We have quizzed dozens of experienced and dedicated anglers on a number of fishing questions and situations to give you that little edge that might bank a new PB.
In the second instalment of this awesome series we asked anglers how they go about deciding what and how much bait they would introduce on any given session.
On any trip to the lake I have the fortune to fish long week sessions and quick overnighters due to my job but on all occasions I fish for a bite at a time. Whether I am on a low stock pit or high stock runs water it is all the same. If I’m fishing a long session on a runs water I would spray 1kg of boilie over a large area and fish for a bite then a 100 more baits over after each bite.
On a low stock pit it is more down to where I put the bait usually on a patrol route then singles or7 crumbed baits on an area. The amount of fish I have caught on 7 grains of corn in an area with 2 fake on a KD caught 2 fish and moved on, I have lost count but when you can see the fish moving the margin or features you have a clue what you are going for. The majority of my fishing is either stalking with small baits or boilie fishing in a large area.
I like to try and get the fish moving between baits and get a situation going where they are feeding in an area but not feeling like they are in an angling situation.
This is an almost impossible question to provide a definitive answer to, and my decisions about baiting levels come purely through assessing the situation in front of me and making a call based on gut feelings, prevailing angler pressure and current trends and of course the weather and time of year.
For my short sessions and work-nights I will rarely put much in, a few handfuls on a margin spot, or a few handfuls or pouch-full’s on an open water area, but often I will fish just single hook-baits over a previously primed area.
My ‘baiting’ is done a few days in advance, and this might consist of a bucket of hemp, a few kilos of boilie and some nuts or pellet, dependent on the spot and how confident I am of getting back in there; if I know for sure it will be free, I am often inclined to put big hits in – you would be amazed how much bait big fish can get through, especially when there are no lines in the area.
I am often inclined to think that big fish on the pressured big fish circuit waters often take a decent hit to respond to when you’re priming, I tend to go for a ‘shit or bust’ approach, doesn’t always work but at least I have something to build on and when it does work, the rewards can be great. Respecting other peoples fishing, and not ruining areas by over-baiting is key though and something you do have to be very careful of, just ignore popular spots if you try this approach.
Knowing how much bait to introduce is an important aspect of carp fishing, and when on limited time it could be the difference between catching and not. Generally, if the water you are fishing is on a regular basis you build a picture over time of how much bait to introduce, but in a lot of cases like myself we may only get out on very little time so there are a few factors that affect the amount of bait I decide to introduce at the start and throughout a session.
Firstly, the stock of the venue, make sure you are up to date on the current stock and size of fish in the lake, you can always contact the bailiff to find out. Generally, the more fish a lake contains the more bait I will introduce to get the fish competing.
The weather plays an important part; warm conditions get the fish feeding as they become more active and therefore need more food, in this case I wouldn’t hesitate and introduce larger amounts of bait. In colder conditions, the fish are less active and smaller amounts of bait like small bags and single hookbaits will get bites.
Low pressure is a time when I also like to introduce more bait as the fish will be feeding hard.
Finally, if you’re on a session for a few days it’s important to reflect on how the session is going, if you’re not catching or not seeing signs of fish such as shows or bubblers don’t introduce more bait because the likelihood is bait from previous days will be untouched. If you’re catching lots of fish then keep on regularly introducing more bait to keep their interest.
The main dictator of how much bait I will introduce at the start of a session depends on fish activity.
I will never turn up at a lake at put half a bucket of bait out. Mainly because once you put it in, you can’t take it out but you are also killing the swim if the fish are not there are they are not feeding.
If there are any fish showing then small leads and single hookbaits of Northern Specials will be flicked onto them. If it results in a few quick bites then it indicates that the fish are feeding so only then will I deposit some bait onto a spot. If the lake is fishing well then yes, a few spods maybe necessary to get the spot ‘ rocking ‘ but other than that single hookbaits will always be the starting point for me.
If its the middle of winter then once again, I won’t put lots of bait out unless they are having a frenzy on maggots because the carps metabolism slows down and in winter you have more chance of snatching a quick bite on a single hookbait than putting 20 spods out and waiting for a take.
There are so many variances that can dictate to me how much bait I will introduce while on a session ranging from the season we are in, the weather, the stock levels, size of the lake and other anglers baiting the lake. I definitely believe that when you join a lake you need to spend time getting to know it by walking it and try to find the carp and when you do watching them and try to find their feeding spot as many believe that when they see carp cruising that they also feed in these areas which can be true sometimes but very often this is not the case. If you fish a lake where carp are hard to find and don’t show themselves then I am a big believer in looking for carpy areas like snags over hanging trees and the margins and then start to bait these spots.
Eventually the carp will pass your bait and over time will keep visiting the area looking for this food and if you are able to pre-bait even if it’s a handful of bollies every couple of days I would strongly recommend it as carp are creatures of habit and eat to live so will return to them spots. Off subject slightly but a good friend of mine once explained it to me like this “if one week I walked to the shops every day and on the Tuesday and Thursday I found a Twenty pound note in the same spot on both occasions would I go back on the same days the following week?” We all know the answer don’t we.
So to answer the question in the height of summer I would start off with a handful of bollies over 3 rods to get the carp moving over my area looking for the next bollie hoping to catch them of guard and then I would not put anymore out until the first bite came as I believe this will decrease my chances of them picking up my bait.
That said I have fished venues that are highly stocked and placed a kilo of bollie over the size of a tennis court knowing that all the bait will be eaten and still be within a chance of a bite. Then on the opposite end of the scale I would only fish a single hook bait and on occasions one or two freebies in the winter so not to have too much hard food in the swim but to increase the attraction I would use a stick mix for added pulling power. We have all heard the saying before “you can always put more bait in but can’t take it out.
The rule of thumb I personally use and stick by is one kilo of bollie per 24 hour session plus any powders, liquids and pellets I want to use in my sticks but this is not very much at all. I need to point out that I may not use all of the bait I have taken for the actual session in fact I have had some of my best sessions on half a kilo and less but at the end if I have any bait left it will always go out onto the spots as this acts as part of my pre-baiting and is a free meal to the carp building their confidence.
I would say there are many different deciding factors when knowing how much bait you will introduce during any fishing session. I take all of these factors into account then I will decide on my baiting strategy. Some of these factors might be; the length of the session, the amount of fish present in the water you are fishing, the time of year and also any information you have on the lake regarding what amounts and types of bait the fish regularly come out on. So to explain this a bit more, I will go through each of these factors in more detail and hopefully you will get more of an understanding of how I decide on how much bait I will use per session.
Length of session – The length of any fishing session will usually deter how much bait you will introduce. For instance if you were planning on doing a 4 or 5 night session, you may wish to introduce quite a bit of bait during the course of the session to get some ‘spots’ going and get the fish used to feeding on certain areas meaning you will get more bites. On the other hand, if you were only doing a quick overnighter, you may wish to only nick a couple of quick bites, meaning you may only fish PVA bags or baiting up with a small quantity of boilies.
Fish stocks – When fishing lakes with only a small number of fish in, you may only introduce bait on a little and often approach. Whereas if you were fishing a heavily stocked water, the fish are competing a lot more for the food which would lead to getting more bites equalling you put more bait out to keep them feeding, so you would end up using a lot more bait.
Time of year – I always take the time of year into account when deciding on how much bait I will use and this is one of the most important things to think about. The fish’s metabolism changes throughout the year with the water temperature changing. In the warmer months the fish are a lot more active, there metabolism is up and they are using loads more energy which means they will need to eat a lot more food to keep themselves going. So in the summer months you will find yourself using a lot more bait to keep the fish feeding and to get more bites. In the winter it’s generally the opposite, the fish are more dormant, not using as much energy and they might only be picking up small individual items if anything at all. With this in the winter I may only use a fluro hookbait as a single or just with a small pva bag and no free offerings.
Lake Information – If you have done some research on the lake you are fishing then you should have some understanding of what types of baiting strategies work best and with this you can adapt this into your approach. Some lakes are very boilie dominant waters and big beds of boilies work best. Also some lakes have Carp in that have been reared on pellets and big beds of pellet work best so its always best to get some information before fishing a lake and this can give you a rough idea of how much bait you might be looking to introduce.
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