Horns dam fishery

April 25th

Today was the first round of the angling times supercup at horns dam fishery near Preston and as we had been drawn away to St Antony’s A team which hadn’t been beat for seven years in the knockout rounds , so we was always up against it but after having had a good practice match and a few decent pleasure sessions we had sorted a plan out and  was confident of putting up a good showing.

On the day of the match it was really nice weather for a change with it being nice and sunny the first time this year we was sat in t shirts , the improved conditions meant we had seriously got our tactics wrong with carp playing a big part for the opposition were we targeted the skimmers and apart from a couple of sections were we was close to winning the others were a complete mismatch and unfortunately we got beat 6-0.

Personally I was drawn on peg thirty which was just outside of the main bowl at the start of the arm and I had fished this peg before in winter were it was dire because of the shallower water but in the warmer conditions i expected a few fish to be settled nearby , i had a nice steady match catching skimmers at 6m + 14m with pellets and corn, I ended up with 44lb which is a great net of silvers but I needed a couple of bonus fish as I got beat by 6lb which included a carp at the all out and to be honest I felt that I was well out of contention for the section with the lad opposite catching a couple of early carp on the tip but i still felt that i could have done a few things differently today but you life and learn .

Well fished St Antonys A team and we all hope you go far in the competition.


Horns dam fishery

21st February , peg 40 house section of Horns dam

Well another Sunday and another match this week i was going back to Horns dam for the winter league team match it was the final round and a couple of the squad had decided not to fish it because the team was languishing towards the bottom of the table , to be honest i wasnt to keen on fishing it myself but I’m always happy to help my mate out and i don’t think that i fished it too well wasnt  the last time i was here so i wanted to try to sort a few things out . For a change the weather had been nice for the time of year with temperatures hitting double figures but today we was due a light breeze with constant drizzle which is nothing that i couldn’t cope with although on the thirty mile trip to Preston the wind gradually increased and when i arrived at the venue it was blowing an absolute hoollie , i had a quick look at the lake before we did the draw and it looked like i had made the wrong decision in not choosing to fish the dam wall section as they had the wind off their backs but those pegs down the arm resembled the north sea .

When i got back to the car-park it was time for the draw and to be honest we had a distinctly average set of pegs and i was to be on forty which was on your right just as you walked up the path , it looked really good as i had an aerator to chuck the tip too a reed bed along each margin and too top it off i had a lot of protection from the wind making fishing the pole a lot easier than most of the anglers but after speaking to the lad running the match who was also in my section he informed me that it had finished last on the previous three rounds so my bubble had been well and truly burst but as it’s a team comp i still had a job to do .

My bait for the day was rather simple as i only had ;

Three pints of ground-bait mixed 50/50 of frenzied hemp and brown crumb

Three pints of white maggots

I decided not to bring any pellets today because it only produced tiny blades on the last round but after the match i think that it was a bad decision .

I targeted my peg with three swims these were ;

13m line straight in front of me i used a 4×12 rw maggie float with a staggered bulk starting above the six-inch hook length of 008 garbo my hook was a size twenty matrix silver fish , i fed this with three balls of groundbait at the start and would top up with a golf ball size when i was going to fish it .

6m line situated slightly to my left i used a 4×12 rw maggie float  with a staggered bulk starting above the six-inch hook length of 008 garbo my hook was a size twenty matrix silver fish , i fed one ball of ground-bait at the start and loose fed maggots with a catty every few minutes to get the silvers competing in the peg .

4m line i put this at the bottom of the slope to my right were there was a dead reed bed and if the wind got too bad i could drag it up the shelf a touch to help me present a static bait , it was just over 4ft deep here so i used a 4×12 rw maggie float i would have liked to use a lighter float but the wind was too bad at times it had a staggered bulk starting above the six-inch hook length of 008 garbo my hook was a size twenty matrix silver fish , i loose feed a dozen maggots by hand every five minutes while i was fishing my other lines just like you would when f1 fishing .

Tip rod with a 0.5oz tip which was the lightest that i had and i cast about 25m just to the right of the aerator i used a 15g cage feeder with a 2ft hook length of garbo 010 and my hook was a size 18 matrix bagger hook , i started by casting every ten minutes to get some bait down before then leaving my feeder in place for at least twenty minutes .

When the all in sounded i fed my pole lines with ground-bait before chucking the feeder out and to be honest i don’t really do a lot of rod work so it took me a couple of chucks before i found my accuracy but when you’re bream fishing i don’t feel it is necessary to keep everything on a sixpence , after about twenty minutes i was just messing about with my iPod when my tip slowly pulled round and a lift of the rod saw me attached to a skimmer of around 10oz which was the biggest fish i had caught in any of the previous rounds so i was mighty relieved when it hit the net , i hoped that i could be on for a few more as bream are normally shoal fish and i did get quite a few bites but the trouble was they were all from tiny blades i was also coming back with smashed maggots were i hadn’t seen any sort of indication after an hour i felt enough was enough and had a look at my pole lines .

I went onto my 13m swim first and i began getting indications from the start but they were all finger length roach which seemed to be the norm for in here i got my head down trying to catch as many of these fish as i could because i already had my bonus fish in the shape of that skimmer the trouble was i began bumping off a few off them because my solid six elastic was too harsh even though it was set really soft , i also noticed that the fish taking the bait on the drop were a lot smaller than those on the deck so i altered my shotting for a bulk+dropper so i could bomb my rig straight to the deck this slowed my catch rate down but on the plus side i did pick up some dumpy 4oz roach . The wind was getting gradually stronger and had swung round a bit which made fishing long a bit difficult so i gave my six meter swim a try i had fed this every few minutes since the match started so i was hoping that some fish had settled on it and i began catching the odd fish but it was a lot slower than my 13m line , i decided to begin feeding a small nugget of groundbait every five minutes to see if this would help and my catch rate did increase but it dragged a lot of small silvers into my peg , i spent the next hour swapping between the two swims to keep putting fish in the net but it was painfully slow at times and before i knew it the match had just two hours remaining .

I gave my short line a try as i had been loose feeding it since the match started and if the small silvers were settled on it then i could catch them a lot quicker , first drop and my rig hadn’t even settled when my float dipped under a sharp lift resulted in a foot of elastic coming out a netter roach approaching six-ounce not a bad start i then went on a mad little run of stamp roach between four-ounce + 1.5lb which really surprised me because i had seen nobody catch fish of this quality on earlier rounds i even managed to drop a half pound roach back into the lake plus another broke my hook length at the net but after a good forty minutes the bites understandably tailed off and when a couple of ruff got in on the action i decided to set up another swim at the same distance to my left although this did not produce a great deal it allowed me to rest the other line which meant i could keep putting the odd nice fish in the net in between the ounce roach .

With half an hour remaining i hooked a fish that fought a bit differently than the others and up popped up a snig off about 10oz which was fun trying to unhook but its presence in the peg seemed to put the silvers off because i struggled to add any more fish before the all out , after lifting my net out to see what i had i figured it was around double figures which should be enough to get really good points if not even win the section . After packing up i went round to see the captain who was fishing on the canal and he had done really well off peg nine which blanked on the last round catching 12lb of roach this was enough for third in his section only getting beat by carp weights on peg 1+2 , i followed the scales along the dam wall there was a couple of nice bream weights off it and apart from the early pegs everyone had over 10lb our angler on peg eight managed 16lb which was good enough for another third in section , our angler on the arm section peg 18 managed nearly 7lb of bits which was good enough for fourth in his section but there was a couple of unbelievable 18lb weights of bits , so it was all down to my section and the two anglers on the thirty pegs had caught 10lb +12lb 12oz all bream catch on the tip the latter weight was leading all the way till they got to my peg with my net going 12lb 6oz so for the third match running i had beaten by the matter of ounces i was kicking myself for losing those two fish but i had managed second in section from what i got told was a very poor peg so that’s not too bad i suppose .

As it turned out we ended up with 12 points this put us joint second on the day only one point behind the leaders and we also managed to crawl our way up the table a little into fifth place which was remarkable after all the upheaval during the earlier rounds and even had to fish one match with just three anglers , as a stand in i fished three rounds one on the canal were i managed 5th in section with 10lb this was my first attempt at fishing the pole over a bed of ground-bait which was an eye opener , the second was on the arm were i totally got it wrong and ended up catching 5lb of bits at 14m really struggling against the strong wind , then today i managed a second but being ultra self-critical i should have won the section by at least a pound but when your luck is out its out .

overall i think that i have learned a great deal about silver fishing on Horns dam as before the winter league i had not even seen the venue before i don’t think it had lived up to the expectations of most anglers that have contested the matches although the bream+skimmers finally made an appearance during the last round so it might just have been the time of year , it’s always hard trying to compete against anglers of this quality on their home waters but it has been an experience not too sure if i would like to repeat it although some of the team are keen to give it another try next year so watch this space .

Horns dam team of four winter league

February 7th

Today i was going to fish Horns dam as a stand in for my mates Jeff’s floats team which was languishing towards the bottom of the winter league and i was also down to fish on the arm section that had produced lots of small silvers with the odd bonus skimmer if you are lucky so with that in mind i had decided to try something a bit different from the norm on here which i will go into more detail later in the blog . After my thirty mile drive up to Preston where the venue was situated i was one of the last to arrive so i hadn’t long to wait before the draw took place and as the team had finished last on the previous round we had the pegs which were left in the bag , my home for the next few hours was going to be peg thirty and this didn’t mean a great deal as i hadn’t seen the lake before but after pushing my gear around to it i found out that it was right at the start of the split so i shouldn’t be too far away from the fish fingers crossed .


On settling in my peg i had a strong cross wind blowing from left to right that was forecast to get worse as the day progressed so with this in mind i decided to set up three rigs to cover my options ;

Six meter line  this is what i had been told was the best area to fish with loose feeding by hand the best way to attack it  and i set up two rigs for this swim the first was a 4×12 rw maggie float which had an on the drop shotting pattern , the other was a more positive 4×14 rw maggie float which had a bulk+dropper shotting for when the fishing was really good and i also expected it to pick up some bonus fish because it would enable me to produce a static bait , on both rigs i used 0.14 garbo main line with a six-inch length of 009 garbo hook length and elastic was solid size six preston slip .

fourteen meter line i hoped that this would be my bonus skimmer line and i fed it with four balls of micros at the start of the match , with the wind being as bad as it was i decided to use a 4×16 malman roob float this would allow me a bit more stability of the rig and i could even put a few inch of line on the deck as i was using the more positive double bulk shotting pattern the main line was my usual 014 garbo and hook length was a three-inch piece of 010 garbo that had a size 16 matrix rigger hook , elastic was the same size six preston slip .

On my bait table i had ;

Two pints of red+white maggots

Three pints of soaked micro pellets

Small tub of 4mm and 6mm expander pellets

Small tub of 4mm white expanders


The normal thing to do in here is to feed ground bait at the start of the match but today i decided to use pellets because i felt these would be better for the skimmers so when the all in sounded in the distance i proceeded to put three balls of micros plus one lose cup of micros on to my long pole line and i wanted to leave it for as long as possible as this would allow the skimmers to settle a lot better , i then started my match on my top six swim with my on the drop rig i began feeding through a large kinder pot trickling a few maggots in constantly and when the wind allowed i would lose feed a dozen by hand , i kept letting my rig fall through the water with the feed but a bite less twenty minutes wasn’t what i expected especially as it was supposed to be a small fish race and the other anglers on the opposite bank where also catching quite well although they did look like they was fishing further out than me , so with not a lot happening on my original line i decided to put another section on the pole and after plumbing up i found it to be the same four-foot deep so i was able to use the same rigs , another bite less twenty minutes had me moving again and this time i put it towards my right which gave me better presentation in the windy conditions yet again it was only a couple of inch shallower but i finally managed to catch a couple of ounce roach in the net although i was waiting ages for any indications .

Biggest fish of the day

Biggest fish of the day

The first hour passed with only some small roach in the net so i had no other option other than to go on my long line a bit earlier than i wanted , so out i shipped my pole with a 4mm expander on the hook and no sooner than my float settled it slid under with skimmer number one coming to the bank but at 2oz i would need a lot of these to get a double figure net , this swim was producing quite regularly but all were of a similar size or smaller and i didn’t feel my double bulk shotting pattern was correct for fish that size so i changed for a bulk + two droppers this worked a lot better and i had a good run of ten in forty minutes . With the wind increasing steadily i was really struggling to present a static bait which is necessary when using pellets so i decided to change my hook length to a six-inch length of 009 which had a size 18 matrix silver fish-hook attached this would allow me to use double maggot on the hook i hoped this would attract a bigger stamp of fish and also allow me to lay a bit more line on the deck , my change of tactics didn’t really work out as i had planned because the size of fish remained the same but i was now missing a lot more bites and bumping the odd fish off as i shipped in so another change of hook length to a size twenty matrix silver fish-hook was called for this sorted the problem as i began hitting a lot more indications . With conditions not improving any i had a look on my top six swims but they failed to produce a single fish so i had no other option but to fight the wind at 14m and catch anything i could , the lads within view on the opposite bank had slowed down there catch rate but mine was getting better all the time the only trouble was the only two bonus fish i hooked both fell off moments after the strike which was not what i wanted or could explain ! !

It was soon time for the all out and i had managed a grand total of sixty fish i was unsure of my weight but figured i had about three pounds which i was told had been enough for good section points in previous rounds , as the scales reached my peg i was the last to weigh in and it seemed that the arm had fished a lot better than people had thought it would with 11lb winning , 9lb second then a couple of 6lb nets and my fish went 4lb 8oz which was good enough for fifth in the section . If i had been able to catch on my six meter line or not had that blank hour i could have probably reached 6lb or more if you factor a couple of bonus skimmers into the equation , overall the match was won with 18lb and 15lb came second . The team had one last in section , two fifths in section and one first in section which gave us 19 points , fifth overall on the day i think this is their best result so far and also lifts them up off the bottom with one round remaining , on a personal note i have stood in twice for the team and managed two fifth positions not the best of returns but to be honest i have struggled to get too grips with this style of fishing .

My next match is the last round of the winter league at Old Hough were im in joint third place only a couple of points behind the leader so it’s still all to play for , i just need a peg with a chance of catching a few fish and i should be fine . After that i think i might have a look at doing some f1 fishing because it seems like an age since i last caught any so , Partridge lakes ,Cunneries or Bradshaw’s will be on my agenda before my busy Spring , Summer and Autumn campaign .


Horns dam canal , winter league

December 13th , peg six canal


Today i was to be standing in for my mate the big dipper in the teams of four winter league at Horns dam which was another new venue for me to try i had done a lot of silver fishing this winter rather than the targeting f1s which is probably why he asked me , i didn’t really know a great deal about the fishery even the information i could find on the internet was rather sketchy and apart from it being full of small silvers with people using large amounts of ground-bait that was all i could find so i would be going into the match a bit blind but i was looking forward to the challenge .

The days leading up to the match had been the usual wind and lots of heavy rain especially on Saturday today it was dry + calm but we had to contend with a drop in temps plus the first frost of the winter not good , after packing my van i headed off on the thirty mile trip to Preston it was noticeable that the degrees were dropping with lots of frosty fields the further i travelled . As i arrived to the venue i was for a change the last person there and in my absence the Jeffs floats team had decided to let me do the draw because apparently i am rather good at it , so after picking three pegs out for the lads on the dam it was time to pull out a peg for myself on the canal and my home for the day was number six this was just over half way along the stretch which is usually the best place to sit when trying somewhere new .


As i mentioned earlier i had never fished this lake before so i purposely took my time getting to the peg so i could have a good look on where everyone was setting up there swims so i could follow suit and nearly everyone was putting two swims in one at four meter the other 13m , the canal was more like an elongated tear shape and i was towards the narrower end but it was still a good twenty meter wide after plumbing up on my near line i found it to be nearly five foot but the further i went out the shallower it went so i decided to put this in at four meters which was right on the crease of the lake bed . On top of the shelf it was around four-foot deep i was in a bit of a quandary because i wanted to fish further out than those around me which i felt would give me an advantage but i also wanted to make sure i would be able to fish it if the wind got up so i settled on 15m i decided to set up just three rigs today ;

Top four line i set up two rigs to cover this swim the first was a 4×12 tbf cult float which had a bulk plus two droppers shotting pattern and my main line was 012 garbo which had a six-inch hook length of 009 garbo with a size 20 matrix silver pattern , the other rig was an on the drop pattern so i used an 4×10 tbf cult float my main line was 012 garbo which had a six-inch hook length of 009 garbo with a size 20 matrix silver pattern the elastic on both rigs was size six matrix solid .

Far line i expected this swim to produce more bonus fish with maybe the odd carp so i slightly stepped up the rig i used a more positive 4×14 rw maggie float which had a bulk plus dropper shotting pattern my main line was 014 garbo with a six-inch length of 012 garbo and hook was a size 18 matrix bagger hook my elastic was ng green 8-10 hollo .


Bait for the day was ;

One pint red maggots

Two pints of casters

One pint of corn

Four pints of ground-bait which was a mixture of 50/50 brown crumb and dynamite baits frenzied hemp which i added two hand fulls of casters .

Yet again when the all in sounded i hung back a bit until i found out just how many balls of ground-bait the other anglers decided to put in on each line , i put two tightly squeezed tangerine sized balls in on my four meter line plus another cupping kit full of loose ground-bait and i then put three similar sized balls onto my far line with another of loose ground-bait plus corn which would hopefully allow a bigger stamp of fish to settle on it . I then began the match using my strung out rig with a single caster on the hook it took awhile before i got my first fish which was a micro perch not the start i wanted especially as everyone else was picking up roach quite often while i was struggling for bites i just couldn’t work out what i was doing wrong , i didn’t feel comfortable wearing my jacket as it restricted my movement so even in the very cold conditions i had to take it off this helped me focus my attention on getting a few bites and also allow me to begin loose feeding over the top of my float .

I changed to my more positive rig and began sprinkling in maggots through my kinder pot this finally got me a few fish but it was only when i began laying my rig in against the wind then allowing it to run through did my peg really kick off i had about forty minutes of a fish a chuck all roach around 2oz a piece , i then hit in to something bigger as a few meters of my elastic came rushing out the pole tip after a short fight up popped a perch over a pound but just when i was about to net it the tiny hook pulled out of its boney mouth this understandably disrupted the shoal of roach so i fed another loose ball of ground-bait on this line before giving my long line a try ,


It didn’t take to long before i began getting indications on my far swim and at first they was a similar size to what i was catching on my top four line as i was the only angler fishing that far out i didn’t know if i was doing the right thing but at least i was putting fish in the net plus it gave the fish on my short line a chance to settle down a bit , i decided to begin topping after every couple of fish by filling half my large kinder pot with maggots or casters then capping it off with my original ground-bait mix after a while i began to attract a lot better stamp of silver most around hand size plus i picked up a couple of bonus skimmers averaging around the 10oz mark i had to wait longer between bites but i felt they was worth waiting for when the small silvers got in on the act again i decided to refed a ball of groundbait before going on to my short line while it rested .

My top four line was very hard work as i couldn’t put a run of bites together and those i did land were a lot smaller than what the other anglers around me was catching so i began spending longer and longer on my 14m swim , this was putting a lot of pressure on it and as a result towards the last hour of the match bites really began to tail off i don’t think i helped things when i bumped off two nice skimmers in consecutive put ins this was due to my size eight elastic being too strong and i really should have changed it to a size six but at this point of the match my hands really weren’t working in the cold wet conditions it just goes to show the importance of setting up correctly before the match starts but i did feel this swim could produce a carp or two which never materialized . I decided to drop right down to a size 008 hook length with a size twenty matrix silver fish hook to see if this could help me Winkle out a couple more fish in this hard part of the match and i did manage a couple of hand sized roach before the all out sounded which called time on yet another difficult contest and i don’t think that i ever got to grips with how the fish wanted to feed today .


As i began packing up i started thinking on what i could have done different today and apart from put in a pellet line in long for the skimmers instead of the ground-bait but in all honesty i didn’t expect them to play such an important part in the match , i would have also put my near swim another section out but before the all in i was confident that the bottom of the crease towards the deeper water was the place to be , i should have also set up my tip rod using either maggot or open-ended feeder because the guy a couple of pegs to my right was the only person to use it but picked up some nice stamp silvers casting a meter from the far bank before he broke his rod .

They started the weigh in at the high numbers and when they reached me 18lb was leading the way my net went 11lb which is more than i had thought the guy to my right only put 4lb on the scales but after that the further you went the better the catches went culminating in the last two pegs getting first and second with 24lb + 30lb with the last weight included nearly twenty pound of carp and was the only peg to produce one , i put the increase in weights down to the fact it gets a lot wider towards that end plus i heard it was nearly a foot deeper as well which the fish would have been more happy sitting in and in the end i finished fifth in section not my best days fishing although the canal was a lot better than the dam as lots of people struggled to get over 4lb on there .

Back to my winter league at old hough next Sunday where we will be on lucky dip or prospect let’s just hope the wind isn’t too bad because you really need to fish at 16m to pick up the carp and i am toying with the idea of feeding balls of ground-bait in on my channel swim which could help the skimmers settle but i haven’t decided yet , i am also looking forward to getting back on the banks of partridge lakes for the christmas match as i haven’t been there in ages and i have almost forgot what an f1 looks like .