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Commercial fishing Tips & Reports
With Alan

Welcome to my new Commercial Carp fishing page Introducing Alan Gallagan.
Alan who is one of the for-runners of this relatively new fishing Discipline recognized as the future of match fishing
has kindly agreed to subscribe to this page. So for those anglers new and old who would like to get to know
this aspect of fishing (Including me) Then please come back and visit this page regularly for further updates..

Alan Gallagan

Follow Alan's Articles 
Started fishing at the age of about 6 where my dear old grand father ignited my passion and taught me the basics. I joined a local club and at the age of 13 I often walked the mile or so to the local river where I won my first match. With a lack of younger members I was soon fishing and winning against the adults. The river became my second home I walked its banks while not fishing and spent as much time studying its moods and effects from weather and angling pressure as I could. I found shoals of bream , specimen carp ,chub and tench and found a grounding in fishing that offered me opportunity to learn from some excellent anglers in their particular disciplines.
Although I like to fish natural venues my attention has been alerted to the rising popularity of the commercial scene. I fish in the matches held on this type of water and have become reasonable at it, I like the different approaches the excitement that the carp can bring with all match men capable of winning from pegs even if they only catch in the last hour. Some fantastic silver fishing is also to be had with skimmer weights on some venues out scoring the carp. With the convenience of location and price coupled with safety and the busy life style of most of us I really do see the commercial scene taking over, if it hasnít already.
I hope my articles on different methods and venues is useful, and would welcome any feed back, I am no expert and I have always got my learning cap on but I will share my experiences with you and hope fully provide an insight for people who are interested in this style of fishing.

I am a fan of the method feeder and have one set up at the beginning of most matches that are going to be dominated by carp. I have been using it to good effect for some time now and have picked up a number of match wins with the tactic on a number of separate venues. Its a very exiting way of fishing that can make the fish feed very aggressively hooking them selves and sometimes literately pulling your rod off of the rests. It can be effective in open water or up against features such as lilies reed beds or islands but its not only a carp method , it has caught me good bags of bream as well as some specimen tench.
The introduction of the flat bed method feeder has not only revolutionised method feeder fishing it has provided a great equaliser on the match circuit. The presentation that is achieved from using the feeder in conjunction with the method mold is perfect and so simple to use. The advancements in ground bait and pellets has given every one an even playing field and looking around your local commercial its evident that confidence in this tactic is wide spread.
Its not surprising that the method accounts for match winning weights all over the country including festival wins and fish o qualifiers, how ever a brown envelopes is not guaranteed and even though the tactic has been made made easier by the molds there is certainly a wrong way of doing it and little touches to improve it. For me the next step in improving this tactic will be from the way it is fished and fed and I try to combine a few ideas to gain that all important edge.
Accuracy is vital when fishing the feeder and the method is no different, if you cant hit the target you are aiming for then you are not in control and will find your results inconsistent. I find that hitting an area in open water or grazing the far bank is sometimes the difference and the only thing that will make you good at it is practice . I do follow simple guides though by picking a far bank marker and using the clip on the reel. These two things give you direction and distance but personally I make sure I am sitting comfortable and I take my time as rushing at things seems to make fishing hard for yourself.
Double skinning
The nature of the tactic is to produce a small pile of feed that has your hook bait presented on top. The carp suck at the pile of bait and in turn suck in your hook bait getting pricked by the hook against the weight of the feeder. The very nature of this prevents you from building a swim as the fish takes most of the bait leaving little behind, double skinning is adding another layer of bait by refilling the mold and pressing to the feeder providing twice as much bait. The bait breaks down in the same way leaving you with the same presentation as before only leaving bait behind after each fish to build your swim.
When casting using the line clip on your reel you can be very accurate and group your feed into a tight area, while this is a great practice and will concentrate the feeding fish but it is very hard for a shoal of fish to feed on a two foot square. To spread the fish out a little I like to also feed with a catapult, the concentration of fish remains around your hook bait and keeps the bites coming yet the light spread of pellets gives the room to hold the carp in numbers. Feeding with the catty shouldnít be done to frequently as you may bring the fish shallow, instead I feed a pouch full at a time randomly to keep the fish grubbing. The sound of the hard pellets hitting the water also attracts more fish and double skinning holds them, when you have fish competing they will often react to the sound of the feeder hitting the water and home in on it taking it quickly before a shoal mate.
Down the edge
The last hour in a match can be make or break, when anglers are going down the edge feeding positively and are ending frustrated because the wise old lumps have come to detect the pole rig avoiding capture,spook under the pole tip or turn up in such numbers that you foul hook and get smashed. Donít neglect your method feeder, feed in the same way by big potting but chuck the method in the margin to fool those lumps. Take a leaf out of the specimen hunters with back leads and counter balanced hook baits to make the difference in placing or placing no where.
Hook baits
With lots of fish in your swim or not a highly visible hook bait can vastly reduce the time you are waiting between bites. In the same view if the carp are being a little cagey it some times pays to match your feed with your hook bait to fool wary feeders.
Hook baits that are good for this are sweet corn,mini bolies and died pellets. A white bolie over dark pellets works well as does a dark pellet over light pellets with the contrast in colour making a stand out bait. I have found that dying a handful of pellets and then adding them to your normal feed can get the fish selecting out the died pellets and using a hook bait of the same colour can be very effective.
Colour is not the only desirable property in your hook bait and as the fish are sucking at a pile as a whole the lightest of the partials will travel fastest and your hook bait being one of them is an advantage .To do this you will need a bait that is light and the fat content in luncheon meat makes is much lighter in the water than a pellet giving the desired effect. Meat also will take on colour and flavour as well as being easily shaped into cubes or punched into pellet shapes.

Preparation, mind set and planning.

Have you ever found your self mid match when the carp are not feeding, waiting for that golden last hour while watching a motionless tip or bristle only to get beat out of a framing place by a narrow margin. This had been happening to me far to often, the solution that I found is to make the most of the quieter periods of the match and keep some weight going into the keep net for the whole 5 hours. The key to this for me has been targeting different species at different time through out the duration of the match, the difference in the competitive opens I fish in can be a few pounds and an extra 10 lb in silvers can make a hug difference to the overall result.

On one of the waters within the open circuit that I fish I have found that on match day the carp are caught at the beginning and the end of the match with a few carp showing in the middle. The anglers who only target these fish sometimes have red letter days and pick up a brown envelope but as a rule the anglers who fish to catch a mixed bag have more consistent results. On days when you go straight in over your initial feed after the whistle and the float buries time and time again its obvious that the carp are present in numbers and you will be very hard to beat but how often does that happen. To get results consistently on this venue you need a plan that is not dependent on the response of the carp alone, this has brought me to targeting the silvers.

This lake holds some good silvers with a good mixture of species and because of this one approach will not cover all situations getting the most from my swim , more than one tactic will have to be employed to keep catching through out the the match.

Planning for one of these matches is always difficult as your approach is going to be dictated by what peg you draw ,but you could have an overall out look that can be altered according to the draw bag. To achieve this I have found that thinking about areas of the lake has proved fruitless and its much better to plan for the species that you are targeting. This has been better for me as in the past I have found that planning for possible areas of the lake and then drawing somewhere totally different quite off putting, however if you have planned for species it is still possible to find them in every swim. I try to plan my approach accordingly and when thinking about what to do I consider my own abilities, I know that my methods have to interlink or I will just crash and burn. It takes a special kind of angler to nurture many high maintenance swims at one time and I recognise I am not that person so account for it. I try to put together methods that compliment each other and avoid two very high maintenance tactics in the same match, although some anglers can master this I donít seem to be able to and avoid two shallow swims at the same time as I never achieve and maintain the right feeding pattern.

I have a swim today that offers me options, I have the corner of an island, a little open water at 13 meters , a lilly pad and and the marginal shelf. Where to fish is the starting point and I have chosen 3 lines and an area of safe water. The fish in these waters will often try to find an area that feels safe ,the commotion on popular commercials can spook the fish and the start of a match can send them searching for the quiet areas of the lake, I purposely try to offer that area within my swim which as you can imagine puts you at an advantage. For this reason I have chosen to not fish or feed to the lilly pad as this offers the quiet and cover that the fish are looking for and as the other anglers make splashes and bank side noise it can actually push the fish into your area especially in winter.

My first choice of swim will be the corner of the island, it has a lilly pad a little further past the point that blocks off the angler on the far bank creating my own little piece of water that no one else can fish. This area is well out of pole reach and I am going to use a feeder. The normal tactic for the last few years has been the method feeder, a few months ago I started to notice the fish backing off the feeder its self and because of this it has lost some of its effectiveness. To combat this I am using a small cage feeder that will contain a mixture of dead red maggots and micro pellets. I will still slowly build a bed of bait for the fish to feed over in the way the method does yet allow myself the option of distancing my hook bait with out compromising the rigs effectiveness, my main bait will be a banded 6mm hard pellet which will also be catapulted randomly over the area to sign post the spot with the right kind of noise. My rig is a simple running feeder set up on a snap link swivel so I can quickly change to a bigger feeder or a bomb if needed. This is stopped by a quick change bead, I use different length hook links to change the tail instead of moving rig components to promote strength. Above all this is a float stop which gives me control over the feeders movement and can change the rig to semi fixed if needed. A note of importance is to feather the cast and lay the feeder in accurately instead of crashing it in as this will aid you if the skimmers move over the pellet.` `

My second choice of swim is at 13 meters in open water, here I am looking to build slowly by feeding accurately with a pole mounted pot . Although the feeder may account for some early bonus fish this will be my main line of attack. I am going to fish a double bulk rig using castors, hard pellet and expander I am targeting the skimmers with this approach but would expect the carp to move over it during the day. This is normally signalled by a decreases in indication on the float, if this happens I will put on a grain of corn which can often quickly sort out the bigger fish. It is important when fishing the double bulk to be sure of the depth so take plenty of time with the plummet and get it right. By putting this positive rig in the water in a straight line you can be sure that the float and first and second bulk are in line and any lift indication is a positive bite reducing the chance of foul hooking which is the kiss of death. My reason for choosing the double bulk is its effectiveness in a fizzing swim full of delicate feeders and confidence as it has served me well. Feeding this type of swim is a conundrum but I tend to prefer a swim that builds and finishes strong so potting is my preference and I pot hard pellets here and not micros to encourage the skimmers to pick up single baits and give a better bite.

Last but not least is my shallow swim, this is fished at the marginal shelf close in. I do this as feeding it becomes easy by hand and I can throw 10 to 15 castors every 45 seconds or so comfortably to get the roach and rudd competing. These fish can be large too and a real weight builder. I have a rig set at around 18 inches deep and experiment on how to lay it in the water to find the preference. Once fishing over this line I half the feed and double the frequency to bring the fish very shallow and then speed fish sometimes missing out a feed and simply slapping the rig on the surface. The fish tend to not feed confidently for long periods like this so when I stop fishing this line I revert back to my original feeding pattern but never stop feeding altogether.

As with all fishing and swim building it is imperative to rest and rotate swims to keep fish feeding and fill your nets. The person who can do this best will have given themselves the best chance of winning the match. By rotating you can rest areas that need it yet add weight by still catching else where in your peg. Now with all this going on at once you have to have thought about how and when to do things. You have 3 swims to think about and mentally recording what you have done and how much feed is in which swim at any given time keeps you in control and is possible by remaining simple with compatible bait application.

My bait tray is quite simple today and revolves around pellets and a change bait. I have brought 3 different types with me, I have micros for feed through the feeder which have been prepared simply by covering with water and leaving for 30 seconds, poring off the water and letting the pellets stand to absorb the rest of the moisture. The expender has been pumped in the normal way in plain lake water, while I leave the 6mm as hard pellets using them straight from the bag. My change baits are dead maggots on the feeder and i put some through the micro pellets preferring the colour red. On the pole line my change bait is bright visual corn and castors are used short as they make a great sound for shallow fishing like pellets, sink more slowly sorting out the better stamp of fish and are not pellets which the fish see a lot of.

Thinking about what you are doing, exploring when and why will make you a much better angler. Keeping a record of this will mean a point of reference which you can refer to and see comparisons in feeding, conditions and results. To many this is to much bother and they are happy with just a day out but I have found this self analysis has proved to be a positive thing for me and looking back has allowed me to move forward. I have found that this approach has given me confidence and with that a bit of clarity, I am much more inclined to make a better choice as I base it on experience instead of just a guess. Try it yourself and see if it works for you.

Placing my box down on the platform and looking out across my swim filled me with joy today as the carp were in the upper layers in numbers in font of me and right then it was clear that today could be a bit special. Straight away I decided that all the top kits and feeder gear could stay in the rod bag as I was going to attack it, sh!t or bust.

I started the session unlike every one else which raised a few eye brows, to begin with people were chucking feeders out clipping up, plumbing up margin rigs and mixing ground bait. The pellet wagglers could be seen zipping out through the air before crashing into the water and all manner of equipment was being readied for battle.

My plan for the match was thrown out the window when I arrived at the peg, the presence of so many fish in my swim meant that if I was careful they could stay there but if I was a bit premature I could mess it up before I even started. I knew that the others on the lake would go through the motions that come before most competitions but my approach was so simple that it gave me chance to watch and take note while others worked hard setting up their stations. Before I explain what I did I would like to look at what made my decide why. On arival at the swim I had walked the long way round which let me see a lot of water on route, I could see that a lot of fish were in the bottom left corner but with 3 of the swims around this drawn it would mean that these fish would soon move out before venturing back in via the margins towards the last hour. I have fished this lake maybe 10 times now and knew that the fish would seek the sanctuary that the open deeper water offered. The large shoal in front of my peg would also be in reach of the person opposite but as they were in the best margin swim on the lake they would probably ignore them and choose to fish close in as well as at 11 metre where it dropped off. So I made the choice to put all my eggs in one place and concentrated on holding those fish in the open water. It was because of what had happened before and the notes that I had made that gave me the confidence to do this, it was also this with a little water craft that increased my chances of a result.

With every one else casting to clip up and making plenty of noise I decided to do the opposite, putting 2 bank sticks well away from the water and sky line I measured out 25 meters and clipped up both a straight lead and pellet waggler rod without casting any thing into my swim. I realised that casting straight into the shoal with an oz lead followed by a pellet waggler would void my chances. This in fact was what others around me had done which I think actually helped me, instead I was set to the right distance with no disturbance to my swim. My rigs were very simple with the bomb rod having a running straight lead set up consisting of a square lead running free to a quick change bead and a 12 inch hook length with a size 16 qm1 hook and a snowman set up bolie hook bait. Both these baits are home made and and have been balanced to be neutral buoyancy with the hook attached providing a very inciting fall to the hook bait through the last foot of water. The pellet waggler was simply stopped with gripper stops and a hair rigged band housed the 6 mm pellet set at half depth.

As you can imagine it left me with time before the whistle blew which I spent watching all the water I could see, looking for anything that may help really. On the whistle instead of filling a pole pot or picking up a rod I grabbed the catty and fired in 5 pellets at 25 meters and watched. I did this for 10 mins while others were fishing and paid attention to who I could see. The carp in my swim were reacting to the pellets well and I reluctantly suppressed the urge to get on the waggler and cast the straight lead short of the spot I was feeding and put it on the rests clicking on the baitrunner function. I then continued to feed 5 pellets every 20 seconds and ignored the tip of the rod . After around another 10 mins the distinctive sound of the clutch giving line made me jump and after a spirited fight a mirror of double figures laid in my net. Straight out again on the same line resulted in a savage take before the rod was on the rests and another one in the net. I kept up the feeding pattern and after no more indications on the tip but plenty of surface disturbance I got on the waggler as I believe that the tip was a great indicator that the fish were competing shallow in numbers.

By now the fish were feeding without caution and I was struggling to feed as the fish were hooking themselves just under the surface film. In the next 45 mins I caught steadily putting an average stamp of 3lb in the net consistently. Now bites started to slow so as to know blow my swim I changed back to the lead and concentrated on regaining the confidence of the fish. I continued with the 5 pellets but every 30 seconds, two changes I made was one to fire the pellets to the sky and let them crash on the surface with an attractive plop. The second thing was a good squirt of pellet oil which gave a slick that gut churned up each time a rush disturbed the surface. The straight lead didnt produce another take and I continued to fish the waggler for the duration of the match. Little changes and some bloody hard work resulted in the win, when the scales came around I had a few waiting as they were aware I had caught a few but I didnít know how much. The leading weight was 57 lb which I knew I had beat convincingly. My final weight was a new record with 167lb7oz beating the previous 98lb with just some pellets and common sense. I have since returned and fished again in the same swim in a match situation and managed to blank when the pressure was on , that day I fell off a box and broke a landing net pole but thats another story


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