Catch Roach on Pinkies

First Published in English.

 

If there’s two baits that I wouldn’t leave home without when targeting roach in the colder months on a venue that’s crystal clear then it has to be bread punch and pinkies. Today both are with me as I’m heading to a beautiful venue called Waggoners Wells, controlled by Grayshott Angling Club situated on the Surrey/Hampshire border. The Middle Lake here is deep, gin clear and contains loads of quality roach, great for punch which will be my first line of attack and if things don’t go to plan, then good old pinkies over a dark groundbait will come into play. 

Back-up plan

I’m fishing off the dam where the water quickly shelves away to around nine feet at 10m and to say things aren’t going to plan after a couple of hours is an understatement as the roach are just not responding to the bread punch, a rarity here. It’s time to introduce a couple of balls of Champion’s Method Black Roach, a dark mix which is ideal for clear water, and within are a few pinkies, fed on a new line slightly to my right. This is left for around thirty-minutes whilst I persist on the punch line but although I do believe the roach will feed eventually on this line, I don’t have the luxury of staying all day and need to make it happen sooner rather than later. 

Staggered shirt button

The rig I’ve made up for the pinkie line is created using Cenex 0.08mm and 0.14mm Classic Mono, a great all round line and hook length for pole rigs. A hook that I have recently started to use for most of my roach/skimmer fishing is the Sphere Ultra lite. It’s an extremely light and sharp hook with a fine gauge but still very strong and in this situation have opted for a size 18 onto which two pinkies will be impaled. I’ve decided to cock the 1g pole float using a staggered shirt button, starting at half depth with the first of twelve no9 soft shot which are spaced out so they get slightly further apart as they near the hook. This gives the hookbait a much more natural descend through the lower levels and have decided to fish at dead depth to start off with. Two important components when float fishing are a large plummet to initially find the depth of the swim and the other the use of soft split shot, as if the fish come up in the water and I need to adjust my shotting pattern I can easily move the shot on the line without causing any damage. The pole I’m using is a Xitan Z16 pole and as I’m not using this fully extended have pushed over the butt end one of the new Xitan EVA Pole Caps, the reason being, as although I’m using a roller, at the rear of me are some bushes and this cap simply protects the section and stops any annoying dirt or grit getting into the end section. I’ve also opted for the thinnest Microbore Poe Elastic available, the lime green 1.3mm and with a Pole Elastic Alignment Bush inside the topkit creates the smoothest elastic you could ever ask for, something very important when fishing for hard mouthed roach. 

Fluoro pinkies, a must-have bait in the winter. 

Black Roach, great in crystal clear water.

Start off with a small amount of groundbait and pinkies.

Switching the roach on

The roach are just not responding to the punch so it’s time to test the pinkie line and although bites aren’t instant finally one comes, yet it’s not my intended quarry but a small perch but at least it’s a bite. Fortunately this line just gets better and better as the session continues and by feeding a small ball of groundbait every twenty minutes plus a few pinkies fed through a pole cup every put in, keeps the  bites coming and eventually the roach switch on. I have to admit that if the roach were in an obliging mood and responded to the punch straight away then I would have easily put together 25lb plus of sizable roach which usually average 10oz and do go to well over a pound but for some reason it just hasn’t happen today, however with 15lb of roach and perch taken in the last three hours, how can I be disappointed!

Stereotyped approach

Fishing in winter can be very unpredictable and this session just goes to show that if I had been stereotyped in my approach and come with just one bait, bread punch that nine times out of ten produces, would have on this occasion headed home with just a handful of fish, as I did from time to time try the punch line and although bites did finally come they were few and far between. Always have a back-up plan as one day you will need it! 

 

Ken Russell

Light and sharp, just what’s needed when targeting shy biting roach.

Classic Mono, great for pole rigs.

Microbore elastic offers major advantages over conventional elastics.

"Pinkies are such an effective winter bait"

Ken’s Tackle 

Xitan Z16 L Advance Pole

Cenex 0.08m and 0.14 Classic Mono

Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite size 18 hook

Xitan Microbore 1.30mm Elastic

1g float

No 9 Soft Shot

Ken’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach

Fluoro Pinkies

A brilliant result on a winters day.


Catch Dace on the Feeder

Originally Published in English.
The Mighty river Trent is absolutely packed with fish at the moment. Whether you want to catch a monster chub or barbel, bag up with roach, or catch a netful of dace, the fish are there to be caught and it really is a match anglers dream fishery. Today I am fishing a peg at Burton Joyce. The target is to catch dace, which run big here, and I am going to use quite a specialised feeder set-up, that is brilliant when you need to fish beyond float or pole range.
I’ve had a good plumb around and the river here is deepest at about halfway across – roughly 30 metres. The fish can be caught closer than this, but especially in a match, they will back off and being able to catch them efficiently further out is a massive edge.
Many anglers fight shy of fishing for dace on the feeder, thinking that they will miss a lot of bites and that it won’t catch them enough fish to win, but on the right day this isn’t the case. The secret is to get into a rhythm of casting, expecting an almost immediate bite, and using gear that enables you to land the dace quickly, without too many twisting off on the retrieve. Get it right and it can be very, very effective.
The Right Gear
This is a very active style of fishing. I will be holding the rod all the time and giving the feeder, at most, a couple of minutes before I retrieve and repeat the process. Regular casting is essential to build the swim up and attract enough dace to get them competing for the morsels of food. I use a pair of Sphere MH Feeder rods for this job. One is the 13ft 100g 390, which is my starting rod. If the fish are of a big average size and feeding hard then I will step up to the slightly heavier 14ft 100g 420. They are so light and sensitive that I can fish with them all day and feel most bites even before I see the tip move.
Reels are important in this style of fishing. You want to use a reel with plenty of cranking power, as this makes it much easier to retrieve the feeder against the flow. I use the Browning Black Viper Compact 855, which retrieves more than a metre of line which each turn of the handle, yet is very lightweight, essential when you are holding the rod all day.
The reel is loaded with 0.10mm Cenex Feeder Braid – again, another essential, as the lack of stretch in the braid means that I can feel the quick bites and strike faster than if I was just watching the tip. In fact, I tend to hold the line in my left hand (and the rod in my right), feeling for bites and enabling me to tighten or slacken the line slightly as required. Giving just six inches of line must shift the hookbait ever so slightly as this often brings an instant bite.
On the end of the braid I have a 6lb Black Magic Gold mono shockleader. This gives a bit of cushion on the cast and gives me something to tie the rig onto, so I am not cutting back the braid each time.

Use the right gear – a Sphere MH Feeder rod is combined with a Black Viper Compact reel.

Wrap the cage feeder is tape to ensure the bait gets to the bottom.

Use a hooklength of around one metre long.

"Catching big weights is all about getting into a rhythm."

Simple Rigs
My rig is dead simple to tie up. I am using one of the Browning Xenos Wire Specialist Feeders, but wrapping the mesh with black insulating tape to slow the release of bait from the feeder. The feeder is running on the shockleader between two float stops, with a twisted boom below this. The hooklength is made from 0.14mm Cenex Hybrid Mono to a size 12 Sphere Ultra Lite Feeder hook. You might be wondering why I am using such a big hook. If the dace are feeding confidently then it doesn’t put them off and ensures I land more fish. With a smaller hook you will lose some as they spin off it on the retrieve. By burying the hook inside the bait you can hide most of it quite effectively.
Get the Bait Down
The groundbait that I am using to seal the ends of the feeder is a combination of Champion’s Choice Black Magic and Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer. This has been mixed on the dry-side because I want the feeder to empty quickly once it has settled on the river bed. I am putting a real mixture of different baits in the feeder to keep the dace hunting for food. My mix consists of maggots, casters, some hemp and a small amount of roughly chopped worm. This also allows me to alternate hookbaits, which can bring more bites on tougher days.
Getting the feeder to the bottom with the contents intact, but then emptying quickly is critical. If the feeder empties on the drop then the bait will be washed downstream, taking the dace with it. The dace are really attracted by the particles though, so I need a constant stream of bait going in to keep them interested. Get it right and the bite should come within a few seconds of the feeder settling.
Slave to the Rhythm
Catching big weights of dace is all about getting into a rhythm. There is no time to put the rod down and wait for a bite. The feeder will empty it around a minute, and if I haven’t had a bite by then it is time to wind in and start the process again. Most of the time, if I do get a bite once the feeder has settled, then it will be a roach or perch, proving that the dace like intercepting the bait on the drop.
It is essential to have everything to hand. I have the groundbait bowl in front of me and a tub containing my particle mix inside this, making it very easy to load the feeder. I check the hookbait and replace it if necessary, load the feeder and recast. The line is set in the clip to ensure it goes down the same hole every time.
By using braid I can feel the feeder hit the bottom and keep a tight line by holding the braid in my left hand. Bites normally come within seconds, so be ready for a slight drop-back, or pull depending on how the fish are taking the bait.
This is a brilliant, incredibly engrossing way of fishing. With the dace averaging around four ounces you can put together a good weight in no time at all, making it a great card to be able to play when the fish are at range. It is great fun too, and the odd big bream, chub or even barbel can put in an appearance to really spice things up too. Why not give it a go on your local river?
Tom Noton
Browning Hotrods

The feeder is loaded with a small amount of chopped worm and caster.

Use a feeder that is heavy enough to just hold bottom.

The dace here are of a great average size.

Tom’s Gear
Sphere MH Feeder 390 13ft 100g
Sphere MH Feeder 420 14ft 100g
Black Viper Compact 855
Cenex Feeder Braid 0.10mm
Black Magic Gold 8lb Shock Leader
0.14mm Cenex Hybrid Mono Hooklength
Size 12 Ultra Lite Feeder Hook.
Xenos Wire Specialist Feeder
Tom’s Bait
1/2 kilo of dendrabena worms
Two pints of maggots
Two pints of casters
One pint of hemp
One bag of Champion’s Choice Black Magic
One bag of Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer

There is some brilliant sport to be had on the feeder.


How to Catch Silvers to Hand

First Published in English.

 

Every winter, more and more silver fish venues seem to be cropping up on my match schedule and it’s the anglers that are speed fishing for roach and skimmers to hand that seem to be dominating the top spots, so it was time to purchase Browning’s new Sphere Silverlite System Whip and put it through its paces. 

Too big to swing

Having fished the flick tip to hand for roach and toughly enjoyed the experience earlier in the week it was time to head to another venue, one equally full of silvers, however with the chance of a carp or big bream barging in on the action I needed to elasticate one of the hollow top kits just in case. The venue, Lodge Pond controlled by Farnham Angling Society is teaming with silvers and after scratching around on the Kennet and Avon Canal the previous week I was looking forward to swinging in a fish hopefully every put in, however I knew sooner or later something a bit too big to swing would come along. 

Into position

Tackle had to be thought through prior to the session so I decided to run Xitan1.9mm Microbore Pink, which has a 7-9 rating through the No 1 and 2 sections and fish at 6m to hand. The rig consisted on 1g Tamgi pole float, with the tip blackened out placed on a Cenex 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono and cocked using a 0.6g inline olivette plus three No 8 and one No 11dropper shot that I’d placed on a short six inch 0.12mm Hybrid Power hooklink with a Sphere size 18 micro barbed Feeder Ultra Lite hook completing the set-up. I’d also added a single No 8 back shot above the float for extra stability. The reason for using a 1g float, even on this shallow venue, is that it can be swung out into position easily and is still delicate enough to show up the slightest of bites associated with skimmers. 

If they were like this every cast.

Microbore elastic, just in case. 

Weight builders.

"Every drop in resulted in a bite within seconds"

Little and often

As for bait I’d bought along both casters and maggots, the casters intended to pick out the bigger fish if small fish became problematic on maggot plus a bag of Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer for obvious reasons. Three balls of groundbait, which had been run through a fine riddle a couple of times was introduced from the off with the intension of loose feeding maggots or casters every put in for the entirety of the short session.

Perfect performance

Straight away it was obvious that the swim contained loads of small roach that were just smashing the maggots to bits so immediately I switched to casters, slowly increasing the feed in the hope of drawing in some bigger roach and skimmers. Every drop in produced a bite within a couple of seconds and it wasn’t long before the elastic started to stretch from the tip as a small carp powered off but the pole coped with the situation perfectly and the first bonus fish was in the net. Even though the bigger roach and skimmers didn’t show in any great numbers I’d still put together a really enjoyable double figured bag in just a couple of hours and the Sphere Silverlite System Whip once again performed perfectly in every situation.

Justin Watkins

The perfect caster hook.

The perfect line for pole rigs.

I’m glad I’ve still got a few of these.

Inline olivette and tiny droppers.

Getting in the rhythm.

Not bad for a quick two hour session.

Justin’s Tackle

Sphere Silverlite System Whip

Cenex 0.12mm & 0.16mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere size 18 Feeder Ultra Lite Hook

0.6g Inline Olivette and No8 & 11 Shot. 

Xitan Pink1.9mm Microbore Elastic.

1g Tamgi Pole Float.

Justin’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Quick Skimmer groundbait

Casters

Maggots


Mix a Roach Feeder Groundbait

Catching roach and skimmers at range can be a very useful tactic on larger, natural venues where often the fish will be beyond pole range. For this type of fishing I will often use a nice dark groundbait that breaks down quickly and which contains little feed. This is ideal for use with a Window feeder filled with maggot or caster, allowing me to attract the fish whilst adjusting the amount of feed used. The Window Feeders cast fantastically well, so I can clip up and fish very precisely, building up the swim over the course of a session. Window feeders, as the name suggests have a mall open window that helps bait leave the feeder quickly – a smear of groundbait across the ‚window‘ is all that’s needed to hold loosefeeed in the feeder but as soon as it’s hits the water it starts to disperse – these are great feeders for fish that feed at varying depths, especially roach, rudd and hybrids. Here is the groundbait mix that I use for this style of fishing

The no.1 is a medium-fine groundbait that is the ideal base for the mix. Roach really like the taste of this groundbait and it can mixed from very dry so that it explodes out of the feeder, to slightly damper to bind it better. The Black Roach is a very dark groundbait loaded with spicy additives that roach love.

Chris Wright

Add the two bags of groundbait to a large mixing bowl with a flat bottom. A bowl like this makes mixing the groundbait much easier.

Thoroughly mix the two groundbaits together. This will help to avoid lumps and inconsistencies in the groundbait.

Slowly begin adding water to the dry groundbaits. Remember to take it easy as you can always add more water, but you cannot take it out.

Because I am fishing with a Window feeder I keep the groundbait nice and dry so that it quickly breaks down once the feeder has settled.

"Use a mixture of Champions' Choice no. 1 and Champion's Feeder Black"

Use a maggot riddle to break down any lumps in the groundbait and to give it a fluffy consistency.

Don’t be tempted to push any lumps through the riddle. These will be too wet and sticky, so are best discarded. 

The finished mix is nice and fine, perfect for filling the Window feeder. It will release plenty of attraction, but not fill the roach up. 

The result of a couple of hours fishing with the feeder and this groundbait mix.


Hot Sport on the Wag 'n' Mag

It’s been fifteen years since I last fished Bowsaw Lake in Hampshire. Back then it was full of small silver fish but I’ve been hearing some good rumours that things have changed and the fish now fight back. Even better is it’s the perfect place to head to for some guaranteed cold water action as it contains lots of still water chub and I’m told the best tactic for these is the waggler and maggot, a technique that seems to have been forgotten about in recent years. Time to get the waggler rod out and go and see if the rumours are true?

Look for the snags

Chub, just like there river cousins, love snags and I’m told that one swim in particular here is a banker chub swim, as it has a bush partly in the water of the side of the island. My only concern this morning is its too mild, yes its February and I’m complaining about the temperatures which is into double figures, the problem being is I’m half expecting to be beaten up by the lakes population of carp. On the positive side their isn’t too much wind, which can cause major problems with not only feeding but casting alongside this snag. 

Feed, cast, feed, cast.

Fishing the waggler is all about feeding then casting, not casting then feeding as the chub are more likely to take the maggots as they fall through the water and my objective is to mimic these freebies with my hookbait. Once the bait is on the bottom, the chances are a carp will be hooked and potentially spook the chub for a while, so it’s going to be cast, cast, cast. Whilst setting up it’s a good idea to catapult a pinch of maggots into the swim from time to time as this will hopefully pull a few chub away from the sunken tree, get them feeding confidently and hopefully will provide me with some early action. 

Regular helpings of maggots are all you need for this method.

Use a loaded waggler that is heavy enough to easily overcast your spot.

The brilliant Hybrid Mono won’t let you down.

Keep it simple

Another very important point when it comes to waggler fishing, all fishing in fact, is to set up so you’re sitting comfortably, which means adjusting the legs of my Black Line Seat Box so its level, then positioning a rod rest so when the rod butt is placed over my knee the tip is just in the water. Balanced kit is also paramount and with the chub running to over 4lb and plenty of double figured carp that will barge in on the action you need tackle strong enough to strike, get them of balance and before they head to the snag, steer them into open water. The rod I’m using is an 11’Black Magic CFX Waggler, ideal for the job with its parabolic action and power in the middle reaches to land anything that swims here. I’m teaming this up with a 920 Sphere MgTi reel loaded with Cenex 0.14mm Classic Mono which is recognised as being one of the strongest fine diameter lines available. It’s all about keeping things simple at the business end, strong enough to deal with whatever’s hooked but at the same time keeping things finesse enough to get plenty of bites. Float choice is very important and I prefer to use floats with a built in loaded bulk at the base, ones that are almost self cocking, needing just a small amount of shot to drop the tip so it’s just showing. Not only do these types of float cast like a dark, the lack of shot on the line means that there are very few weaknesses. The float is locked on the mainline by two Xitan Oval Super Stoppers and either side of these is a single small shot. The only other shot is a small number eight around six inches from the Sphere CPF LS size 16 barbless hook which is connected to a Cenex 0.12mm Hybrid Power Mono hook length. 

Unbelievable action

Having plumed up and set the depth to the exact depth of the swim, around three feet, it’s time to make my first cast, and after sinking the line get ready to watch the float, but I only have to for a couple of seconds as it disappears and the first fish is hooked. In the net she goes and it’s my target species, a chub weighing around 2lb 8oz. I can’t quite believe what happens over the next two hours as fish after fish graces my net including another four chub, ten carp to around 14lb along with one tench and a radioactive goldfish! In total I estimate the catch at over 60lb, not bad for a couple of hours on a February morning! 

Waggler fishing is all about keeping things simple, being active throughout the session and more importantly, especially in the depth of winter, choosing a venue that contains the species that will respond to it. It’s been a while since I fished the waggler but I have to admit this has been, not just eye opening to just how effective this method is, but has also been one of my most enjoyable sessions for a while. If you have a venue such as the fantastic Bowsaw Lake near you, I urge you to get the float rod out and give the Wag ‘N’ Mag a go. 

 

Justin Watkins

The Sphere CPF LS Hook is my choice for the Wag ’n‘ Mag.

Keep casting – most bites will come on the drop, so give each cast no more than a minute.

The Sphere MgTi is my choice of reel for big fish, thanks to its awesome build quality.

The action is fast and furious once the fish arrive.

The average size chub today.

Expect big carp to also put in an appearance.

Justin’s Tackle

Black Line Seat Box

Sphere MgTi 920 Reel

Black Magic CFX Waggler

Cenex 0.12mm Hybrid Power Mono

Cenex 0.14mm Classic Mono 

Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook

Soft Shot

Xitan Super Stopper Oval

2g Loaded Insert Waggler

   

Justin’s Bait

Red and white maggots

Just part of todays catch.


Catch Down the Track

Originally Published in English.

I guess we all get drawn into the trap of spending most of our time fishing to either near or far bank features on canals. Yet, below the surface, the fish aren’t always influenced by what is happening above the surface, with the contours of the canal playing much more of a role in their location. This can be especially true when the temperature drops in winter. Now, the fish will often be found in the deeper central channel of water, where they feel more comfortable. This especially applies to fish like bream, big perch and better stamp roach – fish that can be a massive bonus to your match weight, but which can also be a bit of a gamble to target. 

Today I am fishing a peg on the Worcester canal that contains a real mixture of fish. There are a lot of small roach here, but also some much better fish, including decent bream, big perch and even some carp. I have set my stall out fishing the centre of a turning bay, which is a noted bream area. The banks on both sides are lined with stone, so there isn’t a lot of feature above the surface. The canal is also quite busy today with boats, so it will something of a challenge to catch some better fish. 

Plumbing up I find that the bottom flattens out around six metres from the bank, so my plan is to fish at around 8 metres; a nice flat area at about maximum depth. This is where I think the bigger fish will feel comfortable feeding. This is also a nice comfortable distance to fish when you are not expecting too many bites. Fish long and you will find that your mind wanders and your presentation will suffer. There is no point in making life difficult for yourself so fish as short and as comfortably as possible.

My main approach will be with chopped worm and caster to attract the bigger fish.

Just a tiny pinch of casters is enough.

Pick a comfortable distance where the canal bed is level.

To attract them, I have introduced some roughly chopped worm and caster to begin with and will then feed 5-6 casters over the top every so often to hold the fish. Feeding can be an issue with this approach because every so often the canal flows hard when a lock is opened. I don’t want to overfeed, but if I feel that the bait has been washed away then it is a good idea to introduce a little more feed with a tiny bait dropper. 

I will vary the hookbait between caster and a piece of worm. I am not looking for lots of bites, but these baits will help me single-out the better fish. Maggot or pinkie will catch more fish, but they won’t be as big. 

My rigs are very simple. It pays to not fish too light. A decent perch can put up a decent fight, bream less so, but they are not particularly tackle-shy. I use a 0.09mm Cenex Classic hooklength to a size 18 hook. The float is a nice 4×14 with the bulk of the weight down to aid stability and to keep the bait static on the bottom. I will also fish about 4-inches over-depth to help keep the bait still and hard on the bottom.

This style of fishing can be a bit of a waiting game. You have to be confident that the fish will turn up, which normally they do. A couple of nice roach early on lift the spirits and these are followed by some quality perch and a decent bream. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of boat traffic today and the canal has been flowing hard at times, which I am sure has reduced my chances, but that is canal fishing for you. 

At the end of a few hours fishing I am really happy with a nice catch of quality fish, proving just how good the fishing can be on many of our canals. 

Dave Ward

"Expect quality rather than quantity when fishing like this."

My faithful Xitan pole is perfect for this style of fishing.

Take your time and let the elastic do its job when you hook a decent fish.

Most of the fish today were ’netters‘.

Dave’s Tackle

Xitan Z12 Revolution Pole

Cenex Classic Mono 0.10mm Rig Line

Cenex Classic Mono 0.009mm hooklength

Size 18 hook

4×14 float

Dave’s Bait

0.25kg Dendrabena worms

Pint of casters

Pint of maggots

Pint of pinkies

A brilliant mornings fishing.


Bread Punch for Canal Roach

First Published in English.

If there’s one place where you can find some respite from this winters atrocious weather and get some action then it on a canal. I love canal fishing and today I’ve come to one of my favourites, the Basingstoke Canal just outside Aldershot in Hampshire, for a few hours in the hope of some roach on bread punch. Just to enforce just how much rain we’ve had recently it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a steady flow on this canal, it’s also carrying some colour which is amazing as two weeks ago it was gin clear! It’s far from perfect punch conditions, that’s why it’s always important to bring at least one back-up bait such as maggots or worms as it’s so easy to get caught out at times. 

Kick-starting the swim

The swim I’ve chosen is in a known silver fish area and a few weeks back a match was won with nearly twenty pound of skimmers and roach, yet conditions have dramatically changed so although I’m confident of a few fish, I’m not quite sure just how it will fish. I’m going to feed three lines, one down the middle to my left in the main boat channel and two to the far bank cover. The line down the middle is going to be my first punch spot and I’m going to kick start this with a couple of small balls of fine liquidized bread squeezed around a stone in order to get it down to the bottom quickly. One of my far bank lines, slightly left of centre, is also a punch line and is fed in the same way, with the other far bank line to my right fed with a couple of balls of Champions Choice Black Magic groundbait and a few maggots just in case the punch doesn’t work. 

Bait preparation

There are quite a few ways to prepare bread for punch fishing but when fishing a canal for silvers I want to toughen up each slice slightly so it’s doesn’t simply fall of at the slightest movement or every time I lift into a bite. I always use medium slice white, something like Hovis is ideal, then remove the crust, place each slice in a microwave for 20 seconds before compressing using a rolling pin. Each slice is then cut in half and once I have around 12 half slices I place them all into a plastic bag and into the fridge overnight. When I’m on the bank, just one half slice at a time is removed, placed on a flat, hard surface before punching using a metal headed punch as and when I need them. The ideal punch size for canal fishing is between 3mm and 5mm. To prepare the perfect liquidised bread feed is simple, just remove all the crusts and liquidize the remaining slices in a blender. A little tip for producing really fine crumb is freeze the liquidised bread, then remove and whilst still frozen blitz in a blender again. The more you freeze and blend the finer your liquidized feed with be.

Metal punches cut through the bread cleanly.

Slim bodied delicate floats are best for punch fishing on canals. 

Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite hooks, brilliant.

Microbore Elastic, thin, smooth, reliable and long lasting.

"In just a couple of hours I have caught over 50 roach."

A small stone in the middle will get the feed down quickly. 

Use a pole cup for accurate baiting.

A couple of balls at the start should get them going.

I’m really pleased with the mornings catch.

Delicate rigs

I’m fishing the pole at approximately 12m to the far bank and for my punch fishing I’ve made two rigs up which are almost identical apart from the depth they are fishing. The reason for this is I’m going to be switching these continuously and don’t want to waste time having to plumb up every time I change position. The rigs are created using Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line with a 0.11mm bottom. Float choice is important and need to be more of a delicate slim bodied shape as bites can be very finicky. For the far bank line I’m using a 4xNo10 and down the middle a 4xNo12 along with Sphere Feeder Ultra Lite micro barbed size 18 hooks attached, perfect for punch fishing. Both floats are shotted using a string of tiny shot, six inches from the hook and all positioned slightly apart. I’ve decided to fish an inch over depth from the off and if the roach are feeding aggressively then I will come up in the water. 

No consistency

I arrived just before first light, a great time for a practice session on a canal as the banks are quiet and the fish seem to feed with more confidence. First drop in on the middle line and the float disappears, the culprit a roach. Another half a dozen come to hand before the line is shattered by a jack pike, a common occurrence here and another reason to feed and fish more than one line. A switch to the far bank once again produces a few small roach before going quiet, pike maybe, so I try the maggot line which again produces a few tiny roach before dying. I don’t think the reason each line produces a few then goes quite is due to predators as this section is very shallow, only two and half feet at best and I’m sure I would see some disturbance or even have a roach attacked whist shipping in, so I just think it’s a pattern where a few fish are caught before spooking. This pattern continues on the punch lines, yet on the maggot line bites completely dry up so I decide to feed another punch line, before rotating these which seems to keep the fish coming. Amazingly last week lots of skimmers showed here, great match weight makers, yet today all I can catch are roach, the best around 10oz and a few small perch. Obviously the massive change in conditions has seen the bream move on, shame. 

Knowledge gained

Its mid morning now and being a weekend the tow path is becoming increasingly busy, probably the reason that the bites have slowed up considerably, however with getting on for fifty roach and a little more knowledge on just how the canal fish’s in these conditions will certainly put me in a good position for the friendly teams of four matches that will be fished here in the coming weeks. 

Jamie’s Tackle

0.13mm and 0.11mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon Hook Line 

Sphere size 18 micro barbed Feeder Ultra Lite Hooks

1.3mm Lime Green Xitan Microbore Elastic

4×10 & 4×12 slim line pole floats

Jamie’s Bait

Medium sliced bread, punched and liquidised 

Champion’s Choice Black Magic Groundbait, maggots and worms as back-up


Catch Carp on Bread Disks

First Published in English.

 

Location, location, location

The most important factor in consistently catching in the depth of winter is location and my advice at this time of year is to head to a lake you know well and then, if possible, drop into the ‘banker’ swim. You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before, but if you haven’t got fish in front of you, it doesn’t matter if your tackle and bait is the best money can buy, or if you are the best angler in the country, you simply won’t catch. 

Today I’m at Brookhall Lake controlled by Colchester Angling Preservation Society, a water I’ve fished for years and it is one of those cruel winters day when there’s been a hard frost, skies and cloudless and to make things worse, a howling chilly wind is blowing. This lake, apart from marginal rushes is relatively featureless to the eye, apart from a set of rushes at the far end of the lake that are situated in open water. Nine times out of ten it contains fish so with no other anglers around, guess where I’m heading? This swim gives me options, open water, reeds on the far bank but most importantly the rushes and this is exactly where I’m going to investigate first. 

You can’t beat bread

Bait for the day is simply bread, a bait that seems to be overlooked these days, especially when the tackle shops shelves are full of bright coloured boilies and pellets to choose from, but believe me, bread will catch when all else fails so don’t forget it. Something else worth considering is where the carp are going to be, and take it from me they are rarely if ever laying on the bottom, but more likely to be sat up in the water, in an area that’s slightly warmer, so a popped up bait is a very good option. Air pressure effects at what depth the carp will be but a rule of thumb is the colder it is the lower down they will be. Although it’s raw today, we have had some very unseasonably mild weather recently so I’m guessing that the water won’t be too cold and that the fish will be well off bottom, so I’m going to pop my bait up thirty inches to start with. I do this simply by hair-rigging a punched 8mm disc, taken from the crust, and sandwich this between two discs punched straight from the slice. The hair needs to be quite long as these discs will take on water and fluff up, so don’t go too short. The best way to hair rig these is to use a Push Stop which is tied to the end of the hair, then with a needle inserted pushed through the discs, before twisting and locking the bait on. Push Stops are also great for hair rigging boilies, corn, even worms, so make sure you have some as they are absolutely brilliant. 

Push stops anchors discs securely on a hair.  

Don’t be without these this winter.

A long hair is essential as the discs will swell up. 

The bread swells up in water, filling the hair.

"All you need are a few slices of bread"

Balanced kit equals complete faith

As for the rig, I’m using what’s known as an inline safe system, simply because it gives me the flexibility to change the length of the hooklink, which needs to be done regularly to find where the fish are, or if needed, the size of lead, yet a small semi-fixed inline lead will do the job. As for rod, reel and mainline you have to have complete faith in these, as when fishing close to a feature you need to pile the pressure on instantly and steer the fish into open water. My kit consists of an 11’ CK Method Feeder Rod with the 1oz tip added. This rod has plenty of power in the middle reaches yet the soft tip avoids hook pulls under the rod tip. The reason for using the 1oz tip is it allows me to tighten up to the lead without pulling the rig out of position. This slight tension means that the majority of bites are dropbacks, where the fish has picked the bait up and dislodged the lead, before seeing the tip pull round as the carp bolts. My reel is an 845 Black Viper Compact loaded with either 6lb or 8lb Black Magic Gold Mono depending on the angling situation.  As for hook length it’s the ever reliable Cenex Hybrid Power Mono in a 0.18 diameter which has a Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook tied knotless knot style to produce the hair.  

Have a cast around

In the winter, when it’s really cold I don’t put any loose feed in, but simply rely on this visual bait wafting around in the water to gain some interest.  Today I’ve started by casting the rig around a rod length off the side of the rushes, as there is no need to go really tight unless you have to. Unfortunately after forty minutes very little has happened, even though I’ve been casting closer and closer to the rushes, however at last, a cast really close has finally produced a bite from a carp around 8lb. I find that it’s worth casting around at first, as often the carp aren’t right in the feature and that a small lead is best as it doesn’t cause too much disturbance. Quite often a bite will come quickly, in the first minute, but if not then you might have to wait up to ten minutes, but once this period is up, it’s time for a recast, slightly further out, or tighter to the feature. Once a carp is caught it’s a good idea to target this spot, yet if things don’t happen, start casting around again to find them. Today the carp are obviously shoaled tight within the rushes, probably due to this cold wind as all my bites have come right up close to the rush stems. Sometimes you just have to go to them, and that’s exactly what I’ve had to do today.

 

Tim Bruce – Wickford Browning

Vary the hooklength to fish at different depths.

Cast around the swim until you find the fish.

Use a reasonably soft tip as the bites can be quite subtle.

One of many to warm me up on a cold morning.

Tim’s Tackle

CK 11ft Method Feeder

Black Viper 845 Compact Reel

6lb Black Magic Gold Mono

0.18mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono

Size 14 Sphere CPF LS Barbless Hook

7mm Push Stops and Needle

8mm Bread Punch

2/3rd ounce inline safe system lead

   

Tim’s Bait

Warburton’s medium sliced toast white bread.

A lovely golden carp brightens up a cold winters day.


Chopped Worm for Big Perch

First Published in English.

 

It’s all down to location

The most important part in catching a big bag of perch from any venue is simply down to location and a couple of winters back, during a match, I drew one off the flyer, an end peg on one of my club stretches on the Kennet and Avon Canal near Hungerford. Ever since watching the lucky angler that drew this peg who proceeded to take over 30lb of big perch I’ve been meaning to return, well today is the day!

The early bird…

If you want to get the best swim then you have to arrive early, set the alarm well before dawn, park up in darkness and start setting up as the sun rises. Fortunately today I’ve been blessed with a respite in the recent wet weather but looking at that sky, I’m on limited time before the rains arrive, the only downside is most of the swim is covered with leaves.

Canal craft

First job is to get the box set up nice and stable in the marginal vegetation, mix a little groundbait, plumb up a few areas and get some bait in to activate each line. I’ve settled on three lines, one at 8m where I’ve cupped in a couple of balls of groundbait made from a 50/50 mix of Champion’s Method Black Roach and Quick Skimmer which I pushed through a fine riddle a couple of times. My second line, slightly to my left at 11m, just on the downside of the far bank shelf and close to a line of rushes is prepped with a couple of cupfuls of chopped worm and casters and my final line at 13m is right across on top of the shelf just under the cover of the far bank overhanging bushes. 

Roughly chop your worms for big fish.

A great canal combination.

Fluoro Carbon, almost invisible in the water.

You don’t need many of these to build a good weight.

"The early bird catches the perch."

Start off with two cupfuls of bait.

To my mind, the best pole on the market. 

These big perch certainly give you the run around. 

It’s not rocket science

As for tackle I’m using my trusted Sphere Zero-G F1+ Pole and although each line is slightly different regarding elastication and end rig, the one that is producing after rotating each line is the chopped worm and caster one. The rig for this is relatively simple and consists of Stretch 7 Blue 1.90mm Hollow Elastic, 0.12mm Cenex Hybrid Power line containing a 4×14 pole float, with a four inch Cenex 0.13mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line and a Sphere size 16 Match Hook. Nothing fancy regarding shotting, just a bulk of no8 12’from the hook and a couple of tiny droppers spaced equally to the hook with the whole rig fished an inch over depth. 

Reasons for

A couple of things worth pointing out is although I’m using a hook length that is of a wider diameter that the mainline, its breaking point is slightly less, the reason for the wider hooklink is its created from Fluoro Carbon, a material that fish find almost impossible to see, something when fishing for sight feeders such as perch is very important. I’ve also set up my pole roller down the edge so I can side ship my pole in and out without upsetting other canal tow path users and the Black Magic Double Width 60 Roller with its extendable legs allow just that! 

Little reason to switch

A quick look at the 8m line from the off and its only producing small roach, which is a great sign as where there’s small fish there will be big perch and after fifteen minutes its time to lower half a Dendrobaena in on the 11m line and straight away the float sinks and I’m onto a reasonable perch. The action continues throughout the morning with perch to 2lb 6oz gracing my net and apart from one bite on the lobworm line I see very little reason to switch. It’s a good idea to keep pulting a few casters over the top to keep the small fish interested and every time bites dry up I simply introduce another cupful of chopped worm and casters which livens things up. After three hours and with the first spots of rain in the air I’ve had my fill and have ended up with at least 15lb of quality perch including a couple more around the two pound mark. Canal fishing, I love it. 

Colin Sheppard

Side shipping is recommended on canals. 

A plummet and a delicate but long tip float, both essential items of kit.  

Sphere Match hooks, razor sharp, perfect when perch fishing.

They just can’t resist the worm.

Colin’s Tackle

Sphere Zero-G F1+ Pole

Stretch 7 1.90mm Blue Elastic

4×14 pole float

0.12mm Cenex Hybrid Power Mono

0.13mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

Sphere Size 16 Match Hook

Colin’s Bait

Dendrobaena Worms

Lobworms

Casters

Squat

Maggot

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach & Quick Skimmer Groundbait.

A brilliant mornings sport.


Winter 'Edges'

Original article published in English.

 

Winter fishing is normally associated with targeting the deeper water on commercial venues or fishing the long pole to features. However, I’ve enjoyed a lot of success fishing the edges here at Colemans Cottage, even on the coldest of days. It seems like the fish hug the near slope and you can often catch here when you can’t get a bite elsewhere. There are a few key differences to summer edge fishing which make all the difference. 

Depth

The first thing I’m looking for with my edge fishing is depth. This varies depending on the temperature, water clarity and how active I expect the fish to be but around 3-feet (one metre) seems to be a good starting point. Generally, this will be found on a nice gradual slope so you can really pick and choose your depth by moving up or down the slope. As with any pole fishing, plumbing up accurately is essential to present your bait correctly on the slope without it hanging off bottom or laying on excessively. I like to just slightly lay on to make the bait sit naturally. If I’m foul hooking fish then I will look to move up the slope, if I don’t get any indications then I may look to move further down – a few inches either way can make a big difference.

Cenex Classic Mono is my choice for hook lengths.

Xitan Stretch 7 Yellow is ideal for the plodding fights of winter carp.

I use a dink float for margin fishing.

Bait choice

My approach centres on groundbait and live maggots. This may seem unusual in 3-feet of water, but because the fish are less active in winter foul hookers are much less of a problem. Groundbait offers just enough attraction to get me a bite, but washes away and doesn’t overfeed the peg. I normally feed it loose and very cautiously through a pole mounted pot, but sometimes a handful of crumb in a big pot can spark life into a peg which it appears devoid of fish. I very rarely feed maggots which means I get a faster bite as the fish snatch at the only food particle in the peg. In milder weather I will use the Formula Fish groundbait, but in the depths of winter this changes to a pure crushed expander mix with minimal food content. The groundbait itself must be as damp as possible and pushed through a riddle so that it settles quickly on the slope and doesn’t waft up easily.

Tackle

Rig wise, I normally use a 4 x 12 carp dink with the float dotted right down. I may step up a size if the wind is affecting the presentation. This is tied to 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power mainline and a 4-inch 0.10mm or 0.12mm Cenex Hybrid Power hooklength to an 18 or 20 hook depending on how hard I expect the fishing to be. Elastic wise, the yellow Xitan Stretch 7 is perfect; soft enough for the fish to glide out of the swim, but with enough power to land double-figure fish. Shotting would be a bulk or strung bulk of no.9s, again depending how active the fish are. I use a fairly long line to my float and use back shot to control the rig to avoid spooking fish in the clear water.

Formula Fish attracts without feeding.

Big carp can still be caught down the edge in winter on many venues.

Often, I will feed groundbait with no feed, and then use a maggot hookbait over the top.

"Always leave yourself somewhere to go when the fish back off."

Tips

Another key difference from summer time is the fish will back-off from one spot very quickly. Changing depth or re-plumbing a new line where the fish feel safe will often get a crucial few extra bites. For this reason I always leave myself somewhere to go and never fish to the limit of my peg early on. I find about half-way to the next platform to be a good starting point, but it is always dependant on depth more than anything. One of the most important things is to never give up! You might not get a bite down the edge until late in the match but you can then put together a winning catch in no time. Hopefully this helps give you the confidence to fish your edges through the winter, you might be surprised at the results!

Alex Reynolds