TARGET THE CREASE TO KEEP ON CATCHING
Great sport to be had, but build your swim gradually for maximum returns…
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
FEED LITTLE AND OFTEN
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.
HOW TO TACKLE THE CREASE
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.