Two Lines are better than one – Match Fishing Tips with Stew Bracey
When it comes to difficult venues in early autumn, Dynamite Baits’ Stewart Bracey reckons that fishing two lines rather than one will see you beating off the competition with ease…
It has long been said that two heads are better than one, well, in my opinion, that exact sentiment works for match fishing two. Having two swims, will certainly pay off in the long run, rather than trying to pigeon hole yourself to fishing just one, or confusing yourself trying to fish three or more.
Starting to cool down
Now that autumn is upon us and the water is starting to cool, the fish will naturally group up. So, the way I tend to approach many of the matches I fish is to have what I call a negative (weight-building) line, mostly for silverfish and a second positive (bonus fish) line. And, here at Cross Drove Fishery, those ‘bonus fish’ cold quite easily be 20lb-plus carp.
The reason I only fish the two lines and not three or more is I find you can easily confuse yourself, particularly if you feed each line differently or with a different bait. At a fishery like this one, I could of course sit it out on the bonus fish line all day, hoping to just catch carp. A tactic that if it works would see me ‘walking’ to victory with relative ease, as Cross Droves’ carp are generally doubles and heavier.
In the past, I have recorded four carp in the net for just over the 100lb mark. The downside of this ‘beast-taming’ strategy is that I could end up with little or worse – nothing – in the keepnet at the end of the match!
Keep things ticking over
So, by keeping two lines alive, I find it helps me to keep the keepnet ‘ticking over’ as I call it. After all, they all count at the weigh-in and it is rare on any water, let alone this one, where you can get carp from start to finish in a five-hour match.
All lakes are different and even though you may not feel like you have had a lot, if you keep chugging away, by the end of the match you’ll often find you have amassed a decent amount of silvers to back up your carp, which might not equate to a win, but it could see you at least getting a section win.
Cross Drove is a very strange lake, for those that have never been there. It is far from a typical commercial, being that it is almost like a specimen lake in many respects. In fact, if you took all the islands and causeways away, the lake would be around 11 or 12-acres in size. That gives the fish a lot of places to hide away.
Today, I am fishing on peg six, and even though it looks quite intimate, I am actually in one of the many small bays that the water features. So, unlike a lot of waters, where you can ship a pole to the opposite bank and get a bite a chuck, this place is very, very different! On this lake, the one who catches the most, is the angler who works the hardest. But, on the up side, I have found that if you can consistently ‘crack’ a place like this, you can ‘crack’ anywhere, as it can be a very tough lake, when it wants to be.
The negative line
Today, I am looking to start my negative, silverfish line at 11-meters to just short of the lilies opposite. A lot of anglers would go straight up to the edge of them, but if prefer to start around three-meters short. If you go to close, you need to seriously up your gear – elastics and lines etc – so you have the strength to stop them from going into the vegetation. This is fine, but I find that this can cut down on your bites as the gear is now too heavy for a good presentation.
The other important key to fishing here is to plumb up correctly. The lake is very silty and you need to find a hard spot to prevent getting the dreaded jacuzzi through the day as the fish bury into the deep silt.
I like to use a heavy plummet to find the soft and hard spots, then I will targeted the latter areas.
For me, the make-up of the lake bed is more important than the depth as you get much better presentation and less problems as the session continues.
Regards the set-up, I have my Beastmaster pole with me today. There is no room for an Airity here as it could lead to a very expensive day when you get the world’s biggest swing tip as one of Cross Droves’ monsters snaps your pole! It’s all about extreme fishing today.
The elastic is a 12 hollow, set quite soft, so a can still land the silverfish, while the mainline and hooklink are 0.16mm and 0.14mm Silk Shock to a size 16 B911 hook. This sounds fairly stepped-up for silverfish, but Cross Drove is famous for its huge f1s, some being doubles! The
The float is a 4×16 wire stem version, fished into five-feet of water. This is heavier than I’d normally use, but today is all about fishing pellets on the deck so I need a positive rig.
Negative line bait choice
To kick off the swim, I fed a small nugget of Dynamite Baits’ F1 Sweet groundbait and XL 2mm, mixed 50:50. I’m a massive fan of the F1 Sweet as it helps attract all species of fish. I find the groundbait helps to impregnate the lake bed, but I don’t want lots of it, just enough to attract the fish. The pellet swill help to hold them.
After this, I will top up the swim with a pole pot of F1 Sweet 2mm and XL 2mm, again mixed 50:50. This I find is a very classic way of fishing, as I want to encourage the fish to pick up individual pellets, not simply gill feed on groundbait.
Over the top I will fish a 4mm Dynamite Baits’ Amino Original Swim Stim Expander Pellet, although I do have a pot of Durable pellets with me if the expanders keep getting pulled off the hook by smaller fish.
The positive line
My bonus fish line is one where I’m not expecting a lot of bites from, but if it pays off it will be the nail in the coffin for the rest of my competitors! So, it is a line that I keep looking on over the course of the match, rather than fish all day.
The tackle I use is a 16 to 20 hollow elastic; I find solids are too abrupt. If you try to stop a big fish in its tracks, you end up with hook pulls and broken hooklinks. The other reason is that I am fishing very long – 17.5 meters – so for the first 10-meters of pole retrieval, I have no real control over the fish, so the elastic has to do its job.
The mainline is 0.18mm to a 0.16mm hooklink. Although I will step this up to 0.18mm if the 0.16 isn’t strong enough on the day. I like to start with 0.16mm as it is a confidence thing for me personally.
This venue is not a bagging-up water, so every fish counts, especially these ‘big girls’, so I want to land every one. I have been beaten buy one fish on here a couple of times in the past!
The hook is an extra strong size 14 B911. The float is again stepped-up. Being a 4×16 rugby-ball shape, fished into two-feet of water sounds very heavy, but big fish are experts at wafting up the end tackle, if you fish too light, causing line bites and foul hookers. The rig is also set to fish two-inches overdepth, again to help prevent this happening.
Positive line bait choice
As this is my bonus fish line, I tend to feed it more positively.
I therefore start with half a 250ml pole cup of hemp, 2mm F1 Sweet pellets and 2mm XL pellets and a little sweetcorn – all mixed in equal quantities. The reason for the hemp and corn is that they are both quite heavy, so they don’t get washed away as easily as the pellets will. It is also important to not over wet the pellets either, so they also remain weighty.
The way I prepare them is to totally cover them in water and then almost immediately so the grease is removed but the pellets are not allowed to soften. I add the corn as that will ideally be my go-to hookbait. Therefore, you don’t need loads, as I can top it up over the course of the day.
The way I will then fish the two lines is to kick both off, and start on the negative line, looking on the positive line every now and then. As the day continues, I will look more regularly on the bonus fish line, until the last hour, when I will fish it solely. I look at it like a set of balance scales. Over the course of the match the scales will slowly tip from the negative to the positive.
This will hopefully give me a few big carp, whilst the negative line will have produced 20 to 30lb of silvers to back up the lumps. And, if all goes to plan, that will see me leaving with a cash-stuffed brown envelope with my name on it…or that’s the plan, anyway!
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