Turning A Poor Day Round

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Turning A Poor Day Round. Hi all of fishing lovers, Today’s post is “Turning A Poor Day Round”. Hopefully this article is ideal for you, all fishing lovers.

Turning A Poor Day Round

We have all had them, days that just don’t go to plan. What can we do when that happens?

Before I give my answer to this problem I think I need to explain some background. If you have read my previous posts you will know that I talk of the three most important things that I believe will affect your fishing – location, presentation and bait. To me they are frequently more important than having the “right” or perfect float, line, hook, pole, rod etc. Lets look closely at what I mean for each of these.


Where do the fish want to be, more importantly where do they want to feed. In its simplest form consider that you would not expect to eat dinner in your toilet. Even if it were served there and you may eat it my guess is that you would vacate the room as soon as you have eaten. Fish are no different. They will not hang around where they feel uncomfortable or at risk. As a consequence they like to be where food is likely to be and risks of predation are lessened.

What does that mean in practice? Fish love cover, something over their heads means they cannot easily be attacked from above. Hence we should know that any cover such as an overhanging bush is likely to be a fish holding spot. Also margin slopes provide a side from which it is unlikely that an attack will come. This may be why carp love margins where they can get warmer water in Summer along with that protection that the bank or marginal reeds can provide. Deeper spots in lakes can hold fish as they are as far from the surface as they can get. And to a fish the surface represents a source of threat. Before you shout, I can only assume that large basking carp understand their size makes them fairly safe from most predators.

In rivers fish will look to expend as little energy as possible while on the lookout for food. Hence

they will use obstructions, slacks and back eddies to sit and observe the stronger current pass by or where suspended food can settle out of the flow.

By understanding where a fish wants to be can improve our chances of catching.


Consider all the ways we can present a bait to the fish – waggler, stick float, feeder, method feeder, Banjo, maggot feeder, straight lead, on the drop, nailed on the deck, midwater, shallow, bulk & droppers, spread shotting. I’m sure you can add a lot more.

Each has its day, even its moment in a day and just small changes can bring big results, or destroy a day.


A minefield with today’s array of baits, groundbaits, additives, flavours, shapes & sizes. You also have a range of ways these baits and attractants can be introduced. Feeding, as I have said in another post, is an artform. There are multiple and probably an infinite number of ways you can alter what and how you feed.

Hard Work or Guesswork?

Get these three things right though and you are on for a good day, get even one wrong and your day could be one of frustration. So how do you turn a bad day into a good one? For me the simple answer to give is sheer hard work. Simple to say but difficult to put into practice and get the outcome you want.

With so many variables I have indicated in location, presentation and bait it is sorting out what to change when things are not going right that is difficult. Some anglers seem born with an innate instinct for those changes, the rest of us have to work it out by expending some effort. You have to cycle through changes. It can be a pain to change, swapping rigs, feeders, hooklengths, how we feed. But it is the person who canbe bothered that will succeed.

The slightly less simple answer is that if you are not catching then change something. But what to change and to what? That is not something I can tell you because every day, every swim, every angler is different. Eventually though we will all have days when we return home having been defeated by the fish. And for most that merely increases our desire to get out again and put things right.

OK, let’s assume that you are having a ‘mare of a day. The first thing, as I have said is, don’t just carry on doing the same thing, you will keep getting the same result. And really this is where experience plays a large part. In my 50+ years of fishing I have built up a store of experiences that I can draw on. But as I have said, even with that experience I can’t give you a magic formula that will work on every occasion. Sometimes it is pure instinct that dictates how/what to change. Other times you cycle through the alternatives and things that have worked in the past until something clicks.

 One example that has worked just twice for me is fishing corn in the far margins at half depth. I was feeding corn that must have sunk to the bottom, but the fish would only take the hookbait at half depth.  It has no logic but it worked. So its in the memory bank for the future. Another was on the canal on a day when the temperature didn’t get above freezing. I struggled all day until, in desperation I tried the far bank in 18 inches of water, and found the fish. Again my logic dictated they should have been down deep, not near the surface on a freezing day.

In Practice

A couple of examples of days I have salvaged. First was on Decoy’s Horseshoe lake in Spring 2014. I had tried fishing on the pole at around ten metres but apart from one tench it didn’t produce. On Horseshoe my standard approach is to concentrate on the margins and on this day I had plumbed up and regularly fed a couple of spots to my left. Weather had been mild so I suspected the fish would come close. Switching to these margin spots again produced sporadic fish but nowhere near enough to get me in the frame. It was a Winter league and I was leading having won the first three matches (three fliers) so a strong result was vital. The wind was coming towards me, diagonally right to left and I was allowing the float to drift along the marginal shelf I had found when plumbing up. I was feeding with the largest tosspot I carry. After a few hours it became obvious that the fish were backing off when I fed. So I switched to a pot about a third the size. At the same time I started to hold the float still and let it drift towards the bank rather than along it so it was halted by the underwater margin shelf. This meant the bait would be sitting at the bottom of the shelf up against the steep slope. It was only a step down of around 8 inches. Immediately I started to catch fish regularly. In the last 30 minutes of the match I landed an approximate 20lb out of a total of 47 and third place. The winner had 67, second 53. (I won the league with four wins a second and this third).

A match in 2010 on Waterloo Farm’s main lake saw me being frustrated by fish showing close to the island but I couldn’t catch them. I fished a Method feeder most of the day with groundbait. It occurred to me late on to try pellets on the feeder (now I would use a pellet feeder). The change was magical and I landed a quickfire 8 carp and one tench for 26lb and second. Winner had 30lb. That simple change of bait on the feeder was enough to transform my day.

Lastly, my first match on the Oaks at Sessay, Maple lake in September 2014. I landed a few fish on the pellet feeder but by the last hour my weight was not competitive. The whole lake had been fishing poorly for a couple of days. I had been feeding the margins fairly heavily with pellet through the day but not had anything. With an hour to go I decided to start a new margin line, adding one section of pole and feeding just 6 cubes of meat with a 6 mil cube on the hook. I had a run of fish that pushed me from average to a section win.

Its difficult now to recall what went through my mind in arriving in the changes I made. But when things are not working I do sit and think of the alternatives. And I have a saying, a mantra almost that I have to repeat to myself – Think It, Do It. If I think of something to try I will make the change immediately. After all I may as well not catch doing something else as not catching doing the same thing. But making that change may just work. Sometimes it can be worth actually stopping fishing for a few minutes and spending that time thinking of how to start again. I once came third in a match that halfway through I was nowhere. It was when I was having gut problems and had to go to the toilet. On the drive to and from the toilet block I worked out a change in feeding tactics. Put them into practice and made that third place.

Most changes though will almost invariably be in those three important areas I first mentioned – location, presentation, bait. Only rarely have the changes involved the actual tackle though on occasion it has had to be. A couple of examples of that are:-

Fishing a lake where barbel were the target I lost a few early on but a change to a larger hook saw me land every fish I hooked for a win.

Switching to a short dibber rather than my usual four inch long margin float in an ultra shallow margin swim saw me land fish that previously were spooking away from the float. Too late to help in that match but a valuable lesson learned and added to the toolkit I carry in my memory.

In Conclusion

If you are having a bad day – change something! Change anything. Think of those three areas I talk of and try and work out how to make changes. It may involve where you are fishing, how you are presenting the hookbait or in the bait or feed itself. I once transformed a margin swim that wasn’t producing by switching from feeding by hand to feeding with a tosspot, result – second place.  And the opposite has also worked.  The changes don’t have to be logical. For example a switch from pole to a feeder in the margins once saw me catch fish that would not take a bait on the pole. Sounds daft to drop a feeder off the end of your rod. But it worked.

Changing things is hard work, or it can be. It can seem to be a hassle. But do you want to catch or not?  Another example,  I framed in a club match a few years ago by eventually burying a small hook in a big expander pellet using a baiting needle to pull the hook through. When I told this to a clubmate who asked how I had caught he said “that’s too much like hard work for me”. He rarely gets the better of me.

Finally one example of a complete change. On the Winter canal pleasure session I chose to sit where there was a gap in the trees lining the canal towpath. The sun was behind me and on a chilly day would make the day slightly warmer. After two hours I had two fish. I upped stakes and moved 30 yards to where there was cover behind. In the shade but I caught first put in and carried on catching for the rest of the day.

So when you are not catching that’s the time to start working harder, not give up and take it easy.

Article source: neilofthenene.blogspot.com

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