Ringer Baits team pipped on the day, but we learn vital lessons
from Adam Wakelin
THE late, great Frank Barlow famously said that practice was ‘only good for finding the depth’.
The jury may be out on whether putting in the time in the run-up to a big match pays dividends on the day, but going into an event blind remains an extremely big gamble.
A bit of knowledge under your belt can do no harm, and on very hard venues when every trick in the book is needed to eke out a bite, it’s especially handy. One fish can make all the difference.
That was the philosophy of the Ringer Baits team as they prepared for the World Club Feeder Champs qualifier on the Gloucester Canal. Anyone who has fished the canal before will know how tough it can be, and a bream can be worth massive points in a team event, so the motley crew left no stone unturned in a recent practice session.
New Feedermasters champ Adam Wakelin was in their ranks, and who better to explain the ins and outs of what anglers try to achieve in practice? Pegs below Sims Bridge were chosen for the chance of a bream or three, but by Adam’s own admission it wasn’t going to be easy!
DOING OUR HOMEWORK
“Not having fished the canal for years, the aim was to find out what works and what doesn’t in terms of best baits, distance to cast, what feed is best and how long between bites.
“You can’t play about on the day, and although I appreciate that match conditions are different from a pleasure session, you can still learn a lot.
“Doing some homework on the phone is equally important. Phil Ringer made several calls to find out as much as he could, but on the Gloucester we’re all fishing pegs with the same width, depth and target species.”
THE BEST LINES TO FISH
“Feeder matches today almost always involve having two lines on the go, much as you would on the pole. These are called ‘short’ and ‘long’ lines, and the trick is to work out which one you’ll catch the most fish off.
“I’d say that this will be the longer one at around 35m, with the second, shorter, line serving as somewhere else to cast and nick a fish from. This one goes in at 14m, the typical long pole line on the canal. I measure both out using sticks so I know I’m bang on the money.”
“I’ll have two groundbait mixes on the go, with very different jobs. My bulk feed is Ringer Baits Euro Mix and Damp Leam to give the fish something similar to what would be balled in by pole anglers using bloodworm and joker. Through the feeder goes just Euro Mix.
“The leam is added to the overwetted groundbait to ensure the final groundbait is damp
enough to hold in the feeder.
“There’s also the question of fishmeal to answer. Fishmeal groundbait catches you the bigger fish but puts off the smaller roach and skimmers and when every fish is vital, I don’t think that you can be too bold and go for a big-fish-only attack.”
“Although I’m after bream, the amount of freebies going into the peg is kept minimal.
“For 4kg of groundbait I’d add only 400g of casters, chopped worm, dead pinkies and maggots. The thinking behind this is to get a big bed of groundbait in with minimal
particles so that the fish have to spend longer in the peg trying to find them – and your hookbait of course.
“Into each feederful goes just a pinch of worm, half-a-dozen casters and a few dead pinkies.”
USING THE ‘BOSHER’
“Rather than relying on my feeder to get a bed of bait down, I instead have a separate rod set up with a big baiting-up feeder or a ‘bosher’, as it is known.
“This can get 1kg of groundbait into the peg in no time, and at the start I’ll put 20 of these on to the 14m line. That equates to around 10 large balls of groundbait thrown in by hand on the pole.
“However, the longer 35m line gets no hit of bait. I am trying to get a quick response and will rely on the feeder alone for here.”
“With the bloodworm that pole anglers use in mind, I try to mimic a bunch of bloods on the hook. This means three fluoro pinkies or even five red squatts – redworms can be very good but are more selective. They are still worth giving one or two exploratory casts, however.”
“Because the qualifier is fished to international rules, there are a few limits to tackle, such as the length of the hooklink – the minimum is 50cm, so I tie up size 16 Guru Feeder Special hooks to 0.12mm line in conjunction with braid and a shockleader.
“That just leaves feeders to be decided on, and I keep them on the small side so I’m not introducing too much bait each cast. Setting up two rods for short and long, both running on the line, I fish a small 20g Guru Distance feeder for the long line and tiny 20g cage rocket for casting short.
“The Guru introduces more bait, as I’m not giving the long line an initial hit of feed, but the rocket puts in next to nothing. I’ll be fishing over those 20 bosherfuls of groundbait.”
DID IT ALL WORK?
“I’d like to say that I love it when a plan comes together. and on the day it almost did!
“We thought we’d got the canal sorted, but we finished an agonising one point off winning behind locals Daiwa Gordon League, with Trentmen taking second on total weight after scoring the same as us.
“Steve Ringer, Rob Wootton, Jamie Harrison and I all finished in the top two in our sections, but captain Phil got a proper stinker of a peg and could only score five points!”
A good Gloucester Canal haul by anyone’s standards.
The longer line proved better in practice.
Hooklinks must be a 50cm minimum.
‘Boshing’ feeders used for baiting up.
Triple pinkie on a size 16 hook.