A Silver Lining – Tom Downing


With the water temperature still being really cold bites can certainly be at a premium. With carp shoaling up in certain pegs, if you aren’t on them you can really struggle to sometimes even get a bite whilst targeting them. With this in mind I recently went onto one of Stafford Moors’ specimen lakes- Beaties. No I hadn’t dusted the carp gear off I simply wanted a day with plenty of bites. As the lake sees a lot of particles fed by the carp boys the silver fish in the lake are thriving and are relatively unfished for. Speaking to one of the locals he has had a few trips and done really well balling in groundbait, so with this in mind the night before I was due to go I mixed up some groundbait in preparation. The reason I mix my groundbait the evening before is to make it inert or inactive mainly to keep the fish on the deck and not bring them up in the water which an active groundbait can do, due with particles wafting up in the water column.

My mix for the day was 80% Pro Natural Dark and 20% Special G Dark. My mix was intended mainly for roach but with the odd skimmer to be had a little bit of fishmeal in the mix wouldn’t hurt anything. With the mix done all that was left was to sort the rest of the bait out and that was just as simple. Some dead reds out of the freezer, a tin of corn, a tin of hemp and some lovely golden brown casters! Van all loaded I arrived at the fishery and had a quick coffee and a yap with Jo and Dodgy and a side bet of a £1 was agreed. We had a quick look at swims and two on the dam wall were chosen. Dodgy Dave picked the same peg he had fished the week before!! ( He’ll do anything to win a quid!) As it was going to be a ‘fish race’ I decided to only set up two lines. One at 5 meters to see if they’d come short but with the cold wind I wasn’t confident they would and another line at 11.5m.

My rigs may have looked a bit crude but we’re kept relatively simple. The swim depth was relatively even or around 5-6 foot so I opted to use a 1.5 gram Dino OVO with an inline olivette as a bulk, stopped of with some number 9s. Like I say a bit crude for roach fishing but the aim was to get the rig straight down once flicked past the feed to try and eliminate getting bitted out by the nuisance fish.

The reason I would flick the rig past the feed was because fishing into the wind it would help the rig settle just off the back of the feed and eliminate the wind tangling the rig if it was just laid in. Once all plumbed up and ready to fish we agreed a time to start and to fish under ‘match conditions’. At the all in it was like the Dam Busters flew over head but it turns out it was just dodgy balling his groundbait into his swim. I opted to feed balls of groundbait but via pole cup. I prefer to feed like this for roach as I feel you can concentrate your feed to a smaller area with minimal disturbance. I put in 6 hard balls and one softer ball with some hemp, casters and a little bit of corn mixed in it for my initial feed.

I also fed just the one ball short to see if I could bring the fish closer but as I said before I wasn’t expecting them to come to close. First drop in with a couple of red maggots on the hook it took a while but the first bite resulted in a 12oz skimmer, followed by two others then the roach moved in and they were a good stamp! At this time dodgy hadn’t had a bite so I was confident that cupping was better on the day! With bites coming quite steady now I decided to feed a small nugget of groundbait with casters mixed in, every fish. I continued to catch steadily but after so long the fish started getting smaller so I simply topped up with another two balls of groundbait, again laced with casters,  corn and hemp! This certainly proved to be key as the bigger stamp fish soon rocked back up!! I kept repeating this when I felt I needed to re-feed the swim to keep the fish coming. I did drop on the short line from time to time just to have a look but this only resulted in one small roach so I didn’t give the line much time at all! Before we knew it 5 hours was up! It’s crazy where the time goes when you are constantly getting bites and working the swim!

Dodgy was first to weigh and he managed to land just over 16lb of roach and the odd skimmer. My net of roach and skimmers went 32lb and more importantly won a quid!!! It really was nice to have a day of constant bites rather that sitting watching a tip or a waggler that may or may not go round or under at this time of year. If you’ve had a poor winter campaign, get yourself out and find some hidden bars of silver to boost the confidence!

Tight Lines

Tom Downing
#TeamBaitTech

*A few days after this session Tom went on to catch a 46lb weight of Roach and Skimmers from the same lake to win a midweek match – incredible fishing by anyone’s standards!


One Response to A Silver Lining – Tom Downing

  1. Jo Coombes March 1, 2018 at 8:44 am

    Great blog Tom! A real fab read, thank you Jo ?

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