Most of them though seem to be moving towards a fairly labour intensive form of fishing, yet one which brings them huge rewards. Rather than just fishing, a good percentage of their time is spent introducing bait to their target waters. This can mean anything from giving the fish a couple of pounds of bait at the end of every session, to extensive baiting campaigns lasting many months. All of these anglers have confidence in this technique and in the bait they are using and over the next couple of weeks I want to talk about why this method works and how you can develop confidence in the method. This is not a 'one species' method either. It will work for all species of coarse fish.

The first part of the equation is gaining confidence in the bait you intend to use. You can get this from simply using different baits until you catch a few fish on one. This is a rather unscientific method though, and not the one that I tend to prefer. I tend to have a few baits that I have confidence in for each species and tend to fit these to the fishery, rather than have to start from scratch each time with a new bait. These baits are all commercially produced, although I have been down the road of trying to produce my own baits, I no longer find the need for it. Confidence in these baits have been developed really as a combination of the manufacturers recommendations and through use by myself and my friends. A better method is to watch the fish's reaction to the bait, either in a tank or in the wild. You can take this to extremes and gain a great deal of insight into different baits if you so wish. Something that I have always meant to try, but will probably never get round to is to feed fish with two different baits simultaneously. By watching which one the fish prefer it would very quickly become apparent which was the better bait. Apart from just being an interesting way to while away a few winter evenings, I have enough confidence not to go to such extremes.

It is important however to know what you are up against and any history on the fishery is sure to include some information on what baits have and haven't worked. As there is so much information (and so many good baits) available now, it is of even greater importance to try to determine what baits may have been used before. This is something I worry about much more on the more exclusive fisheries where serious anglers are likely to have flogged some baits to death, rather than day ticket fisheries where all sorts of baits are used. On the other hand, some baits can become used to the almost exclusion of others simply as a matter of fashion. The use of pellets on some commercial carp fisheries is a good example of this.

There is a definite propensity for some baits to blow quicker than others. I don't think that this has anything to do with high flavour levels, or poor nutritional values per se. Much more important is the strength of the signal sent out by the bait. Brightly coloured baits lose their effectiveness quicker than dark ones. Very sweet or highly flavoured baits last only a fraction of the time as that of a bait with a lower flavour level. All of these stimuli are used by the fish to recognise what it is eating. The stronger the stimuli, the easier it is for the fish to recognise it. This can initially work to your advantage. Pre-bait with a bright coloured bait and it won't take long for the fish to pick up on it. In the longer term though the fish will soon associate it with danger.

So you have a bait that the fish will eat, that is subtle enough to not put them off quickly and plenty of it. Next week we will look at how to get the most from it.