Cast your tackle beyond the area you intend to fish and draw the float back to the required position. To do this allow the float to cock and then dip the rod tip below the surface and wind in the line. This will draw the float back and at the same time sink the line below the surface. You can then place the rod on the two rod rests so that the rod tip remains submerged. For the beginner who is not really particular about the species of fish he catches, a couple of maggots will attract most species likely to be found in a lake. A small amount of breadcrumb groundbait and a few handfuls of loose maggots tossed round the float will help to entice fish into the area of the baited hook.
An antenna float used as I have described is a very sensitive tackle rig and the type of bite which is registered by the float can vary quite a lot. Strike at any movement of the float which appears suspicious. A fish picking up your bait from the lake bed will not necessarily cause your float to disappear under the surface. Your float will only disappear when a fish picks up your bait and swims away. This is the reason for having the tell-tale shot near your hook. When a fish just gently tilts forward and picks up your bait it will lift this shot off the bottom. This reduces the load on your float and it will rise slowly up out of the water. If the fish then moves off with your bait the float will glide across the surface and gradually sink from view. When using small baits such as maggots, strike as soon as you notice the float rising up out of the water or else the fish may eject the bait or be deeply hooked. If you have baited up a very small area, the fish don’t have to travel very far to pick up another free offering. In winter, when the water temperature is very low, the fish are likely to move around even less so the bites are unlikely to be very positive. Do not make the mistake of assuming that bites which hardly move the float are from shy fish – a shy fish will suck in a bait and eject it faster than you can blink. These bites, which are often encountered on stillwatcrs, are from confidently feeding fish which don’t dash away with the bait. In calm conditions it is easy to see any slight movement of your float but when the surface is rough and windswept these delicate bites become more difficult to notice. Large baits for positive bites One simple way of encouraging fish to give more positive bites is to increase the size of your bait. There is a very subtle reason for this. Fish, like all wild creatures, have a number of inbuilt instincts which help them to exist. In times of food shortage it is the creatures which manage to find the most food which remain the fittest and survive. This instinct is so strong that it remains even when food is plentiful. A classic example of this instinct which everyone can observe is displayed by garden birds. Spread some breadcrumbs on the lawn together with a number of larger pieces of bread and watch the re-action of the sparrows and starlings. The birds will eat the breadcrumbs where they find them but will drag the larger bits of bread well away from the main feeding area so that they can cat the bread without it being stolen by a rival. This is exactly 5’ what happens with fish. A shoal of fish confidently feeding over a carpet of maggots will suck them into their mouths at once. If one of them finds a larger item of food it will grab it and bolt from the shoal to avoid competition and so register a tearaway bite on the float. Therefore you will normally obtain a much more vigorous bite using a large bait than a small one. This problem is seldom encountered whilst float fishing a flowing river because a fish can intercept a bait without moving, yet the force of the current will push the float under to register a bite.