Know your stuff | Your coarse fishing questions answered

Welcome to know your stuff, where Angling Times readers have sent in their burning fishing questions to be answered by experts.  In this Q&A we have an interesting range of questions from how to catch winter carp all the way to what float stick to use on a river. 

Question 1. How would you tackle a corner peg on a commercial fishery in winter? How would you tackle a corner peg on a commercial fishery in winter? 

Commercial carp in winter tend to prefer shoaling up in the middle of a lake, so the fishing never seems to be much good! Corners at any time of year can be feast or famine, and for every good day you have to endure a few bad ones – but there are things to do when you’re sat in a corner.

If the status quo is to fish long on the pole or feeder, it may well be that fishing much shorter will catch a few. The carp will seek that quieter water well away from where everyone else is fishing. This will only produce an early burst of fish but it can be enough to make the day worthwhile.

The key advantage of a corner peg is the margin that you’ll have all to yourself. Fish will be here, especially if there’s some cover, but don’t rush things. You could catch seven fish in seven casts from here and then not get a bite for the rest of the day.

You’d be better off just catching one fish at a time and then resting the corner swim by fishing elsewhere. This allows carp to gain confidence, and as the day progresses and they seek some safety, the fish will move into the area in greater numbers.

What won’t happen, however, is the summer phenomenon of more and more carp drifting into the corner as the day goes on. These fish aren’t searching for food and so will only turn up if they think it is safe – this is why plundering the peg early on is a strict no-no.

Question 2. Should I leave my feeder completely in winter or should I twitch it every now and then?

Fish are lethargic in winter so leave the feeder once you have cast out and tightened up. However, if the weather is mild and the water warm the fish will be on the move a little more. The trick here is to still leave the feeder completely still and if you don’t get a bite within five minutes, or you have indications that don’t develop, give the feeder a little pull to kick some life into the hookbait.

As a rule though, it’s safer to rely on your feed to build up an area over which the fish will feed and eventually find your hookbait.

Question 3. What kind of stick float should I use on a river?

A good rule of thumb is to use a No4 shot for every foot of water that you will be fishing. Balsa, cane and plastic bodies are fine for smooth, even flows but in fast, shallow water a short float with a balsa body and alloy stem will get the job done. Lignum floats are very heavy and cast really well. A domed top float can be shotted right down, but when you want to hold the float back or inch it through the peg, a stick with a distinct shouldered tip will get the job done better.


Question 4. I keep deep hooking perch fishing worms on the pole. Am I leaving it too late to strike?

If you strike too early, the fish may not get hold of the worm properly – but leave it too late and deep hooking occurs. So what’s the answer? It will take perch a while to get hold of a big worm on a size 12 hook, whereas a size 16 hook and a tiny worm section will be easily engulfed. 

If you’re fishing small baits, strike as soon as the float goes under. With a lobworm tail on the hook, let the fish take the bait and count to two when the float has vanished.You will then see how deeply, if at all, the fish is taking the bait down. If it is too deep, strike sooner. If you are missing bites, leave it longer.

Should you deep-hook fish and struggle to get the hook out, invest in a pair of narrow-nosed forceps or a long disgorger with a wide neck to get the shank of a large hook into the slot. Barbless hooks are also handy in this situation.

Question 4. How wet should groundbait actually be for fishing a slow moving river?

Too dry and it won’t hold together – too wet and it will be a useless slop. On a slow moving river, the finished mix should be slightly ‘over-wet’, which means very tacky and damp to the feel. This allows the ball to hold together and carry loose offerings without falling apart.

For the ideal mix, keep adding water to dry groundbait a little at a time and regularly form a ball with one hand until it holds together with just a light squeeze. A good test to see if the mix is ready is to make a ball and poke a finger into it. If it falls apart, it’s ready! Leave the groundbait to stand for 15 minutes, return and add a touch more water to dampen the mix just that little bit more. Now it’s good to go.

Question 5. Can I still catch carp shallow in winter

Typically, carp will sit at mid-depth or a few feet off bottom as they seek the warmest layer of water – so popped-up baits work well even in freezing cold weather. If you are legering, you should consider using a pop-up and varying how far off bottom you present the bait. 

On the waggler or even the long pole, keep altering the depth anywhere from 12ins off the bottom up to a few feet deep. An indication on the float or quivertip will let you know when you’ve found the fish, but often there will be no need to feed – the carp won’t be at this level because they’re hunting for food.