Colin Mitchell has been experimenting with baits, explaining his findings here in his popular pleasure fishing blog for Angler's Mail.
EXPERIMENTATION time this week – mainly because I was in the mood to do a bit of work on my fishing rather than just sit and catch.
I know exactly where to fish on these lakes in the summer. Down the edge where it is around 2.5 feet deep before it goes down a slope to anything between five and seven feet.
Even in winter the fish hug the sides in this venue, although they tend to drop down the shelf and live at the bottom of the slope waiting for grub.
This time of the year, like at many other commercial or semi-commerical fisheries, the fish are on that shallow ledge providing it is at least 18 inches deep.
There was a nice bit of cover in the form of reeds to my left and a club of earth carrying grass that had gone into the water to my right, close to the bank.
I was lucky that both spots were exactly the same depth and within range of my top two with two sections added.
But then my luck ran out. Whatever I put on the hook was snaffled on the way down by ravenous rudd. Not big fish but not tiny nuisance fish either. The problem was I wanted carp and bream to pull my elastic out of the pole tip.
I stepped up the 4mm pellet feed but all that did was get me more rudd with the occasional carp. And I do mean occasional!
So what would you do in this instance? My initial reaction was to keep feeding those pellets but even heavier. It didn’t work!
Groundbait would surely bring only more of the rudd or maybe even small roach and skimmers. Wrong!
I do expect groundbait to work down the edge later on in the session or later in the day but this time it was instant for the carp.
The other fish all but vanished once the groundbait went in, cupped loose into the swim on my right by the grass. Maybe the carp and bream shoved the other out because they fancied grubbing through the micro pieces of crumb?
Once thing is for certain they wanted that groundbait and a 250ml cup of the stuff had to be fed after every fish or I had to sit for ages awaiting a bite.
I decided that I would now feed both my swims with groundbait so that I could chop and change between the two after carp had thrashed the water to bits after they had been hooked.
But the fish would not show on the right side, by the rushes. Same depth, same level bottom, not far at all from my other spot. But just the occasional carp. It certainly wasn’t’ anywhere near as productive.
Now as for hookbait…meat was almost certain to score in these conditions, maybe with paste once they got going. Wrong again!
I caught on the meat but missed more bites than I hit. Paste was gobbled up bit by bit by small fish. Neither really worked even when the groundbait swim got going.
Pellets on the hook brought stupid little bites – but double sweetcorn was most definitely what they fancied most. Sometimes there were little dips of the float and then a big fish would be on.
How do your explain the above? You can’t! This is fishing, this is what we have to find out every time we go.
What do the fish want to eat? How much do they want to eat? Where to they want the food placing?
With more than 60 fish having graced my landing net in barely five hours I was well happy with my day out.
But even more satisfying was that it had not been a case of just putting out bait, sticking something on the hook and striking. Those fish had been worked for. And that is really worthwhile.
NORMALLY when you go fishing and start to bag up there’s someone who will walk the bank and tell you how you are doing it wrong, how they know a much better method.
Obviously, that’s very annoying. In fact you have to grin and bite your tongue.
So I was actually quite chuffed when, after my first run of fish, a guy walked along the bank said he was struggling, asked if I was a venue regular and what could I tell him.
Great! I love helping out other anglers, especially a guy like this who just wanted to have a good day’s sport and at that time had just one skimmer to his credit.
I went along to his peg and instantly saw a massive waggler planted in the middle of the lake and set at a depth where he would only catch cruising carp if he was lucky.
I point out that he needed to be down the edge, especially to his right where there was a lovely set of overhanging branches.
He listened, smiled and said thank you. I don’t know how he finished his day but hope he did well.
Mind you I did almost pass out when I first went to his swim – just a rod and a half length out the water was fizzing with fish. It was like a giant Jacuzzi.
He said he hadn’t thrown any bait in that area. I still wondered why at least one of his two rods wasn’t cast to that spot!
With that many fish feeding so freely he would have got at least one, even if they were already preoccupied with a natural bait on the lake bed.
Your eyes are quite often the quickest route to catching a few fish…