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Big Bagging Baits!

Seven top hook baits for singling out carp and quality fish on commercial fisheries.


Now is the ideal time to think about targeting quality fish at your local venue. As summer approaches the bigger fish will be more active and looking for an easy meal – but so will all the smaller fish! This is where choosing a much larger target hook bait can be vital. A much more selective hook bait should help you single out those bigger specimens. Here’s our top seven options for you to try.

1. Pellets

big-baits-pelletCarp love pellets, but so does almost every other species, big and small! To stack the odds in your favour try an extra large 8mm expander pellet or even two 6mm Yum Yums Soft Hooker Pellets on the hook.

If small fish are still whittling down these larger offerings you’ll need to fish a much more resilient pellet instead. This is where a hard coarse pellet presented on a hair rig comes in. A banded 8mm+ coarse pellet fished on a size 14 or 12 Power Bandits makes a winning combo.

2. Dumbells

big-baits-dumbellSometimes ‘matching the hatch’ with a pellet hook bait over pellet feed is the best ploy. On other days it can pay to experiment with a more standout offering. This is where Bandit Dumbells really score. They are available in five varieties, including white Scopex Syrup, orange Tutti Frutti, yellow Pineapple Punch, pink Crab & Krill and black Inky Squid. These highly visible hook baits are extra durable and packed full of flavours and attractants.

3. Worms

big-baits-wormThere’s only one thing better than a large worm on a size 12 Margin Carp hook – and that’s two large worms! Dendrabaenas are the ideal variety and when presented a few inches overdepth the bites are often unmissable.

A great tip is to slap the hook bait on the water a couple of times immediately after hooking them. This temporarily stuns the bait and stops them wriggling and writhing around too much, which could potentially lead to a masked hook point.

4. Maggots

big-baits-maggotsAll fish love maggots, so in order to use this age-old bait effectively for carp you’ll need to cram plenty on to a large hook. Dead maggots are generally better and less prone to small fish attention. A large bunch of eight or more maggots will create an appetising ‘Medusa’s head’ which is soft and lightweight yet surprisingly resilient. Just like worms, dead maggots are particularly effective when fished over a large bed of groundbait.

5. Sweetcorn

big-baits-cornBeing highly visual and heavy makes sweetcorn a particularly good choice for deeper swims when you don’t want to encourage fish off the bottom. A single large grain on a size 16 or 14 Wide Gape Carp is a good option. Two grains on a size 12 might bring an even quicker bite from your intended target. Corn works well in conjunction with any kind of feed, but is particularly effective over a bed of particles such as hempseed or micro pellets.

6. Meat

big-baits-meatA large cube of luncheon meat is a top hook bait that regularly seems to attract the largest carp in a lake. A large 8mm or 10mm piece of meat works well on a size 12 Wide Gape Carp. Alternatively, try two or three smaller 6mm cubes threaded up the hook.

Where allowed, a chunk of cat meat can be just as good, if not better than standard luncheon meat. The beef varieties are slightly more robust for hooking – and go for chunks in gravy rather than jelly for even greater attraction!

7. Paste

big-baits-pasteFishing with paste is a really exciting tactic on its day. You can often get away with relatively crude tackle and a large blob of the stuff can easily conceal a size 12 or 10 hook. Ready mixed paste and paste powders are available, but most fishmeal-type groundbaits can also be mixed to a paste-like consistency. Really sloppy and wet paste will fool more fish, but stiffer consistencies are better when the lake is towing or if lots of bodies are in the swim causing line bites.

The Carp 2 is a good pole float choice for paste. Its reasonably long, banded tip makes a great bite indicator. Try a Wide Gape Pellet hook for paste. This forged pattern is strong but not overly heavy, so it can be sucked in easier without being detected.

Now get out there and get catching!

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Maximise Your Chances On The River

Find out how Paul Glenfield makes the most of a winter river session by combining specimen and match tactics. Join the former Thames Champion on the banks of his favourite river for a session that’s full of surprises.


Paul Glenfield kicks the session off on the bread feeder.


An early chub on the bread!

The tail-end of the season can offer some fantastic river sport if you time things right. Here on the Thames at Wallingford there’s a touch of extra colour and flow, but it’s fining down quite nicely. These are ideal conditions to get out and enjoy a few hours on the riverbank!

Fish can shoal up tightly in the winter, so location can often make or break a session. My advice is to head for a town stretch with an obvious fish attracting feature, such as the road bridge that’s upstream of me today. With the natural cover this offers, plus the variations in flow it creates, you can be confident that there will always be a few resident fish about. Bridges are also a magnet for people who love to feed the resident ducks and swans, so there’s always a bit of free food going in for the fishes.

I’ve gone for a two-pronged float and feeder approach to get the most from today’s session.  A loaf of bread, some maggots and hemp are all I’ll hopefully need for a decent day.

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Practice Makes Perfect

Alan Scotthorne reflects on an outstanding team performance which saw his Drennan Barnley Blacks squad win last weekend’s Angling Trust Winter League Final.


A section win and an all-important team win for Alan Scotthorne and Drennan Barnsley Blacks.

What a great result for my Drennan Barnsley Blacks team on the Winter League Final! We had put in a good amount of practice on both the Fenland Drains and at Decoy Lakes. The lakes were really difficult to formulate a plan on with so many different pools to contend with, so this was almost left to each angler to sort out their own route on the day. The drains were again difficult, but we had a loose plan in place with each angler making sure they had fished a number of sessions to help familiarise themselves with each section.

For me I arrived early on Friday and had a run round all the sections. Not having fished the drains last year I wanted to know exactly where I was going once we had drawn our pegs. Also I had not fished the last two sections at Benwick and Factory Bank, so I had at least seen these pegs if I found myself in one of these sections.

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Fishing, Fun And Celebrities At Lake John

We were invited to a very special event yesterday, which included fishing with TV star Les Dennis and musician Dave Peacock from the famous Chas & Dave double act!


All smiles after a great day at Lake John: (From left) Dean Barlow, Les Dennis, Dave Peacock, Chris Vandervleit.

The event was organised by Colin Bartlett, the larger than life character who runs the popular Lake John Fishery in Essex. Although the wind and rain tried its very best to thwart the day, the fish still obliged and the two celebrities caught a few for the cameras. They were aided by top-flight match anglers Chris Vandervleit and Dean Barlow, who both kindly volunteered their tackle and expertise to ensure they caught a few fish.

TV star Les Dennis with Dean Barlow.

TV star Les Dennis with match ace Dean Barlow.

Les Dennis is famous for countless TV roles, including presenting Family Fortunes for 15 years and more recently starring in hit soap Coronation Street. He is now about to star as Uncle Fester in the Addams Family musical, which will soon be touring the UK. This was only his second time fishing, but he was soon, quite literally, into the swing of it with some chunky little roach on maggots.

“I loved it,” he commented as he posed with the team’s combined catch for the cameras. “It might have been a bit wet, but I can’t wait to go fishing again!”

Dave Peacock was paired up with fellow Londoner, Chris Vandervleit.

Dave Peacock was paired up with fellow Londoner, Chris Vandervleit.

Singer and bass guitarist Dave Peacock had eight top-40 singles with Chas & Dave. He also clearly enjoyed his day, as roach and small skimmers regularly came to the net. As one half of a very famous Cockney duo, he naturally still lives in London and very near to Lake John Fishery. “I remember catching roach on the River Lea when I was a kid,” he explained. “Fishing’s definitely come a long way from bent pins and cork!”

Alongside the celebrities, Colin was also having his lake professionally netted as part of his pro-active fishery management policy. Quality bream, perch, carp, tench, roach and hybrids were quickly returned to the lake while thousands of juvenile silverfish were removed, ready to be rehomed at another local fishery.

The silverfish breed so prolifically at Lake John that it’s important to thin out them each year like this. This keeps oxygen levels high and allows the mature fish to grow. It is also one of the reasons why Lake John is so famous for bags of quality roach, bream and skimmers throughout the year, as well as countless double-figure carp up to 40lb.

John Weedon is the England Disabled team manager and was also on the bank, putting on a great display of pole and waggler tactics. This was to help raise awareness for the disabled team, which relies heavily on the generosity and donations of others to be able to compete in the World Championship each year.

With so much going on at Lake John it turned out to be a very busy and successful day with plenty of smiles, plenty of fun and, of course, plenty of fish. That’s exactly what we have come to expect from this very special venue!

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Three In A Row At Meadowlands

England star Steve Hemingray has topped the Silverfish League at Meadowlands Fishery at the halfway stage. Here’s his rundown of the first three rounds where three completely different approaches were required for success. 



Meadowlands Fishery

The Meadowlands Fishery Silverfish League kicked off at the beginning of January and it has become a fiercely contested individual league with some of the best anglers from around the country competing over six rounds. With your best five results to count on points it always guarantees a close finish. Superbly run by Paul Garner with help from Darren Cox, it’s a great event and one I look forward to every year.

Both lakes at Meadowlands are used; the Warren, which is only two to four feet deep, and Lambsdown, which various from 4ft to 14ft. There are two sections of nine anglers on Warren and four nine-peg sections on Lambsdown. Roach and skimmers are the main quarry on both lakes, so casters, maggots, worms, groundbait and pellets can all play their part.

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Time To Spool Up!

Days that are too cold, wet and windy to venture outside are the perfect time to start thinking about changing the line on your reels.


Arriving at the bankside with a freshly spooled reel will give you maximum confidence when casting out, striking and then leaning into that all-important fish. Here’s our top recommendations for float and feeder work:

Float Fishing

drennan-float-fish-3-2lb-bFor out-and-out float fishing, Drennan Float Fish fits the bill perfectly. It’s a naturally floating mono but it can also be made to sink just under the surface with a flick of the rod tip. This property is a real asset on the strike, allowing you to connect with fast bites with ease. Float Fish is deliberately not ultra supple, too, as a small degree of rigidity helps with line control and fast pick up. It is also quite a hard material, so it resists damage from shot really well.

Float Fish is available on 100m spools and in breaking strains from 2.6lb (0.14mm) to 6lb (0.22mm).

Tip No1– Try dropping down a spool size. Thinner line helps you cast further and doesn’t drag a float off course as fast as thicker stuff. Combined with a soft-actioned rod, you can still land surprisingly large fish with lighter main lines.

Tip No2 – It’s useful to carry a small atomiser bottle of dilute washing up liquid for windy days. A spray or two of this will degrease the line and help it to cut through the surface tension much easier.

Feeder Fishing

feeder-and-method-mono-8lbCasting and reeling in heavy bombs, feeders and Method feeders places a lot of stress on your line, which is why you need a really solid, robust and abrasion resistant material. Feeder & Method Mono ticks all those boxes. This pale brown material also sinks well and lasts a long time on the reel.

Feeder & Method Mono comes on either 100m or 250m spools and in breaking strains from 4lb (0.18mm) right up to 12lb (0.30mm).

Tip No3 – Try 6lb for bream fishing, 8lb for commercial fisheries and 10lb or 12lb for really heavy duty situations. If in doubt, go heavier rather than lighter. This will give you much more confidence when punching out heavy feeders.

Tip No4 – Always fill your reels to within a couple of millimetres of the edge of the spool. This will help you achieve optimum casting distances compared to an underfilled spool.

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Bagging On Bread

Despite the sub-zero temperatures, Wayne Swinscoe has continued his great run of form on the River Avon. Here’s his latest report from an excellent day’s fishing.


This double-figure catch on bread proved that Wayne wasn’t mad for braving the sub-zero temperatures.

As I drove to Evesham for my latest match on the Avon I began to doubt my sanity. Arriving at the draw everything was white over. I had a quick look at the river and was pleasantly surprised, however. A nice colour and, unusually, a lot fish rising and yet it was -3ºC. Strange?

The match itself was spread over three sections; Bidford, Common Road and Hampton Ferry. I drew Hampton Ferry peg 75 and felt it was a good draw for roach with conditions like this.

It was going to be a bread job on the pole for me. I also set up a feeder rod as a bit of an insurance policy, just in case I had to fish for bream. I fed that line 3/4 over with chopped worm and casters. I also set up a 3g bolo for fishing bronze maggots down the middle.

In all my time fishing Evesham I’ve never drawn this peg before. After plumbing around the peg for a while it was quite noticeable that it shallowed up pretty quick. Starting at 11 feet the bottom was flat for a yard or so before rising about a foot over the next couple of yards and still rising after that! Not ideal for fishing bread really but I still fancied it.

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A Great Start To 2017

Alan Scotthorne kicked off the year in style with an impressive catch of bream from the Stainforth & Keadby Canal. We got the England star to explain how he did it:

alan-scotthorne-stainy-winI always fish the Stainforth & Keadby Canal matches through the winter months and it’s the only canal I know that almost guarantees you plenty of bites, even on the coldest of days. It’s always been known as a bloodworm mecca, but over the last couple of years it’s been very difficult – maybe almost impossible – to make the frame using only his bait. You now really need to catch on hemp in the closing stages of the match or strangely on casters in the opening couple of hours of the competition.

When the first matches start in October, a good ploy is to start  on caster and finish on hemp if you are looking to win the match, discounting bloodworm altogether. I have tried a lot of times with slightly different approaches to catch a winning weight on bloodworm alone, but with the fish being very small and the canal being quite deep it’s difficult to put big numbers of fish together, given that they don’t seem to come in closer than nine metres of pole. One match I caught 286 fish for just short of 14lb but only won the section as 36lb of bream won the match. As I said, plenty of bites but you need to be more selective to actually win.

This season, match organiser Lee Kerry decided to try a competition where you needed to win your section to qualify for a big final match which guaranteed a good pay day for the winner. After three matches I was looking like I might not make this final. This included one near miss by just two ounces and really not having a chance on the other two qualifiers with end pegs dominating my area. With two qualifying matches left, the pressure was on a little!

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Four Seasons With The Avon Quiver

Stu Lennox looks back over a full season of rich and varied sport using his trusty Series 7 Specialist Avon Quiver rods.


At the beginning of 2016 I purchased a pair of 12ft 1 1/4lb Series 7 Avon/Quiver rods. Over the following 12 months I would use them in a whole host of different angling situations, including some well outside of what the rod was intended to do, but they performed incredibly. Here are just some of my highlights from a memorable year:

Late Winter/Early Spring

4-seasons-084-seasons-07At the start of the year I found a nice little water close to home where the carp responded well in the cold to a small Pellet Feeder. Using the quiver section with a 3oz tip I was able to cast tight to an island and caught well on every trip, with plenty of carp up into double figures. The tip was sensitive enough to show up the shy, coldwater bites but there was plenty of backbone to land the hard-fighting carp. I used 2mm micros in the feeder with a banded 4mm or 6mm pellet as hook bait. I also found a splash of flavour helped get bites when things slowed down, either pineapple or almond Korda Goo or Bait-Tech’s The Juice.

4-seasons-12I was also using the same tip setup while roving the River Kennet looking for chub. A light, link leger of only a couple of swan shot and a bit of breadflake was used to search out lots of little hidey holes looking for the resident chub. Despite the freezing conditions I was able to keep fish coming to the bank on every single trip. Roving up and down the river throughout the day proved key to making the most of each swim.


4-seasons-144-seasons-11It was during this period that I really put the rod through its paces. Firstly on short, after-work floater sessions, catching some cracking carp up to almost 20lb. This time I used the Avon tip section in order to cast a small 5g Drennan Surface Controller and long 12lb Double Strength hooklength and to give me extra power when playing fish. Feeding plenty of 4mm floating pellets with a matching 11mm hook bait was the most successful tactic. Again, staying mobile and moving throughout the day definitely put more fish on the bank.

4-seasons-104-seasons-03Another memorable session during this period was on the River Thames. Again the Avon was used, which was more than capable of casting a 2oz inline lead and PVA mesh bag of boilies out into the flow. Using a long braided hooklength and a couple of 10mm boilies I was actually hoping to target a specimen bream or possibly a chub, but when the rod finally ripped off the last thing I was expecting to see was a pristine river carp!


4-seasons-054-seasons-01Early autumn saw me on a nice reservoir in the Midlands targeting tench. I decided to fish with a Method Feeder this time due to the weed and used a buzzer and bobbin for bite indication. My method mix consisted of my favourite blend of standard 2mm micros mixed with 2mm Krill pellets. The hook bait was a small trimmed down popup in white or pink. The sport was fast and furious and plenty of beautiful dark tench made their way to the net. The rod performed extremely well and blasting the small feeder 60yds to a small gap in the weed was easy.


4-seasons-06My fishing was extremely limited through the winter but I still managed to get out a few times. I used the 2oz tip for the first time while targeting perch on the River Thames. While I didn’t have any monsters, I had plenty of bites and put together some decent nets of fish. Building up a swim over a couple of hours with chopped worm through the feeder and half a lobworm as hook bait brought the best results.

4-seasons-13I finished off 2016 targeting chub with an identical bread and link leger setup from earlier in the year. Priming swims with a few balls of mashed bread and moving between them, taking a fish or two from each before moving on, was a great way to spend a chilly winter’s day.

So there are just a few memories to highlight what a truly versatile rod the Series 7 Avon/Quiver really is. I’ve had an enjoyable year putting a pair of these through their paces and testing them well beyond what they were designed to do. If I had to take just one rod for the rest of my fishing then I would undoubtedly stick with this Jack of all trades.

I’m now really looking forward to using them on a new stretch of the Thames I’ve found…

View the entire Series 7 Specialist Avon/Quiver rod family.

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Maximise Your Winter Skimmer Time

Maurice Prijs has been enjoying some excellent sport on Holland’s vast shipping canals this winter. Here’s his expert advice for targeting coldwater skimmers on the feeder.


Catching skimmers on deep shipping canals in Holland can lead to a very enjoyable day’s winter fishing. The Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal can offer plenty of bites on even the coldest days of the year, as the heavy boat traffic and deep water encourages the fish to keep swimming and feeding. Let me take you through a feeder session on this big canal!

winter-skimmers-holland-4The Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal is a main route for the big ships that go to Amsterdam and back. It is a 100m wide canal with about 3.5m of water down by your feet and over 7m in the middle, so you can call this a challenging venue! In general there are three main swims to target: the slope at about 25-35m, the slope at about 65-75m and the opposite side of the canal, where you need to cast a good 95m!

winter-skimmers-holland-5On a day like this I solely choose to fish the slope at 25-35m. The main reason for this choice is that I would like to determine how I fish and feed my peg instead of frequently winding my feeder in when a big ship passes. Fishing at longer distances means that whenever a ship arrives I have to reel in, wait and cast out again. I therefore cannot leave my feeder in the swim as long as I would like to.

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