At the beginning of this season it was decided by Steve Smith and myself to concentrate on a particular stretch of the Kennet, to see what results could be obtained. The venue concerned, we knew held a good head of Barbel and was likely to throw up a surprise or two, it also is a very popular and pressured section of the Kennet. With this in mind, we agreed to try and get to grips with and improve our technique of ‘trundling’; this method we felt would perhaps give us the best chance for success.
It was a bright sunny afternoon in August and I was just releasing a fish when a voice came from behind and enquired, "How big was it"? I turned around and recognised an angler I had noticed fishing a swim upstream to where I was at the moment. He had been sitting comfortably on one of those expensive bivy chairs behind a matched pair of carp rods. "About seven pounds", I replied. "Was that you’re first?" he then asked. "No, that's my third" I said picking up my rod to commence fishing. His eyes were riveted to my end tackle, (I'm sure that statement will provoke a response!), then the rest of the conversation went something like this: -
Carp fisher. -"What method are you using"?
P.T. -"Trundling", I replied "It's the art of running a bait through the swim, just like float fishing without the float".
Carp fisher. - "Why move the bait"?
P.T.-"Let's face it, these fish have seen it all and they are under a great deal of pressure, it's a very popular stretch of river. Most anglers can catch Barbel within their main feeding periods but it's outside of these times when I also want to catch them, so it's a well presented moving bait that I feel gives me the best chance. All I can do is liken it to us humans, perhaps after we have eaten a large meal and are walking past an Indian Restaurant the desire to taste one is there, or if someone were to offer you a chip outside a chippy, how many would refuse a taster? I wonder! I suspect it's the same with fish or any animal for that matter, take it while you can".
Carp fisher. -"I'm fishing with two ounce leads and only just holding bottom, you are only using small shot, why is that?"
P.T.- "If you look at any swim there maybe be five or six different speeds of current across the width of river. The fish could favour any one of these, so it is important to find which area they are in and present the bait at a speed that will induce a take. So to add or remove small amounts of weight is one of the most important aspects of this method. Another reason is that you are ledgering downstream and need that extra weight, whereas I am fishing upstream and require a lot less".
Carp fisher. -"Do you always use shot on the line?"
P.T.-"No not always, as I said, current speed will dictate how much lead is used. In heavy flows such as winter floods, I will use weights up to two ounces. These are clipped onto a John Robert's feeder boom or a swivel bead with a snap link, this enables a very quick change of weights for different swims or bait presentations".
Carp fisher. -"How does the method work?"
P.T.-"It is so important to present the bait in a certain way, or at a particular speed that is acceptable to the fish in any swim at any time of day and believe me this will vary throughout the day, or night for that matter. The first thing to do is cast upstream and to make sure you can feel that the lead and bait are on gravel, when it is, several metres of line are released from the reel into the current to form a large bow downstream. The amount of line in the water will also govern the speed at which the bait will travel downstream. It is no good at all casting slightly upstream and keeping tight to the lead, this will only ensure that the bait travels downstream in an arc, a totally unnatural presentation. Now that the bait is on gravel and with a large bow in the line I hold the rod parallel to the water. With the bait now moving slowly downstream it can be speeded up or slowed down just by lifting or lowering the rod top, if it stops leave it for a short while, to start it on it's way again release more line into the flow or a very gentle pull will do the trick. Another most important thing to remember is that the bait must travel downstream in a straight line parallel to the bank or in the exact direction of the flow; this is another reason for the large bow in the line.
Carp fisher. -"How do you know when you get a bite?"
P.T.-"Bites can register themselves in many forms. If the bait is travelling at the same speed as the current, usually you feel a heavy knock as the bait is intercepted. Sometimes it is necessary for the bait to roll along very slowly and you sometimes feel the pick-up or typically, a classic dropback bite where the lead lifts and every thing goes completely slack. So after a while, using this method you learn to recognise minute differences in behaviour so strike at the slightest change in feel or different reaction of the tackle. You have lost nothing in striking, only a piece of meat.
Carp fisher. -"Will this method work with any bait?"
P.T.-"I will only use soft meat baits such as luncheon meat, sausages, meatballs or similar because I have not found it necessary to try any of the modern baits (boilies etc.). Even using different meats, presentation can be effected. Try dropping two different meat baits into the current at the same time and watch what happens, one will fall through the water at a slower rate. This is because one is more dense than the other or one of the meats has a higher fat content making it appear lighter than the other, this again will also effect presentation and determine how much lead is used or even how close the weight is to the bait"
Carp fisher "Well thanks for explaining that method but it all sounds very complicated to me. I think I will stick with my bolt rigs."
After that last comment the carp fisher returned to the comfort of his bedchair.
What I have described here I hope does not seem too complicated because it's not, it just requires a little thought and practice. As with any method there are always new things to learn small problems to overcome and fine-tuning to be done, Steve and I are still learning. The results from practising this method over the summer period have been very encouraging indeed and we are looking forward to a full winter on the Kennet with great anticipation.
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