Bridgewater Canal-In Search Of The Elusive

With the daily running of my business Cheshire Particle, my fishing was taking a serious knock and as an angler, we all know the effects of not being behind our rods, where i had not been out for around 5 months, this was really starting to take it’s toll on me now and need to scratch the itch somehow.48358252_327495484741182_3050247492575690752_n
With the Bridgewater canal on my doorstep and being a bailiff for the canal, i started to patrol and spot carp while also taking a bag of particle along and feeding spots where i had located fish movement. While only doing the odd few hours here and there before and after work, i started to pick up fish. Obviously, the Bream were always in abundance, fighting through them turned up the odd carp or so along with a couple of tench.


I did have two or three spots primed where I would move if need be if there was no activity I would simply move to the next knowing I had a pre-baited area giving me a chance if there was anything in the area. These were a smaller stamp of carp than in previous times when I used to fish the stretch. The biggest I had back then was a 25lb 2oz mirror, but this was before the sad loss of many big fish due to a burst lock plug in Manchester, but with the smaller fish being caught, it was either fish that had survived or new fish coming through telling me they have re-produced which is a great sign for the future and left me with food for thought as the year was coming to an end but left me thinking, if I can adopt the same tactics on a more regular basis, then hopefully I can get more.
With that, I decided to campaign the Bridgewater in 2018 and invited my good friend Danny Bellfield along for company and to create a plan of action moving forward, Danny hadn’t done a lot of canal carping and it was something that was missing in his angling, where he duly obliged the invitation. In the spring of 2018, we set a plan of how when and what to combat the task ahead.
Pre-baiting was the first port of call and the plan we hatched as this tactic had been to good effect for me the previous year, although with the canal being a 4 mile stretch, we knew this wasn’t going to be easy as fish do and will move around, but with the hope that regular pre-bait going in, we could hold them somewhat.
Particle is always brilliant for pre-baiting as it’s much cheaper, and of course, having particle to hand from leftover orders, we knew that the grubbing properties of it would create feeding areas while creating our spots in the process. Trickling in bait 2 to 3 times a week was our plan which we did religiously for weeks on end, and while patrolling the banks on bailiff checks as Danny was also a bailiff, we could spot and pre-bait almost killing 2 birds with 1 stone so to speak. The fishing was underway and the relentless activity from the Bream was somewhat a pain, although Danny was happy in the beginning with them, myself, well it wasn’t what I wanted so a new plan was hatched. The pre-bait of particle continued, but a scaled up version with just maize and tigers and taking away hemp and tares and any smaller component to avoid the silvers and with the knowledge I had from previous years, I had carp on tigers and not so many bream, so with that, the idea was that if the fish move in and clear us out of maize, there would always be tigers in and around our hook bait leaving something for the carp if and when they moved through . Particle and tigers on the hair over beds of particle, as always been a favoured tactic of mine which as served me well for years.


We did also use tiger nut boilie too as to not limit ourselves with a one bait approach.48356796_412582572646587_5985149618327912448_n

This tactic proved a significant one in the end, as we didn’t catch so many bream now and we were picking up carp more regularly with some tench too which are always nice to see, and to be honest we both love tench, who doesn’t.
The carp we were getting was a much better stamp of size from last year, with commons and mirrors both gracing our nets. Theses canal carp are not like your average stocked carp and are very elusive, these are real wild ones and may we say, when they go they go, giving a good account for themselves where the battle under the rod tip is a proper full on test of your wit for sure.

Now this may sound all too easy, but this is far from the truth, but to cut a long story short, we were both working all week and weekends at some points, we were limited to bank time, probably only 1 night a week or if and when we were available to do so. Limited time, quick sessions, arriving at 7pm, leaving for work at 6am but pre-baiting never ceased, we kept trickling it in throughout the whole campaign, knowing that if and when we could get there, the spots we created were primed ready for any instinctive session where we would also bait upon arrival and then just before dark knowing there was a good bit of bait going into the dark hours and avoiding the bird life that would spot the bait going in daylight hours.48362346_596560807481598_4805653647822159872_n
The weed was heavy this year like so many other waters and venues with the prolonged heat and sun we all encountered, this created more problems too, but with the introduction of regular particle drops, the spots were polished for us every time we went, also knowing our baits were presented well on a nice clean patch created by the constant baiting approach we adopted throughout the campaign.





The Bridgwater is a well underrated canal where there is brilliant fishing to be had whatever your target species is, but with time, effort and a good plan, you can have a great year’s fishing just like we did.


You can also find our vlog on the canal carping series on Danny’s vlog on Danny’s Angling Blog on his YouTube channel:

Look out for the next blog, Canal Piking.

Good luck
Mark and Danny

‘On a roll’ – a great week for Justin !

Lymm AC member, Justin Furzer, is, as the title suggests, on a roll! Read Justin’s own account of a fantastic week with limited fishing time available…..

Having only limited time to fish this week and also having commitments over the following two weeks, meant I was determined to use my time wisely to bank my first big carp of the new season.  I’d had a couple of commons on a local water just under 20lb, close to my home of Chester in March, but had decided it was now time to fish some Lymm waters deeper into Cheshire/Staffordshire in search of some better carp. With the warmer weather developing and having seen some of the fish were on the move whilst carrying out some work with the estates team at Lymmvale, I decided it was time to plan a few sessions:

Friday April 4th – Wrinehill Pool

16:00: I started off with a good friend on an exploratory visit to Wrinehill Pool. We decided between us that the size and depth of water would be a good place to start at this time of year. Having not fished it before, we also wanted to see what the pool had to offer. As we both had commitments during the day, we arrived early afternoon and arrived to see the lake almost full but after walk round, saw a couple of swims free that looked like they might produce a fish so, after spotting a couple in-front of a double swim that was free, we rushed back and grabbed our gear as we’d just spotted some other anglers turn up and didn’t want to lose our chosen spot!I quietly got a few bits and bobs out whilst observing what everyone else on the lake was up to. I already had a rig in mind and this rig would be suitable to fish in this area, so I set up my rods afresh whist keeping an eye on the water. 

We’d familiarised ourselves with the water bailiffs on the pool, shared a few brews between us all (kindly made by Rob not me!) and after seeing a few more fish show, in particular one much better looking fish in the margin, I waited for them to move off, baited the spot with some of Viking Baits tigernut boilies, set my traps ambushing the water in-front of me and settled down for the night.

Saturday April 5th

08:45:   I didn’t have any action during the night. We had already been up and about quietly, watching the water and sipping some morning coffee and a having piece of toast (thanks again Rob! ) when one of my rods roared off!  Once I had bent into it and could feel the hard and steady surging, I knew it was a good fish, not one of the smaller inhabitants of the lake. After a good, solid fight, with the fish not wanting to give up for a good while, I brought it to the surface to see it was a large common. After a last minute surge, the fish gave up and we slipped the net under it to see it was yet another stunning North West Common! Result!


A great way to start the week - 25lb 20z of immaculate common carp!

A great way to start the week – 25lb 20z of immaculate common carp!

Wednesday 9th april – Lymmvale

After a blank, with less than perfect conditions to say the least, on Monday evening, I arrived in the same swim after a good friend from the Lymm estates team had very kindly told me he’d seen some fish under a tree next to the swim and they’d been there all day. So, after a quick check with him again to confirm they were still there, I picked up my gear and set-up in preparation.

As much as I wanted to have a go at them straight away, I had some work to do on a swim further down the pool with the rest of  the estates team beforehand. Conditions were going to be stable for the evening so I was confident I’d get a go at them and the pool was quiet, so no reason for them to move on from their current sanctuary just yet.

19:00:   I crept back in the swim after finishing the work to find the fish still there. I’d spotted two big Mirrors, ‘The Cow’ (a big koi) and a couple of ghosties around 20lb+, so I quietly baited the swim, again with a few of the Viking Baits freebies, sat back and watched. After a couple of minutes one of the fish rolled on the bait and was readily feeding, so after all went quiet I baited again, this time a little more, then crept back to my rods, swung my hookbait into the area, sat back and waited. After ten minutes or so the rod sprang into life and I was into another carp! The fish peeled off back under the tree and after a moment where I thought I might lose the fish, I kept firm but steady pressure on the rod, eased the fish back into open water and I was on top of it again. All down to me and the hook hold now!

I had to step into the water and get wet feet to net the fish safely as the peg was raised above the waterline and the angle was difficult, the water was still painfully cold, but after beating the fish and getting it to the surface,  it was ready and I slipped the net easily under a big, dark backed, scaley mirror! What a result, this one was bigger than the common at the weekend for sure! Luckily, a good friend was nearby to come and take some snaps for me and when we hoisted it up on the scales, they revealed a weight of 28lb 2oz! I was made up, ‘over the moon’! An absolutely stunning (almost) fully scaled mirror carp! 

Justin's Lymmvale 28lb 2oz near fully scaled beauty!

Justin’s Lymmvale 28lb 2oz near fully scaled beauty!

I did manage to hook  another before they moved out by nightfall but, unfortunately, it was lost, sadly it came while we were taking snaps of the fish on the bank. Another ten minutes and I’m certain the fish would have been mine and in the net. I wonder which of the fish it was, ‘The Cow’ maybe? It was a shame I couldn’t have started for them earlier but, then again, two stunning fish caught in five days, I was grateful for that and, of course, there’s always the next time!

Congratulations, Justin, superb angling and a lovely little write up!

If you fancy having a go for fish like these, simply visit the Lymm AC website where you will find details of all our waters and, more importantly, how to join! We look forward to hearing from you.


Grimsditch improvements update.

Here’s the latest update from Shaun’s blog……….


Following a break in the work party schedule, this weekend saw a great turn out of willing club members and plenty of materials ready for a productive day of peg reconstruction. And a productive day it was, everyone seemed in good spirits and keen to get stuck in as the friendly banter flowed it was easy to explain what was wanted when anyone had a question or if I had a suggestion to make.

Most of the existing pegs apart from being well past good condition are wooden box type constructions with huge great steps at the side mostly leading to the water rather than the actual “pegs” The basic idea really is to be rid of all the ugly and unnecessary “boxes” in favor of simple peg fronts and safe steps leading to these fishing positions.

As you can see some pegs were pretty hazardous with the amount of scaffold poles protruding from the ground :

The ditch 007

This peg now looks like this from the same angle :

Grimditch  (41)

And like this from the other side of the pool :

Grimditch  (36)

The next peg along was left looking like this after the last work party with most of the metal and rotten steps removed :

The ditch 005

It now looks like this :

Grimditch  (45)

Grimditch  (37)

The next peg was left looking like this and I was glad it wasn’t finished :

The ditch 004

It now looks like this :

Grimditch  (49)

A different angle :

Grimditch  (48)

I have not got any before shots of these next two pegs but they were not pretty and now look much better with easier access too :

Grimditch  (51)

Grimditch  (25)

And finally the large car park peg has had a dressing of stone and wood chip :

Grimditch  (38)

So a brilliant day and lots of quality work done with most folk staying well after the minimum required overstamp time too!

Thanks, Shaun and all the others involved in the work, it looks fantastic!

Grimsditch Mill Pool improvement plans.

Lymm AC member, Shaun (you’ll know him as shamuscroff on the forum) is a landscape gardener by profession and has an intense passion for all things ‘leafy’. He has taken on a project at the clubs Grimsditch Mill Pool, working together with the estates maintenance team, to gradually transform it into a place of natural beauty. Reproduced below is Shaun’s own ‘blog’ which outlines the plans for the work.

Grimsditch 2nd Feb 2014 (The Plan)

Following some hard work already done by our small but dedicated maintenance team I am pleased to now be involved with making some improvements to the site surrounding Grimsditch Mill Pool. I have discussed my ideas with our club secretary and a couple of the lads already involved with many varied improvements on several waters, so its now time to get busy!

Whilst there are plans to improve structural aspects like the pegs and pathways there is also a desire to regenerate and enhance the site for the benefit of those using the pool. The idea is to create a more diverse habitat for all kinds of wildlife by introducing several species of native trees, shrubs and other plants. This will be a truly stunning place to be in the not so distant future I’m sure of that.

The work already done by the team has been mostly tree work as far as I can make out which has opened up the area allowing a better flow of air through the site which will help maintain good water quality and allow more light to penetrate too, but it is still basically a woodland setting.

1.2.14 016

As you can see there are still a few trees on the large island, others have been coppiced (pruned to near ground level) which will encourage vigorous and multi-stemmed growth come the growing season. This new growth may not necessarily be wanted but we’ll see, the plan here however is to introduce a few native shrubs and some native evergreen tuft forming grass plants (which will self seed).

1.2.14 042

What remains at the site now is a collection of mature trees some of which won’t last for too many more years. Whats missing is the understory level of young trees and shrubs.

Before any planting can be done around the pool there is a lot of brash and Brambles to be removed from the site which will not only allow us to see the soil level but will also allow any dormant wild flower seeds to germinate once the soil is exposed to the light.

1.2.14 003

1.2.14 011

1.2.14 027

1.2.14 004

A fair few piles of chippings here and there are to be used on the paths and pegs and some of the more composted stuff that’s been stood for longer will be used as a mulch around the new trees/shrubs.

1.2.14 033

There are some established cultivated ‘garden’ plants around the site some of which are to be tolerated and would benefit from being pruned like this Philadelphus (Mock Orange).

1.2.14 041

Others are just huge (Leyland conifers) and should really be felled or at least topped. One invasive shrub that will be dealt with is Symphoricarpos (Snowberry).

1.2.14 006

The only practical way to do this is to cut it down and treat with a systemic herbicide as it regrows and probably more than once too! The lads have done the first stage on this large clump of it.

1.2.14 024

Unfortunately these two areas will be a bit of an eyesore in the summer but its worth doing.

The plan is to pollard (same as coppicing but higher up) these Willows on the narrow island before they get too big which may seem and is brutal but its an age old tree management technique well suited to Willows which will allow easier maintenance every 2 years or so.

1.2.14 029

These trees will rapidly respond to this kind of treatment once spring arrives. Here’s an idea of how much growth to expect after just one year (this limb was cut by myself just last winter at Woodside Pool)

1.2.14 051

Some other tree work will be done I hope very soon by, I think, Scottish Power where there is a risk of damage to power lines. Other than that the only other tree work planned is to remove some weak trees overhanging the margins here where they will be casting unwanted shade onto the 3 shallow bays enabling us to introduce some carefully sourced marginal plants like Yellow Flag Iris.

1.2.14 002

Another job will be to remove a 1 metre section of Ivy from round the base of some large trees so it can then be removed once dead.

1.2.14 049

This next picture shows the bank that will be planted with various shrubs to provide a screen from the neighboring building.

1.2.14 032

Along the road side of the site is a part hedge mostly of a shrub that I will identify when in leaf!!

1.2.14 047

It would be good to continue this roadside screening with other suitable shrubs.

1.2.14 050

Plenty of room here for a tree or two to mature…

1.2.14 012

There are a few patches of established wild flowers around the pool although they don’t look like much now they are bound to thrive and spread around naturally and I’ll be very surprised if flowers like Foxgloves don’t start to appear too.

Red Campion.

1.2.14 021

Meadow Buttercup.

1.2.14 020

Cow Parsley.

1.2.14 040

Wood Forget-me-not.

1.2.14 023

Meadowsweet. (Like I said not much to look at now)

1.2.14 035

Right that’s enough of that! There are other little gems clinging on here and there and although I was thinking of introducing wild flowers I’m now going let mother nature show me what she can do.

So there’s lots to do and I am happy to surrender valuable fishing time to this project, however any help I can get with the preparation work on the first work party or two would be brilliant so that I can order the bare root plants and, of course, get them in the ground!

There are other details that I’ve not mentioned, but I will update this blog with the various stages of progress throughout the next year at least. I can’t wait to get stuck into this project and who knows, perhaps I can have some influence over some other neglected sites.

If you found all this boring I’d like to say well done for reading it anyway, and don’t read the next update it will be even more so I reckon!

Cheers Shaun.

Shakerley Mere Netting

Phase one of the netting of Shakerley Mere was carried out last week. Two Silver Carp were removed  (32lbs and 31lbs)  together with a Wels Catfish ounces over 44lbs, which was moved under licence to Wrinehill. The netting also captured a few hundred pounds of  large bream, some of which would be double figures at the right time of year. Those of you who were there would have seen  just how hard the team grafted in what is a considerable expanse of water and especially so given how cold a day it was, so well done and thank you to everyone who  participated. The purpose of the exercise was to show CEFAS that we have taken meaningful steps to remove those species that should not be in there. To that end, the day was a success and we will make a further effort to net it again in tandem with the EA team.



More nettings are due to take place over the winter, anyone interested in taking part please contact club secretary Andy Watson on 07432 874 977

Barbel teach-in October 2013

Saturday 5th October 2013, once again saw Lymm AC conduct a barbel ‘teach-in’ on the Lymm stretch of the River Severn at Atcham, an opportunity for people yet to catch the ‘prince of the river’, or ‘novices’ seeking a little extra help, to get some guidance from experienced barbel anglers, in the hope of landing one. I was to join them to cover the day for the club blog.

After a tortuous journey down the A49, encountering traffic jam after traffic jam, I eventually arrived at ‘The Raven’ truck-stop cafe where I was to meet up with Graeme ‘Grazy’ Roberts, Lymm AC’s treasurer, website administrator and anything else that will keep him awake ’til the early hours, for a light lunch, prior to carrying on to the river. The light lunch consisted of two fried eggs, three rashers of thick cut bacon, two sausages, fried bread, tomatoes, beans, black pudding, mushrooms, hash browns, bread and butter and a large mug of tea!

Somehow, I managed to drag myself out of the cafe and followed Graeme down to the car park at Atcham where the anglers taking part had gathered. Unbelievably, we were

Sunglasses were very much the order of the day!

Sunglasses were very much the order of the day!

greeted by temperatures of almost 70° and glorious sunshine, with ‘cotton wool’ clouds scudding across the azure Shropshire sky, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was July, not October!

First inspection of the river was promising, it had been low and clear most of the season, but the recent rains had put a tinge of colour in it and it was up by about 12 to 18 inches, which bode well for the fishing. There were around16 anglers taking part (and forgive me if I don’t name each one as I didn’t take notes as I was introduced to everyone) with a few anglers present yet to catch a barbel, including Steve (steveo) and James, some of the others

Conditions looked spot-on!

Conditions looked spot-on!

present were organiser Phil Hatton, Bill, Pete, Dave, Cliff, Graeme (Grazy), Graeme Barnett, Mathew, myself (not fishing) plus the Barbel Society representatives, with Head Bailiff, Ash, arriving later on.

For this ‘fish-in’ we had been joined by Bobby Baker of the Barbel Society together with two others, they were attending following the recent affiliation between Lymm AC and the Society which benefited members of either by offering reciprocal discounts of each membership scheme.

During the early afternoon, we wandered about the river talking to the anglers and watched the numerous groups of canoeists go by, but we returned to the cars for a while.

One of numerous groups...

One of numerous groups…

 Once there, we were soon treated to a very special moment as a local falconer (I think its the same title for hawks!) appeared in company with a very handsome Harris Hawk. The hawk was sat in the nearby trees watching us all, so after a brief chat with the falconer, it was agreed that Grazy could don the leather gauntlet for a few shots with the hawk (I’ve resisted all temptation to say he pulled a bird!) The next ten minutes or so were spent with the hawk flying back and to from  the glove for ‘titbits’ of food allowing us to get some lovely pictures. To be up so close to such a magnificent creature was marvellous.


What a handsome creature – the hawk ain’t bad either!

By mid afternoon, most were settled into their respective swims and fishing, with a ‘gathering’ planned back at the cars around 6pm for a chat and a brew. The river, and this stretch in particular, had been kind to many this season, myself included, but despite conditions looking spot-on, she was sulking and wasn’t offering up her prizes so easily today, the only hope was that she may be a little more benevolent come dusk and the ensuing darkness.

Ash with his barbel.

Ash with his barbel.

Darkness didn’t bring the flurry of activity we had all hoped for, but it did bring a first barbel of around four and a half pounds to ‘Steveo’ making him a very happy angler. Phil Hatton managed a chub of 4lb and Ash did a double of chub and barbel within seconds of each other. So the fishing wasn’t as hoped for, but it was day full of banter, cholesterol and the odd surprise, but more importantly it was a demonstration of how a group of like minded people, kindred spirits, can enjoy themselves merely because of the company and despite the lack of action. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I’m sure did the others.

'Motley Crew'

‘Motley Crew’

The barbel teach-in is one of many such days held by Lymm AC, if you would like to be a part of one, why not join us? See our website for details of how to join, with some very tempting deals including the amazingly valued river and canal membership, plus of course the great deal on Barbel Society membership. We look forward to hearing from you!

Tench on the pole.

Lymm AC member, Vinny Coulson (some of you will recognise him as ‘bigfedup’ on the Lymm forum) has recently written a lovely article on pole-fishing for tench that was published on the Angling Gazette website, he has kindly given us permission to reproduce

Vincent 'Vinny' Coulson

Vincent ‘Vinny’ Coulson

the article here for the benefit of our members. Vinny readily admits to being ‘addicted’ to fishing and describes himself as a ‘multi-species angler’ who is branching out into specimen fishing, though he doesn’t always target the ‘big girls’.

Vinny lists his other interests as writing and photography (something that will become apparent when you see the article!) He enjoys watching movies, playing guitar and, utilising his writing skills, has put together a very enjoyable blog. Read on and enjoy the article…

Pole Fishing for Tench

Concentric circles emanate from the tip of my float. It dips momentarily, not enough to strike at yet so I give it a little more time. Below the surface, a tench brushes against my mainline as it turns toward a piece of yellow sweetcorn. With its pectoral fins, the tench steadies itself. In the blink of an eye gills flare. From the bank I see my float vanish and I strike into a heavy weight. The fish surges in the depths. My tackle takes the strain but

A brace of 4lb-ers.

A brace of 4lb-ers.

there is no ratchet to be heard here, I’m not fishing with a centrepin. Instead, luminous elastic streams from the end of a pole. I hang on as the angry tench wishes it had resisted that tasty looking morsel. So why am I using a pole, why not a waggler or the lift method? It’s all about versatility.

So what gear do you need to catch tench on the pole? In reality you probably already own most of it. Anything that you use for carp fishing on commercial fisheries will be well suited to catching tench. Make no mistake, these natural water fish fight hard. Couple that with the features you might sometimes be fishing to; lily beds, Canadian pond weed and in some cases tree roots, you must have the utmost confidence in the pole you are using. Especially so when you are piling on pressure to stop a fish boring hard into a thick weed bed. Margin poles are a great choice. For a start you don’t usually need to fish very far out

The only floats you'll need.

The only floats you’ll need.

so the length is not an issue, one offering seven or eight metres range will be more than sufficient. Margin poles are also much more durable than higher grade poles, they are also a lot cheaper.

For elastic I use both hollow and solid varieties, both for very different situations. I generally use the hollow elastics when fishing into open water or away from any visible snags. When fishing to underwater features, on shelves or bars, here I can use lighter hooklengths and smaller hooks. The hollow elastic will provide a little extra ‘give’ and cushion the powerful runs of the tench, reducing hook pulls considerably. I use the solid elastic when there are significant snags or thick weed beds present, usually mid to late summer and I am fishing close to them. The lack of stretch suits the hit and hold style which, coupled with the use of stronger lines and bigger hooks, allows you to apply a surprising amount of pressure to prevent fish reaching any hazards.

In terms of end tackle, for 98% of the pole fishing I do for tench, a line of around 6.5lb (0.17mm) breaking strain is my first choice. I’ll use this when targeting fish up to around 7lb. I always use a hooklength of a lesser breaking strain, so typically around 5.5lb (0.15mm). I use hooklengths for two reasons. The first one being fish safety, if I do become

Line strength is often determined by weed and snags.

Line strength is often determined by weed and snags.

tethered in an unseen snag or I hook a larger than intended fish, should the situation arise where I get snapped, the chances are I will only lose the hooklength thus leaving the fish trailing just the hook, which it will soon get rid of. The second benefit is that it allows me to scale down to lines that I think are much too light to use on a running line. Especially low diameter high-tech lines ,maybe as low as 2lb (0.09mm) in snag free swims. Tench are notorious for being fickle creatures and can give crucians a run for their money in the ‘infuriatingly difficult to catch’ stakes. Obliging one day and shy biting for the other six. This ability to scale down, but still land fish, is obviously a great thing to have.

Hook size and pattern is, as in every other aspect of angling, dictated by bait size. Apart from maybe when fishing in thick weed, when I wouldn’t go any lower than a strong size 12 hook. For open water fishing, I usually start on a size 18 medium gauge hook with a wide gape. Any pellet hook would be perfect. On this I can fish pellet, corn and even sections of worm. If I wanted to use a smaller bait 4mm pellet or cut down sweetcorn then I would have no problem in reducing this to a size 20, again in a medium gauge. Small hooks that are taken in a positive manner go in and stay in. I’d rather hook a confidently feeding fish on a small hook than one that is toying with the bait on a bigger hook.

Bait for this type of fishing is also very simple on the waters I fish. It’s fair to say pellets have changed the way we fish for most species. Roach, bream and tench, they have all been affected by the pulling power and the nutritional properties of the pellet. In my tench fishing there will always be a pellet of some description, be that simply in my feed, on the hook or ground down to form a groundbait. The reason they have taken such a high place in my bait choice is that you don’t have to feed many to attract fish into your swim. With less bait,

Tinca tinca from the margins.

Tinca tinca from the margins.

particularly small particles, there is less chance of the fish becoming preoccupied. Swims that resemble jacuzzis are, in my experience, no good for catching fish. They can have you tearing your hair out trying to distinguish line bites from real ones. Foul hooked fish are a sure thing. No, I would much rather feed a small amount of pungent bait and present one or two focal baits for he fish to home in on, be that a larger pellet, sweetcorn or worm. I very rarely use maggot and caster when fishing for tench on the pole nowadays. In my opinion there is simply no need to.

The obvious drawback to using a pole is the range you are limited to. I don’t see this as a bad thing though and I don’t let it worry me at all. Tench are great lovers of exploring marginal shelves, weed and lily beds. Reed stems and overhanging tree’s are also favourite haunts and most, if not all of these, can be found very close in. As long as there is sufficient depth by which I mean anything over three feet I am confident of finding tench. I think tench like to have a little water over their heads and in my experience a deeper swim nearly always out fishes a shallower one. So lets say we’ve found a swim. How would I approach it?

At around six metres out there is a shelf which drops from three to five feet. I would choose to fish around halfway down the shelf. The base of the shelf will collect too much sediment; dead leaves and rotting matter that I want to avoid. By fishing up the shelf, our bait will be presented in an ideal location for feeding tench. They won’t have to upright themselves in order to take the bait. Plumb up to fish two inches over depth and hold the rig in place. Feed a small amount of pellets at the top of the shelf. They will trickle down slowly or be moved around by any undertow. If no bites were forthcoming my next tactic would be searching the swim. A little to the left of the baited area or to the right. sometimes I’ve found tench will hold off the free offerings and a bait presented to the extremes of this will soon see the float diving under.

If searching the swim doesn’t work and you have an idea there are fish present, a few pin prick bubbles or similar, now is the time to start adjusting the rig. Is there any undertow? If so, allow the rig to move with it. Let the bait trundle though. Often a tench will snatch at a bait that is behaving like this. They do this because it’s behaving more like the free offerings, which are also moving in the tow. It’s a case of trial and error, gaining experience and learning from it. Each water will be different, and each session on that water the fish will want a bait presented in a different way. Herein lies the beauty of using the pole. The speed at which you can adapt your presentation to find out what the fish want.

A near 5lb fish caught using the tactics described in the article.

A near 5lb fish caught using the tactics described in the article.

The above is a very rough guide of how I fish the pole for tench. I have not gone into fish location and suchlike, there have been plenty of articles written on this subject by much better tench anglers than me. However, my approach has worked for me over the last few seasons and I have taken some lovely fish to just over 6lbs. Fishing for and playing these fish on the pole is terrific fun. They are truly a joy to catch. Why not have a go yourself and put some of the ideas you have just read into practice?  You might just have a great time and land some quality fish in the process!

A big thank you to Vinny for his article, which I’m sure will be of benefit to many of our readers. If you’re interested in joining Lymm AC and maybe catching some tench using Vinnys methods, then visit our website

Put yourself in the frame!

We all like to have a decent trophy shot of special moment, be it a PB, or just to keep a record of your catch whatever the weight. If you’ve got a mate with you at the time, or someone fishing the next peg who is happy to be your cameraman, then great (beware though, that doesn’t guarantee a decent photo!) However, there are many occasions when we are fishing alone and have to rely on ‘self-take’ photography.

Many people find ‘self-takes’ a little daunting and struggle to get the trophy shot quite right, myself included, I hate doing self takes as I’m torn between making sure the fish is ok and getting the picture right, this is where problems arise and a lack of concentration in the photography stakes usually results in a poor shot, e.g., heads chopped off, fish tails missing, poorly focussed images etc, but it doesn’t always have to be a nightmare if you follow a few simple rules.

There are several ways to go about ‘self-takes’ and some of them are dependant on the type of camera you use. The vast majority of anglers use ‘compact’ style camera and everything below is based around that type of camera, though it can be applied to DSLR’s also – I use both types of camera. The following isn’t a definitive guide, it’s merely outlining how I go about getting my self-take shots and will hopefully help a few people who are struggling with their self-take pictures.

One thing that is paramount is fish welfare. If you think or know that you will be taking pictures during your session, then have your camera equipment ready right from the outset, don’t leave yourself scrambling about to find your camera/tripod etc after you’ve caught the fish, it should always be to hand and ready for use as soon as the fish is banked. There isn’t a worse sight than seeing an angler leave a fish flapping about on a mat while he looks for his camera!

Self timer.

My ‘compact’ camera is a Canon G11, it is ideal for self take pictures with a screen that rotates around to face the angler to ensure you get the composition/framing of the shot spot on and I would strongly recommend to anyone who wants to get their shots right to try to use a camera with a similar swivelling screen, they are worth their weight in gold when comes to getting the framing right. It also has a feature that enables me to customise certain settings. One setting I use, is to set the self-timer mode to allow 15 seconds and then fire off a pre-set number of shots (I have it set at 6 shots) This gives me ample time to fire the shutter release, kneel down, lift the fish and even if the fish doesn’t behave or settle during the first 2 or 3 shots, I know I still have 3 or 4 more shots to get it right, after all, I only want one decent shot! A good method for self takes, but not 100% reliable. See the example below….


Shot #2 of a six shot burst.

Shot #5 of the six shot burst.

Shot #5 of the six shot burst.

Not all compacts offer this function and will only take one shot once the timer has lapsed, my advice for people using this type would be to set the timer to its longest possible setting to allow time to get yourself in position whilst holding the fish.

Remote control.

'Key fob' style remote control.

‘Key fob’ style remote control.

Many cameras, these days (although not all – always check the specs before you buy!) have a remote control facility, the remote sometimes comes shipped with the camera from new, or can be bought separately. This set up allows the angler to lift the fish, compose the shot and trigger the shutter release by merely pressing a key fob style remote control. The downside (in my opinion) to this style is having to hold the remote whilst holding the fish and therefore not having full control over the fish itself.

Bulb release.

My particular favourite for self-take trophy shots is the bulb-release method. This involves fitting a custom-made bracket to your camera via the tripod socket and then attaching a shutter release fitting which in turn is connected via a length of tubing to a rubber air-bulb release.

The SRB-Griturn bracket (compact version)

The SRB-Griturn bracket (compact version)

The bracket attached to the camera.

The bracket attached to the camera.

The bulb release complete with 20' of tubing.

The bulb release complete with 20′ of tubing.

It works by applying pressure to the bulb, this forces air down the tubing and pushes a steel pin downwards on to the shutter release button on the camera. You can vary the amount of pressure you apply to the bulb to do a ‘half-press’ of the shutter release button and hear that magic ‘beep’ that tells you that autofocus has been achieved, then apply more pressure to fire the pin all the way down and trigger the shutter release.

The whole kit and caboodle assembled.

The whole kit and caboodle assembled.

Shown here as the pin is pushed towards the shutter button.

Shown here as the pin is pushed towards the shutter button.

Cheap bankstick with Gardener camera adaptor attached.

Cheap bankstick with Gardener camera adaptor attached.

This method gives you the maximum time to get yourself framed with the fish and ensure that the fish is ‘behaving’ and settled ready for the shot, I use my knee to apply pressure to the bulb. The bracket I use is an SRB-Griturn( )which is custom-made for compact style cameras (they produce the same style bracket for DSLR’s) it costs around £25 and comes supplied with the bulb release and approx 20′ of tubing on a reel, though you will never use more than about 10′ of it. Don’t worry about it using up the tripod socket on your camera, the knurled screw that goes in your tripod socket has a socket of the same thread built-in to enable you to attach it all to a tripod or, as I do, to a bankstick via a Gardener Camera Bankstick adaptor, they cost about £3.

Self-take procedure.

All the methods above work well, particularly the bulb release method, however, they are all completely useless if the shot isn’t framed correctly or the camera is on the wrong setting etc. This why I can’t stress enough the need to ensure you have everything set up before you catch your fish! Nikon/Canon/Panasonic/Sony/Olympus to name just a few of the popular brands of camera, all have similar settings/functions, albeit labelled differently. Probably the most popular choice for anglers is the ‘green square, or full auto setting, followed closely by ‘P mode’ – I personally use ‘P mode’ on my camera to allow me to shoot in RAW as oppose to just JPEG, this gives me flexibility later on when processing my shots – however that’s digressing and maybe I can talk more about that some other time.

Use the setting you are comfortable and familiar with and have the camera set up that way BEFORE you start fishing. I have my camera set up and attached to the inner part of a bankstick before I fish, with the main part of the bankstick firmly placed in the ground at the spot where I’ll be weighing/unhooking my fish. It’s simply a matter of placing the inner bankstick into the outer and turning the camera on!

Always have the camera ‘zoomed out’ to its widest angle, don’t use the digital zoom feature that is on most compacts, it will degrade the quality of the shot and is completely unnecessary given that you need to be no further than about 6′ from the camera. If you have a camera with the aforementioned flip screen, then framing your shot will be a simple affair, if not then take a couple of practice shots at the outset so you can familiarise yourself with where you need to be positioned when it does come to getting your trophy shot. If necessary, place a bankstick or other such marker at a preset point to remind you where you should be.

Night time.

Probably the most difficult time to get a decent shot is during the hours of darkness. This is when the cameras auto-focus system is working its hardest to achieve a ‘grab’. However, most modern-day cameras are equipped with a ‘focus-assist’ light that activates on the half press and briefly illuminates the subject to help the camera grab focus, keeping as still as possible helps also, although I appreciate this isn’t always possible. This is where the beauty of the bulb release method comes in to play as you can repeatedly use the half press to achieve focus prior to pressing the shutter release.

Another thing to consider with shots during darkness is the problem of flash photography. Most compact cameras have quite a harsh flash, some (like the Canon G11) feature flash compensation adjustment where you can lower the flash output, however, due to the nature of the subject, ie., big, slimy, reflective surfaces like those on a fish, the outcome is usually disappointing, with ‘blown’ highlights all over the place. One solution (it’s not a complete remedy but does help) is to put a cigarette paper or piece of thin tissue paper over the flash itself, this helps to ‘diffuse’ the light output by the flash resulting in less blown highlights.
Always make sure that if you are still wearing it, that your headlamp torch is turned off or it will confuse the cameras metering system even further!


The best advice I can offer when doing self-takes is be relaxed about it, don’t rush things, try to imagine that as you set yourself for the shot, that someone else is actually behind the camera taking the picture for you. Again and I make no apologies for repeating myself, have your camera all set up and ready to go BEFORE you start fishing. Kneel down at your unhooking mat and do a couple of self-take practice shots (don’t hold your arms out as though holding a fish though, somebody might be watching!) One last thing, if a fish just won’t settle and repeatedly flaps in your arms making the shot nigh on impossible, then do the right thing, get a quick ‘just for the record’ shot of it on the mat and get it back in the water. There’s no trophy shot worth getting a fish stressed or worse still, badly damaged/injured.

Have a good read of your cameras instruction booklet, there is so much to learn about your camera beyond ‘full auto’, most of it relatively straightforward and designed to help you achieve better looking shots from any given situation.

Remember, all of the above is just my take on getting half-decent pictures when your all alone on the bank, it is not carved in stone and I appreciate there are people who have their own tips and tricks to achieving good results, however, I hope my words have been of benefit to some and go a little way to helping them improve their shots.

As I mentioned earlier, I like to devote a little time to ‘post-processing’ my shots and if there is sufficient interest, then at some point in the not too distant future, I’ll explain how I go about it.

Woodside and Lymmvale Work Party, 24/02/2013

A fantastic turn out of 19 members assembled at Whitley Compound, Woodside was the main target, to re-dress steps, clean up pegs and stack cut down trees for processing through a wood chipper.


A fine day with cloud saw the work eagerly tackled, and once again yours truly donned a dry suit, my missus has now hinted that I do have a  thing for rubber .. However, removing two big snags made getting cold worth it. An old Milk kit and a huge underwater limb from a tree are no longer there, and the leads and hooks show that they have caught a few out!


Some of the steps, even though recently refurbished had suffered, so the arrival of some timber decking, kindly donated by Pete McQuillan and delivered by Dave Penny was in the nick of time. I shot off to Lymmvale to pick up a chainsaw whilst the lads grafted at Woodside.


At lymmvale I saw Tony Cliff toiling with a barrow, and realising we had some members spare, I delivered three to Tony to assist. I was gobsmacked at the work carried out on my return, the lads were waiting on me for more supplies, so a hasty run to the compound, drop a load of old wood and re-load back saw the steps take place..


Here are the pictures from around Woodside of the steps and pegs.











A huge thank you to all who attended, some have now completed their overstamp, and there are one or two who have done more hours than required, and have pledged to do more. If you have never joined on a work party, the craic and banter is superb, today was by far the most fun I have had, the insults and jokes were flowing none stop. Thanks to Shaun Roffey for his valued input on a water he cares passionately about, and also for him laughing his socks off at me whilst in the drysuit wielding a blunt chainsaw!


Here’s the Motley Crew at the end of the day,



Hope to see some more on the next one!




Winterley is go.. again!

Following recent bad weather hampering Lymm AC with it’s netting operation there, Club Chairman and fisheries Manager Neil Boaz has today called for members to assist the club on the 2nd and 3rd of February.

Meeting point will be Whitley Pool at 08:30 hrs on both days, the group will then depart and meet at Winterley.

Neil says “We will definitely require all hands on deck please. As I have said many times the window of opportunity is very short for the netting season.”

If you can help, please be at Whitley Compound at 08:30 prompt, equipped with wet weather gear and a packed lunch. Nettings are great fun, and you can get to meet and get to know fellow members as well as learn the skills that go with netting.