How many of you feed liquids to catch fish on the bottom? Ant Rogers does, and combined with a massive lump of meat on the hook he has one hell of a fish-catching recipe.
A few pellets, a handful of corn, a big glug of liquid and a sizeable lump of red meat on the hook – sounds like an unusual concoction, doesn’t it? Well, Ant Rogers has been feeding this way for some time now and believes he has hit on the perfect recipe for success. If his recent form at Woodland View is anything to go by then who are we to argue?
Three days before shooting this feature, Ant recorded a 152lb framing weight of hard-fighting carp in poor weather conditions after several days of cold rain. In fact, Ant reckons the weather was so bad that he only caught properly for the first three hours. One can safely predict that once the water warms up properly, so too will the action.
Ant has been perfecting this technique for a few years now and, to date, his best weight is 197lb in a 31/2hr evening match. Watching him in action you soon realise it won’t be long before that 200lb barrier gets blown away, so we’ll let Ant take you through his method.
Fishing big cubes of red-coloured meat is synonymous with Woodland View fishery, where I am today. I suppose a guy called Kevin Slade started it all off when he took this water apart with his aggressive feeding strategy. He would fill it in with big pots of bait, fish a massive chunk of meat over the top and haul the carp out on relatively crude gear. Back then, the fish often dragged the elastic out on the take but the fish seem to have wised up a lot more now.
A friend of mine called Ian Lockley was the first person to show me a more refined approach. He used smaller cubes of meat and a more cautious feeding policy and, for a season or two, was almost unbeatable. I learnt a lot from Ian before perfecting my own take on the method, which has seen me chalk up plenty of results at this time of year.
This tactic normally involves fishing no more than eight metres out and presenting a large cube of very soft meat over the top of a bed of corn, pellets and the all-important liquid. You are not allowed to feed meat at this venue so I use it purely as a hook bait. The size of the meat varies but usually the bigger it is, the better. The meat stands out as a large target bait among the feed and the bigger carp home in on it readily. Don’t let the size put you off, because even small fish will suck it in. You don’t really want these nuisance fish, however – it’s big carp that I target.
In a typical, five-hour match I aim for 20 or more carp to reach my 100lb target weight, which equates to just four fish an hour. Combine that with a few fish late on down the margins and you can quickly amass a big weight.
|Ant rarely adds sections once a fish is hooked.|
Liquids are the next frontier in match fishing, as far as I am concerned, and Woodland View seems to be where they have taken off the most. Before realising the effectiveness of liquids I would often find myself needing to feed up to a whole 250ml pot of corn after every single fish. This may seem a bit drastic but it was often necessary with this attacking, big-bait method.
The fish in this venue are very active and seem to sit off the bottom searching for food. A pot of feed helped force them down long enough to catch one before you had to repeat the process. When the fish were feeding well, you could easily get through the fishery’s 10-tin limit, and this is when I stumbled across the importance of feeding liquids.
On one match I ran out of bait with 90 minutes to go. All I had left was a handful of corn, a few casters and a bottle of liquid flavouring. In order to make my feed last I experimented with feeding a big glug of liquid with a pinch of bait every time I cupped in. I couldn’t believe how well the fish responded to it, and from that day on liquids have been a crucial part of my feeding strategy.
A column of liquid flavouring in the swim is a massive fish attractor in its own right and really helps to bulk out your feed. Nowadays I still bring my limit of corn but the liquid makes it last so much longer. I know some anglers who are just feeding liquids now, with no feed other than the hook bait!
I like to fish this method on the bottom, in anything from three to eight feet of water. For that reason you need a liquid that is denser than water so it will sink quickly to the floor. After much experimentation I have settled on corn steep liquor (CSL). This is a major by-product of cornstarch processing and is a natural source of betaine. More importantly, fish love the stuff!
I like to use neat CSL that has not been watered down and the sonubaits.com version is perfect. To give it an added kick I add a squirt of sonubaits.com Strawberry and Tutti Frutti flavourings before starting. Two small CSL bottles should be more than enough to last me a session.
Some anglers use diluted liquids that disperse immediately, for catching shallow. This is when coloured dyes, particularly red and black, also score well. I have had success with red dye when bottom fishing, but it can drift out of the peg on a windy day so I tend to stick to just CSL these days.
The Hook Bait
Soft meat is vital – it is taken more confidently, is easier to strike through and fools bigger fish. I use cheap Ye Olde Oak ham and start to prepare it several days in advance of a match, using this method:
Slice up a tin of meat with a knife and place the cubes in a polythene bag with plenty of air inside. Shake the bag vigorously for at least five minutes until it is coated white with the fat and the corners of the meat have gone. Add 150ml of CSL, a capful of sonubaits.com Strawberry flavouring, and a squirt of the same brand of red dye. Shake it all up again, bag it up and freeze it. Next day, defrost it fully before refreezing it, and do this every day until the weekend. The more the meat is frozen and thawed the softer it gets. I tend to take three sizes of cubes with me which range from 1cm offerings to 1in gobstoppers. Any meat that is unused gets refrozen.
Ant’s Feed Recipe
I always start off with a handful of the fishery’s new sonubaits.com Commercial Feed Pellets topped off with enough corn to half fill a 250ml pot. I then add a big gloop of juice before potting it in. I tend to make a bit of noise with the cup to attract the fish’s interests at the start.
Further top-ups are generally done with a quarter of a pot after every fish or every couple of missed bites. How I top up depends on what’s going on under the surface. If there are few signs of activity I keep making a bit of noise when I top up. If there are lots of silly bites and liners I tend to ‘sneak’ the bait in a bit quieter.
This is an instant method, and I expect to catch a carp straight after feeding. You might not always catch on it all day but it can give you a massive head start in a match. Remember, you often only need a few big fish every hour to stay in contention.
|This is the stamp of fish you are after.|
Meat is a heavy hook bait and doesn’t need any help to get down to the bottom and stay there. The float acts merely as an indicator so I use a slim 4×14 Durafloat 7, regardless of depth. This is shotted with a bulk of four No8 and one No11 Stotz. I fish dead depth with the shot taking the float to the base of the bristle and the meat acting as the last dropper. The bulk is essential as it helps you to read the float and distinguish the true bites from the liners. I start with it 12 inches from the hook but will move it closer if I am suffering from liners, or further away if it is hard.
I have tried hair rigging but found it leads to foul-hooked fish. Instead, I bury a large size 12 PR21 hook inside. This straight pattern keeps its point better than a curved one. Line is 0.17mm PowerLine to size 15h Hollo elastic and a Pulla Kit. I will step up to 17h Hollo in the evenings or if I am really bagging.
I set up two identical rigs: one has three inches of line above the float for good conditions while the other has six inches for rougher weather.
I tend to fish about seven or eight metres out during the day, and a section closer in for an evening match. This is close enough to keep the fish settled without spooking them by playing hooked fish right over their heads.
Most carp methods require little more than a gentle lift to set the hook but this method is a bit different. The fish take the bait so fast that you will miss too many bites with a slow lift.
Quite often a carp will swim down, take your hook bait and swim straight back up again. A positive strike will often see you connect with the fish several feet off the bottom. You could be led into thinking you have foul hooked a fish, but the hook is normally in the fish’s mouth – unless you strike swiftly you will never know!
The ricochet caused after striking fast with a short pole is a recipe for breakages so that’s why Preston has developed Striker sections. These are super-strong sections that fit all of the company’s Genis poles and are perfect for this method. I tend to use two or three Striker sections, a short No4 and my top kit. I very rarely add sections to chase a hooked fish. Anything that charges off and doesn’t get turned by my 15h Hollo elastic is normally foul-hooked and will probably come off whether I follow it out or not.
You will miss bites with this method but perseverance is the key. Learning to read what is a bite and what is a liner is half the battle.
As expected, bites have come after just 20 seconds. My first seven fish have been lean two-pounders before I finally connected with a proper 6lb ‘meat fish’. The carp have not been quite as big as expected but that often happens when you have the lake to yourself. In match conditions the fish would be more evenly spread, leaving me to concentrate on the bigger specimens.
Topping up with a small amount of corn and a squeeze of liquid after every fish has seen the action get progressively better as the session has worn on. I have managed more than my 20 carp target today, along with a smattering of smaller F1s and tench.
Catching on big lumps of meat is one of the most exciting methods there is, and if you haven’t already tried feeding liquids with your bait then what are you waiting for? You could be missing out on some red-hot action this summer – just don’t tell everyone about it!
Fishery: Woodland View
Location: Droitwich, Worcestershire
Contact: 01905 620872