August 2019

Catch Quality On The River

Standfirst: Preston Innovations and Sonubaits star Des Shipp explains how he seperates quality from quantity during a recent session on the Warwickshire Avon at Twyford Farm…

Standfirst: Preston Innovations and Sonubaits star Des Shipp explains how he seperates quality from quantity during a recent session on the Warwickshire Avon at Twyford Farm…

Rivers in England can offer some superb silverfish sport. However, separating quantity from quality is often where people stumble in their search for a bumper day on the bank. You join me today at the stunning Twyford Farm stretch of the Warwickshire Avon, near Evesham. A haven for all species of coarse fish where your how you introduce bait into your peg and presentation of your hookbait can make a huge difference to what you catch during your day. Here are my thoughts on how getting your feeding and presentation correct can ultimately see you catching the quality fish we so often seek as match anglers…

The Mix

With plenty of flow along the Twyford stretch of the Warwickshire Avon and quality silverfish firmly in my thoughts, my groundbait mix has to reflect that. I am faced with around 10 feet of depth at 14.5 metres into the main flow of the river, the depth and flow are factors I must consider when choosing the perfect mix. The base of all my river mixes is Sonubaits So Natural Black Roach, a dark, hempy mix with lots of coriander for added attraction, roach are likely to be my main target species today and this mix is a proven roach catcher and therefore makes up the majority of my mix. To this I add half a bag of So Natural River, a beautiful cereal based mix that adds some stickiness to the mix and finally half a bag of Sweet Skimmer, a biscuity mix that is superb for quality fish on natural venues, with its sweet aroma and biscuit base it gives me the best chance of attracting some better quality roach and even skimmers, bream and hybrids should they be willing to feed on the day. One thing that all of these groundbaits share in regards characteristics are they aren’t overly active when mixed to an over wet consistency, how I plan to mix my groundbait today. In comparison, So Natural Lake is an incredibly active mix that I would choose to use on days I am being less selective with the fish I am targeting. But for todays session, it has been cut from my options.

So 2kg of groundbait in total with my plan to feed eight balls at the start of the session, just down my peg allowing me to run a bait over a large carpet of groundbait containing a mixture of hemp, pinkies and casters all baits that my target species adore.

Again, my method of introducing this bait into the peg is focused on targeting the best possible stamp of fish, so while cupping eight balls of groundbait takes a little longer than balling in, it is well worth taking that time to accurately feed them in the swim than to throw them causing lots of commotion and attracting the attention of smaller fish like bleak, dace and smaller roach.

The Rigs

Whilst I’ll just be targeting one swim today at 14.5m it is important on Natural Venues to cover your options in regards presentation so setting multiple rigs up is key to getting the most from any peg you are faced with. My go-to or, ‘running through at pace’ rig features a 1.25g ‘Kerry’ float from the new Natural range of floats from Preston Innovations. A classic, body down tear drop style float with a sensitive fibre bristle. This is ideal for a range of baits and will be set anything from four inches off full depth, a trick I often deploy at the start of a session on a river, to an inch or two on the deck once fish have settled. All rigs are tied to 0.11mm Reflo Power with this particular set up featuring a 1g olivette with five no8’s in a bulk and three no9 droppers equally spaced below above a pre-tied 6in hooklength to a size 20 N-10 hook and 0.08mm diameter Accu-Power. Elastic choice is the ever faithful size 5 Original Slip.

The next rig in my armoury is a little more positive and features the ‘Power’ pattern from the same range. This time a 2g float which is set around 4in over depth. This is for slowing my rig down, and holding back against the flow with bigger hookbaits like caster, double maggot or even bits of worm. The rounder body shape and hollow bristle lends itself perfectly to this style of presentation. Shotting remains the same, an olivette and shot in a bulk with three droppers below. My hooklength and elastic are stepped up slightly to 0.09mm Accu-Power and a size 18 N-10 hook and a size 6 Original Slip.

Finally, I have a hemp rig. A .75g ‘Paulo’ is set up to fulfil this job with a lovely strung shotting pattern of No10’s spread at 3in intervals. The pencil shape of this float is perfect for hemp and allows me to work the rig through the swim, regularly lifting and dropping whilst offering little resistance on the strike. Hooklength and elastic are the same as the running rig.

Loose Feed or Top Up

The use of a catapult when fishing a river just seems like the right thing to do… But when looking to catch quality fish it can often have the reverse effect of drawing too many small fish into the swim. Bleak, small roach and other ravenous small fish will often respond to the sound of bait hitting the surface and look to intercept it on the way down causing me to suffer hold ups and catching the wrong fish for what I’m after. It’s for this reason that while loose feeding is always an option for me, I’ll tend to use it as a back up should the fish not want to come into my peg over the top of groundbait. Instead I much prefer to feed that large bed of groundbait at the start of a session and hope that it will keep drawing fish in and holding them in my peg for a long period with top ups of a single ball or two keeping the peg going should bites start to dry up.

The Session

Following the initial feed of eight balls of groundbait which were deposited down the peg at ‘10 past the hour’ if you were to imagine the swim as a clock face, I started on the Kerry rig set 4inches off bottom. This in my experience is the best way to catch in the early stages of the session as fish come into the peg to investigate and mop bait up within the initial cloud and commotion of that initial introduction of bait. Alternating between a single maggot and a caster hookbait this resulted in a number of dumpy perch and a run of quality roach up to 8oz during the first hour of the session. Adding some depth onto the rig to trip bottom at dead depth I was able to keep bites coming with more stamp roach amongst the occasional perch the result. Surprisingly no skimmers or bream at this stage but with bright conditions and only the slightest tinge of colour in the river it could be expected that these species would be hard to come by. As the session progressed the heavier Power rig gave me an opportunity to slow my bait right down over the groundbait which the fish were seemingly sat right over the top of. Double caster, maggot or even the head of the worm resulted in roach up to 12oz albeit the other rigs also had to be called upon when fish wised up to this approach. During the course of the day I only needed to top up with a single ball of groundbait on two occasions with fish coming straight back over the feed once this was introduced. The result is a very enjoyable double figure haul of mainly roach with a handful of quality perch in amongst them. Just going to show the effectiveness of feeding and presentation when targeting quality silverfish on flowing water.

Venue File

Twyford Farm

Warwickshire Avon

Day Tickets Available (The Valley Retail Park)

Angler File

Des Shipp

Pole: Preston Innovations XS90

Sponsors: Preston Innovations / Sonubaits

Related Articles
April 2021
Preston 2021 Gear Guide
April 2020
Margin Method!
March 2020
Springtime Bagging!
March 2020
Dave Brown - Shallow Canal Masterclass!!
September 2019
Super Pellet Pump User Guide
October 2021
Winter Method Feeder Masterclass!
October 2021
Des Shipp
Des' Five Banjo XR Tips
October 2021
Des Shipp
Try Something New
October 2021
Des Shipp
Fill In The Blanks