Six steps to help you bag up this weekend

Roach, bream, carp, tench, barbel, rudd, perch, orfe, crucians, goldfish, ide, chub... just a few of the species you’ll now find in many commercials. 

There are now so many different fish species in our stillwaters that you can often put together a real mixed catch with more than its fair share of surprises. Selecting the correct baits and rigs and you can keep your options open so when that float next goes under you’ll never be sure what’s on the hook. 

It’s a pleasant change to a day of carp, carp and more carp – as four-times World Champ Bob Nudd knows only too well. The name of the game on such fisheries is bites, and he’s not bothered if they’re from roach, bream or carp. Adopt a flexible approach with baits to suit and you can maximise your swim’s potential and introduce a bit of spice to your fishing this weekend

Always have extra options and lines to drop into. On a typical commercial, any far-bank or island cover will hold carp and F1s, and I’ll fish tight up to this as fish will feed in coloured, shallow water right now. 

If you get line bites in a depth of 2ft-3ft you can go up the shelf even further to eliminate these. Look for gaps in reed beds where you can get really tight to the bank, or try a shallow rig next to the reeds themselves.

A second line aimed at smaller fish should also go in. I like to fish this fairly close, where I can feed comfortably by hand. That that usually means using my top kit and two main pole sections. This puts me at the base of the near shelf on most fisheries, just into the deepest water on a flat bottom. A hard, flat bottom means I can feed a ball or two of groundbait to attract fish.

The margins can be a banker spot for bigger carp later on in the day, and although we are only just into April, fish will feed confidently. I like to leave my margin swim for as long as I can – the longer you can feed it without fishing it, the better it is likely to be! 

Even if you can see fish, it’s often best to leave them for a while to really settle on the feed, and I’ll fish a margin swim fairly close to me with a few sections of pole, so I can loosefeed it by hand. Bunches of maggots, pellets, corn and meat are the best baits. 

In high summer, maggots would only pull in little fish, but now they’re a must-have bait. A pint or so of reds is ample to loosefeed lightly on that short line, and I’ll throw in probably 15-20 at a time. Doing this can encourage fish such as roach and F1s to come up in the water. Maggots are also a great bait to slip on to the hook when sport goes off the boil elsewhere in the swim. 

Gone are the freezing days of winter when a few soaked micro pellets trickled in is the order of the day. On these fisheries, you must step up to larger, hard pellets for feed, such as 4mm or 6mm sizes. These bigger, heavier pellets create more fish-attracting noise and also lead to fewer line bites. You can usually feed these pellets straight from the bag dry, but if they float try adding a small amount of water to dampen them off. 

Seeing as you could be catching such a mix of fish it is important to tailor your hooklength to the size of fish you expect to catchSo for silverfish there’s no need to go ultra-fine – I use 0.10mm (2lb) which also gives me a fighting chance of landing bonus carp and barbel. For carp in a mixed fishery I use 0.14mm or 0.15mm lines (both around 4lb) which also means I can get bites from finicky species such as F1s

For roach fishing I’d normally use a No4 or No5 elastic but on mixed commercials this is far too light. Instead I stick with the No5 elastic, but I double it up through the entire top kit of the pole.

It’s very soft across the first few feet which come out, so you don’t bump off silver fish, but then the power kicks in and gives you a bit of backbone for those bigger fish that might come along. 

On my carp rigs, however, there’s no messing around. I use Browning Stretch 7 hollow elastic, which is a medium to heavy grade.Fishing with a puller kit will also help you no end. This gives me a bit more control at the netting stage because hollow elastics tend to be very stretchy.