Beating the Cut.


I was never one not to take up a challenge so when some of the local lads told me a certain length of our local cut wasn’t worth the bother I called my oldmate Steve ‘Golfball’ Moran to see if he wanted to join me in fishing a few hours on ‘cyanide ally.’

Now Golfball is one of the keenest anglers I know and if I told him there were pike in a rain puddle in my back yard he would be there attempting to catch ‘em. Within 30 minutes he was at my back door.


We decided a two prong attack. I would fish the pole and he would go for the supposed none existent pike and I would attempt to catch the none existent roach and hybrids.

The canal was brimming the banks and gin clear. Summer level down the track is normally around 6ft but on plumbing up this time I had almost 9. I decided to use one of my own 1G pear shaped pole floats attached to Preston 0.011 main line with a 0.008 hook length. My bulk weight which was rugby ball shaped shot made by the Anchor shot company was placed just over 3ft from the hook with number 10 Stotz spaced at 8inch intervals below it. My hook was a ‘red’ size 20 Colmic R957.

At this time of the year take a tip from me, maggots that have been ‘fridged’ for a couple of weeks work better than ones that are really fresh. Fresh ones tend to ‘stretch’ with the cold and in the winter I prefer my bait to have a little bit of movement in it. There is a downside to older maggots. They do tend to shrink which in winter is not always a bad thing as a smaller bait can be an advantage. However the skins tend to toughen up considerably which is not good. The maggot needs to burst as the fish sucks it in. If it doesn’t, often a tentative feeding fish will spit the bait out again in a split second. I have a way of stopping this by softening the skins to a point where anything other than a very sharp hook will burst them open.

First riddle out any saw dust. Then run the bait through maize or I prefer a sieved ground bait. Once the bait is totaly clean add a small amount of halibut oil, just enough to give the maggots a slight oily coating. Leave for a few minutes and then clean off with ground baitĀ  so the bait is dryand oil free. The skins should now be softer than a babies bum but still retain a fishy smell. I then finish it off with a good sprinkling of Tumeric. The spice and the fishy odour is a deadly combination. My rule of thumb is spicy in winter, sweet in summer.


I decided to go for it and use ground bait fed into the swim via my pole pot. I mixed black sieved crumb with a liberal amount (don’t over do it) of another spice called Garam Masala. When I lived in the UK I discovered chub love the stuff and so do Irish roach and hybrids. I mixed it just so it would hit the bottom and then burst into fine dust.

Before wetting a line I introduced into the middle of the cut three jaffa sized balls loaded with red maggot. If you use a pole pot the bait can be lowered into the swim without making a splash.

The trick is then to fish over your free offerings until you start getting bites. When the bites begin to slow down drop in another ball with maggots to keep the fish in the swim.

A single red maggot was placed on the hook and gently lowered over the ground bait. The time was exactly 12.25pm.

Gold ball decided to fish with two rods both offering small dead roach under cigar shaped floats. Both fish suspended 18inches from theĀ  bottom.

After around 10 minutes my pole float lifted very slightly and stayed there. I gently struck and my size 6 elastic came out of the pole enough to tell me I had connected with a good fish. I soon slid the landing net under a hybrid around 12oz.

Bites then came steady until we called time just after 4pm. Good roach, lots of hybrids and a smattering of small perch made up my catch.

As for Golfball. He had two runs. The first one provided himwith a very nice fish around 7lbs. Just before knocking off time he had another, a much bigger fish which was clearly seen in the clear water. Unfortunately as he turned the fish to land it, the fish shook it’s head and the barbless trebles came out and we watched as the fish slowly swam away.

The afternoon proved fruitfull with my catch well into double figures. I suppose the moral of the story is even though reports are not good, give it a go and if you do it right you never know what you may catch.

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