When fishing commercials, such as here at Woodlands Thirsk, a big part of my armoury is targeting silvers in the mid part of the match, because it is simply not possible to catch carp front-to-back throughout a session from every peg, on any venue.
Being able to read the water in front of you is a big part of any fishing success, from rivers and canals to commercials. After matches I often hear people saying how they caught a few carp in the first and last hour, but sat there putting not a lot of fish in the net during the middle part of the match. For me, if I’m not catching carp and I feel as though my peg is not as strong as others, I like to target winning a section as opposed to winning the match if an overall win is not a realistic possibility.
With commercials up and down the country now holding big heads of silver fish such as skimmers and tench, these are great weight builders. I also like to give myself the chance of hooking carp while fishing for silvers.
These 13H and 15H elastics do the job.
A great way to build a big weight quickly is to catch short – I like to fish as close as I possibly can and today I’ve put together a lot of silvers simply by fishing little balls of groundbait with some micro pellets in. Skimmers and tench in commercials are so used to eating pellets and groundbait that by a fishing large segments of worm, or a grain of corn, on the hook you give yourself the best chance of catching a larger size of silver fish and not being ‘plagued’ with smaller roach. It also gives you a greater chance of appealing to carp, of course.
When the latter part of the match arrives, for me, there is no better way of putting a big weight together than catching in the margins. Over the past few years I’ve had great success in catching in the margins by feeding groundbait and a few loose offerings of hook bait. But it’s not just a case of tipping a load of groundbait in and sitting with a bait over the top; there are lots of little things you can do to improve what you put in your net at the end of the match.
Josh has a lot of confidence in green-coloured groundbait.
First and foremost is the groundbait itself – I’ve tried all different kinds and the best I have found is Bag ‘em Commercial Green. It’s a really heavy groundbait, which I like to mix on the wet side. This is important as you want it to go straight to the lake bed and also, when you get a few fish over the top, it doesn’t waft around, leading to line bites. The green colour is actually something I’m really confident in; I feel it blends in well with the bottom, but still has the colour to attract fish without being too over the top.
The way I actually introduce groundbait to my peg is a little different to most. I see lots of people drop it from a height, but to me this is wrong as it allows the mix to spread out over a large area. This can be good for targeting silver fish but when I’m targeting carp I like to know that when I introduce my groundbait it’s all sinking together as tight as possible, straight to the bottom.
To help this I came up with the idea of drilling holes into my pole pot, so when it’s full of groundbait I simply sink my fully bait-laden pole pot an inch or two under the surface and gently tap my pole. This allows the water into the top of my pole pot and pushes all the groundbait out in one plume.
Lower the pot gently on to the surface… … submerge it, then tip the pot over.
I also don’t like to feed my margin with groundbait until around five minutes before I go on it either, more often than not due to groundbait limits on a few of my local venues. Also, I feel when you start catching you need to feed it after every fish, so if I was to introduce it from the start of the match I’d simply run out of bait.
For my rigs I’m a big fan of keeping things very simple. For starters I like to fish as light as I possibly can. People are often amazed at how light I fish here at Woodlands, but for me when fishing in open water for carp, as long as everything is balanced, I never have a problem. And, surely, the lighter you fish, the more naturally you can present your bait, and the more bites and fish you are going to catch.
Try bunching all of your shot directly underneath the float.
One big thing I have learnt here at Woodlands is that the fish are extremely wise and have seen every trick in the book. When you get a few fish in the edge late on in the day all you need is a false liner and a carp will spook and bow wave out of the peg, wafting bait everywhere and taking all of its carp friends with it. So after trying hair rigging and every other trick in the book, one day I stopped behind after a match to try and sort something out, when I came up with the idea of fishing two to four inches overdepth and sliding all my shot directly underneath my float!
This way there wasn’t as much tension in the rig for the fish to feel, resulting in fewer fish spooking out of the swim. The bites, however, aren’t your normal yank-unders and often the float will just sit and bob as opposed to burying, but I think this is just due to the fish not been able to feel any resistance.
Another thing I’m a big fan of is back shotting to keep the rig still and in the right place. This can be the key to success or failure. Especially on windy days, being able to keep your rig still will reduce lots of foul hookers and, when fishing light, the last thing you want be doing is foul hooking large carp.
I’ve ended the session with a superb weight of both silvers and carp, putting these tactics into practice. These little edges might be just the thing you’re looking for to up your game on your local pressured commercial.
Target the silvers to fill in ‘blank’ spells.
Large, wise commercial carp are catchable if you think carefully about your approach.
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