Cheesey what?

More than 45 years ago I learned the secret art of  cheese fishing – not for chub in a river but for roach and tench in a park lake! Brynmill Park, Swansea was the venue, home of small roach and cheese fish of wondrous proportions in the eyes of a teenager more used to catching 1oz fish!

PCD-04863Alas Brynmill Park no longer allows fishing but the skills learned from the gurus of the day – Alan Godrich and Paul Huxtable- live on. Poles were not available then, you could get fibre glass telescopic whips up to 6m, elastics unheard of, everything was rod and line.

Alan developed a method of catching the better roach using cheese  just over his rod top in about 3 foot of water. A pointed stick float was dotted with strung out shot to an 18 or 20 hook and a piece of cheese was moulded around the hook so that it was soft and just covered the hook. Small pieces were moulded and rolled as loose feed, only half a dozen at a time, one after the other they were tossed around the pimpled stick, the process repeated every five minutes or so. Bites when they came were dictated by the size of fish! The bigger fish rarely submerged the float, usually a minute lift or dip were all you would get, occasionally just a ripple emanating from the tip of the float, the medium to small fish would just submerge the float. Bait was interesting, Cheddar was the favorite closely followed by Red Leicester for the roach, but Caerphilly picked out the odd tench although it was a sod to keep on the hook!

Today’s weaponry makes it far easier to fish cheese at a greater distance and when combined with a micro pellet loose feed can prove deadly- especially for bream! Most commercial waters these days are fed with pellet, either by the anglers or the owners as a supplement to the anglers bait. Fish become accustomed to pellet but can also become wary, particularly the silvers who often have to wait for any left overs from the carp. Cheese can score as so few people think of using cheese it becomes a new flavour/food for the pellet fed fish and will pick out the older and wiser (usually bigger) specimens in the swim.

So how do I fish cheese today? Depending on the venue, the depth of water will dictate how far out you need to fish. You are looking for a flat bottom with at least 3 feet of water, at Blacklands I am fishing at 8m in 6-7 feet (as the depth is constant) but I would not try cheese any deeper than this unless there was a large head of big roach present. The basic rules still apply, float pimpled, strung out shot if in a shallower swim, my rig at Blacklands has a bulk 2 feet away from the hook and 2 no 10 droppers to a 6 inch hook length of 0.10mm Shogun, with a 20 0r 18 barbless B911. Elastics are very much dependent, as always,  upon the size of fish likely to be encountered. At Blacklands I tend to opt for a no 6 latex, but have an 6-8 hollow rig set up as well if the bigger skimmers or roach move in, although generally I tend to stay on the no 6.

I use two types of float for my cheese fishing, both homemade; the first is a 0.5g version of the “Roach” with a 1.5mm tip for those times when you want a delicate approach and may want to string the shot out later in the day,


the second is a long glass stemmed diamond body variant taking 1g with a 2mm tip. I use this second float when I am confident that there are skimmers around and want to get the cheese down fast. Pimpling the 2mm tip gives a good visual marker even in wind affected water while the long stem gets down past any surface tow.


I prime the swim with a handful of micro pellet and half a dozen “pellets” of cheese cupped in, this is left for at least an hour and is topped up with a similar amount every 30 minutes.


When I go over the swim I am expecting a bite within 5 minutes but this time the bites can be sail-aways if coming from bream or skimmers but the big roach give the same type of bite as all those years ago!



March moodiness.

March kicked off with a visit to Bowood, peg 12 and the least said about it the better! No bites no runs , a blank! Two days later I went to Blacklands and fished the bench peg. Usual set up with a worm line and a pellet line 2 metres apart at 8-9m in 7 feet of water. A pleasant change from my trip to Bowood I ended up with 46 skimmers, 28 roach, 12 perch, 1 gudgeon and 1 tench for 25-4, alternating between the lines.

No match at the weekend but Monday saw me back at Bowood, peg 10 (peg 12 was taken) but I managed to get some bits plus a skimmer and a hybrid along with two jacks of 3 and 4lb for 9-8.

Friday saw me at Blacklands peg 6, up from where the tree had been felled. I fished this differently as I wanted to use the day to practice fishing 14m as I had a match at Barston coming up that might require me to fish at distance. With this in mind I set up my usual worm line at 8m and cupped in two big pots of micros at 14m and left them for an hour while I fished the 8m line. Going over the micros I began to catch small skimmers on expanders and ended up with 32 skimmers, 9 roach, 2 tench, 2 gudgeon and a solitary perch for 22-2.  A few muscles I had forgotten about reminded themselves to me over the next day!

Sunday saw an early start for an MFS match at Barston, near Solihull. Barston is one of my favourite venues set alongside a golf course the main lake is home to magnificent carp and bream along with other coarse fish.

This match however was a silvers match so it was the bream that were the real quarry. I drew peg 18 which was on the right hand side of the lake with a relatively short walk. I decided not to set up a feeder but to concentrate on the pole and waggler. I set up three pole rigs, the first a 1.5g heavy rig in case the water started to tow if the wind got up, the second a homemade 0.6g rig for fishing on the bottom and lastly a homemade 0.4g rig with the shotting strung out for fishing on the drop. My waggler was a homemade peacock insert taking 3AAA with just 3x no 8 as droppers to a 20 hook, all hooklengths were 0.08mm Shogun. I was joined on peg 16 by Nigel, the owner of the lake and on my right on peg 19 by Bagga69. On the whistle I fed two lines at 14m, the left hand one with 6 cups of groundbait (a mix of Sonubaits F1 and Breamcrush) laced liberally with dead pinkies, some dead maggots and casters, the right hand line had 3 balls of groundbait plus two pots of micros. I began on the waggler, firing casters out to 20m picking up some small roach in the first hour before trying the pole lines which were dead! Back out on the waggler and a couple of skimmers plus some more roach came to the net before back over the pole lines for two small fish then nothing. This continued all match with only those two fish coming from the pole line, the rest all taken on the waggler. At the end I weighed in 11-2, Nigel 5-8 and Bagga 8-8 but the other three in our section fared better with peg 13 weighing in 22-10, peg 15 11-10 and peg 22 40-4 (yes forty pound)! That is how it goes sometimes!

It wasn’t until the following Friday when I could get out next and with Bowood now closed it was Blacklands peg 11, to the right of the jetty, that saw me set up  Usual set up but I set up a heavier elastic as one of my rigs was going to be placed towards the jetty. Indeed I decided to make my worm line by the jetty and my pellet line directly in front of me at 9m. The worm line tend s to last for about two hours then dies and I switch to the pellet line. Today I was going to re-feed the worm line with cheese once it had died! I was hoping for some of the big perch to put in an appearance but I only had 3 small perch, the worm line produced a carp of 4-0, another that was lost under the jetty, some skimmers and two small tench, switching to the pellet line saw more skimmers another tench of 2lb and two proper bream of 3lb and 4lb. The switch back to the cheese saw a run of skimmers. In total I ended up with the two bream, the carp, three tench, 3 perch, 15 roach and 49 skimmers for 35lb.

Sunday saw another MFS match, this time on the Grand Union Canal at Marsworth. Initially I drew peg 1 only to get to the canal to find that a redraw was necessary due to some people  writing down the wrong pegs on the board and it affected everyone! The next draw saw me draw peg 9 which I was told was slap bang in the middle of the area where there were 4 blanks in the same match last year!. I set up 3 rigs- one for the near side and far side, a worm rig on no 8 elastic as there were better bream, chub and carp in the stretch plus a rig for down the track.

I started the match on the punch and had 6 roach one after the other before I missed a bite and that was that- nothing. In the meantime while I had been cupping in my feed the guy on my right had cast out a method feeder, put his rod down and immediately picked it up again with what was his only bite in the match from a bream of 2-8, he had nothing else on feeder or pole!. I switched to my worm line after feedng some choppie and first put in had a small perch, then nothing! In desperation I went across and first put in had a gudgeon, second put in had a small roach that came off on the way back and that was it- my match, in terms of catching,  was over! Four  hours of no bites later, for any of us the middle saw these results-

Peg 6 DNW, Peg 7 0-8, Peg 8 0-12, Peg 9(me) 0-11, peg 10 2-8 (that 1 bream), peg 11 1-6 (two fish a roach and skimmer)

Peg 4 won the match with worm across, first put in carp (5lb), second put in chub(4lb), third put in lost carp, no more bites for rest of match. Peg 1 which I had drawn initially was second with 5lb of gudgeon!

Wednesday saw me back at Blacklands to remind me what a bite looked like! I decided to fish at the back of the island, a peg I do not usually put in matches as there is only a limited amount of water to aim at compared to the rest of the pegs.  It didn’t affect the fish with 21-3 comprising of 29 skimmers including one of 2-12, 7 roach including one exactly 1lb, 3 tench to 2-0 and one gudgeon. Surprisingly no perch made an appearance!

Sunday saw me back at Blacklands, running a silvers match. Last peg left in the hat put me on peg 3, the other side of the bush from the bench peg. The Pewsey Trawler, aka Brian Shutler, was on peg 2 to my right and Chaz Short on my left on peg 4. I began in usual manner and started well with 10lb in the net in the first hour, but things then slowed down and I ended with a crick in my neck watching the trawler live up to the name and win the match with 38-9, Marc Kay on 12 was second with 34-6 and Fred Parker third with 28-14 from peg 10. I ended up with 22-9 including a 3lb bream and 4 roach over the pound. Chaz weighed in 12-5, Jamie on peg 5 15-2, Steve on peg 6 5-9, Peg 7 Mick weighed 23-4 with next peg Chris Rushton 22-12 and Jamie’s brother Kelvin weighed in 10-1 off peg 11. Some great silvers fishing but that will be it now until October for Blacklands as the warm weather will fill the campsite and the lakes will be full of holidaymakers after the carp.

That was it for March as a family visit to Yorkshire saw out the rest of the month. April sees Boddington and the start of the North Wessex Summer League.