Winter Commercials

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Winter Commercials. Hello all of fishing lovers, Today’s post is “Winter Commercials”. We hope this informative article is a good choice for you, all fishing lovers.

Winter Commercials

Another requested subject. I’ll do my best to explain how I approach commercial fisheries in the Winter. I cannot guarantee its the best way but I have had a bit of success.

Hopefully we all appreciate that you will catch less, probably feed a lot less and generally have to work harder than in the Summer.

I actually don’t change much from Summer to Winter. But I’ll go through my three main methods, one ledger and two pole, that I use in Winter.



In matches, or even pleasure sessions at any time of the year I like to set myself a target. In a match I will normally have a good idea of what sort of weight should see me frame, exceed the target and I may win. To me this is important because I can judge whether I am keeping to target or falling behind. If falling behind then I know I have to change something. Probably even more important in Winter due to the normally lower target.

In Winter it may take me an hour, even two to get my first bite. But rather than panic, if I know my target, I can judge whether there is time left in the match, once I get things right, to catch up anyone who has started well. If everyone is struggling then I know that hard work will give me the possibility of stealing a frame or win, even in the last hour. So a poor start is no reason to give up.

In pleasure sessions I still like to know what a good day will look like. On my local club water that is fashioned like a commie I look for ten carp in five to six hours as a good day.  Or on the canal it may be 50/100 fish depending on the stretch.  Over that is a bonus. So I always have something driving me on and keeping me focused.


I have found the pellet feeder to be just as effective in Winter as Summer and so this is my go-to method. The only real change I make is the length of time I will wait for a bite before re-casting. Summer I would expect a bite within five minutes, Winter I wait fifteen. It is surprising how consistent the timing of bites can be. Almost as if the fish back off the feeder and take an average length of time to get curious enough to approach it.

To that end I will place my watch on the platform beneath the rod so I can see the time as I tighten after casting, set a “reel-in” time and watch progress without losing concentration on the rod. If at the end of fifteen minutes I am getting line bites I may wait a short while longer. That has to be judged on the day.

You may find that bites come after, say, twelve minutes. This is where your target comes into play. Will five fish an hour achieve your target? If not change something, if it will then stick at it until it slows, hopefully it won’t.

Similarly bites may come after seven minutes. In that case you may as well re-cast after ten, not fifteen.

I always use micros in the pellet feeder. Hookbait though can be the key on a hard day. I carry a selection – corn, polony, dead reds, hard pellet. I still can’t work out how fish can be picky in amongst a pile of micros but far too often I have proved they have a definite preference on any given day. So be prepared to swap baits until you find what works.

Location can also be a key. In that first hour or two try different spots in your swim until you find where the fish want to be. You may even find that the bigger fish are located in a different area to the smaller specimens. But again, once you have location and bait sorted you will catch people up who may have started better than you.

If the pellet feeder isn’t working then its time to consider the Method with groundbait or a Banjo with micros. And yes, strangely presenting the micros in a Banjo as opposed to the pellet feeder can make a difference. That’s one reason I carry two made-up feeder rods to matches. I can quickly swap feeders by swapping rods and change the feeder on one rod while waiting for a bite on the other.

Of course if the feeder fails totally or the swim dictates it may be time for the pole.


You will probably find two differing weather conditions in Winter. It will either be flat calm or blowing. I approach each differently on the pole. But first what changes do I make to my pole rigs and set-up?

Tackle & Bait

I make few changes. After all I’m still trying to catch fish that may well go to double figures.

At the end of October I will switch my elastic from a sixteen solid to a fourteen solid in four of my long pole topkits. Yes I know that for many this is still heavy. But I do what I am confident in and works for me. At the same time I will start to carry my Winter rigs.

These will be on 0.13 mainline and generally 0.10 hooklength to a size 18 Kamasan B611. The float will be a BGT Grey 0.5g. This float is long at around 24cm, a slim rugby ball shape and has a 1.5mm, fairly long, bristle. On calm days I can dot this down or on windy days allow a little more tip to show without sacrificing much in sensitivity terms.

BGT Grey
My shotting of these, and other floats, may be of interest.  I use three No.10 Stotz as droppers and then a string of 6 or 8s above.  Conditions will dictate how far apart the shot will be.  Generally I start with the 10s 4-6 inches apart with the lowest just above the ten inch hooklength.  The larger shot will spread up to just below the float.  Poor conditions with a strong tow will see me close up the gaps and have the top shot closer to half or threequarter depth.  If I don’t think this float is working on a bad day I will switch to the 1g version or even some special floats I use on really windy days (see my Simple Approach To Pole Fishing post for details).

I switched to this shotting pattern a couple of Winters ago.  I was fishing with the traditional bulk and two droppers but got the impression the fish were abandoning the bite quickly, possibly feeling the bulk.  I spread the bulk (made of 6s) and started to catch.  I haven’t switched back.  I believe the string gives me the advantages of the weight with the sensitivity of a string. 

I feed micros in the main. I will have some 4 mil pellets soaked and may try these if I feel the fish will respond to them. Hookbaits again will be a selection, the only change from the Summer being the addition of some red maggots and 2 mil expanders. So my simple bait table will consist of micros & 4 mils for feed and for hookbait expanders (2, 4, 6 mil), corn (to be used as whole grain or skin), maggot and possibly some meat or polony. 

On a good day I can still get through 3-4 pints of micros.  If the fish show that they are hungry then you have to feed them or lose them.

Corn skins – something I was at first sceptical about but over the last couple of Winters I have caught a fair number of fish on.  All I do is squeeze the middle out of a grain and then use the hook to pull a small tear in the top of the grain.  This helps any trapped air escape and so let the skin sink.  I then hook it near the tear.  With the BGT Grey I can watch as the last shot settles, I then know that with my ten inch hooklength the skin will fall nearly naturally over the last twenty inches and I can then see it register on the float.  This is where the shotting pattern helps along with a sensitive float.  If I don’t get a bite after a couple of minutes I will lift two foot and drop.  I think its the slow drop that can attract the interest of a fish.  The skin will inflate underwater to look like a whole grain but with a fraction of the weight.  The size 18 B611 helps here.

One thing though, for some reason I can’t fathom I seem to get more foul hookers with skins. 

Calm Conditions

The way I approach pole fishing in Winter in calm conditions is to look for anything up to six swims/spots that I can hopefully fish with no more than two rigs. To do this I will, for example, plumb up at topkit + 3 sections of pole and hopefully find three spots, at least six foot between each that are all within an inch or so of being the same depth. I then add a section and do the same thing.

I now have six spots that I can fish easily, rotate around and feed differently. Initial feeding my be something like left – small tosspot, middle – large tosspot, right – large tosspot topped up more frequently than the middle or even started with a full 200 mils of micros.

I can then judge how the fish want to be fed on the day. The right hand spot may take a while to get going with fish backing off the initial heavy feed but I have known this line come to life late on once the fish settle.

As I say it may take an hour to get the fish feeding or to get your first bite. This seems like a long time but here’s how I use that time. Say I have three spots and four baits (4, 6 mil expanders, corn skins & maggot). If I fish each bait in each spot for five minutes then that is my hour gone. Hopefully in that time I will discover where the fish want to feed and which hookbait is preferred. Then I can start to tailor my feeding and presentation to what I have learned. As Abraham Lincoln once observed “If you have four hours to cut down a tree best spend three hours sharpening your axe”. In other words preparation time is never wasted.

If I get nothing in the first hour then I just go through the routine again.  At some point I expect to get bites.  I can then home in on what the fish want in the way of feed and hookbait.

Here I cannot stress enough my belief that getting the depth spot on is vitally important. On a calm day this should be achievable. I am looking to get the bait just touching bottom. To do this I will plumb up slightly shallow then put on a 4 mil expander and get the shotting right.  Replace the 4 with a 6 or grain of corn and the float will settle lower. Here’s where the Grey with its long, 1.5 mm bristle comes into its own. Adding depth a fraction of an inch at a time you will get the pellet resting on the deck and the same amount of float showing as with the 4 mil on the hook. If I am not catching then I will constantly be making minute adjustments to the depth. To this end a backshot level with the float tip helps. I use a No.11 Stotz. And every half hour or so put on a 6 mil pellet and check the depth. Sometimes this can bring a solitary bonus fish.

People have told me that by fishing these multiple spots I am splitting my fish. I accept that may be the case but I think, particularly in Winter, that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
First of all I think that feeding one spot you will draw fish from within a circle centred on the feed. With two or three spots that circle is enlarged into an ellipse. Hence I believe I can draw fish from a wider area That will be more fish than I would draw from a circle. I may even draw fish from my neighbour’s swim, not a bad thing in a match.
Second I nearly always find that eventually one spot will outperform the others. Feeding and fishing one solitary spot will never tell me if there is a more preferred feeding area for the fish.
Even if one spot does produce better than the others I think it is vital to keep feeding all your areas. This gives you somewhere to fall back to if the “best” spot goes quiet or needs resting. An odd fish from another, rested, spot could make a difference on a tough day.

On a perfect day my routine across three spots will go like this after the initial feeding. 

  1. Fish spot 1, 2, 3 in rotation five minutes on each. Say you catch from spot 1.
  2. Feed spot 1 fish spot 2, catch a fish.
  3. Feed spot 2 fish spot 3, catch a fish
  4. Feed spot 3, fish spot 1, catch a fish
  5. Feed spot 1, fish spot 2 ………………………..etc

If having fed spot 1 and I don’t get any bites or indications in five minutes in spot two I will fish spot three without feeding. If spot 3 blanks then fish 1, still no added feed. Keep rotating until you catch then feed spot 2 and repeat the rotation process. This will help regulate the amount of feed and judge the fish’s reaction to it. Eventually you should spot a pattern and be able to adapt feeding and fishing to that pattern.

Windy Conditions

I am assuming that the wind has set up a tow otherwise I will fish as if calm.  My first aim is to get the float set so that it will go with the tow. I find that to aid this a string of shot is better than a bulk. You may also have to shot the float lower than you might imagine to get the bristle out of the wind and stop it acting like a sail. I will also set up a heavier float than in calm conditions, probably a 1g instead of half. If I am going to change something then I like it to be a positive one and not just fiddling around.
This heavier float does two things. Obviously it helps keep the float stable and the bait on the deck. But I also think the extra shot strung down the line (I will use size 6 or 8) help pick up the tow and counter the effect of the wind on the bristle.
There is little point in trying to be precise with depth so I will go up to nine inches over to ensure the bait is on the bottom. I am looking to balance keeping the bait on the deck and the float being able to drag it through with the tow. Why 9 inches?  Remember I use a 10 inch hooklength with the last shot just above the knot.
When there is a tow on the water I will feed a mixture of micros and 4 mils. This I believe will create a trail of bait down tow with the 4 mils falling quicker and the micros slower and thus spreading out. You have to feed in the same spot all the time so pick an immovable far bank marker and make sure you cup in in line with that every time. If the wind isn’t too strong and the tow not significant I will cup in at two spots one or two yards apart to create the spread I am looking for.
The aim then is to fish the float along the line of the feed. Hopefully fish will be drawn from either side and down tow, lining them up along where your hookbait will travel. Then it is a case of fishing almost like you would a river. Play with the float, let it run, inch it through or hold still. What you should eventually discover is what the fish want on the day. This may be that they want the bait still or moving. Or the fish may settle a certain distance from where you fed. If this happens do not adjust your feeding point. Keep feeding to the same marker. But what you can do is then set the float off closer to that point where you are getting bites with a view to speeding up your catch rate. You may also find that the bigger fish sit further down tow and so it is worth letting the float run the full distance you can manage occasionally in the hopes of picking up a bonus.
Never be afraid to go for a heavy float in poor conditions. Well shotted it will still register bites. At the end of the day the fish will accept a well presented bait and give you more bites than struggling with a light float that gives no control and poor presentation. I carry some specific floats that go to two grams for particularly nasty conditions. By well shotted I mean that the bristle should ride through the waves/chop and not bob up and down. Yes you lose sight of the float but you will quickly see a pattern. You are then looking to strike into any variation of that pattern.

I will also fish a shorter pole in poor conditions.  I would much rather have better control and be able to feed accurately.  With the surface disturbance the fish will come closer.  By feeding you give them a reason to.



THE most important thing about any Winter fishing is to be warm and safe. Invest in decent clothing. Take a flask of something warming (not alcohol) and carry some hand warmers. I use the”Magic Gel” type that you can recharge by boiling.
 Another thing I have found works well is a snood. Doesn’t need to be expensive, I got mine from Ebay for under £3. But it is surprising how much warmer you are with the neck area insulated.

Only when you are comfortable can you fish effectively.

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