Simon daley’s winter trotting masterclass

6 min read


We join the two-time Drennan Cup winner on the banks of his local rivers, where he reveals a few gems of information on catching late-season roach and chub

YOU often hear anglers describe a day’s fishing as ‘hard work’. Usually, it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but in the case of Simon Daley, the term certainly rings true.

Over recent seasons he’s been one of the most in-form specimen anglers in the country and, after a day on the bank with him, it’s easy to see why.

Although he grew up in Leeds, Simon now lives in Hampshire, near some of the best big-fish rivers Britain has to offer.

The iconic Dorset Stour and Hampshire Avon are both within easy reach of his house but, while living near such prime rivers is a blessing, one of the issues he must combat is intense fishing pressure. This is often from some of the best anglers in the country too, so to succeed, he must stay on his toes.

By being highly adaptable in his approach, Simon’s landed fish beyond the wildest dreams of most anglers, and he loves nothing more than catching them on the float.

We recently joined him for a day’s trotting, when he opened our eyes to an intense approach that’ll unlock venues up and down the land over the final weeks of the season.


After meeting Simon at his house at 5am, we jumped in his van and headed to a free stretch of the Dorset Stour at Longham. He’d warned us it would be busy and, sure enough, although we arrived at 6am, there was another angler getting out of his van and rushing to the river.

Stealth is essential on pressured rivers.

“That’s what it’s like down here!” Simon joked. “You’re competing against the anglers, as well as the fish.”

And, as he unloaded his kit, another angler pulled up. By the time we were on the river – well before sunrise – half-a-dozen others were on the stretch, all setting up by torchlight.

“The chub here are some of the craftiest you’ll find, so you have to ring the changes to catch,” Simon explained. “The most popular and effective way to tempt them is by trotting maggots, but everyone knows that. The fish see thousands of them drift by most days and are incredibly shy. They’ll gently nip at the bait and, if you hook one, it’ll usually be right on the edge of the lip.”

As it was still too dark to see a float, Simon began by priming the swim with regular pouches of red maggots.

“I’ll generally feed for around 30 minutes before casting out,” he told us. “I want the fish to be confidently on the bait before I try to catch them.”

A 5lb 12oz chub in prime fettle for Simon.


Fishing a snaggy run