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Riddle for results
Match Fishing

Riddle for results

Posted 03 March 2015   |   4426 views   |   Sport Mark Griffiths lifts the lid on a simple yet deadly approach to conquer the cold-water blues.

The central track of snake lakes is an area of a swim that is quite often ignored by anglers. Yes, people will put a line in and !sh it almost as an afterthought, but rarely is it considered the number-one target line.

I think this is a mistake and actually target the deepest water as my main swim. My reasoning is fairly simple. The fish feel at their safest in winter with a bit of water over their heads, so I take advantage of this fact. The central track is also likely to hold a number of other weight-building fish. You will no doubt catch carp in the shallower water across the lake, but you could be missing out on a lot of other fish.

Here at Barby Banks Fishery there are thousands of other fish to catch in between spells of catching carp. Fish like skimmers, roach and brown gold!sh all play an important part in winning matches here and can generally be relied upon even on the hardest of sessions.
Barby is a pretty typical commercial snake lake. The depth is about I've feet down the track and it shelves up to about 18 inches on the far side. In summer the deepest water would be a no-go as far as I am concerned, but today it is the hotspot. After a good plumb around I have chosen to fish in the absolute deepest part of the swim. I have also found the same depth down my peg a little, where I have a backup line. One thing I will say is that this is not the same as F1 fishing, where you can create new swims and get an instant response. I much prefer to establish two or three swims and feed them from the off. This gives the fish time to find the bait and settle.

Pellets are the ideal bait choice in winter, in my opinion. They are extremely effective when fed in tiny quantities and that plays into the hands of a winter angler. For feed I have brought some 3mm Dynamite Swim Stim pellets that I have soaked well. I like to use yellow pellets and have dyed them by using a good squirt of Korda Goo Pineapple Power Smoke. I have also prepared some 4mm and 6mm Ringers Next Generation pellets. Again these have had the Goo treatment to give them a yellow hue, which I believe helps them stand out on the lake bed.

I am a firm believer in feeding expanders along with my 3mms so will always prepare a decent amount.

Last year I stumbled across a great feed that seems to work brilliantly in colder conditions. I had a load of soaked expanders with me and was going to have to throw them away, but I decided to try pushing them through a riddle. The result was awesome.

Anglers use crushed expanders all the time but I prefer this way of doing things. It is a lovely damp mix that sinks quickly and is very attractive. Again I give the riddled pellets the Goo treatment and as you can see when it goes in the water it creates a lovely cloud followed by the neon colour of the Goo – a surefire winner.

To make the mix I use 8mm Ringers Next Gen Expanders. I pump them as per normal and add them to a bag the night before, along with plenty of water. By the next morning they will be totally saturated and will almost be falling to bits. It is then a case of pushing them through a riddle until you get the consistency you are looking for.

The mix can be fed loose as a pot topper or even in small balls – either way, it is deadly!

This method is all about catching !sh on the deck, so my rigs re#ect this. Floatwise a 4x14 MW Steady is my choice. This is a wire-stemmed pattern that is very stable even in strong winds or awkward tow. The bristle is a thin, hollow version that is very visible even when it is dotted down.

Shotting is just a strung bulk of No10 shot spaced at 1in intervals above a 6in hooklength. A key component of the rig is a No8 back shot positioned about three inches above the float. This just takes up any slack that could drag the float out of position. I plumb up so that the rig is just overdepth but will lay a couple of inches of line on the bottom if I feel I need to keep things really still. I tie the rig up on 0.13mm Guru N-Gauge main line and use an 0.11mm hooklength. This is combined with a size 18 LWG hook, a lovely light yet strong pattern and perfect for pellet fishing.

The whole setup is finished with white Hydro, which is just about soft enough for the smaller fish but gives me a great chance of landing the bigger carp with minimal fuss.
I am going to kick the two swims off in a very similar fashion. Both are receiving a golf ball of the riddled expanders with a pinch of 3mms and 4mm expanders. This is more than enough to attract and hold the fish. I will, however, top up by using a tiny pole pot. I don’t risk anything, though, and will literally tap in three or four pellets with a small pinch of the riddled expander.

I try and feed to bites if I can and if I feel I am getting a response then I will up the frequency of the feeding. I must stress, though, that even if you aren’t getting bites, feeding a few pellets is still a good idea. Bait falling through the water is one of the best ways to attract fish into the swim.

It has taken a good hour to get my first bite today. It is barely above freezing and I expected the fishing to be slow. Nevertheless, I have kept just a few bits of bait trickling in to try and spark the swim into life.

Slowly but surely things begin to tick. Initially small carp, goldfish and skimmers are responding but these are signs that the swim and the bait are working well. With plenty of bites now coming I can become a bit more experimental with the feed. It seems to be that adding just 3mm pellets, some riddled expander and a little squirt of Goo gets the best response.

It isn’t long before I catch my first carp and from then on I can sort of sense that more are coming. Every time I feed I get small indications that tell me that the fish are responding to the bait. A little trick that has definitely caught me a few extra fish is to present the rig four inches overdepth. This is generally frowned upon by pellet anglers but it has led to plenty of fish today in tricky conditions.

I end with a cracking mixed net, which highlights the effectiveness of these simple baits when fished in the deepest water you can find.

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About Match Fishing

Match Fishing is THE magazine for any angler that wants to catch more fish and gain an edge! All aspects of competitive fishing are covered, with in-depth features, advice and stories covering lakes, canals and rivers. No matter where you fish or your level of ability, there is something for you to enjoy, each and every month, in Match Fishing!

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