While we sit on our hands through the dark days of winter, with a ‘roof’ of ice covering our favourite lakes, now is the time to think about the warmer days ahead; specifically about catching carp using what I call mass baits, namely mini boilies, seeds and seed blends, boilie crumb, chops and groundbait. You see, using mass baits to create preoccupation is probably one of the most sure fire ways of getting action in modern carp fishing.
Not every lake responds to a mass bait approach but I believe that carp in smaller venues respond slightly better than those in larger ones. I tend to fish smaller waters that if possible allow me to watch carp as they feed, and judge their reactions to the bait and the baiting situation. I realise that this is not as easy as it once was, given the number of carp anglers around these days, but with a little bit of forethought I am sure you will be able to find a suitable venue.
There is all manner of baits that will achieve the kind of preoccupation that leads to more confident and aggressive feeding, the cornerstone of any mass baiting campaign. My preference is for mini and micro seeds or blends but these can be tailored to you own preferences. My favourite mix is complex blend of seeds, seed blends, boilie crumb, chops, maize and SuperRed™ groundbait. In addition, if I feel that it will improve the bait carpet I will also include whole mini boilies and a scattering of pulses and nuts. The latter are often individually targeted by the bigger fish. For instance, a handful of tiger nuts chucked in with a carpet of, say, Red Band® may have a greater success rate that the Red Band® fished on it own. Alternatively why not try a large pulse such as chickpeas over a carpet of micro seeds and pellets.
In fact Red Band® Pigeon Conditioner is a brilliant seed blend in its own right containing a fine selection of mini particles with the addition of aniseed oil as well as some very attractive mini pellets for added attraction. During preparation some of the small grains break down almost to a mush thanks to the gluten they extrude during the cooking process. A test of whether the Red Band® is properly cooked or not is to turn the saucepan upside down…If the bait sticks to the pan it is ready. If it doesn’t you are going to have one very cheesed off missus and a large mess on the kitchen floor!
Any tiny bait that can be introduced in quantity will have the effect of promoting preoccupation and as I discussed in a previous article on the site, mass baits like hempseed and groats are perhaps the best examples of single mass baits available. However, many anglers these days seem to prefer a mixed groundbait carpet, one that includes hempseed and maybe some groats, but which also offers a wider variety. I have already indicated my own preference for such a groundbait so let me now just outline a recipe, which I believe will work well on any water. It is as follows:
• First mix together in a bucket equal parts Haith’s® Red Band®, Oat Groats, Flaked Maize, and SuperRed
• Now add water and allow the mixture to stand overnight if possible so as to absorb water. The process can be speeded up if boiling water is added.
• Now add chops, boilie crumb and whole boilies.
• Now boost the groundbait still further with a handful of prepared tigers, a handful of Haith’s® peanut granules and High Protein Crumbs and some CSL Pellets.
• Finally add a scattering of prepared popcorn maize.
• The wet mix can then be stiffened to your personal preference by adding soya flour or semolina. The mix is now ready to be introduced to the water either by bait boat, spod or as groundbait balls.
If all the above sounds a bit too much like hard work, you can in fact create an equally good bait carpet with nothing other than a bucketful or two of SuperRed™. This amazing product is based upon the fabulous Robin Red® but it also contains crushed micro seeds, crushed hemp eed, ground tigers, Red Factor™, peanut granules, aniseed oil and teazle seed. In recent tests it has proved very effective when laced with a few handfuls of small 8mm ready mades. In fact, on a trip to the Chateau Lake in France the above combination proved deadly accounting for no less than 81 carp in two five-day sessions with fish to 41lb falling to Trigga hookbaits fished over the top of a carpet of SuperRed. You will find other Robin Red®-based groundbaits on the market and I am sure they are very effective, but there is only one SuperRed™!
As I said earlier, my own preference is for small waters with a relative lack of angling pressure and I am sure that would be your choice too in an ideal world, so lets start by looking at a water that I fish close to my home in Cornwall, describing how I go about baiting up with mini particles, seeds and groundbait.
Initially I aim to introduce a fair bit of bait in areas where I can see if it is being eaten. On this particular lake there are no problems with birds as it is very deep in the margins, but obviously on your own venue you have to bear in mind that ducks and other bird life might eat the bait while you are away so in a perfect world you want a lake with deep clear margins and no bird life to speak off.
Wherever possible I try to entice the carp to come in to the margins. It is a fact of carp fishing life that the further we fish from the bank, the less efficiently we do so. That is why watching carp feed is so important. Not only can I see if the bait is going I can also watch carp actually eating it. This is one of the most exciting sights in fishing as it tells you that all is well with the bait, the positioning of the bait carpet and that the carp are gaining confidence. At this stage I have to force myself not to put as bait on them! The longer they feed in a line-free zone the more confident they become.
In an ideal world you would like to be fishing a lightly fished lake with low angler pressure. You will have seen the bait being eaten and know that carp are confident in the areas you have been baiting, so how do you go about actually catching them?
In my opinion be best method is single rod stalking. I have caught fish from numerous waters by simply setting the rod down on the bank with the clutch set lightly and watching the line and or the rod tip. No buzzers, banksticks, bivvies or bedchairs. What could be simpler? Of course, the ideal world is hard to find and I quite accept that stalking is not everyone’s cup of tea and is often practically impossible to do on many hard fished waters. That said it is still possible to adopt a semi-stalking strategy even on hard-fished lakes. Just remember that successful stalking depends on the effective use of your bait carpet: get that right and the rest is easy!
My favourite mix is complex blend of seeds, seed blends, boilie crumb, chops, maize and SuperRed™ groundbait.
Oat groats, pellets and a few boilies. This recipe often provokes intense and aggressive feeding.
Red Band® in preparation. Get it right and you will be able to do this!
SuperRed™ is without doubt the best brand name groundbaits on the market. This is my standard river mixture, being a sloppy bucket of pure SuperRed™ with a few boilies added.
A typical river-caught common carp caught on a boilie hookbait over an irresistible carpet of SuperRed™.
Proof that the carp are eating you bait. The lakebed has been cleaned of all surface silt, weed and other debris by the feeding action of the carp.
Single rod fishing in the margins of a small Devon lake.
You will find other Robin Red®-based groundbaits on the market and I am sure they are very effective, but there is only one SuperRed™, as this magnificent 41lb common carp proves!