I’m not talking about the club ‘presentation’ once a year when the top rod collects all the trophies while all the other club members mutter “Jammy bugger” under their breath while half heartedly clapping. The same event where everyone normally ends up a little worse for wear, except the previously aforementioned trophy winner, who just happens to win the match the following morning as everyone else is nursing banging hangovers!
No, the ‘presentation’ I’m on about is the act of delivering the bait to the fish in a way that they are fooled into thinking that the bait with the hook in it is the same as the loose feed that they are happily munching on.
No two days are ever the same and you will have to vary your approach to see how the fish want the bait presented on the day. With this in mind I’ll mention a couple of river sessions from the past that opened my eyes to how to make the fish take your bait.
Going back quite a few years I was in the Avon Bait team practicing for a National on the tidal Trent. I was waggler fishing and generally not catching a lot so I walked down to Dave Gregory, one of my team mates fishing downstream. What Dave was doing was so simple, but it was highly effective, he was casting his waggler across the river then feeding just in FRONT of his float and then pulling it back into the falling maggots. He was absolutely bagging up, as the fish were taking his hook bait amongst the falling loose feed.
I, on the other hand, had been casting out and feeding behind the float. This meant my hook bait was in front of the loose feed rather than amongst it! What had I been doing all these years? Saying that, it’s still something I see people doing when I watch them today!
I know this example is of rod and line fishing, and this is a pole fishing site, but this technique of presenting your bait amongst the falling loose feed is even more simple to do with a pole. You can feed around the float and then lift the float out of the water, until you think the loose feed is near to the hook bait and then slowly lower it back in. Sometimes the float will just carry on going down, as if it was overshotted, simply because you have fooled the fish into believing the bait with the hook in was ‘safe’.
On other days, the fish won’t take a moving bait. An example of this happened to me on a winter league match on the River Thames a couple of years ago. It was a horribly windy day and I couldn’t get the float to travel down the swim over the groundbaited area in a smooth manner. I was going nowhere fast.
I decided to completely change my presentation and switched to a Cralusso Torpedo flat float with 15cm of line laid on the bottom and the pole steadied on a spray bar. This resulted in roach up to 12oz, and if I’m sure that if I had continued with the previous setup for another week I wouldn’t have seen any! On this occasion the fish were not chasing the bait; they were happier sitting hard over the groundbait and picking my casters up off the bottom. If I hadn’t have changed my presentation, I would never have gone home with a brown envelope in my back pocket!
Richard Chave is a regular Pole Fishing columnist from Dorset who fishes for Garbolino Blackmoor Vale and loves his river and canal fishing.