Maggots or pellets for F1s in winter? It’s a question I’m often asked on my coaching days and it isn’t an easy one to answer.
I’ve enjoyed some great results fishing and feeding maggots, even when there’s ice on the water.
However, maggots are no good if your swim is full of tiny roach, so then pellets will be my first choice.
Pellets are more selective and you wait a lot longer for a bite, but you’ll bypass the little fish and know that when the float buries, it’ll be an F1 or a decent skimmer. So what exactly is my approach with pellets?
New line for pellet
You’ll struggle to turn a maggot line into a pellet one – instead start a new line a few metres away and feed just pellets. This always seems to work better than trying to catch off one line that’s already full of tiny silver fish.
For both baits, I begin by introducing eight or nine dampened 4mm pellets every drop in a small pot. I also have a catapult to hand in case I want to begin firing in bait to make noise the F1s will come to investigate.
Band on the hook
If the small silvers are feeding, a soft expander pellet will simply be ragged off the hook, so that means using a hard 4mm pellet hookbait.
I fish this in a small pellet band, slipping the hook through the band and then slotting the pellet into place.
Two rigs for one job
My favourite float is a 4x12 F1 Maggot, which is light enough to give the pellet a slow fall through the swim.
I’m convinced that F1s and skimmers in winter sit a foot off bottom and watch it fall the final few feet before taking it.
Line is 0.13mm Powerline to a hooklink of 0.10mm or 0.12mm, and a size 18 PR434 hook with Preston Innovations 9h original Hollo elastic. I set the rig to fish slightly overdepth, plumbing up so just the float body is above the surface, being sure to dot the float down well and lift at every dip.
Lowering it in
Slowly lower the rig in rather be in a rush to get the float cocked. I’ll lay the bottom half of the rig in, then lay the upper half of the rig complete with float in the opposite direction over the top.
The pellet sinks naturally, giving the fish time to pick it out and take it. A strung bulk is ideal for this, in the bottom third of the rig.
It’s all too easy to write off catching fish at short range on commercial fisheries in winter.
A combination of clearer water and low temperatures makes even the most optimistic of anglers resigned to catching nothing a few metres out from the bank.
But according to England star Des Shipp, you’re missing a massive opportunity by giving a short line the cold shoulder, especially if your venue is home to big F1s that don’t get caught fishing at longer ranges on the pole or feeder.
Join the England star as he shows you how to catch from a short swim – right the way through the winter!
Distance and bait
“I GO around a top kit of my pole plus two sections out, which is around 5m or 6m. Here I’ll look for between 4ft and 5ft on a flat-bottomed area. If the bottom is sloping at this range, keep adding sections until you find a flat spot.
“Maggots are the bait here. They do pull in silver fish, but I don’t mind catching these while waiting for the F1s to have a go. I take three pints of red and whites, plus a few fluoro pinkies as a change bait.”
Time it right
“Don’t fish short for at least two hours. You won’t catch F1s here for a while at short range, and I like to give my long pole or feeder line the chance to build up.
“If I am getting lots of bites on the long pole and the fish are of a decent size, this tells me that I can expect to get bites short a lot earlier.
“If the fishing is hard, it might not be as solid close in. I’d never write off the short line, because in the final hour the F1s can suddenly turn up.”
“Feed by hand. It takes just seconds and you can still fish long while doing it. I begin by feeding every four or five minutes with half-a-dozen maggots but I will increase this amount if there are a lot of silver fish present.
“Hookbait is double maggot (one red and one white) or a single red maggot and single fluoro pinkie.”
Fish past the feed
“I have 2ft 6ins of line between the pole tip and float, and this extra length allows me to flick the rig past the feed, should I be getting too many line bites or find myself foul-hooking fish by fishing over the feed.
“F1s are well known for their frustrating habit of hanging off the back of the feed, and although there may not be many there, you won’t be bothered by silly bites from these fish.”
Cumbria isnt blessed with coarse fishing opportunites like some counties in the UK but that doesnt mean there arent some real gems to be found and some great river and stillwater fisheries.
What the county also has is some of the best scenery and tourist hotspots in the country including the Lake District and therefore its a great region to visit for an angling holiday or longer fishing trip.
Angling Times have put together the best hotspots and places to go fishing in Cumbria. Whether you want to find the best river fishing in Cumbria or the best stillwater fishing in Cumbria, this guide will help you....
Carleton Hill Fishery, Carlisle, Cumbria
There are three ponds on this fishery as well as a fully stocked tackle shop. Each lake is mixed stock holding everything from chub to carp and silvers making it a great option even in winter. Expect lots of bites here.
Contact: 01228 562622, Postcode: CA4 0BJ
Whins Pond, Edenhall, Carlisle
This cracking pleasure fishing complex comprises a large scenic lake split into two sections. The coarse section covers about 8 acres and has 30 pegs and is well stocked with tench, bream, carp to 20lb and roach.
The lake has plenty of features such as overhanging trees and lilly pads and is permanently pegged with comfortable platform style swims.
Whins Pond takes match bookings and regular matches are held by the fishery management.
Contact: 01768 862671, Postcode: CA11 8SR
River Irthing, Brampton
In the winter this stunning little river turns into a grayling fishing haven where anglers can trot a float and catch fish to 2lb in stunning scenery.
The lower end of the river near the Golden Fleece pub is a good choice and you can snatch a pint at the end of your session. The stretch at Lanercost is also worthwhile as well as beautiful.
Most of the river is run by Brampton Angling Association who offer day tickets to visiting anglers from the Post Office in Brampton town centre.
Contact: 016977 2359, Postcode: CA6 4NF
River Eden, Warwick Hall, Warwick-on-Eden, Carlisle
A stunning bit of the River Eden overlooked by the historic Warwick Hall. In winter the game fishing stops and coarse anglers are invited on to trot or leger for nets of grayling. Fishing in split into two beats but the hotspot is on the first bend opposite the hall itself.
Contact: 01228 561 546, Postcode: CA4 8PG
WHERE TO STAY - TOTTERGILL FARM
If you fancy a longer trip to cumbria and fish all of these venues how about staying at Tottergill Farm Cottages?
Located on a working farm on the hillsides just outside Brampton, Tottergill is a stunning place for short and long trips with views to die for. Each of the dozen or so private cottages have their own hottub - ideal for a dip at the end of a hard day's fishing. There's also a pub within walking distance for a meal or a pint or two...
There are a number of different accommodation options with some of their luxury cottages sleeping as many as 8. The cottages feature all the mod cons as well as wood burners for those cold winter nights.
For pricing and more details, visit their website here: www.tottergill.co.uk
View the gallery here....
Want to catch a monster pike and not have to travel to Chew Valley to land it? Then you best check out our top 13 waters to try this winter and land yourself a new pb. All of the venues below contain pike over 25lb and are dotted all around the country.
1) Esthwaite Water, Hawkshead, Cumbria
This huge Lake District venue holds fish to over 45lb and regularly produces fish well into the thirties.
Contact: 015394 36541
Postcode: LA22 0QF
2) Wykeham Lakes, Scarborough, N Yorks
Predator angler Wyndon Coole netted a colossal 46lb 11oz pike from the nine-acre predator lake at this Yorkshire venue. The same fish was caught this week at 41lb (see Netbusters pages 10&11).
Contact: 07515 992981
Postcode: YO13 9QU
3) Rutland Water, Oakham, Leics
This huge water may be famous for its zander sport but it also holds some monster pike rumoured to be in excess of 40lb. You can fish from a boat for them on a day ticket, too.
Contact: 01780 686441
Postcode: LE15 8HD
4) Ten Mile Bank, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
This long, featureless water holds a good head of pike with the odd fish to over 30lb. Fishing the reedy margins with lures and wobbled baits is a good way to explore a stretch of this wide Fenland drain. Try the section at Modney Bridge.
Contact: Shipshape Tackle, 01553 764058
5) Loch Lomond, Balloch, Scotland
Arguably the best pike fishing water in Britain, Lomond has repeatedly produced monster fish of 40lb or more. Back in August Andrew Carson bagged a 40lb 5oz specimen from this historic 24-mile-long venue. Run by Loch Lomond Angling Improvement Association, you can fish Lomond on a day ticket.
Contact: Ticklers Tackle,
Postcode: G83 8EG
6) Grafham Water, Huntingdon, Cambs
Boat fishing on this large Anglian Water-run reservoir regularly produces pike to 25lb-plus. They catch them on the fly, lures and bait here.
Contact: 01480 810531
Postcode: PE28 0BX
7) Rudyard Lake, Leek, Staffs
Run by Stoke on Trent Angling Society but available on a day ticket, this
180-acre lake in the Peak DIstrict holds pike to 32lb-plus. Locating fish is key, but you can hire boats for fishing.
Contact: 01538 306280
Postcode: ST13 8XB
8) River Wye, Goodrich, Herefordshire
The lower River Wye is one of the best areas for a river thirty, but location is key. The Angling Dreams-run Thomas Wood stretch is a hotspot. Look for the deep pools and be prepared to fish into dusk.
Contact: Angling Dreams,
9) Llangorse Lake, Brecon, Powys
The premier pike water in Wales, Llangorse offers a chance of boating specimen fish in excess of 30lb.
Contact: 01874 658226
Postcode: LD3 7TR
10) Watermark Fishery, South Cerney, Glos
This day-ticket venue, part of the prolific Cotswold Water Park, has its own pike lake which regularly produces 20lb-plus fish and offers the chance of a dream 30-pounder.
Contact: 07769 173108
Postcode: GL7 5UZ
11) Hampshire Avon, Royalty Fishery, Christchurch, Dorset
This famous fishery comes alive with pike in winter, when some monsters inhabit its gravel-laden runs. The Little Weir, House Pool and Railway swims are hotspots.
Contact: Davis Tackle, 01202 485169
12) Farmoor Reservoir, Farmoor, Oxon
Lake 1 of this huge Thames Water-run reservoir holds pike to over 30lb. Last February fishery manager Ben Farley landed a 36lb 4oz fish on a lure here.
Contact: 07747 640707
Postcode: OX2 9NS
13) Bury Hill Fishery, Dorking, Surrey
You can fish from the bank or a punt on the Old Lake and this delightful water, complete with an island, holds pike to over 30lb.
Contact: 01306 877540
Postcode: RH4 3JU
There are some really annoying swims in fishing. You know the ones – swims where there’s a really fishy-looking far bank or island that’s just too far away for pole fishing.
In some cases you can opt for a long line on the pole and flick the rig out into the right spot, but on windy days you can forget that as it’s a recipe for broken sections and tangles in the vegetation.
For me it’s far better to fish a feeder and just recently I’ve been using some really tiny – £1 coin-sized – Mini Method feeders from Guru.
Crashing a big feeder into shallow water is definitely a big ‘no-no’ and so a mini feeder is perfect. Not only do you get to fish the right areas, but you can deliver a small mouthful of feed.
While it can be used for longer chucks, for me these mini feeders are at their best when fished at 17m-25m, and are perfect for those awkward casts which can’t be reached on the pole.
Provided you feather the rig during the cast any disturbance it creates is minimal, and you can also get your rod low and out of the wind.
To prove just how good this tactic is I headed out with Angling Times photographer Lloyd Rogers just as the tail-end of Hurricane Ophelia was raging across the country – not the time to be waving around 16m of carbon pole…
It’s got to be pellets!
While you can use groundbait or pellets on the mini Method, for me, it’s all about pellets.
Carp love pellets and, in my opinion, they are a much safer option than using groundbait as this can be a bit ‘Marmite’ to the fish on some days.
The type of pellets you use is down to personal preference but today on Meadowlands’ Warren Pool I’m using the 2mm fishery pellets, which are basically a good quality coarse pellet.
Just to give them a little boost and make them stand out from everyone else’s baits I like to give them a squirt of Ringers Chocolate Orange liquid.
Pellet prep depends on the type of pellets, but I like to cover the pellets with cold water for 45 seconds, then drain and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes when they should be ready to use.
Beware though, the pellets will dry out during your session so it’s important to keep adding water to them throughout the day to keep them at their best.
weight is important
The feeders I use come in one mini size but in two weights – 20g and 30g – and the one I use depends on the situation I’m faced with.
Today it’s roughly a 21m cast tight to the bushes on the far bank and I’ve found there’s no real slope coming away from the bank, so for this reason I’ve opted for the 20g feeder as it will make less disturbance on the cast and still stay in place in the swim.
Had there been a big slope, however, I would have opted for the 30g feeder so that once it hit the bottom there was no danger of it moving. The feeders I use are elasticated and the elastic choice depends on fish size. While I always like to stick to the short, X-safe stems due to the feeder size, I will vary the elastic.
For example, if the average carp is 5lb-plus I’ll use the heavy black elastic but, if I’m targeting F1s and small carp, I opt for the white light elastic.
Bearing in mind the size of fish on Warren Pool is 5lb-plus, my hooklength is 4ins of 0.17mm N-Gauge line and the hook is a size 14 QM1.
Wafters are winners
As far as hookbaits go it will come as no surprise that it’s all about using wafters.
Quite simply I just don’t think there is a better hookbait option, hence I now use them for nearly all my Method or Hybrid feeder work.
It’s really important when using wafters on the Mini Method that you drop down the size of the baits, and I’ve found 6mm wafters are the perfect match for the small feeder.
Of course, wafters are semi -buoyant and so a size 14 QM1 just sinks a 6mm wafter, leaving you with the ultimate in critically-balanced hookbaits to fool even the wariest of carp.
Regarding colour, if the water is clear then I will look to start off on a light, bright colour such as yellow or even white.
If your lake is holding a bit of colour, a fluoro pink or even a pellet-coloured wafter are better.
Where to cast
When faced with a swim like I am today which looks like a jungle, I always look for a slight cutback where I can get the feeder close in to the bank.
The fish tend to like being under cover so the closer I can get to the bank the better. Instead of fishing on the front of the tree line, I’ve found a small gap that probably enables me to get a good 2m closer to the bank than would normally be the case.
In an ideal world, I like a swim with several of these cut-outs so if bites dry up in one I can then switch to the other. This isn’t always possible, but when it is I will always look at it.
Keep it slack
One of the most important parts of using the Method feeder is making sure that once it hits the bottom it doesn’t move.
When fishing at such short range I like to fish as slack a line as possible as this helps to minimise the chances of the feeder moving should a fish bump into the line.
Bites can still easily be seen because, invariably, a take is signalled by the rod tip heading for the water or, on occasion, a drop-back as the fish picks up the feeder and runs towards you.
Even with a slack tip, a drop-back is easily distinguished as the line falls back towards you from the point it hits the water.
HOW TO LOAD THE MINI FEEDER
1) Start by adding a pinch of pellets to the base of the mould and then put the hookbait on top.
2) Next, fill the mould with pellets covering the hookbait in the process. Once the mould is full, place the feeder on the top and apply firm pressure when pushing the feeder into the mould.
3) Finally, to release the feeder you can either tap the base of the mould or squeeze the sides. All I then like to do is to give the pellets on the feeder a squeeze prior to casting so they stay on when it hits the water.
BY TOMMY PICKERING, FORMER WORLD CHAMPION
At this time of year, finding the correct depth to fish at is very important – being as little as an inch overdepth or off bottom can produce only a handful of bites, whereas the angler who is bang on the money will catch more.
Plumbing accurately not only ensures that your bait is on the bottom, but also lets you know of any changes in contour to the swim such as shelves or deeper holes, which can be a magnet to fish.
Using a plummet properly will also highlight what the bottom of the lake is made up of – silt, gravel or mud. This will go a long way towards helping you decide your tactics on the day.
For pole fishing there’s only one size of plummet you’ll need, and that’s a heavy one! I use around 30g for enough weight to let me feel when the plummet has hit the bottom. Too light and you won’t get the feel and a true reading.
A heavy plummet will also sink into any silt or mud and you’ll know this when you lift the pole – the plummet will ‘stick’ slightly before being freed.
Accuracy at all times
Having reference points when plumbing the depth is vital, so you know that you are fishing the right spot. Don’t rush things – time spent plumbing up means more fish in the long run.
I will pick something such as a far-bank tree as a marker to line the pole up against. To ensure the distance is correct, hold the pole as you would when fishing.
Although the name of the game is to find the depth in one spot, it does no harm to drop in a foot or so either side of this area or just past it. There can be a change in depth just inches away from your starting point and this change, especially if it is deeper, can be home to more fish on harder days.
On the waggler
Finding the depth on the waggler is different to the pole because you won’t have the pole directly above the float. It is still possible to get a very accurate reading, but I don’t use a standard large plummet.
Instead, I pinch a large SSG or double SSG shot on the hook and cast out, allowing up to 20 or 30 seconds for the angle of the line from rod to float to be taken into account. I then add an inch at a time to the depth until I can see the float tip and then begin to work backwards by a centimetre at a time until I have dead depth.
In the market for a new feeder rod and have no idea where to start? Then make sure you read this. We've gone to angling legend Tommy Pickering to help you figure out what feeder rod will be the best for you. With there being so many feeder rods out on the market at the moment it may be difficult to know what to look for especially with there being so many different sizes and weights around. We recently put together a buyers guide to feeder rods which you can check out here.
Typically measuring between 8ft and 10ft, these rods are very soft in action and designed for fishing with light lines and small hooks on rivers and lakes. However, they also make superb rods for winter work on commercials for carp or for all-round F1 fishing. The softer nature means you can’t power a cast a long way but with a bomb or on a commercial fishery, you don’t need to. I’d say 25 yards is reachable.
Most light feeder rods are around 10ft and this gives you a little more reach for going further, say up to 35 or 40 yards. You’ll rarely see these used on rivers or natural lakes for bream and roach but they are popular on commercial fisheries for casting to islands or far bank margins and they tend to have a little more power than a bomb rod for catching small carp and F1s.
This is your typical feeder rod of 11ft to 12ft and can do everything you ask of it, from lobbing an open-end feeder 50 yards for bream, pointing it up in the air on a river and for catching a bigger stamp of carp. For big fish work I’d look at a power version of the rod as it will be stronger and make landing carp easier.
The big boys of the range that you often see being used on bream venues such as Ferry Meadows and Barston Lakes. A heavy feeder rod can be up to 14ft long to help you throw well over 80 yards. They’re also what you need for tackling powerful rivers with heavy feeders.
Why try Drop Shotting?
If you haven’t already tried drop shotting, chances are you know someone who has! This style of lure fishing for perch is a tactic that’s sweeping through the fishing world quicker than a brush fire.
Drop shotting or light lure fishing for perch is active, dynamic, easy to master, great fun and best of all, you need a minimum amount of tackle to enjoy its rewards. Its also great in winter when perhaps you only get a few hours to go fishing at short notice.
Unlike other forms of angling with drop shotting all you need is a small, very light rod and reel, a pocket full of terminal bits and a few tiny lures. Kit you can keep in the back of your car!
Drop shotting or light lure fishing for perch is active, dynamic, easy to master, great fun and best of all, you need a minimum amount of tackle to enjoy its rewards. Its also great in winter when perhaps you only get a few hours to go fishing at short notice.
Venues like canals are ideal for trying out this deadly tactics but it also works on stillwaters and rivers too. Not sure where to go? Try our recommended venues
What is drop shotting?
Drop shot fishing offers lure anglers a highly effective way of targeting smaller predatory species such as perch, zander and pike.
Unlike traditional lure and plug fishing, where a plastic or rubber bait is attached to the end of a wire trace before being cast and retrieved, dropshotting sees the lure being presented very differently. As it is primarily a tool for catching perch, the leader is a length of fluorocarbon, with the hook being tied around 12 to 20 inches up the line.
The casting weight comes in the shape of a special dropshot lead that is attached to the end of this fluorocarbon leader. The hook is then ‘baited’ with a 1in-3in rubber lure and the rig is cast.
Rod: There are many dedicated dropshot rods on the market. They have a stiff mid-to-butt section, for setting the hook in to the very bony mouths of predators, while the tip is very light. This allows you to impart the all-important action into the lure. Lure rods are weight measured. For drop-shotting a 0-15 gram model is ideal.
Reel: Becuase you are holding the rod in your hand for long periods a small light reel is essential. Most tackle companies cater for this with tiny reels in the 1000 to 2500 size range.
Line: A thin 0.06 to 0.10mm braid is ideal for drop shotting. With zero stretch it allows the angler to easily impart the movement on the lure and youll feel the often subtle perch bites more readily. It also casts better than mono.
Leader: As described earlier a flourocarbon leader is great for drop shotting. Around 2ft in length is enough. This is tied to the braid by knot or to a micro swivel. The breaking strain is determined by the venue you are fishing and the size of fish expected. A good starting point is 6lb.
Hooks: Drop shot hooks have a unique shape so that the lure will sit horizontally in the water, at right angles to the leader. The are also fairly fine wired but larger in size than ordinary match hooks although some lure anglers like to use match fishing hooks as small as a size 14.
Weights: The actual dropshot is usually either a ball or a long pencil shape. The ball, being denser, enables you to ‘feel’ the lure easier. The pencil weights are generally used where it is snaggy, weedy or rocky. Use the lightest weight you can as you’ll feel the bites much better. A general rule is you use 1g per one foot of water on stillwaters and canals, 2g-3g per foot on rivers, depending on strength of flow. All dropshot weights have a pinched swivel, which enables the weight to be quickly and easily moved up and down the leader, which adjusts how far off bottom the lure will fish.
Lures: The actual lure is what elicits the bite. The number now on the market is legion, but the one element they have in common is they are all small, up to 3in maximum, with most being between one-inch and two. Tail shape – whether pin, paddle or curly, and colour – can all affect the day. The type of tail gives different forms and strengths of vibration in the water, while colour-wise, a guidline to follow is bright in coloured water, muted in clear. Always carry plenty of different lures, changing them regularly until you find one that works better on the day.
Other kit: A small landing net is essential as is an unhooking mat as often you will be fishing on concrete banks on urban canals. Items like forceps in case you catch a pike and scissors are also handy. Dont forget some scales in case you hook a monster!
Tie the rig
The best way to attach the hook is to use a palomar knot. this ensures that the hook also sits at 90-degrees to the leader. The quite often have either an out turned eye or a straight eye again to exaggerate this.
How to Drop Shot
The idea is that once the rig is in the water and the weight is on the bottom, the angler is able to impart movement into the tiny lure with delicate flicks of the rod tip working it in any area for as long as he chooses.
The trick is to not retrieve the lure like you would a spinner when drop shotting. Instead keep the weight on the bottom and move the lure gently to induce a take. The benefit of this is that it allows you to lure fish in really tight areas or tight up to feature where predators like to hide.
The special weights, which can be found at most good tackle shops or online, allow you to move them anywhere underneath the lure in order to adjust the depth at which the lure sits. A good place to start is around 6 - 8 inches from the bottom.
Where to fish
Canals: Your local cut is ideal for drop shotting. They are full of features such as locks and marinas and these are the places to look for. Most predators like to sit very close to boats and the bank itself so target these when fishing.
Rivers: Slow moving rivers like the Thames, Soar and Weaver are ideal for drop shotting. You may need to take heavier weights to combat the flow. Slack areas, lock cuttings and islands re all hotspots.
Stillwaters: Its work checking your local commercials as some allow drop-shotting in winter. Other stillwaters such as park lakes are good and you never know what might be lurking in specimen carp pits too. Look for drop-offs and features like overhanging trees.
Check out this page for a list of top drop shotting waters near you.
Drop shotting, light lure fishing, jigging or street fishing whatever name you wish to call it, this style of fishing is as exciting as angling gets.
From catching big perch and zander on urban canals to wrestling with pike and chub on small rivers, light lure fishing or drop shotting is a great option especially during the cooler months when species like carp go into hibernation.
If you're not sure how to fish the method read our guide here..
Need inspiration on where to go drop shotting/lure fishing? Try one of our venues…..
Beverley Canal, Beverley, E Yorks
The boatyard at Beverley is a winter hotspot which contains pike perch and odd zander.
Contact: Hull DAA, 07976 779983
Prices: £3 on the bank, Hull DAA
Huddersfield Broad Canal, Huddersfield, W Yorks
With old mill houses and railway lines you don’t get much more urban than this but the fishing here is excellent with a huge head of jack pike and big perch to go at.
Contact: Chris Roberts Fishing Tackle 01484 545032
Prices: £3.50 from Chris Roberts Fishing Tackle, Mirfield AC
Leeds & Liverpool Canal, Wigan, Lancs
The inner city section around the DW stadium is full of bream meaning predators will not be far away.
Contact: Harry's Fishing Tackle, 01942 728532
Prices: £2 on the bank, Wigan DAA
Rochdale Canal, Chadderton, Oldham, Lancs
The Broadgate Length through Chadderton Industrial estate is a popular match venue which also contains plenty of predators.
Contact: Heywood DAS, 07905 906261
Prices: £3 on the bank, Heywood DAA
Salford Quays, Manchester
Now under the control of Salford Friendly Anglers the Quays are renowned for their quality fish and numerous lure fishing competitions are held on it each winter.
Prices: Free fishing, anglers must join Salford Friendly Anglers, Contact: Salford Friendly Anglers, 07985 733969, Sat Nav: M50 3AZ
Shropshire Union Canal, Chester, Cheshire
The L-Shaped Basin is a wide section of canal in the centre of Chester offering typical canal species including big stripeys.
Contact: Chester Tackle Locker, 01244 345069
Prices: Part of the £20 a year Waterway Wanderers Scheme, see Canal and River Trust Website
Cauldon Canal, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs
Amongst the chimneys and buildings from a bygone pottery industry the canal around Lichfield Street offers easy access and some great fishing too.
Contact: Goms Mill AC, 01782 318173
Prices: £3 a day on the bank, Goms Mill AC
Grand Union Canal, Loughborough, Leics
Lined with red-bricked industrial buildings the canal through Loughborough in known for its head of perch particularly the Albion Wharfe pegs.
Contact: Smiths Angling Supplies, 01509 239136
Prices: £5 a day from local tackle shops, Quorn AS
River Welland, Spalding, Lincs
Known for its huge shoals of roach in winter meaning the perch and pike follow them in.
Prices: Free fishing, Contact: Granz Angling, 01775 712206, Sat Nav: PE11 1XA
River Trent, Nottingham Embankment, Notts
Big perch and specimen pike have been caught in previous winters making this a popular water for predator fans.
Prices: Free fishing, Contact: Matchman Supplies 01159 813834, Sat Nav: NG2 5FB
River Derwent, Derby, Derbys
The Earl of Harrington's club run, Pride Park stretch is as urban as this river gets. Most people target the barbel leaving the predators as an un-tapped resource.
Prices: £5 from Nathans of Derby, Contact: 01332 515353, Sat Nav: DE24 8XL
River Wensum, Norwich, Norfolk
Another classic urban waterway which holds plenty of predators thanks to the big shoals of bream and roach which flock here in winter.
Prices: Free fishing, Contact: Lathams Tackle 08432 891368, Sat Nav: NR1 4LH
Soho Loop Canal, Birmingham, W Mids
The Winson Green stretch sees few boats and anglers despite contains plenty of fish. Pike can be found to over 15lb along with perch to over 3lb.
Contact: Black Country AS, 07813 618819
Prices: Free fishing
Basingstoke Canal, Ash Vale, Hants
Located close to Gold Valley Lakes, this section of canal offers plenty of features including lock cuts and bridges where big perch lie in wait.
Contact: The Creel Aldershot, 01252 320871
Prices: £4 on the bank or £3 from local tackle shops, Basingstoke Canal AA
Gloucester Canal, Hempsted, Gloucs
A wide deep canal holding plenty of big predators particularly perch which go to over 4lb.
Contact: Lobby’s Tackle, 01453 791417
Prices: £4 a day on the bank, Winget Angling Club
Grand Union Canal, Little Venice, Paddington
just a stones throw from the skyscrapers of London, big perch and odd pike like to hide amongst the house boats. An urban havenin the middle of the capital well worth fishing.
Prices: £20 a year, Canal & Rivers Trust Waterways Wanderers Scheme
Contact: First Tackle, 02084 557778
Grand Union Canal, Milton Keynes, Bucks
Over 5 miles of inner city canal with plenty of locks, bridges, wharfes and wides to explore. A big perch hotspot can be found between the factories at Wolverton.
Contact: Gone Fishin MK, 01908 313158
Prices: £6 on the bank, Milton Keynes AA
River Medway, Maidstone, Kent
The Law Courts area is a hotspot for silverfish so pike and perch also reside here but predators can be found all the way through the town.
Prices: Free fishing, Contact: Maidstone Angling, 01622 677326, Sat Nav: ME16 0GB
River Ivel, Biggleswade, Beds
The town stretch is lined by houses and is well known for its huge perch to over 3lb which are caught all year round on lures. The river is also worth a try at Langford and Blunham.
Contact: Ivel Protection Association, 01234 823959
Prices: Vary from club to club which are included in IPA
Drop shotting brings rewards like this plump perch
Matchman Rob Wootton has scooped £70,000 thanks to a last-gasp carp he landed in the Maver Match This Final at Yorkshire’s Hayfield Lakes.
The Leicester angler claimed competition fishing’s biggest prize in the most dramatic fashion, netting the valuable fish seconds after the final whistle, after crucially hooking into it just before the all-out.
The fish helped him to a total weight of 42.175 kilos, just two kilos ahead of runner-up Chris Cameron.
But for Dynamite Baits man Rob, there were no fancy rigs and secret baits involved. Instead he relied on simple bomb and pellet tactics for his bumper payday, after catching a few early carp on the pole and later on a Method feeder.
“I wanted to select the carp and avoid the skimmers and small fish in the venue, so large hard pellets were the automatic choice for me,” he said. “I started the match on the 6m pole line, and although I caught a couple of decent fish early using an 8mm pellet on a band and feeding 6mms, the fish soon backed off.”
With anglers nearby fishing the long pole and struggling, Rob decided to go straight out to a line at about 25m where he’d been loosefeeding 8mm pellets.
It was here that he caught most of his fish, with a few also falling to a Method feeder fished to the island 65m away. He said:
“Feeding is really important on the bomb and it seemed the best tactic on the day was to cast out and immediately catapult about eight 8mm pellets over the top of the rig, three times in succession. This kept the fish on the bottom.”
Here exclusively are the three rigs that won Rob Wootton that £70,000 prize pot...
Not risking hook pulls in such a big match, Rob’s was a size 12 QM1. The pellet on the band was almost touching the bend of the hook.
This was an 8mm light-coloured Skrettings pellet.
A 12ins hooklength of 0.18mm Guru N-Gauge was Rob’s choice. It’s long enough to keep the bait away from the lead and short enough to give a bolt effect.
A 20g Guru Cube was perfect for a short 25m chuck. A lighter lead may have struggled to achieve a bolt effect in the deep, towing water of Hayfield.
QUICK CHANGE BEAD
The simplest and easiest way to connect both lines. The 6lb mainline is tied to the back of the Stonfo part of the bead, with the hooklink clipping into the front.
It's exciting, it’s good for your health and it’s relatively inexpensive. If you’ve not yet tried kayak fishing, there’s never been a better time to get afloat.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Being aboard a kayak allows you to reach areas unavailable from the shore – great when lure fishing, for example, as you can get really close to the features where fish such as perch hide out. You’ll also benefit from being active, keeping you warm in winter and healthy too.
WHERE CAN I TRY IT?
You can kayak fish on any venue you wish but you must first get permission to access your chosen venue from the controlling club or landowner. You may also need a navigation licence on some rivers and canals, for example, the Thames.
Kayaks really come into their own on large stillwaters and rivers where you can reach areas previously inaccessible by foot, and where the fish may be out of casting range.
It’s also worth checking where you can launch it on the venue before setting out. Try to avoid areas where matches are taking place, and always be courteous to other anglers.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
Kayak fishing isn’t as expensive as you’d expect. A fishing kayak will set you back as little as £300 or as much as £2,000 – it’s up to you.
If you are planning on just coarse fishing, a lightweight, budget kayak is all you will need. Most kayaks come with a paddle and seat, so you will only need to purchase an anchor and buoyancy aid. Finally you will need to consider transporting it to your venue. Most anglers use a roof rack with strapping to hold it down.