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The snake style fishery at Ponds Farm, Lingfield, Surrey is a hard but fair venue. Many anglers say 'if you can catch there, you can catch anywhere' but I think it's down to how your feed your swim, as with every venue. In Winter this is exaggerated a great deal with bites at an absolute premium. The key is down to how much you feed and the hook baits offered to the fish.
In winter I feed GOT micro pellet and fish different hook baits over the micro pellet. The hook baits that I will try are Corn, Maggot and Worm. I have found the 4mm GOT hookers are a must, and if a single pellet fails to work then its not often that two will fail. I will also feed a number of dead maggots on the venue because the bait will sit there without digging into the deep silt that is noted at the venue. This is a brilliant winter method which should catch you a fish on any hard 'commercial' venue. I have found that a big bait presented a few times during a match you will get a number of bonus fish, but the secret is keeping to trying a large hooker like the 11mm GOT hookers over a line you have fed with the uppermost care. This is a killer method at Ponds Farm.
On a cold winters day you have to think hard about how much to feed. The way you can improve your chances of success in the future is to write down the conditions and what you fed a match, and more importantly what you caught and what you learnt. This does not always have to be the good things, it's important to record the things you've done wrong too. I record the following: Venue, Method, how far out I caught, baits caught on and not, and most importantly what I would have done differently if I could fish the match again. Keeping the information can give you a rough idea of how to fish a venue in later months or following years.
APPROACHING A WINTER MATCH
When you draw a peg in winter it can be declared Good or Bad immediately - but don't forget the odd surprise! What you will have to do is the best possible from the given task. I'll sit on my box and have a think about how to attack the peg before starting to set up; Gary Thorpe will sit for up to 10mins - but he's a slower thinker than me! He'll know exactly what to do with plan and counter plan to take forward from the start of the match. This is important because if you feed too much at the start in winter you can kill your swim with no out-route. Remember you can always put a little more in, but never take any out.
At Ponds Farm, I will fish at least 4 or 5 lines in a rotational schedule. To do well you'll need to catch one fish on one line, then try to get a quick 2nd fish. If you luck is in you'll soon be landing a second fish - if this is the case, just feed then move on to the next line. If no second fish comes immediately, feed a little with caution and move on. On the lines I will feed different baits: GOT Micro's on 1, Dead Maggot on 2, on 3 I'll try 4mm sinkers from GOT Baits and on the 4th I'll put in mixtures of baits, e.g. maggot and micro or micro and choppie. On all of the lines I'll try different hook baits. This will give you an idea of what is the right bait on the day.
Carp dominate matches at Ponds with some tench and the odd small perch - but these are not worth targeting for a weight. Fishing the matches here is all about keeping a rhythm and picking of fish of a better stamp than others, you will learn by feeding patterns and changing hook baits what is best. Don't forget that without the confidence of your own bait you stand little chance of catching anything.. That's why I always use GOT Baits 4mm soft hookers in winter - they are a fish magnet that all of my team mates have tried to keep a secret. I've every confidence in even the 11mm pellet from GOT and if it fails to produce one match I know it will the next. Knowledge is king in winter and confidence is built with good results.
FLOATS & LINES
The venue is quite shallow and as such I'll use Mick Wilkinson (www.floatman.co.uk) black margin floats. They have a large cane stem which is easy to see whether your fishing long or short. They are also very strong and well made to last a long time and you need strong floats like these when carp fishing. For some reason, if you snag up with Mick's floats on the far bank you seem to stand a better chance of getting your rig back. I also use Mick's 'Up in the Water' floats because they don't take a lot of shot and show the slightest of bites. My line is Fox Micro Plus as it's strong reliable and has never let me down. When Carp fishing I don't believe that they can see the line very well but will concentrate on a well presented bait, Carp want to feed because they're greedy fish. At Rolfslake you can feed 20 pints in summer and not over feed the fish. Accordingly, I don't scale down my winter tackle too far. At Ponds Farm I will use 0.18 all year, but I will also have a 0.16 identical rig on standby.
Like most of my fishing, I use Hydro Elastics at Ponds Farm. The Black is ideal here. I think the Hydro is brilliant because of the stretch you get, and when you get the big Carp you know the elastic wont snap but just bottom out, giving you the chance to get some back in an eventually land the fish. Black hydro is just right for small carp at any venue and is ideal for the stamp of fish at Ponds, with just the odd bigger fish. I can't wait to try the new Grey (A mix of the soft white and black). Hydro offers outstanding value because I've had min in my top kits for at least 3 years and I've no need to change it yet. An average No4 elastic could need changing after just 5 or 6 matches, you should try the Blue Hydro for Silver fish. My team mates have used it and can not believe how good it is - for Silver fishing on Carp venues there is not a better choice. The £15 a run works out cheaper in the long run. I've heard a lot of anglers saying they'll not use it - after paying £1000 for a pole and they're too tight to put £15 of elastic in it - Madness.
The weights at Ponds Farm have started to improve in the last year. Some matches have started to produce 100lb+ bags. The fish have always been there but they are just hard to catch. I now they're in there since I took 110lb to set the 6 hour lake record. I caught most of the fish in the last two hours on GOT Baits Paste, which I must say is outstanding. Try mixing your paste the night before to improve the texture and don't forget to put it in the fridge. Paste hates getting warm. Wet it down a little or a lot! at the venue as it will firm up during the night.
As one of the youngest in the GOT Baits set-up, I'll ask anyone that has young children to take them fishing or get an angler you know to take them, even the junior members in your club - Help them all. Without the help of others I'd not be a match angler.
Many Thanks for reading my article.
For information of Open Matches at Ponds Farm, Lingfield, Surrey. Please contact Phil on 07973 376789
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