#ASKPENNERS

CARP LEG­END ANSWERS YOUR QUES­TIONS EV­ERY MONTH

Angling Times (UK) - - ADAM PENNING -

QWith it be­ing early au­tumn now, should I be chang­ing my bait ap­proach?

A:Septem­ber can be a very tricky month – the weed can still be very thick, and in the heat the fish can seem quite lethar­gic.

Hav­ing said that, the fish will long ago have com­pleted their an­nual spawn­ing rit­ual and many of them will be down in weight and look­ing for food.

Although much of my fish­ing is based

around boilies, this is one of those times of year when it can pay to em­brace dif­fer­ent bait­ing strate­gies.

In the mid­dle of the sum­mer the lake will be rich in nat­u­ral food, and for a lot of the time it can see the fish are pre­oc­cu­pied with this har­vest.

How do we know? Well, aside from the fizzing you can see on silty ar­eas, one of the main give­aways is that usu­ally lit­tle is be­ing caught. The carp have to feed, and if noth­ing much is get­ting caught, of­ten they will be gorg­ing on nat­u­ral food.

At this time of year, par­ti­cle fish­ing can re­ally come into its own, par­tic­u­larly when it is laced with sea salt.

As soon as the fish have fin­ished spawn­ing, salty par­ti­cles can be the best way to tar­get the fish and in some cases noth­ing else seems to work. Boilies can well be at their weak­est in the whole 12-month cal­en­dar.

When it comes to par­ti­cle bait­ing, in my opin­ion there is only one se­ri­ous con­tender. For­get your pi­geon mixes and all that stuff there re­ally is noth­ing bet­ter than straight hempseed, and plenty of it!

Hemp is gen­uinely a carp ‘su­per bait’. In fact it is a supremely at­trac­tive bait for just about all fish, such are its mag­i­cal prop­er­ties.

Buy­ing pre-cooked par­ti­cles can be ex­pen­sive and this type of bait works best in bulk so, if you are on a bud­get, I suggest cook­ing your own, which is what I do.

Buy­ing a bulk sack will en­sure you have more than enough for a cam­paign.

I soak the hemp overnight and then bring it to the boil, sim­mer­ing it un­til all the seeds are split and show­ing their white in­ners.

At this point I trans­fer the hemp to a bucket (keep­ing all that lovely ‘hempy’ water) and then add some sea or rock salt.

I’d favour around half-a-kilo of salt to a medium-sized bucket of hemp. To this I will prob­a­bly add some tiger nuts, maybe some corn or pel­lets, although any pel­lets should be added shortly be­fore use or they will sim­ply turn to mush. And there you have it salty par­ti­cles par ex­cel­lence!

Ap­ply the mix where you have seen the fish and use some­thing like a tiger nut on the hair.

For the next few weeks this can be one of the best bait mixes out there!

QWhen is the best time in a ses­sion to re-bait and re-cast?’

A:This is a great ques­tion that has huge rel­e­vance and im­pact on our fish­ing. From my trav­els around the coun­try, I would say there is one mas­sively com­mon mis­take be­ing made all the time and this is cost­ing peo­ple fish left, right and cen­tre.

We have all seen it I’m sure - the guy op­po­site wakes up af­ter a blank night and the first thing he de­cides to do is wind in, check every­thing is okay with his rig and then re­cast the rods, usu­ally fol­lowed by a fresh load of bait. This all sounds fine un­til you re­alise that al­most every­body is do­ing it first thing in the morn­ing, which is the very worst time to dis­turb the swim.

This is be­cause all coarse fish feed strongly around dawn and it is by far the best pe­riod in any 24-hour win­dow to catch a carp on most lakes. Wind­ing in and mak­ing a load of dis­tur­bance right at the very best time to get a bite isn’t re­ally all that sen­si­ble, is it?

Gen­er­ally, my rule of thumb is to leave every­thing in place, quiet and still, un­til around mid-morn­ing. Very of­ten by this point, feed­ing ac­tiv­ity is on the wane and the best chance for a bite on most wa­ters will have passed. I never wind in be­fore 10am un­less I have to, and I would say that a vast per­cent­age of all the carp I catch come be­tween 4am and 8am.

If you have placed your rigs per­fectly the night be­fore, then why do you need to bring them in? All you are go­ing to do is put them back out there on the same spot again – so leave them there through bite time and fish with con­fi­dence.

As ever, there are one or two ex­cep­tions to the rule and one of these would be on a lake with a big cray­fish pop­u­la­tion. In this

in­stance, un­less you are us­ing plas­tic hook­baits, it may be pru­dent to bring the rods in and check every­thing is okay, be­fore re­plac­ing them as qui­etly as pos­si­ble, ready for bite time.

An­other ex­am­ple might be where you have had one of those red-let­ter nights and, fol­low­ing plenty of bites, the swim is ‘rock­ing’ with feed­ing fish.

In this sit­u­a­tion, it can be pru­dent to keep the bait go­ing in. Of­ten, when the fish are feed­ing this hard, a few re-casts and a bit of Spomb­ing doesn’t up­set them at all.

Other than on those oc­ca­sions, don’t be tempted to dis­turb the swim dur­ing what is the best pos­si­ble part of the day to get a bite!

It’s all about com­mon sense - on some lakes there might be a re­ally good feed­ing win­dow around 4pm or per­haps just on dusk. Know­ing this sort of in­for­ma­tion can be very valu­able and it al­lows us to pre­pare ac­cord­ingly in ad­vance.

So, if the best time is, say, 4pm (a very good time in the win­ter), then I’d make sure I had every­thing re­done and set­tled by around 2pm so that when the best time ar­rives, the swim is calm and undis­turbed.

QAt the start of a ses­sion, how much bait should I be in­tro­duc­ing and how much should I top it up with?

This is a re­ally broad ques­tion but one that, if we un­der­stand the an­swer cor­rectly, can lead to an in­creased catch rate. The first thing to get a han­dle on is how many fish are in the lake? This might sound like an unan­swer­able ques­tion but in re­al­ity, most lake own­ers and bailiffs have a very good idea of the rough num­ber of carp present.

Ask around and see what you can find out, be­cause hav­ing some idea of the num­ber of carp present does of course have some im­pact on how much bait you might want to take with you and how much you can in­tro­duce.

The size of the lake also plays a role – if, for in­stance, there are 300 carp in the lake then that stock is go­ing to be a lot eas­ier to find and the fish are likely to be hun­grier if the lake in ques­tion is five acres. If that stock is ap­plied to a 25-acre lake then you can see that the fish will have more space and pos­si­bly a lower reliance on bait to sur­vive.

By hav­ing an idea of the over­all stock, you can make a rough cal­cu­la­tion on the num­bers of fish in an ac­tive-look­ing swim.

On a lake I am fish­ing cur­rently, there are around 100 carp present. If I find the fish suc­cess­fully (al­ways the first and most im­por­tant task on any ses­sion), and there are num­bers of fish show­ing, then I could rea­son­ably as­sume that there might be some­where be­tween 20-50 per cent of the stock in front of me. (Of course they could all be there, but it is fairly un­usual for the en­tire stock of the lake to be in a sin­gle zone).

Work­ing on a start­ing point of around 20 boilies per fish, I can then ap­ply the bait in a mea­sured way and take it from there. Of course none of this is an ex­act science (far from it!), but it does give us some­thing to work from rather than just guess­ing in an un­in­formed, ran­dom man­ner.

Of­ten I use the Spomb to bait up and if you re­ally are not sure of the num­bers of fish that could be present in the area, I have al­ways found that 10 large Spombs over a pair of rods is enough to elicit a re­sponse while at the same time not be­ing so much as to over­feed the swim. This quan­tity is a good rule of thumb from April to Novem­ber – dur­ing the re­ally cold months I’d cut it down by at least half.

Al­ways count every­thing you put into the swim. Whether it is boilies, Spombs or balls of ground­bait, I need a start­ing point to work from. Just guess­ing ‘X’ amount of a bucket or bag of bait isn’t pre­cise enough for me, and I know that if I bait with, say, 10 Spombs over a cou­ple of rods and I get a bite on one of them, I can rea­son­ably as­sume that maybe half of the bait has been eaten. I might then top up with an­other five Spombs af­ter the bite. Count­ing things gives us that all-im­por­tant start­ing point to work from. It is in­for­ma­tion that we can de­tail in our fish­ing diaries and it is data that can be use­ful on fu­ture ses­sions.

The best rule of thumb is al­ways to bait on the con­ser­va­tive side - that old adage that you ‘can’t take it back out’ is spot on, and reck­lessly over­feed­ing a swim can kill it stone dead. That said, on well-stocked ‘hun­gry’ wa­ters, the most con­sis­tent an­glers are of­ten those that ap­proach the swim in a proac­tive man­ner and give the fish a good hit of bait to get them com­pet­ing.

Look around you - if the there are plenty of fish in the lake and every­body is bait­ing very lightly, it can pay off to at­tack the water with a big bucket of hemp, pel­lets and corn. Of course this, like any other tac­tic, will only work if you po­si­tion your­self in an area where the fish are so don’t ne­glect this most vi­tal as­pect!

A switch to par­ti­cles brought this Quarry lump to the net.

Par­ti­cles work best dur­ing hot weather.

Dawn – do not be tempted to re-cast just be­cause you can.

Dawn is the best time to get a bite.

Pre­pare rigs and bait at sen­si­ble times.

Get bait quan­ti­ties right and the fish are bound to fol­low.

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