Dear Gaffer, My name is Simon Amor. My dad and I are having some problems catching carp and other fish. We live in Wiltshire and we fish at Lake Shear Water on the Longleat Estate (32 acres, 8ft deep approx.), and we also fish on the River Avon. At Lake Shear Water we use method feeders with pop ups or corn as bait. And on the river we leger with meat or worms or corn (Stalking for Barbel or Chub). If you could tell us what we are doing wrong we will be very grateful. Thanks, Simon Amor
I’m not familiar with the waters that you mention or their stocking density, so all I can do is give you a general approach, mainly towards the Stillwater.
First and foremost is locating the fish. Watch the water for signs of the fish, they may be showing themselves by breaking the surface of the water known as ‘Topping’ or ‘Crashing’. Nobody truly knows why the fish do this - it could be to clean out their gills whilst feeding, or ridding themselves of parasites, but I will always cast a bait to a showing fish…always! I’ve caught no end of fish within minutes (or sometimes hours) of casting to them.
If the fish aren’t showing themselves then look for other giveaway signs such as bubbles or coloured water where they are stirring up the bottom whilst feeding. If you are unable to see any signs of fish activity, then ask other anglers on the bank or the resident bailiff. They can give you valuable information, such as where they have been seen feeding, which swims have they been coming out from, the effect of wind direction on this water and, finally, the methods and baits being used.
Once you have located the fish you then need to employ the right tactics. I’m not sure if Method feeders are widely used on your water, but it is important that you understand why you are using that particular tactic, if you don’t already.
The Method feeder is mainly used for getting a concentrated ball of attractant and a hookbait in amongst a shoal of competing fish. The shoal of fish would then nudge the feeder around whilst competing with other fish for the food, that’s until one of them picks up the hookbait! On waters that aren’t heavily stocked, where they don’t compete for food, or that they simply don’t respond to the Method, then the fish may not be interested in it and won’t find the hookbait that is buried within the feeder mix, on the feeder.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to try different baits or bait combinations. Estate lakes are usually full of natural food and getting the right combination may take time. Also, remember that at this time of the year the fish are only just ‘waking up’ after lying low over the winter.
Keep plugging away and you will start to get results.