Great sport to be had, but build your swim grad­u­ally for max­i­mum re­turns…

Angling Times (UK) - - TIPS & TACTICS -

OVER the past week or two we’ve seen a big drop in tem­per­a­ture.

But don’t think that good days on the rivers are over, be­cause on many of them we’re ap­proach­ing the best time of the sea­son.

Once the fish get used to the lower wa­ter tem­per­a­tures, ex­pect to see some very big weights, es­pe­cially on rivers where big roach are the tar­get species.

At this time of year it’s worth keep­ing a reg­u­lar check on what the river tem­per­a­ture is do­ing, es­pe­cially if you live near it.

I used to do it ev­ery day when I lived in Bewd­ley, on the Sev­ern, and it didn’t take long be­fore I pretty well knew what was go­ing to hap­pen. A river that is drop­ping in tem­per­a­ture can of­ten be a tough nut to crack, but there are cer­tain things you can do to tempt fish into tak­ing your



Never has the old adage about feed­ing ‘lit­tle and of­ten’ been more ap­pro­pri­ate than when a river has been sub­jected to a hard frost.

So how do you go about feed­ing the same swim into which you were throw­ing four or five pints of casters and hemp a few months ago and get­ting a bite ev­ery cast from small fish?

The very best ex­am­ple I can give you was a frosty match on the River Sev­ern at Stour­port a few years ago. The river was very cold and clear, and it was ob­vi­ous to any reg­u­lar there that you would need to feed lightly.

An­glers on still­wa­ters catch carp by not feed­ing any­thing and only us­ing hook­bait, and while this ap­proach can work on rivers (chub on meat or lob­worm, for ex­am­ple) it’s a tac­tic that doesn’t do it for me with baits like casters and mag­gots. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, you need to keep some sort of feed go­ing in. On that mem­o­rable Stour­port day I fed just half a pint of mag­gots in five hours and landed 21 roach for 17lb to win the match. My first bite that day came af­ter 50 min­utes of trick­ling a few mag­gots into the swim in twos and threes.


The tackle ap­proach that day was a sim­ple 6No4 stick float rig fished at full depth just in­side the main cur­rent on the ‘crease’.

The crease is the di­vid­ing line be­tween where the slower wa­ter on the near­side meets the faster wa­ter a lit­tle fur­ther out. It’s an area big roach love, and a slowed down stick float with No8 shot spread all the way up the line is of­ten the best way to catch them.

When I’m fish­ing in this way I nor­mally use a sen­si­tive float like a No1 In­sert Stick. The hol­low in­sert makes see­ing the float tip much eas­ier. Main­line would usu­ally be 0.16mm with a hook­length of 0.10mm or even 0.08 if bites are slow in com­ing. When you’re fish­ing like this, a sin­gle mag­got on a size 20 or 18 hook will usu­ally bring a bite

if it’s pre­sented prop­erly.


What do you do if you’re feed­ing lightly and eas­ing your float through the swim but still haven’t had a bite af­ter an hour of fish­ing?

The thing to try next is a straight lead ap­proach. This used to be pop­u­lar on the match cir­cuit I’ve fished for years, but nowa­days it’s gone out of fash­ion, maybe be­cause most peo­ple pole fish to try and get bites.

How­ever, a light straight lead set-up will of­ten get you bites when float gear fails, so al­ways have a short 10ft bomb rod and some fine quiv­er­tips in your rod bag, just in case.

Al­ways ex­per­i­ment with your straight lead weight. Don’t just tie a bomb on or fix two or three SSG shot on to a link. In­stead, use a string of weights rather than a con­densed lump.

This can be done with AAAs or a few BBs and if you really want to be ad­ven­tur­ous, try a string of No4 shot. You’ll need to use a light main­line to make this work, but once it’s on the bot­tom it’s really easy to move the hook­bait with a small turn of the reel han­dle. Quite of­ten, this move­ment will prove ir­re­sistible to a big roach.

Keep trick­ling the bait in, and once you get to a po­si­tion where you’re get­ting bites on this rig it’s time to run a float rig over the top of where your bites have been com­ing from.

Trickle in mag­gots in twos and threes. A classy net of sil­vers taken on the stick float.

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