Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asked a occasionally about my approach to Alton. Most questions relate to tackling a venue this size and setting up for the bream.
When you visit a venue the size of Alton for the first time, it can be daunting. At 340 acres, it can feel and look more like an inland sea. Realistically, this is purely because we are used to fishing lakes smaller than most of the bays, some of which are over 10 acres themselves. The trick is finding an area you are comfortable with and then fishing just what’s in front of you. Before I go any further, I have found the bream – as you would expect – shoal up in open water. So avoid the bays as tempting as they look. The entrances to the bigger bays are the only exception to this.
Depth is an important aspect to consider, something that varies massively from one end of the reservoir to the other. Rather than me go through each area, the key seems to be distance and depth. For example, if you are near the dam, the middle is in access of fifty feet. Here you are looking for 20 to 26 feet, which seems to be ideal. This tends to be around 8 to 16 rod lengths out, which makes baiting up comfortable and results in a relatively easy cast. It is worth noting that in these depths, the bream are far more likely to feed throughout the day. With the resident zebra mussels, this water makes tap water look dirty. (I will come onto bait and baiting shortly) This seems to be the rule of thumb right down to Lemons Hill Bridge. Then things change massively and those of you, who may feel understandably intimidated by a venue this size, might find this end more to your liking.
Once you are North of Lemons, the average depth is between 11 and 15 feet. The distance you choose to fish here has a bigger impact. For sure, you may snare a few fish as close as 4-6 rods out, but if you are serious about nailing bigger fish, then you are looking at a minimum of 14 rods. Over the years, I have found this to be a good starting point on most venues when you are targeting fish over the 10lb mark. 2-4lb fish will come in on mass, but the big gals are considerably more fickle, and I might add, swim in smaller shoals, with the odd carp invariably tagging along. 😉
Locating fish is no different here than on any other venue. It really is up to you to put the work in. For sure, there are noted areas, which always produce fish. If you want to rock up for a day session, I would suggest the dam wall end is a good starting point.
However, if you are serious about your big bream, then you need to locate the bigger shoals. Pick an area where you can see a lot of water and aim to be there at last light. Just sit and watch, because they will show themselves. Then you have a choice. You can play the number’s game, where you wade through the 6-8lb fish and hope to snare a double. Alternatively, something I’ve employed on other waters and is currently working for me, is fishing 30-40 yards away from the main shoal. Then you are trying to draw the bigger fish to you. It seems that the larger fish are prepared to move. I don’t have a solid theory on this, other than the bigger fish feel less of a need to hang around with the masses.
It is worth noting here, that the moving fish method takes time. Currently, I aim to be baiting around 4pm, realistically expecting my first fish between 22:30 and 23:30. A bit precise but I take note of things like this, and it works for me. I am currently fishing an area 50 yards away from the main shoal, and it is working as my average has gone from 7-8lb to 9-11lb with two of five a double.
I’ve touched on it before, but here is what I have noted. If you are fishing in more than 20 foot of water, you can expect to catch fish during daylight. If you are fishing in less than 20 foot, then the fish are seemingly nocturnal. For sure, there are fish that will respond differently and this should be only a rough guide.
So, what am I putting out to move these fish? Please remember that this is for a 48 session. My mix is 1 kilo of brown crumb, 1/2 kilo of white crumb, 1 kilo of fishmeal powder, 1 kilo of liquidized sweet corn, 1 kilo of whole sweet corn, 1 kilo of mixed 2-3mm pellet and 1/2 a kilo of crumbed boilies. I also add a handful or dry molasses to help bind it all together. This will go out in 3 to 4 batches, depending on how the fish respond. The first batch tends to be around 30 balls. I always have more if needed. There is no science here, you have to judge it the same way you would in any other situation. It is also worth noting that I use a good-sized feeder, so it is also being topped up via this.
Important note here, you need to put your bait out as balls. Make up balls the size that you can comfortably catapult the distance you are fishing. It is worth noting that smaller the ball will go further. It will be a bit of trial and error until you get it right, but it is worth the effort. I use a Drennan groundbait catapult and this will fire a 50mm ball 16-20 rods, depending on the wind. Now, the reason I put it out like this rather than use a spod or spom is because of the tow. On a venue this size, and in deep water, the tow can be almost river like and your loose feed will end up a long way from your chosen area.
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I do hope this helps or inspires you some small way. Go-Catch SteveD