Without doubt one of the most effective methods on small commercial snake lakes when it goes cold is a tactic known as ‘dobbing’ bread... and it’s working right now!
At this time of year you’ll find that carp and F1s will shoal up into sometimes quite large groups and show very little interest in moving far to feed on your baits.
However, if you can ‘dob’ a bait right in front of their noses they will often just suck it in, as it’s an easy meal they don’t have to work very hard for.
The hard part, though, is finding the fish to start but once you do, they’re generally not too difficult to catch due to the large numbers of fish there can be in a shoal.
This depends a lot on the size of fish I’m looking to catch. If it’s all carp I might start off on a 10mm punch because I believe a slightly bigger bait is easier for the fish too see. Carp tend to have big mouths so a 10mm piece of punch isn’t that big.
If I’m looking at a mixed bag of carp and F1s then I’ll kick off on an 8mm piece of punch as a good starting middle ground. If I start to miss bites I will quite happily drop down to a 6mm punch. F1s have small mouths so dropping down a punch size can make a big difference in terms of the bite-to-fish ratio.
Once you start fishing and find a few fish the first thing you’ll need to do is work out what depth they are sitting at.
Normally, at the start, I will have a quick plumb up of the areas I want to fish prior to fishing to get an idea of the depth in front of me.
Finding the right depth
Once this is done I mark the depth on my pole and then take 4ins off the depth of the rig by sliding my float down.
This then means when the float settles I’ll be fishing 4ins off the bottom. I always prefer to start off fishing relatively deep as this way I can cover more water as the rig falls through the layers.
Today I’m at Guru Makins and I started 4ins off bottom, eventually finding the fish thanks to a few indications.
Unfortunately the first fish was foul-hooked and so I shallowed up the rig by another 4ins and went back into the same spot.
Sure enough, the next fish was hooked properly and, after a couple more fish from the same area, I felt I’d found the depth they wanted to sit at on the day – sometimes it really is that quick!
If I’d still been getting indications and no proper bites after changing the depth then I would have shallowed up further until I found the fish.
Starting your session the other way around – starting shallow and then going deeper to try to find the fish – doesn’t work, because the deeper rig is the key to helping you spot indications to start with.
The best bait – bread!
I’m often asked why bread is such a good hookbait for dobbing. I think it’s mainly down to colour. The water on most commercials tends to go very clear in the cold, so white bread is very easy for the fish to see.
I think texture is massively important as well. Once bread has been in the water a minute or so it becomes very soft, which makes it easy for a fish to slurp in with minimal effort.
When dobbing bread I get very few instant bites – say, within 10 seconds of putting a new piece of bread on – yet as soon as the bread becomes soft I get that bite.
Fresh is best
Having tried most bread on the market, if I had a choice it would always be Warburtons Extra Thick – the one in the orange bag.
I always try and get the freshest loaf possible, too, because this way it’s softer and extremely rubbery, which helps ensure it stays on the hook long enough for me to get a bite.
I used to mess around microwaving the bread to make it more rubbery, but now I just prefer to get a fresh loaf and use that.
The only time I’d consider microwaving bread would be if I couldn’t find any fresh and had to use a loaf that had dried out a bit.
Avoid the hotspot
Where you start fishing is crucial to success, and there is always a temptation to go straight to the most likely-looking spot for a fast start.
The problem with this is if this spot isn’t straight in front of you then you risk pushing the fish straight out of your swim.
Therefore, I always prefer to start off straight in front of me and then work to the left and right of my area, which I’ve found gives you more goes at the shoal.
What tends to happen is you find a pod of fish and catch a few before bites slow up because the shoal has become spooked and has moved.
It’s really all about finding them again and normally they don’t go far – one metre or two metres at most.