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Creative Carp Bait Boosting Methods and Special Catfish Hook Baits and Fishing Edges
There are many simple ways to generate more bites in fishing. There are many complex methods too, but what matters is what gives you personally the most satisfaction in your fishing. We all want to improve our catches with the least time and effort. Or do we? You may wonder why I ask this question and the answer is this. Most often it’s the guy who puts in the most effort that reaps the greatest rewards, but this just reflects a great deal of our activities in life.
Often in the case of fishing, it’s not necessarily what you know, but how you create ways to use what is ‘common knowledge’ to solve our fishing challenges, by using innovative applications to fit a specific purpose by design.
A good example is in the case of many newer fishermen just getting into the game. Many are extremely keen to learn and will proactively seek out all the information they can. The proliferation of carp fishing magazines etc are catering to an obvious need, just as this article is. Often fishermen create the problems they face in their fishing situations by fishing in stereotypical fashion – quite literally as in the pages of a magazine. This ‘copy-cat’ type of fishing approach is absolutely rife, certainly in the UK.
For example, a set of anglers reading the magazines might well choose to start using a new ready made bait and order it in bulk from a commercial bait company. These days there are many which will make your bait to your specifications. You can even make your own flavours or bait enhancing liquid mixtures to differentiate your version of that bait to the standard commercial version. Often using one company’s liquid stimulators and attractors and flavours with the base mix of another is a successful way to create a new but already successful bait.
It can take a little time to get confidence in doing things like this. Certainly there are baits which have been ‘optimised’ using their own activating ingredients for example, but the majority of base mixes can be used with a vast selection of alternatives additives, flavours, oils, enhancers, stimulators etc and catch fish very successfully.
Even if you just fish for catfish and are unsure of how to boost a piece of luncheon meat, soaking it in one or a mixture of carp designed additives (as in dips and soaks) is an easy edge to use. Most carp anglers use a bait dip or soak to boost their hook bait’s attraction at the very least. This certainly works on most waters most of the time although where it is done by the majority, a situation is created were untreated and ‘washed-out’ baits have a noticeable edge especially for those individual fish which feed and behave with more care and caution with perhaps what might be termed an ‘angler conditioned heightened awareness’ of potential angling related danger reference points including over-loaded baits.
One easy way to trick fish is to soak all your free baits in an additive mixture so none stand out. I used to try and fish in a block of 2 or 3 days and nights if possible. This was really so the effect of leaching of stimulating substances from bait soak boosted free baits and the continual breakdown of different types of baits like pastes, boiled baits and steamed and scalded baits could build up. I’d do anything I could to make the fish lose their reference points in regards to that bait as much as possible.
Obviously using a bait of one kind in a swim works well and catches. How many anglers have tested using the same bait treated with 3 differing levels of added flavour soaked into the bait? Different swims, depths, temperatures and other variables can influence results on a single type of bait with one flavour level and it is very much worth covering a range of concentrations. When you find a level for that time of year make a note of it. Now you might want to test mixing betaine HCL or an intense sweetener for example in with the flavour and try these methodically too. (Using an ‘alternative sweetener like ‘Aloe Nectar’ or even cheap fruit sugar in your ground bait for example, can really pay off.) The thing is although in the strictest scientific sense what you are doing is not utterly conclusive (far from it) if it catches you more fish than your friends flogging ‘standard baits’ and you keep learning useful knowledge from doing it, then why not try it?
Another simple trick is to feed boosted soaked baits of one or a mixture of different types. Beds of boosted baits and all kinds of ground baits really can get the fish going and coming into the swim in a ‘stimulated mode.’ On many waters this can equal very active feeding, if only for a short while until the free bait is eaten, or you hook a fish and spook the rest out, or until attraction gets leached from the baits and the fish actually decide to feed on your baits when washed out, perhaps 2 or 3 days later when they may be regarded as ‘safe’. In fact, baiting up with boosted crumbed and chopped baits of different types and trickling it in gradually over a series of days really can build confidence and even competitive behaviour in the fish.
On trickier waters, it can pay off to get set-up in your swim, build the swim up with bait and only wet a line when the fish are obviously feeding confidently. This may mean 2 days of no fishing and then maybe a very big fish on the third night for example. I’ve done this on many occasions with significant success when targeting bigger fish.
You do not absolutely need to buy expensive fishing flavours and additives from the fishing shops however. Many anglers are on a constant budget and your consideration of the food, drink, fuel, ticket price and essential tackle which gets used up, like PVA bags, hook sharpeners, boilies, pellets, ground baits, all add up. Your free bait and ground bait boosters can be very simple mixtures. You can add any of the following:
Mashed tinned fish in oil and / or water. (And mixtures of all or any of the above.)
Pates can be used to boost hook baits and make them very different. How many anglers have tested using a mixture of crab, salmon and shrimp pates with an added amino acid type of liquid supplement for example?
Tomato puree and other supermarket favourites like fish and crab source and anchovy paste. (Anchovy paste is also great for catfish and pike too.)
The list can go on and on and mixing cheaper materials with proprietary fishing bait products is also very effective. Even boiling your baits in molasses sugar or honey can make a difference to catches. It takes a bit of creativity that’s all.
I hope you do take notes too, because I certainly did regularly and in great detail for at least my first 10 years of carp fishing. Although I’ve forgotten much from the last 27 years of carp, catfish, sea, game, match and other fishing, over time, this process definitely speeds up learning. Maintaining a fishing diary and bait note book are very valuable tools indeed. It reveals valuable patterns pertinent to your water or specifics about the specific baits and methods you employ and the challenges you encounter. Looking back over past years makes for some fascinating reading too!
On one particular commercial water I fished around 2005 I remember aiming to catch all the big fish and this really did involve noting every single detail concerning the water to identify weaknesses the fish might possibly have. This included everything I could think of including possible dietary deficiencies due to a lack of weed in the water and history of specific boilie baits. This meant researching the pellet baits, particle baits allowed and ground baits most introduced by the majority of anglers. Also exact patrol routes, fish movements and behavioural observations and their regular feeding spots, frequency of feeding and apparent and probable feeding influencing factors. Also factors influencing location especially in regards to the activities and numbers of other anglers and their line angles, baiting habits and so on.
Even testing different rig materials to match the lake bed and identifying which approach would work better from small hooks and long links and hairs, to many options including very short links with exacting measurements and ‘hinge’ placements. Even hook baits and their colours, sizes shapes, hardness, buoyancies and densities and textures and leaching rates were examined. I came up with the use of at least 3 ‘alternative approaches’ which proved extremely effective.
A hair utilising 3 ‘blood corpuscle / disc’ shaped extremely hard dense baits in tiny sizes in combination with a complete paste covering of the hook, produced many of the big fish and pretty quickly too. This was fished with tiny fresh paste free baits and scalded paste baits in PVA bags half-filled with bait base mix and certain very effective additives. I was always aiming to use a new bait mix each visit and this also proved very effective and seemed to produce the effect of catching the range of the fish and not just producing repeat captures of the same big fish, which occurred for another angler to his annoyance. (He had no idea how it was I kept getting different fish!)
This water was very special because I had in effect spend 10 years on one larger water and another 8 years on a very difficult water of a similar small size each with similar problems which I’d successfully overcome and landed the biggest fish from. That’s quite apart from at least 100 other waters fished in the previous 25 years. Some waters require particular approaches and may take more than you are prepared to give. Money spent on bait has always been a problem for me and I’m not alone.
On some waters you really need the large amounts of bait necessary to build up a swim if consistent catches of big fish is your aim. My experience on ‘Darenth big lake’ in Kent UK was that I’d become extremely lazy and just did not focus on the fish movements and exact feeding spots enough and went for 2 or 3 years without really bothering to apply much of what I know about bait. I used tiny amounts of ready made baits almost entirely and fished very stereotypically and paid for it dearly. Despite hooking some big fish and losing them including the famed ‘little leather’ the feedback and lessons were all very useful.
I remember fishing the ‘Big Grange’ in Essex for a couple of years and noticed that at one point, certain members caught amazing numbers of fish in a short period of time while other members blanked. Of course, the secret was in the use of boats and very heavy repeated baiting of spots in heavy weed. The effects of such baiting becomes like a key unlocking the potential of a water making things very much easier where such an approach has not been done except by the minority. By comparison, my puny 25 baits around my hook baits produced very few fish, but I soon learned!
You could say that your real success is relative to what you know at any period of time and how you use it. At that time I’d never heard of anyone emptying 25 kilogram sacks of bait off a boat and then going back to their rods and catching almost immediately; it just seemed so alien to what I was used to. This opened my eyes to the quantities of bait, fish of a large size can consume within a very short period of time. Although heavy baiting is not an appropriate ‘blanket fishing approach’ I would always leverage it using creative types of baits and their preparations if and where appropriate.
However do be aware that your bait and baiting behaviour really can impact upon the fishing and results of other anglers even to the extent of preventing them from catching. This behaviour is just not ethical in my view and experience. I remember fishing one water having nicely prepared my swim for a night session with a minimum of disturbance and brimming with confidence, when a certain ‘Mr Shelly turned up in the swim close next door on a ‘social fishing trip’ and proceeding to fill the lake in with bait. We both blanked.
On some smaller big fish waters especially, you can actively observe fish responding in detail to your baiting methods and refine what you do and what you are offering. This can entail using binoculars to observe tiny tell-tale bubbles from fish feeding and travelling in your baited area and be able to track their movements on and around your bait for example. (You can note a fish rolling just under the surface on the sly for example when often you might look for a head and shouldering or surface rolling fish which just does not appear.)
You can look back in your diary to a certain week over previous years and pretty much know which carp or even catfish will be feeding in a rough location where in a water depending on conditions and angling pressure. You might also know what that fish’s bait preferences are; like a mix of particular bait additives or a base mix and expect to catch him at an even bigger weight this coming year. When experiences build up it can become like a painter with a huge palette and range of creative colours to choose from; one is likely correct for the purpose required.
So please remember, if a new angler turns up at your water and proceeds to catch fish beyond everyone’s expectations, he’s likely paid his ‘dues’ and genuinely put in great efforts and for a very long time, elsewhere first; and it could be you!
Like I mentioned earlier, much of your fishing success and ‘personal fishing edges’ over your competing fellow fishermen can be down to how you use what you know...
By Tim Richardson.
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