Loosefeeding maggots

Dave Harrell’s match record in recent years has proved that when it comes to floatfishing on rivers, he is master. Many top anglers reckon that a great part of his success is down to his skill at loosefeeding, and Dave wouldn’t disagree.

Three steps to bagging

The aim of loosefeeding is to keep the fish active and interested but hungry. To do this you need to work out where to put your feed, how much to feed and how frequently. Where to feed Obviously, the deeper a swim is, the longer it takes for bait to hit bottom. On a truly still water there’s really no problem. Your feed ends up in roughly the same place however deep the swim is. But in running water it’s a different story.

In this case the effects of depth and flow combine. All the time the bait is falling the current is acting on it, carrying it downstream of the point where it was thrown in. Even when a swim is fairly shallow a bait may still be carried a comparatively long distance if the flow is fast enough.

Try to work out where your bait is hitting the bottom. This isn’t easy – judgement comes only with experience. But one question you should ask is: if I throw it in here, will it end up going through the next chap’s swim before it hits bottom? If the answer is an obvious ‘yes’, then you need to introduce the bait farther upstream or else he’ll benefit from your feed.

The worst case is where your fish are shoaled right at the end of your swim. Not only does it make for slow ‘.ing but there’s always the chance that hey may drop even farther down into he next angler’s swim. Ifyou feed too far I stream the fish may move up to the next.: ngler’s peg, or, if the fish are almost under j pur rod, they may easily be spooked ifyou 1 se fish. So aim to catch them about a hall to two-thirds of the way down the swim and feed accordingly.

Given a reasonably long swim — 20m, say — moderate flow and an unexceptional depth – 2.4-3m say1’- then you might think about introducing your bait 1-2m downstream. If there’s a slight or even a strong wind then c& sting in farther downstream helps tackle cor.trol no end. So ifyou can feed downstream t’s best to do so.

The line on which you feed – the c stance from the bank – simply depends oi. where you expect to catch fish. This varie from one river to another. It may be from two to four rod lengths ifyou are fishing the Stick, or from a third to the full distance across if you are fishing a waggler. As a general.ule the flow tends to increase towards the middle of a river—often where the fish are. How much and when to feed Regulate the amount and frequency of your loosefeed carefully. As a guideline, on a fairly big river such as the Severn, Trent, Thames or Avon, start feeding about 20 maggots each cast. Feed reaf.’i Lsly – don’t let up! After about an houi ‘U should have a good idea of how the fish responding. This is the stage where you ve to decide whether to increase the aim, of feed and the frequency, whether to cu,ack or carry on feeding the same. 01 course, what you do depends very muc on the species you’re catching or exp’ ting to catch. Roach and dace require less d than chub, for example. So if you were r.ter roach and have caught less than expeced, try cutting back – 10 maggots every 45 seconds, say. If that doesn’t improve your catch rate then try stepping up to fr If you’ve already caught a bonus fish or t o—perhaps a chub – then try stepping ‘ the feed with the intention of drawing I e into the swim.

Bear in mind that if there are a quite a few fish in the peg and you are only feeding on a 10 maggot cycle, every one of those maggots is probably being eaten. In other words there’s not enough to go around and little to stop the fish from wandering off in search of more generous helpings! As a general rule, fish are able to take more loose-feed in summer, when they are active, than in winter when they are sluggish.