I have talked before about what I use and how much of it, but at the moment the topic I have fresh in my mind is, when to introduce it. This is certainly nothing new, think of the match angler for example. Trotting a nice glide. Only can they reap the most from the swim if they feed before allowing the float to travel down the swim. In this way, the free-offerings reach the fish and stimulate them to feed before the one with a bit of wire in it can get to them.

So, sometimes it is advantageous to have the free-offerings reach the fish before the baited hook. In some circumstances though I am sure the opposite is true. When I am trying to establish a swim and influence the behaviour of the fish I like to introduce a lot of bait over several weeks or even months before fishing. I am not alone in doing this and several of my friends do the same.

Generally, we bait up every 2-3 days with a large amount of bait, expecting this to keep the fish going during the days we cannot feed them. So when is the best time to fish for them? Personally, I tend to fish for them on the day after the last mass baiting. My theory being that the fish, fresh from a good feed, will return the following night confident of finding more food, and on finding little remaining will compete for the small amount left and so will take the hookbait without a second thought.

Some of my friends fish on the night that they introduce the feed. They believe that the fish will throw caution to the wind and become preoccupied with the bait to such an extent that the hook bait becomes just another morsel. Which theory is right? Well, we all catch fish so perhaps they both are! Or perhaps they both can be when conditions dictate. The important thing though is that we have our own system of fishing that we have confidence in, built up through past success.

I really started thinking about the pitfalls of when and how to introduce bait a couple of weeks ago, when reviewing the season just gone and thinking about the coming tench fishing season. My records show that I wasted an awful lot of time tench fishing this year when the fish proved to be feeding for a regular short period each morning. This year I will go and fish elsewhere during the afternoon and night, only returning to the tench at dawn. The trouble with this is that I won't be able to get the swim baited with my usual mixture of maggots and pellets in the evening as I have tended to do, I will have to put bait in over the heads of the fish during the morning.

The more I thought about when and how to introduce the bait, the more convinced I became that perhaps I had been doing it all wrong from the start. Let me explain.

One of the problems on this lake is the huge head of small eels. These little critters make night fishing with maggots impossible, one of the reasons I am sure that the catching period was so short. So I would roll up after work on a Friday evening, bait up and then not cast out until Saturday morning. By which time most, if not all, of the maggots would be gone. No wonder that my accurate baiting had not appeared to congregate the fish in the areas I was fishing. This also explained why the margin rod, which I baited by hand in the morning, was so much more productive than the rods further out. In retrospect, baiting up in the morning seems so obvious, yet at the time, when the picture was still forming in my head, it did not seem obvious at all. What's more, when I did I used a Gardner Pocket Rocket to bait up with and the fish didn't seem perturbed at all. Lesson (hopefully) learned, I will return this year and only introduce bait at the times I will be fishing.

Perhaps I worry about my fishing too much, but then again I think it is much easier to improve when you think about what you are doing. Perhaps this article will ring a few bells with you and make you think about what you are doing.