Skimming To Success!

Skimming To Success!

Michael Buchwalder has carved a name for himself as one of the very best feeder anglers in the world in recent years – we caught up with him for a day’s skimmer fishing at Barston to find out more!
Go Soft For Skimmers! Reading Skimming To Success! 12 minutes Next Zero To Hero!
The rise and popularity of feeder fishing and feeder only events are something that has boomed in recent years, and it shows no sign of slowing down! Initially branded as ‘easy’ and a style that was almost a ‘chuck it and chance it’ method soon changed into one of the most technical disciplines in match fishing today!As with all forms of fishing, there are those who take things to the next level, one such angler is MAP and Sensas backed Michael Buchwalder, the Irish international has been forming an incredible list of feeder match fishing achievements over the last few years, both at home and abroad.

We just had to find out what makes him stand out from the crowd by catching up with him on the bank at Barston Lakes for a day’s skimmer fishing.

Play It Safe!

On venues like where we are today at Barston it’s important to get off to a good start in any matches you fish, the average size of the skimmers in here has grown quite a bit over the last year or so. Previously the fish were all hand size skimmers, similar to what you’d be catching on venues like Tamar, but now they’re all over 8oz with most over a pound so the need for speed isn’t as great and I’d consider Barston, a venue where, catching consistently rather than at great speed is much more important.

The distances I like to fish on venues like this is something that I give plenty of thought to, yes you can catch skimmers at very short range here. But sometimes the play-off of trying to do so is that it can take a long time for the fish to arrive close in. For this reason, I always want to ensure consistent fishing and a good start to my matches so I tend to always choose two lines a bit further out from the bank with my shortest line being at 15m and the furthest being 30m.

The better the fishing I expect the shorter I’ll start and similarly, if I feel it’s going to be difficult, I’ll fish longer. Fishing a bit longer also means that the fish should settle quicker with the added plus of giving myself a chance of bonus fish too. It's also vital that you’re careful with bait, I very rarely feed my peg heavily at the start of any match when fishing for skimmers of this size, opting for just three or four feeders of bait at the start to just kick it off with a small amount of minced worms and a few dead maggots included.

Usually, it’s best to build a peg over the course of the match by feeding consistently rather than putting it all in at once. I often find that when you feed the swim like this, my matches are far steadier in terms of bites, but I like to keep plopping that feeder in regularly to keep that activity and constant stream of bait going in.

My longest cast will be no longer than three minutes on a venue like Barston, so I’m always keeping something going in and drawing new fish into the area.

Don’t Rush!

A big mistake I see a lot of anglers making when they’re fishing for decent weights of skimmers is that they’ll hook a fish and just crank it in without taking their time.

My mantra has always been that ‘if I land the fish I’ve got on, someone else has got to catch two to beat me’ and this, has been key for me over the years. I have no problem at all ticking along at a steady pace, especially when the fish are a decent stamp, knowing that consistency wins every time! I spend a lot of time ensuring that my casts are right, everything is as it should be with my set up and that I’m doing everything I can to put the fish I’ve hooked in my keepnet. If you’re fishing a match where carp do count too, and there’s lots of carp and f1s in Barston, should you hook one, just take your time. If the carp is 3-10lb in weight that’s a worth quite a few skimmers so you’ll always be getting ahead by making sure you put any bonus fish in the net regardless of the time it takes to land them.

The Set UpRod wise, I’ve got a 10ft MAP Parabolix Ultra 2 SUV Feeder rod, I always like to use the slightly more powerful rod on venues like where we are today mainly because the little bit of extra back bone will be a big help when encountering a few bonus carp. I’ve got a 3500x Parabolix reel loaded up with 5lb Optimum which is ideal for the range I’m fishing at.The rig is super simple, I’ve got a standard running rig which I’ve always found gives me excellent bite indication from skimmers.

All I’ve got is a feeder link attached to the feeder down to a short section five to six inches long tied onto the mainline of a slightly thicker material which kicks my hook length away to avoid any tangles, with the hook length looped onto this. Hook length wise, I’ve Size 14 B911 F1 spade ready tied 30cm hook length which, with the stiff boom probably means I’m starting on a 40cm hook length.

Lots of anglers always start on a 50cm hook length or even longer, but I always feel that the sooner you can shorten up, the better the indications you’re going to get and a lot less fish are going to get away with mouthing the hook bait without you getting any kind of indication on the tip.The indicator to shorten this down from its 30cm starting point would be if I’m getting chewed baits, missing bites or lot of indications but not that many bites as this would mean the fish are coming directly to the feeder, so in this case I’d have no issues at all in shortening the hook length to just six inches in some cases.

These are the things that are so important to understand as they can have a huge impact on the speed that you get your next bite.

When choosing the right tip, I always want to be using the lightest I can get away with, today we’ve got quite a bit of tow even though there isn’t a huge amount of wind on the lake, Barston is very shallow so any kind of wind usually means it will tow, so I’ve chosen a 1oz tip.In conditions with no tow I’d go even lighter, and would prefer to fish with a slack line where possible to ensure that any steady pull on the tip is a fish on rather than seeing lots of false indications and liners.


Fishmeal groundbaits are a must on commercial venues when you’re targeting skimmers, my current favourite is Sensas Power Pellet Natural, as the name suggests this is packed with pellets and fishmeal content which is what the fish are used to on venues like this.On the live bait front I’ve got a very limited selection! I always take a kilo of worms with me anywhere I go but one thing that may surprise a few anglers is that I very rarely use casters, this is down to the fact I’m not going to fish a caster on the hook so I don’t want the fish looking around in the bait for something I can’t catch them on.

Maggots play a big part in what I fish on the hook so some dead maggots and half a pint of live maggots and a few micros completes my bait tray.

Feeder choices are kept simple, but I like to change this often throughout the day, I start with a five-hole feeder, but when I start to get lots of bites, I drop it down to a two or three hole changing back to the bigger feeder when bites start to tail off and you need to get some more bait into the peg. On shallow venues like Barston I stick to cage feeders exclusively, but on a deeper venue it’d be a consideration of mine to bring window feeders into play too, but on shallow venues the cage always seems best.

Consistency of the groundbait is important to get right too, I always prefer a slightly wetter mix than most anglers, when the mix is wetter, I can do a lot more with it than a drier mix plus, it’s much more inactive and stays within the feeder with less cloud coming off than a dry mix. When you’re fishing a feeder, and it sounds silly, but you’re trying to catch the fish on the bottom, so by using a damp mix you’re able to focus the fish on the bottom rather than all the way through the water column where you can’t catch them.

The Session

I’ve sat on peg 33 today, not an amazing peg by any means but it’s the sort of area where if it was a match catching a number of skimmers on the feeder and maybe an odd bonus carp or f1 would be the way to go about getting a result. I’ve clipped up at 20m today and as we’re pleasure fishing, I’ll only need to fish the one line but if this was a match, I’d definitely have a 15 and a 30m line in play to give myself the best chance.

As I mentioned, I don’t like to fish too close in as I want the fish to settle as soon as possible and I don’t want to be waiting for fish to turn up – I need bites from the off!To kick the swim off I’ve fed four six-hole feeders which contained some finely chopped worms, some dead maggots and an odd micro pellet, I don’t go mad with micros as like I said about casters, I can’t fish them on the hook.

My starting hook bait was a simple double red maggot on a 30cm hook length, from the very first cast I was getting indications which tells me that fish have come to the bait so it was important that I kept my casts short to keep that constant trickle of bait going in to build the peg steadily, just putting a small amount of chopped worm and dead maggots through the feeder each cast. After a few casts a rhythm was established and I was enjoying plenty of bites from skimmers anything from 6oz right up to 3lb, it was superb fishing!

At this stage I think it’s important to mention about just being tidy on the bank, having everything at hand so you can be as efficient as possible even down to spare hook lengths, the last thing I want to do is to be going into my carryall and wasting another couple of minutes looking for tackle items, keep it all at hand and you save yourself so much time! After a great run of skimmers, it wasn’t long before some carp and f1s arrived in the peg, some of them were big too – commons to 10lb and some stunning ghosties which went in a couple of years ago and are really growing well!

These are massively valuable in a match and by taking my time I landed every one of these fish despite having to unclip on several occasions as they tear off in the shallow water. After each visit from the carp, a switch to a bigger feeder to get some more bait in the peg bought the skimmers back and by constantly swapping feeder sizes I had an amazing day’s sport. With over 30lb of skimmers and lots of carp caught in just a few hours fishing we called it a day.

Feeder fishing is all about thinking why things are happening, and places like Barston are perfect for honing your skills as there is always plenty of bites to be had. So, get out there put some practise in with the tactics I’ve shown and I’m sure you’ll enjoy some great results.