Following a recent match at Partridge Lakes, England ace Stu Conroy explains the ‘Power Of the Last Hour’!
At this time of the year the last hour or two will often be the most productive. Fish that have been almost dormant in the swim for most of the day become more active due to the fading light. All too often, though, I see anglers pack away just before this crucial fish-catching window. This is often due to anglers having a poor session convincing themselves that there will be little or no improvement.
This is where confidence and experience come into play, with feeding often the key factor. In winter it is usual practice to feed very little. However, at the right time (usually as the sun begins to get lower in the sky) an increase in feed or the regularity of it can trigger a frenzy. For instance, an increase from 10 maggots every five minutes, to 10 maggots every minute can be the perfect catalyst to get fish competing for food, almost irritating a response from them. This is a technique I have used to great effect over many years and has helped me to develop into the attacking angler I am today.
Timing is of paramount importance. Pushing a swim too early may result in ‘over fazing the fish’ and they could even move away. When done correctly, however, the results can be incredible, with fish queuing up from a swim that you thought wasn’t possible minutes earlier. In my experience, maggots and casters are the best baits for this effect, although pellets can be used to great effect on commercials.
Only last week I fished a typical match at Partridge Lakes near Culcheth, Warrington. This venue consists of a number of snake-type lakes that are full of fish. Most have a deep ‘track’ of around 7ft and steep shelves on the near and far side.
I had fed the track with maggots and after trying this line periodically, I hadn’t had a bite. With only a few fish from the far shelf I decided to really step up the feed. There was about an hour remaining when I took the decision to feed a dozen or so maggots every 30 seconds – a stark contrast to the dozen or so maggots I had been feeding every 10 minutes! After 15 minutes of adopting this tactic my peg was transformed. I caught around 15 fish in the final 40 minutes of the match – the last four of which were actually caught shallow as they really began to compete!
My rig was very simple; a 0.4g Drennan AS3 float, 0.12mm Team England Rig Line, a 0.10mm Supplex hooklength and a size 20 Silverfish Match hook baited with a single red maggot. Shotting was a bulk of No9s and three No11 droppers. This coincided with the manner in which the fish were feeding; on the drop or on the settle.
After a hectic finale the scales arrived and my 38lb put me 2nd on my lake behind the awesome Andy Bennett (who knows a thing or two about Partridge). It also helped me record a very satisfying section win, so the next time you are thinking of giving up, remember the power of the last hour!
– Stu Conroy, Cheshire, February 2014