Well after fishing for F1’s for the last few months, I have decided to put down a few words about it.
Although I haven’t mastered the art of winter F1 fishing far from it in fact! I usually come home with more questions than answers after the match. It might help a few people……. So here goes……
Where in the peg to fish
Most snake lakes are between 11 meter and 16 meters wide with 2 ledges the far bank is usually reed lined which offers protection to the fish and the best area to start in the summer, but in winter it is a different story. There are 3 standard rigs you will need:
At least 2 foot deep for across but be careful what depth you put this line because if the water is clear you will need it deeper than 2 foot, usually I look at my keep net and count how many rings I can see, this enables me to judge how clear the water is along the far bank and what depth to fish at.
4 Foot for on the slope, plumb up to find the bottom of the slope and go shallower a few inches, this offers a clean bottom to fish on away from the silt, which could make foul hookers a problem if you are fishing it
Usually the deepest part of your peg around 5 or 6 feet depth, not the best area to fish but can throw a surprise up or 2!These are the depths you will need to find and by extensive plumbing you can find flat-ish areas at these depths where you know your feed will stay, acting like a table for the fish and not roll away down the slope. F1’s refuse to feed in all depths apart from where they are most comfortable and finding them is the key to good weights.
Starting the Match
My first line of attack is usually straight in front of me against the far bank, where I can work along it looking for small groups of fish and hopefully pick up the odd F1. When I have exhausted this line I move to the bottom of the far slope, but make sure my swim is at least 2 meters away from my far bank line, giving me the best chance to play fish out of the feed area and stop it from disturbing any other fish in the swim. The mid-channel line is 4 meters away from my far slope swim for the same reason and my near slope is 2 meters so it looks like a diamond shape .
Sometimes you can catch on your top kit at the side of your keep net and this is best done straight in front of you, and work away from you as the fish move. F1’s usually back off between pegs where most people don’t seem to target because this is where they feel safe. So during the match slowly work your way out of the peg when bites tail off, if you know what I mean?
Working out Bites
I can’t stress how important it is to plumb up accurately, with the pellet just touching the bottom, because F1’s are notoriously finicky feeders and can eject bait without it registering on your float if it isn’t properly set up. When plumbing up wait for the line to be tight before slowly lowering it down, by using a heavy plummet often gives you accurate results. Any indications should be lifted in to no matter how small, and in my opinion lots of the gazunders usually turn out to be liners. Lifting in to bites is a lot better than striking which can leave you forever bringing your rig in to re-bait and loose you valuable fishing time .
Maggots tend to work the best when it’s been really cold, especially when the lake has been frozen or frost has been on the ground for a while, don’t know why but I have found red maggots to work best on the venues I fish.
Expanders, I usually find 4ml to be the best, but the odd 6ml can pick out the better fish or give you a bite out of the blue. I haven’t had a lot of success with the 2ml pellet which is strange because in theory it should work well with it mimicking you micro feed, but all I have caught using it are small skimmers.
White expanders and punched bread are good for working the far bank and can pick up fish when all else fails.
4ml Gelatine pellets match your feed pellets and work well as a change bait.
Sweetcorn or corn skins work well but be careful not to over feed, I have lost count of the times that people have put a big pot in and killed their swim.
When using expanders the best feed bait by far are soaked micros, with a few soaked 4mls mixed in. I usually do mine the night before by putting them in a food bag with just enough water to cover them and fasten tight, in the morning they will be in a clump but a quick shake in a bait box will separate them and be all spongy. I have tried various flavouring’s to add to them and am not yet convinced by any, but having said that my most successful was a touch of EFG 131 mixed in with the micros.
Crushed expanders (I use the sonubait version) it works very well when fishing the far bank, just dampening the ground-bait will give off a nice cloud with particles in it, which gives the fish an area to go in to, but very little in the way of feed.
I have found that you need a very positive set up that shows up the very tiny indications from F1’s and to do this I have 2 very basic patterns:
A short 5 inch hook length is used because I don’t like putting shot on it as it could weaken when using fine diameters, it is attached loop to loop to the main line and put your stotts using as small as possible to aid in presentation, but big enough to register on the tip of your float, with 1cm gap starting at your loop and work your way up until the desired weight has been received to shot your float. Using this shotting pattern helps to present a good bait when slowly lowering your rig down and if done correctly and at the same time as your loose feed you can get a bite almost instantly.
Same as above but with 1inch gaps between the stotts, this aids in presentation when you lay your rig in from the side, you must keep tight contact with the float to help the maggot fall naturally .
I have used garbo line a lot recently and haven’t had a problem regarding breaking strain to diameter or with knot strength, these have been matched to gamma hooks and haven’t had a problem with the pellet and paste hooks but I did have a spell fishing pellets on the gamma black hooks which are a finer wire to help in presentation but I started suffering with hook pulls, don’t know why but never experienced 1 when using them with maggot, maybe the wider gape on the gamma pellet and paste hook achieved a better hook hold.
Searching for F1’s
F1’s don’t feed all over your peg and you’ll have to find the depth at which they feel happiest feeding in. Start your session along the far bank by feeding a small nugget of crushed expander the size of a 50p in the kinder pot and carefully lower your pellet down the same hole, if you don’t get a bite within 5 minutes of lifting and dropping your rig by 2 or 3 inches which can be just enough to tempt a bite because F1’s like taking a bait whilst it is dropping. Then ship back and re-feed, if this continues for over 15 minutes and still no bites then try further across the far bank and if still no bites then ring the changes with your hook bait.
You can then try deeper down the ledge to see if the F1’s can be located there, with the water being slightly deeper here micro pellets are the choice for feed. 1 Of these areas should produce fish, and you can then judge whether to start introducing larger amounts of pellets after every fish using a bigger pole pot but by any chance you still can’t get a bite then try maggots on the hook because F1’s can be very picky on what they like eating and may not even look at a pellet but go mad for maggots.
When you find the fish your next step is to keep them coming and you can usually catch half a dozen fish before they become a bit wary and back away from the bait going in. When bites do slow down and before you start thinking setting up a new line there is a few little tricks you can try which could help you catch a couple more and usually bigger F1’s.
Continue feeding in the same place but lift and drop 1 foot away and work all around the feed area and lowering the rig straight down slowly can make a massive difference in picking up a rogue F1 or 2 .
Feed maggots at the bottom of the near slope by hand and this can come good in the last 90 minutes of the match, so don’t give up on this line because if they turn up if can be the difference from framing and winning. When fishing this line only feed when your rig is out of the water because it cuts down on-line bites and foul hooked fish.
Feed an area as far as you can away from your fishing position but at the same depth that you were catching at before, keep feeding it when your fishing your other lines but a bit heavier and sooner or later they will turn up for a feed.
F1’s back a from an area where you are fishing and you’re not getting bites because there are no fish around your floats so don’t be frightened to re-plumb several times throughout the match, you don’t need to prep a line for F1’s so that’s a simple case of starting again by feeding a pinch of pellets and half a dozen maggots at a time.
F1’s are a good fish to target in winter and you can usually get bites on the toughest of days by keeping busy and swapping swims is vital to keep on catching, you need to work hard to get the best from any F1 water and that’s what I like doing.
Like I said at the start I am far from being an expert at F1 fishing just hope this helps someone and any feedback would be appreciated.