from Adam Wakelin
.. .and a cage feeder delivers it perfectly
HYBRID feeders with bright boilie or wafter hook baits are now the go-to approach for catching a weight of bream on commercial fisheries. You’re giving yourself every chance of nobbling a few carp and F1s into the bargain. However, groundbait still plays an important part, whether moulded around a feeder or used in a cage or open end model. It is vital to have a hint of fishmeal in the mix to satisfy the demands of the fish. Trouble is, a classic fishmeal groundbait is too strong, especially in winter, when it can actually be a turn-off.
Years ago we’d have used one bag of fishmeal to one bag of a sweet mix as a bit of a compromise – but not any more following the long-awaited release of Ringer Baits’ new sweet fishmeal Feeder mix.
Now, sweet fishmeal ground baits are nothing new but that many are still a little too strong for my liking.
For me, the moment of judgement comes when you open a bag. Take a sniff, and if you can only just smell the fish content you’re in business. I’ve been testing Ringers’ Feeder all winter at venues such as Meadowlands and Barston with satisfying results – and now you, too, can get your hands on the stuff!
Lake 1 on Phase One of Midlands fishery Guru Makins is the perfect water for the mix to do its stuff, as it holds plenty of carp plus a big head of quality skimmers.
Following a frost, and with ice in the corners of the lake, along with clear water, conditions were ideal to show how striking the right balance between sweet and fishy is so important to success.
Because there’s the chance of a double-figure carp, I don’t go too light. True, I may get more bites with a size 20 hook and 0.10mm line but in a match, and on a very hard day, a carp or two is a really welcome bonus that can make a big difference at the scales.
Therefore, 0.12mm Match team for the hook link to a size 16 Guru F1 Pellet hook is the perfect compromise. Mainline is 5lb, and although you could use braid if rules allow, I find that bites, even at this time of year, are still very positive. Perhaps the most important element is the use of a soft rod to cut down on lost fish. I leave my Daiwa SLR rods in the bag and instead use the trusty 12ft Tournament model.
HOOK LINK LENGTH
Because I’m fishing a cage feeder, there’s no need for a mega-short hook link. Around 50cm is an ideal starting point. This can then be lengthened or shortened, depending on how the fishing is going.
If I was getting indications but not catching, the answer would be to shorten things. I’d rarely go longer, especially on lakes no
more than 6ft deep.
Fish in shallow water tend to home in on the feeder, so a short link works best. Forget about a long link with a slow fall of the bait through the water – bream and carp will not be taking anything on the drop in winter.
Two dead red maggots are a tried and tested skimmer and bream hookbait, and carp love them too. This would be my hookbait for 90 per cent of the time but, of course, a change can sometimes work wonders.
If I was only getting small skimmers or perhaps roach, a switch to a piece of hair-rigged worm or a small bright wafter or boilie can get the job done.
This is also the case if you are not catching – the different bait can stand out to the fish and get you a pull.
ONE LINE WILL DO
A lot of features on feeder fishing will advocate fishing two lines – perhaps one long and one short – but in winter I’d rule this out.
Having one target area allows you to judge what’s happening far more easily, and I begin by casting around two-thirds to the limit of my casting. So, if I could chuck 80 yards, I’d start at around 50 yards to give me more water to move out into as the day progresses.
Many fisheries have a pole line where fish naturally feed, be that at 13m or 14.5m, but in clear water I think under arming a feeder to here is a waste of time, as I don’t see that enough fish will have the confidence to move here and have a chew.
Stick to one swim at distance and your chances of getting a few are much higher.
Skimmers love the new Ringers’ Fee5d2er mix.
Adam Wakelin leans into a fishmeal tempted skimmer.