takes us to the River Severn to show us the power of pellets
FOR my latest midweek practice session I wanted somewhere with plenty of flow, no boats and little canoe activity.
On the middle Severn both Arley and the opposite bank at Stanley were free, and I chose the latter. On my last visit there I’d had a good catch of chub and barbel using a Speci Waggler and maggot approach. I’d got plenty of maggots and casters plus hemp with me this time, and added two pints of 4mm and the same in 6mm of Bait-Tech fishmeal carp pellets. Half-a-pint of 8mm pellets were my hookbaits with an eye to the barbel and chub.
I chose a swim with plenty of weed cover across and good flow down the middle. At the end of the run, the river channelled into weed on both sides, a fish-holding haven but also a potential ‘chub losing’ nightmare! I’m just glad that barbel don’t have the same instincts as chub, otherwise we’d never land them in weedy swims!
TWO RODS READY TO GO
I set up two 14ft float rods. The first, my Tournament RS 14PF power rod, was teamed up with 6lb (0.20mm) Pro Float mainline, a 4SSG No2 Truncheon Waggler and a strong size 12 hook tied direct. The second rod was a lighter-actioned Tournament RS 14F with 5lb (0.18mm) Pro Float mainline and a size 16 hook tied to a 0.14mm hooklength.
On both rigs most of the shotting capacity locked the floats on to the line with just three No6 shot spread evenly between float and hook. The swim was only about 4ft deep so I set both rods with the rigs just off bottom for starters.
The buoyant float tops would allow me to go deeper and drag the hookbait along the bottom if I wanted to, but at this time of the year, dead depth is always a good starting point.
I then did what most anglers don’t do enough of and spent several minutes just feeding the swim and not actually fishing.
Believe me, while rivers continue to run as clear as they are, it’s time well spent – you will get fish feeding confidently before you put a baited hook in front of them. If you’ve never done this, try it on your next river trip and don’t be surprised if you hook a decent fish on your first run down when you eventually cast in.
I fed little and often for 10 minutes with casters, hemp and a few maggots and my first cast brought a good dace, taken on three big maggots on a size 14 hook. More dace followed and it wasn’t long before every pouchful of maggots or casters and hemp was met by a load of swirling dace on the surface! My hookbait had changed from two to four or five maggots in this time and every grub was coming back damaged!
DACE OR BIGGER QUARRY?
After two hours of this, I knew that unless I could feed the dace off I either had to fish for them or change baits completely. As I was there for the chub and barbel the first option wasn’t a goer, so I went back into the bait bag and opened up my 4mm and 6mm pellets.
I’ve done a lot of fishing on rivers with carp pellets over the past few years and it’s an interesting bait to use for big fish. Many people make
the mistake of feeding too many pellets in one go but I don’t think this is right. They are far heavier than maggots or casters and sink to the bottom really quickly.
After many practice sessions, I’ve come to the conclusion that you’re better off feeding little and very often to keep some pellets falling through the water all the time. This attracts the attention of hungry chub and barbel, and while some of the bait will sink to the river bed, what you’re actually looking to do is get the fish competing and chasing the bait on the way down.
For hookbait, I banded an 8mm pellet on the heavier of the two rigs and within minutes of feeding, I struck into my first decent fish of the day, a chub of 1lb 8oz. More followed, all from the same little area of the swim where the pellet feed was dropping towards the bottom.
Where to feed is key when using carp pellets on a river. It’s much better to feed down the swim than in front, as you can then run your float perfectly over the feed area.
A SATISFYING NETFUL
I ended the session with a decent early-season catch of chub and a 6lb barbel. I doubt if I’d have caught these fish had I not switched my baits around.
Pellets will never replace maggots totally, so don’t get the impression that I’m advocating not taking natural baits to rivers any more. They are, however, a great bait for catching quality fish when maggots and casters are getting snaffled by smaller stuff.
Give them a try soon and let me know how you get on!