Try your luck at winter fishing on one of our waters
Just because it is winter out there you don’t have to pack your rods away and wait for spring! You can catch fish all year round on our waters. It is just a little more of a challenge through winter! To whet your appetite here is my guide to winter fishing on our waters with some advice on tactics and some hot pegs to try.
Winter fishing is great fun but go prepared – dress warmly, take plenty of hot drinks or soup, let your parents know where you are fishing. Take care on wet, slippy winter banks and finally STOP fishing if you get too cold. It stops being fun when you start shivering uncontrollably! Don’t forget that if you want to go fishing with other young anglers that junior matches run all through the winter- check out the junior match fixture list and results page here
So here goes with a guide to winter fishing on Godalming waters:
Bramley winter tips
Bramley is a surprisingly good winter fishery provided the conditions are fairly mild. The bream will feed all winter long and you can catch roach and small chub too. The bream tend to shoal up in the slightly deeper water from the middle of the lake to the narrow causeway bank (straight in front of you and to your right as you arrive at the lake). You can hope to catch bream from anywhere in this middle to right area in winter and you can also hope to do well in the high 20 pegs on the left hand side where again the water is a little deeper. Avoid the area to the left of the tall trees and the early numbers on the opposite back as these tend to be better summer pegs.
As to tactics you can’t beat a small cage feeder with a dark fishmeal groundbait and a few dead pinkies or maggots through it. Fish with 0.10 bottoms and size 20 or 22 hooks with single or double live or dead maggots or a small 4mm hard pellet on a band. If you are not catching after an hour or so with the feeder take the feeder off and switch to a straight bomb. The fish can back off a feeder but you will often get a bite quickly on the straight lead. One thing you must do is use a line clip to keep your casting and feeding in the same area. For the roach and chub a light waggler or pole approach with loosefed maggots or casters will bring a few bites . Don’t be surprised to catch a few gudgeon as well as there are plenty of them in the lake.
Best pegs – From 1-14, 23 -25 and the two platforms.
Busbridge winter tips
Thanks to the extra depth at Busbridge the lake fishes better than our other venues during colder snaps in winter. If you are getting desperate to catch a few fish and fed up struggling in the cold head to Busbridge! Provided you fish light enough you will get a few fish. The lake has a cracking head of small roach, perch and rudd with will feed all winter long. These fish are happiest off the bottom and best targeted on a waggler coupled with light but regular loosefeeding of maggots. To find out the depth the fish are feeding at try starting with the waggler set 1 metre deep and add 25 cm of depth at a time till you get bites. The fish will come up in the water through the day but this is a good starting tactic. The trick is to keep catapulting 4 or 5 maggots every cast and fish with a small size 20 or 22 hook, 0.08 or 0.10 mm hookelengths and a small swivel to stop your hooklength spinning. Dot your waggler low in the water and fish with most of the shot under the float and only 2 no. 8 shot and the swivel spread on the line.
The bream and even tench will feed on milder days and a cage feeder filled with chopped worm or pinkies and maggot will produce these bigger fish if conditions are right.
Busbridge has another winter ace up its sleeve – predator fishing! There are big perch and pike in Busbridge and those of you wanting to try modern soft lure tactics like drop shotting, weightless, light Texan or Wacky and Neko rigs can expect a pull or two at Busbridge. If you are not sure what these rigs are get on the internet and be inspired! Remember the barbless hook rule and if you are after the pike rather than the perch be sure you are properly equipped and confident to tackle pike.
Broadwater winter tips
Winter at Broadwater is very different to the rest of the year. It is no “runs” water during the winter months. Far from it! You have to work harder for your fish but the rewards are there for those who persevere.
The carp group up in certain key areas and feed for short spells during milder spells of weather and hardly at all when the temperature gets below 3 or 4 degrees centigrade. To do well you need to locate these groups of fish first. Luckily if you wait long enough the carp will give themselves away by rolling and splashing. So don’t be in a rush to start. Look around and wait till you see signs of fish before selecting a swim.
As to tactics there are several winter methods that work well. One is to fish single light coloured bait- fruit boillies or white chocolate boillies – either as single baits with no loose particles or with a few ( very few) freebies sprinkled around your area. Provided you are fishing where the fish have been showing a fish will eventually go down and pick up a single visible bait. Another good tactic is to use tiny “tea bags” (PVA mesh bags) of 4mm pellet attached to your hook and fish banded natural 8mm pellet on the hook. Light carp pellets are surprisingly visible in the water and a tiny tea-bag of pellets with your hookbait in it is a visual draw for the carp.
Broadwater also has a good head of big perch which are happy to feed through the winter. Tactics include:
- red maggot on a straight bomb or with a small maggot feeder
- prawn either chopped and fished on the pole or fished whole with a feeder packed with chopped prawn
- lobworms chopped and fed on the pole with half a lobworm hookbait on a size 14 or 12 barbless hook.
Best winter pegs for carp are around the point, from peg 7-14 on the Rugby bank , the Oaks and the Oaks end of the Road bank. Perch seem to hang around the slightly deeper rugby bank from pegs 15 to 25
Marsh farm winter tips
Marsh Farm is known as a fantastic water for tench and crucians which are regarded as mainly spring and summer species. However with the right approach on the right day good sport can be had at Marsh Farm all year round.
Tip 1 – Pick your day. Look for a milder spell of weather and wait until the temperature has been mild for at least 3 or 4 days. Water warms up and cools down much slower than air so give the water time to warm up.
Tip 2 – Fish the golden hours. In winter many anglers make the mistake of arriving too early, getting too cold and leaving before the fish start feeding. Winter fish may only be active for an hour or two and this will usually be after 1 o’clock in the afternoon. So it makes sense to get to the venue at 12 and fish the afternoon into dusk!
Tip 3 – Fish fine and don’t feed too much. This is good winter advice on any fishery but at Marsh Farm it is the key to success or failure. Try flicking out three or four maggots every 15 minutes then fishing a small bomb and single maggot on a size 22 hook. Or trickling in 6 or 8 squatts every 10 minutes on the pole….chopping up 4 or 5 worms really fine and fishing a small section of worm over the top. For the roach, a few casters every 10 minutes or so should bring bites on all lakes.
Top winter swims:
Harris Lake – pegs 32-39 and 6-14
Richardson Lake - pegs 2-6, 11-14, 25 and 26 , 34-41
Hill Pond – pegs 3-6 and 11-15
The River and Navigations
Some of the best winter sport we have is on the river, and our short sections of canal. The perch fishing above and below Broadford Bridge is fantastic and the fish are truly beautiful with vivid stripes and crimson fins. Big chub can be caught in Upper Common Meadows in the area around the bend facing the library (known as the privet bush). Eashing will produce chub, dace and grayling to the roving angler trotting a few maggots. There are big pike through the Firs Bridge section and around the canal mouth. The Catteshall Cut is a great small roach venue and fish can be caught easily on punched bread when the river is clear, and groundbait and pinkie when the river is coloured.
No two days are ever the same on the river and you need to be flexible and prepared to walk a bit to get the most from your days out. Rather than give precise tactics here are some guides to catching on the river.
For the chub, try legering breadflake when the river is low and clear and lobworm when it is coloured. If you are after perch, loose-feed red maggot and fish either maggot or lobworm on a leger over the top. For roach, liquidised bread in a small feeder or on a running line pole rig takes some beating, and in the shallow swims of Eashing, try using a small waggler rather than a stick float when trotting maggots, as they are more discreet and make less noise when you strike.
So there you have it – a quick look at what the Society has to offer during the winter months. Winter fishing is great fun but remember; stay safe and warm, try short, active sessions rather than plan to spend hours and hours by the bank, and don’t get too disheartened if you struggle a bit at first. Fishing is never easy in winter. But if you work hard and learn to winkle out a few fish when times are tough, you will be a better angler when next spring and summer come around.
Best of luck