Fishing to islands on commercial venues is a key element to any match anglers approach, coming in all different shapes, sizes, and depths these fish holding magnets can be a little difficult to get your head around when you start to consider all the variables and scenarios you can come up against on each different peg. I’ve bought the cameras back to Peg 136 on Match Lake 4 at Monk Lakes in Kent, where I recently won a Fish’O’Mania Qualifier by making the most of an island peg using a positive approach which opens up a world of opportunity…
The peg itself isn’t much to look at and looks like millions of others around the UK but when you’re looking at where to feed to an island it’s an important observation to look and see where you can reach the shallowest water. On this particular peg I can see several dips in the far bank grass where I’ll be able to plumb a rig within an inch or so of the bank which is absolutely spot on for catching a number of fish, one bonus is that the fish cannot get behind the rig and give you liners and maybe cause foul hooked fish the other is that the water is a lot shallower which is vital when it comes to the warmer months, the fish naturally want to be in these depths and wherever you can find it you can guarantee the fish won’t be far away! My peg at Monk offers about 2ft of water tight to the bank which is spot on and by having a plumb around the dips in the grass, it’s easy to ascertain which area is the best to fish, the first area I plumbed was quite snaggy with grass and roots which would make life hard throughout the day, moving slightly to the right a nice clean flat area was as good as it was ever going to get, a nice hard donk on the plummet each drop down and with little in the way of clag on the bottom it was going to be the perfect starting line, just as I did in the qualifier.
There is a big difference between fishing to an island for F1’s and fishing to an island on a Carp dominated venue like Monk, while these carp aren’t big they are certainly a lot more aggressive in their feeding habits and this is where having lots of different areas around the island isn’t necessary and can actually reduce your weight at the end of the match for this reason I only want to be fishing two areas of the peg at the very most and make the fish come to the area I’ve fed rather than chasing them around as is the norm with F1’s – one in the gap in the grass and one to the point of the island where the same depth can be found. The approach though between the two swims couldn’t be more different and it’s this which opens up a whole plethora of options in the methods you can use to catch fish quickly.
I never like to count my chickens before they’ve hatched and always like to start the match with a careful approach to see what sort of day it’s going to be, so with this in mind the first line is always kicked off with a kinder potting attack as a starting point but the point of the island will be fed more positively with a catapult regularly while I’m fishing my first line, hopefully to build it up for when I go on it. Feeding like this also gives you the opportunity to experiment with a shallow rig to fish tight to the island too even in such shallow water, often, on venues with lots of grass lining island margins any bait that is fired into the grass will see fish slurping and swirling as they try to root out the bait from the island margin with this, a shallow rig fished tight into the island can be a truly devastating method and is one that has won me plenty of money over the years. By feeding the two lines so differently I’ll quickly be able to suss out what tactic is the best on the day and be able to change things very quickly to suit.
The bait is a little different to the stereotypical ‘Micros’ approach that is most commonly used when fishing to islands in shallow water, as I mentioned the lake holds mainly carp with a few F1s so I’m looking to catch fish which feed quite aggressively, for this reason there are no micros on the bait tray selecting some larger 4 and 6mm Bait-Tech Carp and Coarse Pellets for feed. These are given a generous coating of Bait-Tech Liquid Pellet oil which is something that has established itself in my fishing in recent times, the beauty of it is that the hard pellets with the oil added all sink, fire out better in any wind and most important of all they are still hard which make plenty of noise when fed with a catapult, just the job for the carp I was targeting during the qualifier. The only other bait I’ve got with me is a small amount of meat and some 4 and 6mm Bait-Tech Xpand pellets for hook bait.
Ping like a pro!
Grab the catty and pellets in one hand.
Pass the pellets into the pouch.
Push the frame away from you and release.
The rigs I set up for fishing across reflected the approach, simple and positive. The rig for fishing on the bottom on both lines was a 4x12 MAP IS3 float on 0.18mm to 0.13mm MAP Power Optex and a size 18 B911, the shotting pattern was a simple bulk which would help the rig hold steady when there are a number of fish in the peg, and with the shot all being bunched together rather than spread out hopefully avoid any foul hooked fish. I set up a duplicate rig to this set up also, but with a hair rigged band set up to give me the option of fishing hard pellets should small fish be an issue when fishing at a full 16m, with the fishing being a bit of a race on Lake 4 anything you can do to gain more fishing time is vital! The final rig is a shallow rig set a foot deep to comply with fishery rules, and incorporates a 4x10 MAP SF2 this time on 0.16 to 0.13mm Power Optex and a hair rigged band, this rig is what I was hoping to catch on during the qualifier but with the weather being on the cold side still it was the deck rig that proved to be the way forward on that particular day.
I kicked off my revisit to this peg by kicking off with the same approach as I did a week earlier, simply selecting the deck rig and filling the medium Flexi Pot with 4mm pellets baiting up with a 4mm Expander. Shipping across it’s a simple case of dropping the hook bait in and holding the float out so it all swings into the island margin on a straight line before tapping in the feed, almost instantly I had my first bite and a typical Lake 4 mirror of around 1lb was on his way to the net. Action was brisk but soon it was apparent that there were a lot of fish in the peg and a change to the shallow rig really sped up the catch rate, pinging 4mm pellets and fishing a banded 6mm tight to the grass with most bites pulling the elastic out as the fish bolt in the shallow water. All the while I was fishing shallow I kept the line to the point of the island fed which would give me a new area to explore should a lull in bites occur at any point which is vitally important. Bites did slow at one stage but it was more of a case of the fish wising up a little and by changing the hook bait to a 6mm cube of hair rigged meat I managed to fool several more. With the swim receiving a bit of a hammering it was time to give the point of the island a try to rest it, and it was back to the deck rig this time with a banded pellet as I knew catching fish wasn’t going to be too much of an issue and I’d be able to give myself more fishing time as a result. Similarly to the Qualifier, this line proved to be a real lifesaver providing me bites until the end of the five hour session with a slightly better stamp of mirror carp with the odd 3lb fish thrown in to help bump my weight up!
Catching consistently is key on this type of lake and by putting the effort in and going the full 16m distance to fish these island pegs the rewards are definitely there to be had, throughout the five hours I managed to catch around 100 fish for a weight in the region of 170lb. By thinking about the way you feed to an island in both the quantity and size of the pellet you’re using is definitely something that is worth giving a lot of thought to, it may just win you a few quid and will certainly open up plenty more options than the standard attack!