How to bring your peg to life
Match ace Rob Wootton explains how cloudy groundbait can keep you catching in winter
IT’S a common scenario in winter commercial carp angling.
You start off feeding a small amount of bait in a Kinder-type cup and probably catch a few early ‘mug’ fish on the standard fare of maggots, pellets or corn, but then it becomes a real struggle for bites.
While you can go chasing fish and think about adding a pole section or two, there’s a danger they can be pushed out of the peg completely.
Increasing the feed in winter is unlikely to have the pulling power it does in summer – in fact it usually has the opposite effect of killing the peg stone dead if you’re not careful.
The answer I’ve come up with is to feed something different which in reality, is the equivalent of feeding nothing at all – a groundbait cloud.
We associate a cloud with fishing up-in-the-water or in the margins for summer carp, but the reality is that a cloud can be just as effective in cold, clear water.
It’s enough to attract an inquisitive fish or two into the peg without giving them anything solid to eat – apart from the bait with your hook in it, that is.
It’s a strategy for eking every last bite out of the peg without overdoing things. I’m not talking about putting in large pots of groundbait, but just pushing a small nugget the size of, say, a 50p piece into your Kinder pot each time. You only need a small cloud to go down to the deck.
This is definitely a tactic for shallow venues, islands or margin swims, in water of 4ft deep or less.
If you try to do this in a deep peg, the groundbait cloud will simply disperse over too wide an area, rendering it ineffective.
It also goes without saying that the groundbait you use is important. A fishmeal mix is needed on a commercial, but I go for a dark-coloured mix to avoid alarming the fish in clear water – a bright cloud may well spook them. My choice is Dynamite Swim Stim Black on its own.
Presentation is everything for lethargic fish in winter, so the easier you can make it for a fish to take your bait the better.
Use a light float if conditions allow, such as a 4 x 10 (0.1g) or 4 x 12 (0.2g). This will give you really good bite indication, especially if you dot it right down. I’m a fan of the Malman Dusty, a slim pattern with a wire stem.
I’ll often set up a ‘normal’ rig with a bulk of shot slightly spaced out above the 6ins hooklength and then a second rig with the shots spread out over 18ins, much like a squatt rig. With a light float this second rig gives a really slow fall of the bait through the cloud and encourages a bite on even the toughest days!
I use 0.145mm mainline to a 0.125mm hooklength. Hooks are size 16 Guru F1 Pellet.
Two maggots work over a cloud.
Some of Rob’s carp enticed by the cloud.