23 August, 2018 |51 Comments
With an abundance of silverfish in UK rivers what better way to put together a net of them than a bit of river float fishing. Top running water matchman, Rob Perkins is here to show you his approach.
In this article:
- Float choice for river fishing
- How and what to feed on the river
- Top river groundbait mix
- The best hookbaits for river silverfish
- The tackle and rigs you need for river float fishing
“I find that the float, as well as being a very pleasing way to fish, is highly effective when you’re looking to target a river like the Trent’s silverfish population,” Rob said.
“Depending upon where you are fishing, greatly depends upon what you tend to catch. In the shallower swims – less than four feet – you get more dace and chub etc, whilst where the water is around eight to ten-feet deep, you find more roach, skimmers and good-sized perch.” Its worth doing your homework or knowing the stretch to find this kind of information out before you travel” he adds.
Rob reckons that the Trent is in the best form it has ever been. “You need 30lb-plus to win on the Trent today. I did hear of a 50lb-plus bag of roach coming from a stretch of the tidal a couple of years ago.”
Rob’s River Float Fishing Setups..
1. The waggler approach
This is a classic tactic, that works well in the majority of river swims and it is often the first rod that Rob will setup. If the wind is blowing into his face, he will set-up two – one to fish shallow, the other to just trip bottom. Selecting a 14-ft float rod, Rob had combined this with 4lb Aero mainline to a ‘hooks to nylon’ combination of 2lb 8oz hooklink and a size 16 Carbon Match hook.
The float for the day was a thick insert. This was used as he wasn’t looking to drag a lot of line on the deck, rather just trip the bottom, a couple of inches over at the most. If he was laying on a little than a thick tip would be more suitable.
To shot it, Rob likes to wrap wire around the base of the float, so that it is almost fully loaded, requiring an additional one AAA and five No8s to trim it perfectly. “I like to have the flexibility to be able to put an AAA-worth of shot down the line if the small dace and bleak are being a nuisance,” he explained. “The addition of the five No8s allow further shotting options. I like to use a fairly big hook too. I haven’t found that the fish are particularly hook shy, so I find it gives me a better bite to hook-up ratio.”
2. The Bolo fishing approach
Unlike the waggler, which is common on the nation’s rivers, the bolo or Bolognaise – to give it its Sunday name – is a combination of specialised long rod and float that looks like a large pole float.
Over the waggler, the bolo has a number of distinct advantages. The first being the model Rob used was a 3g Dave Harrell. This sounds quite light as he was fishing into eight-foot of water. But in comparison, you would need a 3AAA stick float, which is very large and so the presentation would be greatly affected.
Why use a Bolo float?
The other advantage of the bolo is its slightly round shape. This enables Rob to hold it back hard in the flow, making the hookbait waft enticingly. Combined with a compact shotting pattern of a 2g olivette, 18-inches from the hook, with a string of eight No8 shot below, it makes for a much more positive rig than your standard stick float set-up. It is important to have each dropper shot slightly further apart from its preceding one as the shot gets closer to the hook.
“The separation of the dropper shot means that the hookbait will flutter in the flow when I hold back,” Rob added. “Having them at different distances helps prevent tangles. “Plus, using the olivette close to the hook, ensures the bait gets down quickly in the deep water, so that by the time the rig has travelled a few feet downstream it is correctly cocked. When it reaches the groundbait I put in at the start, it is fishing effectively.”
River Float fishing bait – What to feed
On the side tray, there were very few surprises – being maggots, casters and Frenzied Hemp. This is fairly typical fare for a silverfish river angler. To compliment this selection of particles, Rob had mixed up one of his favourite river groundbait mixes. This comprised of Silver X Roach Original, Frenzied Hemp Match Black and Silver X River. He combined these in equal parts, making the mix slightly damp to ensure that the balls breakdown almost as soon as they hit the river bed.
“When it comes to rivers you could quite easily get away with fishing two bags of the roach, but I like the mixture of the three different groundbaits ,” Rob explained. “The reason being that firstly, the Roach is designed to target roach! It is a groundbait that is packed with things like sweet biscuit and hempseed as well as plenty of coriander, which roach simply love. I add the Hemp Black to boost the ‘hempiness’ of the overall mix and for the dark colour. The River is used primarily for its ‘sticky’ qualities. This means that the mixture gets to the bottom quickly. For me, it is the perfect silverfish river mix.”
Rob’s River Trent Session..
To kick start the swim, Rob balls in four apple-sized balls of the groundbait prior to catapulting two pouch fulls of both Frenzied hemp and maggots over the top to get an initial bed down. After this, he planned to feed 15 to 20 maggots every cast and a small ping pong ball-size ball of caster-laced groundbait every other cast to keep the fish on the deck.
With fish coming from the off, Rob continued in this vane for the first two hours, until the small dace started to come up in the water, intercepting the loosefed maggots and smashing Rob’s hookbait also. Swapping his feed approach to a small ball of groundbait every cast and maggots every fourth put these tiny ‘bait robbers’ to the sword. Now, he could ‘get into’ the better ones…and he did!
Getting a fish almost one a chuck, Rob slowly and methodically started to fill the keepnet, a great mixture of quality roach, plump chublets and bristling perch falling to his groundbait tactics.
Ending the session with well in excess of 20lbs of silverfish (a weight that he could have easily doubled had the day not been so windy and bright), Rob had admirably shown that the River Trent’s silverfish populations are far from dead.