In his popular weekly blog, Colin Mitchell explores what baits fish want, based upon his own latest experience. Here are a few clues on what bait is best...

LOOSE feed particles or groundbait? Pellets or hookbait samples?

How many times have you pondered those questions during a fishing session?

Or more precisely I wonder how many times you have gone home having only done one of those feeding regimes and wondered if you would have caught more doing something else.

I always earmark a session or two as my “practise” days. Unlike when I was matchfishing and used to test out methods for up and coming events, they are now days when I try something a bit different, or a method that I wonder could work on one of my usual venues.

This past week I wanted to fish soft pellets. Having stuck with meat, corn and worms in recent weeks I wanted to see just how effective these pellets could be, see if they could outscore my other baits, and get a bit of confidence in them.

I got the perfect chance to discover their effectiveness at Godalming’s Marsh Farm, knowing full well that I can usually catch on most baits at this venue when the conditions are right.

I started by cupping in a few hard pellets that had been softened a little, and began with meat and corn over the top. I was surprised how difficult it was to get some reasonable bites.

I would have expected a lot more fish than I was catching, even in the bright sunny conditions.

There were a few skimmers to be had and quite a lot of bites that would not develop fully. That suggested to me that soft pellets could just be the answer…I deliberately did not want to fish maggot or caster.

Still putting off a change I slipped on a worm – a sure fire catcher here for me usually. It didn’t actually catch, unless one small skimmer counts!

The soft expander pellets, freshly pumped, went on the hook and the float buried. Another small skimmer… and more missed bites.

It didn’t matter what I did I couldn’t get through the skimmers and attract a few nice bream, tench or crucians.

There was nothing for it but to fall back on feeding trusty groundbait. I love a bit of GB, it gives me a lot of confidence, especially in summer.

A nice bit of fine brown breadcrumb with a few nice smelling sweet additives and mixed fairly dry to sprinkle into the lake from a pole cup over two harder balls at around six metres, a good catch area.

I had a rake of tench - but didn't use the paste I was "supposed" to use!

The tench loved it!

Instant reaction! But this time from a tench. Then another… then nothing.

Paste on the hook and it was more tench and some bream before I once again couldn’t hit the bites.

As it was now a little later in the day – but not as late as you would like when you normally expect to catch down the edge – I sprinkled more groundbait just on the slope of the nearside ledge.

Ten minutes later I lowered in a ball of paste and wallop… another good tench.

I just had to see if the soft pellet would work here. It did!

From then until I packed in it was a bite or a fish a chuck. Every time bites slowed I cupped in a bit more sprinkled groundbait and was back in business.

Under these circumstances I would normally have expected the smaller fish to zoom in on the groundbait and be a plague you couldn’t get through to the bigger fish.

Blog MitchBut that just didn’t happen. The big fish kept the smaller ones out. They wanted that groundbait so much…

Now I am much happier about fishing soft pellet and having caught well on it know I would not hesitate so much in future when I should be changing the bait.

All fishing needs to be like this – experimental! We all have tried and trusted methods but sometimes they just do not work.

A change to something that has proven form, even if not on the venue you are on – or not for you on that venue – can bring pretty fast results.



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