Liven up the ‘dead’ zones

Fish in com­mer­cial lakes of­ten shoal in ‘dead’ wa­ter just beyond pole range, but Rob Woot­ton finds these ar­eas are teem­ing with life and bags-up us­ing wag­gler tac­tics

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Tactics - Words & Pho­tog­ra­phy Mark Parker

IF YOU want more bites from bet­ter qual­ity fish on a typ­i­cal pres­sured com­mer­cial venue, it pays to fish the ‘dead’ wa­ter. By dead wa­ter we don’t mean that grotty, cob­web-coated cor­ner swim, but the open ar­eas be­tween pole range and a feeder cast. This of­ten-ne­glected zone is where a great deal of the more ‘clued up’ fish tend to sit, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing day­light hours. “I hear it from an­glers so of­ten: ‘What’s best… pole or feeder?’ said Dy­na­mite Baits-backed Rob Woot­ton. “But, rarely do I see any an­gler break out their float rod.” For Rob, cast­ing to the less pres­sured range at 16m-25m is a part of the lake that both dayt­icket an­glers and match­men fre­quently ig­nore, much to their detri­ment in the opin­ion of the 36-year-old Le­ices­ter­shire rod. To find out more about how Rob ex­ploits this ‘over­looked wa­ter’, us­ing a ‘for­got­ten tac­tic’, we joined him at Holmes Farm, near Lubben­ham, in Le­ices­ter­shire…

More alive than dead

The most pop­u­lar length to fish a pole is be­tween seven to 10 me­tres. Ev­ery pole is light at this length and it’s a dis­tance which is easy to fish ac­cu­rately. If bites are hard to come by, out comes the feeder gear, splodg­ing loose­feed to­wards the is­land mar­gins or 30-40 yards into open wa­ter – just like ev­ery other an­gler on the com­plex! “By fish­ing just beyond pole range, you can still ac­cu­rately loose­feed par­ti­cles, but the fish are of­ten much less wary in this area and much more amenable to pick­ing up an­glers’ baits with con­fi­dence,” said Rob.

“Of course, there is noth­ing wrong with ei­ther the pole or feeder. And, as the day turns to night, fish nat­u­rally move closer to the banks where the mar­gins of­fer a clas­sic ‘last knock­ings’ bag-up. But, through the mid­dle of the day, these larger, wiser fish sit in the open wa­ter, away from any bank­side dis­tur­bance where they feel safer.” Also, as it is still early in the sea­son, the wa­ter is still rel­a­tively cool and clear, so fish of­ten won’t tol­er­ate a pole wav­ing above their heads. This is where the wag­gler pays div­i­dends. “To­day, ev­ery fish has been of a qual­ity stamp – tench, carp, F1s and 1lb roach. Mixed baits such as dead mag­gots, cast­ers and sweet­corn bring a va­ri­ety of species and a very pleas­ant day’s an­gling.”

Rob’s float tackle

Rob paired his trusty Shi­mano Speed­mas­ter float rod with a 0.16mm (5lb 1oz) main­line and a 0.12mm (2lb 9oz) hook­link. His favourite Ka­masan B911 hook, in size 16, com­pleted the ter­mi­nal tackle. Rob likes to fish as light as pos­si­ble, while still be­ing able to dic­tate terms to any larger fish he hooks into. The all-im­por­tant float was a 2.5g loaded Dren­nan in­sert wag­gler. Rob prefers loaded floats be­cause he finds they cast more ac­cu­rately as there are no bulky shot squeezed around the base of the float. To trim the float so the bris­tle was only just show­ing, he equally places five No.10 shot down the line, while a small mi­cro swivel joins the main­line to the hook­link. “The swivel pre­vents line twist when us­ing dou­ble baits,” ad­vised Rob. Rob uses an in­sert wag­gler so he can fish as light as pos­si­ble but, if there is a lot of chop or un­der­tow, he will swap to a straight wag­gler even though this adds more re­sis­tance on the take, some­thing he is try­ing to avoid. “The prob­lem with the wag­gler is you are never go­ing to get as good a pre­sen­ta­tion as you can us­ing a pole. So as well as us­ing a thin­ner bris­tle, I also leave a gap of three inches be­tween the lock­ing shots. This en­ables the float to collapse eas­ier on the strike, and it also gives the fish a lit­tle more line to take the bait be­fore en­coun­ter­ing any re­sis­tance from the float.”

Fish­ing into ‘dead’ wa­ter

Af­ter first plumb­ing up so he is around 1in-3in overdepth, Rob places his main­line into the reel’s line clip. As long as he casts to­wards a per­ma­nent far-bank marker, the rig will land in the same place ev­ery time. Also, as­sum­ing you hit the clip on the cast, the rig will nat­u­rally straighten, to avoid tan­gles. “If I get a bite from a much big­ger fish, I can al­ways quickly un­clip, be­fore re­clip­ping in a sim­i­lar area on the next cast,” added Rob. As he doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily want just carp, he chose a mix­ture of cast­ers, plain Dy­na­mite Baits’ sweet­corn and both live and dead mag­gots. The cast­ers are used only for loose­feed­ing. Be­ing hard and dense, they cat­a­pult well and make a pleas­ing plop as they hit the wa­ter’s sur­face. They are also ar­guably the finest bait you can use for se­lec­tively tar­get­ing a bet­ter

stamp of fish. Their only down­side is they are not so ro­bust, which makes them a poor hook­bait choice. Dou­ble mag­got – dead or alive – is Rob’s first choice. He will also mix and match the colours, us­ing dou­ble red, dou­ble white or one of each ev­ery cast. “Mag­gots are soft and juicy so the fish tend to hold on to them for a few sec­onds longer to give you more time to see the bite and strike, a vi­tal aid when fish­ing a wag­gler. “I use corn rather spar­ingly. I loose­feed around 10 cast­ers ev­ery two min­utes, while I will cat­a­pult a cou­ple of corn ker­nels ev­ery five or six,” he con­tin­ued. “Corn is bet­ter for hold­ing the big fish, but it also gives me an al­ter­na­tive hook­bait if I’m get­ting ‘bit­ted out’ on mag­got.” For the first 20-30 min­utes Rob is ex­pect­ing few if any bites but, as the ses­sion con­tin­ues, the sport should in­crease. With the day start­ing slowly, as pre­dicted, Rob’s swim be­came more alive with ev­ery pass­ing hour un­til he was al­most get­ting a bite a chuck, each and ev­ery one from a qual­ity fish. Even if an area is con­sid­ered dead, you may find it far from life­less.

Cast­ers are used only as loose­feed – they’re too frag­ile for wag­gler tac­tics

Mag­gots for the hook, cast­ers for loose­feed and corn as a change bait

Keep the rod low when play­ing fish, so they’re eas­ier to con­trol A great mixed bag caught from so­called ‘dead’ wa­ter

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