Meat short might be a commonly used method but to really get the best from it you have to understand how and why it works. Callum Dicks explains.
I remember a few years ago, here on Bolingey Lake, I was rushing to get set up and my meat short line was the last thing I considered. I plumbed it up hurriedly, fed it without thinking about what I was doing, and got what I deserved – an absolute nightmare – foul-hooked fish, line bites, lost fish and ultimately it cost me a place in the festival.
For sure, when you have a lot of fish in front of you methods like meat short and fishing down the margins can be very easy. Feed some bait, hook a fish, land it, and repeat the process. However, the thing to remember is that this only happens when you have everything perfect. You have plumbed up in the right depth of water, with a nice flat bottom, you are feeding the right bait, and the fish are feeding. Whether it be by accident or design, you have everything right.
So how should you go about trying to get everything right every time? Although it is impossible to control the amount of fish that are in front of you, I have found that there are a few simple things that you can do with regard to your plumbing up, feeding and presentation to give you the best possible chance of getting the most from a short-pole line when targeting carp.
Setup And Plumbing Up
If you think that the short pole is going to be a key part of your match, there are a couple of things that you can do with regard to your setup and where you choose to fish to make sure that you really get the most from it. First up, set up as quietly as possible. I will cover later why I believe it is important to start on this short pole swim, but the crux of the theory is that if you go on this line first, you can often nick a couple of fish straightaway.
With this in mind, it stands to reason that you want to disturb this area of your peg as little as possible, so any fish that might be there when you arrive at your peg stay there until you start fishing. This means setting up your box and putting your nets in as quietly as possible. If you are planning on fishing really short, it can even be worth tying your nets back to stop them wafting near your swim and potentially spooking any feeding fish.
Callum uses these Guru plummets for ultra-accurate plumbing up.
If the bottom is suitable, always fish your short line away from you at an angle. Today, this means fishing a top six at an angle of 11 o’clock slightly. The reasoning is that you never want to be playing any fish over the top of where you are fishing if you can help it. If you fish straight in front of you, you will often find that fish splash and come up as you are playing them very close to where you are fishing, which can obviously have a negative effect on your catch rate.
There is a strict caveat with this, though – you have to be able to find a suitable bottom to fish on. This is the most important consideration with regard to where to fish. First up, depth of water. This is very much dependent on the time of year, amount of wind, and clarity of water. Generally, the warmer and more coloured the water and the stronger the wind, the closer you should look to fish to keep the fish on the bottom, where you want them. Likewise, the colder and clearer the water, the deeper you should look to fish.
The main thing that you need to look for in whatever depth of water you choose to fish is a flat, even bottom. Avoid fishing among rocks at all costs. This can cause line bites, foul-hookers and all kinds of problems because your loose feed and hook bait fall between the rocks and the fish upend to try and get to your bait. Indeed, the meltdown I described in my opening paragraph was predominantly caused by this.
Another thing to consider is the make-up of the bottom. Ideally, you want a hard gravel surface to fish on. Silt can cause all kinds of problems, so avoid it if you can. Sadly, this isn’t always possible.
I’m sat on Peg 38 on the right-hand arm of the lovely Bolingey Lake and have found what I can only describe as the perfect short line considering the conditions. Three feet of water, a flat, hard gravel bottom and located about five metres from the bank slightly to my left. The perfect dining table for a shoal of hungry carp!
One final thing about plumbing up and swim location – don’t be afraid to plumb up a couple of potential short lines before you start fishing. I usually like to have a couple of depths and swim locations covered and if I start fishing in one place I will often have another line plumbed up a section past it to move onto later. Again, only if I can find an appropriate area of the bottom to fish on.
I am not going to spend too long talking about rigs because I think the angler has to be confident in the tackle used. For me, this means robust 0.18mm Maver Genesis main line to a 0.16mm fluorocarbon hooklength. I now use fluorocarbon for most of my hooklengths because I find it to be very robust and I seem to get more bites on it than I did when I used to fish with standard pre-stretched monofilament.
Strong elastic and well-tied Dacron connectors are a must for big carp!
Elastic choice is Maver’s Orange 12-20 Dual Core. A robust float that takes line through its body and a strong size 14 hook completes the setup. Strength and durability is the order of the day.
A highly visible bristle and strong construction are important when it comes to float selection.
One area of the setup that does warrant a mention is my shotting pattern. I almost always find that a tapered strung bulk is best because it gives my hook bait a nice slow fall through the water and any hungry carp plenty of chance to suck it in!
Even though you are only planning on fishing short, make sure you have the rest of your pole within easy reach. The fish that you hook on this line can be massive, so you need to give yourself the potential to follow the fish out when you hook them.
Sometimes feeding quietly via a Kinder pot is a lot more effective than throwing bait by hand.
Two pieces of meat hooked in tge way gives ultimate bait presentation.
Reading The Peg
I’m going to talk about feeding next but to give the best insight into what I like to do, I think it is important to explain how I work out the best way to catch on a given day.
At the start of the session, I always like to start on my short line. There are two advantages to this. Firstly, if your peg is solid with feeding fish, you could very well find that you never have to come off this line and catch a massive weight without ever even having to try anywhere else.
More commonly, though, you will find that you are able to nick a couple of fish early on, before the line dies and you have to go long. These two, quick, early fish have proved valuable on many occasions.
Always Kinder-pot four or five pieces of meat in and a pinch of hemp, rather than throwing in any bait to start with. As I say, you are trying to catch carp that are in the area already, rather than draw in feeding fish in this early part of the match.
Hemp is the ultimate carp-holding bait!
Today the plan has worked a treat with an early carassio then a bigger carp. With these in the net, my swim goes quiet and I can start to think about feeding more positively. This means throwing bait but a quick and all too common lesson is soon learnt.
As soon as I start throwing bait I am plagued with small roach and skimmers. This tells me that these are the feeding fish that are responding to the noise of bait hitting the water and that I need to change my approach if I am to catch carp on this line in the early part of the day.
Instead of throwing the bait, I go back to Kinder-potting six bits of meat and a pinch of hemp and sitting and waiting patiently for a bigger fish to find my bait. I also switch to using double 8mm meat on the hook to avoid the attentions of small fish and single out the carp.
This works brilliantly and I catch really well. Because I am the only angler on the lake I am able to keep fish coming for the duration of the session in this way.
In more pressured conditions or a match, for example, the chances are that after a few fish have been caught feeding in this way, they will back off and you will be forced to fish longer to keep fish coming.
Later in the afternoon, though, as light levels start to drop and the fish start to feed, I would be able to return to this short line and catch well.
At this time of day, a different mind-set can be applied. Because you are now fishing for active, feeding carp that are liable to respond to the sound of bait hitting the water, you might very well find that a switch to throwing bait in would bring bites quicker – as the carp hone in on the noise.
Again, discipline and thinking about what you are doing is vital – throwing in bait willy-nilly is likely to lead to line bites. Remember, at all times you need to make your hook bait appear as natural to your loose feed as possible. I like to ship out, throw in meat, then lay my rig over the top, ideally with the hook bait falling through the far end of the feed column.
For today, things are kept a lot simpler and Kinder-potting bait sees a procession of fish coming to the net. I finish the session with over 70lb of carp – not bad in just a few hours’ fishing. Above all, though, it goes to prove just how important it is to think carefully about how you fish lines like this and show how devastating they can be when you get everything right.
Just park of Callum's ton-up catch taken in a couple of hours!
Like what you see?
Or buy a single issue
Alan’s Essential Skills
Alan Scotthorne explains why finer tackle can give you the edge at this typically changeable time of year.
Fishing with really strong gear is absolutely fine in the height of summer when the fish are really lively and active. With a lot more competition for bait, the water will be much more coloured, meaning you can get away with stronger hooks, thicker line and stronger tackle in general.
As we move from winter through to spring, however, things are often a lot trickier. You will have some really good sessions when the carp and F1s feed with a vengeance, but there will be just as many days when they are a lot harder to catch. While the water temperature is still low and the clarity quite high, you have to pay particular attention to your rigs and overall setup. Regardless of the bait, you are using – be that pellets, meat, worms, corn or maggots – fishing with a bit of finesse leads to better bait presentation and will undoubtedly bring you more bites.
The Fine Line
Fishing with a relatively fine hooklength is possibly one of the hardest points to get across to a lot of anglers who target carp and F1s. I cannot blame them because when you are hooking fish that could be 5lb or more it probably doesn’t sound right to use line that is of a much lower breaking strain. For instance, I use 0.117mm Supplex or 0.12mm Supplex fluorocarbon a lot at this time of year. These have a breaking strain of only 2.5lb and 2lb respectively, yet I will happily use either of them for fish that could potentially weigh more than twice that amount.
There are a couple of points that can be made here. Firstly, Drennan line is very accurately stated in terms of diameters but the breaking strains are more conservative than some other lines you may see on the tackle-shop shelves. The breaking strains on Supplex are based on achievable average knot strengths. Because you cannot use line without having to tie a knot, this should be the only way to measure its strength. If you tie a good, well-moistened knot then the breaking strain will, in fact, be slightly higher.
Cover your options and sey up a lighter strung-out rigs, as well as heavier bulked rigs.
What you must also realise is that a 5lb carp does not weigh 5lb when it’s actually swimming in the water. As long as there are not many snags to worry about and you tie decent, reliable knots I would be very confident of getting fish in the net with low-breaking-strain hooklengths.
Slim, pencil floats offer little resistance to a talking fish and strike cleanly from the water.
Of course, you have to be sensible when choosing the right strength of hooklength for commercials. I wouldn’t dream of deliberately fishing with 0.075mm (0.9lb) Supplex fluorocarbon just because it is the lightest in the range. However, it is still surprising just how easy it can be to get really big fish in the net on light tackle such as this.
Over the past few years, there has been a massive boom in silver-fish-only matches on commercial fisheries. Carp do not count, so people deliberately fish with very light gear intended for roach and skimmers, matched up with fine-wire hooks and very light pole elastic. I have lost count of the amount of ‘nuisance’ big carp I have seen banked in these events. Unless the fish has been foul hooked it is often quite difficult to get broken, even if you did try to deliberately pull for a break!
You can sometimes find that a carp will pull back less on this light gear and comes to the net with relative ease. I am sure that if you had used more substantial gear and more powerful elastic, the same fish might have fought twice as hard all the way to the net. It must be the extra resistance that causes a fish to pull a lot more the other way, so the stronger the elastic and the more you pull, the more a fish will pull back.
Light, soft, hollow elastics mean you can fish with fine hooklengths, but when matched with a puller bung, land very big fish!
These lessons learned from accidentally catching carp in silver-fish-only matches only serve to strengthen the case that you can catch carp on light tackle, even if you hadn’t planned to.
Now that we have established that you can land carp on light lines I must stress that the key is to use sensible and balanced tackle at all times. In summer I will typically use a hooklength that is anything from 0.15mm to 0.20mm (approximately 4lb to 7lb). When things are trickier, or if I’m targeting both carp and more fickle F1s, I am more likely to use hooklengths from 0.10mm to 0.13mm (2lb to 3lb). Match it to an equally light and soft elastic and I can fish with complete confidence.
Tie hooks to a variety of line diameters so that you can experiment during a session!
Puller bungs and puller kits have played a big part in the ability for us to scale down our tackle. In short, they have completely transformed the way we can play fish. You can now use much lighter elastic, which is really soft and forgiving when you lift into a bite and puts less pressure on the fish. When it comes to netting the fish you can also reduce the amount of elastic with the puller and play fish comfortably with just your top kit in your hand. A puller kit means that there is no longer any need to have several pole sections high up in the air when netting a big carp on light elastic.
Puller kits and light hooklengths go hand in hand with hollow elastic because this stuff is so much more forgiving compared with traditional solid elastic. It is softer and stretches much further, so there is less likelihood of having a breakage should a fish make a sudden lunge. I still use solid elastic, especially doubled-up elastic in the depths of winter, but that’s perhaps a subject for another time. For spring I still recommend you use soft hollow elastic for the majority of commercial-fishery situations.
At this time of year, there are two that I use the most, Drennan Green (6-8) Carp Bungee for general use and even lighter Aqua (4-6) Silverfish & F1 Bungee. This is most commonly used on F1-dominated venues and when a mixture of species such as roach and skimmers is also on the cards. You will still get those bigger bonus carp out on it, however.
Over the years I have fished with a huge number of poles from different manufacturers and that has made me appreciate that they all have different length top kits. This makes things much more difficult when it comes to recommendations because fitting elastic through a pole with a very long top kit will behave in a very different way to the same elastic fitted through a pole with a much shorter top kit.
I am fortunate with my Acolyte pole because there are two types of top kit available. The standard top kits are relatively long, so I can have plenty of elastic threaded through them. This is ideal for playing all sizes of fish, particularly in colder conditions when they are harder to come by. The other is called a Double 2 and this is the same length but allows you to thread elastic through just the first two metres or so. This means I can use incredibly soft elastic but because there is not so much of it inside the pole I can land fish of all sizes relatively quickly. This is more useful on better days when you are expecting more fish.
Complete The Puzzle
Although I won’t dwell too much on these aspects, the final pieces of the jigsaw are the floats and hooks. A slim pole float such as my latest AS5 ‘pencil’ is ideal for continuing the delicate and sensitive theme because you can dot it right down to register the most delicate of bites and it will lift really cleanly from the water on the strike.
The hook is even more important and at this time of year, I typically use a size 20 or 18 Kamasan B911 F1 for maggots, pellets, corn and small cubes of meat. If I am hair rigging baits (yes, you can most certainly still use a hair rig with fine hooklengths) then a size 20 or 18 B911 eyed hook is my choice.
There is another related point that I must stress when you finally need to use stronger tackle in the height of summer. Just because you are fishing for 10lb carp it does not mean you need 10lb line, size 10 hooks and No20 pole elastic to catch them. The only time you will ever need tackle this fierce is for extreme situations. With the advent of puller kits, I actually don't see the need for pole elastic stronger than Pink (14-16) Carp Bungee. I regularly fish for 10lb carp and have hardly ever felt that I needed to use elastic that was any heavier. In fact, I don't know many top anglers who would dream of using No20 elastic on your average commercial fishery swim. By using softer and more forgiving elastic I guarantee you will catch more fish in the long run.
Another reason why we can normally use these light and well-balanced setups is because there are not so many snags to worry about in most commercials. Yes, there will be the odd reed stem or platform leg to deal with, but that’s nothing compared to all the weed beds, obstructions and underwater hazards you might discover if you were targeting big fish on a canal or river. On a commercial, so long as you take your time I would be really confident of getting out fish of all sizes.
Finer tackle can certainly help you to increase the number of fish you hook. And once you have managed to hook a fish, you should take your time playing it. After all, if you’ve gone through all that effort to fool it, you want to make sure it counts and ends up in your net!
Typical Summer Carp Tackle
Float: Drennan AS2 or AS4
Main line: 0.18mm to 0.20mm Supplex
Hooklength: 0.15mm to 0.20mm Supplex
Hook: Size 16 Kamasan B911 up to a 12 Margin Carp
Elastic: 10-12 Yellow Bungee or 14-16 Pink Bungee
Typical Light Carp Tackle
Float: Drennan AS1, AS3 or AS5
Main line: 0.14mm or 0.16mm Supplex
Hooklength: 0.10mm to 0.13mm Supplex
Hook: Size 20 or 18 Kamasan B911 F1
Elastic: 4-6 Aqua Bungee or 6-8 Green Bungee
Like what you see?
Or buy a single issue
Pete Upperton On Carp
We join Middy ace Pete Upperton for a masterclass in finding the optimum depth of water for big bags of carp!
Where do you fish your pellets? I’d hazard a guess that if we asked a survey of 100 people (in typical Family Fortunes style), 99 would reply: “Dead depth.” After all, that is what we’ve written in this magazine hundreds of times, but is this always correct? We joined 2015 Match This winner Pete Upperton to find out why he believes that a change of depth can change your results and even help you top up your bank balance too!
The Orchard Farm carp are almost all in pristine condition!
“We’ve been told time and time again how simple pellet fishing is, and although this is fundamentally true, there are still hundreds of variables from what is considered a ‘standard’ pellet approach. I find that most anglers, myself included, have a default pellet setting. We all use pretty similar rigs, similar shotting and most anglers’ terminal tackle is at heart very similar. By this I mean winter pellet fishing involves lower-diameter lines, smaller hooks and lighter elastic. We all feed using tiny Toss Pots, most of the time feeding micros, and we all fish the same areas of our pegs and present our baits dead depth.
Light but balanced tackle is a must in winter
“With all of these similarities between anglers, it’s not hard to see why venues get bad press for being dominated by the draw bag. A lot of the time the only difference between anglers is the peg, so it’s bound to have an impact on the results.
“With this is mind, I started to look at my winter pellet fishing to try and find ways I could do something different, much like I do with my meat fishing all summer. I looked at everything, my rigs, my bait, where I fish in my peg and my presentation and broke it all down to try and find anything I could alter to give me an edge.
“The important thing to think about, though, is why to change something. Changing something just for changes sake is a bad route to go down. However, if a change makes sense to you, give a try. If it works, develop it further. If it doesn’t, revert to the default and look at another area.”
Change of bait
A single expander pellet is Pete's favourite hook bait for wary winter carp
“When I started to look closely at my pellet fishing, the first thing to look at was bait. Were pellets actually the right bait to be fishing? After a bit of experimenting with other baits, and some poor results, it was safe to say that I had to stick with pellets. I then started experimenting with size. I had some success feeding 4mm pellets rather than micros but it was inconsistent, so that was when I started using SSP micro pellets.
The SSP Micro pellets are perfect for winter work!
These are not only slightly bigger than standard micro pellets but they also have a unique flavour, rather than your typical fishmeal. I tried them for several weeks and they turned out to be perfect. The slightly bigger size seems to hold the fish in a tighter area and they seem to sink more consistently, which helps, especially when there’s tow on the water. Unlike 4mm pellets, I caught over them every time I used them and I felt I had my first edge.”
“Once I was confident I was using the correct bait, I started to look at another important part of pellet fishing – swim choice. This was not only where I fished my swim but also how many swims I fished. I found that depending on the stocking, it varied as to how many swims you needed to fish. If it were an F1-dominated fishery then I’d fish more swims. If it’s carp, then the fewer the better. The most important lesson I learnt, however, was that you must feed swims at more than one depth.
Fish in winter, especially carp, will find the warmest water they can and this can be at any depth, sometimes in the deepest part of your swim, sometimes in the shallowest. To give yourself the best chance of finding them you must feed swims at different depths. This may require setting up extra rigs or fishing longer or shorter than usual but it’s something that really can help put more fish in your net.
“One area I’ve started exploiting in winter is the margins. Now, this again depends on the depth but any venue that has a margin that is two feet or deeper certainly has the chance to throw up some fish in winter, especially if there is marginal cover such as reeds.
“The other huge and most important part of pellet fishing I’ve learnt is that dead depth isn’t always right and a change of just an inch can transform a swim that seems devoid of fish into a fish-a-drop swim. My thinking on this actually derived from fishing shallow. Even on days where the fish are ravenous and you’re bagging shallow, altering your depth can severely change your catch rate. So if the fish, even when feeding aggressively, will only feed at a certain depth, then why not in winter, when they have far more time to inspect your bait and be choosy about what they feed on?
“I always start my session at the default of dead depth but I’m always looking for signs that fish are in the swim but possibly not taking my bait. The biggest giveaway is line bites. Tiny dips on your float often get dismissed as shy bites off F1s in winter, but sometimes they’re simply fish off the bottom intercepting pellets as they fall through the water, or just moving about off the bottom looking for food. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling people to reach for their shallow rigs but fishing anything from an inch to six inches off the bottom really can bring bites when you can’t get a touch on the bottom. This applies to F1s and carp because both will take a pellet sat off the bottom, especially when fished in conjunction with a light rig fished through the water and micros being regularly sprinkled into the swim.”
“To demonstrate my tactics I’ve brought the Pole Fishing team to Orchard Place Farm. It’s in good form but the fishing certainly suits those who are willing to work for bites. Looking at the water, the first thing I have to do is decide where my swims are going to be. I have an island in front of me so I’ll fish one swim in the shallow water towards it. To give me another depth I’m going to fish a swim down the track in the deepest water I can find. Finally, I know from experience that the depth in the margins is around three feet, which is perfect for winter margin fishing, so I’ll put another swim here.
“Rigs are kept simple. All of them are made using 0.14 Middy Lo-Viz line to a 0.12mm hooklength and a size 18 93-13 hook. I have a 4x16 Carp Grey float for the deeper water and a 4x12 version of the same pattern for the margins. Over to the island, the 4x12 rigs are shotted with a strung bulk, while the 4x16 rig will be fished initially with a bulk and one dropper while I fish on the deck. Then I can spread the shotting if I feel I need to fish off the bottom.
“Each swim is initially fed with a small amount of micro pellets and then topped up via a tiny Toss Pot. I’m starting over to the island but after 25 biteless minutes, I think it’s safe to say that the fish don’t want to be in such shallow water. Although if this were a match I would be disappointed that this line hasn’t produced, I would still have the occasional look because the fish can soon move into shallower water, even in winter, if the sun comes out and heats the upper layers a degree or two.
“A switch to the deeper swim produces my first bite. It’s a small F1 and it’s nice to get off the mark. It soon becomes evident that there are a few fish in this swim because I’m getting regular bites and indications and I manage to add a few fish to my catch, both F1s and small carp.
"It soon becomes evident that there are a few fish in this swim because I'm getting regular bites and indications and I manage to add a few fish to my catch, both F1s and small carp"
“I keep introducing a few micros, as well as occasionally dropping a few on my other two swims, and as time passes I start to feel that the fish are moving off the bottom. The main giveaway is line bites but also bites just before the rig fully settles. What some people may now do is introduce more feed to try and force the fish down but my thinking is a little different. I’m obviously getting bites, I have fish in my swim, and they seem settled, so why change my feeding? Surely that part of my game plan is working? With this in mind, I spread my shot over the last third of my rig and shallow up four inches.
“This change has a dramatic effect on my catch rate and I’m soon into a fish every drop. I actually shallow up a further two inches so I’m catching six inches off the bottom. Although I’m catching really well on this swim, the fact that the fish ideally want to be feeding shallower than the depth of water I’m fishing in leads me to think that I need to try the margins. Even off the bottom, I’m fishing five feet deep, so it could be that the margins are too shallow but it’s certainly worth a try.
Light hollow elastic and a puller kit mean Pete lands almost everything he hooks!
“First drop-in on a 6mm pellet and the float dips before slipping from sight – fish on! I’m really pleased that this swim has produced because I felt they wanted to be slightly shallower.
“Next drop produces another fish and I actually shallow up so that I’m four inches off the bottom on this rig too. I prefer to fish a 4mm pellet off the bottom because it matches my feed a bit more closely and seems to produce a more positive bite.
“I continue to catch for the rest of the session and I have well over 50lb in just a few hours, most of which have been caught off the bottom.
“I’m sure if I’d fished the session with a standard pellet approach I would’ve caught. I do feel, though, that the fish certainly wanted to be off the bottom and this could have caused a huge amount of problems with missed bites and foul-hooked fish if I had fished on the bottom all day. By altering my depth and presenting a bait where the fish wanted to feed rather than trying to force them onto the bottom, I’ve really upped my catch rate and certainly put more fish in the net.
“Next time you’re out on the bank, assess your peg and be willing to change your depth, be that the area of your peg or your rigs. It’ll certainly catch you more fish this winter.”
A tiny change really can make all the difference to you catches in winter!
Venue File -
Venue: Orchard Farm Fishery
Location: Pearsons Green Road, Paddock Wood, Kent TN12 6NY
Day tickets: £8, concessions £6
Contact: 07860 608218
Angler File -
Name: Pete Upperton
Sponsors: Middy and SSP Baits
Pole: Middy XP65-2
After six years fishing for Matrix Dynamite Trentmen, Tom Scholey is moving on….
I have Rob Perkins to thank for getting me involved with the then Fox Match Dynamite Trentmen.
I was first invited to join the team in January 2011, after a few good guest performances on the RILMAC league on the Fossdyke – although again, Rob should really take the credit for this as he showed me how to fish the venue!
I still remember my first weekend fishing for the team – it was in the Sensas Challenge at Packington Somers and Barston in March 2011. I was honoured to wear the T-shirt that Rob gave me (even if it was a little too big for me!) My performance, as I remember it, was less than heroic, somewhere near the bottom of the section both days – but things could only get better!
The next chapter was the Division One National on the New Junction Canal. This was a real learning curve for me, as it was my first real experience of summer fishing on a deep canal. Words can’t describe how much I loved it!
For sure, the weights were low, but the fishing was very rewarding, and I learnt so much from anglers like Rob, Adrian Higginbottom and Steve Woollard about tackling this type of venue in the summer. From this point on, I knew that my decision to invest my time in team fishing was the right one, and the learning curve was only just beginning.
Two other memories stand out from that National. The first was just how amazingly, outstandingly awesome Daiwa Dorking are! It was, and still is probably the best team performance I have ever seen. They scored 551 points from a possible 590, if my memory serves me correctly.
Secondly, probably the best piece of team fishing related text banter I have ever seen, courtesy of the then Dorking ace, Dave Harpin. Bear in mind that Barnsley were out-and-out favourites to win, and their angler Lee Kerry had been doing very well in practice matches.
The text message read: “Fuel: £50; bait: £50; accommodation in Doncaster Travel Lodge: £110; the look on Lee Kerry’s face after the match today? Priceless!”
I think I finished 17th in my 59-peg section but, crucially, the team finished eighth and we qualified for the World Club Classic on Newark Dyke.
In fairness, I probably shouldn’t have been fishing this match on merit, as back then I was a very inexperienced river angler, but the team was short, so I was drafted in. Another steep learning curve ensued – the first day I was fishing for barbel on the flat float, and had a great view of the eventual event individual winner, Tim Nash who caught four barbel as I recall.
Sadly a few small fish were all I could muster. The second day, things got a bit better as I drew the bottom end of the match length and caught 2kg 900g of roach on bloodworm for decent team points. The key, though, was that all the time I was learning.
That winter gave me my first taste of the Soar Valley Winter League – and I must say I fell in love with the fishing. A more varied, interesting, fish-filled river you will struggle to find – and this is somewhere else that has played a key part in my development as a river angler. We finished second in the league and went to Makins Fishery for the Semi-Final.
Being brought up on commercials, I was at home here and was pleased to finish second in my nine-peg section after a nice day’s pellet fishing on a frozen Outer Avon, although sadly the team didn’t make the final.
The next year I was pleased to take part in the Commercial National for the first time. It was split over Heronbrook and Cudmore – so we decided to split the team, with half of us practising Heronbrook and half Cudmore. As Sod’s law would have it, I practised Heronbrook all week, and drew Cudmore!
Still, thanks to some good info from the lads, I managed to come fifth in my 22-peg section, which helped the team to second overall – a result we were very proud of.
Looking at the team picture from this match, I am reminded of another aspect of my time at Trentmen – the quality young anglers that myself, Rob Perkins and Lee Wright brought in.
I became involved with co-managing the team in early 2013 along with Rob Perkins, and then later with Lee Wright, before stepping down early last year and handing the reins over solely to Lee.
In that time, Cam Cross, Greg Cooper, Ricky Marshall, Chris Greensides, Tom Potter, Kayleigh Smith, Adam Dowd, Matt Parkin and Jordan Holloway have all passed through the ranks of the team, with some sticking around and others moving on. If nothing else, I like to think I have a good eye for talent as these anglers have all achieved great things after signing for Trentmen, and all still fish competitively at the highest level.
The Fondest Memory…
My favourite competition that I fished in with the team was definitely the Preston Innovations World Club Classic on the Great Ouse at Littleport. I’ve never seen anything like this competition before, and I’m not sure I will again. In the weeks leading up to the event, the match length was best described as patchy, and though we managed a few fish, there wasn’t a great deal to be caught, with big areas seemingly devoid of roach.
There were two official practice days right before the competition weekend, though, and it soon became apparent that things were changing. It seemed a lot of roach had moved into the length and were on the feed!
Sure enough, the contest turned into one of the most prolific and fair team events that I have ever fished. Drennan Barnsley Blacks dominated the event on day one, winning four out of five possible sections. I was, in fact, the only non-Barnsley angler to win my section – narrowly pipping Simon Willsmore with just over 7kg of roach.
The second day went well too, and although Callum Dicks did beat me for the section win by a very narrow margin, I was delighted to be the only non-Barnsley/Dorking angler towards the top of the leaderboard. The team finished in third place too, and so secured a brown envelope, which made all the hard work worthwhile.
I suppose the thing that made the event such a special memory for me was the emphasis I had been putting on improving my natural venue fishing, and to put in such a good result on a fair venue and match had the cheeks glowing a little. I even made it into Steve Collett’s Anglers Mail column!
Is It Worth It?
One conversation that I have had more than a few times is “Is team fishing worth it?” And my answer is yes – it is definitely worth it. Many minds are better than one, and the amount I have learnt off anglers like Rob Perkins, Adrian Higginbottom, Lee Wright, Steve Woollard, Pete Scott and Dean Cherrington over the years is massive.
It is also a lovely feeling to be pushing towards a greater good. Fishing team matches (or leagues, or festivals for that matter) is so much more enjoyable to me than open matches or big-money qualifiers. You know that every fish and every potential point counts, and there is a lot more to this kind of fishing than there is in simply fishing to win.
The skills that you pick up are invaluable. Although it is an individual competition rather than a team event, I am certain that I wouldn’t have won the Drennan Knockout Cup back in 2015 if it wasn’t for the stuff that I learned at Trentmen.
Also, if the team happens to be sponsored, this can be a very valuable attraction to some anglers. Matrix and Dynamite have sponsored Trentmen very generously in the time that I have been there, and continue to do so.
So Why Leave?
Given all the positives that I have just mentioned about team fishing, I guess you are thinking it is a strange decision for me to be leaving the team – but I think it is the right one.
Firstly, this is going to be a very big year for me, leaving my current role at Match Fishing, and setting up my own business – Catch More Media. Time will be at a premium, and I am not sure how much time I will have to invest in team fishing, so this is a consideration.
They say that money is the root of all evil, and this has played a part in my decision too. Unless you are one of the very few teams who receive a cash sponsorship, funding the team is a massive challenge.
Without a doubt, this was the single most contentious topic that I had to deal with as co-captain, and we lost several good anglers as a result of the decisions we made. But the simple fact is, as captain you can’t please everyone all of the time.
Alongside being a very good friend and a brilliant angler, the current captain Lee Wright is one of the kindest, most selfless people I know. Everything he does is with the best intentions of the team at heart, but as I said before, you can’t please everyone all the time. And on this occasion, I don’t agree with the route he is taking the team down with regards to subs.
And the final reason? I just feel it is time for a change. Match fishing is such a wonderfully diverse sport now that you simply cannot do it all, and fishing for a team does eat up a lot of your year. Also, because a team generally has a geographical base (Trentmen’s being the north Midlands) you tend to find yourself fishing the same venues year on year.
But will I ever return to team fishing? You bet, I find it so enjoyable I’m sure I will be back fishing for a team before long!
Ringer On Hooks!
Steve Ringer reveals the patterns of hooks that he uses for different kinds of fishing, explaining when and why he uses them.
I am always playing around with hook patterns. For me, a hook is one of the most important parts of fishing. It hosts the bait that you are trying to get the fish to eat, and actually catches the fish for you, taking all the strain of the fight. Here are most of the patterns that I use for pole fishing.
Sizes: 16 and 18
Line diameters: 0.10mm, 0.11mm and 0.13mm
These are great when you’re catching mixed fish. They’re very strong, without being overly heavy in the wire. This is important when you’re looking to catch quality silver fish and the occasional big F1 that can sometimes be wary. On a lot of commercials there is a big head of mixed fish to catch, such as at White Acres, where I fish a lot of festivals. To get consistent results in leagues and festivals it’s important that you target this mixture of fish. Fishing with chopped worms and casters is a brilliant ploy – you catch plenty of roach, perch, skimmers, and maybe a tench or two, but mixed in with these will be the odd carp and F1. The Gama Pellet is the perfect hook for this when fishing with baits like a worm head, or single and double caster.
On tricky days, when a smaller hook bait is better, I like to use a size 18 to 0.10mm or 0.11mm line, while on good days when I’m really catching well, I’ll step up to a size 16 and 0.13mm line.
LWG Barbless Spade
Sizes: 14 to 18
Line diameters: 0.11mm, 0.13mm and 0.15mm
This is my general carp and F1 hook when I’m fishing with baits that I put straight on the hook, such as pellets, meat and corn. These are very strong and very sharp, without being overgunned. This is vital when catching big weights of fish because you need to get bites but also have the confidence to get the fish in quickly.
On a lot of venues I fish, a great swim is the short pole with meat or corn, where I normally put the bait straight on the hook. These hooks are always my choice for this. The most popular pin that I have in the hook box is a size 16 in these hooks to 0.13mm or 0.15mm line. Matched with white or black Hydro elastic, I’ll happily target fish to double figures with them. When really bagging, I’ll also use these hooks for F1s.
LWG Barbless Eyed
Sizes: 18 and 16
Line diameters: 0.11mm, 0.13mm and 0.15mm
This is the same hook as above but with an eye rather than a spade. I use this when I want to fish with a hair-rigged band or spike. Fishing with a hair-rigged band plays a major role in my fishing these days, allowing me to place a hard pellet in the band and have the hook free to hook the fish. I simply tie the band in a tiny loop and whip a knotless knot around this so that the band and pellet are sat just off the bend of the hook. I sometimes use a little bait spike too when I’m fishing with meat on the hook on the long pole, or fishing shallow with it. In these instances, I’m regularly lifting the bait and laying the rig in to keep it falling through the water. Using the bait stop on a small hair rig means the meat stays on much better and you also seem to avoid nuisance silver fish with this arrangement. I’ve even had a lot of success using a small chunk of worm on a bait stop and hair rig. It helps the worm stay on and you can catch five or six fish on the same bit! I have these hooks tied in sizes 16 and 18 on line diameters from 0.11mm for wary F1s, to 0.13mm for general F1 fishing in summer, and 0.15mm for carp and catching well.
Kamasan B911 F1
Sizes: 20, 18 and 16
Line diameters: 0.10mm, 0.12mm and 0.14mm fluorocarbon
I love this hook for winter F1 fishing. It is my main pattern throughout the cooler months at places such as Tunnel Barn Farm, and I even use it occasionally for commercial silvefish. The hook is quite fine, but the round bend and wide gape means that you get a good hook-hold. Balanced with the right elastic, such as pink or blue Hydro with a puller kit, you can land big carp on them too, which you do occasionally hook.
Interestingly, I have these hooks tied on Gamakatsu fluorocarbon line. I have a lot of confidence in this for F1 fishing because the line is supposed to be almost invisible underwater. It is also very stiff and you don’t get any tangles. When fishing with a short hooklength and a bulk close to the hook, I really like the idea of the hooklength being stiff and straight bcause this means that I am fishing very direct to the bait. When a wary F1 takes the bait, I see a bite immediately. I’m happy to use these hooks for maggots and expander pellets.
Sizes: 14, 16, and 18
Line diameters: 0.10mm and 0.11mm
This is my ultimate all-round barbed hook. I use it on natural venues when targeting roach, perch and skimmers, and have caught big bags of fish on it both in the UK and in Ireland. Last year I enjoyed some brilliant matches fishing at Furzton Lake in Milton Keynes, catching numerous 40lb-plus bags of roach. A size 16 B560 was my hook choice for this.
You can use all kinds of baits with them – maggots, casters and worms are my most popular choices. The wide gape and round bend gives you a great hook-hold, and even when you mount a chunky worm head or double maggot, there’s plenty of hook point showing. Although the hooks are barbed, it’s only a small barb that’s just enough to keep your bait and the fish on, but not too big that it slows you down when unhooking fish! The main sizes that I use are 16 and 18. The 16 is my bagging hook and I’ll happily use just a single maggot or caster when I’m catching well. On trickier days a size 18 is usually my choice. I normally match these with 0.10mm or 0.11mm line, and a doubled-up No4 Preston Slip Elastic.
Sizes: 12, 14, 16 and 18
Line diameters: 0.10mm, 0.11mm and 0.13mm
This is the hook that I use when I want to step up a gear into bagging mode on natural venues. It often comes into play when there are a lot of skimmers around and I need a hook that is a little bit bigger and stronger than the B560. The barb on these is also quite viscous, which helps keep fish on the hook when fishing in deep water. I’ve used it quite a lot in Ireland when targeting skimmers, where I’ll place two or three red worms on a size 12 or 14. Bream and skimmers can be a nightmare for coming off in deep water, but I have a lot of confidence to administer a firm strike and guide the fish out of the swim and into the net with this hook. If I were to target bigger bonus fish such as perch or chub on a canal with the pole with lobworms, this would definitely be the one I’d reach for.
Sizes: 16 and 18
Line diameters: 0.10mm, 0.12mm and 0.14mm fluorocarbon, and 0.11mm and 0.13mm N-Gauge
This is a new hook that I’m still trying out and looking forward to using a lot more. It’s specifically designed for pellet fishing with F1s in mind. The wide gape but rather straight point means that you can roll a soft pellet onto the bend perfectly and still have plenty of hook point showing. It is medium in wire, which is important for good presentation to fish like big F1s. I’m yet to have any issues with the hook straightening and have hooked and landed plenty of big carp while testing them. For me, this pattern fills a lovely gap between the B911 F1s and the LWG Spades – it’s the perfect spring and autumn F1 pattern. Despite the packet saying ‘pellet’, I’ve also used these with maggots and worms. I’ll happily use these on light elastics such as yellow and pink Hydro and would step up to white if needed when I’m catching well.
X-Strong Carp Spade
Sizes: 12, 14 and 16
Line diameters: 0.17mm and 0.19mm
The ultimate margin and big-fish hook! I love getting these beauties out and use them for all my big-carp and margin work. They’re incredibly strong and sharp and have a very wide gape with a long point to give you a reassuring hook-hold. For margin fishing, there’s little scope for messing around, in my book. You may only have a short spell at the end of the match to catch big fish quickly and you need strong and reliable gear. My typical margin gear is a size 12 Carp Spade, matched to 0.19mm N-Gauge and red Hydro, for fishing big bunches of maggots or two full worms down the edge. The huge gape means that you can mount these multiple baits with ease and still have loads of hook point exposed. On tricky days, or in clear water, it can pay to scale down a little, so I always have a few size 16s tied on 0.17mm line too. Sometimes I’ll use these on the short pole with meat when the fish are really having it!
A new competition for disabled anglers launched in the East Midlands
A brand new competition for disabled anglers is being launched in the East Midlands. The inaugural East Midlands Disabled Angling Championships will be taking place on Thursday 22nd September at Rycroft Fishery, Derbyshire (DE74 2RE) on Moat Lake.
The competition has been established in partnership with the Angling Trust to create more opportunities for disabled anglers to fish in competitions. The match will form part of an on going calendar of local matches for disabled anglers taking place at accessible fisheries.
Moss Farm Fisheries (Maddisons Pool) 09.01.16
Firstly, a happy New Year to all readers of my posts. Hopefully this year will bring even more success and I hope you continue to follow my progress. As always, it is very much appreciated!
My first outing of 2016 saw me take a trip to Moss Farm Fisheries in Irlam, just a six or seven-mile trip up the road for the final round of the winter series that I have been part of and my first opportunity for silverware this year.
People who have read my last couple of posts will be up to date with how I have been getting on in previous rounds of the series, but for those who may have missed them, out of the previous three rounds, I was unavailable for the first (luckily we are able to drop our worst result). That meant the three remaining matches were even more important because there was no room for a poor result. Round 2 saw me finish 2nd in the match, a solid start to my winter series. Round 3, again at Lloyd’s Meadow Fishery, resulted in a silver-fish match win, but only fourth in the overall competition. Not completely disastrous but it did mean that going into the last match I was sitting in second with a group of people just one point behind me in the overall standings. Derek Smith was top of the table at this point. However, he was not fishing the last match and ultimately could not figure in the overall standings.
Having arrived at the venue early I made my way to the on-site café where the draw would be taking place and got myself a full English breakfast, joining a few of the lads who had the same idea. As I mentioned in my last post following my first visit to Moss Farm, the venue has brilliant facilities with the on-site café as well as a tackle shop.
It didn’t take too long before all the expected participants arrived and we began the draw. Before the match I had been advised by people who had fished the venue before that the better pegs were those on the near side of the lake (1 to 7) or closest to the car park. Having not seen the lake before I wasn’t too fussed where I drew, I just knew I needed to do well!
I pulled out Peg 8; apparently the wrong end of the lake but being an end peg I was happy with my pick.
On arrival at Maddisons Pool, the match lake here at Moss Farm Fisheries, I pretty quickly came up with my plan for the match. The lake is a pretty standard canal/snake-type lake, although in places pretty wide. For example, my peg was 16.5 metres to the far side, meaning options are increased slightly from more conventional narrow snake lakes. Setting up the tip rod was an option but in the end I decided to keep it in my bag.
I decided on three main lines: A top two plus two at the bottom of near shelf feeding maggots, using a 0.3g AS3 float, 0.08mm hooklength and a size 18 B911 F1 hook. The second was fished at 11 metres to the bottom of far shelf feeding pellets and dead red maggots, using a 0.4g AS3 float, 0.10mm hooklength and a size 18 B911 F1. The final setup was my far-bank dobbing rig comprising a 0.1g Carpa Ape float, 0.11mm hooklength and size 16 B911 F1 hook.
I kicked the match off by putting a small sprinkling of soaked micro pellets in on my 11m line, along with a few dead red maggots, hoping that when I moved onto this line some fish would have settled over it.
The first rig I picked up was my far-bank dobbing rig, set six inches underdepth with a strung-out shotting pattern to help the bait fall as naturally as possible. I dropped it in on the far side, poking it into gaps in the far-bank foliage and up against the features along the bank.
It took around 20 minutes to get my first bite of the day. This resulted in a carp of around 1lb. My next few put-ins resulted in nothing more than being mithered by small rudd, which were interfering with the bait wherever I dropped it in. To try and avoid this I altered my shotting, but to no avail.
A change was in order and I decided to see if anything had settled over my initial feed at 11 metres. Two dead red maggots was my initial bait of choice and it almost instantly produced, with my float burying after just a couple of minutes; a small yet scrappy carp of around 4oz finding itself in my net following a spirited fight.
Next put in I waited a little longer but again a small carp fell for my hook bait and inevitably ended up in my net. I’d have been happy to continue catching these small carp but that wasn’t to be.
It took 20 minutes to get my next bite, this time a carp of around 3lb; a nice bonus on what looked like it was going to be a tough day!
Following this I struggled to get another bite from this line. A rest was in order, so I topped the swim up with another sprinkling of pellets and moved onto my 2+2 line, where I had been trickling in maggots from the start of the match.
I was expecting bites straightaway from here because it was my line to catch everything and anything – or so I thought. Not a single bite! Not even those pesky rudd had moved in.
At the halfway point I felt I was doing okay. Not many big fish were being caught and most people were ticking over with small silvers with the odd small carp chucked in.
For the next 90 minutes I rotated between my far-bank line and 11m line, picking up plenty of small fish, rudd, roach and small carp of no more than 4oz to 6oz. I could only see the people directly opposite and Jeff on the next peg. He had been catching silvers from the off down the track but had struggled to catch any bonus fish. Will Willows, my main competition in the overall standings, had caught a lot more consistently than me, with a few better carp mixed in. However, apart from him, I could not see that anybody had caught much more than me.
The last hour was simply a case of trying to pick up anything possible. Despite being a hard winter’s day’s fishing, the fact that I didn’t know what I was going to catch next made the venue good fun and I had to work hard for bites; something you have to do if you are going to catch during winter.
In this time I managed another carp of around 2lb and some smaller fish, mainly from my 11metre line, some falling to a 4mm Xpand pellet and some to maggots. I did also manage to catch a couple of chunky roach from my 2+2 line in the closing minutes to finish the match off nicely.
After some trouble with the batteries in the weigh scales, we did eventually manage to get the weigh-in started after one of the carp lads from the neighbouring lake kindly leant us a set of dial scales.
It was noticeable from the first few weighs that the bigger carp hadn’t really shown a great deal, although everybody seemed to have caught plenty of fish.
With four people weighed in, 10lb was winning. Will was next to weigh in and easily took the lead when his mixed net of fish took the scales round to 21lb 6oz. I knew I hadn’t done enough to beat that but as long as he didn’t finish more than one position above me we would be level on points.
Following a weight of 7lb coming from the peg to my right it was my turn. I had guessed at between 10lb and 12lb and wasn’t too far wrong when the scales read 12lb 8oz, putting me into 2nd place at this point. However, there were still seven people to weigh in and if anybody came anywhere between Will and me, I would drop down the overall standings.
Jeff Stoll and Pete Mahoney were next to weigh in on the two pegs directly to my left. Strangely, both weighed in with 6lb. Following these, other weights on this side of the lake included 8lb and 5lb.
With just Paul Ryan to weigh in on the end peg the standings hadn’t changed, with Will and I still sitting top of the overall league and 1st and 2nd on the day.
Paul had fancied himself on this venue and was confident before the match that he would do well and rightly so, when his net of carp put him into 1st place with 24lb 6oz, a great weight on a tough day!
This dropped Will and me down a place but, more importantly, kept the gap to one position between us. Noticeably, Paul’s fish were of a much better stamp than anybody else’s. Having asked him after the match how he caught, it’s safe to say his experience on the venue was his edge.
In the end I was 3rd overall on the day and had done just enough to secure first place overall in the winter series, sharing the spoils with Will.
1st – Paul Ryan – 24lb 6oz
2nd – Will Willows – 21lb 6oz (Sec)
3rd – Jake Fowles – 12lb 8oz (Sec)
4th – Mike Dench – 10lb
5th – Simon Evans – 8lb
6th – Arthur Plumb – 7lb 12oz
7th – Dale Shingler – 7lb
8th – Jeff Stoll/Pete Mahoney – 6lb
10th – David Smith – 4lb 14oz
It was a typical winter’s day fishing at Moss Farm Fisheries; hard work yet everybody managed to catch plenty of fish. The venue has a great setup with really good facilities I would definitely recommend it.
It was a nervy last match but in the end I managed to do enough to secure the overall league title and collect my first piece of silverware of the year, hopefully the first of many!
A big thank you to Paul Ryan and Simon Evans who have run a really enjoyable series over the last four months and to both Lloyds Meadow Fishery and Moss Farm Fisheries for accommodating the matches!
Please feel free to ‘Like’ my Facebook page, Jake Fowles Match Fishing https://facebook.com/Jake-Fowles-Match-Fishing-873368519426245/