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Spring Baiting Tips by Richard Chapman01/05/2012
Out on the bank today we're nearing the end of April and it finally feels as if spring is winning the seasonal war. I have spent most of the afternoon in short sleeves and the fish have been up in the shallows making the most of the sun. It's a great time of year to be out on the bank and if you hit it right you can be in for a few good catches.
Now, I would class myself as quite normal (although I know plenty that wouldn't!) in the fact that a lot of my fishing is based around quick nights, sessions of maybe 12 hours fitted in around work commitments, so my views on bait are going to differ greatly from someone who has time to fish longer sessions of a few nights at a time.
Generally I like to keep it simple and for the most part I am using straight boilie. Now just a quick tip here... if you are just getting into your Carp fishing something that I see way to many people doing is buying a different bait week in week out, especially if they don't catch on it during the first session. Baits WILL catch fish and the way I look at it is you are best to pick a bait, do a bit of research beforehand, and maybe ask at your local tackle shop to find a one that suits you and the waters you are fishing.
Stick with your bait. This will help you in so many ways. First is the fact that you build confidence in the bait and once you have caught a few fish it's one less thing to worry about - you know it works so you just need to focus your efforts on finding the fish. Secondly you have the added bonus that if you are targeting a single water for the season, by staying on one bait you're steadily building the fishes confidence. Finally, once you have decided on your bait you can actually save a fair bit of money by buying in bulk, either directly from the supplier or from your local shop. Working in a tackle shop I see just how often anglers end up confusing themselves by changing bait all the time.
So back to my baiting approach at this time of year. I will always try to find the fish and as time is limited on these short sessions I want to get as close to them as possible. The last thing I want to do is turn up and whack 5 kilos of boilies on their heads or spod it to death, as on most waters they are not going to hang about!
So assuming that I have found a couple of fish showing and dropped in a swim where I can cast to them, I will keep the baiting to a minimum as I'm looking to get a bite as quickly as possible. The fish are already there so you shouldn't be looking to attract them into the area. You just want them to spot a light snack nearby and in situations like this every freebie out there is reducing the odds of your hook bait being picked up. I usually start with 20-30 baits in the area - a nice spread with a throwing stick - which I see as just enough to create a bit of visual impact, but not enough so they can be too fussy about what they are picking up.
I always try to bait up when I'm leaving in the morning, because this is where you can really improve your chances for later when you return. If you have caught it definitely pays to get some bait out there to hopefully keep them visiting the area, and build their confidence, so when you are next fishing you stand a much better chance. It's exactly the same as when people are fishing long sessions and rest the swim... you have bait down there but no lines in the water so the fish can feed freely throughout the day. I like to look at limited time as a bit of an advantage over long stay anglers.
Fishing like this you can really make the most of a short session. Your bait is working for you whilst you are away and you can build a swim up over a few days. If you haven't caught during the night there is always the chance to prime another likely looking area to give you a starting point for your next session.
Another option on short sessions is single hook baits, and generally these will be bright and smelly to attract attention. I'm sure you will have your own personal ‘blank savers' that always get chucked out for the last couple of hours if you haven't caught.
One method that proved to be quite successful last spring, on a club water close to home, was fishing food baits as singles. At first it was something that took a bit of getting used to as a fairly dull boilie in the middle of nowhere doesn't sound the most likely way of getting a bite. But if you think about it there will be literally thousands of single stray boilies finding their way into lakes, whether it be a poorly aimed bait with a throwing stick, spod spill, or a flicked hook bait in the edge at the end of a session. The fish will come across these little tidbits all the time, so a single food bait will be quite a natural occurrence. On pressured waters the bright ones are often more readily taken.
That pretty much covers my spring baiting. The emphasis is on finding the fish, keeping bait levels low, and fishing for a bite at a time. If I have a quick look in my bait bucket now there is a couple of kilos of 16mm Edge boilies, as I'm going to be putting a bit in at the end of the session. A tub of matching cork ball pop ups, a couple of tubs of bright pop-ups in various colours, and a tin of tigers just in case! Not loads of bait but a couple of different options for hook baits if I want to have a bit of a change around.
As a side note I have just returned from a short overnighter and the tactics outlined above proved successful. My right hand rod screamed off at 4am, fished with 20 baits scattered around with a throwing stick. The result was a chunky common of 31lb 15oz.
Find out more about academy member, Richard Chapman.