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





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. 


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.


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."


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

Catch Carp on the Deck

It’s getting to that time of the year when the carp start to spend more time close to the bottom and catching them hard on the bottom becomes a viable option. Today I am fishing Messingham Sands Fishery, where this is one of the key methods for the big carp that you need to catch to win here. Big catches are on the cards, with triple-figures easily achievable. These big super-strong carp will put a real strain on your gear, so it is important to get your tactics right to be in with a chance of winning.

Today I am fishing a peg just along the ‘spit’ in the centre of Island Lake. In front of me I have a large island, along with several snag bushes and beds of lilies. The margins are also lined with trees, so there are plenty of options to fish, but also lots of potential pitfalls, should a fish charge off towards cover. I have picked a couple of spots to fish, both of which are not too close to the cover. The fish here will respond to the sound of pellets peppering the surface when I feed, and drawing them away from danger gives me more chance of landing them. 

I’m using the blue 2.3mm Xitan Microbore elastic rigged through the top-two kit of my Sphere Zero G PT+. This elastic is rated at 9-13, and with a puller kit is more than adequate for landing double-figure carp. My rigs are made up with 0.16mm Cenex Hybrid Power with a 15cm hooklength 0.14mm Hybrid Power. To this I am using a size 14 Sphere Beast barbless hook with a bait band tied in tight to the back of the hook. The swim is about six feet deep, and as I want to catch on the bottom I have plumbed up with the rig just on depth. A moveable bulk shotting sits just above the hooklength. 

The wind is quite gusty down the lake today, so I am not going to try to fish too far out. Around 13 metres will be fine today, especially as there is no one on the adjacent pegs. I always try to fish as short as I can when the conditions are poor as this makes such a difference to your efficiency. 

Fish slightly away from features to give yourself more time to control the first rush of a carp.

A lovely Messingham Sands carp.

Sphere Beast hooks are perfect for the job.

"The key to catching consistently here often comes down to feeding."

Don’t be tempted to fish too light. Aim to land every fish you hook.

The carp here are well known for fighting really hard.

The key to catching consistently here often comes down to feeding. The carp really respond to pellets going in, so I will feed half a dozen 8mm pellets every 30-seconds. If I start getting too many lines-bites though I will increase the number of pellets that I feed, but reduce the frequency a bit to ensure more of the bait gets to the bottom. You can easily spot most of the liners, as the float dithers and pulls sideways, rather than going under positively. Try to give the bites a second to develop so as not to foul-hook too many fish. 

I am using quite big pellets both as feed and on the hook. This is a definite ‘edge’ on this lake, the carp do like a big bait. The other advantage is that silver fish, particularly skimmer bream, are a little less likely to pick up these big baits. I don’t mind catching silvers, but if you want to win then you need to make sure that you are getting through to the bigger carp. 

I will have several swims on the go in a match and may switch to a longer line on the lead if the bites aren’t coming often enough on the pole. The carp definitely do come in waves though, probably as shoals of fish move through the peg. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to switch lines, as you may get two or three fish in quick succession after a bit of a wait, and that can put another 30-pounds in the net. Similarly, it can take the carp a while to gather in numbers at the start of your session. Keep feeding regularly and don’t stop. Eventually they will turn up and then it is game on! 

There is no great secret to landing these powerful carp quickly. I like to ship back quite quickly and let the elastic do its work. Although the elastic is set quite firm, I can get back to the top-two kit quickly and then start to apply more pressure on the fish using the pulla kit. With a bit of luck, the carp will pop up right in front of the waiting net and I can scoop it before it really knows what is happening. Miss that first chance and you can often see the fight go on for two or three times longer! It might seem a small point, but this is why using a quality landing net handle, combined with a net that can be easily moved through the water is so important. Over five hours this can put several more fish in the net. 

Time flies when catching carp on the pole. In many ways this is quite a simple tactic, but one where getting into a smooth rhythm makes all the difference. Pay particular attention to feeding and getting your gear correctly balanced and big catches can easily be on the cards. 

Tight lines! 

Jim Hall

Don’t be afraid to use a heavier rig if the wind picks up.

Keep those pellets going in on to keep the bites coming.

Jim’s Gear

Sphere Zero G PT+ Pole

Cenex Hybrid Power Line 0.16mm

Cenex Hybrid Power Line 0.14mm

Sphere Bead Barbless Hook

Medium Bait Bands

0.3 gram Float

Jim’s Bait

8mm Fishery Pellets

The Sphere Zero G PT+ pole is perfect for this job.

Catch Bonus Fish On Worms

Originally published in English.


We all have different approaches when it comes to the tactics we adopt and feel comfortable with when approaching a match or practice session on our chosen venue. Some are happy to build a weight of silvers and constantly feed a number of different lines, some are quite happy to target a certain species and some are happy to look for fewer but bigger fish. 

Faith and Patience

I have to admit that I’m one of those anglers that like to target fewer but bigger fish and if there is a bait on the canals that will sort these out it has to be worm, a bait that very few species will ignore. Fortunately eels count in our friendly matches and are somewhat partial to a worm and with bream and perch on the cards as well, rarely will a few bonus fish grace my net and I’m happy to play the waiting game, be patient and have faith that although I may only be looking for three or four decent fish, if they are the ones I’m after then there’s a very good chance I will be looking at framing, if not winning.

One of my local venues is The Wey Navigation Canal and over the years this approach has served me well here. Today I’ve decided to steer clear of the noted big fish swims, the reason being is that I feel I learn so much more simply dropping into a swim that I haven’t fished before and then having faith that my tried-and-tested approach will deliver any sizable fish within.

Worm and caster, a winning combination.

Baiting up with a dropper for pin point accuracy.

I’ll take a couple of these any day.

"Worms will often produce bigger bonus fish"

Rotating the two

The swim is certainly a feature swim being directly under a road bridge, definitely an area to look at as the winter sets in and quite often a hotspot for perch, however I don’t think that even the shade will have any effect on the fishing today as the canal is unusually coloured. I’m going to approach today’s practice session in my normal manner and feed to spots, both on the same line at two thirds of the way across which is around nine metres. The first line is slightly upstream of straight out; 11am lets say and the other at 1pm, slightly downstream. To kick start each spot I’m going to introduce one Bait dropper full of chopped worm and casters. The reason for a bait dropper is it gives me pin-point accuracy every time, especially when I line the pole up to a far bank marker. Each spot will be rotated and topped up at regular intervals throughout the sessions with a further half a dropper of worm and casters, even if they are showing no signs of fish. Another key time to top up is if a couple of fish are caught or bites missed before going quiet. Hookbait will mostly be half a worm and a caster cocktail, but every now and again will try a small piece of worm or caster on their own, even a couple of maggots, but never will I introduce maggots to the swim in the bait dropper as this attracts too many small fish.

A real all-rounder

I’m using a Sphere Zero-G Power Partner, a real all-rounder with Pink 1.9mm Microbore elastic through the top kit which is more than adequate even if a sizeable eel gets hooked. My rig consists of Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power mono onto which I attach a 1.25g rugby ball shaped wire stem float for stability, which will be over shotted and held back in position. The float is shotted with a bulk of fifteen no9 fifteen inches from the hook which is a size 16 barbed Sphere Match attached to 0.15mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon hook length. Two additional number nine shot are added to the hook length along with a tiny number twelve swivel that sits on the deck and also makes changing hook lengths easier. 

Today’s three hour session has gone to plan in that I have put together around 8lb of fish, however with the added colour in the canal I would have put money on it, that eels would have played a major part in my catch but amazingly not one has shown. Instead my weight has been made up of three decent bream, plus a few small perch, roach and gudgeon, more than enough to frame in one of our matches. 

John Brownlie

Fluoro Carbon hooklink, a massive edge.

1.9mm Microbore, will handle anything hooked today. 

Not what I expected but I’ll take a catch like this any day.

John’s Tackle 

Sphere Zero-G Power Partner

Size 16 Sphere Match Hooks

Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Mono

Cenex 0.15mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line

1.25g Float

Xitan Microbore Pink 01.9mm Pole Elastic

Sphere Match hooks, sharp and reliable.

Catch Silverfish on a Large Lowland River

Originally published in English.


Today we are fishing a practise session on the river Great Ouse near Ely in Cambridgeshire. This is a pretty typical area of this big lowland river, which can respond to a number of different tactics. Today our job is to each fish a different tactic and see how the fish respond. Obviously, come match day, things can be very different, especially with the extra pressure more anglers puts on the venue, but this is a good opportunity for us to make some tweaks to our tactics and get it right on match day.

My job today is to concentrate on the pole line, trying to put together a net of silvers, and perhaps snare a bonus fish or two. I will also bait up a couple of other lines, more for the better, bonus fish, but let’s stick to talking about the pole line.

The river here is around 50 metres wide, with a distinct channel beyond the marginal shelf. Fortunately, there is a good depth at around eight metres, and the bottom is pretty level once we go beyond the ten metre mark, meaning I don’t need to fish too far out. This also gives me the opportunity to bait a couple of different lines at the start and, with a bit of luck, draw the fish in closer as the day progresses where I can catch them faster.

My opening gambit is to introduce six good-sized balls of groundbait at around 11 metres. This is a combination of Champion’s Feeder Black Roach and Champion’s Choice Canal. Into this I have put some dead pinkies, chopped worm and casters and have moulded the balls quite firmly, the aim to get them on the bottom before they break up. There are quite a lot of bleak and tiny rudd here, so I need my bait (and rig) to get down fast to avoid these.

Expect plenty of ’net‘ roach here.

I like a stable float because it gives more control on a typical windy day.

Use an olivette about 60cm from the hook to get the bait through the bleak that lurk near the surface.

The river channel is at a comfortable distance, giving me room to follow the fish out.

I use the awesome Sphere Zero G PT+ Pole.

My bonus fish line under this overhanging tree didn’t produce today.

"I want to have a nice concentrated area of bait that hopefully will draw the fish in."

I want to have a nice concentrated area of bait that hopefully will draw the fish in. These will probably mainly be roach, with a few rudd, skimmers and maybe a bonus fish thrown in for good measure.

As roach are my main target I will regularly feed a little hemp over the top of the groundbait. Hemp is less likely to bring the bleak in, and sinks quickly, so hopefully it will keep the roach interested. I will try hemp later in the day as if the roach switch on to it then I can expect a better stamp of fish on this hookbait.

If the bites slow down and I feel that the roach are drifting away I will top up the line with two more balls of groundbait, I’ll also play with what amounts of particles I add too as this can affect the stamp and catch rate. It can also be a good idea it rest a line for a while after topping up giving fish the chance to re-group and remain confident. In this way, I hope to ring out as many fish as I can over the space of five hours. With a second line at the same distance, plus a shorter hemp and caster line just for roach, I can mix it up and hopefully keep catching.

The swim is about ten feet deep, and I expect to catch the bulk of the fish hard on the bottom, so I have set up a positive rig that will get the bait down quickly. Also, the wind here tends to blow either up or down the river, so a reasonably heavy rig gives me much better control. I’m using a two gram float with a bulk olivette about two feet from the hook, and then three no.10 shot evenly spaced below this. The bulk will get the rig down quickly but the smallish droppers provide a slower fall in the killing zone – I can also bunch these up for an even more positive rig if it gets really good. I expect bites either in that bottom two feet as the float settles (or doesn’t), and then as I carefully work the rig once it has settled.

My rigs are made up on the excellent 0.12mm Cenex Classic Mono with a hooklength of 0.08mm diameter of the same to a size 19 hook. Light lines always mean more bites, but with skimmers bream and even the odd tench about 0.08mm will give me a chance without affecting my roach fishing.

It is a pretty typical Fenland day today. The wind is quite gusty downstream and the water quite clear. Even so, the bites have kept coming, only slowing down towards the end of the session. As expected, it has been a nice mix of fish, mainly roach, with the odd nice perch mixed in too. I did try a worm line for a better perch, or even a tench, but this has drawn a blank today. Oh well, next time!

It has been a really enjoyable and busy day. We have all learnt a few nuggets that will hopefully see us in good stead come our team match in a couple of weeks time on this venue. It has been interesting to see how the different tactics perform, with the pole line doing well.


Andrew ‘Mossy’ Moss

Rig control is important on a deep, windswept venue like this.

An initial bed of groundbait helps concentrate the fish. Top up if the bites slow down.

It has been an interesting and productive session.

Mossy’s Gear

Sphere Zero G F1+ Pole

Cenex Classic Line 0.12mm and 0.08mm

Size 19 hook

2 gram wire stemmed float

Olivette bulk with three no. 10 droppers

Mossy’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach

Champion’s Choice Canal






Bright Baits for Cold Carp

With the water temperature cooling, carp tend to shoal tightly, find them, drip feed them and then if you approach them in a stealthy manner you should catch them. Today I’ve headed to one of my favourite fisheries, Rolf’s in Oxfordshire, one I have fished extensively for years and if I’m right a fair share of the carp will be keeping warm, tight in a corner where a big lily bed is dying away. I could target this from a swim to the side but I need to get tight to the pads and with carp to well over 20lb possible its far better to attack the swim from the opposite bank, which is exactly where I’m heading. 

Drip feeding

To get the carp in a feeding mood I’m going to drip feed four of five 8mm fishery own, slow sinking pellets every thirty seconds right next to the lilies. This I will do whilst setting up and if all goes to plan when I make my first cast in around half an hour there should be a few competing for these. 

After feeding for half an hour, it was a carp a cast.

Bright critically balanced baits, just irresistible.

Pellet Bands – quick and easy.

Clipped up at all times, just don’t switch off.

Cenex Low stretch Mono, great for bite detection.

Cenex Hybrid Power Mono for super supple, strong and tough hook lengths.  

Soft, easy part and reliable Connector Beads.  

Connector Beads, simple to use.  

"the power of the rod will see the carp kitting and heading into open water."

Simple but powerful

Tackle for carp this big needs to be robust but balanced so I’ve opted for my Sphere Bomb rod but the version with 10% extra power. This rod is unbelievable and has been created from the highest quality carbon blank and fittings available to produce an ultra light, ultra slim rod that just makes you want to catch fish after fish. It has a soft action which allows light lines and small hooks to be used when needed, however the power in the butt section is amazing and couple this with the action is something big carp just can’t deal with. This is teamed up with a Black Viper Compact 845 reel loaded with Cenex 0.20mm Low Stretch Mono which has an incredible breaking strain of over 8lb for its fine diameter and is also extremely abrasion resistant which is required if a carp manages to skirt the outside of the pads. On the business end things are kept relatively simple with a 1oz lead placed on a Quick Change Swivel which runs on the mainline and is buffeted by a Connector Bead. The hook length, which is around fifteen inches is created from Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power Mono, again very abrasion resistant but also very supple, and has a Sphere size 14 barbless hook attached knotless knot style with a hair containing a 7mm Silicone Bait Band.

Slow sinking

Hookbait is simple, an 8mm bright pink wafter that I’ve checked in the margin before casting, as I want it to sink really slowly, just like the freebies that I have been catapulting around. 

A repeat performance

The last thing I need is for a carp to dive into the roots of the lily bed so although I’m casting tight to these I’m also clipping up as this will avoid disaster happening. The bend in the rod and minimal stretch in the line will give me a couple of feet to put the brakes on when the rod pulls round, and guess what it’s done this almost immediately. It’s really important when fishing clipped up to place the rod across your knee and only have a small angle from rod tip to bait. As soon as it pulls round the power of the rod will see the carp kitting and heading into open water. The first carp is a beautiful fully scaled mirror around 6lb but I have had them, on similar tactic to over 25lb in the past here so expect a proper chunk to turn up at anytime. It looks like it’s going to be an eventful day as the next cast see’s a repeat performance, yet this one is more of the average size you can expect from Rolf’s, a low double. Now for that twenty!


Michael Colsino

Michael’s Tackle

Sphere Bomb + 10% Power

Black Viper Compact 845

Cenex 0.20mm Low Stretch Mono

Cenex 0.18mm Hybrid Power Mono

Sphere size 14 barbless Beast Hook

Connector Bead

7mm Silicone Bait Band

Quick Change Swivel

1oz Lead


Michael’s Bait

8mm Pink Wafter

8mm low oil fishery own pellets






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Perfect touchdown next to the dying pads.

Rolf’s is famous for its big carp.

Gravel Pit Bream on the Window Feeder

There is some great fishing to be had on my local Kingsbury Water Park, and one of my favourite lakes on the complex is Bodymoor Heath Water; a large mature gravel pit with a good stock of bream. These slabs often feature in matches on the venue, and if you get your tactics right, can be caught through the day, enabling some impressive weights to be put together. This is classic bream fishing at its best, and although sport tends to slow down in the colder months, a considered approach can still catch some lovely fish. 

This is a shallow lake, despite its size, averaging around two metres deep. It is also clear of weed, so the fishing is relatively straightforward and it is possible to fish with quite light balanced gear, which can prove the difference between success and failure when fishing during the middle of the day. Bream being bream, they tend to be found at range, but there is no need to fish at extreme distances along the bank I am fishing today. I will set out to fish two lines, one at 25 metres, the other at 35 metres. Both rods will be clipped up to ensure that I hit the same distance every time. 

To begin with I will prime both lines by making two casts with a large ‘bait up’ feeder filled with caster, dead maggots, a little sweetcorn and a pinch of pellets, topped off with groundbait. This is enough bait to attract the attention of the bream, and get them browsing, without giving them too much to eat, which can make them difficult to catch. 

Waiting Game

Bream fishing can be a waiting game. It may take an hour or two for the fish to arrive, so it pays to be patient. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to lose confidence and not fish consistently. I use a timer to ensure that I recast regularly and to plan right through my session, as it is easy to lose track of time. Initially, I recast every five minutes for the first hour. This lays down some more bait and will inevitably create a little more spread. In hour two I switch to recasting every ten minutes, as I don’t want to overfeed, especially if I haven’t had any signs of bream in front of me. By hour three I may switch to recasting every 15 minutes, if the bream haven’t appeared. If I am catching though, or getting liners, then I will continue to recast more regularly. 

I am loading my Window feeder with a combination of casters and a little chopped worm. This is sealed with a pinch of my quite sweet fishmeal groundbait. I find the bream like a groundbait that has this sweetness to take the edge off the fishmeal. Because the water is quite clear I don’t want to put too much bait on the bottom. Just enough to attract the fish to my line and hold them a while is my aim. The Window feeder ensures the bait gets to the bottom in the feeder, giving a real focal point for the bream to home-in on. 

I will alternate hookbaits to see if one stands out. Two dead maggots is a good opening gambit. Three pinkies are also very good if the fish are a little finicky. I also have with me some red worms, collected from a muck heap. Whilst this might be an almost forgotten bait, they are absolute gold for bream and will often bring a bite when all else fails. 

The Window Feeder is easy to load and gives a tight patch of feed.

Today I am using a ‚helicopter-style‘ set-up for improved accuracy.

A rubber stop holds the hooklength in place.

Red worms are a brilliant bream bait.

Sink the quiver tip to avoid drag on the line.

The Sphere Medium Feeder is brilliant for this style of fishing.

"From the heavy nods on the rod tip it feels like a good fish"

A big bream falls for the red worm hookbait.

I like to ensure I add the same amount of feed every cast.

Add some casters, before filling the window with a little groundbait.

Cold wind

There is a cold wind blowing down the lake this morning, so I am glad to be tucked slightly back. The positive is that the fish will feed more confidently with a ripple on the water surface. After the first couple of hours without any indications it is easy to lose confidence, but from past experience it is just a case of plugging away. When the bream arrive I will catch them. 

My rig is quite simple, although I have been experimenting with a variation on the traditional paternoster set-up. I have attached the hooklength to a Browning Feeder Connector Swivel, which allows me to change the rig instantly. The swivel is fished helicopter-style, running on the main line with two stoppers set about 12 inches up the line. The feeder is attached via a powergum link, which acts as a cushion for the loaded feeder on the cast. 

My hooklength consists of one metre of 0.13mm, 3.5lb breaking strain fluorocarbon to a size 18 Sphere Match hook. This might sound a little light when big bream are the target, but my gear is very well balanced, thanks to the superb action of the Sphere Medium feeder rod, which absorbs any lunges of the bream. With no snags or weed in front of me it is just a case of taking my time and slowly leading the fish towards the net. 

Fishing with quite fine lines and small hooks can make a massive difference to your catches. If you are getting line bites, but not catching then be prepared to scale down, fish lighter and try a smaller hookbait.

After swapping to a little red worm on the hook the tip of my Sphere feeder rod pulls round confidently and I am into my first bream of the session. From the heavy nods on the rod tip it feels like a good fish, and I am not surprised when a bream of about 7lb pop-ups in front of the net. It is a little bit bigger than the average stamp on this lake; a nice fish indeed. 

The next cast is almost a repeat performance. The feeder settles and shortly after sinking the line the tip pulls round confidently once again. This time the fish feels faster, with less weight to it, and so it proves as a fish of a couple of pounds finds its way into the waiting net. 

And as soon as the fish have appeared they are gone again. Despite ringing the changes that is it for today, with no more bites coming my way. All bream fishing, but especially on gravel pits, can be a game of nerves, but if you stick to your plan the rewards are there to be had.

Tight lines! 

Pat Cuddy

Pat’s Tackle

Sphere Feeder M 390

Black Viper MK FD50 Reel

0.10mm Cenex Feeder Braid

0.13mm Cenex Fluoro Carbon Hooklength

30cm Powergum Link

Size 18 Sphere Match Hook

30 gram Window Feeder


Pat’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Big Bream

Champions Feeder Quick Skimmer

Champion’s Method Formula Fish

Crushed Pellet



Dead Maggot

Micro Pellets


Red Worms

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The head nods convince me this is a good fish.

Mix a River Roach Groundbait

Using the right groundbait can make or break your fishing on rivers, especially when silverfish are the target. What is needed is a mix that acts as a magnet for the fish, concentrating them where it is most efficient to fish, but without filling them up. The key elements are attraction, colour and composition. Get these factors right and you will maximise your catches on each line. 

I use a dark mix that the fish are willing to settle over, even when the water is clear. Champions Feeder Black Roach is perfect for this job, having a lovely dark colour and being very attractive to all silverfish, but particularly roach. You might be surprised to learn that I add Champions Choice Canal to the Black Roach to ensure that the balls hit the bottom before breaking up. Remember though, that the continental canals where the Canal mix was developed are much deeper and often have a quite significant flow than our canals, so they are more akin to our slow-flowing rivers and larger drains. 

Follow these simple steps to get the mix just right. 


Andrew ‘Mossy’ Moss

1 – Start off by adding a full bag of Champion’s Feeder Black Roach to your mixing bowl. 

2 – Next add a bag of Champions Choice Canal to the bowl and mix the two groundbait together well. 

3 – Slowly add water to the groundbaits. I use a large pole cup to do this so that I can control the amount of water added precisely. 

4 – Keep mixing the groundbait, ideally with a whisk, all the time. 

"I use a dark mix that the fish are willing to settle over"

5 – Leave the groundbait to stand for at least ten minutes so that all of the water is absorbed. 

6 – Riddle the groundbait to remove any lumps and to aerate it. Discard any lumps, do not try and force them through the riddle.

7 – That’s about it. You might need to add a tiny amount of extra water with an atomiser through the day to keep the consistency just right.

8 – Add some dead pinkie, finely chopped worm and a few casters as feed to the groundbait. 

The ‘Long-Line’ on Midlands Canals

The Midlands are criss-crossed by a huge network of canals that stand testament to the Industrial Revolution which began and flourished in this area. Today, the canals are as popular as ever, although it is leisure craft that ply these waters, rather than the working craft they were originally designed for. Most of us probably have a canal within east reach and they can provide some interesting and productive fishing right on our doorstep. 

I tend to specialise in fishing these canals, and have refined my approach to fit the demands of these venues. Make no mistake, they can vary in size, layout, and type of fishing massively, but today I want to look at a tactic that will work on a large number of different venues, with only very minor adaptions. 

I am talking about fishing the long-line, across to any far bank features, and at the base of the far shelf. Here there is often cover for the fish; perhaps overhanging trees, weedbeds, or most likely moored boats. Even in the turbid waters of the canal, these are fish-holding features that need to be targeted. 

Truth be told, I will fish several different lines in a match situation, but fishing across is often the most consistent. Here you will find predominantly silverfish, the size and species depending upon the stretch, but with perch and perhaps bonus fish mixed in. My tactics are designed to give a soft-touch approach, hopefully keeping the bites coming for as long as possible. 

Fishing at around 14 metres with my Xitan Z16 L Advance pole puts on the edge of the far bank moored boats, with the option to push across a little further later on in search of a few more bites. The bank here is piled, so there is less of a distinct shelf, compared to other canals. I have set up a 4×10 float with a wire through body. It is a quite delicate pencil shape that allows me to spot delicate bites. The shotting is spread out no. 10’s with the bait fished on the deck in teh hope of picking up a better stamp of fish. 

Cenex Classic Mono is my choice for for rigs and hooklengths.

I use a strung-out shotting pattern.

A slim float with a wire stem shows delicate bites.

"Introduce a tiny pot of feed every put-in"

I am introducing a tiny pot of groundbait with a pinch of pinkies each put in. The roach prefer a dark-coloured groundbait so I am using the Champion’s Feeder Black Roach, which I mixed at home the day before. In fact, I will keep any leftover groundbait and freeze it, ready for future sessions. I’ve mixed the groundbait so that it is fairly dry, but will get down without breaking up too much. You don’t get through much bait using this frugal approach, the aim is to keep the fish interested without giving them too much to eat and feeding them off. 

Bonus fish are likely to be better roach, perhaps a perch or a bream, but the bulk of the fish will be small silvers. To extract as many of possible it pays to fish relatively light. A 0.07mm hooklength of Cenex Classic mono to a size 22 hook is the order of the day. My rig line is 0.10mm Cenex Classic, and I have a no.3 solid elastic through the top kit. 

It doesn’t take long to start getting bites, but the average size of the fish is quite small. Probably around 20-30 to the pound, but at least the bites are coming regularly. As it is a Saturday there is quite a lot of boat traffic about today, and that means the canal keeps pushing through for a few minutes as the locks are used. I find it pays to stop feeding whilst the canal is flowing hard, as any bait will not end up where I want it. Instead, wait for the pace to die-down and then feed when you can be sure that the bait is staying put. 

The other problem today are leaves on the water surface. It has been quite windy and, as it is autumn, the water surface is covered with them. It is a bit frustrating, but by lowering the rig in as vertically as possible I am able to find small gaps and keep fishing. 

By alternating between maggot and pinkie hookbaits I have kept the bites coming all morning and despite the fish being on the small side have put together a decent catch. Searching around the far bank brought a few extra fish after the main line dried up. In a match situation I would feed several lines and rotate them to keep the fish coming as long as possible, but today it has been interesting just to see how many fish I can catch on the one line. 

A really enjoyable day, with plenty of bites, which just goes to show the quality of fishing on our amazing canal network. Why not give it a try?

Tight lines! 

Mark Roberson

The average stamp of roach on this canal.

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach is my groundbait of choice.

Most of the Midlands canals are a comfortable width. Here I can fish at 14m easily with my Z16 L Advance pole.

Mark’s Tackle

Xitan Z16 L Advance Pole

Cenex 0.10mm Rig Line

Cenex 0.07mm hooklength

Size 22 fine wire hook

4×10 wire stem, pencil float


Mark’s Bait

Champion’s Feeder Black Roach Groundbait

Pint of maggots

Pint of pinkies

Pint of squatts


Introduce a tiny pot of groundbait and a few pinkies every put-in.