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Bloodworm V Maggot
Sheffield anglers Matt Godfrey and Tom Scholey lock horns in a bloodworm v maggot battle at Lakeside Fisheries, Ranskill.
Tom’s Angle ‘Maggot Man’
I have been visiting Lakeside Fisheries on a fairly regular basis for the last three years, fishing the Woodseats Winter League and then being lucky enough to win the venues own Summer League last year. For those who don’t know Ranskill, it really is a silver fish anglers dream, with a prolific head of skimmers and ide. Weights to 100lb plus made up entirely of silver fish are not uncommon through the warmer months, with chopped worm and caster short accounting for the vast majority of weights.
When the weather turns colder, understandably the weights drop off considerably, and more modest 10-20lb weights usually win. Although chopped worm and caster still works well, with anglers such as Mark Holmes and Tony Bell using them to great effect even in the coldest of weathers, I personally find a groundbait and maggot approach more successful.
My theory is a tiny nugget of groundbait and two or three maggots fills the fish up less than say a kinder pot full of worm and caster, and it also strikes me that the fish don’t seem to back off it as much or as quickly as they do with worm. At Ranskill, every peg is stuffed with fish, so there is no need to feed anything to attract them into your area, you just need to catch the fish that are already in front of you.
I was discussing some of my ideas about the venue with Matt, and he said that given the high density of silver fish he was surprised that bloodworm and joker didn’t figure more.
Though he would be the last person to admit it, he is something of a god with the bait having used it to secure his three world titles, alongside plenty of other notable individual and team victories. If anybody was going to catch a big weight on the bait from the venue, he was the man to do it, so I asked him if he would mind coming and having a day with me.
We agreed to sit next to each other and fish for five hours under match conditions, with Matt trying bloodworm and me fishing my more conventional maggot and groundbait approach. Although the day we picked was only two days before Christmas, it was unseasonably warm given the time of year, which I felt would put Matt at a disadvantage, but we couldn’t help the weather and to be honest I was glad as I thought it might make things a bit less embarrassing for me at the weigh in!
On my bait tray I had half a pint of red and bronze maggots, half a pint of casters, and a 50/50 mix of Ringers Natural and Green, which I had put through a flour sieve to get rid of the larger particles.
I opted to fish three lines, one at six metres at an angle, where I planned on feeding maggots by hand and two longer at twelve metres, one at ten O’clock and one at two O’clock.
Rigs were 4X12 Carpa Chimps to 0.10 Maver Genesis, with an 0.8 Genesis Hooklength and a size 18 Middy T6313 hook. In terms of shotting, I simply opted for a bulk of number tens around two feet from my hook and two number 10 droppers. I was lucky enough to find the same depth on every line, so I only set the one rig up, which I matched to a Preston No5 elastic.
At the all in, I threw a few maggots on my short line, before potting a nugget of fishmeal and around ten maggots on both of my longer lines. I was chuffed when I hooked a skimmer of around 1lb as soon as I lowered my rig in- just the start I was looking for!
I caught steadily for the first hour or so, but as the sun got higher in the sky sport slowed down, it was a bright day with no ripple on the water, hardly ideal skimmer fishing conditions. Matt looked to be catching well, but his stamp of fish was small.
A drop on the line where I was just loosefeeding maggots produced no bites, so I fed fishmeal here as well and took a couple of skimmers straight away, though my eggs were now firmly in one basket!
As the light levels dropped, sport improved again, I was feeding a line, going somewhere else for say five minutes while it settled, then fishing it out before repeating the process. Feeding with one of the biggest Preston Cad pots meant I didn’t have to keep shipping out with the pole pot all the time, though I wouldn’t recommend this in the shallow pegs at the venue as sometimes fish back away from the shadow.
At close of play I had caught 30 skimmers and a few roach, for a weight of around 18lb, with Matt’s bloodworm net going 12lb. Conditions definitely favoured my more positive approach, and I wouldn’t want to repeat the feature after a real cold spell as I feel sure Matt would prevail by quite a margin under these conditions, particularly when you consider that he probably had twice as many fish as me.
Matt’s Angle ‘Bloodworm Man’
Tom Scholey has been successful at Lakeside Fishery near Ranskill all year, so I’m going to make my excuses now and say that he is the venue expert! This feature came about as a little experiment to see whether a bloodworm and joker approach, or a conventional ground bait and maggot approach would be better in the winter. I was going to be the bloodworm man, with Tom using maggots and ground bait.
I had only ever fished the venue once before, and that was in the middle of summer with pellets and meat, so I was going on second hand information off Tom and a few others. It sounded like there were some skimmers to be caught on the long pole, and then plenty of roach and small fish close in, with 10lb been a reasonable weight. With this in mind, I planned on fishing two main pole lines. The first of these was at 11m for the roach and small fish, where I fed 5 balls of conventional ground bait, consisting of VDE Roach and Super match. In this I fed 250ml of joker along with a few casters. I plumbed up to find a flat spot, and kept the rig simple, with a 0.5 SPRO bloodworm series float for the 5 feet of water with 0.10 mainline to a 0.08 hook length and size 20 PR30 hook with a number 3 elastic.
The rig was shotted the same as most of my bloodworm rigs, a simple bulk 18 inch from the hook, and two number 10 droppers. The second line was at 14.5m, where I planned on targeting the skimmers with a fishmeal based mix using a heavier rig for bunches of bloodworm. Here, I used a 4×14 Carpa Chimp, on 0.12 mainline and a 0.09 bottom with an 18 Tubertini 808 hook with a 5 elastic. This rig was set 6 inches over depth, and I set up a spray bar to hold the bait still. Here I fed three small balls, containing only 50ml of joker, as well as some casters for the skimmers to get stuck into.
At the all in, Tom had caught two skimmers before I had even finished feeding! Starting on my short line, with single bloodworm set an inch off deck; I was into a flurry of small roach straight away. There were obviously loads of fish there, as most of my bites were hold ups, but some of them were only half an ounce! A switch to a heavier rig to get it through the bits saw some better quality roach show to 4oz, but after an hour, I had probably a pound and a half to toms 4lb! I definitely was catching smaller fish, and was relying on the skimmer fishmeal line to come good later in the day.
After an hour and three quarters, I had to try it, and baited up with four bloodworm on the proper rig. First drop in, the rig didn’t settle and as tiny blade roach dangled from the four bloodworms, exactly what I didn’t want to happen! After playing around with the rig, and bulking everything down, I manage to get the rig to settle over the bait without a small roach taking it. After 30 seconds or so, the bristle slowly slid away and I struck into a better fish, a skimmer around 8oz. This pattern continued, and whenever I could get the bait down without a small fish taking it I would catch either a skimmer or a better 4oz roach. I think that the reason I had so many small fish in the peg was because I had fed live joker, which was dancing about off the deck and attracting them. A definite for next time would be to feed dead joker in the fishmeal so that I didn’t get the small fish on the skimmer line.
After three hours, I had around 3lb of bits, with 6 skimmers for a total of say 5lb. However, I wanted to really single out the skimmers, and decided to attack the peg a little more, by feeding a small nougat of fishmeal with a tiny bit of joker and a few casters after every net fish in a hope to build the peg up for the last hour. Slowly but gradually this seemed to be working, as I was catching fewer and fewer tiny fish and most fish were dumpy roach from 2oz and skimmers up to 8oz. Then, going into the last hour, the peg came alive with skimmers, and I had a mad 20 minutes where I was hooking one every drop! I actually hooked eight skimmers, most of which were foul hooked, and only landed three! It was really frustrating, but I then stopped feeding and fished around the edges of my bait, and although I didn’t get as many indications, the fish which I hooked were in the mouth.
By the end of the session, both I and Tom were catching skimmers most drops in, and they seemed to have pushed the small fish away. After five very enjoyable hours it was time to call it a day, and I was certain that Tom had beaten me by a margin with his conventional approach. I felt that feeding the joker had worked really well for getting the fish into the swim, as I had loads of bites all day, but the stamp were much smaller and became a bit of a pest when I needed to catch skimmers to keep up with Tom. On a colder harder day, I’m sure that fishing bloodworm and joker would be a better approach to keep putting fish in the net, and next time, I would definitely feed some dead joker in fishmeal primarily for the skimmers. At the weigh in, I managed 12lb, consisting of 5lb of bits and 20 skimmers for 7lb.However, Tom had done the business, catching near 20lb of skimmers proving that a conventional approach can still beat fancy baits such as bloodworm and joker in the middle of winter!