10 Ways To Feed Your Swim More Effectively

The way you introduce bait when fishing can be absolutely key to success. Dom Garnett has 10 top tips and suggestions to boost your catches.

Fishtec_Feeding_Tips

Smart, accurate feeding can make the difference between the odd fish and a full net.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

1. Keep it coming…

All too often, anglers dump a load of bait in, wait, and that’s it. Try feeding less but more often. The sight and smell of bait falling in regularly is attractive to fish. A steady supply gets them competing and entices new fish to come and explore.

Fishtec_feed_little_and_often

If in doubt, feed little and often to draw fish and get them competing.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

2. Catapult happy

Catapults are very useful for pinging feed out, but do get the right one for the job. Try squeezing the pouch to concentrate your free offerings. Accuracy counts!

3. Pick a marker

Talking of accuracy, it’s no use throwing in bait everywhere. Pick a marker on the far bank, such as a tree or platform, to improve your aim.

4. Mix it right

Fishtec_groundbait

Make groundbait into balls.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Groundbait is a superb way to get bait in a concentrated area. Don’t do it slapdash though. Consistent feeding calls for consistent groundbait. Make it evenly and thoroughly so it can be formed into balls. Wetting your hands at the end to make a “skin” on each ball helps keep balls of bait together.

5. Feeders for accuracy

Rather than throw your bait willy nilly, a feeder offers great accuracy at distance and does the regular feeding for you. If you’re fishing a bomb or carp rig, you could always unclip the lead and attach a feeder to give them a few payloads. If the water is deep, you can also try taping up the holes of your feeders to release the bait right on the bottom (as shown below).

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Taping up your feeder will allow bait to get right to the bottom of deep water.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

6. Colours

As a rule, fish have less trouble finding bait in clear water- and can even spook if you go OTT, so try dark groundbaits and simple offerings like bread. If it’s murky and muddy, you can try brighter groundbaits, such as red or orange.

7. Don’t scare them

Occasionally, it’s better not to feed! If you suddenly see fish in your swim, avoid smashing free offerings down on their heads. It’s often better to cast just one bait or add a small handful rather than charging in.

8. Top droppers

If you regularly fish running water, especially deep rivers, a bait dropper is excellent for getting the feed to the fish without being swept all over the shop. That said, if you fish a stillwater full of “bits”, you might use one to get small baits like hemp and maggots straight to the bottom without getting picked off!

9. Spombs away

Fistec_Spomb

A Spomb from Fishtec currently costs just £9.99.

Spods are great for launching loads of bait out quite accurately for carp, but are a bit big and unwieldy for other anglers. A spomb is the answer! These neat devices will cast on a regular barbel rod and are fantastic for fast, neat baiting. Also fun to use, they cost just a tenner from Fishtec.

10. Cheat!

Of course the ultimate way to feed accurately is to bend the rules a little. A pole cup is one excellent way to feed (even if you are not fishing the pole). PVA bags are another great shortcut to tight feeding (just see any carp magazine in the history of time). Heck, use a bait boat if you must!

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A large bream on the method. Big catches of this species often depend on feeding accurately and generously to hold the shoal in your swim.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Read more from our blogger…

You can catch more from Dom Garnett in the Angling Times every week, or through his various books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk.

TF Gear Airflo Inflatable Bivvy Latest Videos

Inflatable carp fishing bivvies are well established on the continent and are now making inroads in the UK market. These bivvies offer unparalleled ease of erection and also perform extremely well in high winds, where conventional pole bivvies are at increased risk of being damaged.

The new Airflo bivvy from TF Gear is an affordable inflatable fishing shelter that is proving to be a popular and best selling item of tackle at Fishtec. Both the 1 and 2 man versions are extremely roomy, with a built in groundsheet to help keep the insects out. They pack down very quickly into a short length bag, making them handy for fitting in any sized car boot.

1 Man: £279.99
2 Man: £329.99

The videos below demonstrate the Airflo bivvy in action:

Definitive proof that the Airflo bivvy can be inflated in under 60 seconds.

Airflo bivvy air poles are rock solid and tough; they cannot be over inflated or burst as the demo shows below. They are also highly puncture resistant and repairable.

A shorter length bag than a normal bivvy makes for ultra easy transportation to and from your swim.

For the full low-down on the blow up TF Gear Airflo bivvy, the video review below by Hassan Khan of Carpology magazine is an essential watch.

For full product specification click here.

10 Great Reasons To Watch Fishing TV!!

If you’ve been watching the latest fishing series to hit the screens in the UK, Carp Wars, you’ll know that TF Gear’s pro angler Dave Lane has been putting in a strong performance!

What you may not know is that the programme was made by a new video on demand service seeking to shake up the world of fishing television in the same way that Netflix is challenging traditional TV channels – Fishing TV.  The service is available as an app for smartphone, tablet and SmartTV, as well as being available on a variety of other set-top boxes and devices, including Amazon Fire TV Sticks.

Fed up with the mediocre, lowest-common denominator programmes on TV, they not only make their own excellent shows and films, but also scour the planet for the very best fishing content available to mankind. There are channels dedicated to every major style of fishing, but in this ‘top 10’ we’ve chosen from The Carp Channel, Coarse and Match Fishing, and Predators.

Carp Wars

Carp Wars

As mentioned above, Carp Wars is one of the shows that Fishing TV have created and produced themselves, and it acts as a brilliant example of the way these guys think about fishing and how to present it on TV.

The concept is straightforward: five of the UK’s best carp anglers and one ‘unknown’ lock horns in a series of one-on-one carp fishing matches, held over 24 hours. After 15 matches the top two anglers go through to a grand final, held over 48 hours at the Etang le Fays fishery in France. Each match is one half hour episode, and with the likes of Ian Russell, Dave Lane and Ian Chillcott taking part it really is a who’s who of the carp fishing world. The series has been airing on Sky Sports, but every episode broadcast so far is available to stream from Fishing TV.

If you like this you’ll also like: Chilly on Carp 1 & 2

Carp Up Close
Join Tom ‘The Machine’ Maker as he embarks on a quest to bag himself a 40lb carp. With narration by Nick Hancock, this sixty minute documentary style film contains some great big fish action and features, among other fish, a huge UK-caught catfish.

If you like this you’ll also like: Year of the Compulsive Angler

The Tuition with Iain Macmillan
In this feature length film professional carp fishing tutor Iain Macmillan offers practical advice and answers to the most common questions that he get asked by his clients. He covers everything from spooling a reel to fish care and plenty in between. Filmed at a private lake and with lots of fish in the net over the course of the film, this is a great watch for anyone hoping to improve their carp fishing.

If you like this you’ll also like: Carp Coach – Ian Russell

Improve your Coarse Fishing with Kev Green
The title says it all, really. The sadly departed Kev Green shares hints and tips to improve your success rate when coarse fishing in this 10-part series. He looks at a range of target species and tactics, and employs the help of a few friends along the way. In Kev’s own words “The series is all about helping people catch more and bigger fish on venues they can identify with. We are targeting many different species in many different ways”

If you like this you’ll also like: Duncan Charman’s Monthly Thoughts

Fishing with Des Taylor
Des is one of the best known angling journalists working at them moment. In this 10-part series he travels the UK to target some of our most popular species, including predators from the Thames, lake pike and, crucian carp and even grayling.

If you like this you’ll also like: Club Class

Fish of My Dreams
British angler Stu Walker has been dreaming of catching one particular fish, and it isn’t one you can find in your local lake. He’s been desperate to catch an ‘Indian Salmon’ or Golden Mahseer, to give it its proper name. And you can only find them if you’re prepared to go to… yes, India. Stu and his crew head to the Himalayas, to a roaring mountain river near the boarder with Nepal, trekking for hours, camping under the stars and risking attracting the attentions of the local leopards, all for a shot at a trophy mahseer.

If you like this you’ll also like: Welcome to Africa

The Truth about Feeder Fishing
England International match fisherman Alex Bones shares the secrets of feeder fishing, from bombs to PVA, cones to cages. He enlists the help of some of his fishing buddies – the likes of Alan Scotthorne and Darren Cox. Shhhh… the secret is out!

If you like this you’ll also like: The Truth about Pole Fishing

Hunky Dory
If predator fishing is your game then you’re sure to love Hunky Dory, a half hour examination of the strange breed of anglers who are prepared to endure sub-zero temperatures for the chance of catching a musky, the pike’s north American cousin.

If you like this you’ll also like: Musky Country

Dean Macey’s Fishing Adventures
Dean Macey is best known as an Olympic decathlete, but since hanging up the his running shoes he’s been able to focus on his other passion in life: fishing. In this 8 part series he travels the UK and the rest of the world in search of new fishing experiences, whether that’s hunting monster cats in the Mekong, Arapaima in Thailand or barbell on the River Wye.

If you like this you’ll also like: The FishingTV Show

Pike Secrets 1
Want to catch more pike? Then these films are for you. Over two hours expert angler Gordon P Henricksen covers all the things you need to know to improve your pike fishing, including examinations of different lures and baits, underwater footage and hints on how to use pike behaviour to your advantage.

If you like this you’ll also like: Lair of the Water Wolf

How to watch Fishing TV:

Fishtec in conjunction with Fishing TV are giving away a FREE Fishing TV gift card with every order over £20 this month!

The card is worth £5 and will have 20 tokens pre-loaded on it with a unique code – enough to watch plenty of fishing shows.

To get one, simply place an order for over £20 and claim the card in your basket as a free gift.

Fishing TV Gift card – Free with all orders over £20

How to fit a new rod tip eye

We are sure most carp and specialist anglers have broken either a rod tip or damaged a tip eye during their fishing career!

In this blog we look at how to fix a broken rod tip ring quickly and effectively.

What do you need?

1. Hot melt glue (available from any DIY shop)
2. A lighter.
3. Pair of forceps or pliers.
4. New rod tip ring.
5. Sandpaper or Stanley knife.

Step 1.
Separate the damaged tip eye from the rod blank by heating it with a lighter for about 4-5 seconds. This will allow the old glue to release. Once heated up, use the pliers or forceps to pull off the old eye.

Heating a rod tip eye to soften the glue

Heating a rod tip eye to soften the glue.

Once heated pull the old eye off with forceps

Once heated pull the old eye off with forceps.

Step 2.
Get the rod blank prepared for the new eye by sanding the tip section to smooth off any excess glue or graphite shards. This can also be done carefully with a stanley blade.

Step 3.
Use your lighter to melt the end of the glue stick for a few seconds.

Heating up hot melt glue

Heating up hot melt glue.

Step 4.
Apply a small amount of hot melt glue to the prepared tip section.

Step 5.
Slide the new eye into position. Ensure to line it up with the other eyes quickly before the glue hardens. Peel off any excess glue and you are good to hit the bank again!

Once coated in glue slide the new tip eye back on.

Once coated in glue slide the new tip eye on.

A Beginners Guide To Catching Specimen Chub

Man holding large chub

A big chub caught on home made bait

Guaranteed to feed in all but the harshest of conditions, specimen chub are not only widely available, but we are entering the best time of the year to target them. Angling writer and fisheries biologist Dr Paul Garner gives his advice and tips on the best tactics to set you on the road to catching a specimen.

They have brassy good looks, indifference to cold weather, and a presence in venues throughout the country. Chub remain a firm favourite of the river angler, whether they are seeking a big net of fish or that one outsized specimen.

Over the last decade, the size of chub in many rivers has increased markedly, with six and even seven pounders now found in many rivers. A specimen weight of five pounds is attainable to most of us without having to travel too far.

While chub can be caught right through the season, many anglers tend to target them in the winter months. This has as much to do with the fact that they will feed in all but the grimmest of conditions as it does that they will be in great condition at this time of the year.

The natural diet and behaviour of chub

Face of chub

Chub have great vision and a large mouth

Chub will eat almost anything that they can fit into their large mouths, and are much more adaptable than most other fish species. Chub will eat whatever drifts past them, including freshwater shrimp, caddis larvae, terrestrial insects blown onto the water surface, worms, snails, small fish and even frogs. This wide ranging diet might suggest that chub are greedy fish that will be easy to catch, but I tend to think of them more as being adaptable, and very aware of their changing environment. To catch big chub consistently the angler should bear these traits in mind.

River with overgrown bank

This swim at Llanthomas on the River Wye has everything a chub could want

The classic chub swim consists of some overhead cover, maybe a tree canopy reaching out over the water, an undercut bank, bridge, or weed bed. They favour low light conditions, and often they will stray no more than a couple of metres from cover during daylight, as dusk falls they will often leave the cover and may travel hundreds of metres in search of food.

The other key pointer to a good chub swim is the presence of breaks in the current speed. The classic crease, created where faster flowing water butts up against a slow moving current provides the perfect position for a chub to hunt. Resting in the slower flowing water, the fish will nip into the flow momentarily to grab a passing food item, before returning to the gentler flow

My go-to chub tactic

man fishing for chub

Lewis fishes an undercut bank for chub on the tiny River Arrow

There are probably as many ways to catch chub as there are chub anglers, so rather than try and list them all I’ll stick to my favourite. It’s a method that will work just about anywhere, but which is especially effective at this time of the year: legering lumps of paste, and either watching a quivertip or touch legering for bites.

There are several reasons why I favour this tactic. Firstly, you need the minimum of gear. A 10 to 12 foot rod with a 3oz quiver tip or 1.25lb test curve is ideal. A 4000-size fixed spool reel loaded with 8lb line and a few leger weights, size 8 hooks and a spool of 6lb clear line for hooklengths is all you need to carry.

Less is more when fishing paste. I need to be highly mobile, and may fish ten or more swims covering several miles of river in a day session. This is no time for lots of heavy gear.

Ideally, I’ll be fishing a stretch I already know, and will have a plan in mind as to the swims I’m going to fish. This enables me to avoid wasting time wandering the banks, and gives me another vital edge.

Before I start fishing my first swim, I’ll stroll down to swim two and introduce between five and ten fifty-pence sized lumps of paste just on the inside of the crease, or upstream of any cover. The idea being to give the chub a taste of my bait before I fish the swim. If the swims are close together, I’ll do the same in the third spot too.

I’ll fish the first swim for about an hour. The first cast is key, as I like to leave the ledger rig in position for as long as possible. If I’m happy with the cast, I often won’t reel in until it’s time to move. This gives the fish as much undisturbed time to find the bait as possible.

Smiling man holding up fish

Swim number three of the day produced this nice fish

After an hour, I will up sticks and move swims, repeating the process. But this time, I’ll expect any chub that are at home to be already looking for my paste hookbait. Bites can come quickly in these ‘primed’ swims, so expect a chance within seconds of making that all-important first cast.

This whole routine is repeated again and again until either I run out of swims, or it’s time to go home. It can be worth revisiting swims later in the day or after dark if you have a suspicion that chub are present. They often gain confidence as the light levels drop.

Chub paste baits

Chub with large bait in it's mouth

Don’t be afraid to use a big bait for chub

Why paste, and why not boilies, bread, meat, or any other baits that will catch chub? For my money, paste has two advantages. Firstly, it gives out much more attraction than other baits in the cold. Second, and more importantly, the hook can be partially hidden inside the bait, which will ensure that you hit more bites.

Chub have a disconcerting habit of picking up baits in those big rubbery lips, and this can lead to missed bites, especially if you are using a hair rig. Mould the paste around the hook and hey-presto! Most of those pulls on the rod tip will turn into fish on the bank.

Cheese paste is the classic chub bait. Carefully melt some Stilton or other blue cheese in a microwave and mix in breadcrumbs to make a putty-textured paste. A dollop of margarine added to the mix will stop the paste going hard in cold water.

If you want a custom paste of your own then why not use boilie base mix powder and whatever flavourings or additives you prefer. NashBait’s Key, Nutrabaits Trigga and Scopex Squid are all well-proven chub catchers.

Fish hook with cork and paste

I will often use a piece of cork to add buoyancy and to give the paste something to stick to

Paste wrapped around hook

Cover everything except the hook point

There is so much more to write about chub fishing, but that’s about all the space that I have. I’ll leave you with five tips to success, and wish you the best of luck in your hunt for a specimen chub.

Five tips for bagging a specimen chub

  1.  Richard Walker regarded chub as the easiest fish to spook, and I would agree. Once the fish have been alarmed the chances of success are often fatally reduced. Approach chub swims as stealthily as possible, stay off the skyline, and avoid any disturbance.
  2.  Don’t be in too much of a hurry to make your first cast. Feed the swim and leave it to rest for as long as you can bear. This could be an hour or more, but remember that the longer you let the bait do its work, the more confidence the chub will have and the better the chance that your first fish will be the biggest in the shoal.
  3. Chub bites can be easy to miss, as the fish will pick up a bait in the edge of their lips and swim off with it. Wait for a positive bite and do not strike at knocks on the rod tip.
  4.  Play chub quite hard, and try to keep them away from the near margin. Chub have an uncanny knack of being able to transfer the hook to the minutest piece of vegetation, so keeping them away from snags is essential.
  5. Wrap up warm. Chub are one of the few species that can be relied upon to feed in the coldest of conditions, but you have to be comfortable on the bank to last long in such extreme conditions.

Delve deeper into the world of chub fishing

Chub are a fascinating species that can be caught using so many different tactics, and this blog has only just scratched the surface. To learn more about chub, check out the Chub Study Group. As the name suggests, it was established to further our knowledge about chub and chub fishing and have a great website where you can learn more about the species.

About the author

Paul Garner is a fisheries biologist and writer based in the West Midlands. He has been a weekly columnist for Angling Times for many years. The author of two books, Underwater Angling and Scratching the Surface. You can find more articles from Paul on his website at drpaulgarner.co.uk.

A Beginners Guide to Match Fishing

Ever fancied testing your skills in the match angling scene? It can be a great buzz, not to mention a sure way to improve your fishing skills. Dom Garnett has some useful advice and match fishing tips to share, with additional pictures from Jamie Lee.

Dom Garnett fishing on riverbank

They’re not for everyone, but matches add an extra excitement to your fishing.

Although it’s something I do once in a while rather than every week these days, I can highly recommend match fishing as a way of improving your angling skills. Many readers associate my name with humorous fishing stories and my exploits mixing coarse and fly fishing methods; but it is less well known that in my younger days I was very much smitten with match fishing.

My first efforts began as a teenager back in the mid 90’s when I arrived at a canal fishing contest with my ragged-looking seatbox and pole to take on the grown-ups. I learned an important lesson that day: if you’re friendly and ask questions, even the guys who want to beat you will often share information and set you on your way.

On that particular match, I amazed myself as well as the regulars, as my catch of mostly perch and eels scooped a section win – and I instantly understood the buzz of match angling. Nearly thirty years on, I am a more occasional match angler, but many of the lessons stuck and are still with me today.

How to Start Match Fishing

Before you even begin to enter competitions, it’s important to consider if you’re ready for it. You needn’t be a champion, but matches are no place for a complete beginner. A good rule is to start by looking for matches fished on venues you know and where you are confident of catching fish.

There are two main types of match to enter: a club match and a so-called open match. Open matches tend to be held on well-stocked day ticket fisheries these days, and are called ‘open’ because they’re open to everyone.

Entry fees and prizes can be high. The money involved may draw some very skilled anglers, as well as locals who know the water like their own back yard. Not ideal for someone starting out.

Dom Garnett with net full of fish

Matches are won on weight of fish, rather than numbers or individual specimens.

A club match is likely to be a far better first experience. These are held by local fishing clubs, often on more traditional waters like rivers and canals. They’re usually friendlier, involving fewer anglers and lower entry fees and prizes.

Lower prizes mean that the anglers tend to be more helpful and the atmosphere is more relaxed. There will still probably be some very good local anglers, but you have a realistic chance to compete on club level.

Match Fishing Methods and Waters

Man sitting by lake fishing

You’ll need to be versatile to compete in matches; but pole fishing is often essential

One of the first rules of match fishing is that you must be prepared to adapt your methods. It is no use fishing the waggler if all the winning weights are coming on the method feeder, for example.

Of all the methods you’re likely to need to compete, the pole is probably the most important. This is simply because it offers unrivalled finesse and presentation at shorter distances. That said, local club matches might just as easily require you to catch on the stick float or the method feeder, or use baits that you wouldn’t normally consider.

In short, match fishing will quickly challenge your skills and force you to improve at various methods. You’d be sensible to pick matches that suit your strengths at first, but you’ll need to be a good all-rounder if you want to develop.

Match Fishing Rules and Essentials

So how does a typical fishing match work? You must let the organiser know you want to fish. You’ll need to book a place, and pay an entry fee. The entry money from each angler goes into a pot, with the winner and runners up getting the prize money.

There may also be “optional pools”. These are additional prizes you can compete for, if you are feeling confident.

Matches are usually organised into groups of anglers called “sections”. For example, a match of 24 anglers might be divided into three sections of eight. This ensures some fairness, because even if you draw in an area where it is very difficult to win outright, there will still be a prize for beating your neighbours.

Every match has its own rules, so do familiarise yourself with these. If you fail to do this, the official regulations could lead to disadvantage or even disqualification to you!

One classic example I can think of is a local club with a special rule on pike. In most club and open matches, pike don’t count. But my local club’s canal has so many tiny jacks, they include these in the tally.

In one of the biggest annual matches, a visiting angler caught a pike of 5-6lbs. Not knowing the rule, he immediately released the fish that would have won him the whole event! The moral is simple: know the competition rules!

The Draw

Before the match, you’ll be allotted a numbered spot (better known as a “peg”) at random. The draw is always exciting. You can try to be early or late in the queue, but most of us like to be early, because this way you have a chance to draw any peg still available in the match.

Cross your fingers and go for it. Ask the other competitors where your peg is if you’re not sure, and if it is a good spot. You’re likely to get different opinions, but don’t despair if it isn’t a “flyer” (the term match anglers use to describe a really good mark where you have a chance to win the match).

You might also draw a lot called the “scales peg”. Each section requires an angler to act as an official at the end of the match who will weigh each competitor in the section.It is an extra responsibility but it’s also a good way to see what’s being caught, and chat to other anglers at the end of the match. Do point out to others if its your first time, because they are sure to help you out.

Starting the Match

Fish bait being added to water

Accurate baiting up is a must, but you must only feed once the match has started!

In the time before the match starts, set your tackle up, get comfortable and carefully assess your peg. Plumbing the depth is a vital step here, both to suss out where the fish might be and to get your float rigs set at the perfect depth.

Every match will have an allotted start and finish time, signalled by a whistle, hooter or a good old fashioned cry of “all in!” or “that’s it!” to start or end proceedings. Before the opening signal you must not bait your hook or introduce any bait at all!

Once the match starts, most anglers will start by feeding some bait. You can certainly overdo the amount you put in, but it is usually good to be positive, not to mention as accurate as you can be. More on this in our tips section!

The Main Event

During the match itself, concentration and the ability to read the peg are vital. Few match anglers have only one plan, because even a usually reliable tactic might not go as planned on the day. This is why anglers tend to fish several different “lines” in the same swim.

You might try a short line at just four metres to start with, for example, but also put some bait further out. Really skillful anglers will sometimes juggle as many as six different areas, moving between them when bites dry up in each patch.

Contests tend to last four or five hours, but shorter evening matches are also popular in some areas. Keep track of the time, and plan an overall strategy. Five hours is a long time, and on most venues you’d be very lucky to keep catching for the whole contest from just one peg.

Anglers with catch net

Catches are weighed at the end of the match. Now is a good time to see what has been caught and ask your fellow anglers a few questions. (pic: Jamie Lee)

Match Fishing Tips

The world of match fishing is a varied and challenging one, but some golden rules apply to most matches.

  • Perhaps the best tip is not to be too disheartened if you fare poorly at first.
  • There is a lot to learn, but by listening carefully, asking questions and watching others, you are sure to improve. And even if you don’t become a regular match angler, I guarantee that the experience will make you better at fishing.
4 fishing rods

Preparation is key in matches. Here, an angler has set up several rigs- marking accurate depths in correction fluid is a classic match angler’s tip (pic: Jamie Lee).

  • You can learn a lot just by watching skilled anglers at work. It’s not as much fun as fishing, but just doing the rounds at an event, or perhaps even going to a contest as a spectator can be a great way to pick up tips and learn new skills.
  • Little details count for a lot in match fishing. Whether it is having your float dotted right down, feeding bait accurately, or practicing unhooking fish and rebaiting quickly and efficiently, the small things add up.
  • Always think about where you can improve or save time, even if it seems quite a small difference. In the end, no match angler has a magic wand. But the competitor who does lots of things a little better than the average angler will gain a big advantage!
  • Practise very much makes perfect in match fishing. Even when pleasure fishing, you can be trying out different rigs, baits and approaches. For example, what happens if you step up your loose feed? Can you tempt different species by making your rig sink faster or slower? Does a change to a bigger or different bait result in a better stamp of fish? Keep asking these questions and your results will improve.
  • Perhaps the most important skill in match fishing is feeding. Doing this accurately is crucial. Feed too much and you could kill the swim; feed too little and the fish might go to someone feeding more aggressively. Do experiment and try to gauge what the fish want on the day. Usually little, often and accurate is a good way to start.
  • Presentation is another key part of match fishing. Finer lines and smaller hooks tend to earn more bites. You don’t have to fish with gear that risks a break off every other cast, but it is worth refining what you do. Get into the habit of using lower diameter lines and smaller hooks than you might for a pleasure fishing bash. For shy-biting fish, it can make a huge difference.
Fish in net

Cute presentation is a must, because it will get you more bites.

  • Think about your swim and the different areas or “lines” you fish carefully. By keeping these at different angles, well away from each other, you can avoid inadvertently spooking your quarry as you play a fish. For example, if you have a line simmering nicely at five metres to your right, the last thing you want to be doing is dragging fish through it every time you get one on your ten metre line.
  • Keep a diary and note down your mistakes and successes and what you learned each match.
  • Last but not least: the best thing about match fishing is that you never stop learning. Do chat and compare notes with others, while reading all that you can. Sources like Angling Times and Match Fishing Magazine are excellent, not only for match results but for tips and advice from the best, such as Dave Harrell, Steve Ringer and Bob Nudd.

Further Info

For more features, photography and a range of books and gifts, check out Dom Garnett’s new website at www.dgfishing.co.uk. For match reports and results, head to simplematchfishing.co.uk. And if you’ve got any good match tips or stories to share, let us know on our Facebook page.

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: Top 5 Winter Baits for 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.
Simply copy and paste the code below:

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