Winter magic with the Stonze System – Chris RobsonPallatrax Angling
Working in retail this time of year is very long and means time to get out is pretty limited, so after a long few weeks I’ve finally been back out on the bank and back into some fish! So far this year we’ve barely had any winter weather to talk about, just days and days of rain!! My first outing was a pleasure session at Forest Lane fisheries near York, which saw me arrive with some new goodies to try out which consisted of some new flavours and boosted match midget pop ups. Having the complete lake to myself, I decided on a peg with plenty of options with the point of two islands to cast to along with a large area of open water. I decided I would fish the Stonze system, with the peg enabling me to keep my options open and work the system around the swim.
Fishing a tiny in-line Stonze with a 12″ hooklink of the new gamma fluorocarbon, this stuff has really changed the way I can fish, opting to use just 0.13 diameter which I have found perfect; even when fishing for big fish due to its higher breaking strain and increased durability. Two carp and several goldfish fell in the first hour by simply fishing the Stonze and varying the hookbaits between Match Midgets and the small Black Water Snails from the Hidra range which were all boosted with a new flavour.
After a good start things soon slowed, but I continued to get loads of liners and indications on the tip which indicated a change was needed. After a quick rummage in my bag I soon had some Pallatrax 3mm pellets soaking, again giving them an extra boost of liquid attractant. The pellets were fished with the Stonze System incorporating a method called ‘the pellet cone’. So simple to use and devastating at this time of year when the fish only need tiny amounts of bait. You can buy a kit to make the cone, however I use an old bottle top with the end cut out and then squeeze the pellets hard inside it. By pushing out the hard nugget of pellets, it can be slipped onto the hooklength then pushed down to the hook and away you go.
To speed things up I have several hooklength’s on the go, with a cone all ready on; making it a simple case of un-clipping one and attaching the next. After a few casts round, I managed to locate a small group of fish, resulting in eight carp and two barbel in an hour. However, as quick as it started they had gone, so back to the drawing board again and yet another change! Hard work, but exactly what a days practice is all about.
Although it went quiet, I still got regular indications so I knew there were fish in the peg. As the morning ticked by the clouds had lifted and the winter sun was beginning to warm the water, so it was back into my bag for more ammo; time to unleash the new pop ups! Fishing them on the Stonze and a combination of different length hooklink, I could vary the depth they were fished and try throughout the water column. The response was instant; it was obvious looking back that the fish had found it far better to be sat in the upper layers and not on the bottom in the cold water. Lesson learnt! For the next three hours I barely had time to get the rod on the rest before it ripped round, resulting in a dozen carp and twenty or so pristine barbel. They showed that by making changes, reading the conditions and being willing to experiment always brings reward. Turning what would have been a pleasant afternoon of catching 20/30lb into an afternoon I’ll never forget, resulting in well over 100lb of fish caught. Most of which was in just three hours, in January and gave me a huge confidence boost to see a reaction like that when casting out a brand spanking new bait for the first time.
A few days later I was back on the same lake for the Saturday open match. With twenty anglers on, I suspected that to compete you would have to get on one of the fancied winter pegs; being an area where the fish shoal up at this time of year. Sadly I didn’t with peg Peg 21 being my home for the day! With anglers either side I wasn’t confident in it being strong enough for a win, however armed with my new found confidence I was up for the challenge. I’d usually split my match between waiting for carp, but also trying to top my weight up with silvers consisting of chub and skimmers. However for this match I decided to sit it out and fish the whole match for carp, feeling it was the only chance of getting in the frame. Although a gamble, it was a match and I was there to try and win it. Knowing how well they had fed a few days previously, I felt someone was going to get amongst a few carp; so 10lb of ‘bits’ wasn’t going to be any good. The Stonze approach would again be the tactic of choice for the day, with an island to cast to at about 24m feeling this was going to be my best option.
Picking three spots to fish, this gave me a few options. Two areas in front of the sedges in roughly 4′ of water, plus a line between two groups of sedges further up the slope in roughly 2′ of water. I also fed 4mm hard pellets on one of the deeper lines, but fed nothing on the other. It was then just a case of going gently gently and let the fish tell me what they wanted on the day. After a slow start, I was soon into a nice rhythm, I could catch a fish from the shallow swim but the disturbance meant it had to be left for them to settle after each one. As the match progressed the area I was pinging a few pellets over got stronger and stronger. It was a real eye opener and felt I fished a near perfect match; no fish lost and hardly missed a bite, plus by being patient, swapping swims and keeping disturbance to a minimum, I built a tidy net of winter fish. The guys either side soon appeared to run out of patience early doors, feeding too much and crashing big leads and feeders in their swims I’m certain they pushed fish into my peg.
As I had predicted it was peg 34 that won the match with 78lb. However I was best of the rest and managed 2nd with 56lb and 3rd place weighing in with 22lb. The guys either side didn’t break double figures which was proof again that the tactics and baits were spot on for the day.
Tight lines all.