The antenna rig I have described for stillwatcrs will be suitable for most situations but can be varied slightly for special applications. Begin by fishing on the bottom but if you are continually throwing in loose maggots round your float the fish may begin rising up to intercept them. Move most of your shot to just below the float and the tackle will then fall slowly through the water. This is known as fishing ‘on the drop’ and is often a highly successful way of catching rudd and roach. In lakes where they thrive, tiny rudd can become a pest. On warm summer days the surface may become a mass of rudd fry and if you are to catch any better quality fish you may have to get your bait down past the rudd very quickly. To do this move the bulk of the shot clown the line so that the bait is dragged through the shoal of rudd before they have time to grab it.
If the wind is really strong you may find that even when using a very long antenna float your tackle is being dragged slowly across the surface. To avoid this remove the small tell-tale shot next to the hook and replace some of the smaller shot on the line with a larger one placed about half a metre away from the hook. To ensure that this larger shot is well on the bottom move the float further up the line. Before moving the float do not forget to open the slits in the split shot or the line will snap. The larger shot resting on the bottom of the lake will act as an anchor for the tackle.
During the summer months the fish in lakes are very active but as the water begins to cool down in the autumn, location becomes more important than ever. In cold water fish become reluctant to move even for food and a number of species refuse to feed at all except on the milder days. Float tackle for detecting bites on a lake in winter should be extremely sensitive. An antenna float with a very thin insert in the top of the stem is a good investment. Set the depth of the float so that the bait is just touching the bed of the lake but no line or shot are touching. The bait should be small, such as a single naggol, caster, or even a tiny piece of read flake. Shot the float so that »nly enough of the insert remains .bovc the surface to enable you to see t clearly. On really calm days when the surface is unruffled and you are fishing fairly close to the bank you can shot the float so that only the surface tension is holding it up. This is probably the most sensitive tackle rig you could use. A fish only has to nudge the bait to register a bite.
Lake fishing in winter can be a wailing game but there are ways of searching an area of water for fish. Cast out your tackle and leave it in one spot for ten minutes. If no bites are fortheoming then slowly reel in a couple of turns on the handle. Repeat this every few minutes as you gradually draw the tackle back towards the bank. Bites often occur as soon as you stop winding the reel. The fish tend to shoal in small areas in winter so when you do get a bite concentrate on that area. Don’t be tempted to .-, throw in a lot of heavy groundbait but scatter a few hook samples around your float. Bites in cold weather can register as little more than a slight lifting of the float or a gentle sideways movement, so strike at the slightest sign.
As you gain experience in lake fishing this float rig can be modified slightly to selectively catch the larger species of fish such as bream, tench and carp. For these species, especially tench and carp, you will need to use a heavier breaking strain line and larger hooks. Use a larger bait so that you are not continually catching small fish. Float fishing a lake is not as active a pastime as fishing a flowing river but it is extremely interesting and at times very rewarding.
Legering is a technique used for catching fish which are feeding on or close to the bottom of the river or lake without using a float to register the bites. In most instances the bait is anchored to the river or lake bed by a lead weight, but in flowing rivers the lead can be allowed to roll along the bed to search for feeding fish. When a fish picks up the bait the line is pulled and the bite is registered by the rod tip moving. The rod tip is not very sensitive, so there are now many devices which can be fitted to the rod tip or used to detect line movement between the reel and the first rod ring.