Dave Har­rell Ground­bait ver­sus loose­feed – which is bet­ter right now?

Which works bet­ter at this time of year?

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

ONE of the ques­tions I get asked most at this time of year is whether to use ground­bait or just loose­feed, now that wa­ter tem­per­a­tures in our rivers are drop­ping.

Well, there are many sit­u­a­tions where one or the other is al­ways go­ing to work bet­ter, and this week I’ll take you through these to try to steer you in the right di­rec­tion.

All the swims listed are hy­po­thet­i­cal, of course, and are flow­ing fairly quickly.

SHAL­LOW RIVER (3ft-5ft)

At this time of year, the tar­get species on shal­low, fast rivers are nearly al­ways chub, and the best way to catch them is with loose­feed.

How far out you can get that feed with a cat­a­pult will de­ter­mine how far out you can fish.

One way of feed­ing the swim at dis­tance that I’ve used to very good ef­fect in re­cent years is to use carp pel­lets as feed and mag­gots on the hook. That might sound like an odd com­bi­na­tion but be­lieve me, it works. I al­ways carry some 4mm, 6mm and 8mm Bait-Tech Fish­meal pel­lets in the car, and if I draw a swim where I think I might need to fish a long way out for chub I will feed them.

It’s not some­thing I do very of­ten, as you need the right swim on a low, clear river to make it work, but right now the rivers are per­fect for it. Feed mag­gots as far as they will go at the same time and you will cre­ate two pos­si­ble catch­ing lines.

MEDIUM-DEPTH (6ft-10ft)

These are the sort of swims that

will hold dace and roach as well as chub in the win­ter months, and I would def­i­nitely have some ground­bait mixed for these swims.

If you are con­fi­dent that there are lot of fish you can ball in with sev­eral big ones at the start and then top up with a ball ev­ery cast or ev­ery other cast there­after. This was an ap­proach I adopted last week in the River Wye Champs and it brought me 60-7-0 of dace, which was top weight on the Hereford town sec­tions.

My mix for this type of swim is a 50/50 com­bi­na­tion of Bait-Tech Pro Nat­u­ral to­gether with a litre or two of rid­dled mole­hill soil. In­ci­den­tally, this is a good time of the year to stock up on soil. The stuff you find near to rivers is usu­ally the best, so get out search­ing and stock up, as it will be no good once it gets wet in a few weeks’ time.

It is im­por­tant to feed ground­bait down­stream of you. By do­ing this you will be able to run the rig right over the feed area.

Cast your rig in and get it work­ing. Once it’s set per­fectly and run­ning through you will re­alise that it’s a fair way down the swim be­fore you are in con­trol.

You can mix and match this style of feed­ing with loose­feed as well, as you will cre­ate two very de­fined catch­ing ar­eas over the course of the ses­sion.

Quite of­ten, you will find that dace and small roach will move over the ground­baited area while big­ger roach will hang back fur­ther down the swim, in­ter­cept­ing the loose­feed.

DEEP RIVER (10ft-plus)

Once you get into very deep wa­ter sit­u­a­tions in swift, flow­ing wa­ter, ground­bait re­ally comes into its own – but pro­vided the swim is long enough, you can still loose­feed as long as the bait gets down in your swim.

An open­ing bar­rage of six to 10 big balls is of­ten worth a go, and then try top­ping up with smaller balls ev­ery cast. Don’t put too much fed in the balls to start with, as you can never be quite sure how many fish are in front of you. It’s bet­ter to add feed to the mix as you go and then feed to re­sponse.

An­other way to in­tro­duce feed in these deep swims is with a big bait drop­per. It’s a great way to get a bed of mag­gots or cast­ers down quickly, so al­ways carry a cou­ple with you.

“It is im­por­tant to feed ground­bait down­stream of you”

Big shoals of dace love ground­bait – and lots of it!

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