I love the competitive nature of match fishing and the banter on the bank, yet there are times when I need to get away from it all, go back to the days off old and just chill and if I can catch a few fish whilst doing so then all the better.  

In the deep end

Fortunately living in Berkshire I have numerous chalk streams that flow across the county and if you look hard enough you will find the odd free stretch. These are usually clear and shallow and to get the best from them it’s a case of getting my Black Magic thigh waders on and literally getting in! Travelling light with just a float rod, landing net and bucket containing bait and a small amount of spare terminal tackle is all that’s required and as I wade downstream it’s simply a case of introducing some bait, trotting through  a few times, catching some fish before moving on. These free stretches often pass through urban areas, yet by getting in the water you soon forget about the ‘hustle and bustle’ around and drift into a world of your own, right back at one with the natural world around, great for relaxing the mind, if not the body. 

Traditional trotting float

The tackle I take on these short roving sessions consists of my old and trusted Browning 13ft Ultra Light Legend float rod teamed up with a Sphere MgTi 920 reel loaded with 0.14mm Cenex Classic Mono. The rig is kept simple, just a traditional trotting float cocked with a 3g olivette and the hook length, which is created from Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon, has a single small dropper shot placed on it before finishing it off with a Sphere Match size 16 micro barbed hook. 

A grain or two

Usually all that’s required for bait, especially after the first frosts is a pint of maggots but today I’ve bought along some grains of sweetcorn as its early autumn and the minnows might just be a problem. A bait pouch is also an invaluable piece of kit as it allows me to feed effortlessly as is a disgorger that I hang on a piece of string around my neck and a peaked cap to block out and sunlight. 

The colder, the better

Today’s two hour session has produced plenty of fish including some cracking dace, grayling to over a pound plus one small trout and plenty of minnows that just seem to feed harder the more maggots that are fed so the sweetcorn did come into play in some swims. The bigger fish that move into these urban areas in the depth of winter and still to arrive and this style of fishing will just get better and better the colder it gets. If you want to clear the mind and catch plenty of fish this coming winter then it might be worth looking close to home as many tiny streams can produce more fish than you realise.    

Justin Watkins 

Standing in the clear water it really doesn’t get much better than this.

Simple baits, such as maggots and corn, are ideal for this type of fishing.

Grayling are often abundant in these small streams.

"You only need the minimum of tackle for this style of fishing."

Justin’s Tackle

13’ Ultra Light Legend Float Rod 

Sphere MgTi 920 Reel

Cenex 0.14mm Classic Mono

Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

Sphere Match size 16 Hook

3g Float


Justin’s Bait

Red & White Maggots


Use quality lines and don’t be tempted to fish too light. Fluorocarbon is brilliant for hook lengths in the clear water.