Jon Whincup reveals some findings from his winter commercial campaigns!
F1s – Simple Is Best
I spend most of my winter targeting F1-style venues and one thing I have learnt is that simple is by far the best. A simple bait choice with a simple match attack will always beat a complicated multi-bait approach.
There is definitely a need to fish several lines by the end of the day, but on larger F1 venues such as Decoy Lakes, where I am today, three or four lines will often be enough.
I am very happy to be patient and have found success by being far more patient than some of the younger anglers around. I have seen many of the younger lads are often a bit too quick to move and will end up fishing a dozen lines or more in five hours.
Now I don’t know about you, but I find that hard to keep up with and much prefer to work hard on three or four lines.
You just cannot go wrong with pellets. Yes, baits like maggots and bread have their day, but as with all of my fishing I keep it simple and I know pellets will always work!
I like 2mm feed pellets, which I have softened by soaking in lake water for five minutes. I also carry a few 4mm hard pellets and will sometimes fire three or four over the top. It’s amazing how often the rattle of just a few 4mm pellets can get you a bite.
Expanders are the best hook bait and I stick with the old faithful 4mm and 6mm Bait-Tech Xpands. I soak these the night before in a plastic food bag and they will be a lovely spongy texture.
Finally, I have a few 6mm hard pellets. I have found that on open-water lakes that are effected by tow, hard pellets can be very effective even on cold days.
There are some key points to make when presenting pellets. The first is the size of rigs. Most of the lakes here at Decoy are a good five to six feet deep and thanks to the flat land of the area, can be badly affected by wind and tow.
So while I am sure on smaller intimate commercial lakes, light delicate rigs can work. On these lakes I am more interested in presenting the pellet as still as possible and that often means heavier rigs.
Today the wind is quite light but there is still a good bit of tow about. The 6ft deep swim requires a 0.5g Frenzee FO4 to gain decent, still presentation. I like these floats as they are slim in the body and have a nice long bristle. More importantly though, they have a long glass stem that keeps the float nice and stable.
I have always used a bulk and two droppers on my deck rigs, whether that’s roach fishing, carp fishing or F1 fishing. I like to use positive shot and my dropper are No9s to keep the hook bait as stable as possible.
It’s worth noting that while I am not against using light hooklengths, it’s important to balance the kit and give yourself the realistic chance of landing a rogue carp. My bread and butter is 0.12mm Loaded Mono, with the occasional look with a 0.10mm. I don’t doubt that 0.08mm would get me a few more bites, but I prefer to fish with confidence knowing that I can land everything I hook.
The Perfect Hook Pellet
I don’t use a pump when preparing my pellets and there is a good reason for that. I like to use the weight of the hook to sink the pellet. This is a huge advantage as a size 16 0814 will sink a 4mm pellet nicely, meaning I can use a larger hook with no adverse effects.
To get a similar buoyancy with a pumped expander I would need to use a measly size 20 and I don’t like my odds of landing those bonus fish on hooks that small!
It’s good practice to have a bowl of water on your side tray and get into the habit of testing your hooked pellet to make sure it sinks. If it doesn’t a gentle squeeze in the water will see it sinking nicely.
Setting The Trap
I like to think that every time I ship out, I am effectively setting a little trap perfect for catching one fish at a time and not risking overfeeding.
I use the smallest Soft Pot, which I believe holds a nice amount of pellets for a winter session. I am not too concerned about tapping them in with a sprinkle-style lid and prefer to feed a little nugget of pellets as tight as possible and present the hook bait right over it.
Pole pot position is vital and I like to fish with my Soft Pot as close to the tip as I can get it without getting any tangles.
It’s hollow elastics all the way for me. A nice soft Pink 6-10 Stretch Hollow through a full top kit is perfect. This is ideal for those F1s but also gives me the strength and stretch for the bigger fish. This is especially true when combined with the Eeze Glyde system.
Frenzee does two elastics that are even lighter than this, but the Pink is my favourite as it has a little bit of poke that sets the hook well.
I spent years fishing natural venues and that has taught me a lot about where fish live in certain situations, and that is often overlooked on commercials. Learn your venue.
Things to keep an eye out for are where the prevailing winds blow from and look for the quiet calm areas, as fish will sit out of the wind, tucked in behind an island or other types of cover.
Another thing to keep your eye on is the sun’s position. Learn where the sun shines for the majority of the day and try and exploit those areas. Fish love sunny areas in the winter.
Today, for example, I have a lily bed to my left that has had the sun on it for the entire session. I know the fish will be in the lilies anyway, but the fact that the sun is on them all day makes them even more attractive.
I have purposely left this line to settle without feed and with 90 minutes of the session remaining I try it and have a brilliant spell.
It’s pretty common-sense watercraft. Look for areas that provide shelter and warmth and the fish won’t be too far away.
Is there a better feeling than sitting by a large natural water early on a summer’s morning, as you wait for the tip to pull round with yet another bream? Unfortunately, this idyllic scenario doesn’t last all year…
As winter begins to roll in, the water cools and the fishing becomes more difficult. This doesn’t have to mean the end to the bream fishing, though. If you follow Shaun Little’s advice you can enjoy year-round success on the feeder…
It’s no secret that feeder fishing is becoming hugely popular in the UK and Europe and it seems that more people are now looking at it as a year-round option for their fishing rather than just something to do in the warmer months. The problem is that on large expanses of water, like Kingsbury Water Park where we are today, the fishing can become difficult as the water cools – 100lb bags are rare and it soon becomes apparent that it’s the anglers who work hard that get the results.
Pick Your Swim
Deciding where to fish in winter can make or break your session; obviously every venue is different so it’s hard to give a “one distance works for all” piece of advice. What I would say though, is stick to the distances that worked in the summer as the fish are used to feeding at these ranges.
On most venues in summer you’ll feed a couple of swims, one at a reasonable distance and a closer swim. I’ve found that in winter it’s rare for this closer swim to produce and I prefer to stick to my distance swim. I like to really work one swim rather than try to split my time and effort between two. I know some people won’t agree with this theory but when bites are few and far between I don’t like to come off a swim and risk missing a feeding fish turning up.
This would be different if I was targeting a venue with a good head of small fish like roach, but to keep things simple today I’m sticking to my approach when targeting decent skimmers and bream.
Fish like this make the hard work worth it.
Today I’m fishing at around 45 metres and I’ve set up one of the new 3.6m Matrix Horizon XC Class rods. This is designed for casting feeders up to 60g, which will be plenty for today – even if the wind gets up I’ll have no problem hitting the spot with this rod.
I’ve an Aquos 5000 reel loaded with braid, which helps you to spot the tiny skimmer bites in winter, but it is really important to fish with a shockleader – 8lb mono in my case – especially when fishing lighter hooks and hooklengths in cool water as it helps to reduce breakages.
On the line I’ve got a 30g medium cage feeder and this is fixed in place with a float stop either side, and below this I have a twisted loop and a quick-change swivel. The important part though, is the hooklength.
This is 0.12mm Power Micron to a size 18 SW feeder hook and the key point is the length. As a minimum in cool water I’ll use a 1m hooklength. This gives the bait a slow fall as I’m convinced a lot of the fish watch the bait fall through the water and the more natural the fall the more bites you’ll get. The other reason a long hooklength is important is down to the way I feed my swim, which I will cover next.
Shaun used the 3.6m Horizon XC Class rod to hit the 45m swim!
Change The Way You Feed
Your feeding needs to reflect the weights you expect to catch – putting in 1kg of worm and three pints of casters for a 10lb return doesn’t really add up. You can’t approach every session wanting to catch 100lb of bream, so as the water cools you really need to cut down the feed in the peg.
I’m covering the time between summer and the deepest depths of winter and if it’s freezing then you’d feed tiny amounts, possibly in a three-hole cage feeder, but in this transitional period you can still feed some bait… but groundbait.
The particles on the outside will be released on impact with the water creating a large feed area.
As I mentioned I still use a medium size feeder that actually holds a fair amount of groundbait. The mix I’m using is 80 per cent Bait-Tech Special ‘G’ and 20 per cent Karma, and this is mixed on the dry side as I want it to explode out the feeder very quickly in the shallow water and spread over a bigger area. Fishing in this way can be brilliant when used in conjunction with a long hooklength as the fish get used to seeing bait falling through the water.
One thing I must point out is how I load my loose offerings into my feeder. The conventional way is to load any loose particles into the feeder and then plug either end so the ‘feed’ is right in the centre and gets down to the bottom. As I’m looking to create a larger feed area and I want to encourage the fish to feed away from the feeder, which may spook them, I ensure that my loose offerings are just part of the plug at the end of the feeder. Loading it in this way results in the bait – a few maggots and casters in my case today – coming out on impact and fluttering down to the bottom.
Have A Little Patience
The session I’ve had today is the perfect example of how important it is to have patience and belief in your tactics. I’ve started the session casting every five minutes for the first half-hour to slowly build up the swim and then I increased it to 10-minute casts. I don’t think you need to keep bait going in all the time if you’re not getting bites, as it’s usually a sign there aren’t actually any fish there.
If I start getting bites then I’ll go back to five-minute casts and keep the bait falling through the water.
It takes an hour and 20 minutes to get my first bite, and it’s a lovely skimmer of just over 1lb. It was actually a switch to a bigger bait that rewarded me with the bite. Switching from double red maggot to two worms and a maggot saw the tip pull round just a minute after casting in. This again emphasises the point that the fish see the bait falling through the water, as the bite must have come just as the bait settled.
Now I feel there is a fish or two about I try to cast every five minutes and in the next hour I catch a further five skimmers, with the biggest over 2lb. Bites then tail right off and I feel like I’ve had my golden hour, something that will often happen at this time of year, where the fish will feed for a while before switching off or moving. This is why I feel it’s important to concentrate on just one swim as it can be too easy to miss your chance.
For the rest of the session it’s a case of really working to try to get a bite; I regularly switch hook baits and even fine down my hook size and try a single maggot but eventually I step back up to a bigger hook and bait and I’m rewarded with two more fish in a quick burst.
My last fish comes right at the end of the session when I had five quick casts five metres past where my swim was. I don’t like to do this too early in the session as it can be detrimental to the fishing, but it can be worth an extra fish or two at the end of a match.
I’ve finished the session with nine fish for around 16lb, which would be a really good weight for this time of year. I’ve kept my tactics simple and made a real effort not to feed too much bait, and this in conjunction with the long hooklength has really worked well today.
Despite the weather turning and fishing becoming increasingly difficult it’s well worth sticking with the feeder, and if you can follow some of my advice the rewards are there to be had, and the end result can be even more satisfying when the hard work pays off.
Hard earned but very satisfying.
Modern-day commercials are full of fish, but in match conditions, it can be anything but easy to catch them as soon as those nets go in. Des Shipp explains how to maximise your results.
Such is the angling pressure on modern waters, particularly the more heavily fished ones, that the stocks seem to have wised up to sloppy approaches and mundane feeding tactics.
That’s not to say that these fish can’t be caught. Some days they give themselves up far easier, but when the weather conditions are cooler, or overnight temperatures drop, they can be anything but ‘easy’.
I’ve brought the Match Fishing cameras to Ivy House Lakes today, in Wiltshire. It’s a place I have some knowledge of, having fished here a little. One of the recent matches was tough going, but a thoughtful approach to tactics and feeding kept me in touch with the fish on what could have otherwise been a very bleak day – no pun intended.
Many on the match struggled, such were the conditions, so I kept things lighter on the rig front in anticipation of a tougher match.
Having drawn in a corner on the day I thought a long margin line, slightly into the deeper water down the shelf, would be key. It proved to be, so that’s the area I’ll concentrate on explaining in most depth for this feature.
I fed several lines on the day, as I have also done today; the other main one of note being an open-water swim straight in front of me at 14.5 metres.
The rig for this is made using a 0.4g Preston PB Inter 2 on 0.13mm Reflo Power to a 0.11mm hooklength. A strung bulk completes the rig along with a size 16 Preston PR 434.
The rig for fishing towards the margin, in around three and a half feet of water, is a 4x14 Preston PB Inter 8 mounted on the same line and using the same hook. The shotting pattern is taken care of with strung-out No10s to allow a slow fall of the expander pellet hook bait. It’s all about lifting and dropping the relatively light rig and allowing the hook bait to ‘work’ for you as naturally as possible.
Now, this is the key area to success really. I have plumbed two lines across to the right-hand margin, one at 14.5 metres and one at 16 metres, but both the same distance away from the bank so I can use the same rig in two swims.
What I found on the match was that the fish were hanging off the back of the feed. So, I only pot bait in at 14.5 metres and intend to fish on that line to catch ‘mug’ fish, but fish past it at 16 metres when they back off.
Loose feeding is a key part of the strategy, with the aim being to loose feed bait over and just past the 14.5m line. That way I can always work the rig on the 16m line, which will be at the far extreme of the feed area where the ‘crafty’ carp hold back and venture onto the edge of the feed.
These fish have become wise to piles of bait and, as such, hang back with caution. Therefore a few pellets ‘flirted’ over the area with a rig offering a slow fall of the hook bait is THE key way to approach them.
The open-water swim is a key go-to area while you build the margin line as it’s important not to exploit the margin until fish, hopefully, carp, have built in confidence feeding there.
Bites on the margin line are often delicate too, hence I dot my float right down to maximise the rig sensitivity.
Des targeted the skimmers while he built up the margin line.
The open-water line on today’s session proves important for catching the resident skimmers – something that’s crucial on trickier days to help you to keep putting weight in the net while you build your other lines.
I want to briefly cover why I have not put my margin rigs right up against the bank in the shallowest water. This is simply because the fish aren’t wanting to feed there confidently at the time of shooting this feature, so coming away into three feet or so where the water is deeper is a more logical place. Don’t always assume these fish want to be right up in the ‘rat holes’. On many days you will reap better rewards by targeting them where I am today. Plus, it’s all too easy to get distracted by waving tails when you’re fishing in very shallow water – you won’t have this problem in three feet. This also has a knock-on with your feeding: when you can’t see the fish it’s less easy to get carried away with piling too much feed in and destroying your swims.
Des potted in pellets...
After two hours of nurture and with half a dozen good skimmers in the net it’s time for a look up the long margin swims. I have been potting modest amounts of bait on the 14.5m line, consisting of micro pellets and softened expander pellets (the same as I will be using on the hook).
... and pinged a few over the top.
I have regularly been loose feeding softened 4mm pellets over the top too, in frugal quantities to create some noise and keep that all-important bait going through the water column.
My swim-building is rewarded by a small but perfectly formed carp, but the next drop-in reveals no bites, liners or indications. Now the extension goes up the back of my Preston M90 pole to get the rig to the far extremes of the feed area at 16 metres.
The light proves tricky and the reflection on the water from the still bare surrounding trees is doing little to help.
The same rig was used at 14.5 and 16 metres.
The approach is a success, though. The float dips sharply and wham, another carp is stripping my 11H elastic from the pole as it makes its getaway.
Working the swim in this way is exactly the right thing to do. Now it’s a case of try and repeat.
By that I mean try the 14.5m line again and if no bites occur then I pot a modest amount of feed in (see image) and continue to loose feed just six to 10 softened 4mm feed pellets over the top between the 14.5m and 16m lines without feeding past where the rig will be when presented at 16 metres.
This approach has helped me to secure many a match win either in trickier conditions, or when fishing heavily pressured fish, or both.
Small but perfectly formed
I’ve ended the session with several carp and a handsome net of fine skimmers. These skimmers are so important to build weight elsewhere (usually in open water) while you nurture other swims. I haven’t truly exploited these silvers today as the nature of the shoot was to demonstrate the margin approach first and foremost. However, with my considered approach, you will be conquering crafty commercial-water carp in no time!
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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.
Marukyu backed angler Martin Stokes reports back from the Alders Farm Fishery in Milton Keynes...
On Friday I fished the beautiful Alders Farm Fishery in Milton Keynes, for me it was the first time at Alders. The venue itself is a stunning place that is full of carp.
The match was a special event for all the Pro Staff and sponsored anglers at Marukyu.
The lake for the day was called Pines, and I drew peg 17, which meant nothing to me, with pretty much every peg in on the lake I knew the fishing would be slightly hard.
Started the match fishing 15m on the pole shallow, about 18 inches deep fishing a banded 6mm Marukyu Focus Pellet flavoured with Amino Scopex feeding 6mm Fishery pellets again flavoured with Amino Scopex. I had a good start putting a few small carp in the net, over the next hour the wind start to increase blowing strongly to my left, I could tell that my peg was fading as the carp started following the wind to the other end of the lake.
Three Hours into the match it was clear that my area of the lake didn't stand a chance of winning the lake as many top class anglers were struggling for a bite.
The few carp that were in the peg stopped feeding completely, at this point I decided to pick up my feeder rod, with small pellet feeder loaded with soaked 2mm pellets and a little Marukyu Pellet Skrunch Groundbait and a couple of dead red amino maggots.
Luckily my peg had a small island with a few overhanging trees, so looked a perfect feature for holding a few sneaky carp.
I spent the last couple of hours, nicking the odd fish odd fish on the pellet feeder, it was hard work casting tight under the tree in a strong crosswind, but them carp were hiding under it and wouldn't move. Have to admit I was fishing the squirrels a few times.
I Decided to have a few a chucks with the "New Marukyu 4 Bands" that were given out before the match and have say that they are a little bit special, so keep your out for when the get released in a few weeks.
Come the end of the match, apart from my casting skills being a little rusty I was pleased and didn't feel like the peg was worth much more. I weighed 67lb 13oz, which was the best weight from my end of the lake and was good enough for 4th overall with the top three weights all coming from the other end of the lake where the wind was blowing.
I Have to save, even though the fishing was hard, it was a great event at a stunning venue, and was a pleasure to meet some of the new lads that have joined Marukyu this year. The match was covered by Tom Scholey at Catch More Media so keep your eyes out for the short film that will be released in a few weeks!
We caught up with Wayne Swinscoe at Meadowlands Fishery for a lesson in catching winning weights of silvers on deep venues.
MF: What’s the difference between tackling large and deep venues like this one here at Meadowlands, compared to your average 5ft to 6ft deep commercial pond?
WAYNE SWINSCOE: I think the main thing is the fact that you are much more exposed to the elements on venues like this. Larger bodies of water are affected much more by the wind. That means they can really tow at times. Being anything from eight to 15 feet deep also means you have to be much more positive and robust in your approach.
On shallower lakes, you can use much lighter pole floats so you can lay them in nicely. On a lake like this one, you have to be much more positive and lower heavier floats in to get a bait down to the catching area. The extra depth and undertow also mean the way you feed and where you choose to fish plays a crucial part.
A lot of Swinno's bites are left bites.
What would be your typical target?
You can expect silver-fish weights of 40lb or more on these waters, so they can play a massive part even if carp are also required to make the frame. To catch the bigger weights you’ll usually need bream and skimmers. These are the main weight builders. However, you could easily catch 20lb-plus of roach here on Lambsdown, so they cannot be ignored either. Bonus tench, hybrids and big perch are also on the cards, but I always treat these as a bonus as you cannot target them specifically.
How many swims would you typically plumb up?
I think one or two pole swims are ample on big waters like this. That could be one short and one long, or one left and one right at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock angles. It all depends on the conditions – and don’t forget the wind normally picks up later in the day, so you always need to try and anticipate what’s going to happen later on.
Some days, just like today, conditions are less than favourable and that’s when I will concentrate all my efforts down one hole. I would rather do that and work one swim than spread things all over the place and never be quite sure where I should be fishing.
We’ve noticed the bottom is sloping today. What advice have you got for swims like this?
Here at Meadowlands, you’ll struggle to find a flat bottom to fish. More often it will deepen up anything from eight inches to a foot every pole joint you add. I, therefore, plumb up really accurately, right at the end of my pole so that I know the exact depth my rig is at. I then also plumb up a section further and a section closer to cover myself.
On sloping venues like this, I think it’s really important to feed around 18 inches short of the float. I don’t honestly know if the feed does roll down the slope but it gives you peace of mind that you’re fishing in the right spot to get bites. Around 13 metres is a comfortable catching range and should still be about fishable if the wind gets up. Conditions are rarely favourable enough to be going as far as 16 metres.
It’s towing a lot today, so do you hold the rig steady or let it go with the flow?
Dipping the pole tip helps keep the rig steady.
There are days when holding the rig dead still on a spraybar works well, but I’d much rather try and search the length of the swim first before deciding that’s the right way to go. I always like to use any tow to my advantage and search the swim. By that, I mean trying to the left and the right of your feed as well as above and below it.
It can be deceiving as some days the wind and tow will be going in completely opposite directions and you’ll get more bites to one side of the feed. Sometimes that is the opposite side to what you expected.
It’s also common to find two very distinct catching areas; one directly where you’ve fed and one as much as six feet or more downstream, even though all your feed is going down the same hole. I think when the lake really tows the fish line up as if you were fishing a river. That’s a useful point to bear in mind, as you can often pick off fish from the main feed area but also nick an occasional one or two much further down the peg.
What about rigs?
Simple, tangle-free rigs are vital for deep water. I use slim G-Tip 2 floats when the fishing is calm and rounder-bodied and thicker-bristled G-Tip 3s when conditions are rougher. Today I have a 1g G-Tip 2 and a 1.5g G-Tip 3 set up to cover both extremes. These are shotted very simply with olivettes around two feet from the hook and three No9 droppers spread below. Main line is 0.12mm to a 6in 0.08mm Drennan Rig Line hooklength. I’ll step this up to 0.10mm if the fish are feeding freely.
For the hook, I’m a massive fan of Drennan Silverfish Maggots as the points are so long and fish don’t seem to come off them. A size 18 is ideal most of the time, as you can easily bury a caster inside or fish double maggot. If I’m fishing worm heads I like a size 16 and I’ll drop to a 20 on really hard days with single maggot.
Wayne's a big fan of these hooks for... silver fish!
Can you tell us what you plan to feed and why?
My tried-and-trusted groundbait is a 50/50 mix of Bait-Tech Super G Green and Pro Natural Dark. I sieve this before mixing, however, to remove the bigger seeds and bits as you don’t want dry particles drawing fish off the bottom. I also mix it quite wet so that it goes straight down. I might include up to a third of the mix as damp leam, too. Skimmers seem to really like leam, plus it adds weight and reduces the overall feed content.
Wayne cups in around half-a-dozen of these and wants them to go straight down!
I will cup in four to six balls at the start, around 18 inches closer in. These will usually include a generous amount of maggots and casters.
Would you use pellets as well?
I think maggots and casters are the most reliable baits to feed, but the warmer it gets the more likely pellets are to play a part, so I will always have some with me. If it’s out and out skimmers then loose feeding 4mms and fishing a big 6mm expander on the hook can work particularly well. However, it’s very difficult to present pellets so well on a windy day like today.
You will also miss out on any quality roach and perch that are swimming about. Half my weight today has been made up of stamp roach so they should never be ignored on days like this.
What about other baits such as worms and pinkies?
Worms are very much the same as pellets and best included on warmer days. You don’t need loads – a quarter to a third of a kilo at the most. I like to chop them up fine and also make sure they are really clean before chopping as I don’t want any peat at all mixed in with my worms when I’m bottom fishing. I’ve added a pinch of worms to my feed at the start and tried worm on the hook but maggots and casters have definitely been better today.
Pinkies can have their day, particularly in the depths of winter, but I’d much rather be more positive and feed casters and maggots instead.
Do you prefer live or dead maggots?
It’s fashionable to use dead maggots these days but more and more I find I catch better using live maggots on the hook. Skimmers seem to respond really well to one or two live maggots, but I’ll bring both and experiment.
Will you try fishing off the bottom at all?
I generally fish anything up to four inches overdepth with this style of fishing. The windier it is the better for catching on the deck. You’ll probably find that it’s easier to catch a few inches off the bottom on shallower venues as you’ll be using lighter rigs so the fish will feel much less resistance. Trying to do that in 10 feet or more of water with heavier rigs is much less effective.
However, catching really shallow can often still be an option, particularly on warm and sunny days. When skimmers are the main target, however, I generally prefer to keep them on the bottom where they are much easier to catch.
Do you loose feed as well?
I like to pot in several balls of groundbait at the start and then regularly top up when bites dictate. That will typically be another small ball every 30 minutes or so packed with feed. I also think loose feeding is very important and bring two or three pints of casters. You don’t want to get carried away with loose feeding, however, as the fish can come off the bottom and cause missed bites and foul hookers.
To overcome this I’ll feed a couple of larger pouches more sporadically. If it’s an out-and-out bagging-up day for skimmers then I might cut out the loose feed entirely and just pot in groundbait. It’s all about reading the swim and working out what’s best on the day.
Is there a set pattern on matches like this?
Quite often you will catch roach and perch early and then a few skimmers will move in midway through before a few bigger skimmers turn up in the last hour. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes you can catch good skimmers from the off and then they peter out. In an ideal world, the fishing will get progressively better and better the longer you fish as more feed goes in and more and more fish find it.
What do you do if it goes quiet?
This happens a lot on this kind of water. Sometimes the fish will just drift off. Sometimes it means a predator is in the peg. Sometimes better bream will push out the roach completely. Sometimes it’s because a carp has turned up. There is not a lot you can do when this happens other than search the perimeter of your peg to try and keep eking out a few fish.
Another reason for a swim going quiet that I’m sure many people don’t fully appreciate is that you haven’t fed enough bait. You’re rarely more than 20 yards away from a fish on a decent commercial, but you’ve got to keep topping up to make the most of it. They’ll soon clear you out and drift off if you let them.
You’ve also set a quivertip rod up. Why’s that?
On really gusty days like today you’ll often have no option other than to chuck a bomb over the top of your pole swim. To do this I like to be really accurate, so before the start I’ll put my rod on the rest, attach a 1oz lead, pop it in my pole pot, open my bail arm and ship out to the exact distance I’m fishing. I then drop it into the swim and clip up. I then also mark the line next to the line clip with a permanent marker. This now means I can try a yard further out or closer in and still know exactly where I’m fishing.
My setup is very simple and consists of a 3/8oz bomb fished on a paternoster, 4lb main line to a 2ft to 2½ft hooklength of 0.12mm Rig Line and a size 18 Silverfish Maggot. The rod is an 11ft 6in Matchpro Combo with a light ¾oz or 1oz tip.
Double maggot is a great hook bait on this setup, but don’t ignore double caster either as that’s actually produced my two biggest bream today. You could use a small feeder instead of a bomb but I think this completely alters the way you’ve been feeding, so I’d rather continue to top up with larger balls via the pole and loose feed casters over the top as normal. It’s a useful trick to have on standby and bought me an extra 8lb to 10lb of fish today.
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Bag’em Matchbaits have joined forces with the prolific Larford Lakes.
The deal was verbally sealed just over a week ago and we feel it will be great opportunity for both parties involved.
Caroline Reed Bag 'Em Matchbaits manager signed contracts with Phil Briscoe on Thursday and finalised the deal. Bag 'Em's consultant Ian Giddins also played a big part with initial negotiations with Phil Briscoe at the lakes.
We look forward to working alongside Phil and all the staff at the lakes and also look forward to being fully involved in all festivals, finals and big events that Larford lakes hold.
The pellet cone is a great tactic for cold weather when a bite or two can make the difference between a dull session and a match win. It’s all about setting a one-bite trap in the correct place, ready to tempt a passing lump into having a go.
Pemb Wrighting is highly adept at catching in all conditions and the pellet cone is one of his go-to methods when the temperature drops: “It’s great for offering a small pile of bait with the hook bait most prominent – the fish doesn’t have to be feeding hard to want to investigate and then a bite won’t be far behind.”
Today, Pemb has chosen Sumners Ponds Fishery in Horsham, West Sussex to demonstrate the effectiveness of the pellet cone and with the weather veering between Arctic blasts from one of the many winter storm systems and bright sunshine, the Guru-backed ace will need to bring his A game to get a result.
As with any method, location is important and even more so with the Pellet Cone due to its bite-at-a-time nature. “Using your watercraft skills is essential, as always. But when you’re angling for a fish at a time, it’s even more vital to be targeting areas where they’re holed up and the angler who can anticipate where these hot spots are will be successful.”
“Here, I’m starting off by targeting two general areas in front of me – one is an island and that’s an obvious feature whatever the weather. The other is a little harder to work out but, in my opinion, more likely to produce fish in this weather, and that’s a sunken island off to my left. I’ll explore both of these areas thoroughly with the pellet cone and I know that if any fish are resident, I’ll soon get a bite or a liner.
“Incidentally, liners are an important clue at this time of year – if you’re getting them, you’re not far off the fish and dropping short or switching the hook bait to a more visual option, such as corn, or something smelly like meat, might tempt them into having a go.”
“Back to the sunken island; it’s deeper than the other island feature and I prefer to target the deeper areas when it’s cold, as these will retain the heat a bit longer when the cold wind is affecting the upper layers, as it is today. It’s freezing when the wind gets up!”
“I’m dropping just short of the island so my rig will be sitting in the deeper channel before the island, and I’m flicking the odd pellet or two over the top to keep any fish in the area looking for food. This is a great tip if you know the area you’re targeting holds a few fish – maybe you’ve seen them bubbling, rolling or disturbing the bottom – but no bites are forthcoming.”
“As the session goes on, I expect to be exploring the water in front of me and there’s a likely looking area to my left with some deeper water where I’ve seen fish bubbling earlier, so this will be worth a look.”
A little cracker!
“This is where the pellet cone comes into its own – if I fed over the top and they’re not feeding heavily, I could easily spook them or they might have had their fill after a handful of pellets, but with the pellet cone I can be sure that my bait is the most attractive thing in the area and if they want to feed, there’s only one option – my hook bait.”
Pemb's Perfect Cone Setup...
When the pellets are ready to go, I'll turn mt attentions to the hook bait, in this case, meat. A neat 8mm punched piece is ideal and having the Punch Box certainly helps to keep the bait fresh and to hand. I'll hair rig this to a size 12 QM1 hook to 0.19mm N-Gauge
A great little tip is to use the handle of baiting needle to ease the compressed pellets out of the cone without damaging them. I then thread the hooklength with the come onto the X-Safe Speed Stem, add a dollop of Goo and it's ready to go.
Next, I'll select the right size cone and press the pellets into it, just firm enough so they stay on during the cast but break down one they hit the bottom. I'll then use a fine baiting needle to thread the hooklength through the cone and nestle the hook and bait just inside it.
Pemb carries three sizes of pellet cone, and throughout the session, he’ll use all three depending on the distance he needs to cast and the temperature.0.
The Surrey-based product developer explains: “If it’s freezing cold and the fish aren’t active, I’ll definitely kick off with the smallest pellet cone. This provides such a small pile of bait that even the most inactive carp or bream will pick up. The small one is also good for a longer cast as it offers less resistance.”
“The medium size cone will come out when I know there are a few fish or larger carp in the area, to provide a larger pile of attraction via the micro pellets breaking down. The larger cone will come into play if, for example, I’m targeting a closer in spot which doesn’t require a big cast or if conditions are good and the fish are getting their heads down. The more attractive nature of the bigger pile of pellets will help to draw the freely feeding fish in.”
Hook Bait Choice
A majority of Pemb’s pellet cone fishing revolves around the use of four hook baits, all of which play a subtly different role in maximising the opportunities in front of him.
“Kicking off with corn, this is a favourite for clear water and really cold conditions. It stands out so well on the lake-bed and fish are used to eating it, so it’s a safe bet for a wary carp or two.
“Bread is another favourite, and I love a three or four punched pieces – it’s probably the best all-rounder at this time of year. However, it’s not the one when there are nuisance fish present as they will make short work of bread hook baits. “Meat is my go-to big fish hook bait when the water is coloured. It chucks out loads of scent and a dose of Goo enhances this no end – I carry a couple of different bottles and usually one will stand out as working best at this particular venue or in these conditions.”
Don't leave home without some sliced white bread.
“Lastly, pellet is a great option in warmer weather when they’re really having it and feeding well. I’d simply band a 8/11mm pellet and use it like that.”
Pemb gives his pellet cone and meat hook bait a good dose of Pineapple Power Smoke Gook and it isn’t long before a chunky Sumner’s Pond mirror finds his way to Pemb’s waiting net, proving that this deadly combination is irresistible on even the coldest of days.
Tough going, but this is when the cone comes good!
Name: Pemb Wrighting
Sponsors: Guru & Bag 'em
MF Says: The Future's Bright...
Venue: Sumners Ponds
Location: Chapel Road, Barns Green, Horshame, West Sussex, RH13 OPR
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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.
Dan Webb recalls the recent Northamptonshire County Cup, and a less than profitable trip to Ireland…
Well, there it is… 12 months have passed since I started writing these, er, chronicles. Yes, chronicles, I like that! Much has changed in that time, although I am a little disappointed that my two-page spread has now dropped to only one page and hasn’t in fact taken over at least 12 pages.
To try and remedy this, I’ve sent Tom 300 photos from my recent trip to Ireland, so he has no excuse for short changing me again! I’m sure at least one of them will be good enough for a cover shot. I may not be an Andy Geldart, but if Des Shipp is handsome enough to get on the cover then I’m sure I am!
Anyway, as I’m writing this I’ve just competed in the nationally prized and prestigious Northamptonshire County cup. No, you’re thinking of Warwickshire, I’m talking about Northamptonshire, the county famed for its… well, that’s not important. Anyway, the Northamptonshire County Cup this year was on the Grand Union Canal in Leicestershire. (I thought that too, don’t ask!)
As I was walking along the bank I could see an angler giving me the eye. As I passed he stopped me to ask if I was the lad who wrote for Match Fishing magazine. With a little pride and a cheeky smile I said I was. After explaining that I was actually 32, yet didn’t mind being called a lad, we had a good chat about the mag. I found it a little strange that he didn’t actually mention any of the things I’d written… and then the penny dropped. He thought I was Matt Godfrey! (I notice you haven’t mentioned how you got on – I take it you didn’t win anything then? Ed.)
Also in the last 12 months, I hope I’ve managed to provide a service to the people. Rob Perkins for sure must see me as some kind of good luck charm, as days after I named him as one of the worst drawers ever in this very mag he only went and won the Division One national. Even Alanis Morissette would be stunned by the irony of that one!
Just how big were the waves?
Well, after all this hard work writing 800 words a month, I decided to go on holiday. I’d already been on a family holiday, so I wanted a bit of ‘man time’ and could think of no better destination than the magnificent Lough Muckno in Co Monaghan, Ireland, along with 50 other like-minded individuals.
I thought seven days of late nights, early starts and fighting the elements wading out in an Irish lough would be the perfect rest! Couple that with the town council donating several thousand euros (a better investment than our pitiful pound) in prize money and free evening meals for every competitor provided by The Old Coach Inn and you suddenly have a very special event!
The weather was pretty good for October and the fishing was amazing, which lulled me into a false sense of security. I thought I’d fished in some wild weather until I drew on the point of White Island on the Wednesday. Gale-force wind is something most anglers have experienced, but fishing on a big open water adds a further dimension!
The vast expanse of water generates really big waves and being sat out in the water, laying gear down on the grass to stop it blowing away just isn’t an option! I also made the schoolboy error of setting my footplate level with the water. At that height the biggest waves crashed over the canopy on my side tray and the spray and foam went over the cushion on my box, filling the trays with water! The waves would hit with such force that my platform would shake and I feared it would buckle underneath me. I had to keep checking on mini Mark Pollard on the next peg, because I was sure he was going to drown! I did say it was a man’s holiday!
Luckily I got away unscathed from that one but it didn’t stop the festival organisers from presenting me with a life jacket for the next day. I wasn’t feeling my best, however. I’m sure it was the bag of crisps I had after last night’s Guinness, as I felt fine before that!
In a state of slight disorientation while setting up in the morning, I tripped on a rock in the water and ended up sitting down in Lough Muckno. Luckily my waders survived but my leg was left battered and bleeding. Despite it being October I wore shorts for the rest of the week so that everyone could see my Muckno scars! I’m not very good with Greek mythology but I’m sure I must have also damaged my Achilles elbow, as try as I might I just couldn’t win the festival and had to watch that Simon Willsmore drink all the prize money!
Plenty of fish but no prizes...
I even tried to sabotage his groundbait by weeing in it on the last day, but it looks like I actually relieved myself in Lee Klimczuk’s by mistake as he got beaten both sides, something many thought was impossible! It upset him so much that he even went home early (not to the hotel, to England!), leaving poor Polly with the unenviable task of dealing with the winnings. Unfortunately Matrix hasn’t designed a winnings trolley yet!
So here I am, home, exhausted and limping but boy was that a great trip. I love the place and can’t wait until next year! I just hope I’ve got round to telling the wife I’m going before this goes to print!
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