Apart from being great to watch a float again, this really did get me thinking. Okay, here we were on a heavily stocked fishery where the fish are used to coming up in the water, but already (Mid-March) the fish were quite happy to feed well off bottom. Normally I think of mid-water fishing as being a summer pursuit, but certainly on the commercial fisheries this can be a method that catches for you in all but the bleakest of conditions. I think I will paying them a few more visits over the summer, as nothing comes close to catching a rake of fish up in the water in my book.

Sitting there fishing the waggler really took me back to my teenage years. Back then I would sneak out of the house first thing in the morning and bag up with nice chub and roach caught tight to far bank features on a backwater of the middle Thames. The fishing was all action, a few hours of great sport before the rest of the world had got into gear. Actually I had forgotten how engrossing this style of fishing could be. So right there and then I resolved to become a fisherman again.

My methods have changed little over the intervening years, and why should they? The important thing is to work at it, not fancy floats or shotting patterns. Line is still 3-4lb Maxima, floating when fishing moving water, sinking on stillwaters (use a little silicon line float to get the line on the top). Floats are still normally straight wagglers taking between 4BB and 5AA, chosen to match the distance fished and wind strength. Although more often than not they are now ready fitted with loading in the base. I could quite easily still use my old waggler rod, but my new 15-foot MAP hollow tip does improve line pick-up over those old shorter rods and really is a joy to play a good fish on.

Shotting patterns are much the same too. The bulk around the float with a string of no. 8s down the line. The deeper the water the more small shot you will need, aim to have one shot for every foot of depth. You will be moving these small shot around so donít pinch them on too hard. It is rare for me to make more than half a dozen casts without changing the shotting. The first shot is ten inches from the hook, this one will stay put, but the others will be moved to vary the rate of fall of the bait through the water. More of which later.

I donít use casters as much these days as I probably should. Back in the old days it was always the number one choice. Now maggots have all but replaced them. Certainly the carp love maggots, but I still have a feeling that on a clear river the casters would be more effective. Whichever you choose, four pints is about right for a half-day session. The first thing to do on arriving is to get a stream of bait going into the swim. Often the fish will be spread out, you want to get them a bit tighter bunched and actively looking for more food to rain down. Whilst setting up your rod, keep that feed going in. Not too heavy, just a dozen baits every minute or two.

Set up and ready to go? Right, start off with just the one small shot down the line. A slow sinking bait will pick up any fish that are already on the look out for food. Often you will pick up one or two good fish like this before they get spooked. Beware small roach and bleak though, if you start catching small stuff stop immediately as all you will do is disturb the swim.

Two good fish in the net within minutes, the morning is off to a good start - now itís time for a minor change. Keep the feed going in steadily, but move the remaining small shot down to half depth. You are now aiming to catch fish deeper in the water and will probably have to search the swim more. Often in rivers bites will come at different points in the swim, not just tight over where you are Ďpulting bait. Keep that feed going in accurately though, you want to concentrate the fish, not spread them out.

Two hours in and you have six fish in the net, but more importantly you are getting line bites. Every so often the float drags to one side, or pops up, not your average kind of bite. Right, move those shot up again to slow the bait's decent. You might even want to put on a floating caster or two to counteract the weight of the hook. A fish straight away followed by another and another. The fish are now in the swim in numbers and competing for the bait. Keep feeding steadily and they are yours.

When the maggots have run out you will be surprised that only four hours have passed. Yet they will be four hours of complete immersion, when all other thoughts are put to one side. Feed, cast, check the line, feed, re-bait, feed, cast, strike! Thatís all there is too it.

Yes, I had almost forgotten how much fun it could be.