Small water winter carp fishing (Entry 32)

This week I headed to a small stillwater in search of carp. I have fished the water in the past but never for its carp. Previously when fishing light lines for roach and crucians I have occasionally been snapped by rogue fish a lot bigger than my intended quarry. In fact during one struggle I had seen the offending fish, which turned out to be a pretty large ghost carp, easily a mid double. Unfortunately I didn’t land the fish, but I vowed that I would return to the water sometime and try to even the score. On my way to the water I knew I was probably visiting it a little too early in the year to give myself any real chance of finding the few large carp that live here, but with the rivers out of commission I thought I would have a go. If anything I could have a lead around a few swims and search out any interesting features. Plus, as long as there is a bait in the water, there is a chance.


I arrived at the venue a little after dawn in the rain. Quite heavy rain actually and it looked like it was going to be on for the day. Ideally I wanted to fish a few swims but this was going to be a tough slog now. The banks were saturated, pegs almost flooded. The wind blew from every angle. It was a particularly unpleasant day. Not one to be discouraged, I trudged to the farthest end of the water where I have done most of my fishing. I know the area pretty well and its also a place where I have seen most of the carp on previous visits. I mentioned the wind a few sentences ago and I’m mentioning it again, it came howling in from the east and was bitterly cold. I was sure with it chilling the water the best place I could look for was an area of cover where the water would be marginally warmer. Tucked in a corner on the west bank I found such a place. It had a little depth, an abundance of snags which winter carp love to lay up in, and more important was sheltered from the wind. I decided to give it a few hours in this swim, casting around a visual bottom bait with a little groundbait stick for added attraction.


I cast out a simple, but safe, bolt rig a felt the lead down. It landed with a satisfying thud. I set the rod in the alarm and decided to leave it in position for around an hour. If there was any fish present I didn’t want to cause too much disturbance after all. I didn’t have to wait that long though as after 30 minutes I had a screaming run and was into what felt like a reasonable fish, not a carp for sure but very welcome on such a horrible day. I could see the fish was a tench of maybe 3lb but unfortunately dropped off at the net. It’s one of those things and its something we have to get used to as anglers. There will always be frustrating moments buts its those same failures that make the triumphs that much sweeter. My confidence had been raised a notch though, obviously some fish were in the area so I went about re baiting and casted the rig back out, slightly further out than previous, searching for that carp. A whole ten minutes went by before I had another run. This fish felt much smaller than the tench I had previously lost. The only conciliation being it was my target species.


After this fish I had no other bites from the area so early afternoon I decided to move to another swim. This offered me more open water to explore but also another margin sheltered from the easterly wind. I fished as I had in the other swim, casting every 45 minutes in the hope of finding a lethargic carp. I changed the 10mm boilie every third cast but apart from catching one crucian hybrid of about 1lb 8oz I had no other bites. It was a difficult session weather-wise to be honest and without making excuses I came away feeling as if I hadn’t fished very well. We all have our off days, I definitely had one today, and with the weather looking like it is going to get even colder in the coming week I probably wont be back to the venue until the temperature starts to rise. I am very much looking forward to it though. I wonder if Sian Lloyd could order me some mild weather?


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I update every saturday morning.

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Grayling fishing? More like chub fishing (Entry 31)

This week saw me heading out to do a spot of grayling fishing on the River Dane. I was looking forward to walking along a stretch with a rod, net and essentials and pitting my wits against the grayling that thrive in its waters. Well that was the plan anyway, what actually happened was something all together different.

It turned out to be a cold morning, very cold in fact, the frost was thick on the ground and it took longer than expected to load the car as my locks had frozen solid! With a bit of persuasion they eventually opened and I was on my way to the river. I arrived at roughly nine o’clock and making my way the the top of the stretch wondered how the river would look. I wanted it to have a tinge of colour and be at normal winter level. Which is exactly what I got. I went about setting up my rig quickly and fed two or three white maggots every few minutes whilst I did so. After an hours 40 minutes fishing I hadn’t had anything of any size, just a few tiny grayling not even an ounce. It looks as if the future population will be a healthy one as a small fish today, if cared for, could be a specimen of tomorrow. I had one last trot through before I wandered off to find another swim that hopefully held some bigger specimens.

The mouth watering second swimThe next swim I settled into seemed a good bet for a grayling or two. Just above the swim was some shallow fast water and I had dropped into the pool at the foot of it. The water towards the far bank still had a lot of pace on it, but nearer to myFirst fish from the second swim bank it was steadier. I deepened the rig until it dragged under then took a small shot off. This is something I do if I want the bait being dragged hard across the bottom and it certainly stops the float dragging under nine times out of ten. First cast produced a unmistakable slow bite that was met with a writhing fight. The first proper grayling of the session at around 12oz. I fed a few more maggots and returned the fish upstream so as to hopefully not disturb the shoal if there was one there. Second trot through produced a similar bite and another grayling was making its bid for freedom.

Second trot down and grayling number twoAgain I fed some more maggots and returned the fish upstream. I settled back in the swim and sent the float down the river. No bites this time. A few more maggots were fed and I tried the float on a different line further out over the middle of the river. Right at the end of the trot the float buried and I struck into a much better fish. If this was a grayling it was going to be a new PB. Slowly the fish made its way towards me, on a 0.09mm bottom and an 18’s hook I took it steady. I was almost sure this was a chub. A huge white mouth opened and gills flared below the surface. It was definitely a chub. A nice sized chub though and I certainly wasn’t complaining. I landed the fish pictured below a few seconds later.

A 3lb chub makes an appearanceI upped the feed a little after the chub and a few more trots through went by before, a little further upstream this time, I struck into what was obviously another chub. The chub keep comingThe chub played itself out like the one before and soon another 3lb plus chub was lying in the net. This was turning into a good little session. Sure the grayling seemed to have moved out of the swim but there was obviously some hungry chub present. I rested the swim for a few minutes after this fish and had a cup of tea to warm my hands a little. I watched the frost metling, dripping rhythmically from high up branches. I kept feeding maggots though, gaining the chubs confidence as I admired my surroundings. With the tea break over quicker than I would have liked, I re-baited the hook with a single white maggot and cast out. First cast another bite and another chub. Amazing! It was certainly great fun on light tackle and the centrepin. This chub was a little bigger maybe 3lb 10oz and its throat was full of maggots. I saw this as a sign to cut back on the number of maggots I was feeding but still feed as often. Next trot down another chub, and so it went on. In all honesty Ive never had such consistent chub fishing from this river before. I’ve definitely had bigger chub from here but never in this quantity and the fish themselves were in absolute pristine condition.

Another quality chub in the frostIn two hours from that one swim I had two grayling and nine chub for cumulatively about 24-26lb, the biggest fish being the one below at just over 4lb. As I have said on light float gear it was brilliant sport and although it was only just after noon, I decided to leave the river and head home for a warm bath and a hearty meal. I didn’t want to push my luck. The river had already rewarded me with some cracking fish in beautiful countryside.

The final and biggest chub of the day at just over 4lb

As I walked back across the field to the car, the ground still hard under my feet, I wondered if I would have another session like that on that stretch again. It’ll have to go some way to do so but I shall certainly look forward to trying.

Don’t forget you can get twitter updates notifying you of new blog updates by adding @NorthwestFish or you can follow my blog by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Until next time,


Fishing the canal for specimen roach (Entry 30)

Im sure you, like me, have lots to look forward to in the coming year, new goals to achieve and hopefully new personal records to break. For me it would be to catch a 2lb roach. My current best stands at 1lb 15oz and if nothing else, proves I am an honest angler! I would dearly like to catch this 2lb roach from a canal, after all its on these venues that I first became interested in angling. So this week I decided to head to the canal in search of some specimen sized roach. Let me say at this point for me a specimen sized roach from a canal is anything over a pound in weight. I know that the canal is capable of producing big roach as I have caught them ‘accidentally’ whilst targeting carp on here last May before I started this blog. But the difference between late spring and winter is a big one, and having never fished this canal before in the depths of winter, especially fishing so soon after the snow we’ve just had, I had no idea if the fish were going to play ball.

IMG_0591The method I used today comes with an interesting story. Apparently used by an old man during the 1960 and 1970’s’s in the winter matches held on this canal, he was laughed at IMG_0594by fellow matchmen because of his use of heavy lines and large hooks. However he often caught huge roach, and by huge I mean fish of over 2lb. The fish of a lifetime for many anglers and truly colossal for a canal. His method involved using a small stick float attached top and bottom, often fished straight through on 4-5lb line to a size 12 hook. Bait was a big lump of breadflake or a lobworm and the rig was fished overdepth by at least six inches but as much as a foot. The rig was flicked out and allowed to pull round, the excess line ensuring the rig stopped and the bottom of the near shelf. Here he would wait for the float to sail away and massive roach to break the surface. My father used a similar method during the 1980’s on the Bridgewater canal to take some massive nets of bream and big roach. I remember him showing it to me some years later and I wondered how a seemingly crude tactic could out fish a finely presented waggler or pole float. Of course it makes sense to me now so I thought it was high time to give it a real go. Instead of using a rod, I used a pole to ensure my rig was fishing on the IMG_0597crease of the boat channel and the shelf. I made a small pole float modeled on a stick float, kind of like a thin, elongated dibber float and it was attached to a 3.6lb mainline. I too fished this straight through to a large, fine wire size 16 hook. The whole rig was plumbed up to be six inches overdepth, but I would add even more depth if I needed to. Hookbait today was going to be an 8mm punch bread. Simple as that. For feed it would be good old liquidised bread fed fairly regularly, every 15 minutes but only in a small amount. This canal suffers from heavy boat traffic and the pull on the water can be heavy at times so in order to keep a trail of bread particles in the general vicinity of my hookbait, I needed to feed this often.

As you can tell from the first picture it was very windy on the canal today. In fact gusts of wind near 40mph were predicted. The majority of the canal was still frozen over from the cold conditions we have had which made swim selection something of a lottery. I had to make do with a narrower sections near a small stone bridge. Not where I really wanted to be but I’m not making excuses, just supplying the facts. I decided to stick it out and fish an hour into darkness. I fed as I said I would, the rig fished really nicely, and held the hook bait relatively stationary in the fairly forceful flow. If I took an inch of depth off the bait would trundle through enticingly and allowed me to search the swim as if on a river. In five hours I didn’t have any signs. I didn’t see any fish move at dusk and apart from the array of small birds (I must get look into buying a bird species guide soon), the canal looked totally lifeless.

The fish are there though and hopefully if the weather conditions settle down and we have a milder spell for a week or so the roach may become more forthcoming. I’ll certainly be back to the canal soon when conditions dictate.

Don’t forget you can get twitter updates notifying you of new blog updates by adding @NorthwestFish or you can follow my blog by clicking the link at the top of the page.

Until next time,