Jon Whincup’s open water tactics
Open water pegs offer more depth and fish
YOUR typical commercial fishery may well have inviting pegs with islands, clumps of rushes or even an aerator to cast to.
But the sad fact is that in a match, 80 per cent of tickets drawn offer you only open water to go at, a far less inviting prospect with winter imminent.
It would be easy to get downhearted as you see the bloke on the next peg shuffling 16m of pole over to an island that looks just perfect for the job while all you have is a bland expanse of water rippled by a chilly wind and showing no signs of life.
That doesn’t mean game over, though – far from it, according to Jon Whincup. Last week the new Maver Match This and Parkdean Masters champion talked about fishing up to an island, but this time he switches his attentions to the type of peg most of us always end up drawing. He reckons that far from being a bad draw, open water can be good.
“As the weather gets colder, I would happily take an open water peg over an island, simply because there’s more water from which to draw fish into the peg. You’ll also find more depth here than around an island, and in the cold that always means more fish, especially when carp are concerned,” Jon said.
“Open water also gives you an option to potentially catch shallow. By that, I mean at halfdepth. I’d be very surprised to get carp just a foot deep but they do regularly come off bottom by a few feet at this time of year.”
Faced with open water on his swim at Six Islands Lake on the Decoy Lakes complex, Jon goes straight out to 14.5m. According to the man himself, any closer in is likely to produce fewer bites because slightly clearing water and bright sunshine, if you have it, will force the fish further out into the lake.
On a typical commercial fishery, there will be between 6ft and 8ft of water here but a deeper peg wouldn’t particularly faze him. He’s not looking for an optimum depth as he would when fishing up to an island.
“You could use all manner of baits but I still think pellets are brilliant until things go cold. That’s when maggots take over,” he explained. “I’d leave off using expanders until things get really tough, so that means a banded hard 6mm pellet, feeding 4mm baits. If not much is happening, I’ll happily scale down to a 4mm pellet on the hook, especially if there are F1s about.”
With his line chosen, Jon opens up by covering the bottom of a large pole cup with 4mm pellets and dumping them in. After this, the big pot won’t make an appearance. Instead, he’ll feed with a small pot on the pole or the catapult. This lets him regulate the amount of bait going in, preventing overfeeding and line bites.
“Just as happens with fishing to an island with pellets, if I’m only getting the odd indication or no bites at all using the pot I’ll change to pinging in bait to stir things up – even in winter, pinging can be better than potting,” Jon revealed. “It’s still a waiting game, especially if you’re after carp, so don’t go expecting a bite within seconds of lowering the rig in. When the next fish can weigh 10lb, though, I don’t mind hanging about! The small pot is filled with 4mm pellets but I only trickle in half-a-dozen at a time, roughly every 30 seconds. The same amount in the same ratio is fed when using a catapult.
“Even if you do everything right, you will still foul-hook the odd fish. This is just down to the time of year, which can see the carp constantly moving up and down in the water,” he said.
“You can’t help this and you have to put up with it, but for this reason I will always have a rig set at half-depth ready.
“If I am getting lots of line bites and foul-hookers then I will certainly have a few dropins with the half-depth rig to see if the fish have come well off bottom. This can happen in the early afternoon when the weather has warmed up.
“You’ll get a run of fish when conditions are perfect.”
A chilly wind doesn’t deter Jon Whincup.