Spring is a period in which lakes transform and venues start livening up; however just like this year, days can start with a hard ground frost followed by cloudless blue skies and high pressure, which in turn makes the fishing somewhat frustrating and often difficult at times.
Pick a venue with a mix of species
I chose to fish on a typical spring morning and I knew that the fishing would be far from easy, getting a line where the fish feed confidently can take time so it’s a good idea to fish for anything that swims, especially at the start of your session. You can also check the margins to see if the feed that’s been introduced on a little and often basis has been fed on during the session. This can be done later in the day or periodically throughout the session. Picking a venue that offers a mix of species does help massively, I chose to fish Pondwood Fisheries, on Snake Water 3, in Berkshire which offers just that with lots of carp, roach, ide, bream, tench, chub and barbel to go at. Carp are the dominant species there and on spring mornings they can take time to wake up and get their heads down, especially in the margins, so spending time putting a few pound of silvers together as opposed to being impatient and potentially spooking the carp isn’t a bad option.
Make or break a session
The two key points about getting the best from a swim after plumbing up, is feeding and shotting, get this wrong and it can make or break a session. Before referring to these lets quickly run through my tackle which consists of a Xitan Z16 L Advance Pole and I decided to team this up with Xitan Microbore Pink elastic which has a rating of 7-9. The reason for this elastic is there were plenty of snags along the margins, something the carp love to dive into. My rig consisted of Cenex 0.16mm Classic Mono, which I attached a delicate 0.3g float, along with a Cenex 0.11mm Fluoro Carbon Hook length which had a size 18 barbless hook tied to it. The distance between the float and elastic was purposely short, just six-inches as this allowed me to instantly react to the smallest of lift or dip of the float.
Shotting patterns can make a huge difference and the reason most match angler’s use a number of tiny shot is simply because it allows them to easily change the speed the bait falls through the water, something that a single bulk shot, such as an inline olivetti doesn’t. After such a cold start I made an educated guess that most of the fish would be in the deeper layers, probably in the last third of the swims depth. The 0.3g float takes seven no10 shot to cock, so I made the decision to position four of these, one inch apart, at two-thirds depth followed by the remaining three spread at intervals towards the hook, but slightly further apart as they near the hook. The three mini shots allowed the bait to descend through the water at a natural speed and all seven shot can, if needed, be adjusted to present the bait exactly as the fish want it. If there are lots of ide in the swim then these may want a slower drop so you can pull one shot up to make a bulk of five and slow the decent down using the two remaining droppers for example. Fishing the same venue on a regular basis will give you the knowledge of what works for that venue, but every day will be slightly different, this maybe down to the conditions or what species are present. Having a number of small shot is paramount if perfection is to be found. My session started as expected with plenty of small roach and ide showing straight away before a few carp moved in. Bites came in two different ways, on the drop as the bait descended through the last couple of feet of the swim, which tended to be either roach or ide. Or as soon as the bait had hit the bottom, which were the carp bites.
Feel your way into each session
Baiting is extremely important and it’s really a case of feeling your way into each session. Introducing too much bait is a recipe for disaster, if they don’t want to feed you can’t remove what’s gone in and buying a bite will become almost impossible. What I have done to great affect is to simply keep a constant trickle of bait falling through the water and this is achieved using a small feed pot with just three or four maggots along with a plug of groundbait, my choice on this session was Champion’s Method, Formula Fish. I consistently fed a line, which is to the right of the swim at nine metres, I also fed the same line to the left, as well as a marginal line if not two, for later in the day. The second nine metre line allowed me to rotate to either side if needed, due to bites drying on one side. All species love maggots and being so early in the year my hookbait was simply two red maggots. I’m wasn’t surprised that the marginal lines didn’t produce in the way they usually do, the high pressure, bright conditions and frosty start putting pay to this, but the nine metre lines produced bites regularly all morning giving me a lovely mixed bag of carp, roach, ide, tench and barbel.
Xitan Z16 L Advance Pole
Xitan Microbore 1.9mm Pink Pole Elastic
Cenex 0.16mm Classic Mono
Cenex 0.11mm Fluoro Carbon Hook Line
Size 18 barbless Hook
0.3g Pole Float
No10 Soft Shot
Champion’s Method Formula Fish Groundbait
About The Author
Match Fishing enthusiast
Match fishing in the UK for mixed bags of species.