Match and coarse fishing tactician Dave Coster of Hardy Greys, and a regular in Angler’s Mail’s All The Answers section, shares his thoughts on the dilemma when and when not to use fishmeal.

I THINK most anglers at some stage experience a dilemma regarding when and when not to use fishmeal products.

This mainly applies to wild venues where pellets and fishmeal groundbaits have not yet been used extensively.

It is often perceived there is no chance of these products working instantly, that it takes time for the fish to become accustomed to them.

I’ve fallen into this way of thinking many times, so when I have experimented with fishmeal on virgin waters it has been very sparingly, off the back of kicking off with standard gear like non-fish groundbaits, combined with maggots, worms and casters.

I endeavour to get the fish feeding on these old favourites first and then try introducing a few pellets, or maybe mixing a bit of fishmeal into my groundbaits.

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There is definitely a trend, with silver fish in particular, where it can take time to wean fish onto pellets and fishy smelling groundbait recipes. However with carp I think the reverse applies.

On a trip to Germany I was taken to a lake that has hardly ever been fished, but my friend who owns one of the properties backing onto the water told me the place was full of carp (mainly small but with a smattering of doubles). He said swimmers who regularly use the water complain of constantly bumping into fish!

Bearing in mind I was fishing off the hoof with borrowed gear, the only bait I could get was pellets, sweetcorn and some fishmeal groundbait, obtained in a hurry from a commercial fishery tackle shop. To be honest I wasn’t that confident.

I set up a 13ft float rod with an insert waggler and quite light gear because I couldn’t picture unfished for carp homing in on a pellet waggler, or method feeder to begin with!

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I threw in a couple of balls of soft fishmeal groundbait to kick off, at about three rod lengths out, and then loose fed a few 4mm pellets over the top. Oh for some maggots I thought as the float didn’t do anything for the first few casts.

But then, using a soft 6mm pellet on the hook my float suddenly sailed under and the action began. It was hectic after that with a good bend in my rod for most of the short three hour session. It was great fun, catching 1 to 4 lb carp on a size 16 hook and 0.12mm hook length – keeping things light because the water was surprisingly clear and snag free.

It turned out I shouldn’t have worried about an exploratory pellet/fishmeal approach. By the end of the session the carp were churning up the sandy bottom in front of me, although I didn’t catch any of the roach the lake is supposed to hold.

True to form when it comes to weaning silvers onto baits like pellets it takes more time.

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