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By Jeff Vaughan

I always tell people carp fishing is about three things only Location, Feeding and then Presentation (rigs.) Out here I believe this is also the order of importance.

When you visit us, it is our job to find out where the fish are, and believe me they move round and are not in the same places year after year .Feeding the swim correctly is the difference between 6 fish and 30 fish in a session and is without doubt the hardest thing or me to get across to my customers.

Canadian Carp ClubThe problem is how much is enough? Generally we feed mainly Maize (called corn out here) Boilies, and Cracked Corn (mashed up maize) I have experimented with many other seeds and often mix barley, wheat, oats etc into my particle mixes, all are good Also if you can get it, sinking pellet is great as of course is hemp. However out here we feed a lot so we tend towards cheaper feeds.

When you put out a “bed of bait” ideally you want something that is attractive to the carp but difficult to “mop up” If you think about it logically it is easy to imagine the scenario on the lake/river bed. They say a carp can eat a third of its body weight in a few hours (I have also seen quoted half its body weight in 2 hours) whatever the truth they can EAT A LOT!! So if you put down a bed of 1 kilo of boilies you have say 350 chunks of food. If it is whole maize you may have 10,000 chunks of food and if it is crushed maize or small seed you have 50,000 chunks of food. Simply put all things being equal, it will take the carp much longer to search out and eat 1 kilo of small bait than it will 1 kilo of large bait. The longer the fish are in your swim the more chance you have of hooking them. The next question is how much to put out and that is THE MILLION DOLLAR question.

When the fish move into your swim, unlike Europe there may be 20, 50 or even 100 fish in the shoal and these typically will range from 15 to 40 lb.(I once trailed a shoal of carp for one square mile in the boat. I do not actually know how big the shoal was as I never ot to the end of it. The fish finder was black with fish, I am talking 100`s of thousands of big carp.) HOWEVER there may also be only one or two, or the shoal is not really feeding for whatever reason, it is impossible to know before you start to catch (or not catch!!)

I have a theory about Good Anglers, like any sportsman they get good by practice, practice, practice. The initial results of the hours spent practicing are obvious, you get faster, better and more accurate/precise in what you do. I believe however there is a much more important subconscious benefit that builds up. You get “feelings” you just “know” what to do in a situation without always knowing why. What is happening is that your brain is storing away thousands of previous situations and “something” triggers a forgotten memory and you try something and it works. Feeding is one of those situations. There are so many variables, weather, air pressure, swim type, numbers of fish in the swim etc that I cannot possibly try to cover everything. So I will try to break it down into a simple format. FIRST SOME BASICS;

Choose the area in the swim you are going to fish. This choice in most swims is easy. We either tell you where, or there are natural features that with a little watercraft you can see for yourself (I will cover location as a separate topic) One of the key points to your selective area must be the ease of getting bait to it. There is little point in fishing at 140 yards if you can’t fire/spod bait that far.

Once you have selected a spot and started to build up a carpet of bait STICK WITH IT. If you see fish crashing by all means put a bait to them, but in my experience the worse thing you can do is to be casting all over the place and feeding baits over a wide area. I will have been pre baiting in a fairly wide area in the swim; when you fish you want to concentrate the shoal down into an area. Almost always they will move into the baited area.

There is an old saying in fishing, you can put it in but you can’t take it out again!! So feed little and often (although little out here is usually more than you are used to)

If you are getting action feed heavily, every fish, take, missed run put out some bait. If you have a bed of bait down and are fishing over it without takes, do not feed heavily until the fish move in. Also when fishing the moving water, keep your bait going into the same spot but “cast around” shorter or longer until you find the fish. There is no way of knowing EXACTLY where the loose feed is settling on the bottom. You have to find it. Also in then faster water be aware that the current changes ( according to the gates on the dam opening or closing) so if you are catching and it goes quite, look at the water has it speeded up or slowed down and moved your bed of bait?

Early may to end june is bonanza time at Long Sault, great numbers of carp are shoaling up and feeding heavily prior to spawning, and then feeding up again after spawning. The shoals are big and want plenty of food. If you are fishing with us, we will be directing you to pre baited areas where a lot of particle has been fed over a period of weeks prior to your visit. Typically we are feeding half a dustbin per swim per day that is around 30 kg per day per swim!! Once a swim is being fished heavily I cut down on baiting from the boat as the anglers are feeding (or should be) all day and little and often is ALWAYS better than big bulk drops.

So arriving at a swim for your first session typically I would hit my chosen area with 10 to 15 good catapults or spods of bait, before I even set up. If I know the fishing has been very good (indicating big shoals in the area ) I may increase this by 50% Very often, but depending on the swim I will feed a corn bed at catapult range and a boilie bed at maximum catapult range for the boilies. The boilie bed would be 30 to 50 baits. This does not conflict with my advice above as the two beds are maybe 60 yards apart and targeting two shoals, not spreading out one. A good tip here, where possible I will put my corn bed at an angle away from my swim. By this I mean I will walk 10 yards down the bank to put my corn out and cast into it at an angle. Depending on the wind you will not get the corn out very far and the angle gives you more distance between you and the bait bed, so you can bully the fish away from the main shoal fast, rather than play them in the middle of the baited area and spooking the rest of the shoal. Normally I fish my corn to the left and my boilies slightly right giving the maximum distance apart. I always put some boilies on top of the corn bed and if spodding some corn onto the boilie bed

Once the bed is down I put the baits on it. Personally I fish on the outside edge of the bait as often the bigger fish hover at the edge, but if you want action go straight into the baited area. I then wait for 30 minutes. Usually you will get action fast but not always. After 30 minutes I will top up with two pouches of bait, and continue until the fish come on. If there were two of us fishing one would be on the corn bed the other on the boilies. If on my own I would be alternating every cast between the two beds 20 minutes to 30 minutes on each. Within one hour I would expect to be getting fish, if after two hours I have not had a run you then get to the wobbles. Do you move? Or do you stay? I like my guys to catch a lot of fish so often I recommend moving but I know if they wait the fish WILL move in, and often I maybe move people too fast, but no one ever accused me of being patient.

At any time, as soon as we get any action I top up the swim with 2 to 4 pouches of bait. The faster the action the more bait I put in. Regulars will know if I am anywhere near you when you get a run I am down feeding while you are playing the fish. If I am on my own, as soon as the fish is safely on the mat wrapped in the landing net I am feeding before I even unhook the fish. You are in a race, the shoal will wipe out your bed and move on incredibly fast! If you are getting fish and they stop. You have been wiped out. You then hit the swim hard again with another 10 -15 pouches of bait. and when they come back feed faster.

In May 06 I had a film crew over from Tight Lines. For three days before they arrived I it the Pines with 80 KG of particles twice a day. I put four guys on at 6.30 am, when the film crew arrived at 7 am all four were onto fish and 3 of them were 30`s . The film crew had booked 3 days to produce a 15 minute segment. After 2two hours they packed up saying they had enough footage for 5 shows!!

Last May I had two really nice guys over for two weeks, I christened them the Bag Up Boys. For the first three days they did crap, including an overnighter on the Pines for 3 or 4 fish. I kept saying to use more bait, use more bait!!! They then started catching, but not from the “normal” spots they seemed to catch from wherever they fished, and I am talking CATCHING one day they had 78 fish between two of them to 36 lb. The fishing at the time was OK but not great so I took a couple of hours out to sit and watch them. Sure enough it was their baiting method. They fished a tight area and as soon as the fish came on they fed hard, they were using on average 4 buckets of corn and 3 kilos of boilies in a day. (that’s 40 kg of corn) I mention the above to indicate “when the fish want it they want it LARGE” But of course if you overfeed to a small shoal you can just as easily kill it

In the summer the shoals spread out and become smaller, also the average size of fish falls. There are still plenty of fish but the baiting regimes must slow down a little. Also in the summer there are fewer fishermen on the water so other options open up. In the summer I fish in almost the same way, I just cut down the quantity of bait going in. My corn beds are 6 to 8 catapults and my boilie beds 20 -30baits. After each fish I feed only 1 or 2 pouches. HOWEVER I always take a lot of bait with me, if they come on FEED them. In Spring I would easily use two buckets of bait plus boilies (about 20 Kg) in the summer I always take 20 kg but rarely get through 10. What you can do in summer is fish two or three swims in a day. The mid day sun is very hot and hits the fishing anyway so typically I will fish the morning session in one area and after packing up will feed another area take a rest and get back on the second bed around 3 pm. Often I may have three swims in action if it is slow.

The last two autumns have been below par.06 was tough, 07 was reasonable,, But in most years the autumn is my favourite time. The big fish are back in numbers and all fish are feeding up for the winter. Feeding in the autumn is tricky. The simple comment is a feed level are between summer and spring but it is a little more complicated than that. This is the time when you really have to feed to the fish, sometimes they want a lot and sometimes very little.

The fish themselves undergo a change during the autumn. Our customers may have noticed Colin and I putting our fingers in the mouths of every carp we see caught. What we are looking for is the Callus` to build up on the roof of the carp’s mouth. This is an indication that they are going hard on the mussel beds, and this in turn triggers different choices of swim and different baiting methods.

Once the fish move onto the mussels we cut right down on the corn and go heavily onto the boilies. We also move to the faster water swims where there are denser mussel beds. In the fast water it is more difficult to feed particles because they just get washed away.

There are few swims at LS that require fishing at any distance; most swims the fish will come very close over a bed of bait. Most of my feeding is via a catapult or baiting spoon. I do know however in many instances this is me being lazy and is not the best way.

I have two pairs of very good anglers who come out regularly. Keith and his son Mathew and Richard and his son Daniel. Both pairs always do much better than others out on the same weeks. Keith and Matt normally come in the very best weeks and Richard and Daniel often in the quite period both ALWAYS do well and catch very big fish (see a small selection on the photo section) When people do well I always take the trouble to sit and watch them. These guys work hard. They are spodding all the time, when one is playing a fish the other is back on the spod feeding the swim. This does several things; on some swims, like for example the Pines the best areas are out of catapult range, you can get plenty of fish close in the eddy, but actually the “natural” holding area is around 60 yards out on the edge of the flow. Also as I said above, moving the bed out gives you the opportunity to get a hooked fish out of the swim before it upsets the others. The fish will come to the sound of the spod, but a hooked fish charging up and down in the middle of a shoal is never good. Toward s the end of last year I started spodding a lot more and immediately saw the benefits.

You will almost never see me cast a boilie without a PVA string on it. In Spring this will be 10 or 12 boilies in summer/autumn 2 to 6 boilies. This year I have also been using more bags and sticks, it defiantly makes a difference. If the sun is out I will normally have a load of corn out drying in the sun and whilst waiting for action will be chopping up boilies for my bags. As I said I usually fish on the edge of my baited areas so a small compact amount of free bait by my hook is very helpful

Using the method [mix of different food particles mixed with a liquid and packed on to a feeder] is a fantastic way to fish out here, but it is as messy as hell. When they come on there is often not time to clean your hands before the rod is off. Again it makes for hard work. The method works best with repeated casting to get the fish coming to the splash. I sell good method mixes in the shop, but only use them myself two or three sessions per year, mainly as a change. They work very well, but living here does make you lazy and I do like to read my book between runs!!

Groundbait is not widely used out here, but probably should be!! A good ground bait mix is a great way to get particle and small baits into a swim and has the added advantage of putting colour, scent and taste into a swim without over feeding. We have some excellent regulars who use a lot of ground bait. One who springs to mind is Cowboy Phil, a Brit living in the USA who visits regularly and ALWAYS catches more than most. It is easy to get good ground bait ingredients out here, so again it is laziness that stops it being used more. I have never seen a bait boat out here, but they would work well!!

This is probably longer than I intended and I hope not too boring, but feeding is the key out here. In the main the most successful anglers feed a lot of bait. My job is getting fish on the bank and selling holidays, so for that reason I supply particle free of charge to my holiday visitors and sell boilies artificially cheap in my shop. I see a lot of people getting below par catches because they do not feed properly or local anglers spending good money on the right equipment but reluctant to spend comparatively little money t feed a swim !!!

Here are some great articles to get you started!

Casting   |   Feeding   |   Fish Location   |   Fishing the Method

Fishing With Corn   |   Flavouring Baits   |   Float Fishing for Carp

Float News   |   Getting an Edge   |   Hook Baits

Quiver Tipping for Carp   |   Spodding   |   Marker Floats and Feature Finding