Make the most out of every peg that you draw this month with Andrew Mann’s peg planning tactics…
Have you ever fished a perfect match? I often come away from the bank knowing full well that I could have made better decisions and got a better result. More recently however, I have started to plan out my matches. I used to think that fishing was too unpredictable and wild for a strategic plan to be put in place. However, especially on commercial fisheries, implementing a plan for your session will improve your results!
Planning my session begins before I get to the bank. For example, before today’s session here on the Mickey Mouse Lake at Docklow Pools, I knew that I’d be targeting both silver fish and carp. Before even arriving, I had a plan to fish at close range for the silvers in the early part of the session, with the hope of catching some carp in the latter part down the margins.
On The Peg…
It isn’t until after drawing your peg that the detailed planning really begins. I like to place my box down on the swim that I’ve drawn, and sit down to really think about the match ahead. Sometimes, I’ll sit for up to 10 minutes considering options. Today, I’m faced with a luscious swim full of options, but to get the best from it, I need to carefully choose where I fish, when I fish there and what I fish there.
Rule Of Three
The matches when I feel like I’ve done worst are always the ones when I’ve fished too many swims and made things overcomplicated. I stick to having a maximum of three swims. I’ve found this is the right amount to give you scope to catch various species and sizes of fish, without ending up in a muddle!
The first swim that I want to choose is a banker, where I’m going to get plenty of bites and catch efficiently to build up a weight of mixed species. The chances are that I won’t be able to catch big carp all the way through the match, so this swim will be vital in keeping my weight topped up. I need to be able to feed it accurately too, which is why I’m placing this swim just five metres out, straight in front of me, at the base of the nearside shelf.
While sat on the swim thinking about my plan, I also notice that there are quite a lot of fish moving out in open water in front of me. Normally, I would think about fishing on the bottom on the long pole, most likely with pellets. In fact before arriving at the swim, I had in my head that this would be an ideal long-pole attack.
However, after seeing an odd carp cruising about and lots of quality fish topping, I’m now planning on feeding an odd cube of meat, while attempting to ‘mug’ an odd cruising carp when the opportunity comes.
I feel like the best place for me to catch a number of big fish to potentially win the match off this peg, is down the margins. I’m presented with two options for this – one to the left and one to the right. I like to pick what I think is going to be the most favourable margin. I always try and choose the side that has the most fish-pulling potential. Today for example, I have an island to my left that leaves a very narrow gap to draw fish from. The near bank is also very open, with little cover in the way of bankside vegetation. However, to my right, I’m fishing towards the main body of the lake. There are loads of reeds and shade from several big trees growing beside the lake. This is a much more favorable area to target, and I’m certain it will bring the best result.
Pinging just two or three clubs of meat is enough to keep fish hunting on the long-pole swim!
Once set up and ready to fish a match, it’s vital that you remain in control of what you are doing, and that’s where sticking to the plan really helps. Watching anglers around you can be a big advantage in certain situations. For example, if someone starts catching down the edge, it’s a sure sign that fish may be moving in to feed. However, it’s vital that you don’t get sucked into chasing fish. If the guy next door happens to catch a 10lb carp out of the blue on the pellet waggler, the last thing you should do is pick that up and try and fluke one the same. Stick to your plan and you’ll catch him up later.
My basic plan for today is to catch on the short swim for as long as possible, while pinging just on odd piece of meat on the long pole. I am going to leave the margins alone until later in the match. If I feel like there’s an opportunity to catch a cruising fish, I will, and if the short swim needs a rest, I have the option to try the longer meat swim.
Starting The Match
At the off, I’ve simply shipped out to five metres and fed five or six times by hand with around 30 casters. I’ve also pinged three cubes of meat out onto the long line four or five times. Starting on the bottom on this short swim, I’m into fish immediately. I’m feeding as often as I possibly can at the minute to try and draw in lots of fish and already I’ve started getting bites on the drop as my rig is settling. Roach, ide and an odd chub are hitting the net regularly, and picking up my shallow rig, I begin to catch even quicker.
A Welcome Boost
After around an hour, I’m confident that I’ve got close to 20lb of silver fish in the net, and action is still thick and fast. However, I have just seen a swirl where I’ve been pinging meat, so I’m making a quick move to try the swim. Baiting up with my favourite ‘banded meat’ and looking at my watch, I’m giving it just five minutes so that I don’t miss out the silver-fish action. It seems that I don’t need to worry however, because as soon as my rig hits the water, there’s a huge swirl and my elastic is dragged out! After a short-lived battle, I’ve bagged a 6lb bonus carp in just two minutes. I see this as a free ticket to have another look out on this long swim, but all the time I’m feeding casters on the short line maintaining the plan of building a weight from there. A chub around 2lb follows on the long swim, before another quick look leaves me biteless for two minutes. This is long enough to urge me to get off this swim and continue putting fish in the net on the short line.
After another good spell of catching well on the short swim, I see a mugging opportunity on the long line, as a couple of large dark shadows cruse into the swim. I have a rig assembled for flicking out to these fish with a long line between float and pole tip, with the float set just six inches deep. My bait choice for this is always meat, a visible bait that sinks incredibly slowly, maximising the chances of a fish seeing your bait. Hard pellets or corn may fall that little bit too quickly for a fish to see it and grab it as it cruises past. A deadly trick when looking to ‘mug’ fish like this is to make sure you have your mugging rig hooked-up and ready to go beside you. I actually hook my hook into my pole sock, and lay the top kit beside me so I can quickly grab it and ship out to mug a lump.
This time, it works a treat and swinging my long line out towards the front of the cruising fish I quite literally watch a lean common engulf my cube of meat, before angrily swirling off like a torpedo, straight between the tree stumps out in the middle of the lake. I manage to turn the fish by lifting the pole high – a great trick if you feel like the fish is about to bottom your elastic out. This sudden change of angle often turns the fish. It certainly works this time for me, and I’m soon shaking a 12lb Docklow common into the landing net.
Areas of scum like this are perfect target areas for mugging fish!
A Free Match Win…
Sticking to my guns, I’m straight back on the short swim and as I’ve continued feeding this throughout, it’s no surprise that the fish are still feeding well here. Having my mugging rig set up and ready to go, I manage to sneak a couple more carp over the next couple of hours, both which have come right over the swim where I’ve been pinging meat all day. I’m sure the fish weren’t keen on feeding, but the noise of an odd cube hitting the water has intrigued them. When I’ve seen them, I’ve simply dropped a bait in front of them and they’ve fallen for it.
I can’t stress enough the importance of catching these ‘free’ fish. At the end of most matches, the result is often tight and those odd fish that cruise past can quite literally be a free match win. The great thing about mugging is that it takes just a few seconds to ship-out and try for a fish. Once it has swam off or you’ve caught it, you can drop back onto the silvers swim and continue putting fish in the net.
The Finish line
With the final hour of the match approaching, I’m planning to set a margin trap to give me a final weight boost. In my opinion, the later you can leave it to feed the margins, the better it will be. I’ve often left it until there is just 50 minutes of a match remaining, and find that fish come straight to this. I’m certain that the fish have modified body clocks based around match hours, which is why they often feed later on when their guard has dropped. The later you leave the margins, the more you’ll catch there!
For today’s feature, I’m feeding this with exactly one-hour of the session remaining. Rather than potting in loads of feed, I’m feeding just half a pole pot of hemp and 6mm cubed meat – enough to draw in a couple of fish and get them competing. Whenever I feed pots and pots of bait down the edge, I seem to foul-hook and loose a lot of fish, so more recently I’ve started feeding less and had great results.
I actually feed this swim another two times before fishing there, to get the fish used to the feed going in, and create plenty of competition for the fish. After the first pot of feed I could see the water colouring up, and now after three feeds and putting a few more silver fish in the net, I’m ultra confidant of catching some there!
One At A Time…
After feeding the next handful of hemp and meat down the edge, I follow this in with my rig baited with a single cube of meat. It’s vital that you pay attention to where you feed when fishing the margins in this way. You are only feeding a small area of bait, so you need to be fishing right over the top of it. Pick a marker, and ensure your top kit and cupping kit are exactly the same length! Quite literally seconds after lowering in my rig, my elastic is dragged out – proof the feeding tactic was right.
After landing a 5lb mirror, I re-feed with the same handful of bait, follow this is with my rig, and I’m immediately into another fish. This way of resetting the margin swim after each fish is devastating in the latter stages of a match, which is proved when I put a run of eight carp together to finish the day. Had I fed the swim earlier, or introduced too much bait, I’m certain I wouldn’t have caught this many.
Although I’ve caught really well, I’ve kept feeding the short swim. On some days, you can drop in down the margins and catch a couple of quick fish before they spook and bites stop. If you can quickly drop back in on the short swim and continue putting fish in the net, it makes the margin fish a real bonus. However, if you continue to sit down the edge catching nothing, you may actually end up catching a lower weight than you would do if you had continued to fish and catch in open water.
As you can see from the catch shot, having a clear plan has helped me put together this stunning net of fish today. By basing my day around putting fish in the net on the short swim, talking any free big-fish opportunities during the day, and attacking the margins late, I’ve ended with well over that magical 100lb mark. Plan your match carefully, stick to the plan, and those brown envelopes are sure to find their way into your pocket.
Name: Andrew Mann
Pole: Daiwa Tournament
Name: Docklow Pools Fishery
Location: Docklow, Leominster HR6 0RU
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