Know your stuff | Catching roach shallow

Question 1:  Finally the weather has warmed up and the roach on the pool I fish are now feeding well off bottom. How drastically do I need to alter my approach to catch them shallow?

The difference between catching shallow and on the deck is vast and you’ll need a new set of rigs if fishing the pole! The pole or a whip to hand is the most precise and quickest way of catching roach provided that they feed at reasonably close range but you can of course fish the waggler.

For a float attack all that’s needed is to shallow up to a foot or so deep and change to a lighter insert waggler taking a couple of BB shot.

Changes in depth can help because roach won’t stay in the same place. If the bites stop, try adding a few inches to the depth. If you see fish swirling on the surface to get at the feed, shallow up.

Question 2: When does cat meat work and how do you use it?

Cat meat is cat food sold in tins, but anglers have developed it into a very effective bait for carp in the spring on commercial waters. The benefits of cat meat over luncheon meat are that it is very, very soft and so more to the liking of a feeding fish. It’s also supplied in its own gravy, that gives off an oily slick when fed. The chunks can also be big, making them a satisfying meal for a feeding carp.

Because of its size, cat meat is an out-and-out big fish bait and due to the softness, it cannot really be fished on rod and line tactics. The key approach for the meat is to fish it in the margins or at short range on the pole in conjunction with pellet and corn loosefeed. Sometimes, rolling the meat in dry groundbait, known as ‘dusting’ can make a real difference, especially on hard-fished waters.

Question 3: How do I prevent foul-hooking carp in the margins?

The main things which cause foulhooking are the way you are feeding, how much you feed, how many fish are in the swim and the depth of water. 

At this time of year, you’re looking for a depth of around 2ft as a maximum. If the water is too deep, fish will move off bottom to feed and this will produce line bites and foulhooked carp. If the water is too shallow, the carp won’t have enough water to move around in and will also keep bumping into the line. 

It’s never a good idea to have a margin swim packed with carp because the competition created by the feeding fish is a recipe for disaster. How many fish move into the peg can be dictated by feeding. That means potting in enough to draw in and hold in the swim one or two carp at a time as opposed to high summer when lots of feed will be needed to hold the fish.