How to tackle a lake for silver fish

Words: Amer Jawad. Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Park lake silvers 

Amer Jawad‘s expert tips will help you catch many more silverfish on your next session!

It was a park lake where I first cut my teeth fishing, so I have a certain affinity with these well manicured lakes, which always offer a few bites in most conditions. Today we are sat at lake Ewart in the relatively new town of Cambourne near Cambridge. The lake is run by a very well organised fishing club which has looked after this picturesque water since it was first dug out to release excess water from the surrounding land. 

Now the lake is fished regularly by mostly carp anglers, but the lake has a fantastic natural stock of silvers! These are what we are targeting today, but before we get started I did say, “I have never not hooked a carp whilst targeting silvers on this water”. (Famous last words!)


There are 30 swims on the lake, and nowhere is it any deeper than about 5ft! My choice of swim today is made by where the wind is blowing. Yes it can switch but on checking the forecast it is looking like strong cool westerly winds all day. Now in the warmer months a favourable wind direction would normally be blowing towards you but in the cooler months, for two reasons I prefer a back wind. A back wind makes it easier to present the bait, which is vital, especially in the winter and the second reason is it’s more comfortable. I also choose to get as low to the waterline as possible, so today I put my box in the lake which will assist vital tackle presentation.


For today’s session I choose only to pole fish as I am fishing for an amount of smaller fish on these harder winter days. The first rules of thumb on these uniform, open waters are to plumb up carefully. What I am looking for is a firm and flat base to fish off. I use a large plummet to find the harder bottom and once I am happy with this I lay the pole rig in without bait on to check any tow. Once I am happy with the chosen rig and my 13m line choice, the next vital part is feeding!

Firstly rig choice – I felt a slightly heavier float would be beneficial for toady as the main target species are skimmers which prefer a more static bait presentation and as I won’t be loose feeding, the shotting pattern is mainly a bulk down string of shots with two number 10 droppers. The float has a 1.2mm hollow bristle which is also preferable as I can drag the bait on the bottom to slow it down without the float dragging under easily.

Pole elastic choice is a 1.4mm hybrid elastic which offers great stretch without the risk of bumping off the soft mouthed skimmers and the hook choice is a light Guru LWG barbless pattern which is light enough for silvers and string enough should I hook a carp! 0.13 mainline to a 0.11 hook length finishes off the pole rig.


As with most carp fished waters, I opt to mix up a fishmeal based groundbait. My go to choice is Sonubaits F1 Dark, this is a fine sweet fishmeal mix which is very good for carrying the loose offerings and a mix which I know skimmers and roach in particular are partial too.

The amount of groundbait I am going to put in at the start can make or break the session, so with this in mind I use two bowls, one to hold the mix for the session and the second bowl is my working bowl. The working bowl allows me to measure out each ball and also the amount of loose offerings I add to them. The bait I have for today is very simple, I bring what baits I feel will offer me the best chances of catching on these cold days. Dead red maggots and casters are my go to baits for today but I also have 2mm softened micro pellets which I’ll add to the mix. I find the micro pellets can attract a better bream or skimmer in the swim, but am also wary they can also attract the carp!

To start off I cup in 4 balls of groundbait on the 13m line, I use a far bank marker to carefully line up with when feeding each ball. In total there is only few loose offerings in each ball as I much prefer to add bait as I feel I need to instead of going to positive early on in the session.


Once the balls of groundbait have been fed, in these cold winter months, it usually takes a while before the fish come onto the feed and today this is the case. As the wind increases so does the undertow in the lake, I try to hold the rig steady on the bump bar which results in a hand sized skimmer as my first fish of the day. Now it’s a case of reading what the fish prefer and trying to amass a good net of silvers.

I am starting to work the pole rig more which seems to be working better, lifting the pole rig 6 inches off the water and slowly lowering it back in is inducing bites. The bites are off mostly skimmers between 6-10oz’s which are nice weight builders but knowing how many better skimmers there are in this lake makes me feel that I can be doing better.

A switch from double dead red maggots to three dead reds brings me a run of fish over the 1lb mark, this is a great response until it suddenly goes quiet! Now this is the first point in which the swim was building well to what seems like fish backing away from the feed/commotion. At this point I have to make a decision wether to top up or wait? If it was the warmer summer months I’d probably feed staright away but it might just be a case of waiting a few more minutes before topping up. The decision to wait was the right one as a few more skimmers came to the net.


The session so far has gone very well, I feel I am maximising my swim and the size of the fish are increasing but as the swim is gently slowing down I feel now is the time to ring the dinner bell and put a ball of groundbait in. Again erring on the side of caution I put few loose offerings in the mix and the ball is slightly smaller than my initial feed balls. This time I choose to squeeze the ball a bit firmer as the tow is quite strong now compared to when we kicked off.

The response is quite quick as a few more skimmers are caught. Then I hook something much bigger, and as I thought would happen carp number one is hooked! With these new hybrid type elastics you have every chance of getting these fish out. And after 10 minutes and a few pole sections in the air, carp number one was landed. Now it’s a case of seeing what all the commotion has done to the swim? Straight away I hook a decent fish which leaps clear of the water, a big bream but unfortunately it looked to be foul hooked and came off! I then suffer a few what look like line bites. I add a bit of depth to the rig and soon connect with another run of the lakes skimmers.

As the session draws to an end I hook and land carp number two and a few more decent skimmers, to end a perfect day as a very good winters catch of silvers plus two nice bonus carp prove what you can catch from these very shallow waters in the depths of winter.