Bait Application is a huge subject, the idea with most of the baiting patterns you come across; are to get the carp to feed/act in a certain way, maybe even getting them to give into their greedy side. Some might get a little confused when to use a tight or spread out pattern or even the best way to go about it, never mind about feeding little and often or in a large amounts; I will try and help clear up some of these problems, by letting you in on my some of my thoughts on bait application! Along with when’s the best time to bait up, and maybe where’s the best places to position your rigs amongst your bait…??
Even with all this said, it will also depend on your lake stocking, including the nuisance species like Bream and Tench, time of year and even the weather when you finely make it down to the water’s edge. Not to mention how long your session’s are, along with who’s been on the lake; “Bill fished here yesterday and he fills it in sort of thing!” Get the picture?
The easiest way to make this a little bit easier to understand is to break it down into sections; well it will make it a dam side easier for me anyway…
Small baiting Patterns!
Baiting Patterns with boilies! If you have a big imagination you will do well here; right where shall we start? I suppose small and go large is probably the best way forward… Well the smallest you can get is a single hook bait, mostly used is probably a bright bait/ popup, to try and get a curiosity take, used at any time of the year really; the carp must see this like, “what’s that nice looking/ smelling thing over there?” (Sorry about that, I have been called Dr Doolittle before!). With no hands they can only test it one way, by sucking it in; then sure enough oops… It’s too late!! Don’t neglect a dark pop-up though; they sometimes work a lot better than bright ones in some situations, just like a dark Shellfish & Worm pop-up! (On a patrol route this is a great method)
From single hook baits to a stringer of boilies, or even a bag of broken boilies can be used to try and grab the attention of a wondering carp. This can be used anywhere really, from a margin that carp patrol, snags to open water cast at showing fish! A simple trail can be added to your little parcel of goodies; either using whole or broken boilies just lay a few feet apart, leading out of a snag or along a patrol route in a weed bed for instance. The trail will help to coax a carp to the area of the hook bait, even if it’s just one or two broken baits, it makes the world of difference to catching a carp. Put it this way, if they eat one on their way towards your little spot; when they find your stringer or bag they will more than lightly carry on feeding, after just that one taster they found on route! (Having a taste for your bait, they will find a free feed hard to swim past!)
For those really cunning carp out there that have seen it all, try casting a stringer out then let the PVA melt and reel back in; then just cast a single hook bait as part of the trail to the patch of free offerings, this will really mix them up a bit, and has accounted for many a lump in my net!! Before I leave the stringer section, I will add that I use these all the time to prevent tangles, and add a little bit more attraction near to the hook bait, even if I’m fishing over 5 kilos of bait in France..!
Now drifting onto small amounts of bait (boilies), say 50-100 baits?? This can be used in a few different ways. If you’re on a lake with a few big carp, say a good head of twenty pounders or bigger. A spread out 50 bait patch will make the carp feed in a more grazing fashion; this is the main way most like to feed a swim with boilies, it works but everyone does it, I like to coax the carp as near as I can get them to my hook bait from the off. So with that thought in your head, if you tighten the baited patch up quite a bit, your 50 baits will look a whole lot more to the carp, making them want to compete more over the tighter area and even rub shoulders to get at the bait, giving you a feeding situation that pulls the carp closer to your hook bait. Keeping the bait tighter gives you a few more options to try also. As well as just placing a rig in the middle of the spot; some cagey carp snatch off the edge’s too (I have seen this many times before) By just having a rig off the edge of the baited spot, even just a few feet can make all the difference to how many runs you get in a session. Then if they really get their heads down you will catch from in and out of the baited area!! With the odd free bait which is purposely placed here and there outside of your baited area. This is a pattern that encourages the carp to feed in a snatching manner, making them fall straight into your trap; snatching at anything that’s not in the tight spot. This particularly works well end of Summer/Autumn when the carp have been nailed on beds of bait, everyone cuts right down on their bait; but the carp still find the patch of bait irresistible to visit, and come and feed from the edge. (Most would never now they were there, fishing amongst their free offerings) I just have to change my approach of where I place my rigs; this is a tactic that also works well with large beds of bait too!
To take this smaller amount a step further, I have been known to tip 50-100 baits straight on top of a rig; making it a greedy pig spot as I call it; this really will trip up those greedy carp that are in every lake around the country. They just can’t seem to swim past a meal like that, just like a big girl walking past a cake shop! On one lake I caught the same lump three times on that same tactic; yeah she was a real greedy pig! A spot like this works really well during the warmer months, with the hook bait being so near any feeding fish; it will almost guarantee a bite if it catches a big girls eye. A very tight spot also gives you plenty of notice from liners though. I have even reeled in and cast back out again, leaving my rig a few feet short of the spot, just to give them a little room in the dead of night, only to be back on the rod within an hour, attending to a shaking rod/ screaming alarm and then reeling in an angry lump.
Try it, it really works well…!
Large baiting Patterns!
From here on baiting up with a kilo and upwards, you will either need the fish stocks or time on your side to make this work well. This is where the baiting patterns can get really interesting! Large amounts of boilies and bait sizes can be used to head off large shoals of carp; attracting them by the dozens, making big hits of big carp more than possible with a good amount of quality bait at your disposable.
I have seen many carper’s over the years turn up at a lake, armed with an excess of 5 kilos plus of bait, and all one size too, then proceed to spread the whole lot out into the lake completely covering all the water in front of them; without any sort of pattern what so ever to their baiting up!! Well this can work but it will really stack the odds against you getting a take. If your honest and you’re only looking for one bite, with only two or maybe three carp coming into your swim if you’re lucky; they can have a full meal and swim away and still not be anywhere near your super sharp hook and wonder rig!… Think about it!!
But if you’re on a lake full of lumps that swim around in big shoals and you’re expecting to get wiped out by them in an hour; then yeah a spread is a good method to keep them in your area longer. If I was on a gravel pit with fish stock’s like that, I would think about using smaller sized baits like 10mm’s, just to keep the shoal grubbing about for longer; (On the waters I fish, this isn’t a problem I’m faced with really… getting wiped out by hundreds of carp!).
So how I go about a heavy baiting session on the waters I fish, is to find an area where I have seen carp, then make a decision what bottom I’m fishing over to what size baits I want to use, and amount for that matter. A bit like smaller boilies over harder lakebeds, and larger baits say 15mm plus over softer Silty ones; the reason for this is to get the carp to feed in a way that helps the carp angler not the carp! If you feed small baits in soft silt the carp will end up filter feeding like they do for snails and bugs, burying everything else in sight. (Rigs included)….! Larger baits will make the carp pick the baits up one at a time, giving you a more controlled feeding situation on your softer lake bed. I hear you say why not just use larger baits…? But the smaller baits will always get the carp feeding a lot quicker, and again keep them there for longer periods of time; mixing the sizes up will put the odd right in your favour every time, making it more natural for the carp. I don’t really buy into the carp can tell the difference between this bait weight and that, purely because if it picked it up and then thought “this is a bit heavier?” The job should be done already and the alarm should be singing its happy tune… with an upset carp on the end of course! Now making neutral buoyant hook baits is a different thing altogether, this just catches them off guard, making the hook bait fly into a carp’s mouth on the lightest of sucks, which I find better with stiffer rigs. (But that’s another story)
Anyway getting back to the main subject again, so mixing the sizes up is a good thing to do when you can, I use 10mm, 12mm’s, chops and 14mm Squid & Octopus!. As for getting the most out of a large bed of bait, here goes; two things that are possible with a large amount of bait. To start with getting a good head of carp to feed at the same time and heading them off at the pass so to speak! By laying a bed of bait about 3 feet wide and 20 feet long, then place three rods along it, when the carp are feeding really well you can catch fish off each rod without spooking feeding carp on the other end of the spot. Making big hits really possible, also making sure you are never any further away from a carp than 5 feet or even less with your sharp hook; putting you well in the ball park to catch a few fish. With this being a long baited area, it’s easy to fish so it cuts off carp as they swim up and down the lake. An easy way to set this out in the lake, is to use two marker rods, cast one say 60 yards straight out in front of your swim and the other 60 yards again but slightly off to the left or right of your swim, baiting from one float to the other, giving you a line of bait running from closer in to 60 yards out. As long as all your rods are marked at 60 yards; when you cast out in-between your tree markers on the horizon, you will always end up on your baited area. (60 yards is a guide, but any distance really, just fish them all the same distance). Simple…!
Washed out baits!
This is a trick I like to use from to time ‘washed out baits’ (But only in some situations, not all)
First up… I start by soaking my boilies in some lake water as soon as I’ve baited my spot out in the lake. Making my boilies in the bucket, soak in the same time scale as all my free offerings. Where this comes into its own, is when you get a bite from a feeding carp. (This could be an hour or even in twelve hours’ time) If I return a rig after the carp is caught, I’m able to bait up with a little bait, this will match the washed out boilies perfectly which are sitting out in the lake. Replacing a little bait that has the same consistency, as the bait that’s been fed on only moments before; this will get you bonus bites for sure and has done on many occasions for me in the past! The carp have been feeding on softer baits, so I don’t want to introduce firmer or more attractive baits; which will have a chance of upsetting their feeding spell. It’s very simple but works and helps me put a few more feeding carp on the bank! I found this works better for me when using smaller amounts of bait down the margins, say up to half a kilo. On larger baiting situations, I’m looking for a mass of attraction from the large area of free bait, but on low stocked waters with cute carp in resident, this can really give you an edge and bring your bites forward from 3 nights away to catching on the first night or even straight away; giving the carp the impression that your swim is safe! Another point here worth remembering is after 48 hours of soaking in the lake, your boilies will swell by around 6% or so. My baited area that I’ve sat on for two days, baited with 12mm Squid & Octopus is more like a bed of 14mm’s by this time; that’s something worth remembering! Maybe that’s why chops work so well anywhere I care to fish them, but bait size really is another story and will come back to that another time….
I like to use a stale spot as I call it, with a little thought I have worked this into the lake and approach I’m fishing at the moment; not stale as I have fished it before but just using the theory! Let me explain some more, baiting up with around a couple of kilos of boilies and not baiting again or fishing the area till the last night (2/3 nights later) this was the first becoming of my Stale spot approach, this has worked well to catch the cagy lumps that swim in a syndicate lake. After moving on a bit I am now using it as part of an approach in a swim/area!! An easy way to explain this approach is to lay it out the same as the first one… with two marker floats; being very usable in any sort of baiting situation, big or small for that matter. On the one marker float I would place two kilos straight in, and then on the other about half kilos to a kilo just to kick start the spot. Then between the two I just baited a very light peppering of whole baits to join the two spots together. Every day the one spot will get another few baits or so fed in, (depending on the bites/liners) then the other would just have stringers cast at it; guess which one always did the better stamp fish by the end of the session? Yeah the one that was only fed just the once, the carp must see this as a safer area, just as if the carp angler had left and gone home. The other spot which was baited every day always gave bites and more of them, showing that regular baiting were taken with great interest by all but the really cunning larger carp!
Talking of regular feeding, you don’t want your baiting times to cross over the carps feeding times; what will happen is the carp end up getting spooked, then they leave your area to find a quieter area for their lunch! It will depend on the time of year, but only feed when you don’t expect a bite. Where I’m fishing at the moment the carp are only feeding in the hours of darkness (feeding? OK that’s when everyone is getting bites anyway) but I’m hoping for that to change soon; with the unsociable feeding times, I found the best way to get the best from this, I feed around mid-day. By the time evening comes my swim is well settled and it gives me a chance of action both sides of midnight, just a little thought here and there is all that’s needed to make a big difference to your carping. Everyone will have their own ideas, having an open mind and a good imagination will catch you lots more fish in the long run!
Try anything, it even surprises me what works sometimes, but try and keep hold of what you are trying to achieve from your bait application. Like drifting into winter, I start by cutting down my boilies and exchanging them with a little Chilli hemp; with the carp slowing down small items stop being a problem in the fine silt!
You really have to show some restraint, especially with the smaller patterns; it’s so easy to put another handful on top, when it’s really not needed; I find counting my baits work the best for smaller traps!
This is just a small insight into my baiting patterns, I’m sure there is enough there to give even the most thinking angler some food for thought! Going back to the situation I may find myself in, I may use one of the above or even all in one session… But I never put all my eggs in one basket!
Like they say the more you put in, the more you get out of it; or maybe not??
So get your thinking caps on and be Lucky…