Friday, 22 February 2013


I had the privilege of recently meeting up with MATCH FISHING'S  Joe Carass to demonstrate "how to keep the bites coming!",  which is featured in the March edition of their magazine. 

Well, what an absolutely fantastic days fishing we had! ........... but for those who have not had the chance to check out the magazine, here's the long, and short of it!


All we need to do is have a look out of the window to realize how variable the weather can be at this time of year. It doesn't take much of a change to put the fish off feeding at the best of times. True – fishing slows down in winter, which can cause the fish to be inactive or in a non-feeding mood, but it is also true that fantastic catches can also be caught this time of year by refining your rigs and feeding, and if you are willing to put in a little effort, you can reap the benefits while others around you may struggle!


I think the biggest bit of advice I could give to people is not to be static in their approach, for example: In summer you may put a large bed of bait down, and fish over the top; the fish will move in over the feed. In winter if you did this, you would more than likely end up biteless all day, as the fish are less active and don’t require a lot of food. So with this in mind, light feeding, light rigs, and a willingness to change the depths you are fishing at, you too can keep the bites coming all day.
Weather conditions are been more than favorable today being 10 degrees and very little wind; which is a welcome change from the cold, windy and wet weather we have been experiencing.


I am here at Messingham Sands today, which is situated on the outskirts of Scunthorpe. The complex boasts 10 lakes, comprising of 4 match only lakes, 4 day ticket lakes and 2 syndicate members only lakes. I have opted to fish the South Lake, which is one of the day ticket lakes, to demonstrate how an active approach can keep the bites coming all day.This lake boasts good depths, with some areas around 14 feet deep. The area I have chosen today gives me around 10 feet at about 10 meters. I have chosen to fish the pole at this length as I plan to fish a waggler line at 20 meters, and a bomb line at 40 meters. 


The set up comprises of the following rigs:

Pole Rig

  • Pole - Browning Xitan Xtreme margin pole
  • Pole elastic - double 5
  • Float - 1.5g Tubertini Serie Pro; which has a long thin bristle tip for ultimate bite detection
  • Main line - Browning Hybrid 0.14
  • Hooklength - Browning Hybrid 0.12;  which is 6” long
  • Hook - Kamasan B911 F1 size 18
  • Shotting - Olivette bulk and 3 number 10 Stotz droppers.

*The Olivette is set 2 feet from the hook and the droppers are spaced equally between the Olivette and the hook length. I want to get the bait down quickly which is the reason for the Olivette; but I still want some finesse and a slow fall over the last 2 feet to make the bait look like its falling naturally.

Waggler Rig  

  • Rod - 11 foot Browning Force Pellet Waggler. This has a lovely responsive tip, perfect for light waggler fishing
  • Waggler - Browning straight insert  4BB
  •  Main line - Browning Cenex 4lb sinking match line
  • Hooklength - Hybrid line 0.12
  • Shotting - The main bulk will be around the float with 3 number 8 Stotz droppers; The Stotz help give the bait a more natural fall than normal shot due to their shape.

*The float will be set at 3 feet deep. 

Bomb Rig

  • Rod - 10 foot Browning Force Bomb rod
  • Bomb - ½ ounce square bomb
  • Main line - 6lb Browning Cenex feeder line
  • Hooklength. 0.14 Hybrid line to a 16 Middy KM-1 with a hair rigged band, tied with a knotless knot


  • Groundbait - Sensas 3000 Roach and Silver Fish; with the main target been silver fish, this is perfect
  • 4mm fishery expander pellets (This is a fishery pellet only venue, this also includes hook pellets which are available on site for £1 per bag)
  • Red and White Maggots; nearly every fish loves maggots!

*I have also Dyed a handful of pellets yellow using Mainline yellow bait dye, for use as an alternative hook bait. With these been more visible it can sometimes draw you an extra bite even on the hardest of days


I have plumbed up 2 pole lines; one is at an 11 o’clock angle, and the other at a 1 o’clock angle. This gives me enough distance between the swims as to not draw fish from one to the other, which could unsettle them and reduce bites.  I can use the same rig for both lines as both depths are identical.

  • On the 11oclock line I am going to feed groundbait and expander pellets
  • On the 1oclock line I’m going to feed ground bait and maggots; the reason behind this is simply to see which works best
  • On the waggler line I am going to spray maggots via a catapult to draw the fish up in the water, and fish maggot on the hook
  • On the bomb line I’ll be feeding 8mm pellets, x 4 every 10 minutes with an 8mm in the band for hook bait.

Today’s Session 

I start by feeding both the pole lines; on the pellet line I cup in approx 50 expanders and 3 pressed nuggets of ground bait, which have been pressed via a Preston Cone press. I prefer the pressed ground bait method in the winter as it allows me to have more control over the quantities that I feed. On the maggot line I cup in 2 nuggets, plus approx 20 maggots. This is the line I am going to start on as I believe maggots usually give an instant response; it will also give the pellet line time to settle.

Within 2 minutes as predicted the response is instant, and decent sized Roach is in the net! My plan is to feed a pinch of maggots after every fish through a toss pot to keep the feed nice and tight.  After 15 minutes I have 5 Roach in the net.

I decide to give the pellet line a look to see if the fish have settled with a natural pellet on the hook. I always start on a natural pellet because this is what I have initially fed.  I will try a dyed pellet every now and then just too see which colour gives the best response. I am going to feed this line in the same way as the maggot line, but with a pinch of pellets instead of maggots. In previous sessions this line has provided the bigger fish. After a 1lb skimmer first drop-in on this line, the trend has continued. 

What I am doing whilst fishing one line is making sure the other line is fed as well, so if one line becomes quiet I can rest it and fish the other to keep the bites coming. At the same time as fishing the pole lines I am constantly feeding the waggler line with about 20 maggots every minute. On the bomb line I am feeding 4 x 8mm pellets every 10 minutes, this is a backup line if all else fails.

Today the pellet line is definitely the most productive of the 2 pole lines, and the natural coloured pellet is producing more fish than the dyed pellet.It’s now time to give the waggler a try; 2 red maggots are my hook bait of choice, as I believe they stand out, especially when fishing shallow. The action is fast and furious with bites almost every cast, Roach and Rudd are the main flurry on this line.

During today’s session I have kept alternating between all lines to keep the bites and fish coming, this also ensures the lines don’t become exhausted of fish. I would definitely say the waggler line was the most productive of all the lines used today; but the pellet line has produced the biggest fish.

At the end of today’s session, I swim the fish down the keep net and transfer them into the landing net head, which is placed in the water (This is the way fishery staff transfer the fish from keep net to weigh sling for all matches). 

A fantastic net of fish around 25lb is a well earned reward for this time of year!