How lazy are you?
We’ve all been there on those days when the fish just don’t have it. Well, I say, no such thing as a carp on a diet. They really do not care about fitting in a size 10 red dress. If you put the right stuff in front of them, in an appetizing way, they will eat it. Moreover, that’s true all year round. Just because it worked a year ago, last month, or even a week ago, doesn’t mean it will work today. I agree you can have a general idea of how to approach your chosen venue. However, it should only be that, a broad, wide-ranging idea. I have said it before, fish live in a 5-star restaurant. As such, chucking the equivalent of a McDonald’s at them won’t work very often. There are times when we all fancy some fast food, but given an option, you’d probably go for a steak. Yeah, yeah, I know some of you don’t like steak, but you get my drift.
Whenever I go fishing, I never go with a pre-set plan, and always try to approach each session with an open mind. If you know your venue, then you’ll have an idea of where to fish. For me, that’s as far as it goes. For sure, I will take a certain amount of bait with me, but I won’t pile it all in at the start. There’s an old saying “you can’t take it out once it’s in.” I will start with a small amount and build it up from there.
I get this idea about spodding over their heads can spook them. Realistically, it’s never been a problem for me. I agree that on shallow waters, and by that, I mean 2-4 feet, then it may scare them off. However, the venues that I fish are generally deep. Fish hear noises on the water’s surface all the time from ducks, swans and so on. Providing you feather your spod/spom, and stick with a small one, then it shouldn’t be a problem. If you are there for 24 to 48 hours, you really don’t need to get all your bait in at the start or as quickly as possible. Spend an hour baiting instead of 20 minutes. It is not a lot of time in the scheme of things. Patience pays off big time. I know for some of you this is controversial, but it is just my opinion and something that works for me. I actually think a bigger problem is the sound of your lead hitting the bottom, especially on hard gravel. That is something they don’t hear, other than from you. I also think that noise on the bank is a massive problem. Even at 60 yards, the sound of you thumping around on the bank will spook them.
My approach is to start with a small amount of feed and top it up at various times throughout the session. This will always be dependent on indications, bites and fish movement. Learn to judge how many fish you have in or near you. In my ‘Spring Campaign’ article, I mentioned how well spodding at midnight works for me. I can sense you cringing, or even laughing at this. Try it; it works on every venue I fish. Ask yourself if you can you be bothered to bait up 6-8-10 times or more in one session. If the answer is no, then ask yourself if it is through laziness. If you have a few fish in front of you, you need to keep them there. The amount of feed you need and how often you top it up magnifies if there are resident bream shoals or silvers in the venue.
In a 48-hour summer session, I will bait up as many as 20 times. I allow the fish to dictate how much feed and how often I feed, not previous experience. Every day is different, and you must always be aware of that. During your 48-hour session, many things will change and that’s not just the weather. How many fish are in front of you, if there is bream about, if there has been a bloodworm hatch, or larvae hatch. You should stay alert, be aware of every change, and try to react to it positively. On big venues, weather changes, in particular, wind direction can, and will have a significant impact.
It is now time to ask yourself some serious questions. Do you want to rock up, get your bait in, rods out, and sit back with a beer? Alternatively, do you want to catch some fish? There is plenty of time to have a chat and a beer (or coffee) during the quiet times. Laziness will not catch you those special fish. Point a stick at it, or get the better of those fish. The choice really is yours. Top match anglers are habitually successful because they stay alert and ring the changes. The same can be said for any quality angler. Just think about it differently and ask yourself some difficult questions, or join excuse’s corner. We all have pretty much the same gear, so why do some always catch more. In which camp do you want to be?
Right, it is now time for bait, tackle, and tactics and time to break some rules. Please be aware this is only my opinion, and I base my views on experience. If it gives you an extra 5%, then my time is well spent.
First up, I will look at hooks and line: Back in the day on the canals when I was fishing matches, changing your hook from a size 22 to a size 24 often made the difference between catching all day, or not. Similarly, laying on by an inch or coming up of the bottom by an inch could mean winning or not. Also staying in touch with what the fish were doing and how conditions change, were key factors in my success. So, with that in mind, sometimes changing your hook size or reducing your hook length diameter can and will result in another fish. Those that know me will know I often fish a size 14 to 6lb braid just to get a bite from a lone Carp. If you are sitting there on a size 4 tied to 15lb braid, knowing there are fish in front of you, and are only getting single beeps, try a change. In addition, sometimes a 10 – 12mm boilie will often produce positive bites as opposed to a 15 – 18 – or 20mm boilie. Besides, a 10 – 12mm boilie sits better on a small hook. In addition, a longer hook length can and will make a difference. Don’t sit there blanking, don’t be lazy, ring the changes.
Next up, I will look at where you are putting your bait. A lot of my understanding goes back to my match fishing days. During a time when I was having exceptional results, catching big bags of bream on Alton Reservoir, someone asked what I was doing differently. My answer got some laughs, but once I explained it, most got it, and those that didn’t, well. My answer was that I was fishing it like a canal. Now we are talking about a venue that is up to 60 feet deep and 340 acres. How so, I hear you ask. Simple, I fished the shelves. Same as I did on the canals. It is far easier for a fish to see your bait if it is right in front of their eyes. More importantly, it is one movement for them to pick up your hook bait, turn side on and give you a proper bite. To use this approach on a big venue requires you to spend a lot of time marking up and making notes. Then you need to be very accurate with your casting. Let me ask you this, how often have you cast out and known it’s in the wrong place, but left it? It goes back to chilling with a beer or catching fish. You can do both you know.
Now let’s look at how you’re baiting your swim. Many top anglers pile in 5 kilo plus of boilies and make it work very well. All well and good if you’re sponsored, or have a bottomless pit of money. For most of us, it’s just not the case. I hear you shout; hey, you work in a tackle shop, have your own bait company, and are a consultant for SSP Baits. This is all true, but I do not take advantage of the situation. Importantly, I prefer not to fill my fish up with free samples of my hook bait. I would rather the fish graze over particle, crushed boilies, small pellets and so on. Then go looking for something more substantial, ideally my hook bait. Even if I put corn and maize in, I liquidize it to give them the taste, not fill them up. This approach works well for me everywhere I go. I am not worried about attracting small fish into my swim because I know the big gals won’t be far behind. It helps them feel uninhibited. Fish know two things, safe and danger. With lots of fsih about, they feel safe. Even a 40lb Carp won’t hand around over a light coloured bottom. It’s in the makeup. They don’t want to been seen by a predator.
Lastly, let’s talk about hook baits. The choice of boilie is really up to you and there is no one definitive answer. I like SSP Biats very much, primarily because I helped develop the stuff and it catches me fish. What is important to me is how I present my bait. We talked about hooks and hook lengths. I want to look at the way you present your bait. If you look at my rig board article, you will see some of the way I fish. The question is do you just fish a boilie on its own. It is common to fish a snowman rig, two bolies, or various combinations. How about a boilie tipped with maize or corn. Alternatively, you can try two plastic maggots or perhaps two real maggots on the hook alongside your boilie. Then there is the use of worms. You can hair up a whole lobworm, inject it with air so it sits up of the bottom, or you can leave it at it is. You can try two denja’s above or below your boilie on the hair. Then there is wrapping your bait with paste or bread. The list is endless. What I am suggesting, is that you try to think left field. Try something that no one else has used. A 30-year-old carp has seen most of it before. Present your bait so they don’t associate with danger.
Trends or expensive gear does not catch fish. Hard work and thinking a little differently does.
As always just a few ideas to hopefully help you find what works for you. Don’t be a stick pointer, be a catcher of fish. Go-Catch SteveD