When A Plan Goes Wrong…… By Barry Smith

It’s great when you set out in the morning with a plan to execute, and it all goes swimmingly well.  Nothing better!

I don’t know about you, but for me this is not the norm, but absolutely it’s nice when days like this happen.  A feeling of satisfaction and most importantly great validation that you’re a good angler, you know what you’re doing, it worked!!  I was right!!  Tactics spot on etc. …… and all those other testosterone quotes we tell ourselves when it goes well.


But what about when it goes wrong?  And adding to that you have left at home an essential piece of kit that could have got you out of a bad days fishing ..ARGGGGGGGG!

This blog is all about exactly that scenario ….. and it happened to me on 7th January 2017. So put the kettle on,  sit back, relax, and enjoy my failure 🙂

Plan A was discussed with my team-mate, Stewart Rusling, some other anglers online and John from my local tackle shop who always helps me simplify things.  A simple plan in the end from a complicated start … I like to call this plan “consistent and accurate”.

  1. Set up a 24g ground-bait method feeder with dead red maggots on the hook.
  2. Take my 2.75 Sonik carp rod, and reel loaded with 12lb line with the biggest cage feeder I had.
  3. Set distance sticks at 11ft ….. and fish 8 wraps out (27 metres for young uns)
  4. Use a mix of dark fishmeal and heavy binding ground-bait, with a pint of dead reds and a healthy squirt of Brazem.

The plan was to be consistent and accurate, casting 10 feeders out at the start of the session with my carp rod clipped at 8 wraps, leaving the swim for half an hour and then simply over the top with a method feeder for bream and skimmers, again clipped at 8 wraps.

First cast and it hardly settled and my tip wrapped, and I landed a healthy skimmer …………. I am, a good angler, I know what I am doing, tactics spot on …. I could feel the testosterone running through my veins ……… then not a single touch for over 2 hours. The odd indication, but no skimmers and no bream.  I kept the casts accurate, kept the feed trickling in, changed feeders to a smaller feeder, hybrid feeder, bomb, Olivette, changed hooks, changed baits, hook lengths, did all the usual stuff, but it just wasn’t happening.  I have no clue what I am doing, I am failing, why can’t I buy a bite???  The testosterone had all but disappeared………. I got off my box and went to the car for a coffee and a butty and a think.

Stood at the boot of my car I knew I had to make changes or face a bad days fishing.  Having had a lot of roach out of this water on short pole tactics it was my only real option until I realised I had left my pole in the house …….. DOH!

Then my lightbulb moment that changed my whole session ………….. well if I aint got my pole then why not go old school and fish how we all used to fish before poles came on the scene and tried to take away the finest way of catching fish in the world … with a float and rod!!!!!!

Plan B

  1. Set up an 11ft waggler rod with a small loaded crystal insert waggler, no bigger than 1g, with absolutely no shot on the line, just let the hook sink the maggot.
  2. Soak my dead reds in Beechwood Baits Hemp oil (3 caps to a pint ;)) because I know this works from previous sessions.
  3. Fish the waggler set to hand, so effectively a rod length out, with an ever so delicate clutch setting to give the rod tip a hand.
  4. Throw 8-10 maggots in and underarm cast the float out so the maggot sinks with the loose offerings.

Float set at dead depth off I went, first put in and a bite instantly, small roach.  Searching all around me I kept the bait going in but not in 1 place.  I literally fished at 12 O’clock  and worked the float back to 9 O’clock with each put in, then started again at 12, so I never put the float in the same place constantly.

Scary thought is how may roach could I have had if this was my plan from the outset because the fish came thick and fast so much so that I adopted a tactic to speed up the process:

Once I struck into the fish, because I was using a rod as opposed to a pole, I had the advantage of leverage, so I lifted the fish out of the water with one movement which startled them.  So to recap, what I did was strike, and continue lifting the rod in 1 movement which swung the fish out of the water and right to my hand.  It was great fun, you should try this!

The question this posed for me was “is a rod faster than a pole for short line roach fishing” ……. What do you think?

Maybe we should put this to the test with the Beechwood match team and see if the rod beats the pole.  Watch this space!!

If catching a huge amount of roach is failing, then I love fishing!

I learned so much on this session which started bad but I am sure Plan A will have its day soon.

I went back  to school and it felt great, it was rewarding, and I kept fishing on the edge!  


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