Whilst we were visiting the water to do our feature finding hopefully we chose nice sunny calm days so we had a chance to see some of the fish we hoped to catch as well. Certainly if we found areas of snags or the early signs of lily beds then we should have seen the carp. When I do my feature finding visits I always spend the first hour walking round the water looking for carp going about their natural behaviour before I start casting a lead around. Then I always spend the last hour looking around again.

From this observation we should have noticed the most frequented areas of the lake by the carp, this will probably be snaggy areas but not always, the margins or shallower weedy bays will be favourites. If we want to get a bait going in that we want to get the carp eating then these are the best areas to start introducing it, as this is where the carp will be and will therefore find the bait easily. However these will not be the best areas to actually fish for them from, so also bait up the half dozen most promising features that we found by feature finding. These will be gravel bars, gravel humps or changes in depths, every water is different so I cannot really generalise on this.

The type of bait we will choose to pre-bait with will depend on the type of water we have chosen. If the water is heavily fished then there will be little need to introduce a new bait, as the fish will be quite used to anglers baits. A moderately fished club water may need some bait introduced, but generally we can probably go straight for the features we found, ensuring that the carp recognise them as a larder where food will always be available. A lightly fished harder water will need bait introduced all over the lake to get the carp used to the particular food source we are introducing and then later start concentrating the food in the areas we want to fish as for the club waters just mentioned above.

There are in general three types of bait that we will need to use for pre-baiting, particles, instant baits and long-term food baits. First of all particles. Without doubt particles are good food baits and good to use as pre-bait. They will attract fish well, problem is they will attract all species not just the one we want but this is no bad thing. For example if hemp, tiger nuts and corn are introduced the smaller species will be attracted by the hemp but these in turn will attract the larger species such as tench and carp that will find the corn and tiger nuts waiting for them. This will, if carried out on a daily basis for a couple of weeks, ensure that the fish frequently visit the area and by the time we start fishing they should be there waiting for us ready for our hook baits, a good start should be had.

If tench and carp are our quarry then the best bait is boilies and there are many to choose from. On the heavily fished waters an instant bait will be the best. These boilies are mainly the ones we find as shelf life boilies, they will attract fish straight away and will be instantly accepted by them. That is why they are sold, the manufacturers want us to catch straight away using them so we go back and buy some more. If we use these for pre-bait then there is no need to introduce them all over the lake as fish will accept and eat them straight away. We need to introduce them in large numbers in the areas we are going to fish. The introductions should be made probably every couple of days a couple of weeks before the season starts. A couple of hundred of baits a time should be about right, we need plenty as they will be eaten by just about every species. These instant baits will work straight away but over time, once a few fish have been caught, their effectiveness will begin to go off as there is little food value in them and the carp will merely recognise them as danger, not a food source.

Finally there are food baits; these are boilies that contain nutritional ingredients that the carp and tench need for their daily intake of food. An example of these baits is a good fishmeal bait. On moderately fished club waters and harder waters these will be the best to pre-bait with. We will need to introduce them all over the lake, starting with the most frequented areas mentioned earlier and moving on from there.

To begin with several hundred should be introduced across the whole lake as often as can be achieved but after a few days we can concentrate on the main areas we are to fish. The idea being that wherever the carp go they will come across some of our bait and then accept it as a beneficial food source so that in the end they are actively looking for the food we are introducing. It is this scenario we really want and it is quite achievable as long as we continue introducing bait regularly. Once we are sure the carp are feeding well on the baits we can start to introduce them heavily in the areas we plan to fish a few days before the season starts.

With all this pre-baiting it is worth baiting up many areas of the lake as in the first month of the season we do not know how much pressure the lake and fish will come under and it is likely we will not get our favourite swims and area - so having a few options up our sleeves will be useful. In the first month of the season it is worth carrying on with the pre-baiting to keep the fishes mood on the bait we want them to eat but after this the bait we are using when fishing will take over. A good food bait, such as a fishmeal, once well introduced and working well will continue to out-fish most other baits for several years without much pre-baiting - so this is a significant benefit of doing all this hard work on a water new to us, so it is not a yearly thing. If we do our feature finding and pre-baiting well during this first close season it will last us for all the time we fish the water, for as many years as it takes to catch the fish we are after, or until we get bored of the surroundings.

So there we have it, over the last few weeks I have explained the best way to find a new water and then to get the best possible start when we commence fishing it. All you have to do now is catch them. Good luck.

Have fun!