Dave's How To - Keep Catching In The Cold

It can be hard to get motivated when you have to scrape frost or snow off the car first thing, but cold weather fishing doesn’t necessarily have to be an uncomfortable or disappointing experience. First of all, it helps to have some decent warm clothing, along with insulated boots, a hat and maybe some mittens. The next important step in keeping warm is to pick a swim where you are not going to get battered by the elements. Being comfortable, by seeking out a sheltered area, helps to keep the cold from eating into your confidence.

When its really cold fish eat less and are generally lethargic, so you need to tease them into feeding. On flowing water, the best way to do this is to feed little and often. Just a few grains of hemp, along with half a dozen casters or maggots, is all you need to put in every time you feed. By keeping a trickle of loose freebies going in every minute or so, sooner or later something is likely to show some interest. The goal is to almost annoy the fish, to the extent they begin to react by instinct, hopefully culminating in them snapping at your hook bait!

There are other things you can do to improve your chances of catching in cold water. When fish are less inclined to feed, your bait needs to be highly attractive in order to provoke a response. Hemp is always a brilliant attractor, particularly the tinned variety, which gives off lots of oil that fizzes and pops to the surface. Casters also work better if you air them, so they turn a lovely golden brown or dark red colour. This makes them crispier and sink a lot more slowly, which is a great way of motivating fish to attack the shells as they gently descend in the water.

One of my favourite ways of bringing a frost affected swim to life on stillwaters is to introduce groundbait dust via a pole cup. I mix up a dark groundbait, then riddle it into a fine, fluffy consistency. I actually feed it like this with a smattering of casters and maybe some chopped worms, so the whole lot descends in a fine cloud, ending up with a thin bed of particles on the bottom. Fish are often attracted by the initial cloud and then by the particles and freebies when they settle. They will graze over this for long periods, without any chance of becoming over-fed.

Yet another top way of waking up the inhabitants of cold water is to introduce some chopped worm. Many anglers associate this feed with perch, but in my experience it works with big roach, skimmers, bream and chub just as well. Chopped worm can be fed with groundbait, maggots, casters or even pellets. The rich juices and movement of the worms excites fish into feeding and is a great way of kick starting any swim in the depths of winter. One decent helping of chopped worm is normally enough to start the action, followed by several smaller doses during periods when bites dry up.

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