A Beginner’s Guide To Commercial Fisheries

Perch

Perch are plentiful in many commercial fisheries

Commercial fisheries provide accessible sport for a whole range of popular species, while offering consistent fishing for everyone.

Read this great advice and top tips on fishing day ticket lakes from author and angling coach, Dom Garnett, to get you started.

Commercial fisheries are some of the easiest and most accessible locations of all. This is especially true for those who are newer to the sport, or returning to angling after an absence.

But even experienced anglers will visit them for a bite-filled day out. When rivers are flooded or the going is tough on so called “natural” waters, day ticket lakes provide welcome and consistent sport.

Accessible, bite-filled fishing

Roach

Roach are present on most commercials and offer sport all year round.

There are many kinds of day ticket fishing lakes across the UK. Many “commercial fisheries” have certain characteristics in common. They’re generally man made, relatively small in size and with high stocks of fish, from small roach and perch to larger carp. They often have better access than natural waters, with well-marked spots or platforms to fish from.

‘Traditional’ anglers may scoff, but these safe and relatively easy fishing lakes have several advantages. For one thing, you tend to pay by the day. There’s no special membership is, and discounts are often available for juniors and pensioners. Anyone can fish these waters.

They have plenty of smaller fish to keep kids happy, while those less mobile won’t have to carry gear for half a mile to get a decent spot.

Many anglers (and their families) also appreciate the fact that a lot of them have toilets, shelter and even somewhere to buy tackle and a cup of coffee on site.

However, in our discussion of “commercial” lakes, we should also add that there are a great variety of other venues that also share similar characteristics. The same tactics and advice discussed here will also ring true for many other locations, including park lakes, village ponds and small stillwaters run by fishing clubs.

How to fish a typical commercial style fishery

Angler with fish in net

You should have no problem finding fish in a commercial lake

Perhaps the best thing of all about day ticket lakes is the sheer number and variety of fish present. Unlike on a river or a big reservoir, you should have few problems finding the fish and getting bites. But just because there are plenty of fish to catch, it doesn’t mean that you can simply turn up and cast anywhere.

The first step to tackling a commercial lake is to do a little homework and have a good look round. Chat to the owner and other anglers; these fisheries tend to be friendly places where regulars will share advice. Sources such as websites and forums are also handy. They can tell you a lot about the best areas to fish and which baits and tactics to use.

Hot Spots and Features

Angler near bank

You needn’t fish far out on a commercial. Sometimes the bank itself is a good feature.

Not all “swims” (the term anglers use for individual spots on the lake) are equal on any lake, so it’s always a good idea to have a walk round and a think before you set up.

It’s true that some lakes can look rather bare or uniform, but many have tempting features such as islands, overhanging trees or lily beds. All of these will hold fish. You may also see obvious signs on a quick walk round, such as fish cruising or clouding the bottom as they feed.

Other features are invisible at first glance. For example, the depth can vary greatly- and areas that offer something different or a sudden change can help you find the fish. The shallows or “margins” can be a great place for summer fishing, for example, when fish such as carp and tench will come very close in to feed. But when it’s colder, the fish might be holding a little further out where there’s deeper, warmer water.

Ready, steady, fish

Angler on bank

There’s no need to cast miles out from the bank on a commercial lake

So you’ve found a spot you like the look of. You might already have seen signs of fish. But how should you start fishing? Another nice thing about commercials is that various different techniques will work. Nine times out of ten, however, my advice would be to try float fishing first, whether you try rod and line tactics or bring a pole.

The float is a great way to get plenty of bites. It’s also an ideal method to test the water’s depth. This is the most important task of all. See our Beginners guide to float fishing to learn how to do this correctly, along with other useful float fishing skills.

The fish will seldom be far from the bank on most day ticket lakes, so don’t feel you need to cast miles out. Often, you will be fishing within two or three rod-lengths of the bank.

Many lakes have shallow water at the edge and then a shelf or slope where things get deeper, dropping from say two feet to four feet of water. This is an excellent place to start, because the fish love this “drop off” where food tends to collect.

Which Tackle is Best for Commercial Fisheries?

Angler with fish in net

With balanced tackle, you’ll still land that bonus net filler.

A common mistake I see on commercial lakes is anglers using thick line and large hooks. These can make the fish suspicious. By far your best bet is to tackle up with balanced tackle with the finesse to get plenty of bites, but enough power to do battle with bigger fish.

For most pleasure fishing I would recommend a float or match rod, 4-5lb strength main line, and a finer hook length of 3-4lbs strength. For pole anglers, a size eight, or light to medium hollow elastic would be sensible to deal small carp as well as bread and butter species like roach and perch.

Hook sizes will depend on bait, but typically you won’t want to go much smaller than an 18 or bigger than a 12. Most commercials insist on barbless hooks – and that you have a soft unhooking mat to lay larger specimens on without damaging them.

What are the Best Baits for Commercial Fisheries?

Pink and white maggots

Maggots will bring plenty of bites

Another great thing about day ticket lakes is that many baits will work, including many that are cheap or even free. The first I would try is the humble maggot, simply because no other bait will get you more bites from all species. A few worms from the compost heap are also a great shout, because fish of many kinds, including the bigger ones, love them.

Other baits high on the list would be sweet corn and bread. Pellets are convenient, and ideal to use both thrown in to attract the fish and to catch on. Hard pellets don’t go on the hook though, so you’ll want some soft pellets for the hook or a packet of “pellet bands” to hold the harder baits in place.

It’s always a good idea to bring more than one type of bait, because you might find one works better than the rest. It’s also sensible to take a few bigger baits, like larger pellets or chunks of luncheon meat, in case you are getting lots of tiddlers and want to try something that only a bigger mouth can manage.

Whichever choices you make, be sure to throw in some bait too, besides just using it on the hook. Anglers call this “loose feeding” and it can make the difference between getting the odd bite and catching fish all day. The reason is that bait thrown into the water will attract more fish than just casting out with a single offering.

You don’t need to go crazy, but it is worth throwing in small amounts of bait every few minutes. If you do this often, the fish will start to compete for the bait and you’ll get lots of them in your swim.

Do try and be accurate and keep casting and adding bait to the exact same spot, because this will draw the fish to one area, rather than scattering them everywhere.

8 top tips for fishing commercial lakes

Angler on lake bank

Late afternoon when everyone else has gone home can be a great time to fish

  1. Float fishing is a great method, but one common mistake is to have too much float showing. You should apply shot until just the coloured tip is showing. If too much float is sticking out of the water, the fish will struggle to pull it under and will often reject the bait before you have a chance to strike.
  2. Many anglers will find a comfy spot and sit in it all day. This is fine if you’re getting bites, but never be afraid to move if you’re not catching. It might take you a little trial and error, and several sessions, to work out the best spots on any lake.
  3. Always test the drag on your reel BEFORE fishing. The drag is the mechanism adjusted on the back or front of your reel that controls how easily line will be let out when a fish pulls hard. Avoid making it very loose, but it should start to click and give out line well before you risk getting broken off. The worst time to adjust it is when you’ve just hooked a big fish!
  4. In case you get that surprise monster, never leave your rod unattended on the bank. If you’re several yards away, or not paying attention, your rod could be pulled into the lake. I have seen this happen more than once!
  5. A lot of anglers will pack up in the late afternoon and go home for tea, but the best time to fish on many commercial lakes is the last hour. As the light drops, the fish tend to feel safer and more confident. They also get used to anglers throwing their leftover bait as they leave! In fact, I’ve seen locals turn up just as the regulars are leaving, and go from swim to swim catching lots of fish where others have just finished.
  6. If there are two of you fishing, try different baits and methods side by side. It’s a sociable way to fish, and great for working out the best tactic on the day.
  7. Be gentle with your catch. On commercial lakes, fish could be caught several times in their lives. They deserve our respect. Always handle them with wet hands and never hold them while standing up or walking around. The safest way to return a lively fish is often to simply lower it back in the landing net, so there is no risk of dropping it.
  8. Whether you read paper magazines or online articles, there is plenty of handy information out there. However, little beats a session with a coach if you’re starting out or returning to the sport. In the space of a few hours you can learn good habits and techniques that might take you several seasons to figure out on your own!

Further tips and top angling reads

We hope the advice in this blog comes in handy on your next session. However, the subject of tackling commercial fisheries is a broad one, so here are some useful links to give you further food for thought. Enjoy your fishing, and remember to share your commercial fishery catches on the Fishtec Coarse Fishing Facebook Page.

Angling Times: How to Catch Roach From Commercial Fisheries

Fish on Friday: Top Tips for Carp on Commercial Fisheries

Anglers Mail: Picking the Right Swim on Commercial Fisheries

More from our guest blogger:

The author of many articles and acclaimed fishing books, including Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide and his latest collection of angling tales Crooked Lines, Dom Garnett is a qualified angling coach based in Devon. Find more words, photography and his regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk

All images copyright Dom Garnett

Carp And Specialist Fishing Leads

Carp and specialist fishing leads come in many different styles and shapes, with each one made in a particular way for a reason. This blog guide takes a closer look at some commonly found fishing lead types – know your leads, improve your fishing!

Carp and specialist leads

A selection of carp and specialist leads

1. Swivel pear

Korda’s classic pear lead is probably the best selling lead in the UK. It’s shape means it is good for distance, and it’s condensed mass means it performs well when thrown into or across a wind. This shape can also easily plug into silt, which gives an advantage of increasing resistance and therefore your carp hook-up rate. A downside is the round shape can roll about on a hard bottom.

2. Square pear

A square pear is a condensed weight lead, designed for improving hooking ratios. The square sides mean it does not roll around therefore reducing tangles and keeps steady in position. It also casts well from short to medium range.

3. Swivel distance

This nose heavy lead is the ultimate extreme distance caster. Very stable in flight, and capable of traveling straight so you can hit your spot with accuracy, swivel distance pears are popular for good reason. On the down side, the shape means the lighter tapered end gets picked up first which potentially makes hooks ups less reliable.

4. Big grippa

Grippa style leads are designed to stay firm in place on the bottom, making them exceptional leads for flowing water – perfect for barbel or chub. The shape is not the best for long casting, but on a river distance is seldom a concern. On stillwater grippas are perfect for fishing on slopes and gravel bars where you need your rig to stay in position.

5. Flatliner pear

The flatliner pear is a condensed shape designed to be used as a semi-fixed or running rig weight. Best used as a part of a bolt rig at short the medium range, it has great hooking potential as it holds to the lake bed. Great for margin slopes and sand bars where you need your rig to stay put.

6. Ball lead

The most condensed form of lead weight possible, the ball weight is considered a good hooker because however the fish picks it up the weight distribution is the same. Now out of fashion somewhat – the square pear offers the same advantages but does not roll about.

7. Flat swivel pear

A fairly good caster due to it being nose heavy. A good shape for anchoring in flowing water and on underwater bars and gradients, this type of lead is a good all-rounder especially for hard bottomed waters.

8. Inline square pear

A great lead for a semi-fixed bolt rig. One of the best for getting a hook set when carp fishing. Not so great for distance. We have also used it as a river lead for barbel, and as an inline pike lead when float fishing – the square sides make it less prone to rolling around in even a strong flow.

So which ones should I take with me?

Good question – our answer is to take them all! A decent selection of leads in your lead pouch will enable you to fine tune your approach according to the conditions. It is the little things that can sometimes make the difference – a lead isn’t just a lead.

Carry a decent selection of lead weights for all eventualities!

Carry a decent selection of lead weights for all eventualities!

UK Coarse Fish Species Guide

UK coarse fishing species header
Want to know more about the UK’s freshwater fish? Fishtec’s UK coarse fish guide will help you find, catch, identify and learn more about twelve of our kingdom’s coarse fish species.

Whether you’re hoping to hook a small but perfectly formed Perch, or wrestle with a giant Wels Catfish, you’ll find some great coarse fishing facts in our guide below:

UK Coarse Fish Species Guide

Share this Coarse Fish Guide on your own website.
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References
Average size – Farnham Angling Society and Fish UK
UK record weights – Anglers Mail and Angling Trust
Did You Know? – Farnham Angling Society, Fish UK and BAHS
Habitat – Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust / Environment Agency
All other data – experts at Fishtec

Image credits
Perch, Nikitin Victor
Rudd, Coprid
Dace, Konjushenko Vladimir
Roach, Regfer
Bream, Nikitin Victor
Zander, Krasowit
Tench, Sergey Goruppa
Carp, Alexander Raths
Barbel, Vladimir Wrangel
Chub, Malivan Iuliia
Pike, Balakleypb
Wels Catfish, Vadym Zaitsev

Best Summer Barbel Rigs and Baits

Beautiful Wye barbel

Beautiful Wye barbel. Image Ceri Thomas

Summer offers the barbel angler a wonderful opportunity to catch their chosen quarry.

Consistent water levels and clarity, bright conditions, and steady water temperature all contribute to an environment which makes barbel willing to feed and easier to locate.

The Barbel Society’s Dan Whitelock takes us through the most effective methods, rigs and baits for a summer barbel session.

As mentioned in our beginners guide to barbel fishing, the biggest factor is location. Look for steady gravel runs, streamer weed beds, overhanging cover and depressions in the riverbed. If you were good in the closed season and did your homework, you’ll know where these areas are. Find these features and you’re much closer to getting those barbel to your unhooking mat.

Remember to wear your polaroids, keep off the skyline, and avoid stomping around on the bank. Be discreet – that way you’ll avoid spooking the fish before you get a chance to see them, and minimise your chances of a blank day.

Static or mobile?

A Wye barbel caught using the mobile approach

A Wye barbel caught using the mobile approach. Image: Ceri Thomas

 There are two main ways to approach summer barbel fishing. Firstly, the mobile approach on small, clear rivers with minimum baiting. Or, the static approach (‘bait & wait”) where you build a swim up over several hours and let the fish gain confidence in feeding over your baited spot. The latter is a popular method on larger rivers such as the Trent or Lower Severn, though it will also work on smaller rivers such as the Great Ouse, Lea, Teme and Loddon.

One rig to rule them all

simple barbel rig

Keep it simple and you’ll catch!

There’s one basic rig you can use for both of these methods. The key factor is simplicity. There is no need to overcomplicate your rigs and end tackle. Barbel are confident feeders and lack any hint of intelligence, so there are no trick tactics needed to hook them.

My go-to rig is a simple running rig compromising of my mainline running through a run ring, stopped by a bead, which is tied onto a quick change swivel. I thread a tail rubber onto my hooklength to lock it in place. So when I have a fish resting in the net, or I wish to change my hooklength I simply have to slide the rubber down, unclip the hooklength, pop the new one on and slide the rubber back over the clip.

quick change barbel setup

Quick change setup.

Fishing smaller rivers

For fishing on smaller rivers, use a long hooklength – at least two feet. This keeps the bait as far from the mainline and lead as possible, to avoid line bites and enhance the presentation. That said, it also pays to use a couple of pieces of plasticine up the line as a backlead, to keep the line away from fish as they move around your swim.

If you’re lucky enough to watch barbel feeding, you will see that they work their way over the baited area, sucking in morsels of food and abruptly turning downstream to the tail of the swim again. It’s this turning that gives us the classic barbel bite that we all love and I believe that the longer hooklength, light lead and slack mainline enhances the presentation, and gives the barbel the confidence to pick up the bait without feeling any resistance.

This rig is best suited to fishing with larger baits such as boilies, pellets and meat on smaller venues. Start off by choosing a section of river about two to three hundred yards long, with roughly 50 yards between each swim.

The swim

A barbel swim is simply the place you choose to put your bait. Start at the downstream end, and using a baitdropper, deposit no more than a dozen samples of your chosen hookbait into the swim. It’s best to do this in all four or five swims then return to the first one.

A Summertime barbel swim on the Wye

A Summertime barbel swim on the Wye. Image: Ceri Thomas

Swing the rig gently into position, with a small PVA mesh bag of freebies clipped on to the lead. It’s best to clip it to the lead, as when the PVA melts in flowing water, most of the bait is washed far beyond the hookbait if it’s clipped to the hook. By releasing the bait where the lead is, it drifts down and lands around your hookbait: right in the path of the barbel!

Fish each swim for about an hour before moving on to the next one. Before leaving the swim, drop in another dozen freebies in case you choose to return later. Barbel can travel quite a long way and by having five small swims baited up you’ll greatly enhance your chances of catching.

You can even try a variation on this method, fishing even more swims for a shorter amount of time, say, twenty to thirty minutes.

Staying still?

The variation to the running rig works best when you are staying in one swim and building up the feed with particle baits such as hemp, maggots, caster and corn. The rig is almost identical to the mobile approach, but uses a much shorter hooklength – it only needs to be about 4-6” long –  and a large, heavy swimfeeder. This gives a bolt effect which is required when fishing with small particle baits on the hair such as casters. Barbel tend to ‘’hoover’’ up lots of these in one go so we need a bit of resistance to be felt to encourage that abrupt turn when they pick up the bait.

This approach requires both patience and confidence but will give you a much greater chance of a bite.

Baiting up for static fishing

The best bait for this method is a hemp and caster combination, or maggots. Either way, you’ll need about a gallon of bait. With the hemp and caster combination I like to use about three pints of caster for a gallon of hemp. Start off by depositing a good couple of pints of bait in your swim using your baitdropper.

Leave this alone for about an hour for the fish to gain confidence. It’s best to select a swim where you can gently swing a dropper out with minimum disturbance to avoid spooking the feeding fish. However, it’s amazing to see just how quickly feeding fish will return to a swim following the splash of a dropper.

The swim will need topping up with a couple of pints per hour for a good three or four hours, if you can do this over five or six hours then even better. It may sound hard to fathom, spending six hours by the river and not casting a baited hook, but it’s essential to build up that confidence in the feeding fish so that when you do cast your rig out, the bites will come very quickly.

The most effective presentation of the hookbait is to use two neutral buoyancy rubber casters glued to a fine hair. This avoids the problems of smaller fish destroying the hookbait and hooking themselves. The feeder is loaded with the loosefeed, and cast into the same spot.

It’s vital that the dropper and feeder land in the same place every time. You can make sure you manage this if you sit in the same position each time, and use the reflection of a tree, telegraph pole or weed as a marker.

Mobile barbel baiting

simple barbel baits

Barbel baits are a simple matter.

A favourite bait for the mobile method is boilies, fished either whole in smaller sizes, or broken in half and fished back to back to offer something a bit different.

Any decent boilie from a reputable company will catch barbel. The fishmeal base mixes with a meaty/spicy/fishy flavour are the most successful. Halibut Pellets are a superb summer bait too, in the small quantities described, and will draw fish to your swim quickly. If bites are hard to come by, and you know that you have fish in the swim, try supergluing two small pellets back to back on the hair with a smaller hook.

For after dark fishing, try wrapping boilies in a matching paste and leave in the swim for a good hour, or fish a generous lump of flavoured luncheon meat over a bed of hemp and small pellets. Beware though, if your river has problems with signal crayfish your lump of meat won’t last long!

Go fish!

barbel swim

Keep low, keep under any cover you can find – they’re under your feet!

So that’s about it, you can’t get any more simple. Use this rig and these baits to catch barbel all over the country throughout the summer months. The tackle you need is all covered in the beginner’s guide.

There’s never any need to over-analyse your rigs, worry if your bait is working or if you’re wearing the wrong colour hat! Barbel are an incredibly obliging fish once you find them: all they’re designed to do is eat, avoid danger and make little barbel. Keep that in mind and your barbel fishing will rapidly become more successful.

Remember, though, that success isn’t always measured in the biggest or most fish. Enjoy the time on a riverbank in the summer as it’s one of the most magical places you can spend a few hours. Don’t take it too seriously and remember to smell the flowers along the way.

A hard fighting summer barbel

A hard fighting summer barbel. Image: Ceri Thomas

Always consider that in the summer the fish fight hard and can take a while to recover from the battle, so make sure you follow the Barbel Society Handling Code, and ensure fish are fully rested before release. If you release an unrested fish, they may struggle later in the day when they’re moving against the flow of the river.

Tight lines, and happy fishing!

All images © Dan Whitelock unless otherwise stated

12 Top Tips For Successful Barbel Fishing

Barbel are one of the strongest, powerful freshwater fish you will ever encounter. Such is the thrill of hooking a barbel, once you catch one you will never look back!

Barbel are now thriving in many UK rivers, so it’s no wonder barbel fishing is becoming more and more popular. Here the Fishtec team have put together their top barbel fishing tips – follow these 12 great fish catching tips and you won’t go wrong when barbel angling!

Barbel fishing is becoming ever more popular.

Barbel fishing is becoming ever more popular.

Tip 1. Bait up 2 to 3 swims before starting fishing. This gives the barbel time to settle and gives you options to move if you need to rest your first choice swim.

Feeding halibut pellets into a nice looking swim.

Feeding halibut pellets into a nice looking swim before starting.

Tip 2. Be prepared to walk. The first and most accessible swims you come across may have been hammered, so be prepared to find unfished water. The legwork involved often pays off!

Tip 3. Never forget ‘old fashioned’ baits like sweetcorn and luncheon meat when barbel have been hammered on pellets. Another tactic for heavily fished barbel is to use just a single 8mm pellet.

Tip 4. Don’t forget the Polaroid sunglasses, these are essential for spotting barbel. Remember you won’t catch them if there not there. Spend more time looking for fish, and less time sitting waiting!

Tip 5. Barbel love weedbeds. These areas are always worth paying a bit more attention too. Here the barbel can take cover and forage for crustaceans and insects.

Look for weedbeds - the barbel will be nearby.

Look for weedbeds – the barbel will be nearby.

Tip 6. Make sure you use a feeder or lead that’s heavy enough to stay put in the flow and not move when its emptied or the PVA bag has dissolved. If it moves it will be fishing on a different line to the loose feed.

Tip 7. Use a long fluorocarbon hook link. Barbel can associate a feeder with danger, so In ultra low clear water use fluorocarbon hook lengths of up to 6ft in the day time, pinned down with tungsten putty in to prevent barbel from spooking.

Tip 8. Don’t leave your rod out too long! Recast every 15 – 20 minutes. Halibut pellets break down within 20 minutes and will leach all of their flavour. Re-baiting and then refilling your feeder frequently is a good tip for best results.

Tip 9. Use different size pellets in your feeder or PVA bag free offerings. Different sized pellets will break down at different times and keep the barbel grubbing around for longer in your swim.

Tip 10. Use a quick change link – so you can vary your lead weight depending on the strength of the flow; fish as light as you can without the flow moving your feeder or lead.

Tip 11. Barbel like to feed in low light. The more pressured the water, more likely they are to follow this pattern. Make an effort to fish early morning or late evening into the darkness if you are struggling to catch.

The best fishing for barbel is often at night.

The best fishing for barbel is often at night.

Tip 12. Rest your fish. Once you have caught a barbel always make sure you rest the fish in the landing net prior to release. Barbel give their all in the fight, so make sure your catch is fully revived before you release.

Always rest your barbel in the net before release.

Always rest your barbel in the net before release.

Beginners guide to Barbel fishing

barbel-rod

Image source: Barbel Society
Avon barbel double and rod 

 

Barbel offer some of the most varied, exciting and dynamic angling in the UK. Aside from their sheer beauty and power, they can be found across a wide range of rivers. From small, shallow venues such as the Nene backwaters and Teme; steady flowing rivers like the Upper Great Ouse and Kennet, through to larger, powerful rivers like the Lower Severn, Wye and Trent.

The variety of river venues that we have in the UK offers the angler the choice of catching multiple fish of average size in a day, or putting the time in on tougher venues for a double figure fish. There is no finer moment in angling than when that barbel, big or small, picks up the bait and gives us the classic ‘three foot twitch’ on the rod. They can be caught all year round, using an endless variety of baits and tactics.

This piece shows you the very basics, along with a few simple tips to put your first barbel on the unhooking mat.

Location

barbel river

Just one of the reasons to love barbel fishing

Finding the right location is by far the most important aspect of barbel fishing. After all, you can’t catch what isn’t there! Barbel are usually found in clean, faster flowing rivers, such as  those mentioned in the introduction, although it often pays – especially in the winter months – to seek out the deeper, steadier flowing water.

Barbel love to feed over clean gravel; if you can find the gravel then you are half way to finding a good barbel swim. The most important part of your armoury in the summer months is a good set of ploaroid sunglasses. These cut out the surface glare on the water, and help you to spot the gravel beds, deeper holes, weed beds, and if you’re really lucky, some fish!

Swims to look for are areas of smooth surface movement with some cover nearby. Streamer weed beds are the classic holding area for barbel, and finding gravel channels between the weed will increase your chances of catching.

Barbel also love to have a roof over their heads so seek out overhanging trees and bushes, preferably on your near bank to make feeding and fishing easier. It’s worth noting at this point to avoid the temptation of fishing tight to the snags. It’s these areas of refuge that barbel like to drop back into and it’s easy to spook them out of the area completely if you fish right in to their front door!

The ideal barbel swim will have a deeper area of water among a streamer weed bed, about twenty yards upstream from an overhanging feature, nearside reed bed or undercut bank. The best time to find these features is simply by walking the banks in the closed season and having a good look about. You’ll soon get an idea of the river by doing so.

Tackle:

simple tackle

Pure simplicity

 

Barbel are one of the hardest fighting fish in UK waters. Couple this with powerful flowing water and you’ll need robust tackle to land your quarry. Robust tackle doesn’t mean heavy: using rods that are too stiff with very heavy lines will result in hook pulls at the net.

The ideal rod on small and medium sized rivers is a 1.75lb test curve rod with a good through-action to absorb the powerful lunges close in. There are dozens of superb rods dedicated to the species on the market now to suit all budgets. I like to have a pair of isotopes on the rod tip about twelve inches apart to aid bite detection at night and give a useful sight tip in lower light conditions.

Reels need to have a good, smooth clutch and be of medium size and reasonably lightweight. This makes them more practical while moving between swims. While baitrunner type reels are useful, their designed use isn’t recommended, especially if fishing in snaggy rivers. A barbel can cover quite some ground in a short space of time, and become snagged before you pick up the rod!

Line should be of at least 10lbs breaking strain monofilament. Don’t be afraid to go up to 12lbs if you think the river calls for it. My personal preference is Gardner Gr60, or good old Daiwa Sensor in either clear or brown. The TF Gear nantec mono is also good stuff.

All offer good strength and abrasion resistance. Hooklength material is another topic that can, and has, have entire chapters written about it. I prefer to use the new Mimicry hooklength by Pro Logic, or Airflo fluorocarbon in 15lbs breaking strain, with a short two inch piece of supple braid running to the hook as a ‘combi rig’.

This offers a superb presentation that helps to fool the wise, old barbel in my local rivers. There’s also no reason why you can’t use a decent quality soft braided hooklength in a nice gravel brown to match the river bed you’re fishing over.

Hooks need to be strong and sharp. There are dozens of good hooks on the market, and any good tackle shop will be able to offer advice. One thing worth looking for are hooks with an in-turned eye as fishing over gravel will soon blunt your hook and you’ll be changing rigs every cast!

You’ll need a selection of leads from half an ounce to two or three ounces depending on the flow, and some free running rings and beads. A simple running rig is all that’s needed for barbel with a hooklength of around two feet, three feet if the barbel are a bit wary of tackle.

A couple of small lumps of plasticine three and five feet back from the lead can also help to pin the line down to the river. Of course, you’ll also need a rucksack to carry your tackle and refreshments, a decent hat in the summer, a lightweight chair if desired, and some comfortable clothing.

A decent landing net of at least 36’’ is essential, along with an unhooking mat. Most clubs now insist on the above items and good fish care can’t be emphasised enough. More on that later.

Bait

fishing bait

A world of baiting possibilities exists for barbel

This is every barbel angler’s favourite topic and one that has also had entire books written on it! Favourite baits include pellets, both big and small; luncheon meat, boilies, paste, maggots, caster, lobworms, bread, sweetcorn…… I’m sure you get the picture! Many anglers’ favourite bait is a decent quality boilie.

You can use a variety of sizes depending on conditions and the river I’m fishing. 14mm is a decent average size for both feeding and hookbait, though it pays to have a mixture of sizes and shapes both whole and broken up. Pellets are a superb summer bait too but use them in small amounts It’s very easy to overfeed, especially on smaller rivers.

Luncheon meat is a fantastic bait, and the following preparation is a simple and cheap way to make an effective bait:

Using an apple corer, bore into the meat in the tin and halve the pieces that you remove. With the leftover oddments, tear these into small chunks and pop into a freezer bag with the cylindrical shapes you already made.

Sprinkle in a generous amount of curry powder, shake about and pop in the freezer. Thaw out the night before you go fishing and you have one of the finest and cheapest hookbaits about! The cylinders can be presented on a short hair or directly on the hook, with the rough pieces that you tore off threaded onto a PVA string and tied to the lead.

Tactics

simple fishing

Beautiful barbel caught with simple tactics

Undoubtedly the best tactic for barbel is the ‘bait and wait’ method. The theory here is that the fish build up confidence in feeding in your swim over several hours, so that when you arrive and cast out, you’ll get a bite within minutes.

You might be crying “but I don’t have time to feed a swim, I only have a day to fish so I need to get my hook in the water!” Well, every angler is in the same situation and the predicament is easily solved as follows:

You arrive at the river full of excitement and anticipation. You get out the car, pop on your polaroids, fill your pocket up with a few dozen boilies, some broken up, and maybe a few 8mm pellets.

The biggest mistake is made at this point by many anglers is that they do not move along the bank quietly and stealthily enough! Barbel will sense bankside noise and disturbance while you are still a long way from the swim, so stay low, quiet and use any cover you can.

Pick out three or four swims, and using your bait dropper (a handy item of tackle that’s neglected by far too many anglers), lower in no more than a dozen samples of your hookbait over your chosen area in the swim.

On the last swim you come to, your ‘’banker swim’’ (ideally one that’s got a lovely deep hole about twenty yards up from an old overhanging willow tree), deposit a good couple of dozen broken boilies and small pellets. Forget about this swim completely now for several hours.

Quietly wander back to your first swim and get yourself comfortable, and if possible, off the skyline. Fish with your bait and a small PVA bag of free offerings over the baited area. It’s worth spending a couple of hours in your first two or three swims before moving into the final swim.

Barbel commute along the river all day long so it pays to wait just that little bit longer in a swim to increase your chances of catching one as they swim through and find your bait. Fish with the rod pointing roughly towards the bait, low to the water, with a slack line as possible  to avoid spooking the fish with a tight line to swim into. Many anglers believe that barbel can sense a tight line ‘’singing’’ in the water.

When the barbel does find your bait, you’ll know about it! Barbel give the most spectacular bite of any coarse fish so it’s essential that you sit with the rod butt on your knee, or within arm’s reach. Play your fish firmly and keep the rod bent. With the right tackle you can stop the most powerful specimens in their tracks and it’s never good to prolong the fight.

Don’t ‘’bully’’ the fish to the net, but have faith in and use your tackle as it was intended. Once you have the fish in the net DO NOT LIFT IT FROM THE WATER STRAIGHT AWAY. Barbel give everything in the battle and they need to recover. You too will want to catch your breath and steady your hands after your first encounter with ‘Old Whiskers’!

Landing your barbel

rest fish before landing

Always ensure fish are fully rested before lifting fom the water

Make sure your net is in a steady flowing margin, with plenty of depth and that you won’t slide in. While the fish is upright and resting, wet your unhooking mat and weighing sling, zero your scales and set up your camera. With practice, the fish can be out the water, unhooked, weighed and photographed within a very short space of time.

Always check for other anglers’ hooks in the mouth, especially on pressured stretches or rivers that are match fished. Ensure a barbel is fully recovered by holding it in the flow with its head upstream. You’ll feel the fish regain its strength and only let go when you are sure it’s strong enough to swim away.

For more detail on handling this glorious fish, check out the Barbel Society’s handling code right here:

As the start of the barbel season starts on the glorious 16th of June, there’s plenty of time ahead for you to get out and find your first barbel. The methods mentioned in this piece are ideal for summer barbel fishing. But with a little bit of adapting, they can also put a big winter fish on the bank.

For further information, check out the Barbel Society Facebook page or website. Happy barbel fishing, and tight lines!

All pictures (unless stated) and article from Dan Whitelock of the Barbel Society

Beginners guide to float fishing – waggler floats

bream caught on waggler

A nice small water bream to a very simple waggler rig.

The sight of a dipping float is something that sums up the excitement of coarse fishing. Learn to fish the waggler, and you’ll have a method that will work on countless waters for all manner of species, and bring you that excitement wherever you fish.

Fishing For Dummies and Canal Fishing author Dominic Garnett provides an easy-to-follow guide to waggler float fishing.

What is a waggler?

There are various types of float used in coarse fishing, but the waggler is perhaps the most popular these days. They’re easy to set up, and allow for a stable, relatively tangle-free presentation that works with all kinds of baits on all kinds of fisheries. So what exactly is a waggler?

In simple terms, wagglers are floats that are attached by the bottom end only. This makes them easy to rig, because you can simply pinch them in place on your main line with split shot. This type of float also gives good stability, with the angler able to sink the line into the water, beating surface tow and debris.

Which waggler to choose?

types of waggler

There’s a wide selection of wagglers

Walk into any tackle shop and you’ll see various waggler floats to cater for different fishing scenarios. It’s well worth buying a variety of wagglers to suit various uses. You might be fishing right at your feet one session and casting well out into a stiff wind the next, with each scenario requiring quite a different float. There are several kinds of waggler to look out for:

canal wagglers

Canal and mini wagglers

A: Canal & Mini Wagglers are for fishing sensitively, usually at close range. They are often tapered and have a fairly fine tip. These are great for fishing on natural stillwaters and canals, where species such as roach, skimmers and crucians can be shy biting. Short versions like those shown also make sense for shallow water, where you don’t want a long or heavy float crashing down each cast.

insert wagglers

Insert wagglers

B: Insert Wagglers: Come in many sizes, but have a noticeably finer tip section or “insert”. This aids sensitivity for spotting gentle bites, although larger models can still be cast quite a distance.

Straight wagglers

Straight wagglers

C: Straight Wagglers: As the name sounds, these floats are straight, and have a thicker tip than insert models. These are sensible floats to use when you need extra stability; for example, when wind or tow will pull a skinny tip under and give false bites. The longer, larger floats can handle blustery conditions and be cast a fair distance. Some also have little “bodies” or thicker sections to offer even more casting weight and stability.

loaded and pellet wagglers

Loaded and pellet wagglers

D: Loaded and Pellet Wagglers: Some wagglers are weighted or “loaded” at the bottom, or come in much chunkier dimensions to allow longer casts made. These are excellent for aiming at distant features such as islands, and are often used for carp with slow sinking baits.

Typical Waggler Fishing Tackle

pellett waggler

Image source: UK Match Angler
A pellett waggler, hard at work!

The best rods for waggler fishing are float or match rods, although you will also get away with a light spinning rod for fishing close to the bank. However, ideally a float rod will be 12 or 13 feet long and suited to use with lines of 4-8lb breaking strain.

Many quite powerful “Carp match” or “power match” rods exist these days, and are ideal for commercial fisheries stocked with hard-fighting carp. Lighter rods that are ideal for natural venues and species such as roach and rudd are less commonly available, but a lighter rod is a lovely tool to use on canals and rivers.

It’s best to combine the rod with a small to mid sized reel, loaded with quality line (avoid cheap mono at all costs!). 5-6lbs main line would be typical where species such as carp and tench are the staple, or 3-4 lbs strength for silver fish and bream, where the odd bonus might show up.

Last but not least, it is always worth using a hook length (a foot or so of finer, more sensitive line to which the hook is tied). Not only will this give you better presentation (fish are less able to detect thinner line), but means that should you snag up, you will only lose a hook, not your whole rig. You can tie these yourself, but they also come ready-tied for convenience.

Tackle and typical waggler rigs

fishing tackle

Tackle!

Setting up a waggler rig isn’t rocket science, but the way you do this can be crucial to success. While not essential, it’s very helpful to use a float adaptor. This is a little silicone sleeve which accepts any waggler float.

The adaptor allows you to change your float at a moment’s notice without starting all over again. For example, you might decide to switch to a larger float to combat wind, or to make longer casts.

First, attach your waggler by trapping it onto your main reel line with split shot. Most floats will tell you how many shot are required by the numbers and letters written on the side (for example “3BB” or “5AA”).

A good general rule is to trap the float in place with at least two thirds of the required shot. This is because having most of the weight in one place helps with casting; lots of shot scattered down the line tend to cause tangles.

Attach your shot snugly to the line, but avoid squeezing them on so tightly that they’re fixed. You should be able to move them along the line to adjust the depth.

waggler on line

A balanced waggler outfit, ready for action

With your float secured in place, you will also need to attach some shot down the line, to help sink the bait and indicate bites. A few smaller weights (typically sizes 4, 6 and 8) will be much better for this than one or two larger samples. If you want the bait to get down quickly, try a little “bulk” of shot clustered together a foot to eighteen inches from the hook.

If you want a slower sinking bait, for example when you can see fish such as rudd or roach swimming higher in the water, try spacing the shot out evenly (see drawn illustration below).

Last but not least, you’ll also notice that we always set up with a final, small shot just 2-3 inches from the hook (usually a size 8,9 or 10 shot). It might be the least visible, but this little shot (often called the “tell tale shot”) is so, so important.

Why, exactly? Because when a fish takes the bait, this little shot also moves and gives you an early indication that you have a bite; without it, you will spot bites late, leading to more missed and deep-hooked fish.

waggler rigs plumbing depth

Try a “bulk” of shot to get down quickly; or space evenly for a slower fall of the bait.

Basic Waggler fishing skills

Many new and inexperienced anglers just want to cast their float as far as possible. However, the best advice on most popular day ticket lakes would be to start much closer in, because there will often be many more fish right by the bank and close to marginal features.

Sometimes you might fish off the bottom when fish are cruising in midwater, or even fish “overdepth” with a little line on the bottom if it is too windy to keep the bait still. Most of the time, however, it is best to start with the bait just about touching the bottom. This ensures that any bites you get will quickly be transmitted to the float tip. 

Plumbing the depths

Sussing out the depth of your chosen spot is a vital skill. Too many anglers either don’t bother, rush the job, or get it wrong. Do take your time, because there is a huge difference between having the depth spot on and “about right.”

The easiest way to test the depth with a waggler is to carefully pinch a larger shot, such as an AA, onto the final inch of line right next to the hook before casting out and observing what happens. If the float plunges down and out of sight, you are set too shallow and should move the float away from the hook.

If the opposite happens,and the float sits up too high or even lies flat, you have too much line between float and hook and must narrow the gap. Adjust this length carefully, until just the very tip of the float shows and you have the right depth.

Be warned though, you must give a little slack line when testing the depth. This avoids creating a diagonal angle between hook and float and getting an inaccurate reading.

You’ll find it much easier to get the exact depth closer in – and it’s also worth spending a few minutes trying different spots around your swim and seeing how the depth changes. This can give you some handy answers to important questions. How deep is the water right by the bank? How deep is it two or three rod lengths out? Does the depth drop away suddenly or gradually? Answer these kinds of questions, and you will be able to catch more fish!

Where to begin

A good starting point for your waggler fishing session is often to try just down the “shelf”, where the margin drops away into slightly deeper water, often between one and two rod lengths out. In warm weather, fish like carp might come right under your feet; in the winter, you may fare better by fishing deeper water.

Once you’re happy with where you want to fish, it’s time to add some bait. Start with a small handful of samples, but be prepared to keep adding a small amount to this at regular intervals.

Spotting Bites and Striking

action on the waggler

The author plays a good fish on the waggler; in this case a tench, hooked in deep water with a long bodied float

Bites can vary a lot between different fish species. The classic movement will be the float just pulling straight under – for fish like carp and tench it’s best to ignore the tiny movements, and wait for this to happen before striking.

Other bites can be cagier, however, with the float “taking a walk” but not submerging. Sometimes the float can even lift slightly. Experience and practise will tell you when to strike, but with shy-biting fish like roach and skimmers, you might have to hit these indications early!

Above all, pay close attention to that float, observing how it settles as the bait and shot fall through the water. If the float stops or behaves suspiciously, this can quite often be a fish taking “on the drop” as the bait falls. Strike!

Waggler Fishing Tips

waggler caught tench

A margin caught tench, caught on the waggler

    • One of the best tips for all float fishing is to hold the rod at all times. Don’t be lazy and put the rod down in a rest! Much of the time you will have missed the fish by the time you pick the rod up. Instead, be ready to strike with a nice positive lift.
    • As with the casting and feeding, the strike takes practice. It should be decisive but not violent – find a happy medium! Strike too softly and you won’t set the hook Strike brutally and you’ll “bump” fish off, or risk breaking the line on a big one.
    • One of the most common mistakes when fishing the waggler is to have too much float showing above the water. If you give the fish too much tip to pull under, many of them will simply get suspicious and drop the bait. Aim to have just the brightly coloured tip showing – or just the final 2-3mm if conditions are calm.
    • For most waggler fishing, a floating reel line is sensible. However, in windy conditions, you can also sink the line to avoid tow. Do this by dipping the rod tip under the water and giving a couple of pulls after casting out.
    • As with most types of general float fishing, you will usually catch a lot more by loose feeding. Try doing this “little and often” by throwing or catapulting in just a few samples of bait every three or so minutes. If you keep casting to the exact same spot and keep your feed accurate, this will help concentrate the fish.
    • Try Stotz rather than dust shot for your smaller weights. They tend to stay on the line much better than tiny traditional shot in sizes 8,9 and 10.
    • Don’t just sit there when you waggler fish. Quite often the fish will bite just as the float settles, because they have spotted the bait sinking to the bottom. Try recasting to get extra bites – or search different areas of your swim. For example, if you’re catching a lot of fish in your main feed area, you might find that the fish start to back off or go a little further out.

Further Info:

You can find more of Dominic’s fishing tips, tales and photography at www.dgfishing.co.uk

His book “Fishing For Dummies” is excellent for beginners and those returning to the sport, while Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide provides the lowdown on a wide range of methods, species and locations across the UK.

 

All images courtesy of Dominic Garnett unless otherwise stated

Weird fishing baits

bait and beer

Image source: Piscatorial Quagswagging
Baits and beer!

Glace cherries, curried peas, Peperami – we love anglers who think outside the tackle box to come up with perfectly strange bait ideas. 

We’ve got the lowdown on some of the weird and wonderful concoctions anglers use to tempt their prey. Why not give them a try?

Meat you by the riverbank

spicy sausage pepperoni

Image source: shutterstock
Pepperoni power!

The strong spicy flavour of Peperami makes it an excellent bait for winter and spring, when plainer flavoured pellets don’t pack enough punch to attract attention.

The crew at Gofishing fish their Peperami in “small chunks hair-rigged and fished alongside a PVA bag of pellets”. They say it’s the combination of flavoursome spices, garlic and fat that attracts fish like chub, barbel and even carp.

Meat loving sea anglers also rate bacon for bait. South West Sea Fishing say that although bacon isn’t the obvious choice, smoked or unsmoked rashers make great bait for catching Bass, Mullet, Pollock and Smoothhound. Here’s how they present it:

“Concertina it up the hook until it is tightly packed”

Bacon’s strong flavour draws the fish to it, then the softness of the meat works in your favour too. When the fish bites and you strike, the hook pulls straight through the bacon giving you a great chance of hooking your catch securely.

Consider “Carpohydrates”

macaroni cheese

Image source: Go Fishing
Pasta la vista, baby

Go Fishing reckon tinned macaroni cheese is a “devastatingly effective” bait for luring carp and tench. Bites are near unmissable because the hook pulls straight through the soft pasta.

According to the Go fishing guys, the best way to bait your hook with macaroni is to:

“ Pass a large, round bend pattern straight through the inner, following the curve of the bait”.

As macaroni is so soft it can’t be cast, only lending itself to close range work using a pole rig.

Vegged out

potatoes for bait

Image source: shutterstock
Carp your eyes peeled for a great catch

The humble potato was once a popular carp bait, but fell out of fashion as more commercial products became available. Now is the time to rediscover spuds.

The King’s Lynn Angling Association‘s, Martin Chandler adapts a technique used by angling champion Bob Nudd: raw potatoes punched into 6 mm discs and dyed with coffee or gravy.

For the summer months, Martin soaks raw potato discs in molasses and warm water. He says: “The molasses dyes the bait and gives it a sickly sweet flavour fish just love.”

Fishing in UK recommend that you make the potatoes softer by parboiling before cutting to pellet size and soaking in gravy or coffee.

curried bait

Image source: smartcarping
Curry favour with your catch

Carp are suckers for strong flavours and veg baits make perfect carriers for added spices. Ian Gemson from Smartcarping recommends fishing with “curried baked beans using Fox armour mesh to keep the bait on the hair”. He says curried peas will do the job too.

Love it or hate it

marmite

Image source: abimages / shutterstock
Marmite, the Fisherman’s Friend

You either love it or hate it, but fish love yeast extracts like Marmite. The naturally high vitamin content of the paste has a very strong smell, which is instantly attractive. Tim Richardson  from Fish South West says it sends a message to the fish that there’s “soluble nutrition” leaking from your bait.

For a dynamite bait combination that’ll really get the fish biting, Tim mixes Marmite into a paste with flour, Parmesan cheese, garlic granules, curry spices, sea salt, eggs and liquid amino acids.

Angler’s Mail writer Colin Davidson smears Marmite on small chunks of white bread or dips dog biscuits or pellets in it to make them sticky and yeasty.

With Marmite, less is more. Colin reckons if you use too much of it on your pellets, you’ll turn a floater into a sinker, so use it sparingly.

Turn to jelly

jelly cubes

Image source: shutterstock
Jelly is a winning bait!

Ever wondered whether fish have a sweet tooth or not? Fred Davis at Talk Angling reckons they do. On the lookout for a hookable soft pellet recipe that was inexpensive to prepare, he hit on powdered gelatine mixed with molasses.

Simply mix half a sachet of the gelatine into a 1/4 pint of water and add molasses or Activ-8. Allow the mixture to stand, then pour it over pellets, leaving them soak up the solution.

Angler’s Mail offer a similar idea to Fred’s, swapping the powdered gelatine for good old Rowntree’s Fruit Jelly.

Hook, line and sweetener!

strawberry laces for bait

Image source: smartcarping.com
Strawberry laces for bait!

From aniseed balls to pink shrimps, the sweet shop is your oyster. Mike Samways from catch-app recommends jelly babies, marshmallows or bubblegum balls for luring carp. But any sugary ingredient you have in your kitchen cupboard is worth a go – glace cherries are always a good bet.

Smartcarping’s Ian Gemson is also a fan of the sweet approach saying that that tic-tacs and even strawberry laces make great bait for chub and carp.

What usual bait ideas do you have to share? Head to our Facebook page and join the conversation!

How to buy a fishing rod licence

fishing licence

Image source: Environment Agency
David Miller’s beautiful design for the 2016/17 licence. Got yours yet?

The fine for fishing without a licence is anything up to £2,500. Each year, thousands of anglers are prosecuted for fishing without a licence, and while it’s unusual to receive the maximum penalty, a fine of between £200-£800 is quite common.

If you bought a licence last year, it’ll expire on the 31st March. Don’t get caught out – renew!

So how do you avoid the fines and stay on the right side of the law? It’s easy – just by a rod licence. A standard licence costs £27. Here’s how (and why) you should go about getting one.

Who needs a licence?

The Environment Agency says a licence must be held by:

Any angler aged 12 or over, fishing for salmon, trout, freshwater fish, smelt or eel in England (except the River Tweed), Wales, and the Border Esk (and its tributaries in Scotland)

There are discounts for under-16s, over-60s and Blue Badge holders, but if you’re over 11 – get licenced!

What type do I need?

There are two main types of licence available: the Non-Migratory Trout & Coarse Licence and the Salmon & Sea Trout Licence. The Salmon & Sea Trout Licence is more expensive, but also covers you for Non-Migratory Trout & Coarse.

You can buy either licence for one day, eight consecutive days, or a full year. Dedicated anglers will make sure they have a full-season licence so they can fish whenever they want during the season.

How do I buy my licence?

PO_Header_Desktop_Logo_79x59

Rod licences are issued by the Post Office. They offer a number of ways to buy:

 

Online:

Just head to the Rod Fishing Licence page on the Post Office’s website, and fill out a few details. You can either buy a fresh licence, or renew an existing one (if you have your renewal number to hand). You don’t need to register with the Post Office if you’re only buying one licence, and it’s quick and easy to go through the process and pay securely with your bank card.

By telephone:

There are two numbers available here:

Call 03708 506 506 to set up a Direct Debit. Once you’ve done this, your licence will renew automatically each year, taking the payment on the 1st of March. You’ll get your new licence through the post in time for the 1st of April. Easy!

Call 0344 800 5386 to buy from the rod licence sales line. This doesn’t renew automatically. Between 1 March – 30 September the line is open from 8.30am-8pm daily. Between 1 October – 28 February the hours are 8.30am-6pm Mon-Sat. The line is closed on bank holidays, apart from Easter.

In person:

Just head to your local Post Office and buy one over the counter!

Proposed changes to the licence reported in the Anglers Mail include making the licence a rolling licence, so that it ends a year after purchase rather than at the end of March each year – but that won’t come into effect until 2017 – watch this space for more information!

Once you’ve paid for your licence, you’ll be given a receipt number and (if you’ve bought online) a transaction email. Take these details with you when you go fishing, and if the bailiffs come to your swim, you’ll have evidence of having a licence, if it hasn’t arrived yet.

Make sure you only buy your licence from the Post Office. There are scam sites around, and the Money Saving Expert site has some great advice on how to avoid these. Don’t get stung!

How much does a fishing licence cost?

  Adult Senior (60+)/ Blue Badge Junior (12-16)
Non-Migratory Trout & Coarse Licence £27 £18 £5
Salmon & Sea Trout Licence £72 £48 £5

Again, the proposals to update the fishing licence include removing the Junior licence – so that from 2017, all under-16s can fish for free!

If you want to fish the locks and weirs of the Thames, there is an additional licence you’ll need: the Lock and Weir Fishing Permit (£48 for adults). This is in addition to your fishing licence, so make sure you have both if you’re heading to those areas.

What do I get when I buy a licence?

A Trout and Coarse licence gives you the right to fish two rods in rivers, streams, drains and canals in the UK. That doesn’t include spod or marker rods, as long as they don’t have hooks on the line. Want to fish with three or four rods? Buy another licence!

The proposals for the 2017 licence include increasing the allowance to three fishing rods rather than two – but for now, make sure you’ve only got two hooks out there!

The Salmon & Sea Trout Licence allows you to fish one rod in rivers, streams, drains and canals, and two rods in reservoirs, lakes and ponds.

Where does my money go?

The Environment Agency uses the revenue from fishing licences in a number of ways. Over £20 million is raised each year from licensing. Here are just a few of the ways it’s spent:

  • Rearing coarse fish to stock fisheries
  • Improving fishery habitats
  • Enforcement of fishing laws (including licensing)
  • Fish movement operations to improve fisheries
  • Fishery monitoring and improvement

The EA gives a full report of its annual expenditure in its Annual Fisheries Report. There’s an enormous amount of detail there, much of it broken down by region.

Get licenced!

Make sure you get your licence before April 1st. If you’re out fishing without a licence and you’re caught by one of the licence enforcement team, you could find yourself with a hefty bill to pay.

The angler’s guide to sharing FishSpy video

FishSpy - see what you're missing!

FishSpy – see what you’re missing!

The FishSpy camera is capturing the attention of anglers out there, and many of you are using it to help make better catches. Did you know how easy it was to edit and share the videos you take?

Here’s the lowdown on exactly how to do it, and we’ve got plenty of hints and tips to help you on your way.

To give you an example of what you can do with the FishSpy footage and VideoPad Editor (we’ll show you how to use that), here’s a video made from raw footage supplied by our FishSpy testers. Enjoy, and then learn how to do it yourself!

Transferring footage

fishspy connectivity

Fishspy is made for connectivity

Taken some great footage, but unsure how to show the world? If you can upload photos from your digital camera, you’ll be able to do the same with your FishSpy footage.
Take the flight off the FishSpy, and find the USB port

fishspy connected

Plug in, and you’re good to go

Plug your FishSpy into your computer with a USB cable. It’ll show up in your file explorer, where you can navigate to the FishSpy files. The footage can then be dragged, dropped and saved to your machine.

finding fishspy

Finding the FishSpy

fishspy files

All your favourite FishSpy moments

The FishSpy Manual also shows you how to get rid of any film you don’t want:

‘Delete footage from FishSpy using your computer or using Wi-Fi by pressing the X button’

Basic Editing

Want to edit a short section from a longer piece of footage? VideoPad Editor by NCH is free to download and easy to use. It’s compatible with Windows and Apple machines, and their ‘how-to’ guides on YouTube are incredibly helpful.

To upload and edit in VideoPad, click ‘add media file’ icon on the toolbar. This will open up your files. Browse to find your clip, select and click ‘Open’. This drops it into the Media List.

Importing files

Cutting out duller stretches of recording between more interesting snippets is easy. VideoPad lets you set ‘in and out points’ in your film. Select your video clip in the media list so it appears in the clip preview window.

Play the file and drag your cursor to the point you want to start, and click the red flag. This will set the ‘in point’. Mark the ‘out point’ by dragging the cursor to where you want the film to end and click the blue flag. This will set the end of the clip. To set it you click the green arrow.

Setting in and out points

If you’re not content with shorter clips, try compiling all your best moments from different trips into one blockbuster ‘Cream of the Carp’ movie.

Adding transitions to your film

Give your film a professional touch by adding in transition sequences. Transitions are smooth ways to move between clips. Fade to black, crossfading between clips and sharp cuts can give your film a more polished look. Select the film clips you want to move between and click the ‘Transitions’ tab on the toolbar. You’ll see a number of different effects to experiment with. Once you’ve found one you like, select it and add a duration time. About one second is usually plenty.

Adding text to your movie

Add interesting titles or snappy comments to your film by using the text editor. Use the ‘Overlay’ tab on the left hand side toolbar. Type your text into the ‘Add overlay text or image’ box. The text is added at the ‘in point’ on the film clip. You can move this to feature in a different place by simply clicking and dragging the little box and dropping it in the position you’d like.

Saving and exporting your film

It’s easy to save your film as a work in progress. Select ‘File menu’ and ‘Save file project as’. Give it a name, and choose a location on your PC to save it to. Files from VideoPad are always saved as .vpj files, but you can choose to save as .avi which is a better format for sharing on social media,.

Once it’s finished, export it! Find the ‘Save movie’ button at the top of the screen. There are a few options for saving your movie. Save to a disc or to your computer first. Then you can choose to save the film in a format that will be easy to send to YouTube or to your portable device such as an iPhone or other smartphone. Select which option you want to use, give each file a name, and then hit ‘OK’.

Social media sharing

Now your FishSpy film is looking great, what better way to show off your skills than to share it with your angling buddies on social media? Here’s how!

Uploading to YouTube:

Log in to YouTube and use the Upload tab in the top right hand corner. Drag and drop your exported movie into the box, or search your PC for the right file. Click the file and choose ‘Open’, and it will send it to YouTube.

You have options to personalize the film, so give it a title, add tags and a description. It can take a little time to upload the film, but when it’s finished and you’ve edited the boxes, click ‘Done’ and it will appear.

Uploading to Facebook:

Uploading directly to Facebook is a great way of achieving wider views and shares of your film than if you simply link to the YouTube video you created.

On your Facebook profile page, go to the status update box. Find the camera icon in the ‘What have you been up to?’ section. It will open up your PC files and you can select and add your film clip.

Depending on the size of your file, upload time varies, but you’ll get a notification to let you know when it’s complete. Add in a snappy or catchy title for your film, and let all your friends know where to find it online.

Sharing more privately

If you prefer to share your film clips with just a few select angling buddies, then why not try applications like Dropbox or Google Drive? You need to sign up for an account to use them, but it’s very quick and easy to do and it gives you more control over who you allow to see your videos

Using Dropbox to share files:

One great advantage of using Dropbox is that it allows you to find uploaded files on any computer, anywhere, any time! Use the ‘upload’ tab, select and it will ask you to ‘Choose files’. This will open your file explorer and you can select the FishSpy footage you want to send. Click ‘Open’. You have the option to add more than one file. Once you get a green tick on the right hand side of the upload box, you know your files are uploaded. Click ‘done’ and your file appears in your Dropbox folder.

To share your film, go to your Dropbox folder and search for the file you’ve uploaded, click the link and it will turn light blue. At the top of the screen is a tab labelled ‘Share link’. Type in the email of the person you want to share it with and hit send.

Using Google drive to share files:

Head to the Google home page and click the ‘sign in’ button at the top right hand corner. Log in, and find the apps tab in the top right hand corner. This will show you your Google Drive page. Select ‘New’, and then ‘File Upload’.

Choose your FishSpy clip and select ‘Open’, and it will add it to your Drive. To share, right click the file, add in the email(s) of the people you want to send it to. Then simply choose ‘Shareable link’ and ‘Done’. Easy!

Sending files to friends

wetransfer

Wetransfer’s easy, quick form

Another great way to share your films with friends is to just send it to them! Wetransfer is a service which provides a really easy, free way to do that. Using their simple form, just upload your clip an enter their email address and your own. Include an optional message, hit ‘Transfer’. It’s that simple – they’ll get an email with a link to download the file. No logging in, no account to set up, nothing. You can even choose to send the link via Facebook if you sign up to a premium account!

Now you’ve seen just how easy it is to record and share your footage from FishSpy, why not have a go yourself and show us your results? We’d love to see what you can come up with, so share away on our Facebook page!