Our insightful general angling blogger, Colin Mitchell discusses how much and what you feed can make or break a good day on the bank. If you like this blog, please click the social media icons above to share with your fishing pals.
YOU’VE selected a swim, tackled up, picked the right end gear for the best presentation and are ready to start fishing.
What’s the next most important aspect to enjoying a good day’s sport? Feeding!
Get it right in how much and what you feed can make or break a good day on the bank. There’s no exact science to this. A lot of what you do will probably be learned over the years from experience and gut instincts – but there are a few pointers you can pick up along the way.
Importance of feeding
Recently – and probably because of the time of year – feeding has been of the utmost importance.
Let’s start with a day on Walden’s Farm near Salisbury in Wiltshire last week, a new venue for me and Music Mike but not for Cousin David. The Cousin told us how he had caught carp and plenty of skimmers and small fish last time, basically on maggot and corn. However, that was before the cold weather and although spring has sprung the fish haven’t quite turned on just yet.
There was a distinct lack of fish opening their mouths in our first choices of swims – although they were obviously there, as we could see them knocking the rushes and occasionally topping.
We moved to a slightly deeper area and I decided a softly, softly approach might be the best plan, feeding a few micro pellets and not too many maggots. But I would kick start the swim with a decent cup of the above, just to get a bed of bait down.
I got a few small fish and an instant carp and then the swim appeared to die. I didn’t want to feed again so soon so I waited.
Backing off the bait
The fish came back and I instantly realised the fish were doing what they often do when they are not properly switched on. They find some bait, they feed and then they back off – before returning to munch again.
There are two ways to beat this. The first is to fish just away from your main feed area for a time, which is where the fish may be laying. But in my case I couldn’t really fish away as I was close to a feature. So I potted in a very small amount of bait – and caught!
That was then the way forward for the rest of the day, a small pot after every couple of fish and the feeding frenzy from the fish got stronger, with a few carp and plenty of nice roach and skimmers.
Small fish on the munch
There was also something else to note. There were loads of small fish coming into the feed – something that often puts some anglers off feeding, or trying to feed even more to get rid of them.
There’s an easier way – just catch the small fish until the big ones arrive, which they will if they see activity of their little brothers. Or you can slip on a bigger bait – which is what I did in the form of bits of meat – and wait a little longer for a bite.
Now I fed maggots and micro – but different situations need different feed, obviously more grub the more fish around, but never so much that you overfeed. And do you mix and match baits? Do you feed a bit of everything or just feed what you are fishing on the hook?
The two schools of thought
You will find two schools of thought here. One is that you fish what you feed, the other is to try a lot of variation. I’m with the second school. Feed and fish a variety. If fish want to eat it they will… and you can chop and change hookbaits to find which is best.
Many anglers believe that groundbait pulls in smaller fish. Rubbish! It pulls in all sorts of species.
Yes, smaller fish may respond faster but that is good – as I said earlier their activity will bring in their inquisitive bigger brothers. Some of the country’s best canal anglers used to feed a massive selection of baits like casters, pinkies, chopped worm and groundbait, all at once. I like that.
I think casters are a good all round feed and they stay on the bottom of the venue waiting to be found – unlike live maggots that can bury in the mud. Dead maggots solve that problem! Chopped worm and caster can pull in every species that swims and I have no problem feeding together.
Maggot and worms? Not for me
However, I won’t feed maggots and fish bit worms over the top. It’s a personal thing, I just don’t think it works well, never has for me.
Some perch specialists – as you will have seen from catches this winter and spring in Angler’s Mail magazine – will feed maggots and fish worms, their aim to pull in smaller fish on which the perch can predate. I’d rather chop worms that both lots of fish will eat….or even hack up a few prawns.
And finally I’m back to the Goo, which regular readers will know I’ve been hooked on myself the past few weeks.
Some of my recent feeding has involved soaking my feed pellets in water that’s had a good squirt of Kiana Goo. You then get a nice juicy pellet that oozes out a great smell and tastes superb (yes, before you ask I actually tasted it – albeit just a little).
As they say on the telly, there are other baits available. And as I have suggested above lots of different things are worth trying when it comes to feeding!