This month's question...
Do you pick your times to bait up or do you just put it straight in when you start your session? What about ‘topping up’ – what dictates this? And what are your views on ‘resting the swim’? Is this something you only do longish session?
“Times I choose to bait up can differ from one water to the next and this is mainly because of the bite times than anything else. For instance, if a bite time is around teatime, I bait up around dinnertime, giving the swim and bait time to settle before the carp have a feeding spell. The other thing I keep a close eye on is other anglers’ baiting up times. I look at other people’s disturbance as a way of pushing the carp into my quiet, safe area.
“I’m a firm believer in feeding to my bites (must be the river guy in me?), so topping up is done with small amounts as a rule. Every water is very different, but the lower stocked venues I fish, a bit of drip-feeding after every bite can soon bring on another bite. A great way to do this is by soaking a couple of handfuls of boilies in lake water as soon as you first bait up; by doing this you can drip-feed the same consistency of bait, this being the same texture and washed-out flavour as the carp were feeding on when you got the bite. This tactic has given me many extra bites on harder waters where a fresh handful of boilies may well have spooked them until much later on!
“Resting the swim is well worth doing as well, a good time is throughout the day, even if you don’t think they’re feeding there anyway. A bit of stalking elsewhere gives rewards as well as resting your base camp swim! A swim with the ‘gate left open’ is more inviting to a carp than one with lines stretched across their paths! A baited up area at dinnertime and then a single cast with each rod just on dark may well surprise you how quick the bites can come. So what started as a quiet swim can turn into an aquarium by leaving the gate wide open so to speak; give it a go, it’s turned a few of my sessions around and then some!”
“I suppose the crux would be that baiting strategies and approaches whilst fishing necessarily vary enormously from venue-to-venue and really depends a lot on how we fish – i.e. whether we are session angling, day angling, mobile or static, the stock densities and even the swim you’re angling in.
“Seasonal changes in feeding behaviour also dictate when we apply our feed and the patterns we adopt. It’s not all about spodding as much bait as tight as you can on a spot – not if you want to catch anyway that is.
“My time is (like many) split between a work night or two and a night or two at a weekend. I am also mobile so I tend to take ‘enough’ bait with me but only use just enough to get a bite.
“Any I have left at the end of the session gets dribbled into an area I want to prime for the future. I’m a firm believer that a little here and a little there establishes a bait a lot more effectively than just lumping it in on one spot. Think about it: logic dictates that more fish will potentially come across it if it’s spread on around a number of prime patrol routes rather than one.
“Anyway, initial baiting on any single night trip tends to be erring on the light side, and if I catch a couple of fish or see a lot of activity on the bait, or near it, I can always add more. It’s funny, but subliminally it’s always easier to change swims if you haven’t stuck all your bait in your initial plot to start with.
“Of course, if you’re stuck in a swim for a week (holiday trip) the strategy can be very different! In this scenario time is on your side, and given long enough, most bait gets eaten (eventually), but to me that’s just wasting time in a normal angling situation. I want a bite now, not in three days time thank you!
“It’s a similar thing with resting a swim by leaving the lines out the water. If I’m stuck in a swim for a week (yuk), then it’s definitely a viable option, especially on popular pressured venues. But for my UK angling – chasing fish and focusing on location – I don’t want to waste time when I am on them – I want to be catching them, in which case I’ll fish tiny traps until dusk and then top up the swim with just enough bait for the night normally.”
“The vast majority of my fishing in the last couple of years has been on lower stocked gravel pits where there is normally a first light/morning feeding spell. My approach is to bait up during the afternoon then leave the swim completely undisturbed until after “bite time” the next day. These aren’t the kind of fish that appreciate a Spomb landing on their head, so I wouldn’t be topping up if I had a bite during this time either; hopefully enough bait would have been put out the previous day for a couple of bites if the fish were there.
“If I have had a few bites, I would repeat the process in the afternoon, if not, I just recast the rods, happy that the fish won’t have eaten all the bait.
“When fishing more heavily stocked venues, I tend to bait on a little and often basis, hoping to draw the fish in consistently. I don’t think baiting up heavily initially and then not topping it up works as well on these lakes as you could have 20 plus fish on your area at a time and the bait just won’t last very long, no matter how much you put out!
“Resting the swim is something that can give you a massive advantage on certain waters, especially busy lakes. Other anglers casting will cause fish to move around the lake and finding a quiet area with a lovely baited spot has certainly got me more bites in the past. This doesn’t always have to be on a long session or even with your rods out of the water, just getting them done nice and early before every one else on the lake so that the fish feel more comfortable in your disturbance-free area.”