Maximise Your Winter Skimmer Time

Maurice Prijs has been enjoying some excellent sport on Holland’s vast shipping canals this winter. Here’s his expert advice for targeting coldwater skimmers on the feeder.


Catching skimmers on deep shipping canals in Holland can lead to a very enjoyable day’s winter fishing. The Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal can offer plenty of bites on even the coldest days of the year, as the heavy boat traffic and deep water encourages the fish to keep swimming and feeding. Let me take you through a feeder session on this big canal!

winter-skimmers-holland-4The Amsterdam-Rijnkanaal is a main route for the big ships that go to Amsterdam and back. It is a 100m wide canal with about 3.5m of water down by your feet and over 7m in the middle, so you can call this a challenging venue! In general there are three main swims to target: the slope at about 25-35m, the slope at about 65-75m and the opposite side of the canal, where you need to cast a good 95m!

winter-skimmers-holland-5On a day like this I solely choose to fish the slope at 25-35m. The main reason for this choice is that I would like to determine how I fish and feed my peg instead of frequently winding my feeder in when a big ship passes. Fishing at longer distances means that whenever a ship arrives I have to reel in, wait and cast out again. I therefore cannot leave my feeder in the swim as long as I would like to.

By fishing at the shorter distance I can build my swim in a way that suits the day. I can, for example, feed every five, 10 or 15 minutes depending on bite times. I also save valuable time because the feeder will be in the water for a longer period. This is important for skimmers, which are my main target species.

The 11ft Acolyte Plus Feeder comes to its own with this way of fishing. The rod is powerful enough to cast a 40g Heavyweight Cage Feeder to the required distance with ease, yet it is soft enough to carefully play the fish from the deep water. Finding the slope is also very important. I find that by casting out with an empty feeder to about 40m and then slowly pulling the feeder back gives you a proper feeling of the bottom and allows you to locate the bottom of the slope.

winter-skimmers-holland-2At the business end there is a 1m Double Strength 0.148mm hooklength with a Kamasan Animal size 16 eyed hook. This is finished off with a Pushstop to allow me to hair rig worms. By presenting worms this way the hook point is totally exposed and maximises your chances of hooking a fish. The skimmers feed very positively and do not have a problem eating two worms.

Starting off by introducing five feeders filled with chopped worms and casters gives an area for the fish to home in on. Big ships are passing by every few minutes, so it is important to cast regularly to keep introducing more feed into the catching zone.

You may often have to wait a short while for the first fish to arrive and after half an hour I have my first indication on the tip. As expected, a positive bite soon followed due to the hair-rig setup. The first skimmer is on and my Acolyte Plus Feeder rod easily guides the fish to the landing net. The fish is perfectly hooked due to the hair-rigged worms. You rarely catch just one single skimmer and next cast and a few minutes later I hook a second one.

winter-skimmers-holland-1The feeder’s weight and flat bottom helps it to stay on the slope, even when big ships come along. But when the next ship passes by, my 2oz feedertip bends to the water and shows signs of a hooked fish. The movement must have enticed a fish to take the bait.

Over the next hour I am key busy and catch another five skimmers. My last cast results in a positive pull round of the tip. On a winters day with temperatures around 3ºC and a cold northern wind I still manage a really enjoyable session, thanks to maximising my winter skimmer time!