Local Commercial Ide

The ide is a fish that I hadn’t fished for until last autumn. I had only ever caught one small sample before, on a giant lobworm intended for perch, from a local commercial style lake. Why was I fishing for ide some of you may ask? Let me explain.

Every season in a local magazine that I write for, The Angling Star, there is a specimen challenge. It’s a league type competition with points awarded for specimen fish over a certain weight. One of those fish is the ide so I thought it would be good if I could catch a specimen, or hopefully more, that I could enter for some good points. My first task would be to find a water that contains fish of the required size, in this case 2lb 8oz and above. With Doncaster being a match fishing mecca, it has commercial style lakes all over the borough. Some were bound to hold ide of these proportions and after a few tip offs, I was soon on a very pretty looking lake, rumoured to have a good head of big ide.


Having never targeted or caught ide before I did what the magazines told me to do and fished shallow ( or ‘up int air’ as they call it round these parts! ) To cut a long story short, over 2 trips I caught a stack of quality roach, missed hundreds of bites, but did land some quality ide to well over 3 pounds. I thought about how I did things over the winter and when this Spring arrived, I turned up on the bank with a different idea on how to connect with more fish and not miss so many bites.

Walking round the lake with my match style tackle, I was pleased to find the area I’d caught well from the previous year empty. Only a handful of anglers were on the lake, one doing a feature for a magazine, complete with photographer in tow, and couple of bivvies were set up. That’s this fishery in a nutshell. A commercial style lake, but the carp that are in are pretty big, attracting the specimen hunters. The other fish range from quality roach, skimmers, rudd, big perch, a few smaller carp and of course the clonking ide.

I assembled my weapon of choice for the day, a pole. Having been brought up fishing in a match fishing style way, I’m no stranger to using a pole and know how good it can be in the right situation. I had number 8 elastic running through my top 2 sections and my float was one of the new style ‘pea’ floats which are great for fishing shallow. I was so confident that this would work I had brought no other rods, or even spare top kits for the pole.

I started fishing around 18 inches deep and was into fish straight away. The first 3 fish were cracking roach, all between 8 and 12oz. The missed bites problem was ‘solved’ in the fact that I wasn’t missing half as many, plus, instead of having to reel in after every missed bite, I simply just lowered the pole back down. Just as I was getting into a nice catching rhythm, disaster struck.

I was getting a little blase about the quality roach. I was getting tired of landing every one, so tried to speed things up a little. The next roach was about 8oz and I tried to swing it in. There was a crack and next thing I noticed was I had a 10 inch swing tip, as the tip of my pole snapped. With this being my only top section on me, I had to faff about to try and get fishing again. I snapped the elastic and ditched the 10 inch broken section. The external bush was way too small now so I had to put a couple of cuts into it with my braid scissors. I eventually managed to bodge everything together again so I could resume fishing. Time would tell whether it would work or not.

Next drop in tested the tackle as I struck into my first ide of the day. Everything worked fine and I was soon weighing a fish of just over 3lbs. Slightly rough to the touch, this ide seemed like a male. I know the ide isn’t a ‘true’ British fish, but you can’t help but admire their beauty. A cross between a chub and roach is how I’d describe them, though they fight more like a bream.  After this I carried on netting a succession of of quality roach, but things weren’t going to plan on the ide front.

The sun was now out making things very warm. Every time a bird flew over the lake, vortexes appeared everywhere, from spooking ide. Donning my polarized glasses, I could see a lot of them cruising very shallow, well over to my right. They were feeding on insects and the like, but were so spooky in the clear weather that I didn’t think I had a chance on the pole. It was time for a re-think.

Carefully tip toeing behind some bushes where the activity seemed to be at it’s busiest, I could see a few ide milling about under the branches. I was sure if I could get a bait to them I’d be able to catch one. I walked back round with my top 5 sections of the pole and the landing net. Standing as far back from the water as I could, so I didn’t spook the fish, I carefully lowered my rig, now shortened to about 12 inches, under the trailing foliage and right into the margins. Before I had time to do anything my elastic pulled out, but then sprung straight back. Vortexes told me that it had probably been a good fish. Seconds later the float dipped again and a gentle lift saw me connect into something heavy. The fight was over in seconds though, as I bundled a surprised and lovely conditioned ide into the net. At 3lb 9oz it was a new Pb but I knew there were many larger in the swim.

After weighing and photographing the fish though, I never had another chance for more action. The sky clouded over in an instant, followed by a very strong, cool wind. Just after this the heavens opened. I didn’t fancy a soaking, as I had no umbrella, so I decided it was time for home. In less than 4 hours though, I must have caught about 30lbs of quality roach and ide. A nice catch in anyone’s book.


Sway Lake Roach

April and early May is always a tricky time in the angling calendar. I usually choose which species I’m going to target right at the last minute. If the weather is warm I’ll normally fish for rudd or bream, but as it’s usually unsettled, I pick my target to suit my mood. In the past I’ve fished for crucians, silver bream, perch and roach, all with decent results, but this time I was to choose roach down at Sway Lakes.

Sway Lakes has always been a favourite place of mine. It reminds me of a cross between an overgrown canal and a village pond. It’s supposed to be about 2.5 acres in size, but is unusually shaped. At around 200 yards long, it roughly averages 15 to 25 yards wide, but goes as wide as 40 yards and as narrow as 5. Depths vary from 3 feet to over 6 with the right hand side of the lake being slightly deeper than the left. To keep things sensible, fishing is only allowed from one bank and the pegs are very well spread out, giving each angler plenty of room. Because of the length of the lake, location of the roach can make or break a session. I like to get there right at dawn and watch the water, this is because the roach usually like to have a roll, giving their location away.

miscs 121

That’s how I started this session. Arriving at dawn, the car park was empty, and so was the lake. I made my way to the waters edge to look for signs of fish, but it was unusually quiet. I usually target the slightly shallower side in spring with the water warming faster than the other side, but today it was eerily still. One roach eventually rolled, but it didn’t seem too big. I quickly walked a hundred yards or so to the middle of the right side of the lake. There seemed to be a bit more activity there, with a dozen or so roach rolling. This made my decision for me and I was soon unloading my gear in a peg that had produced plenty of ‘2’s for me in the past.

miscs 122

The session started slowly on the waggler, though I did pick up one nice roach of 1.13. I then started to get a lot of slow bites that I missed before eventually connecting with 2 eels. I hate catching eels when roach fishing, they trash both swim and tackle, so I decided to move a couple of pegs to my right. After another 30 minutes of fruitless float fishing, the 220 mile trip started to catch up with me. With my eyes starting to close, I committed a roach fishing crime on such an intricate lake, by fishing a bolt rig feeder set up! The feeder rigs worked their magic for me though, as in between naps, I managed another 3 roach of 1.9, 2.0 and another at 2.1. Mixed in with these was a sprinkling of perch, all around the pound and a half mark.

2lb 1oz1



After a good nights sleep, I awoke to find a thick frost all over my tackle. The sun was already climbing in the sky, giving me probably the worst possible roach fishing conditions. While I made a coffee and breakfast, the feeder rods were once again employed. This time though, they only produced plenty of perch and one lost eel. Slightly to my left, I decided to feed nothing but hemp, the reason being I didn’t want any maggots to encourage eels or perch into the swim. After an hour steadily priming the swim, I cast my waggler tight against the far bank reeds. It stayed there for around half an hour when it slowly sank from view. The resulting strike met solid resistance and after a steady fight I slipped my landing net under a slightly larger roach. My first estimates of 2.6 were slightly light due to a fat stomach and pigeon chest. The scales settled on 2.9, a cracking roach and on my first trip too. After another hour with no bites, I decided that would be the perfect time to end my first session back. I will return soon though!



Gravel Pit Roach

5th March 2012

For one reason or another I had very little spare time to target gravel pit roach this winter. Luckily, results on the grapevine suggested that I wasn’t missing much, with only one roach being caught prior to March. One of the main reasons for this was probably the thick Canadian Pondweed that has engulfed the pit. It was so thick that even in winter parts of the lake resembled a football pitch. Most anglers had all but given up hope of catching when a work party at the end of January cleared lots of weed from the pit (But still nowhere near enough) This left one or two clear spots to fish on, but not in the normal ‘hot-spots’ The odd roach angler persevered and when news reached me about 3 big roach ( with 2 over 3lbs ) being caught in 3 days, at the start of March, it was time to dust the roach tackle down.

On arrival I set a marker rod up and looked for clear spots. In only one swim did I find a clear enough area to fish confidently in. I cast my standard bolt rigged maggot feeder set ups into 2 likely areas and would re-cast every hour, just to keep a trickle of bait going in. The lake was barren of anglers, with only the wildlife for company. A good sign was that several good roach or rudd were rolling, so at least they were active. There seemed to be no hot-spots, fish were rolling in all parts of the lake.

Bolt rig feeder set up, though I now use the Korum quick change helicopter rigs

Bolt rig feeder set up, though I now use the Korum quick change helicopter rigs


Just as the winter sun had set, my alarm let out 1 bleep and the line on my right hand rod pulled taught. What normally happens after this is that you get a lovely full blown drop back bite. This time though, I happened to be stood right by the rods so just gently lifted into the fish. It didn’t fight until under the rod tip and didn’t feel particularly big. In the darkening light I actually thought it was a rudd so played it harder than normal. As it went over the net I realised that I had caught a good roach and I was off the mark for the year in terms of big roach. A quick weighing gave me 2lb 11oz, a pleasing fish, but not big for this lake.

This raised my hopes for the rest of the trip, but despite 2 more days on the lake, I could only muster 3 rudd, with none making it to 2lbs. Unable to get any more days off work, I was both happy and frustrated to hear reports of several more 3lb+ roach being caught from the lake. These roach are getting very old now so I hope that the weed lets us have a fair crack at them next winter. There’s still a chance of something special being caught, but if the weed’s as bad as this winter I doubt that I’ll be back.



Winter Chub

19th January – 9th March 2012

The winter of 2012 saw me partake in my first chub campaign. I can’t believe that I haven’t fished for large chub before, but when you have access to some of the best roach fishing of all time, it’s hard to fish anywhere else.

My efforts were on the River Trent, not the obvious choice for big chub, but with the price of fuel going through the roof, it was to be kinder on the wallet to start closer to home. The rivers Lea, Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour were far more likely candidates to produce a monster of 7lbs or more, but I decided to crawl before I could walk and set my first target at 6lbs.

The Trent is a huge river and it could take me months to track down some decent chub so I enlisted the help of my good mate Lee Swords. Now Lee probably knows more about the Trent than most anglers and he had us starting on a stretch where he’d been catching chub over 6lbs all season. When he told me that they average about 5lb 8oz I couldn’t wait to get started.


A misty winters day on the Trent

The tactics and baits were fairly straight forward. You can forget trotting with a gallon of maggots and light lines, critically balancing your crust and most other chub fishing methods. We were legering large baits, mainly steak and lobworms, in a big powerful river. Add into the mix a plethora of snags and you realise that we needed strong gear for strong fish. Rods were 1.5lb test curve barbel models with the quiver section used. Reels were powerful and loaded with 8lb mono, hooks were a strong size 8 and the hook link was 5lb Incognito fluorocarbon. This line took so much punishment, with fish going through reed beds and overhanging branches, but it never let me down once. Because of this it will be used for most of my tench fishing from now onwards

.Steak and mince

The results were pretty good for a first bash on a local water. I myself had plenty of chub, including 3 over 6lbs and many more over 5lbs. The smallest chub were over 4lbs so Lee definitely put us in the right area. Lee himself had many big chub with quite a number of ‘6’s up to almost 7lb. Tactics changed as the winter wore on. No rain and clearer water, plus the chub getting cuter to our baits meant longer hook links of 5ft or more. Hook sizes had to be scaled down too, but not the line strength. There were far too many snags for that. One trick that worked was to use a light bobbin with around a 6 inch drop. This gave the chub just enough slack line to fool them into taking the bait rather than dropping it. This tactic gave me several extra fish to over 6lbs.


6lb 1st


Maybe next winter one of us, or even both of us, will break that magic barrier. It would be nice to do it from up here instead of the southern rivers. One small quirk was that whenever Lee and I fished together, we never caught a 6 pounder. Every time we went alone, or with someone else, 6 pounders would be caught!

As you can see, the fish seem pretty young and thick set, so who knows, maybe in a couple of years the Trent could end up being the new specimen chub mecca!