One of the most effective carp fishing tactics you can employ is a baiting campaign on your particular venue. This tactic is probably your best chance to catch some of the largest carp in a new lake. A baiting campaign is basically where you establish new, unique bait by freely feeding the carp over a pre-planned duration, but you must not use that particular bait until it has become established as a food source for the carp.
Carp learn through association, so the idea of a baiting campaign is to make the carp associate safety with the new bait. If any carp have been caught before, which in a popular lake means most of the fish, they will generally feed on baits cautiously, and some carp may not even touch baits at all. A cautious feeding carp will be hard to catch because they have learned ways to evade capture. Some may have even learned how to “test” for tethered bait. I have seen carp swim hard into a bed of bait causing the free offerings to bounce up off the bottom then take the food while it is suspended in the water. In this particular example the carp may have learned through experience that most hook bait won’t bounce up from the bottom because they are tethered to a hook link. Carp aren't necessarily clever creatures, but they have had plenty of experience and the time to work out regular patterns to cope in dangerous situations.
There are two main ways to catch carp easily; create a feeding frenzy by encouraging large numbers of carp to feed (the competition for food causes them to forget about any potential danger) or encourage carp to lower their guard by making the food seem safe. The trouble with the first tactic is its very difficult to make large numbers of carp feed together. A baiting campaign will encourage the carp to feed confidently, thus they will lower their guard and take the bait further into the mouth giving the hook more of a chance to grab a hold.
You establish a new bait by regularly throwing in a kilo or two of your chosen bait in various areas of the lake. Throw the bait into all the places you think carp will be hanging out. Remember carp love weeds and safe areas like snags, so make sure you get plenty in these areas. Many anglers don’t like fishing in weedy waters or snaggy areas, so it is less likely that you will be baiting the area up for others. Also, a safe area means the carp are more likely to feed on the baits quickly, and it is less likely other, nuisance fish will be eating them first. For these reasons put a larger portion of the bait into these areas. Once you have introduced the bait over a month or so then put the majority of the bait out in places where you’re likely to cast. At the latter stages of the baiting campaign this will help make the carp feed more confidently out of those “safe zones” and give you a greater chance of catching when the bait has become established. When thinking of where to place bait, remember to cover the margins in places where you can see the bait. Then you can check to see if it’s been eaten over the next few days. Carp may also associate danger in the areas where they have been caught from previously, thus it can pay dividends if you target areas where many anglers don’t usually fish, unless there is an obvious reason not to fish those areas.
The frequency of baiting up can range from every other day to once every two weeks, it really depends on the number of times you can get to the lake for an hour or so. As a rough guide, I try to bait up two to three times per week for four months. I may change it depending on how much time, money or travelling I have. It could be changed to twice a week for six months and maybe throw three kilos in rather than two kilos.
Remember, the more the carp see the new bait and get used to it, the more likely they will feed on it. They will eventually start to associate that bait as a safe food that’s always available, thus they will start to neglect other angler’s bait because yours will be freely available. When you have arrived at this stage, the carp are conditioned to the bait, and you will be in a position to exploit it.
For a successful baiting campaign, the bait really needs to be top quality, it should be a good food source for the carp and provide many nutrients. This is because the bait also has to compete with all the natural food available in the water as well as other angler’s baits. The most common bait used is boilies, preferably fresh (frozen type). The boilies will also need to be unique in flavour, this is very important. You don’t want to be using boilies which may have already caught carp in the lake as they may have already associated danger with that particular smell or flavour. For this reason you will probably have to make them yourself or use a bait rolling service. There are so many different flavours / smells available that you should be able to combine a few to create a unique boilie. An experienced bait roller should be able to create a good, unique bait that carp will be attracted to.
The Potential Cost of a Baiting Campaign
All this may sound very expensive, but it can last for a few years if you never tell people what bait you’re using once it is established. Therefore the cost would be relatively low if you spread it over the duration. You can also cut costs by using alternative, less expensive bait, such as chick peas. These can be bought in sacks of 25 kilos for around £15. You can make them unique by adding colour and flavours when soaking them before cooking. Although remember they wont be a complete food source like top quality, fresh boilies.
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