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
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