feeders which are of a good, strong and robust design that casts ever so well. The 25g model sees the most use and is always my choice when I am casting to an island as the weight grips well on a steep slope. However, I am using a heavier 35g today purely to reach the distance.
I have also gone for the larger frame size as the main target are big carp so I prefer to give them a reasonable amount of bait to home in on. If I was targeting smaller carp and F1s and was casting much more frequently then I wouldn’t hesitate to use the smaller frame size instead. In general though, for open water and when I expect to wait longer for bites I prefer to use a larger feeder.
Incidentally, when these feeders first came out I was never convinced they could land the right way up all of the time. It was only after lots of experimenting with countless casts on a gin-clear lake that I was completely satisfied. Every single time these feeders settled the right way and I have never doubted them ever since!
Top Tip – Boilie Boost
This venue sees a lot of specimen carp anglers who feed lots of boilies, so I like to add a sprinkling of white shellfish boilies that have been ground down in a blender. Where allowed they can give your mix an extra boost of attraction.
My hooklength is 0.18mm Supplex which is strong enough for double-figure carp but also acceptable for the F1s in this lake of which there are plenty. Around four inches is the usual length for a Method feeder hooklength but this is something the fish must be very used to. For this reason I also experiment with slightly longer five inch versions and this has worked quite well today. It’s worth experimenting as sometimes going shorter or longer than the norm can make a difference.
To attach my hooklength I use a Cralusso Quick Snap Swivel combined with a medium Drennan Swivel Stop Bead. The hook is a prototype pattern I’ve been field-testing in sizes 12 and 14.
There are three main choices when it comes to what you mould around the feeder; groundbait, pellets or a mixture of the two. Some venues will show a marked preference but again it’s worth experimenting. My groundbait is Sensas Stimul-8 with some extra crushed marine pellet and fishmeal added. I like quite a strong mix for maximum attraction. The pellets are wetted enough so that they cling around the feeder well but quickly break down once the feeder hits the bottom. I use mostly 2mm micro pellets but also add some 4mms to vary the particle size. A couple of bowls on my side tray mean I can easily vary the ratio of pellets and groundbait as I see fit.
You can also vary the actual volume of bait you mould around the Method and on a place like this I am a big fan of ‘double skinning’. That simply means forming your feed around the Method feeder as normal with the help of a mould, then adding a little bit more feed to the mould and forming a second layer on top.
Top Tip – Hard Pellets
Try adding some dry pellets to your wetted 2mm and 4mm feed pellets. This is a good trick when there are lots of silver fish about and also makes sense if you are fishing with a hard pellet on the hook.
In no particular order, my top Method feeder hook baits are boilies, hard pellets, punched meat and dead maggots. Again, these will vary depending on what’s happening in the swim. Boilies and hard pellets are much more resilient if small fish are a problem but meat and maggots are softer, lighter and less likely to be rejected.
A selection of Alan's favourite Method hook baits.
Today a pink Crab & Krill Bandit Dumbell boilie has easily been best, but I have also had fish on an 8mm piece of punched meat and a couple of big F1s on a bunch of dead maggots. It definitely seemed like the fish preferred a bold, contrasting hook bait today though, especially the bigger ones, including an immaculate looking linear mirror that must be at least 15lb. It doesn’t take many fish like that to build a winning weight and that’s why the Method Feeder should never be ignored!
Tel: 01675 444890
Marsh House Farm Lane, Barston, Solihull, West Midlands B92 0LB
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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.
Throw out the rulebook and forget everything you’ve ever read about winter carp fishing baits. Matrix man Deane Swift has been cashing in on meat in freezing temperatures! No joke. Here’s how…
Going against the grain doesn’t always pay when it comes to fishing, but Deane Swift is a man who has won many a match on his local circuit and has a particularly fearsome record on one of his local waters, Puddledock Farm in Essex, where we are for today’s shoot.
Usually, the big 100-peg snake lake is used for matches, but due to it being frozen over (an indication of just how cold it is today) Deane has sat on the Road Lake instead – a pond he is far less familiar with.
Kindly fishery owner Steve left the aerators on overnight to prevent this lake from coming to the same ice-covered fate as the big snake lake… a good job, with overnight temperatures dropping to around minus 4ºC!
For years these temperatures have commanded the use of other ‘winter’ baits like corn, maggots, bread and even pinkies… so when Deane mentioned that he’d been doing the damage with meat it had to be seen to be believed. The high-oil offering is far more associated with warmer water, from spring until late autumn, with anglers often steering clear of meat fearing that it’s not an offering readily accepted by winter carp with low metabolisms. Over to Deane…
Meat is a fantastic winter bait when used in conjunction with a straight lead approach, so why shouldn’t it work in conjunction with the pole? At the end of the day you can use finer tackle than you can generally get away with on the rod and line anyway.
In addition a pole approach gives you the option of dripping in a few cubes of meat with ultimate precision if they do want a bit of feed put their way.
I’ve fed two lines, one at 14.5 metres at an angle to my right. It’s just over four feet deep here, so I’m using a 0.3g Matrix 7 float mounted on 0.14mm main line to a 0.12mm Matrix Power Micron hooklength to a size 18 Drennan B911 barbless hook.
The lake has been dredged, so there’s a deeper channel closer to the bank – an 11m line off at an angle to my left gets me into this channel where the water is deeper. For this I’m using a very similar rig that features a 0.4g version of the same float. Both rigs are matched to orange-coloured grade 10 Matrix Stay Fresh hollow elastic
I’ve put a small Kinder-style pot on the tip of each top kit, which will allow me to feed literally four 6mm cubes of meat over the top of the float.
The Secret Edge
I am a huge believer in flavours and, for me, it has to be sweet all the way. I have done a lot of experimentation over the years, but now Sonubaits F1 is THE flavour I totally rely on.
Prepping my meat with this superb liquid flavour takes some time, but there is no wastage as I always just freeze and re-use any leftover by glugging it in a little more flavour every time I refreeze it. The meat is simply 6mm cubes of Plumrose, which I put into a bag and douse in the F1 liquid.
When you freeze the meat it seems to have a beneficial impact of drawing the flavour in, making it more permanent than if I were to simply cube some meat up on the bank and pour some flavour over the top.
Over the years sweet palatants have been a key player in the success I have enjoyed and this is now my ‘ultimate’ go-to additive. It’s brilliant!
The action intensified as the day wore on...
The Key Benefits
When it comes to meat it’s well-documented about its slow fall through the water but this fact, along with many others, contributes to why it works so well. Aside from the flavour I add, the whitish colour is, I believe, a huge factor in its success. Bread is one of the best winter baits and that’s white in colour – it’s no coincidence that hi-viz baits pay in clear water.
I fed both lines and just approached the session with a view to keeping things very, very simple. Just as you would with a bomb, you can try fishing the lines without feeding and see what unfolds, but even feeding two, three or four cubes adds to my confidence so I just pot this tiny amount in very accurately and I’m then prepared to wait for bites and indications to materialise.
The action begins with a couple of smaller brown and orange goldfish before the odd carp starts to arrive. Not knowing this lake, in particular, I was unsure what to expect, but the response proves to be very positive indeed from very early on in the session.
As the session carries on I drip feed a frugal amount of bait into each swim and the carp follow – not thick and fast, but in tricky winter conditions, I couldn’t have asked for more! The bites are very positive and both swims produce the goods with the longer 14.5m swim off to the right-hand side proving the more fruitful of the two. The rigs are shotted with strung bulks of No10 Matrix Easy Shot, which get the bait down quickly but afford a slower fall in the lower 18 inches of water where feeding fish are likely to be.
Even as the cameraman calls time on the session the bites are coming more regularly as the day winds down. The weather has been very bright, which has been fantastic for enjoying a day in the great outdoors but, as we all know, cold, bright, flat-calm conditions are some of the most tricky catch fish in.
I’m pleased with the result and it just goes to prove that going against the grain can really pay… even at times when you could really think it might not!
Puddledock Farm Fishery, St Mary’s Lane, Upminster RM14 3NX
Tel Steve on: 07788 716837
MF says: Into flavours big-time!
Top Kamasan Starlets team man, and Preston Innovations brand manager Scott Geens explains how the key to consistency often lies in targeting multiple species…
Good anglers win matches, but great anglers win leagues. I have always really enjoyed league and team matches as you always have something to fish for – whether it be one point or ten the incentive is always there for you to keep going.
As much as I enjoy the occasional open match too, they are often very predictable, with certain boss pegs or fliers dominating proceedings, if a good angler happens to draw them. There are also ways that you can turn average pegs into winners, but often these involve fishing in a feast or famine type way – which isn’t conducive to consistency.
Whether it be a team match or a league, the key to scoring good points is almost always keeping busy, and keeping some small fish going in the net – and this is going to be the focus of my feature today.
To illustrate how I like to approach this type of ‘points based’ match I have brought the Match Fishing cameras to the beautiful Packington Somers Fishery near Meriden, a former host of big matches including the Sensas Challenge, and also a venue that runs a lot of its own league matches.
Alongside a big head of hard fighting carp, Geary’s Level where you join me today is rammed with silver fish. These include some real quality skimmers, crucians, tench and roach. A stocking that lends itself perfectly to the catch-everything attack that I am going to employ today.
So let me clarify first what I mean by ‘catching everything.’ After all, there is little point having a busy day putting together 30lb of silver fish if you need 100lb of carp to score good points. You must bare this in mind too – and always look to cover your options. If you think there is a chance of a good weight of carp, make sure that you feed lines for them and crucially fish for them when and if you think that they are feeding.
How many times do you see anglers targeting carp, but not actually catching them though? This is wasted time – especially given the fact that so many of our commercials have such a big head of other fish that these guys could be using to build a weight, and give themselves a better chance of coming away with valuable points at the end of the match.
My golden rule is almost always to try fishing for carp if you think they will figure, but set yourself a keen time frame and stick to it. Don’t ever fall into the trap of sitting and waiting too long for something to happen when there are other, albeit smaller, fish to catch.
The Right Bait
Let's talk about baits first and there are two key things that you need to think about before deciding what baits to fish. Firstly, the size of fish that you are targeting. If, for example, you know that you are targeting a large number of small silver fish, but you need to catch a big weight of them, you should be looking to fish the short pole so that you can catch quickly. You also need to fish a bait that will get you a bite relatively quickly, something like maggots, pinkies or small pieces of worm.
Double caster often sorts out the better fish.
By contrast, you might find yourself in a situation where you are looking to catch quality fish, and again you have to tailor your approach accordingly. This is the situation that I am in today. The lake is relatively shallow and I feel that these quality silver fish will feed more confidently further out from the bank – so this is where I target them, on the long pole at 13m. If you are shipping a long way and targeting good stamp fish, you don’t want a bait that will attract the attentions of small fish, so a decent sized piece of worm, a piece of corn, pellet, or caster will most probably be the choice of bait.
The second consideration when it comes to bait selection is the temperature and wind. Warm weather and more importantly high water temperature means that the fish will feed aggressively, so you should be prepared to be positive. To me, this means feeding fishmeal groundbait (I use Sonubaits Match Method) rich with worms. I will pot in a fair amount of bait at the start (six balls rich with bait today) and top up aggressively when bites subside to hopefully bring more fish into the swim.
Scott is the man behind the Preston inline plummets
By contrast, colder weather might see me more inclined to feed less bait, and if the water temperature was really low, I might even introduce a sweeter mix (Sonubaits Lake) without any fishmeal in there at all.
Also, pay careful attention to the wind. Remember, if you are to catch the biggest fish you will have to present your bait well, so if you think that the wind could hamper your presentation, don’t fish too far out. A breeze or slight wind can actually be a really good thing when you are looking for a big mixed bag, so never be reticent about coming closer in these conditions. Secondly, make sure you take the wind into account when deciding on your rigs, which is the area that I will look at next.
The Right Rig For The Job.
I have already mentioned the importance of good bait presentation when it comes to putting a big weight of mixed fish together, and 90 per cent of this is down to the rigs that you choose to use.
One of two distinct patterns invariably works for me. We will call the first one the ‘ligger’ and as the name suggests, this is for presenting a bait hard on the bottom. If there is a breeze or a wind on the water, this will be your main attack and the key thing to be sure of is that the weight of your rig is heavy enough to hold your bait still against any wind movement or tow. Use a pole support if necessary and fish up to 12 inches of line on the bottom if you think you need to. The key thing is your bait is presented still and where you want it.
My second mode of presentation, which I think will be important today is what I call an ‘on-the-drop rig.’ This doesn’t necessarily mean that the fish will eat your bait on the drop by the way, more that they will often watch it as it falls through the water, then follow it down and eat it off the bottom.
Light floats generally work well when it comes to this kind of rig although it is important again to think about how quickly you need to catch. If you are looking for a few very crafty fish then fishing super light floats (3x8 or 4x10) can be devastating. If however, you think that the fishing will be relatively good as I do today and so need to catch a lot of fish, you need to fish a float size that allows you to do this. This means a 4x12 for me today, with a string of seven No11 shot.
Finally elastics, this can be one of the most difficult things to get right when targeting a wide variety of species. Today, I am using a Preston No7 Hollo elastic in conjunction with a Rolla Pulla Kit. Importantly, this means that even the smaller fish that I hook don’t splash on the surface when I hook them, but any better quality specimens can be brought under control at the netting stage thanks to the Rolla Puller Kit.
Reading The Peg
After cupping in my initial balls of groundbait, I go straight in with my ligging rig and a piece of worm to see what has come to the party!
This ball is going striahgt to the bottom
A couple of small roach, a stockie carp and a small skimmer come in quick succession, before my swim goes quiet. This can often be a good sign, as it means something bigger has moved into your swim and pushed the small fish out of the way.
I sit biteless for around three minutes, before my float slides away and my first big skimmer of the day is hooked. At a little over 2lb, it’s a welcome bonus, and is soon greeted by the waiting net.
The next thing for me to try and work out is how to top the peg up. Sometimes, a ball after every fish is required to keep better fish coming. Other times, simply loose feeding casters over where you are fishing is all you need to do to keep catching. Most commonly though, something between the two extremes is best.
The only potential drawback with loose feeding if you are not careful is that it can cause fish to come up in the water. No problem if you plan on fishing shallow – but when you don’t have a great amount of depth like today, and with a multitude of species present, I would rather try to keep the fish on the bottom where I can catch them easily.
The best tactics today seem to be to introduce a large pouch of casters after every couple of fish, and top up with groundbait only when I go a long spell without any better quality skimmers making an appearance.
After around four hours fishing, we call time on the session, and I pull out my net to reveal almost 40lb of mixed silver fish, with a few of the venue’s small stockie carp thrown in for good measure. Interestingly, as we drive off the lake I notice that the arm to the right of where I have sat is absolutely heaving with carp, which are shoaled up together ready for spawning. No doubt in a match situation, the pegs in this area would have beaten me. But my catch-everything approach would almost definitely have won me some coin and eked out a result from an area where I don’t think there were a lot of carp to catch.
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Stu Redman gets his super-bright bait dyes out to show you how you can make your maggots and pinkies stand out from the crowd!
Just in case you have been living under a rock or something, the fluoro bait phenomenon is well and truly happening! Those of you who frequent Facebook with any regularity will surely have spied some rather luminous looking maggots and pinkies on various anglers’ side trays. Many anglers have seemingly noticed an opportunity to get a bit of an edge when it comes to the effectiveness of their baits, particularly when the water is still clear and a hi-viz bait will work well.
Just think about how anglers are catching on Method and Hybrid feeders these days, and most of the time they are using super-bright high-visibility hook baits. So the question must be asked, why not take the same theory and apply it to pole fishing?
‘Mad scientist’ Stu Redman is one man who is never afraid to do things a little differently. For years he has been an advocate of altering his baits either with flavours or colours. However, it is his latest creation that has really got people interested – even our very own Joe Carass has given it a go. But what is it and how does he go about it? We just had to find out.
The Hi-Viz Theory
“Being a bit of an experimentalist, I am always on the lookout for any new baits that might just help to give me the edge. Flavours are always a big help but when it comes to the colder months I don’t believe they have the same effect. The fish become more reliant on the sight rather than smells and for me, making your baits stand out is a huge edge.
“At first I tried making my baits white and for a while, I had some great success, but once I switched on to the fluoro colours, my results just took off. I started posting videos and blogs on Facebook about my new fluoro maggots and pinkies and the messages just started pouring in. Better still, they are so simple to prepare!”
What Do You Need?
“There are a few different things you can add to your maggots to give them the fluoro effect, but by far the best stuff is the Star Baits Add It Fluoro Ink. This gear is absolutely lethal and will dye anything it touches, so be warned!
“The dyes are a powder rather than a spray; this works nicely for maggots and pinkies and not only dyes the baits but the powder serves to soften them slightly. They come in various colours but I find the pink and orange to be particularly effective. They will also dye baits like meat, pellets and bread.”
Step One: Firstly you need a sealable freezer bag and a tub of the powder dye.
Step Two: Put a handful of clean pinkies or maggots into the bag.
Step Three: Carefully remove the lid and pour a small amount of the powder on the bait.
Step Four: Don’t go mad with the dye, this is potent stuff!
Step Five: Seal the bag to trap some air inside, note the amount of dye.
Step Six: Give the bait a really good shake; a lot of the dye will stick to the sides of the bag.
Step Seven: Keep shaking until all of the dye has come off the side of the bag.
Step Eight: The difference between normal pinkies and Stu’s hi-viz specials is plain to see!
Do They Work?
“Absolutely! I am convinced that these bright baits help catch you those extra, crucial fish during the winter months. Not only do the actual baits have that lovely colour but they also leave a small trail of colour that hangs through the water. I am sure any passing fish will instantly home in for a little look.
“Better still is the response anglers around you give you when they spy the specials in your bait boxes. Immediately they know they don’t have them and it can be a brilliant advantage in your head.
What a haul for the fluro king!
“I have found that they are particularly effective for roach and F1s. F1s in particular definitely seem to have a penchant for brightly coloured baits, and even if they are used to tip another bait to give them a highlight, it is well worth trying.”
Roach Bagging Bonanza!
“Just to show you how good these baits are, I have brought the Match Fishing cameras along to a short stretch of the River Nene. This is a typical winter hotspot and the fishing really can be fantastic as the stretch fills up with fish from the main river.
“I know that I will be catching a lot of fish today so am going to fish positively. As for groundbait, Sensas Roach And Silver Fish Natural is all that I have opted for – a lovely sticky mix that will carry plenty of bait.
“The venue is only narrow so I am going to fish just past the middle at eight metres, which is on a nice flat bottom. Three balls are fed at the start, with plenty of pinkies and hemp in. This should be enough to kick the swim off nicely, while I also plan to feed a small nugget after every three or four fish, depending on the response of the fish.
“Rigwise it is very simple indeed – a 4x14 Malko float tied on 0.12mm Sensas Feeling to a 0.085mm Supplex hooklength. A size 18 Maver ES40 is the hook of choice; a nice sharp barbless hook that is plenty strong enough for swinging chunky roach but also has a nice level of finesse about it.
The roach were a good stamp but still swingable
“The rig couldn’t be simpler in the shotting department. I am using a 0.3g olivette that is free running on the line and stopped in place with one No10 just above the hooklength knot (10in hooklength). I then have one No12 dropper on the hooklength. It’s a super-simple rig but one that doesn’t tangle and gets the hook bait into the catching zone quickly and efficiently.
“One key point that is well worth mentioning is the depth. This stretch fluctuates in depth frequently so a depth marker in the margins is a good idea as it rises and drops regularly (several times an hour) and the key catching depth is just tripping the bottom, so it can pay to keep a keen eye on the depths as the session progresses and keep altering the depth.
“A great little piece of advice is that if the fish are slightly deep hooked then the rig is probably a little too deep, and if you miss bites it is too shallow. Once you fine-tune the depth so that every roach is hooked in the top lip you will know that the rig is set up perfectly.
“The action is what can only be described as frantic from the first whistle! There are many of these winter haunts around the country where the fish shoal up in the cold weather and today is proving to be a real red-letter session. It is quite simply a roach a chuck.
“To keep the hordes of fish feeding I am simply feeding a nugget of groundbait after every few fish but also regularly feeding a pinch of pinkies. Bites are coming as soon as the rig settles and my simple and effective rig is making the most of the situation.
“I end with a huge net of river roach, easily over 40b in fact. A colossal day’s fishing by any standards, I think you will agree. And while I can't prove that the fluoro bait was the reason, it certainly did no harm. Get out and give them a try, because they really do work!”
Name: Stu Redman
Lives: Stamford, Licholnshire
MF says: Always looking for an edge
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On Saturday I had a trip to Fir Tree Fisheries in wigan, to take part in one of the charity qualifiers in association with Adlington Angling centre and Adlington Angling Club to help raise money for Christies.
Fir Tree is a venue I had only fished once before, about 6 years ago, and had a shocker to honest. Today I drew peg 34 which meant nothing, with alot of anglers fishing, I knew fishing the far bank at 16m on the pole would probably be my best bet of catching a few.
Started across on an Marukyu's Amino Focus 6mm pellet, feeding Fishery pellets flavour with a bit of Marukyu's Scopex Amino, within minutes I hooked a 4lb mirror which I lost at the net, the next few hours were slow, nicking to odd small carp and a few stocky F1s, but nothing over a pound.
Started a couple maggot lines in the track and down the edge in hope of lining up some silverfish, but it only produce one small chub,
Made the choice to just fish pellets for the rest of the match. Had a dob across on pellet and caught 3 mirrors, but then nothing. I could see a few anglers starting to catch a few stocky F1s, so started feeding some micros and 6mms, across again at 16m in a different swim, had a steady last hour catching about 35 stockies, to finish the match with 50lb 14oz, which was good enough for 2nd in the match, that carp I lost at the start cost me the win. The winner had a cracking net of silvers which went 52lb, so well done that man. I did qualify for the final but can't make it because I'm on holiday. Well done to all the lads who ran the match, it was a pleasure being part of the event and hope you carry on raising money for such a good charity and best of luck to all the finalist
Words & Images by Martin Stokes
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!