I get regular e-mails concerning the rigs that I use and so in this article I want to begin with a brief rundown of the business end of my tackle. I am using 10lb Drennan Double Strength as the hook length. That breaking strain may sound a little on the heavy side for bream and tench fishing, but with some decent carp in the water, if I hook one I want to be in with a chance of landing it. But there is also the fact that it is a gravel pit and so there is the possibility of abrasion.
On that front I am well aware that braid would be considered by many to be a more viable option, but I favour mono at the moment. I have fished with braid here before as a hook length but I’m just more confident with the presentation I am getting so until I feel the need to change, that’s where I will stay. I do however check the line every time I bring the bait back to the bank, whether to recast or if a fish has been caught, and particularly so with the latter.
The hook lengths that I am using are about 18 inches in length. My choice of hook is the Drennan Boilie hook size 6, which I consider just right for the baits that I am fishing with and the way that I am fishing. I’ve already mentioned confidence and that does play a massive part in angling. If for some reason I arrived at the pit and had no size 6 hooks, and was forced to fish with either 8’s or 4’s, I just wouldn’t feel as positive as I do with a 6.
And that’s why on a similar plane, if I cast out and I’m not 100% happy with where the bait lands, I reel in again and recast. Many anglers may take the ‘well it’s close enough and it’ll do for me’ approach, but I have to know everything is just as I want it – and where – otherwise I can’t settle. If you’re not a specimen angler yourself you may find that precision to detail difficult to understand, how a bait a few feet from where you want it to be has to be brought back again. But that’s the way it is, particularly when you are pitting your wits against big fish. You need to know that everything is just right.
I am fishing pop-up baits, not only do I like the ideas of a bait an inch off the bottom but with weed starting to come through from the bed of the gravel pit, it means that my bait is above anything that might smother it. I use Fox pop-up weights that are held in place by a small piece of elasticated rubber which works great, far better than pinching a shot on the line in the traditional way and running the risk of weakening the line. To complete the rig I use a piece of shrink tube on the shank of the hook which allows me to position the hair in the way that I want it, as well as avoiding potential tangles.
So that’s my rig – pretty simple but thought out specifically with the venue and species in mind. Thinking is an important part of being one step ahead of the quarry. If you turn up and put anything together and cast out you may get lucky from time to time, but fishing can – and should be – far more than luck. By being prepared and working stuff through we can increase our chances of outsmarting the fish. And we need to be aware that although they are fish and have the six-second-memory that everyone talks about, at times they act as if they have multiple degrees from the top universities!
Arriving at the gravel pit for an overnighter (what else for big bream and tench!), I once more had the venue to myself. As part of my planning and preparation I always work out a couple or so swims that I will fish from. But in several years of visiting the venue, only once has my first choice ever been taken. With a nice bright day I was able to set up the rods and cast out before finally putting the shelter in place. I have watched anglers many times arrive and spend an eternity doing things before they finally start to bait up and fish.
The only time I mess with non-fishing stuff is when the weather dictates that I need to. The shelter only becomes a priority when it is either raining or imminent. Elements aside, the first thing I do is cast out the marker float and then catapult balls of groundbait to the spots where I will be fishing. Once the rods have been cast and set on the pod, then I can think about everything else. And of course, I must mention that the landing net is in the list of priorities. It’s important that is up and ready prior to casting in.
I had definite interest at 10.00pm on the left-hand rod, which was fishing a 10mm pineapple pop-up boilie. But nothing came of it. If this a month ago, with the extreme weather conditions, I would have been thinking that my one and only bite of the cherry had come and gone. But with a general upturn I was more than hopeful that I would not be limited to just a missed fish to show for my efforts. And so it was as within the hour, the corn fished on the right rod was taken by a decent bream.
It was a very mild night and even though the second fish came at 2.50am, it wasn’t chilly at all. It actually felt quite pleasant. I was then able to get my head down until 7.30am when at first I thought I had a tufted duck on the end of the run as there were several birds diving over the baited area. But it turned out to be a tench! For the second session on the trot I ended up with three fish (two bream and a tench each time) so hopefully, even though it’s taken half the close-season to get there because of the weather, I have finally turned the corner! It looks that way.
Check out this week’s video clip by clicking here
(Originally published May 2008)