Pole fishing

Words: Amer Jawad Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Springtime skimmers

Amer Jawad reveals his methods and tips so you too can bag up on spring skimmers

Fishing has certainly evolved since the days when you had to travel to some natural waters like canals and rivers in search of matches or pleasure days to get bites from silver fish. Nowadays you are not far from a commercial fishery which most anglers are drawn to for mainly carp or the F1 fishing. In more recent years I’ve fished venues where the skimmer fishing is so prolific that you can actually beat the carp weights in matches!

A fishery very close to my home is Lawn Farm fishery. There are four lakes on site, all have a fantastic stock of mixed species. Matches are run mainly on Honeysuckle lake which is a snake type lake, but during the cooler months all the lakes are at some point match fished.


Today I have chosen to fish the largest lake on the complex, Willow lake. It’s also the deepest lake at an average of 9-10ft. My choice of swim for the day was dictated by the wind. Normally you would fancy a face wind but as today’s not as warm as we would expect for spring. So I have decided comfort was more important. So with this in mind I’ve opted to sit towards a corner of the lake and out of the strong freezing north easterly wind. As with most commercial fisheries, the lake has some well built platforms positioned evenly around it. It’s more of an open water lake with a central island that’s mainly well out of pole range.


My tactics for this session is to target two main areas of my swim and both with the pole. After carefully plumbing the depth I find the deepest water starts at 6 metres and stays that way as far as I plumb. I don’t see any point in feeding too far out for today’s session so my furthest line is around 11.5 metres straight out in front of me where the water is 10ft deep. The bottom is a nice firm bed to it there which is a nice spot to lay a bed of feed. So that is my first line of attack. My second line of attack is where the shelf just stars to flatten out close in. This line is at 5-6m, again there doesn’t seem to be much silt and an area I can feed by hand regularly should that be the right approach on the day. At least it’s a nice area I can control differently to the long line as it’s within easy reach. Tackle wise is really quite simple. I choose to use a solid number 6 elastic on my long line and solid number 5 elastic for the short line. The reason for the slightly heavier elastic on my long line is I am more likely to come into contact with larger bream and skimmers long, plus the odd carp and don’t want to be pulled around the lake for too long. Float choices for me need to be erring on the slightly heavier side. I prefer to use floats I can control better, especially when there is a tow on the lake. I may be sitting out of the wind today but the tow is still evident. I want my bait to act as naturally as possible so opt for 0.5 gram on the short line and 0.75 gram on the long line. Simple spread bulk and two droppers for each pole rig. 0.12 main line and 0.10 hook lengths. Size 18 fine barbless hooks complete the rigs. Skimmers and bream do like to see a bait falling so try and find the right balance of rig to maximise this presentation.


It is quite easy to get bogged down with varying baits to target skimmers and silvers on these predominantly carp fished waters but as always it is best to keep things simple. So a simple bait tray that consists of live and dead red maggots, casters and my preferred ground bait mix for cold water silvers which is Dynamite Baits F1 sweet cool water (dark). It might say F1 sweet on the packet but believe me it’s a brilliant skimmer and bream mix for the cooler months. It is very finely milled and contains both fishmeal and sweet ingredients. I often get asked about worms and pellets, and why I don’t choose these baits on this particular water. Worms certainly do have their place doe skimmer fishing as so pellets but when the water is this cold doe me bites are paramount. A worm will attract a bite but feeding worms is a bit more complex. There are times when chopping up worms can be like putting poison in the water, which is the only way I can describe how it can kill a swim! Great when the water warms up but not always when it’s cold and clear. Pellets too are a brilliant skimmer and bream bait, and these waters see a lot of them but again you must be very careful how you feed them or it can ruin your swim. Plus carp so like a pellet or two!


I start by feeding 4 balls of ground bait which are quite gently squeezed so that they almost open up towards the final 18 inches off the bottom or at least as it hits the bottom. The first balls are put out on the long line and two balls on the short line also squeezes gently. I opt by feeding very few spare offerings of mainly dead red maggots and few casters in the mix in favour of topping up as bites dictate. I expect bites fairly quickly as the lake holds a very large head of silvers. But unexpectedly it’s a very slow start! Obviously with the wind chill in the minus and after two nights of heavy frosts it’s not surprising really. I am soon into my first fish on the long line… A small tench! A cute fish which is more like a bar of soap. A a couple of skimmers to around a pound come soon after. So not a bad first hour. Bites soon stop so it’s time to drop a small ball in on the long line and try my short line. The short line produces two nice roach to about 12oz’s, a few small skimmers but again quite slow. I add a bit more depth the the rig just to steady the float a bit more and that really had the desired affect! Soon the fish were bigger too as plenty of skimmers to 2lb graced the net. I started to feed maggots by hand, this slowly brought more bites but smaller skimmers. So upped my feed a bit. As the session went on it just got better, odd small ball thrown out of my hand brought fish in as did loose feeding maggots quite aggressively. The long line produced odd skimmers but the shorter line was definitely better. I concentrated on the shorter line as this was much quicker and the fish averaging more. Single live maggot was the best bait which wasn’t at first. Single dead maggot was until I fed more live maggots by hand. A great session indeed and shows how good these commercial waters are now. Oh, and not just for carp!


A nice 60lb plus bag of springtime skimmers on a day that was more akin to mid-winter! If you want plenty of bites on a day when you fear the worst, it is well worth visiting these waters and target skimmers. 


Once you’ve fed the initial feed of ground bait and dead maggots or casters. Don’t always start on a dead maggots but instead try a live maggot. As with today at the start of this session, I found bites very slow on a dead red maggot but once I put a live maggot on it was as if the live maggot was what stood out most and induced a bite very quickly. So the stand out bait was the only live bait down there.