The Hard Truth - Lee Werrett

Redhill Fishery is situated just over the border with England in a beautiful part of Monmouthshire and not only is it a stunning venue to look at, it’s also full of fish. Weights in the summer are crazy and quite often you will need 300lb of carp and F1s to win.

That sort of ‘hauling’ isn’t really my cup of tea though so I give the venue a miss in the warmer months, but once the cold weather sets in and the fishing becomes less prolific with between 100lb and 150lb needed to win matches, I then become a regular here because the lower weights suit my style of angling more. I don’t particularly enjoy catching mega weights of fish and even though 100lb still sounds a lot, the fishing is a lot more refined and technical for the F1s once we get into winter.

Most anglers would turn to corn, maggots, casters or bread once it gets cold but for me, I like to stick with a hard pellet approach and use fishery 4mm and 6mm hard pellets and maybe I’ll also fish micros if the going is particularly hard. Last Sunday I drew here on Molly’s Pond on the peg next to where I’m fishing today and won the open match with 105lb but in that weight I only had four carp, the rest were F1s and I reckon they would have gone 90lb on their own so the fishing is fantastic.

I like it not only because the fishing is good and the surroundings are stunning, but you don’t have to feed a lot of bait, the fishing is very technical and you have to be disciplined in your approach to get the most out of every peg and that makes it even more enjoyable for me.

Rigs Are Important

I won’t go into too much detail about the bait because I’ve got fishery 4mm and 6mm pellets and a few soaked micros, that’s it! Not a lot else to say about them really but I’ll go into more detail about how I feed them later because that’s far more important at this time of year.

So before we go any further, let’s talk about my rigs. What I like to do is present my hookbait, which is a banded hard pellet, in two different ways; through the water with a strung out rig and get it straight down to the bottom with a more positive bulked rig.

My swim today is six feet deep and this lake in general is quite and the depth drops off to 10 feet at the opposite end. My light rig is a 4x14 Middy MW Signature Carbon which has a slim body, which I like for my pellet fishing. The shotting pattern is strung out No9 Slot Shot and I’ve got 0.18mm main line to a 0.12mm hooklength.

The hook is a size 18 or 20 Middy KM1 which is an eyed pattern so I can easily incorporate a hair rigged bait band for presenting the hard pellets. My elastic is a 12-16 Middy Shockcore Hi-Viz Hollow which sounds heavy when we’re talking about catching predominantly F1s, but it’s very forgiving and I think it’s absolutely perfect for this venue. The other thing with this elastic is the more you use it the better it gets. This rig is for catching through the water when small fish like roach and skimmers aren’t being a problem.

My other rig features the same size float, shot, lines, hook and elastic as my other rig but this one has the shotting bulked lower down which gets the bait down faster. I generally fish this with a tight spread bulk starting about six inches above the hooklength knot, but today I’ve moved the lowest shot on the hooklength knot because I was getting indications and not hitting bites. Moving the shot down resulted in more positive bites and more hooked fish.

Break The Backshot Rules

One other thing I need to mention about my rigs is the use of backshot because I do it a bit differently to other anglers. Most anglers you talk to advocate the use of backshot whether it’s a No8 above the float, or maybe even three or four No8s, because it helps to control the rig in a breeze. Whilst I can’t argue with that, that’s not what I use my backshot for.

I have a No9 that’s level with the top of the bristle but I don’t use it with the aim of controlling my rig, I use it to set my rig. At this time of year it’s important to dot your float bristle right down so when the water’s flat calm I let this No9 register on the float so it dots right down.

But what happens when the breeze picks up, a ripple develops and you can no longer your dotted down bristle? It’s easy for me because what I can do is slide the No9 shot right up to the knot that I use for connecting my rig to the elastic so it no longer registers on the float so I have an extra 5mm or 6mm of bristle showing.

If the wind then drops I can slide it back down level the top of the bristle and my float will be a dotted right down again. This is a trick I use very often in the winter and it’s definitely got me a few extra fish over the years.

The Session

Today has been a very interesting session because it’s been a lot different to a couple of days ago when I fished the peg to my left and won the match with 105lb. It’s been harder for a start and I haven’t caught any carp at all, and the F1s today have been a much smaller stamp compared to what anglers normally catch here and compared to what I caught on Sunday in the match.

Not sure what’s notably different from the other day either, the water colour is the same and the air temperature is the same too. It’s been an unusually warm 14 degrees today and we’re in the second week of November, that’s pretty much unheard of in this part of the country!

Today, the noise of the pellets hitting the water when loose feeding has been the kiss of death really because the fish came up in the water but they weren’t feeding so I was getting a lot of indications early on without catching any fish.

Last Sunday in the match, the fish were on the bottom and taking the bait just as my light, through-the-water rig settled whereas I’ve caught on the bottom eventually on both my rigs today, but I’ve had to wait much longer for bites and lift and drop until I got one.

I think the fish are unsettled generally at the moment because of the weather and today I’m sat here in a t-shirt with my light fleece over the top, that’s not right for the second week in November is it?! Even the water is still heavily coloured and when I’ve been netting fish they have to be near the surface before I can see them, whereas normally at this time of year you can see them three or maybe four feet down.

Feeding Time

My normal standard approach on pellet venues is to fish two lines at 13 metres – one at 10 o’clock and another at 2 o’clock – and feed these two areas differently. On some tightly pegged venues you might have to narrow this area to maybe 11 o’clock and 10 o’clock but generally if you’ve got room it’s best to have a bit of distance between the two.

I fed micros and 4mm pellets to my right and only 4mm pellets to my left and this will give me all the opportunities I need to find the best way to feed on the day. Sometimes the micros will attract too many small fish and in that case I’ll stop feeding them and feed hard pellets only.

Today I’ve had a lot of indications in the swim where I’ve fed micros but not been able to connect with any of them so I suspect it was small fish like roach and skimmers mouthing my hard 6mm pellet in the band. There’s been quite a strong wind blowing off my back today in the earlier part of the session and this could have shifted the fish as they follow it across to the pegs opposite.

Later on though, the wind died and the water was flat calm and that’s when I had my best spell and fish were coming regularly on both lines. Using a small pot and sprinkling 4mm pellets in and then lifting and dropping the rig has been the best way of catching and that’s why I like this sort of fishing, it’s different all the time and you need to discover the best way to catch these crafty F1s on any particular day.

I’ve loosefed a few pellets too which seemed to be a good way of drawing fish back into the peg if it went quiet, but once the fish were there, sprinkling pellets in with the pot was definitely best. Last Sunday in the match, loose feeding four or five 4mm pellets was the way to feed it and I caught most of my fish as the rig settled which is perfect really.

I started at 13 metres and then as the match progressed, I followed the fish out to 16 metres to keep catching. It’s been nothing like that today and if I’d come here blinkered thinking I’ll just do what I did last Sunday, I don’t think I would have caught very much because once the fish were in the swim loose feeding pellets was all wrong and I just got silly bites.

Work It Out

You don’t have to fish expanders, corn, bread or maggots just because it’s gone cold, hard pellet still works once that temperature has dropped. I’ll be fishing the method I’ve shown you today throughout the winter on this venue and on other commercials that I fish because once you get the feeding and presentation sorted, you’re onto a winner.

Like I said earlier, it’s technical fishing with the slight adjustments and refinements to rigs and feeding making all the difference, but for me that’s what I like and what I really enjoy as a match angler.

You can’t beat the feeling when you’ve won a match after figuring things out and as I’ve proved today, every day is completely different and just because one style of feeding and presentation works one day, a couple of days later it can be very, very different and you’ll need to work it out all over again!