How much bait and what should I use?
It's a question I am often asked by anglers fishing Ribiere. As a fisheries owner you always want the fish to get the best and get what they need at the right times to keep them fit and well for you to catch. As an angler you want to simply catch. So often as a fisheries owner you are trying to walk a fine line between what you as the owner want and what the angler needs. My aim over the next year is to encourage you to try to get it right feeding the right amounts at the right time of year. In very basic terms the fish need more in April and May and after spawning and less in the summer when the naturals are abundant and then the want more again the in Autumn.
So how much should I use?
To give you an idea we have 20,000 kg of big carp. One per cent of this is 200kg. If you read all the information about a carps needs you will know that they can eat between 1-5% over a week without any problem. At 5% that would be 1000kg per week. Yes that's a fxxking lot of bait. In winter I feed them 300kg per week. In my view the carp here between April and June (couple of weeks after spawning) need between 300kg and 500kg per week. In July and August the level of naturals in the lake is sky high and the water temperature is hot and the fish are not feeding in the same way. So you can cut it right back in July and August. From September through to October and up until you get the first big drop in temperatures and cold nights you can again put plenty in. November and March can be very weather dependent and so for me again its less if the weather is very cold and more if they seem to be responding.
So how much should you be using?
I would have no problem over a week using between 40-60Kg of bait if I am catching. That's a mix of boilie and maize and pellets etc. I would use 30kg of boilie and the rest would be my mix. That would work out at 2/3Kg a day per rod at 60kg. Don't get me wrong if they are not in front of you or not playing its a different game and for me its little and often when they are not playing. But when they are and the conditions are good you need to keep them coming back otherwise they will move. The fish here respond to having bait in the water and some of the bigger hits of fish come to regular feeding.
How and when you apply the bait is also critical to your success. There is little point putting in 10kg on your spot on Thursday and expecting them to move onto it. Its also not just a case of drop it all in in one go on the day you arrive and then just sit and wait. No there are three or four strategies that I recommend you adopt here. You also need to use your eyes and your equipment. Most of you have a bait boat and an eco sounder. If you have lots of fish in front of you or near your spots then you have a decision to make. If you have small groups of fish then its another approach.
Big Spot - Little Spot - Depending on your swim I recommend baiting a quite large area and putting two, or ever at times, all three rods to the spot. This is the main area you will bait and I would put 3kg to this spot from the off and then keep it topped up every day with the same or more if you are getting the fish. The key with the big spot is to always have bait here and always keep it toped up. In my view even if you are not catching. Why, because if you are seeing them they are feeding on it and the chances are you are being done so think about the presentation. But keep the bait going in. Your aim is to encourage competitive feeding when they are in the area and you should be able to get two fish on the same spot very quickly once you have them feeding. You then have a further one or even two spots which you light bait. The idea is that you have a main areas that you want the fish grazing at all week. So when they arrive or come and go they know they can come back for more. Your aim it to get them confident on the spot. So resting it or not fishing it from the off can be a great tactic. The small spots you would put one or two kg over and then keep it lightly baited, little and often.
Rest and Rotate
Most of the pegs here have a couple of known spots you can fish. They are being fished every week and so the fish can often get warry of them. So you have an option of picking two or three spots but only fish one of them or two if you have three spots. The idea here is to always have an area in your swim that has bait but you are not pressuring all the time. You move the fish between your spots. You bait both with equal bait start with 1/2kg over each area and then keep it going in always making sure one area is free from rods. You will be surprised how effective this is. The fish can wise up to a spot and move just a few meters away. This tactics allows them to feel save feeding in your area but then you keep catching them and moving them but not forcing them into another peg. It can be a devastating tactic.
Regular on the spots
The most often used tactic here is to fish for a bit with a scattering of bait and then keep it going in. The key here is baiting two or three times per day or after every bite. The fish here at Ribiere are often in groups so if you are catching on less then a kg they will most likely have cleared you out. So this tactics relies on the fish moving to the next spot and then feeding and then moving to the next spot and feeding as there is nothing to keep them in the area. But it also relies on them moving back over and you so you can hit them again. One of the reasons it works is that they have been caught over big beds in the past and can be wearey of them at certain times of the year. So little and often can get you into the bigger fish. But again the key is keep it going in.
Watch and Hijack
In some pegs the fish are not holding up. They move into your area on their way to somewhere else. Often feeding a little on the way to wherever they are going. So here the key is to watch the routes they are taking and where they feel confident going and feeding. Then to light bait to start and build the spots from their. The fish are moving through and too much bait will hamper your chances. In many cases you may have a group of six or seven or even ten fish moving over you at one time your aim is to over the week get more and more of them feeding on your spots. So you have to watch find were they are confident or seem to be staying for a little while and then set your traps. Here I recommend having four or five spots and its a case of trial and error to see which are going to be productive.
Attract and Hold
The fish at Ribiere will often be held up in three or four groups of big fish with other small groups often the very big fish separated from them. So you have a major opportunity to hold large groups of fish in front of you with bait. In my view the best way to do this is with small particle bates and will small or chopped boilies. For me with particle baits and with pellets you can put a lot in form the off. No problem with 5-10kg of hemp or maize mixed with chopped baits and a kg of boilies. You will attract a lot of fish into the area including the silvers. You can gradually over the week reduce the partile and up the boilies. This has often worked well for me here at Ribiere. I don't think the fish will spook of this tactic. I think they will of massive beds of boilies as they have seen it so often. The other key point with this approach is not do drop it all in a small area in the bait boat but to spread it about use the boat for some and it you can spom or use the throwing stick. Tight compact areas they have seen time and time again.
Here are a few other things to think about if its not working for you.
- Don't put a lot in the bait boat, just the hook bait and a little bait and spread the rest over your area. They have seen tight spots dropped by the boat for years.
- Fish off your spots. Sometimes the fish are playing a waiting game. They know its there but are feeding around the edges not wanting to make a move until they feel safe. So fish off the sports with just a little in the boat.
- Rest the spots. If you are seeing them but not converting try resting it. See if you can get them feeding more confidently then put the rods to them.
- If you are fishing the far bank. Make the effort and to around to bait up with a spoon or catapult. Spreading the bait giving them areas in your peg to get away with it will encourage them to stay and to feed more actively and more competitively. The result will be more fish on the bank.
- When the conditions are tough, cold, easterly winds or hot and high pressure don't be afraid to use singles or bags. And don't underestimate the importance of zigs. You can catch a lot of fish in the right conditions on zigs here. Espeshially in the hot supper and in the early months March and April.
- The type of bait is also very important. The water temperature here is high for a long time. For me you will not beat a good quality fishmeal from May through to October.
Hope this helps.