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As the temperatures steadily increase and the fish become more active, getting your feeding right is the difference between success and failure. One man that is a master of feeding is Preston Innovations backed Robbie Griffiths. The former Drennan knockout cup champion has an outstanding record on a variety of venues and we caught up with him at a venue that he holds dear to his heart, Docklow Pools in Herefordshire.
A brief summary
I absolutely love this time of year, the fish are starting to look for food and you can often have some red letter days as the fish look to pack on some weight before spawning. For me pellets are king during the spring months, the high protein bait has lots of attractors and it’s also a bait the fish feel comfortable eating. Both hard and soft pellets have their place, but for me hard pellets would always be the first choice, you may find this a odd choice but I believe that hard pellets are the perfect option as they still contain all of the attractors where as soft pellets are some what “washed out”. I also tend to prefer to use hard pellets as the rigs I use allow me to fish the bait with a slow fall which I’m convinced gets me more bites. Following on from the rigs I also prefer the options hard pellets give you with feeding, you are not limited to potting in a clump of soft micro pellets. With hard pellets you can pot or catapult bait which gives you more versatility and a number of options to draw fish into your peg.
Docklow Pools is a venue that I hold dear to my heart, it was on this very peg that I won the Drennan Knockout Cup in 2016. However, this lake has changed somewhat since the final and there is now a huge head of Ide in the lake, with this in mind hard pellets are a must in my opinion especially when I am looking to target the lakes larger residents such as F1s and carp. The lake itself has recently been dredged and de-silted which means the bottom of the lakebed is now very firm, however it also means the lake is now around 5ft deep. With this in mind I will look to kick start the peg by simply tapping in pellets via a Soft Cad Pot, the reasoning behind this is that if I was to begin catapulting bait too early on in the session I could potentially risk bringing the fish off bottom, creating all sorts of issues with missed bites and foul hookers. A simple 10-15 hard fishery pellets are all that’s needed to bring a response at the beginning of the session.
One thing worth noting is swim selection. I’ve chosen two lines at 14.5m both at slight angles to my left and right. The reasoning for this is that I prefer not to put all my eggs in one basket so to speak, I like to “tap” a small amount of bait in each area and rotate between the two. By approaching the peg in this way, it allows me to continue catching for a longer period of time as I can simple “nick” a fish of each line which in turn means I’m not exhausting any particular area. You may be thinking why I am starting at 14.5m, well my thinking Is that although the temperatures are rising it is still very cold at night, which in my opinion will make the fish push out further into the middle of the lake as this is where it will be warmest. So, by starting out at that distance I’m already fishing in the area where the fish are likely to be. I will say however that later on in the session I would look to move into shallower areas of the swim as the fish will more likely move into the warmer areas of the lake as the day goes by.
Right let’s talk about the rigs and tackle I’d choose for this venue, starting off with the elastic. A 10 Dura Hollo in my opinion is the perfect springtime commercial elastic, its relatively soft and forgiving however it has enough back bone to allow me to land any larger fish that I encounter. As with all my Top Kits I have a built in Roller Pulla bush which allows me to have full control over any fish hooked. One thing worth noting is that I have opted for a Grey F1 two-piece top kit, the reasoning behind this is that the Match Lake at Docklow is relatively clear and I honestly believe that the grey colour of top kit prevents me from spooking any wary fish.
Rigs are very simple, two top kits with a 4x12 Des Shipp Commercial Slim F1 Pellet and a 4x14 of the same float. These floats are fantastic for this style of fishing as they are extremely stable thanks to the NiTi wire stem as well as being extremely visible as they feature a 1.5mm hollow bristle. This diameter of bristle allows you to see even the shyest of bites which you often encounter with species such as F1s. Shotting on both rigs is a simple strong out bulk over the bottom half of the rig, I believe this offers a slow enough fall of the bait while still remaining very stable in the water. I always like to set up two rigs for the same swim as I often prefer to fish with the lighter float, I believe that the lighter shotting capacity offers less resistance to the fish which in turn leads to more positive bites. It also offers a slower fall of the bait, which given the clarity of the lake at the moment I’m convinced it will get me more bites as the fish follow the bait down to the bottom of the lakebed.
When it comes to line, I always like to err on the lighter side, 0.16mm mainline is perfect as its strong and robust without being overly thick which can impair the way the sits in the water. Hook lengths are made up of 4inches of 0.12mm and feature an 18 GPM-B hook with a small latex bait band. Both lines are Accupower which is super strong and durable while being accurate to their given diameter, which is obviously very important.
To begin the session, I’m simply going to feed 10 pellets on each line via a pole mounted Soft Cad Pot, I will look to sit and wait for a bite for around 8-10minutes before feeding again. It’s very important to be patient this time of year especially at the beginning of the session as the fish are likely to a little lethargic until the temperatures warm up throughout the day. After around 15 minutes and two feeds I was into my first fish of the day, a plump golden brown F1. The next couple of hours were surprisingly very productive as the bites came at steady pace by alternating over the two lines, however it was becoming clear that it was slowly petering out and it would be time to make a change. That change would be swapping to catapulting a small number of pellets on the left-hand line and adding another section to move out to 16m on the right-hand line. By doing this I can hopefully continue to catch on the new right-hand line while building the fishes confidence on the left-hand line with a steady stream of pellets, I will leave this line alone for around 30minutes if possible.
This change of tactics worked a treat as I continued to catch at 16m, in-fact it turned out to be very productive, which shows that my theory of the fish being in the middle of lake was correct. After a steady run of fish for around 40 minutes on the 16m line I decided to have a look on left hand line. This proved to be the right decision as steady stream of F1s graced the landing net! However, after around 20 minutes this line had become devoid of fish! Strangely I couldn’t buy a bite on this line which was bizarre. I decided the best move would be to go back out on the 16m line. This provided a steady run of chunky F1’s until the end of the session.
It’s clear to see why Robbie catches so many fish, his patient simplistic approach has been devastating today. While many anglers would be rushing around moving swims Robbie has simply set his trap with full confidence that he will get a bite, nine times out of 10 he did! The F1s in the Match Lake at Docklow are very large and average around four pound, his light but balanced tackle has tamed them quickly and efficiently. He’s ended the session with somewhere between 70-80lb of fish which would certainly see him picking up money if today had been a match!