Sunday, 8 November 2020

Tips for Catching F1's in the Winter Months

The winter time has to be my favourite time of year for fishing. I think it's because everything slows down and you need to put a lot more thought into how you approach your swim. (Not that I don't love bagging up in the summer months too!) Hopefully these few tips will help you put more fish in the net during this period. 

Tip 1. Bait 

The bait you take to your peg this time of year will make or break your day. My ultimate go to at this time of year is the mighty maggot. It catches everything and F1s seem to really switch onto them as the temperatures and daylight hours drop; I think that F1s prefer these to pellets as they are high protein and easily digested, which helps conserve energy and assists them in preparing for the cold winter months. 

Two other baits I wouldn't leave the house without are bread and sweetcorn. These can be both extremely effective this time of year due to them being highly visible. They can be used really effectively on both the pole and the bomb. There are certain venues that will still respond really well to pellets too, so venue knowledege is vitally important to ensure you have the right baits with you. 

Tip 2. Rigs 

We all know that the winter weather can be inclement, so you need your rigs to work properly. There is no point in putting on a nice light float if the conditions hinder it working like it should. 

If it's windy, I will always opt for a larger bodied float as this helps with stability and will improve presentation. Keeping the rig still, especially in the winter will definitely ensure you get more bites. F1s and most other species are all about conserving energy to get them through the winter and will be extremely wary of a unnatural moving bait. A larger bodied float can also aid in combating under tow which can also make the bait act unnatural. 

If it's a really still day then a thin bodied float is my go to, as F1's are the shyist biting fish in commercial venues. You need to give yourself every possible advantage you can muster and dotting the float down and seeing every tiny bite is probably top of the list. Bites can be few and far between in the winter months so having the float dotted down minimises the chance of missing bites. 

The final part of getting the rig exactly right is back shot. I'll be honest I was late in discovering the benefits of using it. for me, it plays a huge part in keeping the rig in place especially when surface tow is an issue. I like to use a couple of number 8 shot about 4-6" away from the float as this is what I have found works best for me. If you have never used back shot, then a bit of experimenting in where this is placed will definitely be beneficial. 

Tip 3. Feeding 

Most of my feeding in the winter is done through a pole mounted sprinkle type pot. I like my bait whether maggots or pellets to drop out of the pot one or two at a time. My usual approach is to start by feeding 6-10 maggots or pellets depending on the venue. I will drop these from about a meter above the water so that they

make a little plop when entering the water. Even in the winter months F1s seem to respond to that bit of noise; If you have a steady start then bites deteriorate or stop, it can be worth flicking a few maggots/pellets over the top via a catty and this can sometimes trigger the fish back into feeding. 

Another approach that can be deadly is throwning maggots in on a short line especially in the second half of the match. This usually comes to fruition just as the light starts to drop as the fish go looking for food. This can be another zero to hero method. 

Tip 4. The Bomb 

This is one method that can be the difference between hero and zero in the winter months. 2 baits stand head and shoulders above all others for the Bomb, these are bread and corn. Bread is highly visual in the clearer conditions and when used in conjunction with the bomb it can be deadly. The best way of using bread on bomb is to pop it up. The best way of doing this is to punch a number of discs out with a bread punch (the secret is not to squash the air out of the bread). Hairrigging the bread is the best way of presenting the bait. I do this with a quick stop hairrigged about a cm below the bend of the hook. The hook wants to be a light guage wire so that it doesn't cause the bread to sink down. The hook I use mainly is a new Kamasan T911 in size 16. I find this perfect for the job. Lastly the bomb itself. I like to use an inline bomb and depending on the distance I need to cast, I like to use either 20 or 30g bombs. These seem to anchor correctly and give the best bite detection as quite a few bites on popped up bread are drop backs. 

Corn on the bomb has been an unbelievable method for me over the last couple of years. I have caught loads of fish on it, especially in the latter parts of a match. Feeding is the most important part of this method and I have found that feeding it frugly throughout the day is the best approach. The way I personally find best is to feed 3 grains every couple of minutes via catapult contiunously throughout the day. I have found that keeping the same rhythm throughout the day is vitally important and altering this even slightly can have a detrimental effect. Once the fish switch onto the corn it can be busy fishing.

 The best way I have found to present it is again using a hair rigged quickstop. I opt for a much lighter in line bomb for this than the bomb and bread, around 8-10g. As you are fishing within catapulting range, this is more than enough and it makes a lovely little plop when casting in. One thing I never do when fishing bomb and corn is clip up. I like to cast around the feed area as I have discovered this works best for me. The bites are also usually ferocious so not been clipped up stops unwanted snap offs. 

Hopefully these few tips will help you put more fish in your net this winter!