Captor of one of the most soughtAFTER fish IN THE NORTH WEST LAST YEAR, PAW PRINT, FOLLOWING A THREE-YEAR CAMPAIGN, PETER HAS LEARNED HOW GETTING YOUR BAITING RIGHT CAN OFTEN BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUCCESSFUL AND FAILURE.
Ithink the answer here partly lies in the question and that is – how active have the fish become? At this time of year, the weather plays a huge part in how much the fish are willing to feed and what areas they favour most, so I try to base my baiting strategy around these two factors.
This winter we experienced some truly Arctic conditions. Even in the first few days of March, my target water looked more like a scene from Walt Disney’s Frozen than anything else, and I’m sure it will have no doubt further delayed our quarry into waking up from their winter slumber. Therefore, I will certainly be applying a more reserved approach with my baiting this coming spring, that is until I see signs the fish are becoming more active.
Until then I will keep baiting to a minimum, choosing to fish PVA bags and small quantities of loose feed, such as corn and boilie crumb – fishing for a bite at a time. On countless occasions I’ve witnessed anglers turn up and pile bait in when the fish are still very much dormant.
Generally, I won’t up the quantities until the fish start grouping up into shoals. Once the fish become more active and start to move more frequently, the chances of them passing over a baited area and dropping down for the odd feed are much higher. When this happens, my usual tactic is to bait in regular intervals with small food items heavily soaked in liquid attractants, such as micro pellets, groats and boilie crumb, and let the fish dictate to me how much and how often I should feed.
My chosen hookbait is always a hi-vis pop-up when fishing this way and it has been most effective in open water over low-lying weed. In April last year, I applied such tactics on the Carp Society’s Horseshoe Lake to great success.
However, if we have received mild weather conditions leading up to spring, then I have found a heavy baiting approach can be very successful, although I prefer to bait regularly a few days prior leading up to the session, then fish single hookbaits or bags on the day. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible depending on the venue, so it does have its limitations.
The deeper, more silty areas of the lake are my first port of call here; not only do birds find it difficult to eat bait here, but I also find the fish feed a lot more confidently and bite times are more widespread. When baiting like this, I use a boilie-only approach, but prefer to stick to milk-protein/ bird-food-type baits – DNA Baits’ Nuttas being a favourite of mine.
In conclusion, I believe at this time of year it’s the environmental factors which should dictate the quantities of feed we use, namely the weather, venue and fish stock, etc. Finding the balance and what works best for you is all part of the challenge.
CAPTIONS 1 - Like a scene out of Walt Disney’s Frozen! My target water on the 2nd of March 2018 2 - Regular baiting of small food items produced this typical Horseshoe mirror 3 - Fishing for a bite at a time until THE fish BECOME more ACTIVE 2