For them: Keith Williams
“Bait boats, in the right hands, are an awesome tool and when they come under criticism, often it’s not the bait boat that is at fault but poor angling. An angler that misuses boats is inevitably the same angler that others wish just wasn’t on the lake.
“Used tactically and sensibly, boats have caught me fish that I would never had caught otherwise. I use the boat to take loose feed out but am using it less now for taking my hookbait out. I like to put out a big spread but also place a small Stick a metre away from the feeding area for those crafty carp that spook in tight areas created by bait boats.
“Poor anglers will still catch carp with a bait boat but this is no different to an angler that trusts in luck and putting on a PVA bag and just casting as far as he can. I do hate going to lakes and seeing rigs in the trees where anglers have cast straight out, the line has broken off and subsequently the line has been left trailing. This potentially endangers wildlife and of course the carp.
“If lakes ban bait boats then they should also ban poor casting! It’s about education and most importantly the welfare of the carp. If you know you cannot land a carp from an area, please don’t put a rig there using either a bait boat or casting.”
On the fence: Lewis Porter
“My view on bait boats is pretty simple really. If I am doing my proper ‘serious’ fishing then I don’t ever want to use one as they, without any shadow of doubt, take a huge element of skill away for carp fishing in my opinion. I like to catch the carp that are special to me via ‘angling’ and using a bait boat, whatever way you look at it, it’s not angling. To me it’s about doing everything for yourself – and the cast is one of the biggest elements there is.
“However, if I am on a social trip or fishing in France with my mates on a venue that I am not seriously approaching then I would consider using a bait boat if I thought it would catch me more fish. This is because on these trips, the aim of the game is to have fun and catch as many carp as possible therefore any extra ‘edges’ are welcome. I don’t have a problem with anyone that uses a bait boat so long as they use it sensibly and not to tow rigs out to dangerous areas or interfere with other anglers on the lake.”
Against them: Shaun Harrison
“In my mind there is definitely a place in angling for bait boats for disabled anglers. But I’m afraid for able-bodied people I just don’t think it is right. To my mind it is like someone being allowed to use skates in a 100m sprint race.
“I don’t use bait boats for carp – never have in 35 years of carp fishing other than one session in France to take a marker float out further than I could cast – just to see if there were any obvious features just that little bit further out. The same trip I spread some maggots around at range but still chose to cast to the spots. I don’t want to use them as I feel it takes a lot of skill out of angling and not only that, I simply hate to see them actually going out into a lake. It is so far removed from my ideal of a nice tranquil lake seeing a toy boat chugging out.
“Hopefully if we ever see a record fall to a bait boat then we will be sensible enough to split the record list up into bait boat record and genuine angling skills record.”