Silverfish tactics

Fishing for silvers at scenic Shatterford

Chris Ponsford explains why you should have a variety of methods up your sleeve when tackling winter venues for silverfish…

Words: Chris Ponsford Pictures: Lloyd Rogers

Although the winter can be a harsh and cold time to go fishing ,for me it opens opportunities not available during the warm summer months. Now I would be telling ‘porkies’ if I said I love getting wet and cold, but by picking your days and trying to fish when it’s a bit more comfortable, ie, not getting blown away, or fishing iced up lakes, or heavy, cold rain things can be fairly comfortable and excellent fishing had.

I have no great love for hauling match Carp, summer or winter, silvers are my preference on lighter gear so this article will talk about how I go about that and try to avoid often still ravenous Carp. 

Two good chums of mine Stu Hickman and James Reade have been having some super catches of Bream and Roach at the lovely Shatterford Lakes, located near Kidderminster in Worcestershire throughout last year, and it’s a water I am well familiar with, having fished it countless times during the last twenty years or more under various owners . 

Now it is run by Tom Warrington, son of Tim, who ran it years ago when I first went there. He has made significant changes in that the bottom four lakes, Gainsborough, Erics, Stuarts and Masters are now syndicate only. They all contain huge carp, catfish, lots of roach, skimmers and bream, perch, odd tench and pike.

Above these lie two excellent day ticket lakes, Stella and Wyre Dell. Both of these lakes are very well stocked and Wyre Dell can be like fish soup, containing loads of match size carp and catfish, loads of bream and roach, tench, perch and great bags can be expected off any peg.

Stella, down the hill a bit is a favourite of mine, the carp are significantly bigger as are the cats, the roaching can be truly fantastic with a stunning stamp of pristine fish. Skimmers are also present and lots of perch some big.

As an overview, nearly all the lakes at Shatterford are deep as they are built on two steep hillsides, all have dams and depths on Masters and Erics can be up to 30ft with steep sides so some thought on tactics needs to be applied. Stella is approx. 15 ft and Wyre Dell up to 20 ft.

So, I hear you ask, what are the best tactics? Well I have had success on most things and often just pick a method that I enjoy fishing and stick with that, bearing in mind I am pleasure fishing and not in a match, and also gear my attack to the targeted species, usually the quality roach that are in there in numbers. Stella lake has been brilliant this winter with massive roach and perch present.  

A small cage feeder, and by that I mean the very small 15 to 20 gm models sold by Drennan are bang on, loaded with a non fish meal GB  and .010  to .015 mono hook link to a size 16 hook loaded with red maggot or caster, cast accurately on a clip into 12 to 18ft of water will get you plenty of bites. I use Sonubaits black roach GB with 25% of Sonu F1 dark added, a sticky, slightly sweet mix with lots of hemp and coriander added . to this I will added a few casters and odd pinky and red maggot .

It is important to mix it on the heavy side as its deep water and you want the bait on the bottom in winter. Some days just loose-feeding can work well and the fish can come off bottom.

Some days a Long Pole, utilizing a a pot to drop the GB in and loose feed after plumbing up accurately can be devasting, a tactic employed by my good friend and top match angler Kelvin Tallett (pictured below), and one that has given him Roach to 2lbs this winter in big catches.  A top tip is to use dendra’ worms on the hook and chopped into your groundbait, the roach love them as do the perch and skimmers.

If you want to target the skimmers and bream a slightly larger feeder containing a more fishmeal ground bait is the way forward.  Or pole or waggler, usually in my case a slider or whip waggler made specially for me by John Bull, check him out on Facebook,  because of the depths encountered. I usually use at least four aaa or bigger loading down the line, with three no8 Stotz as droppers, with approx. two ft below the bulk to the hook.

Another tactic we employ is again a sliding waggler on a six to nine meter whip to hand – the float has again 4aaa to 6aaa bulk loading sliding up to two float stops and resting on one float stop at least three feet above the bulk. This is swung out underarm and most roach are swung straight to hand, the top thin whip top is dispensed with and a Prestons hollow no. 11 elastic is used through just the send section from the top. Big ones can be netted in the normal way and the elastic stops bumped fish  and will tire the bigger roach and perch you may encounter. I tie the rigs on .019 mono, and use an .013 to .015 hook link to a size 12 to 16 hook.

Pole rigs are similar from .75 gm up to 2gm usually with a softish elastic for the roach, Prestons 6 solid or hollow 8, or even one of the new hybrids.

A point to mention re: cage feeder. I prefer using .012 braid on the reel, soaking the spool before use overnight in water with washing up liquid in my rig, usually a small paternoster is tied on a bit of .019 mono and this is tied to a loop in the end of the braid, usually the whole mono set up is three feet or less.  I use an .040 Prestons Centris and 11ft Prestons Supera SL with the three quarter ounce or one ounce tip fitted, perfect for the roach and bream present.

A slider float on long float rod can be devastating, using a mono float stop knot make sure the rod has good sized rings and plenty of bulk down to pull the float into the cocked position when I cast always feather it in to get the hook and bulk ahead of the float, then release the line to let it cock.

I recently did a video for Korum demonstrating both the cage feeder and slider float at Shatterford  and that should be out imminently for you to see it in person and explained. Loads of fish were caught so well worth a watch.

All the lakes and methods have been brilliant on there day, with the odd hard trip in freezing weather and we have all had massive catches.

Another Allround-Angler contributor Dave Healey and chum Sam Cochrane have also enjoyed great success on slider, tip and pole on the lakes this winter. Their methods will be explained and illustrated in an up coming article.

Shatterford lakes have a facebook page and Tom Warrington is the fishery owner and boss.

Day tickets are £10 and the fishing is fabulous, the fish pristine, set in beautiful wooded hillside, toilets are onsite with ample close parking lakeside.