Eight great fishing tips to keep you catching!

In the colder months it can become much harder to catch while fishing. To give you the best possible chance of catching we have gone to Dai Gribble who will reveal the best ways to maximise your fish catches during the cold spell.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show


• Be Prepared

Days are short so you need to make the most of your time on the bank – and that means things like setting rods up at home are a must-do at this time of year.

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It’s far easier than trying to thread the eyes of your rod in the half-light of dawn when you should be focusing on getting a bite at what is often the key time for big fish.

By keeping rods set up and ready to go you are also in a better position to take advantage of good conditions.

If everything is in a heap in your garage you may decide it isn’t worth the effort and you won’t benefit – simple!


• Maximise time

Many species feed best at first light and again as light levels begin to fall towards dusk. If you can, plan to fish at one of these times rather than in the middle of the day.

Often you will find one species will feed more at a particular time of day on a particular water. If you fish the same venue regularly you might spot a pattern, such as getting more pike runs between, say, 10am and midday. Make the most of this by ensuring you are set up and ready in advance.


• Be ready for everything

One of the best pieces of advice I can give for all-round anglers looking for specimen fish is to always have the right bait ready to go. This means investing in a bait fridge/freezer.

Maggots and worms will last for weeks in a fridge, while deadbaits for pike will last all season in a freezer. 

Having good bait for different species readily available enables you to target the species that is most likely to feed under conditions on the day (or night).


Use a weather app

Weather can have a big impact on winter fishing, and it makes sense to target a species that is most likely to be feeding.

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There are loads of weather apps for phones, and long-range forecasts are easily found on the internet, so use them to your advantage, especially if you’re fishing on stillwaters which are prone to freezing over.


• And river levels...

There are a number of websites and apps that allow you to check river levels, and this is something I tend to do every day.

The ones I use the most are GaugeMap and the Environement Agency’s website. GaugeMap is great, as you can go back more than the past five days to get historic info on the venue.

It’s vital that you don’t just look at the one nearest to where you are planning to fish, though. Look at the ones upstream to get an idea of what is heading your way.

Once you know the likely level you can determine which species is best to target.


• Baiting up

Remember the old adage that you can always put more in, but you can’t take it out – and think about your baiting strategy carefully.

Fish are cold-blooded, so their metabolism gets slower the colder it grows, which means they eat less.

The good news is that most species respond well to a slight rise in temperature... and even the smallest of temperature increases can trigger feeding activity, so make sure you’re ready with the bait.

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• Get on the move

It often pays to move swims regularly as then you will almost certainly be presenting your bait to many more fish, and the chances of a bite increase.

On stillwaters, for example, pike can be quite sluggish other than during short feeding spells, but you can often trick them into taking a bait outside their prime feeding times if you cast a bait very close to them.

Be prepared to recast baits around the swim rather than casting out and sitting with baits in one place for a long time.


• Keep warm

Winter fishing isn’t much fun if you’re cold and wet, but these days there’s no excuse for going badly dressed.

There is a lot of really good clothing available from both angling companies and outdoor shops.

Temperatures often plummet when the sun sets, and you don’t want to leave just at prime time because you are cold.

In extreme weather, when the rivers are full of snow-melt and stillwaters are frozen over, then my best advice is to stay at home! This is when you can spend some time gleaning vital info for your next trip. Did I mention I’ve just launched my new Beyond Dreams book…


Four top targets for the months ahead

Winter has crept over the threshold and the next few months won’t see much respite from the cold. 

So is this a time to stow the tackle away, light a log fire and dream of better times to come? 

After all, what chance have you got when the river bursts its banks and floods the surrounding farmland? Even when it stops raining, frost seems to suck the life from every lake and stream, exchanging nature’s colourful palette for gloomy monochrome. 

Despite winter’s extremes I happily rise to the challenge. Only snow melt keeps me indoors in the warm. Match your fish species to the conditions and there’s no reason why you should fail – and there’s the added bonus that your quarry is putting on weight in readiness to spawn. Now, more than at any other time, comes the chance of a personal best. 

So whatever the winter brings, it will still be worth casting a line. The biggest challenge is probably leaving home and the TV!

Now let’s take a look at four species, and how they will put a bend in your rod this winter.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show


Target 1: Perch

The beauty of a shoal of sergeants is that they can be found anywhere – from rivers and streams to lakes and canals. So whatever the conditions you’ll have a chance of finding fish in fine fettle.  

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My biggest tip is to make sure you fish during the short feeding period that occurs every day, regardless of temperature. If the water is clear this will be from 3pm to dusk, but all that changes if there is a tinge of colour in the water similar to that found in commercial fisheries. Then, early afternoon is best and sport tails off as darkness approaches.  

Why is this so? Well, in my opinion light levels are the trigger for perch to feed, and three factors are involved –the amount of sunlight, the clarity of the water and its temperature. Nothing in nature happens accidentally, and even if we can’t understand it, this doesn’t mean it’s a random occurrence.

Although lure fishing is still all the rage I rarely do it these days. The fact is it’s been done to death, and the perch aren’t daft enough to keep eating plastic. If you find a virgin water, great, but if not, stick to real food. Provided the water isn’t like pea soup a livebait takes some beating. Fish it on 5lb line, under a Drennan Loafer float and a size 4 Kamasan B983. If you’re unable to catch any, or rules dictate you can’t, don’t worry – I’m supremely confident with a worm, caster and red maggot combo.  

Finally, if small fish prove a nuisance, try a prawn and always remember to use a resistance-free set-up in your pursuit of perch, ‘the biggest of all fish’.


Target 2: Barbel

Barbel love a warm, flooded river. In a raging flow tactics are more akin to cod fishing but trust me, below the turbulence the fish will be feeding.  

In such conditions a big lump of paste wrapped around a boilie takes some beating, a good back-up being a lump of meat. I fish these on a size 4 or 5 Cryogen Gripper hook and 3ft of 20lb Tungsten Loaded coated braid. The rest of the tackle needs to be just as robust, especially if you’re using 5oz to hold bottom. Leadcore is great in snaggy situations – my favourite is 18lb Syncro XT.  

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Where, though, do you cast such tackle when faced with a maelstrom? Look for creases formed by bends, cattle drinks and cribs, as well as what I describe as ‘glass water’. This is a calm section amid the turbulence and will probably indicate a smooth gravel bottom.

Provided the temperature is high, barbel will feed in clear conditions just as enthusiastically as in a big flood. For this scenario maggots in a big feeder, cast regularly, can’t be beaten.  

Come on… surely the thought of a rod hooping over in the rests is enough to make you leave the sofa?


Target 3: Grayling

Sub-zero temperatures and a clear river will put off many anglers, but these conditions are the signal for grayling to feed. Unless the water has actually frozen over you’ll have a chance. 

Nor is the species for just the lucky few who can fish a chalk stream. Even the Trent holds these beautiful fish, so do a bit of research and there’s a fair chance that you’ll have an opportunity to catch grayling close to home.

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Maggots and corn form the basis of the attack with a 13ft or 14ft float rod and 4lb mainline. 

The mono must not sink and you need a big, buoyant float to stay in control. I would then bulk-shot at three-quarters depth with a couple of dropper shot below that. For corn, a size 14 hook is perfect, or an 18 with maggots. 

Putting your hookbait in the right place and feeding correctly are what count, and I wouldn’t be without a little bait dropper. Often, feeding by hand is fine but when the water deepens I want to be more accurate. This is when I reach for the dropper.

Stay mobile and try to cover plenty of water. However cold it is, rest assured there is always somewhere a grayling will be willing to feed.


Target 4: Chub

If any fish can get you out of jail it’s the chub, and a whole host of tactics will catch them.  

I prefer a clearing river, but a big smelly bait in a flood can also produce the goods.

I enjoy trotting a float and spraying maggots, but for this the water has to be on the low side. Trotting works best when a shoal is targeted. So unless I’m certain what’s in front of me I’m more likely to be roving with a quivertip. 

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It’s important to use a rod with  interchangeable tips, and to choose the lightest one possible. Remember, too, that once you’ve got on 3oz or more to combat the flow there is far too much pressure on a glass tip and you’ll be wasting your time. Far better to switch to carbon and cast slightly upstream, putting a bow in the line. 

Use just enough weight to hold bottom and look for drop-backs.

Both bread and cheesepaste take some beating and can be used in a number of ways. I’m more likely to use bread with a feeder to give the added attraction of liquidised particles. With cheese I will use a link-leger and rely on the hookbait or introduce extra bits of paste by hand.

Either way, in my book, a day spent roving for chub takes some beating.


Top 10 pole fishing tips!

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

• Sprinkle in the feed

Pole fishing in the cold is all about trying to get fish to drop down onto the bottom to feed and there is no better way to do so than with a sprinkle pot.

The beauty of a sprinkle pot is that you can feed very small amounts of bait on a regular basis without having to keep shipping back in and out to do so.

The idea with feeding just one or two maggots or five or six micro pellets is that any fish in the area see the bait falling through the water and then follow it down to feed.

F1s in particular respond really well to this approach. Quite often if the fishing is hard I will fill the pot full of micros and just keep tapping a few out every 60 seconds or so. This is a great way of making something happen as opposed to waiting for it to do so.

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• Feed with accuracy

Pole pot position is, without doubt, one of the most important things to get right when fishing for F1s.

It never ceases to amaze me when I see anglers who just slide a pot on and start fishing.

F1 fishing is all about feeding small amounts of bait and keeping everything tight, something you can’t do if your pole pot is 6ins back from your tip!

If your pot is 6ins back then every time you feed your hookbait is at least 6ins away from the loosefeed. While you might get away with this when carp fishing, you won’t when targeting F1s.

The optimum position for a pole-mounted pot is right on the pole tip. This way you know you are feeding right on top of your float and concentrating the fish where you want them. 

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• Use a ‘half-ex’

When targeting carp and F1s in the cold a really effective trick is to start new swims away from my initial area.

Often I’ll catch five or six fish from a spot before it dies, usually because the fish have spooked and moved. The problem is that they rarely come back and so you need to go chasing around your swim to find them. This is where half-extensions, or dolly butts as they’re also known, come into their own.

When fish move they don’t go far, so moving just 0.5m is more often than not far enough to put you back in touch with the shoal.

A half-ex allows you to move quickly, efficiently and accurately. 

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• Keep your rig moving

Winter polefishing is all about making the fish ‘have it’ as opposed to sitting and waiting for a bite.

If you sat behind me polefishing I think you would be staggered at how much I move the hookbait. I do this primarily by lifting and dropping the rig.

Lifting and dropping basically involves lifting the float anything from 3ins to 12ins clear of the water and lowering it back down again slowly. This movement causes the hookbait to rise and fall in the water, something which fish often find impossible to resist, and bites tend to come just as the float settles again.

Quite often you can sit without a sign with a motionless float, only to lift and drop and get a bite immediately, that’s how effective that little bit of movement can be.

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• Look for cover

One thing is for sure,  when the water goes cold and clear, any sort of cover – especially rush beds, aerators, or even structures like bridges – will hold carp and F1s.

When it comes to targeting them, I always fish just off the cover to start with and try and pick up a couple of ‘easy’ fish.

Once the early bites stop I simply move closer and closer to the cover, picking fish off as I go.

When I say you have to go tight to the cover, I do mean tight –   this often means resting your float against an aerator for instance.

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• Consider colour

After spending a lot of time maggot fishing for F1s it became really apparent was that hookbait choice made a big difference, and two maggots on the hook always seemed to be better than one.

Most anglers, however, tended to just fish two red maggots whereas I always found adding a little bit of colour made a huge difference, and seemed to get more bites fishing a red and a white maggot.

I’m sure that in the clear water the white maggot stood out that little bit better than the red but by combining the two I was getting the best of both worlds so don’t be afraid to mix it up with your bait colours in the winter.

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• Maggots & pellets

A trick which has served me well when F1 fishing is to take both pellets and maggots, and always start by fishing with pellets.

Pellets are very much an instant bait for F1s and will give you a fast start. I’ll usually stick with them for chasing fish around up to the three hour mark, before making the important switch to maggots.

The difference with maggots is that the fish always seem to feed properly on them, as in they get their heads down and you won’t need to move around your swim.

It therefore makes sense to fish maggots late as that’s when the F1s tend to want to feed, normally as the light starts to drop.

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• Try going long

As far as open water pole fishing goes, the best bit of advice I can give you is that if you’re struggling for bites then ‘go long’!

When the water is cold and clear and the carp don’t really want to feed they will push out from the bank to where they feel safe.

When I used to fish Makins Phase One in the winter when it was rock hard the best way to catch a carp or two was always on the long pole, normally 16m if the wind allowed. 

When I went long, I’d feed just enough bait to catch one fish and wait, then repeat the process.

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• Always feed a short line

A line I always like to put in at this time of the year is a short pole corn line. In the warmer months this would be a meat line, but at this time of year it is all about corn.

With the water being clear I feel that corn offers that bit more visibility, making it a lot more effective.

The secret to the short corn line is the feeding and I won’t start putting any bait in until two hours to go. Even then I will feed it purely by hand if possible.

Little and often is the key and I’ll flick four to six grains out every two minutes, working on the same principle as the sprinkle pot, banking on the bait falling through the water drawing the fish in.

Most people make the mistake of dump-potting corn in, and this just isn’t as effective once the water goes clear keep it dripping in. 


• Use fluoro

Over the last few years I’ve become a massive fan of fluorocarbon in cold, clear water as I believe it gives me an edge, especially when I am targeting notoriously clever fish such as F1s.

I use a 4ins hooklength of 0.10mm Pure Fluorocarbon and this is attached loop to loop to my mainline of 0.13mm Guru N-Gauge.

Hook choice for maggot fishing is a size 18 Guru F1 maggot hook which is a lightweight pattern perfect for this type of fishing.


Improve your watercraft and catch more!

There’s no point in having the latest kit and top-quality bait if you turn up at your peg and end up fishing in completely the wrong spot to begin with.

Watercraft is what angling success boils down to at this time of year and even on relatively featureless-looking commercial fisheries, there’s still plenty going on under the water to dictate where the fish will and won’t be.

Faced with a large expanse of open water and little on the surface to base your attack around, how can you work out where to target your attack at a time of year when the weather can change drastically and alter the feeding habits of the fish?

Let Matrix-backed triple Fish O’Mania champion Jamie Hughes be your guide to keeping the bites coming as Christmas is knocking on the door – it’s really not as complicated as it may seem at first glance!

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

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What to fish

“Faced with open water, the first problem you may encounter is tow caused by the wind. Wide exposed swims are prone to this and it can render the pole line unfishable in terms of presentation. 

“If this was the case then the feeder or bomb would come to the fore but provided conditions are not too bad, the pole has to be the No1 approach for precise feeding and perfect presentation. I’d certainly always set both up because the wind can change during a session and increase tow.”

Where to fish

“You may not have any fish-holding features on the surface so your best friend will be a plummet. Most lakes have changes in depth and these may be a matter of inches but they can make a big difference. 

“I’d spend a good 15 minutes plumbing around the swim on the pole to find these depth changes and would think nothing of going out to 16m to find them. I’m looking for an underwater bar that offers a substantial depth change. On the feeder, this isn’t as important as I’ll be using the rod to cast around as opposed to building up a swim in one spot.”

The bait to bring

“Maggots are good for F1s and silvers, but if you’re after carp, nothing beats pellets – even in cold weather. Hard pellets beat soft expanders every time, so I’d bring some 4mm and 6mm hard pellets and a bag of micro pellets. That should be ample for a winter session. Changing hookbaits is key so I’d throw in a tin of corn and some bright wafters for the tip.”

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Casting around

“Unlike in summer, I’m not trying to build a peg up with the feeder. Instead, I’ll cast to different spots around the peg. When I catch a fish I then chuck back to the same spot but if nothing else happens, I’ll be on the move again. 

“How long I leave the feeder out depends on if anyone around me is catching on the tip. That could mean waiting up to half-an-hour before winding in. I’ll revisit spots that I’ve cast to earlier in the day as the little consignment of pellets that went in beforehand may just be enough to draw in a few carp.”

Pole baits

“I’d begin fishing with bread dobbing about at half-depth to try and catch fish that aren’t that interested in feeding but would only give this 15 minutes using an 8mm piece of breadpunch. 

“If I’ve not caught then I fall back to fishing pellet, a hard 6mm banded on the hook with micro pellets fed via a small pot.”

Get on the pole!

“Should the weather be good then I’ll always go for the pole. Where to fish is all about what’s underwater and at my local fishery Mill House, there’s an underwater bar at around 16m on every peg – and that’s what I’m looking for. There’s no guarantee that the carp will want to be on top of the bar so I hedge my bets to fish both this shallower water and the deeper spot just in front or behind it.

“When you’re talking distance there’s no point trying to catch short because the fish will be reluctant to feed here and 13m would be as close to the bank as I’d go. I’d kick off here in the deep water for reasons of comfort as much as anything else!

“When to fish the shallower bar is down to if anglers around me are fishing here and catching, but also the air pressure. In high pressure, the carp seem to prefer sitting in the shallower water on the bar ,but in low pressure, they’re in the deep water. That’s the rule of thumb I subscribe to.”

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Go for The feeder if it’s windy

“If the wind is too bad to fish the pole properly, the tip is your only sensible option and this gives me two options – bomb or feeder. In very clear water I’d go for the bomb, but if there’s still some colour in the lake then the feeder is better. 

“My feeder is a Matrix Alloy Open Method, but this is in the smallest size available to introduce just a dozen micro pellets on each cast. Roughly, I want to feed on the feeder the same amount that I’d be putting in if I was fishing the pole. Tackle is still sensible for carp, with an 0.16mm Power Micron hooklink to a size 16 KKM-B hook. 

“As for hooklinks I try to use as short a link as I can, often just 2cm long. This gives the fish less chance of ejecting the hookbait.”

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Let the bait fall slowly

“At Mill House the carp seem to watch the bait and feed fall and then take it just as it settles. I’ll trickle in a dozen micros and lay the rig in over the top, expecting a bite within 60 seconds. 

“If not, I lay the rig in again and wait another minute before shipping in and repeating. My rig features a strung shotting pattern with a Malman Roob float taking between 4x12 to 4x16 dependent on the wind.

“The lighter float has strung shot but on a heavier rig, these are spaced slightly closer together for better presentation, leaving around 2cm of float tip showing. I also never fish overdepth because you can miss a lot of bites from carp.” 

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Commercial perch fishing with a pole

Commercial carp are slowing down in the lower temperatures, but there’s one species you can always rely on for bites – the perch. 

Most fisheries hold good stocks of these predators, some of which grow to phenomenal sizes. Often they are encountered by chance, but by adopting a tailored approach it’s possible to make the most of these often untargeted fish.

Angling Times news reporter Freddie Sandford visited Buttonhole Lake near Wisbech, Cambs, and outlined his simple approach for commercial stripeys…

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

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Perfect Presentation

“The most important factor in my approach is the way I present my hookbait, and this varies depending on how the perch are feeding. 

“The first bait I always try is two casters impaled on a size 16 hook. A light rig with strung-out shot allows the casters to fall delicately through the water alongside loosefed offerings, and I expect bites just as the bait hits the deck. 

“If no indications come within moments of my float settling this tells me that the perch aren’t intercepting my bait on the drop, and are likely to be mooching around on the lakebed, watching over my loosefeed. In this instance I change to a worm hookbait and bulk my shot towards the bottom of my rig. This puts me in direct control of my hookbait, allowing me to jig the worm to induce a bite.”

The Session

“On the day I caught the majority of my fish on casters, but later in the session a small worm jigged through the swim picked off a few larger fish that were settled over my feed.

“Give both these baits a try to keep catching in the cold.”

The Margins

Perch love to lurk over the marginal shelves in search of prey, making the edges the perfect place to target them. I like to find the bottom of the nearside shelf and fish one line in front of me and another in the margins. 

Fishing two swims helps to keep bites coming throughout the day, as this gives the fish somewhere to retreat should they become spooked on one of the lines.

Perch Baits

There is no need for a complex bait tray when targeting perch, and I look no further than a few pints of casters and a small pack of worms. 

Both swims are initially fed with a few chopped dendrobaenas and a pinch of casters, and throughout the day I like to flick a few casters over both lines. I never feed large amounts of bait as, in my experience, this can bring in lots of unwanted small fish.”

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Waggler fishing tips for your local commercial

We all know how deadly the pole is for catching, offering unrivalled accuracy in feeding and hookbait presentation. 

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

But, as the water on commercial fisheries begins to clear a little, waving carbon over the heads of the fish can be the worst thing you can possibly do!

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Although you’ll still catch on the pole, having a waggler line up your sleeve can keep the bites coming. Such is its effectiveness in November and beyond that you may not even need to pick the pole up at all.

Rod and line allows you to cast around the peg to find the fish and present the bait at a range of depths, yet it’s a criminally under-used approach.

Norfolk matchman Robert Walton knows the value of the ‘wag’, however, and it plays a key part in the Matrix Wensum Valley Angling man’s cold-weather approach on his local Reepham Fisheries. Here’s how he fishes his float-and-maggot approach...

Why use the waggler?

“Fish will back off from the pole line so it is important to have a second line on the go. The waggler offers more versatility in terms of how far out you can fish. 

“My pole line would typically be around 13m out. I then have my waggler line at around twice this distance so that I’m keeping both lines well apart. Fishing at this time of year – especially for F1s – is about getting bites regularly.

“Because of the size of the fish, you need to keep something going in the net throughout the day.”

Multiple swims

“I’ll begin on the waggler because this gives me time to prime my pole line and let things settle down. I’ll have two areas to cast to, roughly at angles of 10 o’clock and two o’clock in the swim. 

“I’d give this between 45 minutes and an hour before picking a top kit up. Two lines also lets me experiment with my feed.”

Come off bottom

“Don’t think that the fish will always be on the bottom – especially F1s. These fish can come off bottom to get at the loosefeed or sometimes because they simply prefer to be here, and this will be shown by knocks as the bait falls, or by line bites. 

“Fishing 1ft off the deck can result in a smaller stamp of fish, but it will keep you catching. The colder the weather is, the more productive fishing off bottom is, so it’s worth bearing that in mind.”.

Waggler rig

“The float is a 4g loaded Matrix insert waggler to a 5lb mainline and an 0.11m hooklink to a size 20 Matrix Carp Bagger hook to fish double maggot (one red and one white). This is set around 2ins overdepth with shotting down the line made up of four No9s set 4ins apart in the bottom half of the rig.”

Feeding

“Around 20 maggots every couple of minutes are catapulted in. By having two lines to go at, I can feed more on one of them to see how fish will react. To give them a bit of a kick, I spray the feed with Marukyu’s Scopex Amino Spray to give them a lovely bit of scent.”

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Casting around

“Although I try to land the waggler in the same spot, it does no harm to cast beyond the feed or to either side to see if the fish have backed away. I do this if I’ve waited a while for a bite. My plan is to cast past the feed and wind the float back into the target area. This is where in that opening hour I’d expect to pick up a few carp and F1s. If the response is slow, cast past the feed and leave the float there.”

Think big and clip on a ‘bosher’!

For years, the best way to get bait into your peg early on when fishing the feeder was to make several quick casts with the biggest open-end that you had in your collection.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

Fast forward to 2018, and the past 12 months have seen the rise of the ‘bosher’, an over-sized cage feeder designed to get a massive hit of groundbait and particles into your swim in no time at all. The theory borrows from the world of specimen carp fishing, where spods are used to do the same thing.

You can see why it’s called a ‘bosher’

You can see why it’s called a ‘bosher’

Just four or five casts with the ‘bosher’ can get several pints of feed down, an amount that would take up valuable fishing time if using a much smaller feeder. Provided the weather stays mild, laying down a big bed of feed still plays a significant part when fishing big open lakes for bream, skimmers and carp.

These fish prefer to graze over a big bed of bait, whether the water is cold or not, and the aim is to give them that big pile of feed then fish a tiny feeder over the top. The opening hit draws the fish in and subsequent regular but much smaller amounts get them feeding.

It’s an approach I’ve used a lot this year at home and abroad. It works on a similar principle to balling in a lot of groundbait on the pole. After the bombardment, a good hour is needed to let things settle down and for the fish to find the food.

This is time well spent, and all things being equal you may not need to bring the ‘bosher’ into play again for the rest of the match, relying instead on that little feeder to keep things simmering away nicely. If another bait injection is needed, then a couple of ‘boshers’ will give you a quick impact and get you catching again.

What is a ‘bosher’?

This feeder is effectively a massive cage feeder capable of carrying a lot of bait. It doesn’t cast that well, and you certainly can’t manage a good chuck using your standard feeder rod, so you’ll need a separate bit of kit. 

This is like a spod rod and many anglers, myself included, have a carp-style rod with plenty of backbone for heaving the ‘bosher’ out to beyond the 60m mark. Braid and a shockleader are also important to go the distance and clipping up is also key. There are a range of sizes so pick the one that has enough lead to get to where you want.

Initial feed

Once you’ve decided where to fish and picked the right-sized ‘bosher’, the next job is to decide how much feed to put in and what this is made up of. It’s almost December, so we’re not talking 20 feederfuls, and I find five loads to be ample to start.

Rather than letting the feeder settle on the bottom and then empty, though, I empty each feeder out high in the water, well before the thing settles, so that the feed falls over a larger area.

This creates the bed over which the fish can graze.

Enter the ‘thimble’

With the ‘bosher’ having done its thing and an hour passing to let things calm down, it’s time to fish. The worst thing that you can do is go in over the feed with a big open-end or cage feeder as this will only spook the fish, especially in clearing water. 

There’s no need for a feeder this big either, as enough bait will be in the swim already. Instead I use what I call a ‘thimble’ feeder, a tiny cage with just three holes along its length. This makes minimal disturbance and gives the fish just a taster of feed on each cast, normally that 2mm dampened pellet mix.

Talking tackle

With winter coming, you need to be thinking about scaling down your tackle, but not so much that you may lose any bigger fish that are hooked, especially carp.

On a typical mixed fishery I’ll gear up with 8lb Middy M-Tech mainline to a 12ins hooklink of 0.14mm to 0.16mm Middy Lo-Viz finished off with a size 14 eyed KKM-B hook to let me hair-rig the hookbait. 

At all times I use a running rig as this is 100 per cent safe, letting the feeder slide along the mainline, stopped above the hooklink by a couple of Middy Slot Shot with a short link of twisted line below to cut down on tangles.

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Feeding again

If the peg shows signs of dying completely, putting in two more ‘boshers’ of bait can promote another run of bites. 

This is no different to potting in a couple of balls of groundbait if fishing the pole, but before I picked up the ‘bosher’ rod I’d certainly consider casting a metre past where I’ve been fishing, or even off to one side, to see if the fish have backed away slightly. 

If they have, the response should be reasonably instant.

Top Pellets

Because I’m feeding pellets and corn, it makes sense to use both on the hook. This means a single grain of corn or two 4mm expander pellets. 

Expander pellets are not commonly used in the feeder, but in colder conditions, and especially for skimmers, they are much better than a hard pellet. 

Just ensure that your finished pellets are a little tougher than they would be for using on the pole, so that they can withstand the force of the cast.

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Particles or groundbait?

There are two schools of thought as to what to put into the ‘bosher’. Although groundbait is very good, I’ve found, even at this time of year, that pellets and corn catches me a bigger stamp of fish. 

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For that reason I’ll introduce a mix of different-sized pellets and some corn. Even on natural waters, the fish are used to seeing these baits. 

A good mix are 2mm Dynamite Baits Swim Stim and F1 Sweet pellets, dampened to help them stick inside the feeder, plus the same amount of bigger 4mm Swim Stim pellets and a sprinkling of corn. 

A sweet fishmeal groundbait is still worth bringing along and using if the day is particularly hard or the fish are very small.

Chub on chips with Jack Pells

We all have our favourite ‘go-to’ baits and tactics when fishing – but sometimes a little change here and there can give us a new weapon in our armoury, and lead us to a real red-letter day.

When it comes to chub fishing, I was guilty of fishing the same method every time because I knew it worked for me.

It wasn’t until one day, when I thought outside the box, that I found a fun and exciting tactic that has caught me some of my biggest chub, including several six-pounders.

It all started while I was chub fishing late one night on the River Thames and got interrupted by a group of people walking home after a drunken night out. 

As they crossed the bridge I was fishing near, one of them threw a bag of chips into the river.

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While this was a disgusting act, it did get me thinking. There are a few pubs and takeaways in the area and I wondered how many takeaway leftovers find their way into the river and on to the chub’s dinner plate?

There was only one way to find out. On my next trip, instead of going to the tackle shop for my bait, I headed to the chippy.

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Sausage, chips, and curry sauce for an evening’s fishing – if I didn’t catch, then at least I was having a decent meal on the bank.

I have to admit I was a bit apprehensive at first as I threaded a chip on to my hook, and thought I’d give it just a few casts before probably having to switch to my tried and trusted breadflake or crust baits.

I never got the chance to think about it any further as a big chub smashed the tip around!

These bigger fish, which usually give you the more delicate bites, were proving savage, and I believe this is because they fed on a bait which they considered ‘safe’.

Chub have huge mouths, and for a big mouth I will use a big hook, so a size 4 or 6 is ideal for holding on to the bait as well as the fish.

I hook the chip through the end and aim to have as much of the hook shank buried in the bait as possible, leaving the hookpoint exposed. With the chip being soft it will simply fall off the hook on the strike, enabling the hook to do its job.

My chip rig is a simple one, I use a medium strength quivertip rod and fish 6lb line all the way through to the hook.

I find a link-leger to be ideal, as you can add or remove shot to ensure the bait flutters down enticingly. The link-leger is held in place by a couple of float stops.

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This way you can alter the distance between the hook and shot if you need to. I tend to use a small rubber bead between the link leger and the float stops as a shock-absorber. 

So what are the chances of this working on your local river? To be honest, pretty high, as I’ve had success fishing this method opposite people’s gardens, beside boats and along towpaths – not just near bridges.

For the record, other takeaways can produce the goods too, and I’ve also caught chub on kebab meats and pizza crusts.

Chip shop chips are my first choice, though – be sure to ask for plenty of salt and not so much vinegar, as I think thist can sometimes put them off a little.

If the option is there, a pot of curry sauce can be a deadly glug as it leaks off an irresistible scent trail. It sounds ridiculous, but it’s certainly worth a go as it can be a fun and effective alternative to baits that the fish get used to being caught on.

What’s more, you’ll never have to worry about getting rid of your leftover bait!

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

Top roach fishing tips and rigs

Ask any all-round angler and they’ll tell you there are few better sights in fishing than a big roach.

I’ve caught a few of these in my time, but nothing can ever prepare you for the awesome sight of a ‘two’ or even a three-pounder coming over the front of your landing net.

Most of us grow up catching small roach but when they grow to specimen proportions they’re almost like a different species altogether.

As with most big-fish angling, locating the fish you want to catch is paramount.

Fortunately for the roach angler they have a habit of rolling at dusk and dawn. At dawn, in particular, they will often roll while it is nearer to dark than light, but as long as the water is calm you can generally see the ripples they make, even if you cannot see the actual fish.

Quite often their rolling activity only lasts for a few minutes so it pays to be looking at the water as soon as dawn starts to break. 

Although roach are more likely to show themselves at dawn and dusk, they can be caught throughout the day in winter.

I have found that a short burst of feeding activity can occur at any time and it pays to be organised so you can take advantage of any such purple patches.

Make sure you have spare hooklinks set up and scales and camera to hand so that you can maximise your chances when the roach switch on.

Generally, the colder the weather, the shorter the feeding spell. While overcast conditions are generally best in the winter months, I am sure roach will feed at some point in the day regardless of the weather, so don’t be put off if the conditions appear to be less than ideal.

Over the years I’ve used many rigs for roach but I’ve found one to be head and shoulders above all the rest at putting a specimen fish on the bank – a simple heli rig.

Here’s how to fish it…

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A) MAINLINE

Casting heavy feeders puts quite a lot of stress on the mainline so I like to use a robust line such as Korum Xpert Reel Line or Gardner hydroFLO in 6lb breaking strain. 

B) HELI SET-UP

The great thing about fishing these days is that there’s so much gear that’s ready to use from the pack. I’m a huge fan of the Korum Ready Heli Kit that allows me to set up my heli rig in seconds.

The kit is slid straight on to the mainline and comprises two rig stops and beads either side of a rotating quick-change link which I use to attach my hooklink to. This is covered with an anti-tangle sleeve to help kick the hooklink away from the mainline.

C) DISTANCE

By moving the rig stops up or down the line the distance between the hooklink and the feeder can be varied.

I start with it about 6ins away, and if bites are not forthcoming I will move it further away on one rod and closer on the other.

On some days the fish will show a distinct preference for one or the other but on other days it appears to make little or no difference.

D) SHORT HOOKLINK

This rig works best with short hooklinks of no more than 3ins.

Over the years I’ve tried many different lines and have found Preston Reflo to be the best.

I generally start with 0.13mm Reflo (4lb 12oz) as I have found this to be a good compromise between fine presentation and strength.

On occasion I will drop to 0.11mm Reflo, particularly in clear, shallow water and in bright, sunny conditions.

I used to tie my own hooklinks but nowadays I use Preston PR 355   hooks to nylon, in size 16 and 18, using a loop tyer to shorten the line to just 3ins.

It is then a simple matter of threading on a rig sleeve and attaching the hooklink to the quick-change bead.

E) FEEDER LINK

My swimfeeder is attached via an Avid Quick Change link tied to the end of the mainline.

I like to use a quick change clip for two reasons – it enables me to change the feeder easily and the feeder can be removed at the end of the session, which makes it easier to pack the rods away still set up.

F) HOOKBAITS

My number one choice is maggots. I like to use a mixture of red and white maggots and invariably start of with one of each on a size 16 hook.

If bites are not forthcoming I will try just red or white maggots and in really cold weather it’s even worth trying a single maggot on a size 18.

I never go below a size 18 as big roach are strong fighters that jag around a lot and I feel that a smaller hook increases the likelihood of a hook pull.

I’d rather hook fewer fish but have a better chance of landing them. 

G) FEEDING

In many waters, big roach are thin on the ground so it is important not to overfeed them, or you can ruin your chances of a bite.

I usually only introduce bait in the swimfeeder and am wary of recasting too often and putting a lot of bait into my swim.

I want any roach present to pick up my hookbaits rather than fill up on free offerings, so typically I’ll only recast every two hours or so.

The beauty of this rig is that it very rarely tangles ,so you can be almost certain it is fishing effectively for that length of time.

H) FEEDER SIZE

The rig is best fished with a fairly heavy feeder to maximise the self-hooking properties of the rig and I use 50g Preston Quickload feeders in both medium and large sizes.


Roach fishing tips

Always use soft rods

Big roach are finicky feeders. My favoured rig incorporates fine hooks and lines, so it needs to be used with a soft rod to prevent line breakages and hook pulls.

I like a rod with a soft tip and a test curve of 1.25lb or less. Currently I am using Korum 1.25lb Neoteric rods which have a lovely soft tip but can still cast a feeder well over 50 yards.

Fish with tight lines

The bolt effect of the rig is enhanced by the use of heavy bobbins that keep the line tight.

Some bites can be very vicious so I like to use reels with a freespool system.

Alternatively, you can slacken the drag off on your reel to ensure a big roach does not break the hooklink on the take.

Playing roach safely

Big roach fight really well on light tackle with a distinctive jagging style. Play them with ‘soft hands’ and take your time. If you try to bully them they are far more likely to come off.  

Experiment

This rig makes it easy to make changes, be they to the hooklink, hook size, distance from the feeder, maggots colour, the number of maggots, even the size of feeder. Give it a go and ring the changes to bring a big roach to your net soon.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

Chub fishing tips | Rigs, Bait and chub tips

Here are some of the best chub fishing tips to help you catch a personal best next time you are out on the bank. To get the best chub tips possible we have gone to current Drennan Cup champion Dai Gribble.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

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The link leger rig has to be one of the simplest set-ups in fishing, and I can’t believe more anglers don’t use it when targeting chub in autumn and winter.

What it lacks in complexity it certainly makes up for in its ability to put a hookbait in the perfect position – and its fish-catching prowess is unrivalled.

In fact, some of my biggest-ever chub have fallen to this rig.

My rig is made up of a leger bead threaded on to the mainline, followed by two float stops. 

A large hook such as a Korum Power in size 8 or 6 is tied directly to the mainline with a five-turn grinner knot.

The weight for the rig is made up of an SSG or AAA shot which is attached to a doubled-over loop of line threaded through the small hole in the leger bead.

It might seem simple, but there are some great benefits. First, it only has one knot in the entire rig which makes it as strong as possible. The lack of hardwear makes it stealthy too.

It’s adjustable as well, and although I use two float stops to prevent the weights from sliding down to the hook on the cast, these can be moved by hand to vary the length of your hooklink.

If the rig gets snagged then the shot can easily slide off the short link, leaving the mainline free.

Combine the rig with a loaf of bread and you have the perfect combo for roving the banks and searching out those chub-holding hotspots.

How many fish?

This style of fishing is ‘smash and grab’, and in many small swims you are unlikely to catch more than a single chub as the disturbance of catching one will spook any other fish present for an hour or two.

In larger swims such as long creases, by starting at the upstream end and working down you can catch more than one. If you do catch a chub, hold it in your landing net for a few minutes while you try for a second.

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Where to find the fish

Chub will be found in many different types of swim. In particular they love the cover provided by overhanging trees, and creases where slower water sits beside the main current.

The beauty of roving is that you are not committed to staying in one swim for long – if you don’t get bites, move on to another.

I like to bait three or four swims before fishing each one in turn.

The rig I use makes changing the amount of shot very easy, so I can add or remove shot to ensure the hookbait ends up where I want it. In some cases    I add shot to get the bait to hold further out, in others I use less shot so the rig pulls under a tree or other  close-in feature such as an undercut bank.

Prep your swim

When roving for chub I like to fish lots of swims, as I have found that if a chub is present and willing to feed I get bites very soon after casting.

To improve my chances I like to prepare a number of swims prior to fishing them by introducing a couple of handfuls of mashed bread.

I make mashed bread up in small amounts. I simply take the centre out of three or four slices of thick sliced white bread, which are saved for hookbait. 

The remainder is put in my landing net and submerged until the air bubbles stop coming out. The bread is then lifted out and allowed to drain before putting it into a bait box and mashing it up with my fingers.

The aim is to break it up into small pieces but not turn it into a complete mush.

The mashed bread can then be fed by squeezing it into small balls. These should explode on impact, leaving a mixture of different-sized fragments of bread, everything from crumbs up to pieces about 2cm across. 

Why not use a feeder?

The reason I don’t use a feeder filled with liquidised bread when roving for chub is that most of the time I want to move my hookbait into position after casting, for example, under a tree.

Under such circumstances a feeder won’t work. All the contents will come out as the bait is swinging into place, and rather than draw fish to the bait it will actually draw them away from it.

My approach is to present a bait to fish where they are living rather, than sit and wait for them to come to me.

My two hookbaits

I use bread in two forms for hookbaits for this style of fishing – flake and crust.

When using flake I like to fold a piece of bread about the size of £2 coin over and then squeeze the folded piece gently around the shank of the hook, before gently working the hookpoint clear.

I generally fish flake with a hooklength about 2ft long, but will lengthen this if I am getting only tentative bites.

Often, plain flake works really well but if bites are not forthcoming I add a bit of extra attraction with a squirt of Sonubaits Cheesy Garlic Lava. This adds a big hit of smell to what is already a highly visible bait.

Crust is hooked by pushing the hook through one side of the crust and then turning it and pulling it back. I like to use a piece about 2cm square and I’ll shorten the hooklength to 5cm to 10cm, which ensures the crust is anchored just off the bottom.

By priming swims in advance, if any chub are present then hopefully they will be on the lookout for more bread and bites often come soon after casting. Indeed, sometimes the bait is still bouncing around across the current when it is taken, so be prepared to strike straight away.

Adapt your pellet strategy and catch in the cold

With much colder weather on the way, how you approach a commercial swim and fish with pellets has to change if you are to keep in contact with your quarry.

This applies to both swim selection and the way you fish. For example, if you’re faced with a relatively featureless lake, choose a swim in the middle of the bank.

At this time of year, the fish – carp and F1s – will start to shoal together tighter than in summer, and if you have plenty of water in front of you you’ll have more space to search the swim.

This applies to all types of fishing. I’ll start by targeting three areas – one out long, between 11m and 13m on the pole; a second swim closer in; and a third using an open-end or pellet feeder.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

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A) Long pole

This will be my main line of attack. Look for underwater features on the pole line. Often there’ll be a deeper area at long-pole distance right in front of the platform you’re sitting on. It might only be a few inches deeper than the surroundings, created by feeding fish, but in the winter things like this can make a massive difference to your catch rate.

However, it’s also worth feeding a second long-pole swim downwind of the first. You may well find that as the session progresses, fish will drift away and they may end up here, especially if the water is clearer that it was in the summer.

On good days, you’ll find you can keep fish coming all day by swapping between these two areas regularly. Mark your pole so that changing depths is quick and easy. 

Feed is simple – slow-sinking micro-pellets – and the best hookbait is likely to be 4mm or 6mm expanders.


B) Close in

You’ll still catch close to the bank when the water cools, but only if it’s 3ft deep or more. Look to fish here later in the day, and expect barbel as well as F1s and carp. 

Maggot and caster can sometimes be the best baits here, although I’ll always feed some pellets and grains of corn as well.


C) Feeder

A small open-end or pellet feeder is my third weapon at this time of year, and a good call if the fish drift away from the long-pole line.

A short hooklength and a banded 6mm pellet will keep things nice and simple.


Perch fishing tips | Dig out the worms and catch more!

If there is one time of the year when targeting a big perch becomes a reality, it has to be autumn.

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show

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Clearing water and cooler temperatures seem to trigger this predator into hunting strongly, and while a dedicated big-fish approach using small livebaits or lures can produce the perch of a lifetime, you can also play the numbers game and keep busy with a netful of smaller stripeys – with the chance of a proper monster thrown into the mix.

Canals, rivers, drains and even commercial fisheries all hold plenty of perch, and a 2lb fish is never out of the question.

Lobworms and a chopped worm feed approach remain one of the best ways to catch them.

Former England international Mark Pollard knows about big perch better than most. The Matrix match legend has caught fish to almost 4lb during his match fishing exploits on canals and Fen drains down the years, and he has a relatively simple plan of pole fishing attack to keep the float going under.

Follow Mark’s advice for every chance of a perch personal best…


Feeding 

“My feed is surprisingly minimal for a greedy fish like perch. Each time I feed, I deposit around an eggcup-full of bait. This is made up of around 12 dendra worms and a single lobworm roughly chopped, plus 20 or so casters.

“How to feed is very important, and I’d go for cupping in every time – this lets the feed fall through the water naturally. A bait dropper comes into play in stronger flows, or if I want to concentrate the feed in one spot and twitch the hookbait over it on harder days.”


Move the hookbait

“I inject life into the hookbait by flicking the rig to the side four or five times, lifting it 6ins out of the water and letting it drop around half-a-dozen times.

“Lifting and jigging the rig is like drop shotting with lures. What I’m trying to achieve is to get a perch annoyed at seeing the worm flicking about all over the place and goad it into taking the bait.”

Rigs

In coloured water, a heavy rig is best. This is made up of 0.16mm Pro Micron mainline, a 0.14mm hooklink, a size 14 SW Feeder hook to a 4x14 MP Carp 1 float and orange hollow Matrix elastic. With minimal visibility, there’s no need to go fine, but in gin-clear water I go as low as 0.14mm main and an 0.12mm hoolink. I’ll keep the size 14 hook, though.

Where to fish

I have two lines at the bottom of both slopes – close in and right across. This is where natural food washed in off the banks gathers. It is important to have these lines well away from each other so there’s no risk of splitting a shoal of perch up. I’ll also fish ‘down the peg’, so although I may only be fishing 4m out on the short line, I’ll use 10m of pole and have my swim several metres down the swim.

Top hookbaits

Hookbait is half a lobworm tail around 1.5ins-2ins long, but a small tail segment can work, as can three-quarters of the worm. Dendras are a good change bait using the worm nipped off just past the saddle. Double caster can also be brilliant.

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The Right Timing

“I’ll feed my worm lines from the off, but actually start off fishing for roach elsewhere in the peg, giving the worm time to settle. After 15 or 20 minutes I’ll have a go on the worm to see if an early perch is about.

“Judging how long to stay on these lines is something a lot of anglers get wrong, though.

“I go on the worm and if I catch one, I stay on it, but of nothing happens, I come off it, feed again and go back to the roach. Big perch should be treated as a bonus, and if one is present, it will have a go immediately. I then have a look back on the worm every 30 to 40 minutes.

“Late in the day, when the light begins to fade, is a great time for perch, so don’t be too down-hearted if not much happens early on in the session.

“I’d plan to fish the worm line for a little longer than normal towards the end of the day. When it all comes together, you can catch a fish on every drop in a peg that earlier seemed devoid of perch.”

Top feeder fishing tips to catch more silver fish.

Modern-day feeder fishing is far removed from even 10 years ago.

 Advancements in tackle, bait and anglers’ understanding of how the fish react make this tactic every bit as complex as running a waggler down a river or coaxing out shy-biting roach on the pole.

The two-day Preston Innovations FeederMasters final at Bough Beech Reservoir was a prime example, with anglers having to fish for both skimmers and smaller roach. Here, winner Adam Wakelin reveals how he did it by keeping busy…

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Spodding

“Spodding is a big development in feeder fishing, using a large baiting up or ‘bosher’ feeder, as I call it, to pile in a lot of feed in one go. I took a dedicated spod rod and a big pit reel loaded with spod braid. 

“I put in four litres of bait in 15 minutes – Ringer Baits Natural and Dark groundbait plus corn and micro pellets. The idea was to pull the bream and skimmers into the peg and to keep them there.”

Top hookbaits

“Four or five dead maggots and hair-rigged corn were best on Saturday, whereas on Sunday I dropped right back to three maggots or a couple of redworms.

“On the short line, single maggot was best for the roach.”

What goes in the feeder

“This was very different on each day because of the size of fish I was after. On day one I had my best chance of a weight from the natural bank, and there had been a lot of perch about, so I decided to feed corn and micro pellets.

“On day two, perch were fewer and the skimmers smaller. This meant changing to a classic bream feed of chopped worm, casters and dead maggots.”

Feeding strategy

Each day was very different.

Saturday was the day for a good catch, so I gave the fish plenty of feed through the ‘bosher’ to help build the peg up. 

However, at around 2pm the peg went dead so I made the decision to put in four more ‘boshers’ of bait to re-start the peg, and it got me four fish in the last 30 minutes.

This was effectively the feeder equivalent of re-balling when fishing the pole.

Sunday was different and more about small fish, so the ‘bosher’ wasn’t needed, mainly because I felt I’d catch skimmers early and late – time spent baiting up would have meant fewer fish in the net.

Feeders

I used several. My primary feeder was a Gordon Simm weight-forward cage in 50g or 60g but I picked two different widths, depending on the wind.

In good conditions, the wider feeder flew nicely but when the wind got up on Sunday, the narrower feeder was miles better. 

The third feeder I used was a Guru Distance Feeder, which came into play when I wanted to introduce more particles.

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Distances to fish

I went for 60m on both days for the long line as this was a nice, comfortable cast for both the feeder and bosher. I could have come shorter in the wind on Sunday but because the dam wall area of Bough Beech is shallow I felt that the fish would be sat further out as opposed to closer in. My short line for roach was at 16m, a typical line fished by anglers on the pole.

Choose the right swim and catch all day long

Now that balmy summer evenings are a distant memory, you can no longer assume your float will bury within seconds of it hitting the surface.

But there are lots of things you can do to keep on catching, according to top matchman Andy May. Swim selection, for example – in summer, the commotion caused by hooking and landing fish barely registers with a shoal of hungry fish, but the same can’t be said at this time of year.

The slightest splash or crash on the surface is likely to result in the fish moving away. You can see why it pays, then, to find a swim with lots of options. 

Take the swim Andy is fishing here. Four different lines of attack will cover every cool water scenario in the book…

Silver fish waggler   

If the pole line dries up when fishing for silvers, the waggler chucked a little further out will locate them again.

Make sure this line is fished well away from snags, as this is where the silvers will feel most comfortable, some distance away from where the carp are often found.

A 13ft rod is best, as this enables you to pick up the line quickly on the strike, reducing the number of missed bites. Use a size 16 Kamasan B510 baited with a single or double red or white maggot.

Big fish bomb        

By Andy’s own admission, firing out a bomb and waiting for the tip to go round is far from his favourite approach, but he is fully aware that it has the potential to result in some seriously large fish.

Two 10mm hair-rigged discs of bread will stand out like a sore thumb in clear water. 

The buoyancy of the bait means it will pop up off the bottom, which is ideal because carp rarely sit on the deck for long spells in winter. 

6m pole line

You might think that fishing close to the bank would be a waste of time at this time of year, but silvers will happily congregate here.

Carefully plumb up and if you find 4ft-6ft of water, you are on to a winner. Start by fishing on the deck, using a strung-out shotting pattern so that the hookbait drops slowly through the water. This gives any fish off bottom plenty of time to suck it in.

If you start missing bites then it’s time to shallow up. Keep coming up a few inches at a time until you start converting bites to fish.

Deep margins      

The days of catching in 12ins of water down the edge are over for another year, but if you find enough depth then the inside line can still be very productive.

If it is extremely shallow tight to the bank, push out a couple of metres and you’ll probably find 3ft of water, which is more than enough to hold fish.

Dripping in four or five grains of sweetcorn every 15 minutes is enough loosefeed. As for rig construction, you can land big fish on a lighter set-up compared to a summer margin rig.

Five great pike fishing tips for urban angling.

The time to start pike fishing is now so we’ve gone to urban canal specialist Tom Synnott and Sean Edwards for their best pike fishing tips to help you go out and catch a pike this winter. Whether you need tips on bait or strategy we will have you covered. b

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FIVE TOP TIPS FOR PIKE FISHING 

1) Travel light

The great thing about pike fishing is that all you need is a rod, reel, mat, lure box and a net. We connect ours to our bags using magnets so it quickly pulls off and we’re ready to net as soon as needed. 

2) Cary your lures

Pike can be very picky with what they want to take so make sure you take a small selection of all s of lures including spinnerbaits, swimbaits, cranks, jigheads and jerksters. Pike certainly prefer different things on different days so go armed.

3) Target Bridges

Pike love to shelter underneath overhanging trees which make bridges a fantastic alternative in urban locations you can find loads of tree replacements and, in our opinion, eight out of 10 times they have resident pike under them.

4) Fish the “hang”

When is comes to working a swimbait in the water, give it a twitch and let it sink for two seconds. Nine times out of 10, pike will hit the lure as it’s falling through the water column. This is called the ‘hang’.

5) Walk the dog

After 10 casts in each swim, throw your lure out and walk to the next feature as if you are ‘walking the dog’. 

We’ve caught so many pike trolling the lure by walking along the canal, and the longer your lure is in the water, the more likely you are to hook a fish! 

Top 10 barbel fishing tips & tricks to try now

Are you off barbel fishing this weekend? Then you might want to take a look at the top ten barbel fishing tips for you to try now before heading out onto the riverbank. Whether you are looking for bait ideas or just great barbel tips we’ve got you covered.

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1) Match your baits to the water quality

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As a general rule, use small baits such as casters and 8mm pellets for barbel in clear water and big baits such as meat and boilies in coloured water.


2) Alternative flavours

Fish-flavoured boilies work well for barbel but, if you are looking for a change, try sweet cream, coconut or tiger nut flavoured boilies.


3) Get baits down quickly

A baitdropper is an essential piece of kit for getting small baits such as hemp and maggots straight to the riverbed.


4) Beat debris with a bow

When a river is carrying a lot of debris, cast upstream and pay out plenty of line once the feeder has settled to create a bow in the line. Any debris will then gather along the bow rather than the rig.


5) Keep your boilies still

If you are fishing with boilies you can prevent them from being rolled along the riverbed by cutting them into halves or quarters. The flat sides will help anchor the baits to the deck.


6) Try a Method mix

Groundbait is very underused for barbel, but a heavy Method mix can work well when fed through an open-end feeder.


7) Give them some spice

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Spicy baits work really well for barbel. Simply cut a tin of luncheon meat into cubes and place them into an airtight bag with a teaspoon of curry powder. Leave in the fridge overnight.


8) Keep your hooks sharp

Make sure your rig uses a hook with an in-turned point when fishing gravel-bottomed rivers. This will prevent it from becoming blunted.


9) Head to a weir pool

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Weir pools are a favourite hangout for barbel, especially when the water is running at low or normal levels. The biggest specimens can often be found right under the sill of the weir.


10) Correct pellet choice

Not all pellets are the same. Buy halibut or elips pellets as these definitely catch more barbel than coarse pellets.


Long range bomb and bag tactics for autumn

It’s often thought of as purely a winter tactic, but the bomb and PVA pellet bag is becoming just as big a hit when fished in the warmer months for carp. 

Venues such as Gold Valley, Boddington Reservoir and Barston Lakes are all seeing massive match weights taken on ‘the bag’ – and it formed a key element of 2018 Bait-Tech Supercup champs Whitemoor Lakes’ approach as they triumphed at Barston.

They based much of their attack on the Main Lake around a bomb and bag, cast at long range for the venue’s big carp.

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Poole, Dorset-based angler Ian Dunlop was the best of the Whitemoor Lakes performers in the final, finishing third overall with a 96-12-0 net of big carp that he took fishing bag and wafters at 60m. But, as he reveals, it’s not all about blasting the bomb to the horizon, setting the clutch and sitting back as you wait for the rod to be dragged in...

What goes in the bag?

“I tie my bags the night before and go to great pains to ensure they all hold an equal amount of bait. 

“I measure out the contents with an old Fox Toss pot, and the mix is made up of micros, 6mm pellets, 4mm Mainline Cell pellets and some crushed Cell boilies. The fish at Barston seem to love Cell for some reason!”


Quick breakdown

“I’d noticed in practice that bites came within three minutes of casting out, so using a PVA mesh that broke down rapidly was vital. 

“I think the speed of the bite was down to the amount of spodding that carpers do on the lake, making the fish come to the noise created. Guru’s Speedmesh breaks down super-quick and was ideal.”

Use a shockleader

“Although I geared up with 8lb mainline, towards the end of the match I had two crack-offs as the line had been weakened from the strain put on it by multiple casts. This led me to attach a 10lb shockleader, and things were miles better afterwards. 

“The right rod and reel were equally important, as you can’t cast the distance needed with an 11ft tip rod. 

“I fished a 13ft Daiwa Tournament Power Distance rod and a Shimano Ultegra 5500 XTD mini big pit reel – it’s specialised kit, but necessary for throwing a bomb 60m.”

Dips are key

A lot of anglers reckon dips and additives make no difference, but I’m not one of them. Barston is shallow, and if you can put a plume of flavour into the water as the bomb and bag sink, your chances of catching are much better. Once I’ve attached the bag to my hooklink, I drop it into a pot of Mainline Hybrid Activator for a few seconds and this gives off instant attraction.

Best hookbaits

Changing hookbaits is important, as you need to hit on what the fish want. My two best baits were an 8mm Ringer Baits Chocolate Orange or washed-out Yellow Wafter that I doused in Mainline’s Hybrid Activator dip just before casting out.

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Accuracy – is it important?

From fishing Barston a bit, I’d discovered that casting tightly to the same spot wasn’t vital. Casting a bomb and bag a long way is not easy, and I settled on 60m and didn’t clip up, so the bait wasn’t hitting the same spot each time. As long as it was in roughly the same area, I was happy. 



Get positive and catch on bomb and pellet

Bomb and pellet fishing remains one of the most misunderstood methods on commercial carp waters.

It’s seen by many as an approach strictly for winter, when bites are at a premium, and by others as a ‘chuck it and chance it’ attack when all else has failed.

Nothing, though, could be further from the truth and even in summer, straight lead and a banded pellet in conjunction with loosefeed can outfish the pole, pellet waggler and even the Method feeder. 

This is especially true now as autumn is on the horizon and there’s a definite cooling down of the weather.

In the coming weeks, carp won’t want as much bait thrown at them as they did a month ago, and the regimented minimal feeding approach of the bomb comes into its own. 

Maver man David Burley fished the bomb to winning effect in the recent Maver Mega Match This final at Hayfield Lakes.

He won a cool £60,000 in the process, so who better to guide you towards the finer points of bomb and pellet fishing?

Bites

“Patience is key here, as you’ll get plenty of indications on the tip. These can be slow liners that pull the tip right round, and on a harder day, it’s tempting to lift into them. 

“I’ll wait until the rod quite literally goes off the rest, though – you can’t mistake those and they’re hard to miss!”

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Hooklinks

“For all my bomb fishing I use an 18ins hooklink of 0.18mm Silstar Match Team. If I felt that a shorter link would work, I’d probably change to a Method feeder to put the bait closer to the feed, but as I don’t keep feeding tight, my bait is never far from some pellets.”


Feeding

“At Hayfield, where the carp are big and plentiful, I believe that you have to outfeed the anglers around you, so that means loosefeeding a good amount each time and on more than one occasion every cast. 

“I’ll cast the rig out and fire out two dozen 8mm pellets, and if I’ve not had a bite after five minutes, I fire in the same amount, give it another five minutes and then wind in and repeat. You need to get the fish in your peg and keep them there – giving them six or seven pellets each cast simply won’t do this.”


Hookbaits

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“I’m not one to have a tray full of hookbaits, and I’m in the ‘match the hatch’ camp of fishing on the hook what I’m feeding. That means a hard 8mm pellet fished in a band, and the only other hookbait I may try is a wafter.”


Casting around

“There’s the temptation to search the peg to find the fish, but that’s not something I do.
I try to create a decent area over which to feed and cast each time, roughly the size of a table top. I don’t want the fish to be too spread out, but nor do I want them to be competing for the feed, stacked on top of each other on too tight a spot. 

“By casting to and feeding the same area I’ll be drawing the carp in to me, rather than wasting time searching for them by casting to different places each time.”

Feeder fishing tips guaranteed to catch you more

Here are some great tips to get the best out of your next session on the bank. 

Although chub will eat just about anything, they can be very difficult to catch, and with my favourite feeder approach of maggots you really do have to be patient at times.

At this time of year, if the river is clear, time your sessions so that you can fish late in the day – you’ll often not catch until the light starts to fade. 


Choosing a swim 

I look for snag-free swims where I think chub are likely to be present, or better still, a short way upstream of where they are likely to be. 

Overhanging trees, bends, weed beds and creases are all good holding areas for chub, but rather than cast really close to a potential snaggy area I use a constant stream of maggots from the feeder to draw them to a ‘safer’ area where I stand the best chance of landing them. 

At the start of the session I like to cast an empty feeder around the water in front of me to get an idea of the depth and check that there are no hidden snags. Boils on the surface where the current has been disturbed by something underwater are a good clue that there may be a hidden snag.

Once I have chosen where I am going to cast I select a marker on the far bank to cast to. A far-bank marker ensures I cast on the same line and I use the reflections on the water to ensure I cast the same distance each time. 

If I overcast I can quickly pull the feeder back to the right spot. This ensures I can cast repeatedly into a very small area. This concentrates maggots in one place, which in turn will help get fish feeding competitively. 

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Alternative hookbaits

Although I’ll stick to using maggots and hemp in the blockend feeder, I’ll often use a different bait on the hook, such as a small piece of luncheon meat or a grain of sweetcorn. 

This is less likely to be taken by small fish, and allows me to keep introducing maggots to attract chub without hooking a small fish immediately after casting. Once the chub turn up, they will generally bully small fish out of the swim and then I’ll revert to maggots on the hook.

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Make a bow

When casting I like to ‘feel’ the feeder down until it hits the bottom. After the feeder has settled I allow a couple of feet of line to be released from the reel. This will help create a bow in the line between rod-tip and feeder. 

I’ll also use a long rodrest to hold my rod-tip high. This keeps as much line off the water as possible, which in turn reduces drag and helps make sure the feeder stays put, while also helping to show up bites really well. 

Tentative bites will cause a slight movement on the quivertip, whereas stronger bites should move the feeder, giving you a little extra time to strike.


Empty the feeder

At the start of a session I make five or six quick casts, each one lasting just long enough to allow the feeder to empty – they’ll empty faster if they’re not too tightly packed into the feeder.

Normally 30 seconds will be enough, but the only sure way to tell is to check whether there are maggots still coming out as you wind in. If in doubt, leave it a little longer – the aim is to put some bait in the exact area you are going to be fishing to draw fish to the spot. 

You do not want fish chasing across the river after maggots that are coming out of the feeder as you’re winding in.

After these initial casts I attach the hooklink and recast every five minutes, unless I get a bite. Often, small fish will arrive first and when this happens I start to recast more frequently to introduce more bait to feed them off. I’ll add hemp to the feeder, too, as it is less likely to be eaten by small fish, hopefully leaving something for the chub.

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