Dobbing is a bit of a Marmite tactic; it can be seen as extremely negative but it also catches a lot of fish, especially when the temperature plummets. Is there really any skill in it? We joined up-and-coming star Craig Goldstraw to discover the secrets behind his dobbing success.
What is dobbing? It’s actually quite a vague description of a method that can take many different forms. Saying you caught dobbing is a bit like saying you caught on the feeder, or on the waggler; yes it gives an idea of how you caught, but with so many variables you’re still left pretty much in the dark.
The most common assumption that most of us make is that if you caught dobbing, you caught on bread; after all it’s the only bait a lot of anglers ever try when dobbing, but in the last few seasons I’ve been having a lot of success dobbing other baits, mainly maggots, and I’ve found that a simple switch of baits can get you bites in an area you previously thought was devoid of fish.
Think red, not bread!
I don’t know exactly why maggots are so effective for dobbing but I do have a theory: fish see maggots dropping through the water all year long on most venues and therefore seeing a maggot in midwater is nothing new. Bread is rarely used on commercials and although it can be effective on certain days I do think that it’s an unusual sight for the fish and they have a lot more time to inspect a bait in winter and can easily turn their nose up at anything that looks out of place or unsafe.
One other thing I’ve discovered, which again leads me to think that maybe bread isn’t always the best bait for dobbing, is that the colour of your bait can really make a difference when it comes to catching. Surprisingly, whenever I’ve tried dobbing with white maggots they haven’t produced half as well as red maggots, which leads me to think that maybe sometimes a darker colour can sometimes be more effective than a bright colour. With this in mind the bright colour of bread could actually put the fish off at times, rather than attract them.
Well, that's the shotting taken care of.
The final plus point to fishing maggots, and this is one that I think can be a match winner in winter, is that maggots are not as selective as bread and you will pick up other species. As you’ll be fishing off the bottom these are usually, roach, rudd, ide or chub, but a couple of pounds of these throughout the day can be equivalent to another carp, and the difference between framing and not.
The Right Swim
Like any tactic, dobbing won’t guarantee you catch, regardless of what bait you use. The type of swim you’re fishing can actually have a big impact on your choice to even try dobbing as some swims, especially open-water swims with no notable features, rarely produce a lot of fish to this tactic.
The ideal swim for dobbing is one in which you can reach either the far bank or an island with the pole, and any additional features such as reeds or branches or overhanging grasses can also help to hold and attract fish that can then be dobbed.
The final element that contributes to the perfect dobbing swim is depth; having 12 inches against the island or far bank may be perfect for summer but in winter, especially as the colour begins to drop out of the water, the fish prefer a little more water over their backs.
Take your time with the bigger carp.
The ideal depth for dobbing is around three feet; if you can find this depth against the features you’ll usually find it holds a few fish all year round.
My Dobbing Rig
Fishing the correct bait, and ensuring it’s presented naturally, are both massively important when it comes to dobbing, and having one without the other can easily leave you biteless.
Unlike most tactics when dobbing you’re not feeding and therefore the only way to catch is to trick the fish into thinking that your hook bait is a random offering dropped into the water. With this in mind the manner in which you present your bait must be as natural as possible and this means fishing light: light floats, delicate shotting, thin, supple lines and small, lightweight fine-wire hooks.
I never feel the need to set up loads of rigs when dobbing as one rig can usually cover all my needs. My float choice is a 4x10 Middy Carp Grey; it’s important to have a light float with a buoyant tip as this will be supporting the weight of your bait. You’ll also find that when fishing against the far bank you’ll fish into various light conditions and shadows and therefore a visible tip is really important.
Main line is 0.12mm Middy Lo-Viz to a 0.10mm hooklength. As I mentioned, this not only helps to give your bait a natural fall as the thinner the line the more supple it is, but it’s also difficult for the fish to spot underwater as they inspect your bait. Hook choice is a size 16 Middy 63-13, a lightweight hook that is still strong enough to land any carp I’ll hook when used in conjunction with a light hollow elastic and a puller kit.
The rig is shotted to give my bait the most natural fall possible and so the majority of the shot is placed just under the float with just one No10 shot just above my hooklength.
To demonstrate my dobbing tactics we’ve come to Cudmore Fishery. The lake we’re on is around 14.5 metres wide and has an inviting far bank of stickups and it certainly looks fishy.
The first job is to plumb up, just to get a mental picture of the depth on the far bank, the nature of any shelves and the depth in any clear spots against the bank. I like to plumb up both sides of me as far as I can reach, and in this case it’s meant slipping on another couple of sections and fishing at 19 metres. The more of the far bank you can cover the more chance you have of picking up fish.
I have just less than three feet against the reeds and a bit less where it cuts in, so I’m going to start the session fishing two feet deep. This way I can be safe in the knowledge that wherever I drop my bait it’ll be sat off the bottom, hopefully in the line of sight of a few fish.
I’m quite methodical when starting my dobbing session, I want to make sure I cover all of my swim so I start directly in front of me and then switch between the left and right, slowly working outwards, making a mental note of any areas where I get a bite, indication or a fish.
With the far bank reeds in reach, this was a perfect dobbing swim!
Baiting with double red maggot I ship out and lay my rig in; I like to give it a few minutes with a little lifting and dropping just to see if anything is in the area but bites on this method are usually pretty instant if the fish are there.
After 15 minutes of trying various spots I hook my first fish to my right; it’s clearly a carp as several feet of elastic are pulled from the pole and I guide it away from the danger of the far bank. Once in the open water, I take my time to ensure that I land what is a lovely common around 3lb.
I drop in at the exact same spot next time but it seems it was a lone fish. Dropping further to my right I get a couple of indications, which leads me to think the fish may be further off the bottom. I shallow up six inches and am rewarded with an instant bite, which turns out to be a small ide. Several more follow from the same spot to give my catch a quick boost. With that area drying up I switch back to my original depth and go as far to my left as I can reach, and once again I’m rewarded with a quick bite that sees an angry winter carp make a bid for freedom! I put as much pressure as I dare on the light tackle and eventually I have another carp beaten and in the net.
A nice catch from a short session on a cold day.
The temperature is really cold today and bites are hard to come by but I spend the next hour picking up the odd ide, and even a skimmer that was caught well off the bottom before I finally latch into something big again. It’s another carp of similar size and it’s soon joining the other in my keepnet.
I fish on for another hour but only a couple of ide are my reward so we decide to call it a day. It’s not been a frantic session and each carp has come from a different spot, which makes me think that they’re not here in any numbers. The three carp plus the silvers have pushed me into double figures in just a short session, and I’m sure I wouldn’t have caught that weight if I’d fished bread.
Dobbing really can be a brilliant method and when used in conjunction with the right bait – mainly maggots – it can put fish in your net when many other methods fail. It’s certainly a method I’ll be relying on in the next few months and one I think should be in every commercial angler’s armoury.
Angler File -
Name: Craig Goldstraw
Sponsor: Joiner, Middy/Bag ‘em
MF Says: Chief Punisher
Venue File -
Venue: Cudmore Fishery
Location: Pleck Lane, Whitmore, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 5HW
Phone Number: 01782 680919
Day tickets: £8 adults; £6 OAP/disabled/juniors
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Garbolino and Dynamite backed ace Alex Dockerty is to join the Garbolino Lindholme team on a permanent basis.
Starting in June, the 21 year old Doncaster ace will become Lindholme’s resident angling coach, as well as offering his expertise to customers in the on-site tackle shop.
Alex said: “ Unlike many sports angling coaching seems to be very limited in terms of the number of people offering their services so hopefully this will be a way to pass on my knowledge of the venue and help others in the way many have helped me over the years.
The plan is to offer a multitude of sessions ranging from group days and evening classes to a full day’s one to one tuition.
Being local to the venue means I can be very flexible in terms of time. This allows me to offer services from morning/evening classes to full days.
The aim is to offer a service not too dissimilar to the coaching available in sports such as golf, where specific aspects can be fine-tuned or during a longer session a number of details can be addressed.
Over seven year working in the trade on a part time basis also places me in a great position to offer advice on tackle and bait, from rods to groundbait mixes - anything you’re having issues with I’ll be able to help.
A big thanks must go to Neil and Aaron for the offer and I look forward to starting!”
Fishery boss Neil Grantham added: “Alex first came to work here at Lindholme when he was just 13 years old, as a part of his schools work experience programme.
I was instantly impressed by his hard working attitude, and likeable personality. Since then, I have seen him grow in stature both as an employee and as an angler.
He is walking proof of how any young person with the right work ethic and attitude can get on in fishing, having now acquired a full sponsorship deal from Garbolino, as well as support from Dynamite Baits on the back of his results.
We are very proud of his progress, and are sure that he has a very bright future ahead of him, both in his own fishing, and in his role here at Garbolino Lindholme.”
Anyone wishing to enquire about Alex’s coaching services should give him a call on: 07983 864646.
England ace smashes Lindholme league.
England International, and MAP backed super-rod James Dent has won the inaugural Lindholme Lakes Natural Baits league, by a comfortable two point margin.
The league – which was contested by some of the UK’s top rods, held its final round in fine conditions last Saturday. Anglers taking part included Alan Scotthorne, Matt Godfrey, John Allerton, Nick Speed, Mick Vials, Tom Scholey, Lee Kerry and Emma Pickering – making it among the most prestigious leagues in the country.
With anglers dropping their worst result, the league was far from a foregone conclusion with some competitors leap-frogging others on the table on the strength of their dropped score.
One such angler, who managed an emphatic comeback was James’s England stablemate, and Guru backed ace Matt Godfrey. Matt was able to drop a near-disastrous eighth in section and finish with a ten point total from his other five results.
Sean Cameron took third place, after a mega- consistent league, dropping a fourth in section to finish on eleven points.
On the day, it was Browning ace James Hall who made the most of the previously unproductive peg 70 on Bonsai, to win with a fine 36-15-0 net of skimmers and F1s. James caught skimmers and F1s on maggots fished over groundbait.
Tom Scholey, who co-organised the league with Matt Godfrey and Lee Kerry said: “We are really happy with how this league has gone, and the calibre of angler that it has attracted certainly made it among the most prestigious winter events in the country. The thing that has really got people talking though is the payout – James picked up £1,000 for winning the league, and ninth place picked up £150, so there was impressive money to be won for anglers who performed well.
“This is thanks in no small part to the generosity of venue owner Neil Grantham, who offered us discounted pegging, which allowed us to boost the payout considerably. The dates for next year are booked already – with the first round of the league taking place on the first Saturday in January, and running for the next six consecutive Saturdays.
We have already secured two of Lindholme’s finest lakes – Bonsai and Laurels for all these dates, which should make the fishing even more prolific than it has been this year.”
With places limited to 50 anglers, anglers are advised to book on with Lee Kerry on 07739 342929, Matt Godfrey on 07917 711722 or Tom Scholey on 07971 620489 if they want to be sure of a place next year.
As with this year, the Natural Baits League will be pole only, float only, with a 16m limit, and carp will not count. Allowed baits are maggots, casters, worms, pinkies and up to 2kg of groundbait.
Five-times world champion Alan Scotthorne looks at targeting quality fish in the cold and explains why a plummet is your best friend!
At this time of year on commercial fisheries the target fish should be firmly on the bottom, so all that slapping and shallow fishing has almost gone out of the window! This is when the trusty plummet becomes your best friend, so here are a few tips that should help you get the best out of this simple device.
Commercial masters Andy Bennett and Paul Holland have signed a new bait sponsorship deal with the Angling Bait Company.
The duo, who are also sponsored by Tackle Guru, are very excited about the move.
Andy said: “I am delighted to be joining The Angling Bait Company. I am looking forward to having a big say in the groundbait development, and knowing exactly what I’ll be feeding, as not a lot of people know what core ingredients make up the groundbaits that they use.
This kind of in-depth knowledge can only improve my angling. The live bait supplied by ABC is also spot on, and will be great for me moving forward.”
Paul added: “I am delighted to have been given this great opportunity by The Angling Bait Company. We have recently been to the factory and the live bait side of things was amazing. I am a bit funny in the things I use and I can honestly say that the bait was brilliant and its a nice feeling knowing that I will be able to have quality bait like that every week.
We have already started working on a couple of products that I’m sure will be brilliant when the weather warms up!”
Matt Godfrey smashed his way to victory in the penultimate round of the Lindholme Natural Baits League, winning the match in emphatic style with a 43-4-0 net of F1s. Drawn on peg 9 on Willows Lake, Matt caught quality F1s on maggot tactics.
In second place was Paul Christie. Paul, who also drew on Willows, again caught quality F1s on maggots for 26-1-0.
James Dent filled third spot, and was the best weight from Bonsai lake with a 24-9-0 net of skimmers. James caught fishing maggots and pinkies over groundbait.
In the league stakes, the standings are extremely tight, and with anglers dropping their worth result after the final round this Saturday, the race is still on for top spot.
As with the rest of the league rounds, anglers are welcome to fish the match as an open. Call Lee Kerry on 07739342929 to book on.
Something that provides plenty of opinion and conflict is the surge in people wanting to make their own floats, not for personal use but those wanting to make a few quid something I once did a fair few years back too before all the craze. For me and it really is only my opinion I have no issue with this as long as the ones making them are honest and offer something of balanced quality, and not just sell any old float as it really is easy to buy the ready to build kits off eBay or other internet sites and just slap them together and charge people.
The Floats on test up close and personal
For years floats have been built by hand and in recent years have become even more refined, I’m not sure who was the first to really make an impact on the pole fishing scene but the likes of Mick Wilkinson, Gaz Malham and Mick Bassett have been producing floats for years now, each have huge followings with some of the top names using them and for very good reason. They were the ones that started a craze that majority of the top tackle companies have failed to follow for many years; it was the fact that they built sturdy floats that lasted much longer than most commercially bought models. We've all suffered with bent wires & tips, along with annoyingly both stems & tips coming out of the bodies and paintwork splitting very easily; the change these guys offered brought us homemade floats at a great price that were balanced, strong and cheap. Since then especially very recently they have stepped up the game with new materials such as the introduction of foam, hollow tips, paint finishes and the new nitinol wire or bendy wire as it's more commonly referred as; all of which amount to more robust and versatile float being made. Over the last few years we have also seen companies from outside the UK that are sole traders of floats starting to bring their designs into pole fishing and some are very good, especially the silverfish or natural water patterns, as they have vast knowledge of what’s required simply because of continental style fishing, one particular company that has gained a good following is Dino Floats, offering patterns covering a lot of applications in the UK.
The difference in the shotting for what are supposed to be the same size of float
There are plenty of people out there now making floats and with too many to mention, and with the likes of social media readily available it created a market; but for me, there is a huge difference amongst them? I am a bit of a tart when it comes to floats not for looks but quality I’ve gone through phases of buying and trying so many different ones for both silvers and carping and gone full circle again, putting faith in major tackle companies to offer a float range that suits my styles of fishing, but there hasn’t been many to really stand out eventually making the decision to make my own. There are 3 major tackle companies in the last 12 months that have looked at this and really stepped up their game to offer anglers a range that are well built, balanced, finished and don’t break the bank, Drennan’s AS series, MAP’s commercial range and the new Des Shipp range from Preston; the fact that the homemade companies prices have gone up with inflation of materials and competition now is starting to make the likes of these commercially produced floats look more inviting to the angler on a tighter budget once again. I understood why people turned away from these floats to ones that were simply built to last, but by having some of the world’s best anglers behind the scenes they have clearly been thought out to offer the right variety required for today’s fishing and they really are not to be sniffed at again and worth a look if you’re in the market.
A selection of the floats showing those with a side eye sat perfectly and those with a spring eye sat much higher in the water or on the surface
For the guys that are making and building this is where similarities can differ greatly, I’m not saying that anyone is wrong but for me and many that I know a lot of the builders are just throwing the materials together without prior thought to how to balance them properly, how long stems and tips are, what sizes of each to use through to choosing the right eye for the pattern. Don’t get me wrong I have no doubt there will be plenty that are very good and have taken the time to test their floats to make sure they are perfect for the job, but one thing is for sure we have all seen some shoddy ones too and clearly no thought has gone into their build, something I personally stay away from. In comparison, they aren’t any cheaper than the ones that are made from scratch or even some of the best from tackle manufacturers in fact majority are more expensive so are they really worth it? Some are some aren’t, but something I personally don’t want to keep spending money on to get right, especially when the sport is already at breaking point with prices for tackle.
All the floats shotted to around 7mm of the bristle showing
On the other side of things from experience, there are guys out there that I have personally seen the pride they take to not only source the best materials but also create and test patterns to ensure they are balanced for what they are intended to do. I recently asked several guys I know who actually turn their floats and some bought from guys on Facebook who are building them for some samples to test to see the differences between and ask why they use the materials they do. It was quite interesting, some patterns are still without fault, but the difference from some I have seen is quite astounding but for sure I learned a bit myself and how much it has developed since I stopped making them.
I went to my good friend Tez Naulls (TN Floats) workshop and spent 4 or 5 hours with him discussing from how we used to use floats right up to the latest materials to buy, I have read about what foams the top guys are now using but wasn’t aware of how many you could choose from? I have always believed when balsa is used it can vary in density and even the grain structure can change the properties which leads to differing shotting even on the same weight floats, but having seen the foams to the same theory can be applied; however as these are man-made the structures, weight and density can be controlled to a specification which helps as long as the same foam is used. It was very interesting to see how the foams differ too he showed me 3 and how they are applied; H160 the most commonly used on the open market which gives a more open cell, it is soft and suits light floats for silverfish as it is also very soft before finishing, Hd200 is what he uses for general work, for the likes of F1, Shallow, and Slim patterns targeting smaller Carp, F1’s and larger silvers and finally a new Hypertech foam which is absolutely rock solid aimed at Margin or bagging floats when carping. There is still a place for Balsa based floats especially for silverfish and more natural water floats as they seem to just sit better in the water more so when going into larger sizes. After speaking to these guys they are also fans of side eyes over springs for most patterns although each do offer a spring or figure of eight for those that wish, and the same goes for tips as many will go the easy route of a hollow tip over solid, glass or cane but again for me each have a place for different situations even on the likes of commercial fisheries and they have tried and tested patterns with these fitted. After having a go at building a few to try it’s easy to see why the builders can turn out so many floats in quick time, as they literally are gluing the materials together, the materials are available already pre-sealed/prepped ready to go and the easiest option of hollow tips and spring eyes are quick to assemble over a solid tip or side eye which takes some practice to get right. One thing I made sure to ask was why the use of a green tip? I have never used one and up until trying these samples didn’t intend too as I am partially colour blind but I was quite amazed how well they show up in the light, this I can see will be a huge advantage for those who struggle at distance, will it improve my fishing? I’m not sure as yet but for many I would like to say and have been told it does. It was interesting to see how playing about with the air gap in a hollow bristle can change a floats action, seeing 3 floats identical other than the size of air gap and how they sit differently to each other when shotted the same also can change how a float or a bait is used.
The last float going into the shotting tube
During the test I carried out I chose the most common slim pattern or Chianti style as people refer too, all were a 0.4g size but this is where the differences ended. For those that were turned/built from scratch were finished to a much higher standard as the hole for starters could be tailored to the size of stem being used whereas the ready bought ones seem to come as standard with a 1mm hole; this makes fitting a 0.5-0.8mm stem a bit fiddly to centralise and was clearly not an option as most had a 1mm stem fitted. All were referred to as F1 or Pellet floats but the stem material, thickness and lengths varied hugely and having a 0.5mm carbon stem Vs 1mm glass changed the balance quite a fair bit, the bodies again differed somewhat considering the pattern is regarded as the same and the tip material, thickness and length all affected the shotting patterns and ranging from 1.2mm-2mm changes the sensitivity of the float dramatically which can be the difference in seeing the tiniest of bites or not. One thing I did notice during the shotting of these floats was how much a spring eye can hold a float up on the water’s surface even with the shotting to take the tip to around 7mm showing these eyes on some of the floats when lowered slowly sat up against the eye whereas the side eyes didn’t do this. Don’t get me wrong many will look at a float for what it is and not look too much into it but when using floats for shy biting fish such as Roach & F1’s or where you want to manipulate the rate of fall then having a float that is balanced and doesn’t need you to give a little lift & drop to set it properly is far more important than one that just looks good but performance is poor.
All the floats on test including tackle used to shot them
There are many out there that will offer some top quality floats for anglers I have no doubt, but there are some not so good ones too, and I can see that some tackle companies are trying to take back to the scene with their own progression, but if you want a specific float or one of their common patterns I can’t recommend highly enough that you get in touch with Tez Naulls (TN Floats), Gaz Malham (Floats), Rich Wilson (RW Floats) or Rob Marsh (BG Floats), they certainly won’t break the bank either with prices ranging from only £1.50 - £2.30.
Alternative view of picture number 11
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Des Shipp’s Commercial Edges
Who better to give you 10 top tips for catching carp on the short pole this month than England superstar, Des Shipp!
1 - Keep Quiet
One of the most important things to do when you’re planning to catch at close range is to remain as quiet as possible.
Wise fish in today’s commercials are very wary of bankside disturbance, so try to keep any banging and movements on the bank to a minimum while setting up, and more importantly, when fishing.
2 - The Magic Depth
Fishing in the right depth of water is essential if you plan on catching on the short pole, and I often see people fishing far too close for my liking, in too shallower water.
Where possible, the minimum depth that I like to target is four feet. I have found that big carp feel comfortable feeding with more water over their heads. If they want to come into water shallower than this, the chances are you will catch the same fish down the edge.
3 - Elbow Accuracy
Fishing the short pole often means that you’re fishing on the near slope of a commercial, which means that there is lots of scope to be inaccurate. If you’re fishing on a slope and place your rig a few inches further out than where you’ve plumbed up, you will be fishing off the bottom, where you probably won’t catch fish! Come a few inches closer, and you’ll have line laid on the deck, which may cause you to foul hook fish.
I always try and make sure I plumb up, feed and fish right on the end of a section and place my rig in line with a far-bank marker. I believe it’s essential to make a conscious effort to check you’re in the right spot every time you ship out.
4 - Float Choice
The float that you use for fishing short is very important. I like a float with a thick, hollow plastic tip. This is very buoyant, and will allow me to spot the difference between line bites and proper indications when a carp takes my hook bait.
If you use too thin a bristle, you will end up striking at false indications and in turn foul hook fish. Try and ignore small wobbles and little drag-under indications, and only strike at very sharp, fast dinks. The float doesn’t necessarily have to zoom under, but you will find proper bites are much faster indications than liners.
5 - The Big Lift
I often get asked why I lift the pole up high after hooking a fish on the short pole. I often lift into the bite and, once I connect with a fish, lift the pole right up several metres high!
Firstly, I do this to make sure that my hook is in properly. Secondly, when fishing short for big carp, you often find that fish power off like a train, and can easily break your hooklength. By lifting the pole high after hooking them, however, they seem to stay at close range, and if they do power off you have lots of extra ‘give’ as you can drop the pole to allow them some more running space.
6 - Play And Feed
When fishing at close range, you’re often looking for an early or late run of fish, and to make the most of a short swim you ideally need to catch several quick fish on the bounce.
To make sure that there’s a fish waiting for you next time you ship out, try and learn to feed while you are actually playing a fish. When you initially hook a fish, others in the swim will spook, but once you get back to your top kit and the hooked fish is away from the swim, you can throw some free offerings accurately on to your short swim by hand, to get the fish back for when you ship out after landing the fish.
7 - Keep It Tight
I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping your feed in a small, tight area when you’re fishing short. Especially when fishing on a shelf, fish will hear your feed enter the water, home in on the bait and quickly mop it up as it lands on the bottom.
If your hook bait is falling right among the feed, the chances are that fish will take that too, and you’ll catch them very quickly. Try and make sure you’re ultra accurate when throwing in your feed, and if you’re not accurate, use a small pole-mounted Cad Pot!
8 - Light Rigs
This tip sits alongside the tip above. My favourite shotting pattern to use on a short-pole swim is a strung-out pattern, with Stotz evenly strung in the bottom third to half of the rig depending on the depth.
Experience has taught me that carp in particular cruise into the near shelf and then dip down to feed when they hear and see bait enter and fall through the water. Presenting a hook bait that falls into the swim like the loose feed may catch you some extra fish on the drop. I like to combine the slow-falling strung-out rig with the accurate throwing mentioned above. I often throw in some feed, and then flick my rig over the top so my hook bait falls with the feed.
9 - Push The Peg
There are some days when a steady, regular feeding pattern on the short swim just doesn’t work. When this happens you can sometimes pull fish into the swim by feeding more than everyone else.
If I’m not getting any bites on the short swim going into the last 90 minutes of a match, I won’t hesitate to feed a big amount of bait with a large pole pot. You can sometimes catch two or three very big fish by doing this with baits like corn or meat, and give yourself a last-gasp weight boost in a match.
10 - Timing
It is very rare that you will catch on the short pole throughout a match. It’s a great method to start the match on, as there are often some fish hanging around the near shelf before the pressure of the match starting hits them.
Spending the first 20 minutes of a match on the short pole while priming your other swims will often get you off to a good start. Finally, you need to be patient later in the day too, as fish may not venture in to feed on the short pole swim until the late stages in a match.
I like to prime it throughout the day, and will wait until the last two hours to try it. If there are no fish there, don’t give up! They may arrive with 90 minutes to go, an hour to go, or even less!
At White Acres fishery, you can prime a short swim all day to catch two or three big carp on it in the final 15 minutes of a match!
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Mark Pollard reflects on a very successful trip to the Emerald Isle, and recounts his lessons learnt…
The Irish festival scene has seen a huge rise in popularity in the past few years and in turn winning over on the Emerald Isle is becoming increasingly difficult. Well, that’s the case for most, although if you’re a certain Mark Pollard it seems that winning in Ireland is about as easy as getting your hands on a pint of Guinness!
We joined him on his return from another successful visit to Ireland, where he managed to frame in five out of five festivals!
Fish To Win
A festival-winning fish? Redworms and maggot was a great hook bait for skimmers!
I would say the most important nugget of advice I could give to anyone visiting Ireland and who wants to do well is be positive. The fishing in Ireland when I was last there (for a full five weeks in September), was the best I’ve ever known it and with such good fishing on offer you have to make the most of it.
Fishing for skimmers and roach in the UK may be about fine lines and small hooks but for feeder fishing the past few weeks I’ve been using 0.14mm main line and a size 14 or 16 hook!
You also have to be quite focused on what your target weight is. On the harder sections when you only need 4 to 6kg then catching roach is a good idea and a positive pole approach can work. On sections where 10 to 15kg plus is winning then you have to go into the matches looking to catch these bigger weights; yes you can have a great day catching 8kg on the pole, but the glory lies in finding the skimmers and hybrids.
Get Your Feeding Right
The past few weeks I’ve felt that on the whole I’ve got my feeding right. I use the same tried and tested mix for every match, which consists of two parts Frenzied Hempseed groundbait, two parts Silver X Roach Original and one part brown crumb. I feel that it’s the perfect mix for both the pole and feeder, and having just one mix that you know works helps to keep things simple and allows you to concentrate on the more important aspects of your match.
Hybrids love a slow-falling bait, so fishing a long tail offers perfect presentation.
Key baits are always maggots, casters and worms, especially redworms. I use dendrabaenas for chopping but I don’t think redworms can be bettered for a hook bait. The biggest problem in Ireland can be eels – they don’t count! They love worms and by introducing just a small amount of worm and a lot of casters I found that I had far less of a problem with them this year.
Another great trick I’ve used when hybrids have been the target is to introduce crushed casters through the feeder. Not only does this give off all of the attractants but it also creates a nice cloud as the feeder falls through the water.
Exposing Your Tackle
One thing you will find with Irish festivals, especially when you go over there for a few weeks, is that any weaknesses in your tackle will soon get found out either by the harsh weather or the constant use.
As you’re fishing from the water a lot of the time you need a solid box and everything to hand so you’re not constantly wading back to the shore.
Rods and reels take a lot of abuse and I’ve spent the last five weeks fishing five days a week using a Horizon S-Class rod coupled with an Aquos 5000 reel and it’s been the perfect combination. Even with a horrendous headwind I could use the power of the rod to punch out the feeder and still hit my clip every time. The majority of the fishing I’ve done in Ireland this year has been at around 45 metres and having the correct tackle, casting action and ensuring you can comfortably and accurately hit the same spot cast after cast is really important if you want to build up a swim of confidently feeding fish.
Braid is a must for feeder fishing in Ireland as some of the bites can be very tentative; as braid has no stretch bites are shown direct on the tip and allow instant contact with the fish. My reels are all loaded with 0.10mm Submerge Braid to which I attach a leader of 10lb Carpmaster mono. I set up a couple of rods for each match and use the distance measuring sticks to ensure they’re both fished at exactly the same range.
Feeder choice is also really important, and the main feeders I’ve used this year are small cage feeders, for tough days when I don’t feel I should introduce much bait, and dome cage feeders. These allow me to not only bait up really quickly with one hand but also pack the feeder full of casters and just a small plug of groundbait. I’ve switched between a small and medium in 30g and 40g and this has covered 95 per cent of my feeder fishing.
The final aspect of my feeder fishing that has really helped to put more fish in my net has been fishing with a long tail. I’ve been starting with a hooklength of 24 inches but this has been increased to nearly double that length when the hybrids have been difficult to catch. Used in conjunction with three floating maggots you can get a very slow fall of your bait and many a hybrid has been nailed in the past few weeks on this tactic.
Keeping an open mind while I’ve been in Ireland has really helped me produce good results on the harder days. One tactic in particular that has helped me do well is the waggler. Now this is something a lot of people ignore but on its day it’s hard to beat.
On the World Pairs I actually had a weight of over 20kg to win the section and it was all taken on the waggler. I won’t mention the angler who was at the next peg but he’s also part of the Matrix team and brilliantly went on to win the event!
My setup usually incorporates an insert waggler, 0.12mm hooklength to a size 16 hook with a bunch of maggots and I either feed casters or small balls of soft groundbait.
It’s also not all about rod-and-line work. As I mentioned, some days you just have to get your head down and do a weight on the pole. This can be really enjoyable, again positive tactics are a must. I like to cup in around five to six balls packed with feed and I will use 2 to 3g rigs to get the bait down quickly to fish over them. A solid No6 elastic through three sections is all I ever use and enables me to swing most fish and speed up my catch rate.
Although these are tactics, tackle and baits I’ve used in Ireland this year they also work on a vast majority of natural waters here in the UK, so even if you’re not tempted to have a taste of the fishing overseas then by adopting some of the ideas I’ve mentioned you can be sure to put more fish in your net.
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Sean steals the win in Round Two Of Lindhome Natural Baits League.
Dynamite ace Sean Cameron has won the second round of the Lindholme Lakes Natural Baits League, with a 43-14-0 net. Drawn on peg 63 on Laurels Lake, Sean found quality F1s on maggot tactics, feeding small balls of Swim Stim to keep fish coming.
In second place was Matrix rod Craig Butterfield, who put a 41-14-0 net together, again on maggots. Ryan Lidguard took the final frame place, with a weight of 40-4-0, again on maggots.
With 50 anglers fishing, three lakes were used - and although Laurels Lake dominated the frame places, the going was tough in areas. The stand out weight on Strip Pond was Nick Speed, who walked the lake with a 31-14-0 net of mainly perch! The Shimano and Dynamite ace broke his personal perch best three times in the course of the match, with his best fish weighing in at 3-5-0.
The best weight on Loco was Paul Christie, who caught 22-0-0 of skimmers and F1s to secure himself a section win.
The next round takes place this Saturday 14th January, with Bonsai, Laurels and Strip being used. To book on, anglers should contact Tom Scholey on 07971620489 or Matt Godfrey on 07917 711722.
1 Sean Cameron (Dynamite) 43-14-0 (Laurels 63)
2 Craig Butterfield (Matrix) 41-14-0 (Laurels 33)
3 Ryan Lidguard 40-4-0 (Laurels 45)