Colin Mitchell is back with his weekly coarse angling blog, exclusively here for Angler's Mail. He looks at why a big Christmas feed could be the right direction on the banks this winter.
AS it’s the season to be jolly and generous let’s take a brand new look at what you do when you go fishing.
We all know the old saying to feed ‘little and often’ and that you step that up once you start to catch. Well as a goodwill gesture to all fish out there in rivers and lakes forget the above! Go barmy and give them loads of grub!
It’s ok I really do mean this and I haven’t had too much wine in the glass, sherry in the trifle or whisky by the jar full.
Filling in the swim
Sometimes when you can’t even get a bite it can pay off to really fill in your swim with bait. But before you start loading up pole pots, making baby’s head sized balls of groundbait or emptying your bait boxes into the water…sit back and digest the following! This ploy doesn’t always work. Sometimes it can be a guaranteed kill-a-swim-dead killer. The secret is knowing just WHEN you can do this.
In a match it is usual a past the half way mark decision, although it can actually be a last hour or half hour tactic. When you are pleasure fishing and able to go home or change your swim it is a lot easier to make such a drastic move.
Let’s presume you have fished a few hours, have topped up your swim carefully and steadily and had either no bites, no fish or very few of either. But you firmly believe there are fish in the area and they might just have an inclination to feed.
Right now it’s decision time – do you go for it or how much do you go for it? You want to put in a good bit of bait but it’s best not to heave everything in for a couple of reasons. Let’s start with why you put it in.
First that huge dollop of grub might just be too much for the fish to resist. Or it could be that fish ARE already feeding in your swim but they are mostly small and are intercepting your little but often feed before it can get to work to get the others interested in your hookbait. A mass influx of food makes all the fish interested, a feeding frenzy if you like, and increases your chances of catching.
Now don’t throw in everything you’ve got. If the Bait Dump plan works you may need more food handy to keep the fish going. More often than not I think this mass influx of bait works because the fish are stirred into action – or as it is one hit they are actually more curious to come and have a look.
Most anglers know that a little but often trickle of bait falling through the water acts as a massive attractor to fish. But sometimes that one big hit of bait could just be better. When fish are a bit cagey it may give them time to settle on the spot – a bit like bream graze over a bed of groundbait when it has settled and hate anything coming in on top of their heads.
Recently I’ve had two big handfuls of maggots turn on big fish in my swim where I have struggled to get bites. And another day when it was a struggle to get anything to take a bait I managed to get them going by plopping in a big cup of chopped worm.
In both cases I didn’t feed again until the bites stopped. Then in went another mountain of food and bites started again. It’s the same thing with groundbait. How often do anglers talk about the noise of bait hitting the water attracting the fish?
Fish that respond to the barrage of a few big balls of groundbait don’t necessarily eat the stuff but they might home in on those maggots, casters, worms or pellets on your hook.
The Bait Dump trick can work on still or flowing waters – and in fact you might get away with an even bigger feed on rivers where some of the food will wash away. Why does this trick work? The noise value mentioned above is obviously one reason.
Creating a feed trigger where the fish can’t resist any more could be another – and the final one is that they have got used to anglers throwing in used bait when they go home (where this isn’t banned as a lot of fisheries do ask you not to discard unused bait at the end of a session).