The Generalist Approach

The first of July came and brought with it a real heat wave. I had been baiting my favourite swim on my local pond heavily for the past three days and, as I arrived at 3:30 am to see an almost spooky mist hanging over the pond, it was clear by the frantic splashing around in the swim ahead of me that I would not go home empty handed.

The successful small water angler can, of course, target specific fish if he or she pleases. The rules vary very little from big water fishing when it comes to specialist angling but, as many of us are leisure anglers with no real sense of competition with anybody but ourselves, a lot more pleasure can be had from taking a more generalist approach to our angling.

I had started the day off hoping to catch a couple of tench but was also looking forward to being kept busy with other fish along the way and, although the water was literally boiling with small fish right now, I could not see any of those tell tale pinprick bubbles produced by feeding tench.

The main piece of advice I would give anyone hoping to have a good days pond fishing is quite simply to dumb down. Because I wanted to cover literally every part of the water I decided on, possibly, the most basic fishing rig other than free lining.

What I would call a pond float rig is exactly the kind of rig that most of us would have put together when we started fishing. As you can see by the diagram I use a really basic float rig, keeping the shotting to a minimum, placing the bulk for the shot right next to the float with no more than two further shot along the line, mainly to get the bait out of the way of the ducks as soon as possible. This leaves a relatively large gap between the final shot and the hook length which makes for a very natural fall through the water for the bait.

As I have already mentioned, I had been feeding the swim heavily for three days previously. This meant that all the fish in this area were already very familiar with the way in which my chosen bait falls through the water and had already developed a taste for it.

Additionally I had ensured that the local head of bream would make my swim a regular stop on the daily feeding rounds and would have plenty of time to develop a taste for sweet corn which was not only my chosen bait for the day, but also the only bait I used to feed the swim.

Having carefully plumbed the swim and set up I made my first cast of the morning, I think it takes the fisherman as long as the fishing to warm up sometimes, because I was striking at obvious line bites and probably scaring off virtually all the fish in my swim for the first half hour or so!

Eventually I leveled my head and settled down to wait for a proper bite. I didn’t have to wait long, after about 15 minuets my float powered out of sight. I struck into a strong fighting fish which took a few minuets to land so, imagine my surprise, when finally, a bream popped his head above water (who says bream don’t fight!). That would explain the line bites, bream are for ever knocking line with their hump backs, but at least I had made a start.

I followed up with another strong fighting bream of about 5lb and then another 4.5lb fish which decided to give up the ghost almost as soon as it was hooked.

A while passed, once again, with plenty of line bites before I saw those tell tale bubbles around my float. Tench were on the feed! It is so easy to get trigger happy when those bubbles are all around your float, sometimes it is very tempting to strike at the slightest touch only to find there is nothing there.

This time I managed to be patient and my float once again vanished from site and a fish was on. Don’t those tench fight!? It took me a good few minuets to land my 2.5lb prize. I cast out again to an almost identical battle; a 3lb tench.

In all a good days fishing; it was almost 8:00 am now and I had promised I would get home for 9am so figured that I could risk only a couple more casts. I’m glad that I did, I was rewarded with two roach in quick succession which, although they were no monsters, did manage to give me a species hat trick.

Time had come to pack up and, to be honest, it was getting a little warm for me anyway but it had been a good days work and all good evidence for my theory that a generalist approach to fishing on small waters, covering as many potential species as you can, is a good way to tackle those small waters.

Tight Lines…

Andrew Wedgbury