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!



New Year at Bowood

Due to the festivities and family commitments I did not get the chance to get out at all until Monday 5th. I decided to head for the same swim on the premise that it was the only peg that any bait had been going in (I can’t believe that I get the whole place to myself! ). Following on from the last visit  I decided to cup in 6 balls of Red Supercup and Special mixed 50-50 and topped that up with a pot of micros – planning to return the next day also to see if it had drawn in any bream. The water colour was a bit murky but beginning to clear, although the wind was driving the rain into me. Tackle was exactly the same as previous visit which was a 0.75g Paster and 0.10Shogun hook length to an 18.

Small skimmers (blades really) began to respond to maggot and I was glad when the rain eased off after an hour or so, as I do not take a brolly, trusting my Cabelas Goretex waterproofs to keep me dry! Small fish continued in periods before finally on pellet a length of white hydro exiting the pole tip indicated the bream had arrived. The net was slipped under a welcome bream of 3-7 and 20 minutes later another sample at 3-0 was in the net. Another wait produced a final bream of 4-5 before I decided to throw the remainder of my groudbait in and  high-tail it back home as I could see the weather beginning to deteriorate.

Next day saw me back at the same peg with high hopes. The water had got even murkier but at least the rain was holding off.  Anyway the best laid plans succumbed to Murphy’s Law and after an initial roach and skimmer of around 12oz it went quiet- bream time I thought! The float buried with expander on the hook, yards of white hydro came out of the tip and after 10secs returned as the hook pulled. I was suspicious as it did not feel like a bream. The next hour saw very little action apart from the odd roach when I put a maggot on. At this point it went quiet again and once more the float buried and elastic came out with a solid weight on the end that then decided to move out in the lake, 10 minutes later my suspicions were confirmed as a pike close to 15lb came to the top before making another run out, another 3-4 minutes saw me try and net the fish in my woefully inadequate net- the head would go in  but the rest wouldn’t or vice versa- you get the picture! Anyway. it made one more dash and the hook pulled!

Hoping it would have sulked out of the swim, I topped up and began on the maggot to see if anything was left in the swim, once again it was very slow and after about another hour and 3 small roach , a strange thing happened- another angler arrived! This chap had come down to do a couple of hours spinning for the pike in the next field. More small roach followed , not in any numbers and I was having to work hard for them.

The piker returned after about an hour and a half and reported no takes and began working the swims further down on the way back to the cars. Half an our later and back on the pellet, pike number 3 was hooked, this was a lot livelier and at one point I had all the sections of the pole on, after about 5 minutes I had it close enough in to confirm that it was indeed a pike and it was not going to fit in the net although it was smaller than then last one. A quick shout and waving my net got the desired response and my friendly piker netted the fish after another 5 minutes. Fortunately the hook fell out in the net and on weighing Mr Esox became my first double from Bowood at 10-13.

I fished on for another half hour but then gave up with no bream in sight.

Wednesday and Thursday were ruled out for a variety of reasons, but I was back on Friday with a larger net in tow! I began to get worried as there were quite a few cars there when I arrived but soon realised that they were there for a pheasant shoot.  Finally got to the peg to find the water was chocolate in colour with no visibility down into the water. Same tackle but this time I cupped in 4 balls of my groundbait (same mix) and a quarter of a large pot of micros. One hour later – no bites, nothing on maggot, nothing on pellet. Now I reckoned that there must be larger  fish there if the roach were not showing, the question being were they bream or pike!

On went half a worm to see if that could entice a bite and after 15minutes the float buried and I missed it!!! I then decided to put in some chopped worm, so 20 worms were quickly mushed up and the same mass of micros added and mixed in, this was potted in and I crossed my fingers. Half hour later the float lifted and then slid under, this time the strike was met by a solid resistance and the thump of a bream, soon a bream of 4-6 was in the net, followed fifteen minutes later by a smaller sample of 3-3. The wind was very strong but fortunately was blowing mainly into my face, I began to notice that the shooters were now moving from their initial positions and into the first and second fields. Soon the salvo of shotgun blasts began again, interspersed with dog whistles. At one point the wind must have been strong as I got showered by spent shot!

The bream, however did not seem to mind and were continuing to feed on the worm, as I added ones of 4-1, 3-10, 4-14, 4-4, 3-1 and a roach to my net at regular intervals, much to the interest of a beater who stopped to watch. Then I pulled out of 5 one after the other with no discernible reason- a quick top up and a change to pellet saw 3 further bream of 3-14, 3-5 and 4-7 before the skies darkened and I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and returned home in far better spirits!


So a nice 39-2 net to ponder on (39-1 bream plus that lone 1oz roach!)