Harry shares his top tips and baits for match fishing during the winter months!
Most of my match fishing is done during the winter, mainly because there are so many other types of fishing I like to do during the warmer months that match fishing has to take a back step. That said, I seem to get better results in the winter and I am sure that one of the reasons is that I’m not selective about what I catch. I don’t just go all out for carp, I like to catch the silvers as well to back up my weight.
Most of my winter match fishing is done on commercial fisheries, so with this in mind, I have three main baits that I use that have served me well over the years. The first of which is good old bread and is normally my first line of attack. The next is pellets, as most of these fish have been farmed on pellets and therefore see them as a natural food source. Finally it’s the maggot which is my all-time favourite bait for getting the fish going in the later stages of the match.
I always remember something my father said to me – “You can put it in, but you can’t take it out again, lad” in his best Lancashire accent! With this in mind, I always start a match fishing negatively during the winter, by putting little or no bait in at the start, which allows me to watch other anglers and see what’s working for them before putting any feed in myself.
At the end of the day, especially in the winter when bites can be hard to come by at the best of times, it’s about keeping those fish coming! With this in mind, I start on the bread, normally to a far bank feature with no feed at all other than the hook bait. As a starting point I fish the bread around 12” off the bottom which I have found to be a good depth to start at. This line is always a good starting point for a few fish early in the match but I won’t waste time on it – if I have had no fish in the first half an hour then I will look to catch on my pellet line.
I find depth is the key to finding the fish on this line and two and a half to three foot of water is the depth that I try to find as a starting point. I feed this with a small pinch of micro pellets via a pole pot with a four millimetre expander on the hook. I find that if you are not getting any indications after ten minutes then it’s time for a move, so its back on with the plummet to find another area of the same depth and I keep doing this until I find some fish.
The maggot line I leave for the last couple of hours of the match and unless I am really struggling for fish. This line is usually about five meters out in the deeper water and I don’t feed it until halfway through the match depending on how the other lines are fishing. With this line if all is going to plan the fish should be feeding confidently by the last hour allowing you to have a good run of fish right up to the whistle.
Now as any match angler will tell you, what I have just described as my approach is the ideal match. Of course the fish don’t read the rule book, so if all this fails remember that the fish reward busy anglers, so never sit there on your hands, try to make something happen, you never know it might just change your match.
Tight Lines, Matt