WINNING ON RIVERS IS ALL IN THE FEED!
Match ace Amer Jawad on why you need to persevere for the better fish
OUR rivers are alive with millions of tiny fish thanks to yet another successful breeding season.
Such huge shoals of silvers are a delight to see, not least because they signify a healthy future for the waterway.
However, these juvenile roach, dace and bleak can prove to be a real headache to match anglers by grabbing the hookbait within seconds of it hitting the water. There’s no chance of it ever getting through to any bigger fish that might be in the shoal.
Many anglers resort to sticking on a large bait such as a worm to try to single out the bigger stamp of fish, but top matchman Amer Jawad adopts a different approach to the problem.
“It’s all too easy in such a situation to simply give up trying to pick out the better silverfish and look for a bonus perch or chub instead,” he said.
“But by using the right rigs and feeding in the right way it’s possible to catch the biggest silvers in any shoal.
“For example, in a typical match on a river, me and the angler on the next peg may both land 200 fish, but I’ve developed a way of making sure that my catch goes 20lb on the scales, while his doesn’t even make double figures.”
The smallest fish are likely to be sat up in the water, and so a groundbait that sinks quickly and only breaks up once it reaches the deck is required.
A sticky blend will do just that, and Amer uses an even mix of Rive Etang and Feeder Noire to get the all-important texture bang on.
“I’ll always mix it up the night before the match. This makes it inert and stop bits and pieces breaking off on the way down, something which only whips the small fish into a frenzy,” he said.
“I add a few pinkies, casters and a bit of chopped worm so that the mix appeals to a lot of species including quality roach, dace, perch and bream.”
Amer cups in 10 tangerinesized balls of groundbait at the beginning of his session, but knows that he won’t attract bites from the bigger bonus fish straight away.
Once the initial bombardment has gone into the swim, it often takes a while for the shoal to settle, so it’s important to give it at least an hour for the plan to start to bear fruit.
“The small bleak will follow the groundbait down to the bottom and in the opening stages these are the fish that you’ll catch,” said Amer.
“You need to have faith in what you’re doing, and wait until the bigger fish bully them out. It’s tempting at this stage to feed more, but this will only start the clock again and reactivate the nuisance bleak.”
TWO RIG SOLUTION
Most of the rivers that Amer fishes are fairly slowflowing, such as the Great Ouse at Hemingford Grey in Cambridgeshire. With typical depths of around 6ft, many anglers would think that a
1g float would be more than sufficient, but Amer starts with double that loading.
He said: “I’ll usually begin with a 2g Rive WC5 float as I can put plenty of weight on the line and get the bait to the bottom quickly to reduce the chance of a bleak nabbing it on the way down.
“My olivette is set 6ins from the hook – I’m looking to catch exclusively on the deck.”
This is the rig he uses in the opening stages of his session, but as the better fish start to compete for the bait this signals that it’s time for a change.
“At that point I’ll switch over to a 1.5g float with the olivette set 12ins from the hook. This provides a more natural presentation and allows the hookbait to fall slowly in the bottom foot of water, where the bigger fish are,” said Amer.
“By this point the bleak have been bullied out of the area so I can afford to have a slightly slower fall.”
Both rigs feature a No5 elastic, so Amer can beat bonus perch and swing a lot of fish to hand. His mainline is 0.12mm to an 0.09mm hooklength and a size 18 or 20 hook. Hookbait is either maggot or caster – trial and error will decide which is the more productive on the day.
During his session in front of the cameras, just as Amer predicted, the bleak proved to be a nuisance in the opening stages – 50 tiny fish collectively weighing little more than 1lb came in the first 45 minutes.
But perseverance paid off, and before too long the bigger fish began to settle over the groundbait. The next 50 were significantly bigger, with a collective weight probably nearing 6lb. This trend continued for the next three hours, and more than 20lb of quality silvers were ready to show to the cameras come the all-out.
“There will always be bigger silvers in your peg but it can be so tempting to throw in the towel early on. Get your river rigs and feeding right this week and you’ll soon be the man to beat on your local river!” said Amer.
Careful feeding makes it possible to single out the bigger stamp of fish.
An olivette gets the hookbait down to the better fish quickly. Another plump Great Ouse roach comes to the net. A bristling 20lb net of silvers for Amer.