1) Stand out from the crowd
When the first cold-snap hits, fish in commercials can suddenly switch off until the temperature stabilises.
During this time, getting fish to feed can be tricky, but making your bait stand out is a big edge. Of course, too big a portion of food can be off-putting, so small, visible and potent is the key.
A brilliant way to achieve this is to use crushed bright-coloured boilies in a PVA bag. Some ground-down yellow Pineapple Mainline Baits portions dampened with sweet Cell Sticky Syrup creates a strong-smelling, brightly coloured little area of attraction on the bottom, with your hookbait right next to it. Carp passing by won’t be able to resist such a vivid little trap.
2) Pin it to the deck
A short fluorocarbon leader at the terminal end of your winter leger rig can make a big difference in cold and clear water when wise fish are the target. Fluorocarbon is almost invisible in water, and also very heavy, so it’s bound to lay hard on the bottom.
When fish move over your rig, they won’t bump into the usual line protruding off the bottom and spook out of the swim. A leader of just three or four feet of 0.30mm fluorocarbon will do the trick perfectly. Simply loop-to-loop connect the leader to the mainline, with your chosen leger or feeder rig tied on the fluorocarbon as normal.
3) Move to natural baits
After a summer of eating typical commercial baits, thinking outside the box in terms of hookbaits is another way to fool winter commercial fish. Presenting multiple maggots in a bait band when legering is a lethal little trick for big carp!
This is a hookbait that big fish on commercials rarely see, and is often unusual enough to tempt them into picking it up.
You will also find that fish take natural baits confidently, so if you’re only getting a few pulls in a session you can be sure that a switch to a soft, natural bait will bring more positive bites.
4) Read the signs
Just because you’re legering doesn’t mean that you can’t read the swim properly. Slow-moving winter fish often give themselves away by causing line bites, which can be small, slow movements on the tip.
These aren’t always like the big, steady liners you get in the summer, so it’s vital to have your rod correctly set with front and back rests so you can ‘read’ the tip positioned just off the water.
If you find yourself sitting for long spells with no indications, it’s worth casting around to try and fish the fish.
If you’re getting liners but not proper bites, the shoal is likely to be closer to you, so dropping shorter may just catch you those extra fish.
5) Use lighter bombs
In cold water, fish can be very spooky, so staying as quiet as possible on the bank and when casting will stop them spooking away from you.
A lighter, smaller and more discreet bomb or feeder can make all the difference, cast and feathered into the swim as quietly as possible.
A tiny 10g lead makes just a small ‘plop’ on entering the water. Smaller leads are also less visible on the bottom and won’t frighten the fish.
If you’re casting regularly to try and find the fish, think mini and light!
6) take care with your feed…
Giving the fish the right amount of bait is essential. The difference between feeding 100 pellets and 50 pellets can make all the difference between a good and a bad day’s fishing.
Finding the right amount of feed to place in a PVA bag, or the right size of Pellet Cone to use, is most important.
If you were fishing the pole, you’d be happy to change between a large and a small pole pot, so why should it be different on rod and line?
Measure out your feed amounts and, if you’re not getting bites, ring the changes to try and discover what the fish want on any given day.
In recent seasons I’ve had a complete re-think of my feeder rigs and I now swear by a running paternoster rig for all my natural water feeder fishing for roach, skimmers, and bream.
It’s a simple rig and, thanks to the home-made feeder link I tie, it’s completely tangle-free!
The anti-tangle properties mean it doesn’t snarl up on even the biggest casts.
This in itself gives me the confidence to leave my rig out in the water for longer periods – something which is crucial when it comes to feeder fishing at this time of year.
Paternoster rigs took a bit of a back seat in favour of short, bolt-style rigs for many years,
but they’re having a real resurgence right now as the passion for feeder fishing continues to grow and big matches return to our larger waters.
I’ve been using this rig for a couple of seasons now – including at the World Feeder Championships for England, and I’m yet to find any downside to it.
The rig casts well when used with the correct feeder, you can quickly and easily change feeders and hooklengths when you need to, and bite detection isn’t compromised either – so what’s not to like about it?
If you haven’t got on to my feeder link yet, here’s how to tie it… it’s not difficult.
To make the link you will need some 0.47mm Korda Mouth Trap – a stiff filament carp anglers use to make chod rigs – size 14 or 16 snaplink swivels, 0.6mm crimps and some wide-bore beads which you can find at most hobby stores these days.
1) Cut a 4ins length of the Mouth Trap material and thread on a crimp, followed by a wide-bore bead. The bead needs to be wide enough to not only get the Mouth Trap through, but have enough bore diameter for your mainline or shockleader to run through too.
2) Put the line back through the second hole in the crimp and pull everything tight. You will then have the bead sitting on top of the crimp. Ensure the bead is sitting straight and then use crimping pliers to fix the bead into place.
3) It’s then a case of repeating the process at the other end of the link, only this time you’re fixing in a snaplink swivel instead of a bead. The snaplink allows you to clip your feeder on and off the rig.
4) The length of the finished link is down to personal choice, and I’ve used them from just over an inch to 4ins long. In my experience, though, 1.5ins is the perfect length.
5) With the link ready to go, I then thread it on to the mainline or shockleader and add a small line stop or feeder bead below.
6) To keep the hooklength away from the feeder I use an anti-tangle, twizzled loop at the end of my mainline. Simply take hold of the end of your line and roll it between your finger and thumb so it twists up.
7) Tie a double overhand loop at the tag end of the twizzled loop. I like the twizzled end to be around 4ins long to keep the hooklength away from the feeder.
8) The line stop and feeder link pull down to sit against the knot, and the hooklength attaches to the small loop at the end of the twizzled section. Job done!
Former Feeder World Champion
hich type of connector you use for your pole fishing is very much down to individual choice, as there are several methods at your disposal, all of which work perfectly well.
I’ve tried the lot down the years but cannot see past a Dacron connector for ease of use, neatness and how direct it leaves the line to the connector itself.
A crow’s foot-style of connection is okay but can wear the elastic down behind the knot over time and potentially lead to it breaking, while a standard Stonfo connector works well with light elastic but is murder to use with thicker carp or hollow elastics.
The Dacron can do the lot, from thin No3 solid elastic for roach all the way up to 20-plus grade elastic for big carp. I’ve never had them let me down in all the years I’ve used them.
Dacron connectors are also graded to suit the elastic size you’re using – harder to learn is how to attach them to the elastic safely, but with practice it takes seconds and is 100 per cent safe.
Here’s how – it starts with a tight overhand knot in the elastic...
Open the connector’s braid loop and lay the pole elastic over the top like this. The overhand knot in the elastic is under my thumb.
With the elastic trapped, fold the Dacron braid loop fully over the bell-shaped stopper cone, as shown here.
Holding the elastic, pull the cone away so that the Dacron braid tightens. This is the anchor point for the system.
Wet the elastic with your finger and slide the Dacron braid hard up against the tiny knot you created earlier and pull fully tight.
Push the cone-shaped buffer bead back down the Dacron until it sits snugly over the knot. Perfect!
With winter just around the corner, many lakes and commercials are starting to undergo a transformation that can make the fishing a lot harder than usual however you can overcome these challenges by taking a look at these 8 great fishing tips from Steve Ringer.
1) Pick the right bait colour for water clarity
Many anglers don’t realise how important this really is but I know it catches me more fish.
Right now the colour is dropping out of our stillwaters and when it comes to bait colours and water clarity in autumn and winter then I always tend to stick to the following rule – the clearer the water the brighter the bait you need to use.
If the water is clear then bright baits such as sweetcorn really come into their own for carp.
Equally, just adding a bit of colour to a relatively dull bait can make a big difference – when fishing for F1s in the cold I will always opt for a red and a white maggot as opposed to two reds.
I really believe that in the cold carp like to feed on sight provided the water clarity allows this, hence bright baits will always produce more bites.
If the water is coloured then scent comes more into equation so baits such as pellets both soft and hard really come to the fore.
2) Keep it simple with hooks
A lot of anglers are confused when it comes to knowing which hooks to use and end up carrying far too many patterns.
I like to keep things nice and simple. For most of my fishing on UK stillwaters I stick to three main patterns…
- Super LWG – a strong, light, wide-gape hook and without doubt the most versatile pattern in my box. If I include the eyed version there really isn’t a bait I can’t fish with a super LWG. From maggots to hard pellets, this hook covers it all. Strength wise it’s also more than capable of dealing with carp as well as being a good silver fish hook when bagging.
- QM1 – I use these when fishing the feeder or bomb and hair-rigging my baits. Due to the unique shape, once a fish is hooked it rarely comes off. A top hook for rod and line work.
- F1 Pellet – this is a fine-wire, ultra-sharp, strong hook that’s ideal for pole work in the winter with baits such as corn, pellets and maggots.
3) Altering shotting patterns will get you more bites
Regular readers of this column will know that I’m massive fan of a strung-out bulk of shot on my pole rigs, as shown on the left.
It’s such a versatile set-up. Take F1 fishing as an example. When fishing maggots or even pinkies I always like a slow falling hookbait so I will fish a loosely-strung bulk with the bottom shot set 5ins from the hook and the rest of the droppers spaced at 1.5ins intervals above this.
When fishing with pellets however, I’ve found you need a more positive approach to get the bait down quicker and so will adapt my strung bulk so it’s tighter together. The bottom shot is still 5ins from the hook, only this time the rest of the droppers will be spaced at just 0.5ins intervals.
4) Where you position your pole pot is crucial…
Small things can make all the difference and one of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of anglers make when pole potting is an incorrect pot position.
Their pole pot is positioned 6-8ins back from the tip of the pole which means every time they feed they are short of their float. Your pole pot should always be as close to the tip of the pole as possible. When targeting F1s in particular this can make a huge difference to your catch rate.
Guru pole pots HERE
5) Go longer later
If you watch me fishing you might not spot that I don’t always fish in exactly the same spot throughout my match, but it’s something I do that I believe makes a big difference.
A little trick I use a lot when feeder fishing is to fish past my feed area in the last hour of my match, once bites have died off.
What tends to happen is that due to the disturbance of the feeder going in and fish getting caught a few fish will sit off the back of the feed picking up any loose offerings that land there.
These fish can then be picked off in that crucial last hour just by taking the clip off and going one to two metres further.
It’s amazing how often this approach works and I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve gone an hour without an indication only to add a couple of metres and get two fish in two casts. Had I not made this change I have no doubt I wouldn’t have caught these fish.
6) Get a stopwatch!
When feeder or bomb fishing in the cold one bit of kit I simply wouldn’t be without is a stopwatch as I always time both my casts and bites as this makes my fishing a lot more efficient and effective.
I might start off with 10-minute casts and then if I don’t get any bites in that time I will lengthen this to 20 minutes.
Once I start to get bites though, every time the tip goes round I will make a note of how long the feeder or bomb has been in the water.
Normally, once I’ve had three or four bites I’ll start to see a pattern emerge, and I might find all my bites are coming between 11 and 12 minutes for instance.
I can then start to use this to my advantage as in if this is the bite time there is no point leaving the feeder/bomb out for any longer than this.
So to sum up, using a stopwatch just makes me that little bit more efficient at my peg which in turn I believe leads to more fish in my net!
7) why it’s so important to use back shots
Perhaps one of the best bits of advice I have ever been given was from Alan Scotthorne regarding the use of back shot.
Instead of using a single shot just above the float as most anglers would, Alan was using a string of small shot above the float, normally No9s. Presentation was so much better, even in a crosswind.
A string of back shot makes you stay tight on the float which means you hit more bites – simple as that!
I like to have the first shot three to four inches above the float and then the rest of the back shots at 3ins intervals above this. If it’s really windy I will put the shots closer together.
8) how you feed from a pot is crucial
Once the water gets cold and clear I believe that bait falling through it attracts fish, even when fed in very small amounts.
It’s important to choose the right lid when pole potting and I prefer one that allows me to sprinkle bait into the swim on a regular basis.
When feeding maggots I might use the medium Guru pole pot and three-quarters fill it with maggots. It allows me to feed six or seven times over the top of the float without having to waste time shipping back in to refill the pot every time.
I love this time of year on the stillwaters, as the fish really get their heads down for a feed.
Carp in commercials aren’t stupid, and they can become cagey as the summer wears on, but now they know they’ve got to get some grub inside them before winter arrives – and that means big weights if you get your tactics right.
I believe that a lot of anglers fish too negatively too soon, cutting back on bait and feeding, and they can suffer the consequences at the weigh-in.
As you’ll know, I’m a big fan of fishing positively and right now that mentality can really pay off.
Heavy feeding – at the right time – the use of big baits and managing your swim properly come into their own on many of the waters I fish and have helped me to some of my biggest-ever catches at this time of year.
Some of them have come from fishing not much further out than the end of my keepnet!
Here are a few of the tricks I use for success in autumn…
1) Find the hotspots
Plumbing up is crucial right now, as you need to find the natural hotspots in your swim where fish hold up in numbers – it’s not just visible features above the water that hold fish.
Many anglers have a preconceived idea of how to fish a peg and only plumb areas they intend to fish, rather than the whole swim. They then miss out on a potential fish-holding area, as they have no idea it’s there!
I always spend a good five minutes plumbing around so I have an accurate picture of what’s in front of me.
It might sound like something small that everyone does, but do it properly and it can make a massive difference.
2) Go a foot past the slope
Instead of fishing right at the bottom of the near shelf, go out 1ft further on the flat bottom below the slope.
Fish right at the bottom of the slope and you’ll get fish there and on the flat, which can mean line bites. Where the bottom has properly flattened out is often referred to as the ‘5m line’, but it can be further out.
3) Fish to the side
Fish the 5m line at an angle – either at 10 o’clock or two o’clock, imagining the swim as a clock face.
Which way I fish depends on wind and tow. I always like to try and fish so my float is moving away from me, rather than back underneath the pole tip, as this helps with good rig and bait presentation.
If there’s no tow then I will look to fish to the side where I think the fish are likely to come from. For instance, if I draw peg 9 and the fish are in pegs 6 and 7 then I will fish towards the lower numbers.
The big advantage to fishing at an angle as opposed to straight in front of you is that when you hook a fish you don’t end up playing it right on top of where you are feeding.
4) Give them some meat
Meat is an awesome bait at this time of year, possibly because the fish are bored of seeing pellets by now. I always have two or three tins of cubed meat on my bait tray.
A 6mm cube catches all sizes of carp but is big enough to avoid the attentions of silvers. To get a real edge with meat I feed it with crunchy casters, which hold carp in the swim for longer periods. On commercials I feed a 250ml pot of two-thirds caster and one-third meat to kick off.
I then loosefeed meat over the top. If bites fall away I get the big pot out again and feed some more hemp
5) Keep it wet
Keeping meat damp on the bank stops it drying out and potentially floating, as well as helping to soften it –and carp love a soft bait!
To keep it damp all I like to do is cover it with water and then drain the water off after five minutes.
This ensures the meat will be wet but not soaking, and I then cover my bait box of meat with a wet towel to stop the air getting to it.
6) Go longer in the margins
When you are looking to catch carp in the edge you need to think about fishing long as opposed to short.
The reason for this is, carp tend to be more confident the further down the bank you fish, which is down to the lack of noise and disturbance.
For this reason I will quite often fish a full 16m down the edge if my swim allows it.
If you have a good edge swim, as in one with cover or depth, it can be well worth looking there early on just to see if there are any resident fish you can pick off. I prefer to have my first look without feeding. Then, if no bites are forthcoming, I’ll feed a small amount of bait to try and pull a fish or two into the area.
7) Feed particles in the edge
The margins are still a great area to target at the moment – you just need to change your approach slightly.
Rather than dumping loads of groundbait in the edge I find it better to feed dead maggots and wetted-down 2mm pellets.
These make a great combo – the pellets attract the carp and then, once they arrive, they feed on the dead maggots.
8) Try liquid corn
Just because it’s that bit colder doesn’t mean that on snake lakes you can’t catch in the shallow water.
The key is to put a cloud in the water, and nothing beats liquidised corn. Fed through a Kinder pot, it explodes on the surface and forms a cloud in the water. Carp will then move into the cloud to feed.
When fishing in this manner I like to put four or five grains of corn in a small pot then cap it off with the liquidised corn.
The fish are then attracted by the cloud, but once there they will feed on the solid offerings on the bottom.
Hookbait for this tactic can either be a single grain of corn or, better still, a corn skin, which is light and will flutter enticingly in the cloud.
9) Use back shots
Good presentation is vital when pole fishing, so it never ceases to amaze me how many anglers still don’t fish with back shots.
Back shots are something I now always fish with – normally this involves a string of three or four No9 shot between pole float and pole-tip.
The first shot is positioned 2ins-3ins above the float and the rest are then spaced at 3ins intervals above this.
These back shot not only help in terms of presentation but they also make me stay tight on the float which, in turn, means I miss fewer bites.
10) Work your rig
Two ways to induce a bite are to lift and drag your rig.
Lifting and lowering the riginvolves lifting the float 8ins-12ins clear of the water and then slowly lowering it back in again.
This has the effect of making the bait rise and fall, and bites tend to come just as the float resettles.
The second way is to slowly pull the hookbait along the bottom. This bit of movement catches the carp’s eye and bites tend to be very positive as the carp suck in the meat hookbait on the move, virtually hooking themselves as they do so.
The key to making this work is not to pull the float too quickly – its bristle should only just rise above normal level when you are dragging it.
11) Try pinging pellets
Even in the autumn, noise can still be a great way of attracting carp into your peg and there is no better way than pinging in hard pellets little-and-often on the pole.
As a rule I will use hard 6mm pellets and feed 3-5 pellets every 90 seconds to try and pull fish into the swim.
I will keep pinging until I get an indication then, once I do I, will stop pinging and keep lifting and dropping the rig until I catch the culprit! The secret to this type of fishing is not to feed too much – if you do, line bites and foul-hookers can become a nightmare!
12) Create a slower falling rig
As the water gets that little bit clearer, light floats really come into their own when pole fishing as they give a slower fall of the hookbait. This, I believe at this time of the year, produces more bites as the fish follow the hookbait down before taking it.
I’m talking about using a 4x10 float in 6ft-7ft of water. Shotting is a lightly strung bulk of No11s with the bottom shot 6ins from the hook and the rest spaced at 1.5ins intervals above this.
13) Make sure you land every fish
Every carp must count, and using White Hydro I can land carp from 2lb to mid-doubles on properly balanced tackle.
Fish it with a puller kit, as this way you can hook a fish, steer it out of the swim and then, once the fish is in close, use the puller to quickly gain control. Yes, it might take slightly longer to land a big fish but surely as long as it ends up in the landing net it’s worth the wait.
14) Go bigger with hookbaits
Meat is the ‘in’ bait but it’s still well worth putting a bit of thought into your hookbait choice.
I always like to kick off on a single 6mm cube – after all I’m feeding 6mm cubes so it makes sense to fish the same on the hook. I will chop and change depending on bites, and if I find if the fishing is hardtwo cubes tend to produce more bites than one or even half a cube.
I can only think it’s because a bigger bait stands out more so the carp home in on it that bit faster!
The same goes for corn, where two grains can outfish a single grain.
15) If all else fails
The ‘late line’ is a swim I don’t always fish unless I need to get out of jail, and even then I’ll only fish it for the last 30 minutes of a match.
As the light fades, the carp will move closer to the near bank to feed. One area they seem to like is right in front of my keepnets. During the match bits of bait get dropped in front of the nets and the carp move in for a free feed.
Therefore, if I’m struggling with 30 minutes to go I will always set up a top kit and short four line to try and take advantage of this. It’s something I have been doing for a few years, and more often than not it’s worth a bonus fish or two – often big fish too.
I feed just enough bait to catch a carp, so 8-10 grains of corn and a pinch of pellets is ample.
The trap has been set, so all I do now is sit and wait – normally I don’t have to wait long!
This season I think we’ll be in for some very good fishing, now that most of our rivers have received a welcome flush through of water. If you’ve not been on a river for a while, why not do yourself a favour and get out there? I think you might well be pleasantly surprised at what’s on offer. Here are a few ideas to point you in the right direction…
1) Target barbel
Over the next few months I’ll be setting some days aside to go on the Trent, Severn and Wye, and I’m hoping to beat my personal best fish of 13lb 12oz which fell to feeder-fished halibut pellets. I’ve had float-caught specimens to 12lb-plus, so fingers crossed I’ll have a new personal best soon!
2) Target bream
Bream shoal up at this time of the year and if you drop on them you could be in for a bonanza of a day!
The very best way is with an open-end groundbait feeder and worms.
Keep the feeder going in regularly every few minutes for the first hour then leave it in a bit longer as each hour goes by. I normally start with a 3ft tail, then shorten if I’m getting a lot of bites, or lengthen it by a foot or two if not many bites are forthcoming.
3) Target perch
We’re entering a period of the season now that is possibly the best time for big perch. All rivers seem to now hold good stocks of these fish, and there are some specimen-sized lumps there for the taking.
My favourite way to catch them is with pole gear and a lobworm on the hook. Feed the swim with a bait dropper filled with chopped worm
4) Try a pole
A long pole gives you perfect presentation and puts you back in the same place every time. Used in conjunction with hollow elastics, it’s possible to land very big fish on one too.
This season I’ve had barbel to nearly 10lb on pole gear, and while I’m not advocating that everyone switches to a pole for that species, it does go to show what is achievable.
5) Target chub
At this time of year, try floatfishing for chub off the bottom with waggler gear.
I’ve had loads of big weights in autumn by fishing 4ft to 6ft deep with just a couple of No8 shot down the line and using single or double maggot on the hook.
Remember, though, you have to keep the feed going in regularly and make sure that your hookbait is dropping through the feed.
6) Use bigger floats
To conquer the flow you might need to fish quite heavy sticks, Bolos and wagglers. A 6g or 8g float should be used with at least a 4lb mainline, possibly even heavier if there are a lot of big fish in the swim.
7) Target roach
Good nets of roach are being caught all over the country at present. You can target them in so many ways, but the best way to my mind is with float gear.
Seed baits have been working well lately, but with lowering air and water temperatures I’d recommend you put your faith in maggots and casters over the next couple of months.
8) Check river levels
There’s nothing worse than turning up at a river only to find it high and coloured.
You can aviod this by visiting the Environment Agency website. Enter the river and area you intend to fish and the latest levels will be revealed. Here’s the link: https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/river-and-sea-levels
9) Try a whip
With a long whip you know you are fishing in the same spot every run down. Keep the feed going in and you can end up with a lot of fish in front of you that are fairly easy to catch. I elasticate my tips with hollow elastic, providing a buffer against snap-offs if you hook a big fish.
10) Try different baits
We can all get set in our ways when it comes to baits, but one thing I have noticed over the past few years is that maggots and casters in the feeder seem to catch a lot more barbel and chub than pellets.
You’ll need to fish a river that is fairly clear to achieve the best results with these baits, but they’re well worth trying if you’re struggling to catch on pellets.
Fungus-filled fields, dew-dripping grass and big red skies are my cue to get excited about autumn.
Big fish are back on the agenda and I can’t wait to get going. So don’t mourn summer’s passing – the real season begins now and to help you, here are my top 10 seasonal tips.
1) Boost your pellets
Big bream love fishmeals in all their guises, but if there was a favourite it would have to be pellets. I struggle to imagine when I wouldn’t include these in my feed.
To maximise my chances I give them a boost the night before. I give the quantity I need for a session a liberal dose of oil – Sticky’s Cap is my favourite. Once they are suitably saturated I coat them in a fishmeal-style groundbait. With these in your swim it won’t only be you spotting the oily slick. Bream won’t be able to resist them.
2) Naked chod over silkweed
If the lake bed is covered in food-rich silkweed, a chod rig will provide you with a great presentation for a big carp.
To my mainline I connect a Weedy Green E-S-P tapered leader via a Mahin knot. Next I slide on a float stop and wide-bore bead that will pass over it if any force is applied. The distance between chod and lead is typically set at 6ft. An E-S-P chod follows in front of another stop and bead. The lead is attached via a swivel and a 6ins link of 10lb line. A pop-up and tungsten putty weight finish a brilliant rig.
3) Balance your bait
A chub will either pick the bait up in its lips or very gently suck at it – a balanced hookbait, though, will enter the mouth quickly and easily.
Casters and bread both have natural buoyancy, but other baits need a little more preparation.
Maggots can be made to float and critically balance a small hook. Half-submerge them in water and they’ll absorb extra oxygen through their skins and ready to use in 15 minutes. Or try combining carp-style paste baits with a small piece of crust (above) for a balanced bait to fool fickle chub.
4) Boost the Attraction
With autumn comes rain, and floodwater spewing down our river systems. This is a cue for barbel to go on a feeding frenzy and this isn’t a time you want to miss out on. A chocolate-coloured river can look daunting, but the colour will improve your chances of a catch.
Use the increased flow to your advantage by boosting the attraction signals of your bait. I take my Krill dumbbells, which are potent anyway, and soak them in neat Krill liquid. As if that wasn’t enough, I then give them a paste wrap.
5) Get on the real ronnie
The current star of the carp world is the Ronnie Rig. I tried it, but the additional metalwork reminded me of a bent hook rig.
Fortunately I have been friends with its secretive inventor, known only as Ronnie, since childhood. He told me that what is currently being promoted is very different from the original. I now make mine as follows...
Using non-slip 25lb plus braid I create a slip D arrangement (details easily found on the internet) around a size 4 Cryogen Curve Shanx with a rig ring running up and down the braid.
Next a piece of shrink tubing is pushed over the braid and up on to the shank for the time being. A small E-S-P Uni Link swivel is then tied as close as possible to the hook eye with three simple overhand knots before the tubing is pulled back down and shrunk. With a pop-up tied on and putty around the tubing to sink it, this rig has caught me carp to 59lb this year!
6) Get mobile for perch
Autumn perch are a delight, but locating them can be an issue. So now I prefer to be mobile and seek them out with lures.
Drop shotting, or working jigs and spinners, can all help find the perch shoals.
After a spring and a summer off from the hordes of anglers that will soon descend you can take advantage of their naïvety. So don’t delay – the early bird catches the worm!
7) Strong and simple for pike
To catch a big pike you must first find a water capable of producing one – otherwise no fancy rig or item of tackle will help. Specimen pike are far rarer than carp of similar proportions. Rarely are known big pike caught year after year. They are very delicate. To protect them, play your cards close to your chest if you know of one.
My tackle is strong and simple – a running lead, 60lb braid and 28lb Drennan green wire (above).
8) don't give up on tench
Just as with carp, autumn will see tench bulk up in preparation for winter, and a good fish is possible. In the warmer months the margins were an excellent place to fish, but as the cold bites they return to deeper water.
This generally suggests legering but in my experience, if it’s possible to use it, the float will always catch more fish. Try a slider float (above), making sure you take time to plumb up accurately, and I guarantee the tip will pull under more times than a bobbin will ever rise.
9) Wrasse on the rocks
Wrasse are the perfect species for the coarse angler who wants to dip his toe into salt-water fishing. A carp/spod rod will suffice, combined with a big pit reel and 20lb-30lb line.
A simple paternoster with an old 6oz lead on a weak link, followed by a 30lb trace and a 2/0 hook, is all that is needed. My favourite bait is a whole hermit crab, but wrasse have catholic tastes and a prawn from the supermarket will soon win a bite.
10 Try the float for barbel
Now and then it’s good for the angling soul to do something in style. If you have never caught a barbel on the float, try it now! An Avon-style rod, a reel loaded with 7lb line and a size 12 or 14 Super Spade hook will do.
A big buoyant float like a Loafer (above) ensures you control the river, not the other way round. Maggots are my top bait, with caster and hemp a close second. Feed every trot, and sooner or later that first strike and hitting the brick wall will put a smile on your face.
Looking for a way to boost your pellets? well we've got five tips for you that will help you enhance your pellet mix for when you are next out on the bank.
Try a wafter
Pellets are quite a light bait, but in sizes over 10mm try using a wafter hookbait instead. Not only are these very tough, but their added buoyancy definitely improves hookholds by counterbalancing the weight of the hook.
Use pellet mash
Fill open-end feeders with a mix of pellets and pellet-based groundbait. Soften the pellets in water for a few minutes, drain and leave them for a few hours until they have softened, and use a little groundbait to bind them into a stodgy mix.
Get on the Method
A big Method feeder loaded with sticky pellets is a useful alternative to the blockend feeder, as it keeps the feed more concentrated, particularly when the river of your choice is flowing faster than normal.
dropper or spod
In deep or wide rivers, loosefeeding by hand or with a catapult can be impossible. In these circumstances reach for a bait dropper to combat a fast flow or deep water. On wide rivers use a spod to deposit pellets along a line mid-river.
Boost the attraction
Add a small amount of liquid attractor to pellets the day before fishing and they will soak up the additive, giving the pellets an extra boost of flavour. Try hemp oil, L-Zero 30 or any quality bait dip to obtain the best results.
Now's the time of year I love on commercials – it’s margin time! The fish are well aware that colder weather is on its way, and September is when they really start to get their heads down and try to pack on a bit of weight.
This makes margin fishing, with its heavy feeding regime, one of the best tactics for a big catch right now.
Q. When should I try fishing the margins?
Steve says: I won’t feed down the edge until at least three hours into a session because there’s no point until the carp are starting to move closer to the bank looking for food.
If you feed any earlier, small silver fish will eat everything and the initial impact of feeding the swim will be lost. What you have to remember about edge fishing is that when the carp arrive you can catch very quickly, so a big weight will still be possible even in the last hour.
Q. What depth do I need to have to be able to fish down the edge?
Steve says: Ideally I like to have between 10ins and 18ins of water down the edge. If the water is shallower than 10ins, big carp can be very spooky and difficult to catch, even though you can see them!
Equally, if it’s too deep, it can be tricky to keep the fish on the bottom and line bites then become a problem.
When plumbing up, try to find a relatively flat area to both feed and fish on. What you don’t really want is a spot where the bottom is all over the place, as it makes it hard to settle the fish if this is the case.
You also need to be fishing as tight to the bank as possible to stop fish swimming the wrong side of the float, as this can lead to line bites and foul-hookers.
Q. Do I need a particular type of float?
Steve says: The best margin floats are not only tough, but have a decent bristle, and will take a bit of shot.
A 0.2g or 0.3g MW Margin Diamond is perfect, even when fishing in just inches of water.
The Margin Diamond has a big, thick bristle which allows me to read what’s happening in the swim a lot easier, especially in helping me tell the difference between liners and proper bites. For this reason I like to leave a good half-inch of bristle showing when edge fishing.
Q. What rig do you use? Do you fish straight through or use hooklengths?
Steve says: I fish heavy for big fish... 0.22mm N-Gauge mainline to a 4ins hooklength of 0.19mm and a size 14 Guru XS spade-end hook.
Hooklengths make my rigs more adaptable and save loads of time, should I need to change the hook size or pattern on the bank.
Shotting is a strung bulk of No10s with the bottom shot 6ins from the hook and the rest spaced at one-inch intervals above this.
I don’t like the bottom shot too close to the hook, as I find when big fish are in the swim it can lead to line bites and fish spooking.
Q. Which elastic is best?
Steve says: Nine times out of 10 it’s Red Hydro, on lakes where the carp average 8lb-plus.
Red is powerful enough to quickly steer the carp out of the swim once hooked, but at the same time it’s still soft enough to absorb that first run.
On waters with smaller fish I will use White Hydro on a puller kit, giving me that all-important softness on the strike but then the ability to get fish in by using the puller.
Q. How much bait do I need to feed, and how do I feed it?
Steve says: Really attack the swim. I kick off by feeding between eight and 10 large, 250ml pots of bait.
There are two reasons – first, to try and hold the fish in the swim for as long as possible and second, to give the impression to any fish in the area that I’m packing up and have thrown all my leftover bait in.
Q. What bait should I put on the hook?
Steve says: Big hookbaits! You need to give the carp something they can really home in on among all the loose offerings.
My favourites are bunches of 8-10 maggots, or even double corn if small nuisance silver fish are still a problem.
Always have the same bait on the hook that you are feeding. Edge carp can be clever, and it makes no sense to feed one bait and fish another!
Q. Should I feed again after catching a fish?
Steve says: I always try to ‘fish out’ my initial feed first. Once this is done there are several ways you go about feeding the swim and it’s simply a case of working out which one is right on the day.
You can try putting a big pot in and catching a fish and then feeding another big pot – alternatively you can repeat the big hit of bait and try and catch several fish off that. There are no golden rules, so experimentation is the key!
Q. Do you still use groundbait as feed?
Steve says: Groundbait is brilliant in shallow water, but if the swim is too deep, even a heavy overwetted mix can prove to be a recipe for disaster.
The problem with groundbait in deep water is that once there are carp in the swim it gets wafted about all over the place. In deep water this leads to carp feeding off the bottom.
In deep margins you are better off looking at heavier baits such as sweetcorn or big hard pellets that will stay on the bottom.
With the right depth, though, there’s no better edge combination than groundbait and dead maggots.
My favourite mix is Dynamite Baits Sweet Fishmeal, slightly over-wetted so it will stay put on the bottom.
Q. How do I stop fish from spooking?
Steve says: Quite often you will look down the edge to see tails everywhere, only to quickly ship your rig out and discover they have all vanished.
You ship back in and then they are back again. It’s so frustrating, and the reason they do it is that they have been spooked by the shadow of the pole over their heads. To try and prevent this I hide my pole by keeping it over the bank rather than over the water. A longer-than-normal length of line between pole float and pole-tip can help too.
Q. How long should I give it?
Steve says: You need to be patient. Provided you know there are carp in the swim, just sit and wait. ‘Chasing’ will only spook them out of the swim and lead to foul-hookers.
The only moving of the float I like to do is to occasionally lift and lower it, just to make sure the rig is sitting straight. Lifting and lowering can also help a feeding fish spot the hookbait.
By Steve Ringer