Choosing the Type and Quantity of Bait for a Carp Fishing trip to France…
“I’m going to France, what sort, and how much bait should I take ? ”
Which Bait should I take?
The first thing to decide is which boilie you want to take and go with that. I’ve never been one to chop and change. I like to pick a proven carp catcher and stick with it. I don’t necessarily believe the claims of some lakes, Oh if you’re not on such-and-such a bait you won’t catch! My advice is to take a bait you know works and you have confidence in. I wouldn’t say don’t enquire about which bait has been doing well, but I wouldn’t rely solely on that info.
I also now go for Self-life baits for most of my French fishing, as I can honestly say on most of the lakes I’ve fished they have caught as well as any other bait. Now I will specify here that I’m talking about top quality food bait boilies, supplied by Shaun Harrison at Quest Baits. I don’t believe in buying the bulk bags of cheap semolina baits just because I’m fishing in France. While this may have been ok ten years ago, French fish are now as pressured or more pressured than those in the UK. Quest Baits Self-life baits have the same ingredients as the frozen baits and I find to be excellent. If you insist on fresh baits, then you’ll need to either air-dry them, (check out Shaun’s excellent article on the Quest Baits site about Rehydration), if the venue doesn’t have freezer facilities, or take frozen and drop them in the freezer on arrival.
How much Bait should I take?
Some anglers use far too much bait for my taste, only on big waters like the Orient have I found large amounts of bait necessary. On most of the pits & lakes I fish 2kg or 3kg/day of boilies will easily last me a week. Piles of bait rotting on the lake bed or popping up fuzzy and rotting in the edge is not good for the water. This type of pollution can be very harmful to a lake’s eco-system over a period of time, causing imbalances and even fish deaths.
Quantity then I suppose boils down to how much room you have in your car. If room is limited you do have a few options.
1. Get the baits shipped to France. This isn’t cheap but it offers a solution and you can club together. You can get bait shipped for around £20 per 25kg. Quest Baits regularly sends bait abroad and I know that friends of mine order from the Tackle Box too. I dare say there are others who will do the same.
2. Buy your bait on site. Most commercial venues offer a selection of bait on site. This can be pre-booked before you go and save you having to worry about transport, storage and keeping it fresh. Ok it might not be your favourite bait, although many waters stock top brands, but it will be a bait the fish are used to. If it didn’t work on a venue the owner wouldn’t sell much and feedback would soon let that be known. Nothing is to stop you putting a few kilos of your favourite in the bag to fish alongside the Lake Specials.
Particles & Pellets.
I would strongly recommend these are part of your baiting strategy, and a way to make your boilies go further. Now, most of you will already be using any number of these types of bait at home, so I’d do the same in France.
Particles and pellets have the advantage too of long self lives; you can take dry and easy to prepare particles such as Multi-seed type mixes and hemp. These can easily be soaked and blanched on the bank to make them usable. Other particles like Maize and Tigers really need to be prepared in advance, as to do it correctly you need a day or two of soaking. If you want to use these I’d suggest you buy them prepared from the lake. In fact many lake owners insist on supplying particles to avoid the use of badly or lazily prepared mixes that are hazardous for the fish.
I always carry a tin or two of the tinned Tigers in my bag.. these don’t need to be baited heavily, and are extremely effective on many French waters. (Check they are actually allowed, as many waters have nut bans). They resist very well to nuisance species such as poisson-chats and crayfish.
Pellets are another great and versatile bait. You can use them straight out of the bag, spodded or in PVA bags for example, or scald them down for use in a spod mix, Method mix or Ground bait balls…These too can often be purchased at the venue.
Buying bait in French shops
If your venue doesn’t supply bait on site, there are a number of French tackle chains, like Mondial Pêche and Pacific Pêche. They generally stock mostly their own brands of semolina type baits, but you can find UK brands on sale. These will though invariably be the Eurobait range, either by Nash, Nutrabaits or Hutchinson etc. I find them ok if you are stuck, but they wouldn’t be my first choice. I have caught on these boilies though. You can get flavoured pellets and selections of particles and pop ups too, in these large supermarket type stores, which as I say can save the day.
Other places worth checking out are the French grain and animal feed shops, such as Gamm Vert. Most towns in rural areas have one of these and you can nearly always find sacks of maize (Maïs), hemp (Chenvis), Pigeon or Budgie Mix (Mélange pour Pigeon / Perruche) and often trout pellets in 25kg sacks.