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The Fish Magnet
Pole Fishing

The Fish Magnet

Posted Saturday, April 4, 2015   |   1899 views   |   Sport   |   Comments (0) Cameron Hughes reveals the tricks he uses to draw fish into even the most unfavoured of pegs.

Regardless of what some of my fellow anglers would have you believe, I don’t sit on good pegs all the time. I am not going to deny that I get my fair share of them, and when I do, catching from them can be relatively straightforward. This is because you have a large number of fish in front of you, and once you manage to trigger them into competing for bait, they often drop any inhibitions that they have, meaning you can catch them quite easily.

The most challenging, but also rewarding, days are when there are not so many fish in front of you. On these days you have to draw the fish into your peg, then encourage them to feed before you can really plunder them.

Perfect Planning
The first thing that I must stress is how important it is to have a clear plan in your head of how you would like the day to go. For example, we know that fishing often gets better as the day progresses, due to the increase in water temperature and drop in light levels.

With this in mind, it can often pay to spend the early part of a session building your swim up for an anticipated good last couple of hours. On all too many occasions, I have seen anglers suffer a bad first part of the session then panic. Believing they are out of the race, they ‘fill their peg in’ and ruin any chance of fish moving into the area.

A better line of attack is to ensure that your entire approach is fine tuned, so that when fish do switch on you are ready, your tackle is perfect, your swims are primed and you can proceed to empty the joint!

Depth and Distance
You join me on Lake 5 at Makins Fishery near Wolvey. Like many commercials, this lake is absolutely rammed with silver fish and also holds a good head of carp. Now for the bad news – the peg that I’m sat on is on the shallow bank and is only around three feet deep, compared with the six or seven that you find on most banks. There has been a keen spring frost, and with bright, sunny weather, conditions are perfect to demonstrate how to build a peg from scratch.
The pleasure anglers on the deeper banks appear to be catching fairly well – which at least gives me the confidence that fish are feeding, and if I tailor my approach correctly a good net of fish could be on the cards.

Because I don’t have depth on my side, and the water is still fairly clear, I know straightaway that there are two things that I will need to do to give myself the best possible chance of catching. When the fish aren’t entirely confident they shy away from two things. Firstly, bankside disturbance, so I know that I will have to feed as far from the bank as I comfortably can. This means 14.5 metres, so that I have the option of fishing past my bait at the pole’s full length of 16 metres.

Secondly, it’s the shadow of your pole tip. This means fishing at least two swims, so that the fish can be gaining con!dence over one feed area while you plunder the other. Plus, fishing a long line in between my pole tip and foat so that I am able to flick my rig past the shadow of my pole, where the fish will hopefully intercept my bait more confidently.

When it comes to tackling up, there are two key considerations that you need to make. First of all, you need a rig that gives you optimum bait presentation and sensitivity, so when the fish aren’t feeding confidently you can tempt them into taking your hook bait. For me, this means a light strung-out rig; I’m using a 0.2g Rive 255 pencil float. This is shotted with seven No11s down to a 6in hooklength of 0.10mm Rive hooklength line and a size 18 Green Gama hook. This is matched to a soft No4-6 Rive hollow elastic.

The other thing you need is a more positive ‘bagging’ rig. After all, when the fish really switch on later in the day, you need to be able to plunder them! A lot of anglers go down a real gung-ho route when it comes to this. Bigger lines, bigger hooks, bigger elastics – but on days when you are only going to catch for a short space of time I steer clear of this.

Let me explain why. Say the fish switch on and you’re fishing your ‘normal’ rig, catching one every put-in, so you decide to switch to your bagging rig. All of a sudden, everything is a gauge heavier and several things could happen. Bites could become if!er because of your bigger float, line or hook. You could bump fish off because of your heavier-gauge elastic, or you might not get bites because of your cruder presentation. From nowhere, you are now wasting time and probably catching fewer fish than you were on your lighter rig.

This why in these conditions, all a bagging rig entails for me is the same line, float and hooks, but with a bulk and two droppers instead of a strung-out shotting pattern. This, in theory, means that I will get bites quicker and see them more positively. If I don’t, of course, I can simply pick my lighter rig back up.

Just to be clear, this is not my policy with all kinds of fishing. If I were on a flier and expecting a bumper day, I might use heavier line, floats and hooks. But when I know that my catching time is going to be at a premium, I don’t like to take any unnecessary risks.
When you know that you are not fishing in the best area of a lake, you need to get one thing clear in your head before you even start. It is very unlikely that you are going to catch a great deal in the early part of the session. It can even sometimes be a bad thing if you do, because it stops feeding !sh from settling properly.

You also have to take into consideration that to maximise what you catch you need to feed the right baits to suit what the fish want to eat. Groundbait is often the biggest risk  that you have to take. On some days you catch more, and bigger-stamp, !sh over a bed of groundbait, while on others you struggle to get so much as a bite over it but catch well
from the area of your peg where you haven’t fed any.

This is why covering your options is essential. I have fed a line to my left with two balls of groundbait at the all-in, and to my right I have fed just a palmful of red  maggots and casters. As expected, no instant response is forthcoming and half an hour into the session I haven’t had a bite. Even despite this lack of action, I still keep the occasional pouch of loose feed falling through the water in a bid to draw fish into the swim. I feed between six and 10 casters over my loose-feed line every 10 minutes.

Patience and confidence are key during this early part of the session. As is to be proved shortly, although I am not getting any bites or putting anything in the net, my feeding isn’t going unnoticed. All the time fish are congregating in my swim, and as long as I don’t do anything to counteract this, when the !sh that I am drawing in decide to
feed, I should catch well.

Sure enough, an hour into the day I put a small roach in the net, then no more bites follow. Following a brief break for a cup of coffee, I then add three good-sized skimmers to the net before I am again sitting there biteless. Interestingly, all my baits so far have fallen to a single-red-maggot hook bait rather than a caster. I think the soft nature of this hook bait and the bit of movement that it gives off helps to incite a bite in these more dif!cult conditions.

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