Every year tens of thousands of us head over to France on the hunt for super-human sized carp, it’s becoming a ritual and one that is growing even more popular, but many of the anglers that head over the channel are bewildered by the experience and end up catching 10% of the fish they were expecting.
There is a very real reason for this that is often overlooked.
The majority of the lakes that we Brit’s cross the channel for are fished day in day out for 52 weeks a year by people just like us. The carp within these lakes see more angling pressure, more bait and more rigs than the busiest venues in England. Understanding how that effects the fishing is key to the success of your trip.
The most important factor in any fishing trip is usually location but with many of us hitting French shores with several friends, our week away often means we’re stuck in the same swim the whole time, this makes your choice of bait and application by far the biggest differentiator between success and failure.
Many challenges present themselves to anglers when thinking about what bait to take with you, boilies or particles? how much will I need? Bait boat or spod? How do I keep it fresh? are just a few of the things that go through my head every year.
For me there is 3 key elements that need to be dealt with when thinking about your baiting approach:
- How to keep it fresh for the week
- How to make it instantly attractive on arrival
- How to keep fish feeding on it all week
If you can get these three things right, you’re sure to get amongst the fish on your next trip to France.
How to keep your boilies fresh all week without sacrificing quality
Firstly, bait freshness is absolutely imperative, keeping your bait fresh throughout the week will ensure more carp are enticed in to your swim and stay there, making them easier to catch.
Problem is there is often a bit of a balancing act between bait freshness and bait quality, but now there is an answer, now there is a way to keep your bait in absolutely tip top condition all week without air-drying, without taking shelf life baits and without having to sacrifice boilies for pre-made particle.
The answer is Feedstim XP, from CC Moore.
Feedstim XP has developed over the years to be one of the most popular and productive bait additives in the world, it’s fish pulling power and natural attraction is unrivalled, but without realising it CC Moore developed a bait-preservative that when used to coat boilies keeps them in perfect condition.
As long as you keep your boilies covered in a slight glaze of Feedstim XP liquid throughout the week of your trip they will stay in perfect condition, not to mention the added and devastating attraction that will leak off the baits as they hit the water.
I recommend dividing your boilies in to shallow 5kg buckets, coat them in 50ml of Feedstim XP every couple of days and mix them up a couple of times a day to make sure they stay coated in the liquid.
Getting an instant response to your bait
The first thing many anglers do when arriving at their lake in France is to dump several kilos of bait on the most obvious looking spot.
Imagine how often the resident fish see this, like clockwork, every week anglers arrive and loads of bait gets put in on the same spots. There is no more obvious signal for the fish to be scared off that area.
Whether you are fishing with only boilies, PVA bags, sticks or over a bed of particle, take your time but most importantly start with a small amount of bait, maybe even singles, to see if you have any fish in front of you before deciding on your baiting approach.
You could mess up your whole weeks fishing on the first day by putting in shed loads of bait.
Try to be different, fish close in, fish spots that are less obvious areas, fish off gravel patches rather than on them or if you can cast further (you can see our section on distance casting here – Heather) than the average angler, fish at a range the carp probably feel safe at.
A great way of getting an instant response to your bait is to start with small levels of bait that is high in quality, something the fish are used to and something that is different at the same time.
That may sound confusing but here’s a breakdown of what I mean.
Many lakes stock their own baits, pellets, boilies etc and therein lies the clue.
The lake I’m heading off to this year stocks and feeds high oil, high protein 6mm pellets and only fishmeal based boilies. So by basing your approach around a similar flavour profile you will already have an edge.
I intend starting my week fishing small PVA bags of high oil 2mm pellet with added fishmeal powders and lots of oil and fishy flavours oozing from it. My back up plan is a very high quality fishmeal boilie, preserved with Feedstim XP and coated in Fishmeal powders before being put in the lake.
The principal is that my bait will be a familiar flavour profile to the baits they are used to but different enough to make them curious, but also very high in natural flavours and stimulants to keep them coming back all week for more.
How to keep catching, consistently
Many anglers who head over to France a lot see a common trend on busy waters, lots of bait going out and increasing catch rates as the week goes on. The reason for this is that the majority of the lakes in France have next to zero naturally available food so at some point, even though the carp are wary of the bait, they have to feed on it because they are hungry.
This is the point where bait quality comes in, if your bait is fresh and of high nutritional value to the fish, that 20kg you dumped in on the first day will be the first thing to go, you will catch a couple of fish and assume your in for a busy night but the fish soon move on to the next guys bait as yours has run out.
If I had a bag of sweets and gave you all of them at once you would smile, eat them all and probably feel awfully sick and bloated afterwards, if I offered you another bag of sweets an hour later you would turn me down, but if I gave you a few sweets every few hours over a couple of days you would keep coming to me asking for more and not get full up or bored with them.
That’s the principal you need to tap in to, little and often, even though the fish on the Continent are huge hungry beasts, build up your swim with a little and often approach.
Using the PVA bag example, when you arrive at your peg find 4 spots or areas that you can present a bag nicely and accurately time after time then start fishing with 2 rods (even if you’re allowed 3), cast every hour and alternate spots at the same time, as soon as fish arrive either in the spot that your rig is on currently or one of the others the oils rising off your disturbed PVA mix will create a slick on the spot, then instantly cast the 3rd rod that is already rigged up with a solid bag on that area, reel in one of the other rods and prepare that for the next fish sighting.
It may seem strange having a 3rd rod out of action but during the period when you’re trying to feel your way in to the swim having less lines in the water and having a rod ready to go instantly is by far more advantageous.
Of course you could use 3 rods later on in the week and have a spare 4th one ready to go, in this situation I would suggest having 6 areas to target in front of you.
So to summarise, take the best quality bait you can get your hands on, try to match the lake bait but make yours stand out and don’t put all your bait in at the start of the week if you want to catch consistently.
Fish for one fish at a time and try not to be the same as everyone else.
Most importantly, enjoy your trip and enjoy the fishing!