What differs about your approach to "natural" still waters vs commercials?

MartinWY

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When I first stated fishing, I don't think commercials existed, certainly not like they do now. Most of the fishing was either estate lakes or gravel pits created from mine closures, especially up north. I spent a good part of my youth fishing Nostell Priory middle lake, sadly now closed to anglers.

Even though I've fished for decades on and off, I still consider myself a beginner so I'm curious to know what an anglers primary differences in initial approach might be when talking about natural vs heavily stocked commercial venues.

Let me caveat this by saying I realise that true natural still waters are quite rare in this country, so for the natural category, lets include mature gravel pits over 50 years old, estate lakes and reservoirs of the same age or older. You get the idea.

Personally, on a new natural venue I'll start on a waggler with maggot, corn or worm, laying on a few inches, then I'll start moving up in the water. I'll also fish to a feature and probably have terminal tackle thats slightly heavier than I'd use on a commercial. On a commercial I'd almost always start on pellet.

Very curious to know what all you more experienced folk think.
 

Zerkalo

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I'm not that experienced but I put a lot more thought and groundwork into my natural water fishing.

This isn't to say commercial fishing has to be simple, as depending on the anglers approach it seems they can be even more complicated than natural waters.

On natural waters I enjoy trying different things and varying my approach to build up my skill set. Half of the battle for me on naturals is hitting them when conditions are right and/or putting in the groundwork in locating the fish. Though the same could be applied to commercials.

As half of my natural water fishing is on rivers I enjoy varying my approach and trying different things. On the little weir I fish, for example, although I only generally fish a maggot feeder, there are only two pegs and as it's a favourite spot right by my house, it lends itself to being a good place to experiment, even if some of those experiments like PVA bags and paste fishing hasn't really took off.

The other half of my natural water fishing is feeder fishing for Bream or Tench but I plan to experiment on the big deep Bream waters by fishing the slider, again just for fun and to build up my skills.

On commercials I'm a bit strange as I like to pretend I'm fishing a natural water. I fish them mostly in winter and so pretend I'm fishing a natural water by adopting methods usually used on natural waters like a groundbait feeder or waggler. When the water starts to warm up I find the fish either come into the margins or up in the water and so my pretending it's a natural water doesn't really work as well and I might once in a blue moon get one of my poles out. When I do pole fish commercials I do it in a basic way, similar to how I used to fish club matches back in the day but things seem to have moved on quite a bit since then with either bigger average Carp to contend with or more F1s.
 

RedRidingHood

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I'm very far from an expert, but more natural baits is my first approach. Maggot, Worm, Caster, Corn & such. I also tend to lean more towards a base layer of groundbait whereas on commercials I'd be more inclined to opt towards micro's as feed unless I've been told otherwise. Though none of this is rule of thumb, and all places fish differently. I'll always try get tipped off from local anglers, Or better yet local tackle shops who speak to good Anglers everyday of their lives. Sometimes, more often than not I'll find myself surprised. I know, And get told stories of people fishing quite successfully on natural stocked venues, And even in the Fens on Wafters, Boilies, Pellet and such. I mean hell, Wafter is one of the most successful baits on my local club fishery and none of those fish are farm stocked.

Depending on the size of the place you're fishing, It's always better to play safe and feed a lot less than you would on a commercial also. I find that natural waters can be a lot more sensitive in some cases, overfeeding can really turn into a mess whereas you can be a little more lenient on a lot of well stocked commercials due to the sheer amount of fish. Though the phrase that you can put it in, But you can't take it back out applies most certainly to both commercials and natural venues.

While I'm also confident that fish will always react to sound, It's no lie that fish more on the wild side aren't going to react as well to tactics such as pole slapping, pinging tactics such as pellet waggler and shallow pole. Natural venues generally aren't as well stocked, so their isn't so much competition for bait. Not only that but farm fed fish are raised on pellet which is generally thrown into the water in bulk. It's just a dinner bell for them, Anglers on commercials simply mimic what they've been brought up on.
 

Sam Vimes

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It's impossible to be definitive as venues vary so much whether they are "natural" or not. However, my answer would revolve around bait types and quantities. I doubt that I've ever used as much bait as I might on a commercial (quantity restrictions notwithstanding). The exception would be the odd river session, mostly in days past, when you might have a fair idea that a gallon of bait may be required.

The more natural the venue, the more natural the bait selection is likely to be. I find that some of the less natural baits need to be used for quite some time before they become accepted when the fish haven't seen them before.
 

Silver fan 82

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The main difference for me is the bait I use. On natural waters I'll use natural baits, maggots, worm etc and use less pellet and boilies.
Also probably use more of a groundbait approach on naturals.
Watercraft probably pays more of a part in natural venues, not that it doesn't on commercials but I think your watercraft skills need to be more up to scratch in most natural venue situations.
 

badgerale

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Commercials probably want to use the bait that most other anglers are using - if it is a carp fest (and they almost all are) then it's likely to be bollies and pellets that the fish most identify as food so you'll probably be at a disadvantage for not using them.

Natural venues may (possibly) be less fished and the fish less hardwired onto one food source, so can respond to a range of baits - maggots and worms are great if you don't mind catching small fish but anything goes in my opinion.
 

Zerkalo

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I don't really fish any 'proper' natural venues in the sense that most of them are stocked, managed, and see a lot of anglers and hence pellets, especially the Bream places, even the Severn (have just noticed this thread refers specifically to still waters though). So it makes not much difference bait wise to me as I happily fish maggot on commercials to catch a variety. Would not be using pellets on the small weir I fish or on some of the unstocked and underfished park lakes I used to fish though.
 

Silverfisher

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On commercials I'm a bit strange as I like to pretend I'm fishing a natural water.
I do pretty much the same thing really. Most the modern fashionable commercial methods hold no appeal to me as they don't really have much place on the natural venues I prefer to fish so I'd much rather stick to traditional waggler tactics like I often use on naturals with the odd bit of pellet waggler as on probably 90% of commercials I've ever fished that's all you really need to do to get a good bag as they tend to be packed with obliging fish. The exception being canal/snake lakes as I find them like real canals in being moody as hell as can rarely figure them out! By fishing more traditional tactics it feels closer to my normal fishing so is more enjoyable to me whilst I wait for the rivers to open as the closed season is the only time I'll really fish commercials these days.

To expand that to the OP question I basically have a pretty relaxed approach to commercials with minimal gear and not that many bait options. It's basically a light float rod and heavier float rod maggots, pellets and bread sometimes groundbait if I think it might be a bit trickier than usual. Basically just start in wag and mag and hope I can catch decent silvers and if I do I stick with it. If I get plagued with bits then I'll switch to a pellet wag or meat to predominantly target the carp. I don't worry about fishing too hard or too right if that makes sense as there's almost always another fish to catch or shoal to come through if I mess the swim up a bit so with a half decent plan I can almost always have a decent bag. I'm never going to do the 50lb silvers nets and 150lb carp nets of the good commercial anglers but I don't need to as my comparators are like 5-25lb naturals nets so anything much over 30lb plus seems like crazed bagging to me 😅

For naturals by comparison (which in my case is almost all rivers but includes the odd sort of "naturalised" Stillwater) I do a lot more research on conditions, form, methods, lay of the land etc and make sure I have enough gear to fish waggler, stick, feeder and bomb in multiple ways for multiple species. I take a lot more bait quantity and options wise as well with always maggot, hemp, pellets and groundbait and often bread, corn, caster and worm. Won't often use all that gear and all those baits but I like to have the options as you never know how a natural will fish in my experience. I'll then work a bit harder to fish it properly as well. I still don't fish at maximum effort as that would take the relaxing nature out of it for me but I do make sure I concentrate on getting the gear, feeding, accuracy and presentation at least in the right ball park.

That's purely pleasure fishing of course. I'd be utterly hopeless at commercial match fishing, well probably any Stillwater match fishing really and whilst on rivers I could maybe do ok at times the amount of extra effort I'd have to put in to do that makes be shudder to think about 😅
 

Zerkalo

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I do pretty much the same thing really. Most the modern fashionable commercial methods hold no appeal to me as they don't really have much place on the natural venues I prefer to fish so I'd much rather stick to traditional waggler tactics like I often use on naturals with the odd bit of pellet waggler as on probably 90% of commercials I've ever fished that's all you really need to do to get a good bag as they tend to be packed with obliging fish. The exception being canal/snake lakes as I find them like real canals in being moody as hell as can rarely figure them out! By fishing more traditional tactics it feels closer to my normal fishing so is more enjoyable to me whilst I wait for the rivers to open as the closed season is the only time I'll really fish commercials these days.
Pretty much the same for me. If I won the lottery or something I'd consider buying myself a new pole though and giving it a more thorough try.

I watched a match at Moorlands Farm the other day where the angler came second with 119lb of mugged fish, with only two of his fish being caught on lines he'd fed. Very different to how I remember it back in the day when I'm sure anglers used to pile bait in. o_O
 

Silverfisher

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Pretty much the same for me. If I won the lottery or something I'd consider buying myself a new pole though and giving it a more thorough try.

I watched a match at Moorlands Farm the other day where the angler came second with 119lb of mugged fish, with only two of his fish being caught on lines he'd fed. Very different to how I remember it back in the day when I'm sure anglers used to pile bait in. o_O
Yeah if I could justify the expense I’d get a pole for canals, real and artificial ones. I think you’re talking fairly minor gains in the grand scheme of things from them on other venues pleasure fishing wise but seems they can make the world of difference on canals. Still kind of half tempted to get a cheap one for next years closed season 🤔

The term mugging makes me laugh it’s just sight fishing with a pole as far as I can work out! Very effective though targeting cruising fish can buy you bites when nothing else is working that’s for sure 👍🏻
 

icaughtafishonce

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I've never actually fished a 'commercial' fishery, so can't help much. However if I did, I'd probably just do the same kind of fishing that I like. So float fishing basically. I do have a feeder rod now tho, so I'd be tempted a bit by that as well.

I'm going to go a bit off topic and wimble on about 'natural' waters instead. I'm rather glad that you've at least acknowledged that none of the waters we talk about as being natural are actually natural. I really don't get why people don't just call them club waters, as in most instances, that's what they are. If we're going to lump canals, gravel pits, reservoirs into the same category, then I think that club is much more accurate. In pretty much every instance they're stocked waters as well, so I'm also a bit confused as to why they're wild fish as well. Ok, maybe I'll concede that once all the originally stocked fish have had babies and died, that the fish that are left in the entirely man made lake are, I guess 'wild'.

Tho having said that most reservoirs are really commercial waters. Or at least they're blurring the boundaries a bit, as near me, there's a number of reservoirs, which are run by clubs, who obviously pay money to a water company, who are only letting people fish there cause they're making money, i.e. commercial. Canals are probably 'commercials' as well when you get down to it, as again, you pay CR&T for the pleasure of fishing it and they're doing that to make money.
 

Silverfisher

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I'm going to go a bit off topic and wimble on about 'natural' waters instead. I'm rather glad that you've at least acknowledged that none of the waters we talk about as being natural are actually natural. I really don't get why people don't just call them club waters, as in most instances, that's what they are. If we're going to lump canals, gravel pits, reservoirs into the same category, then I think that club is much more accurate. In pretty much every instance they're stocked waters as well, so I'm also a bit confused as to why they're wild fish as well. Ok, maybe I'll concede that once all the originally stocked fish have had babies and died, that the fish that are left in the entirely man made lake are, I guess 'wild'.
Some interesting points there 👍🏻

Think there’s almost different levels of natural really. Rivers to me are properly natural. Yes they might have been tweaked a bit physically by man and there might have been some stocking but waters flowed down their rough paths from the the beginning and the vast majority of the fish will be native stock with any stocked fish put in to replace lost natural stock rather than to enhance the natural stock. Then there’s actual natural lakes of which there are probably two categories. Those left as totally natural save for the odd re stocking which I’d consider properly natural then those that have had their stock enhanced for sport which are probably not truly natural. Then there’s what I’d call naturalised waters. Eg the lakes and canals dug by man and either stocked by nature and then left or stocked once by man many moons ago and then left to go as nature intends save for maybe re stocking for lost fish.
 

badgerale

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I'm going to go a bit off topic and wimble on about 'natural' waters instead. I'm rather glad that you've at least acknowledged that none of the waters we talk about as being natural are actually natural. I really don't get why people don't just call them club waters, as in most instances, that's what they are. If we're going to lump canals, gravel pits, reservoirs into the same category, then I think that club is much more accurate. In pretty much every instance they're stocked waters as well, so I'm also a bit confused as to why they're wild fish as well. Ok, maybe I'll concede that once all the originally stocked fish have had babies and died, that the fish that are left in the entirely man made lake are, I guess 'wild'.
Yeah, some of my club's waters are farm ponds, one is a reservoir and one is a bit of river that got cut off when the main river changed course in ages past.

None were designed for fishing, and the ex-river is an entirely natural occurrence. Some of the fish in them are natural - i can't imaging anyone stocked the roach, perch, or eels... the pike i'm not sure about... the club though has been actively stocking bream and tench but I imagine there is a chance that at least some of them descend from unstocked fish. The carp are carp - nothing natural about them.

But, for all that, how different are they from commies? They are still carp dominated, and the stocking levels controlled. In the popular waters at least you still get anglers lining the banks chucking in a ton of bollies.

I'd take a man made lake, stocked with native fish and call it more 'natural' than my club waters.
 

CarpCatcher86

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The natural venus I fish have been hard recently. On the commercials I tend to fish, you could catch half a dozen or more before finishing your first cup of coffee. On a few of the natural venus I have fished, you could have drank half a flask before catching half a dozen fish.
 

nico12

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A lot of commercials have deliberate features or shape that determine how you might best catch fish ( and what fish they are). - As an example not many ' snake lake' naturals around ?
If it was a ' like for like' style venue and i didnt know what was in there I'd start on simple natural baits assuming more silvers than carp and go from there.

Its unlikely youll go anywhere and not know whats in there / do any research really? ( even on the day) - So your tactics will probably match that information?

Sometimes I do and simply fancy fishing ' the wag' regardless of whats been catching - just for the enjoyment.

Baits will definately be more natural on a non commercial venue - Fishing shallow pellet on a predominently silvers venue unlikely to perform miracles?

I dont think theres a definitive answer but id ' feel my way in' with natural baits and a flexible method and see where it took me.
 

Neil ofthe nene

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I guess my main difference would be bait. I would ditch pellets and replace these with maggot. And groundbait, if allowed, would be part of my armoury whereas I rarely use it on commercials.

Summer commercials for me is margin time but on a natural water I may not expect that to work for silvers. Tackle would be scaled down.

I fish canals over the Winter only and then of course tackle is almost rediculously light with 0.06 hooklength and 24 or 20 hook depending on bait. Breadpunch comes into its own.
 
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