Spring Match Fishing Tips
SPRING IS IN THE AIR – MOSTLY!
Spring is officially here but along with the sunshine and warmer air temperatures we can still suffer morning frosts and cold spells. These changing conditions invariably affect the feeding habits of the fish and it’s all dictated by the weather. Let’s have a look at how to get the most from your session at this tricky time of year.
The clocks have now changed and there are more hours of sunlight on the water, the longer and stronger sun warms the water temperature and helps kick the fish into feeding more and for a longer period of your session. This change opens up more methods to fish with a greater chance of success. Coming to the fore is margins, pellet waggler and catching shallow on the pole and with these methods come a change with how you feed. Gone are the days of feeding no more than six maggots in case you spoil your swim from the start, and you can start looking more at getting your catapult back out and choosing a positive line to cup in some balls to kick start everything off.
Whilst this sounds really inviting it is however still spring and all this can be rendered useless with a really cold spell and frosts. So, don’t pack away your winter kit just yet! To follow is a simple guide to help prepare for the months ahead, a ‘To Do’ list to get your kit ready and some tactics to keep you catching in these ever-changing weather conditions.
It’s so important at this time of year to check over your kit and fix any issues from tackle that hasn’t seen the bank for 6 months or so…
WD40 & GUN GREASE – The winter weather can make moving parts seize up, especially your seatbox legs, pole rollers and reels. Make sure to take apart these items and clean thoroughly and lubricate them – this bit of TLC will prolong the life and efficiency of your kit.
RESPOOLING YOUR REELS – A simple test of pulling off a few meters of your reel line and pulling as hard as you can shows you if it needs changing. If it breaks change it! If it feels rough when running it through your fingers continue to pull it off the spool, if it’s still the same for more than 10 meters then change it. Well looked after mono can last years but I love having new line at this time year as I have complete confidence in it, especially when match fishing.
POLE ELASTICS – If you have fished regularly then you would normally change your elastics on a regular basis. Even so, they can degrade quickly and a good check over is must. The parts to go first are the ends, pull out the top end where you attach your rig, tension the top 4 inches of elastic. You can see/feel where the elastic has started to fray and split. This will be the same at the puller end also. Either, cut the worn elastic back reattaching the connector or change the elastic completely.
STOCK UP YOUR HOOK BOX – as long as you have stored these properly then the ones you have will be fine. The biggest thing for this time of year is having a variety of options available for the different methods and changing weather as mentioned earlier. The delicate approach still needs to be considered but so also does the margin and pellet waggler approach which require stronger line and bigger hooks.
CHECK YOUR RIGS – make sure that your pre tied rigs on winders are still in perfect condition. Make sure damp hasn’t got to your shotting, you’ll be able to tell if they are turning white known as oxidizing. If this is the case re-tie your rig. Also, check your rigs still hang straight when you take them off the winders. If they are kinked, they have been stored too long under tension and will need re tying again.
WHATS ON THE MENU – you can finally add more options to your menu as you target a variety of species and sizes. Hard pellets, meat and groundbait in greater volumes as well as stocking up on dead maggots if you’re able to freeze them is a must. Give yourself a variety of flavours and sizes to try or if you already know what works stockpile that bait.
WHAT ABOUT THE WEATHER
I’m sure we’re all more comfortable fishing in pleasant conditions having the sun shining with little to no wind and warm. However, the reality is that even when the weather is nice it may not be the best for the fish. Here’s some things to consider…
AIR TEMPERATURE – any sudden change can kill the fishing so try if you’re able to pick a time to get on the bank when the temperature has been stable for a few days, even if it’s consistently colder, this gives the fish chance to settle back into a feeding routine.
AIR PRESSURE – whilst high pressure allows for clearer skies and sunny weather it also makes for cold and clear nights or frost. I prefer low pressure which brings cloudy skies and a warmer wind which allows you to keep the fish on the bottom allowing for a more consistent catch rate at this time of year.
WIND DIRECTION – a westerly wind along with cloud cover warms things up a little and picking a swim with a ripple on the water can pay dividends. However, winds from the East and North can chill everything down and isn’t great for the fishing. I’d be picking a peg out of the wind and sheltered.
WATER TEMPERATURE – the key to rising water temperatures is consistent warmer weather, a day of sunshine won’t do this. You’ll find when you do catch a fish it’s still like holding a block of ice. On a sunny day you may find the fish will move into shallow water if it’s near cover to feed sparingly but they will not hold there like they do in the summer.
SPRING TIPS & TRICKS FOR CARP & SILVERS
CARP ON THE BANK
The biggest change at this time of year for carp is that they start to get on the move rather than being balled up like in the winter. This means that there will be times in your session when you are able to target them in shallower water of around 2ft, especially if near cover or features. It also means that they may move up the shelf closer to you allowing you to look at targeting them on a short pole line. You will be able to see them swimming shallow a lot more and there will be the temptation to try catching them shallow, I generally still avoid this at this time of year to allow me to control their feeding in the swim and keep them on the bottom.
Generally, I will look at pole lines at 13m & 14.5m, even potentially a waggler at around 20m. I would concentrate on keeping the fish on the bottom but will also have a slow falling rig setup to be able to catch them on the drop if they do come up in the water, even as far as mid depth maybe worth a cautious try. At about mid-way through the day I would look at the short pole line just at the point where the near slope flattens out. Carp will patrol this area now they are on the move more looking for a meal.
FEEDING & BAITS
Whilst expander pellets are still great I will move more to hard pellets in early spring. 6mm on the hook feeding 5 or 6 4mm’s over the top. I like to keep the rig moving as it catches the eye of passing fish and also allows you to pick up fish just off bottom. Meat is also worth a go if the weather has been consistently mild, especially in the margins later in the session. Groundbait mixed quite heavy and dead maggots can also produce some great results.
SILVERS ON THE BANK
I love fishing for silvers and the main found in commercial fisheries are roach and bream. Now the carp are back on the move early spring still brings that quieter spell in the middle of the day when you find yourself wondering why the bites have stopped. This hour or two is the perfect time to rest your carp swims and move onto a silver fish line, this ideally will be a short pole line. When match fishing the extra weight added at this time can make a big different in your final result. When pleasure fishing it keeps you catching and is nice to change things up until the bigger fish come back on the feed in the afternoon.
I mentioned earlier about the Carp short line, but this is also ideal for the silvers, especially if there is about 4ft of water. Rig of choice is usually a light and sensitive float with a strung-out shotting pattern that allows a slow and natural fall of hook bait. It’s not unusual for Roach and Bream to come off the bottom so bare this in mind when fishing this line. Bites from small fish should be pretty instant with the bigger sized silvers moving in after a while.
FEEDING & BAITS
Traditionally the go to is maggots, caster and worms. These will of course work well however, if you’re looking for a better stamp on commercials then a pellet approach may help as the fish are so tuned to these baits on these venues. Expander pellets can produce quality fish and I like to lose feed casters over the top. Corn and meat are certainly worth a look too for bigger roach and bream. Starting by introducing some groundbait will attract fish quickly to the swim but fish it out as opposed to continue feeding otherwise the fish will be difficult to control on the bottom and without this, you’ll start foul hooking fish ending up with a sea of bubbles and no bites. This would force you to stop feeding and rest the swim until the fish have cleared it out and settled again.
So, whilst we are excited to be out in the sunny weather and sitting in a T-Shirt again, fishing in early spring still requires us to be patient and to carefully consider the options. A negative approach in the beginning is still wise but let the fish show you the signs of wanting more before giving it to them.
Thanks for reading and above all enjoy your time on the bank.
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See you on the bank soon,