Fishing for the Family......

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Top 5 Tips to Start Fishing

In last months blog I explained the tackle to buy to get started fishing for not only youngsters but also the whole family.

In this months blog it is the 2nd part of the two part series explaining how to set up your pole gear and actually get out and catch a fish.

You could go to any lake, river or canal, set up your gear put on some bait and you MAY catch a fish but by following my top 5 tips below not only will this help you catch your first fish but will create a good foundation of techniques that will hold you in good stead for all your fishing in the future.

Tip 1 - Location, Location, Location

Locating the fish is probably the most important aspect of any fishing but I could literally write a book about fish location according to species, weather conditions time of the year etc.

My advice is to ask a member of staff at reception or out on the park for information or any anglers you see fishing on the park. Most anglers are really keen to help and will tell you of a good lake and areas to catch.

The species to target are what anglers call 'silver fish'. These roach, rudd and perch are the smaller species that are the most numerous and inhabit all the parks waters. 

One major thing to consider is safety in that the swims you are fishing needs to be as safe for the family as you can find. The image above of Canada Lake is a great example in that as you can see the water in front of the anglers is shallow before dropping away a rod length out to where the fish are feeding!

Tip 2 - Getting Started

If you followed my advice from last months blog you will now have a basic set of pole gear, this includes a pole rig that should be attached to the tip of the pole.

A basic shop bought 'silver fish' rig

When you take the rig out of its packet you may find it a little long. You may need to cut a section from the loop end to make the rig just a little shorter than the length of the pole. This will allow the fish that you will catch to be swung in 'to hand'.

Tip 3 - Plumbing The Depth

What's this you may ask. Having arrived at your chosen swim its no good just putting a bait on the hook and casting out. Most of the fish you'll catch feed on or near to the bottom so you must 'plumb up' to find the depths and contours of the bottom of your chosen swim. You will need to initially guess the depth and set the float on the rig to roughly that depth. Then using a plummet swing your rig out into the swim.

A 20 gram plummet that is hooked onto the rig as shown

(Image courtesy of Improve Your Coarse Fishing Magazine)

Example A - With the rig in the swim, the float is under the water showing it is set 'to shallow'

Example B - You can feel the plummet on the bottom but the float is set 'to deep'

Example C - The float is now set just right at 'dead depth'

Tip 4 - Baiting Up

Another very important element in fishing is bait. There are so many different baits to use again I could write a book on the subject, but to catch your first few fish stick to maggots. They are cheap to buy, easy to use and a deadly for almost all fish especially the silver fish species.

Maggots are the larval stage of the bluebottle fly and are dyed in several different colours. My favourite is red closely followed by natural or white's.

A red maggot - the pointed end is its head and the blunt end is its bum

The size of the hook on the rig is determined by the size of the fish being targeted and consequently by the size of bait being used. Use a size 20 or 18 that are small and perfect for single maggot or 16's for double maggot for the silver fish.

Believe it or not there is a right and wrong way to hook a maggot and the sequence of pictures below show I how I hold and hook a maggot on to keep it alive so it wriggles and is most attractive.

Being right handed I hold the maggot with its bum (the blunt end) facing upwards between my left thumb and index finger - I hold the hook shank with the bend facing up and the point down between my right thumb and index finger

I then pull the hook down into the little frilly section of skin on bum end of the maggot. This will get easier with practice!

A perfectly hooked single maggot - ready to catch your first fish!

One good thing about using maggots is that not only are they tops on the hook but they also great as feed. Feeding loose maggots will attract more fish into the swim and hopefully create a feeding frenzy. Don't feed to many maggots at a time as its easy to overfeed especially small fish. You cant take out what you have put in so use the old match anglers adage of 'Little and Often'. Feed in just 6 or 7 maggots at a time but keep up the feeding regularly.

Tip 5 - Unhooking Your Catch

By using the techniques explained above it wont be long before your float dives under the surface you lift the rig and you are into your first fish and from that point its all about fish welfare. If its a small silver fish swing it in to hand. Be aware that roach and rudd are quite slimy, perch have spikes that are not poisonous but are really prickly so handle them with care. I hold them carefully but firmly in my left hand so I can unhook them with my right thumb and index finger. If they are hooked in the lips this is fairly easy, but on the odd occasion they can be hooked down inside the mouth so you cant get at the hook. Its at this time you need to use a 'disgorger'.

By following the sequence below the use of a disgorger is fairly easy especially with practice.

A basic 'double ended' disgorger - hook size determines which end to use

For demonstration purposes I'm using a larger carp hook, thick line and a section of pipe lagging held to represent a fishes mouth.

The fish is hooked to deep to reach with fingers and thumbs!

The line needs to be held tight - (you might need some help with this until well practiced) and the slot in the disgorger clipped over the line.

Still holding the line tight work the disgorger down into the fishes mouth until it meets with the bend of the hook and goes tight.

Still holding the line tight now push the hook further down into the fishes mouth and the hook will pop out of its mouth still in the slot of the disgorger.

Out pops the hook and the fish is ready to be returned to the water.

Like most things in fishing practice makes perfect.

Please make sure you return the fish ASAP and please carefully lay the fish back into the water and not throw it in. They will then be there for other anglers to catch for years to come.

The smile on this young angler and his Grandad's face says it all

By following these basic 5 tips you will catch fish. They may only be small to start with but you must walk before you can run and the basic's that I have explained will see you right for all your future fishing.


Tight lines - Gary S 



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Venetian Marina Whilton Caravan Storage Whilton Marina
Cosgrove Park. Main Street, Cosgrove, Milton Keynes, MK19 7JP.
Phone: 01908 563360 Fax: 01908 263615