Carp Fishing – Groundbaiting for Carp
Keith Jones gets ‘in the mix’ and takes a look at one of the most underused and underrated tactics for catching carp – groundbaiting!
Most coarse anglers I know probably wouldn’t go fishing without groundbait, they also spend a fair amount of time perfecting mixes for specific angling situations. The top matchmen have developed groundbait tactics and methods of application into a virtual art form but for most carp anglers the effective use of groundbaits seems to be either a forgotten skill, or one that is looked upon as only suitable for small fish or easy runs waters - and I think this is a big mistake!
Put attraction where you need it
More and more anglers are catching onto the fact that although carp are bottom feeders they actually spend most of their time anywhere but on the bottom. Looking at the catch reports I’ve received recently, a fair number of those captures have been on high pop ups, Zig Bugs and floaters fished on or just below the surface.
Groundbait can be used to permeate the water column with attractive food signals from the lake bed to the surface, which really gets the carp focussed on your hook bait. A certain amount of feed will also settle on the lake bed. So if you’ve been catching on zigs and conditions suddenly change, as they often do and the fish start feeding on the bottom, the lake bed will already be primed with a groundbait residue.
With minimal disturbance a hook bait can be dropped amongst the feed and there’s a very good chance you’ll continue to catch. If you haven’t already experimented by combining zigs with groundbait, purpose designed ready to use products such as Spod Cloud or the new Giro Bug Mix from Nashbait will get you off to a flying start and help you catch plenty of fish. But there’s also plenty of scope to use readymade products as a base to concoct your own unique mix.
When the carp are really on the feed and fishing over a reasonable quantity of bait seems like the best option, or if diving birds are a pest, a good groundbait mix really comes into its own. When fishing a boilie or pellet approach, the birds can quickly clean out your baited spots but with groundbait, it doesn’t matter how much they dive, they’ll never get it all and there will always be a food residue left behind that will keep the swim attractive to feeding fish.
Pre-baiting can stack the odds in your favour if you are fishing the same lake on a regular basis but once again solid baits such as boilies will soon be devoured by fish or hungry water fowl, whereas the more the birds dive and disturb a bed of groundbait, the more it breaks down into smaller and smaller particles. Sooner or later the birds lose interest, but there will still be enough to encourage carp to keep revisiting those spots, keeping them primed for your next visit.
Big fish attraction
Although it’s easy to image that big carp are the ‘boss fish’ and at the top of the food chain interestingly, and this is something I’ve observed on many occasions, really big carp don’t usually mix with smaller ones at feeding time. It’s as if all that frenzied feeding is just too much for them to be bothered with. The smaller carp never clear all the bait, preferring instead to charge off to the next baited spot or easy meal so there’s always a few morsels left behind. This is the time when an elusive monster is likely to move in and clean up. I know for a fact that several of this country’s most pursued and highly-prized monster carp have been tripped up by specific baiting situations cleverly created by groundbait.
In the mix
The Nashbait range is bursting with products that can be used to concoct your own unique mix. For example the water soluble ingredients found in the boilie base mixes will give any readymade groundbait a major boost, I’ve also found that ground up Monster Carp Pellets make the best ground bait binder I’ve ever used. Riser Pellets are another essential ingredient, these being a mix of small and micro pellets with differing levels of buoyancy. The Risers rise and fall in the water column, creating attraction from the lakebed to the surface.
Bait dips and flavours can be used to create interesting tastes and appeal too and I personally favour Nashbait’s unique Oil Palatants, which contain feeding triggers that both attract and encourage prolonged feeding. There’s also plenty of cheap and cheerful products on the supermarket shelves that will boost attraction, Marmite, cod liver oil and cous cous are some of my favourites. Remember, the more complex the mix, the more effective it will be.
Colour is another avenue to explore; at the moment I’m adding chopped Monster Squid boilies in red, black and purple to my mix which really seems to boost visual appeal and speed up the bites.
Whether you are fishing conventional methods on the bottom, Zig Bugs or even surface tactics, a purpose designed groundbait will draw carp to your swim, stack the odds in your favour and boost catch rates.
Producing groundbait balls that can be catapulted long distances without exploding in flight is something I’ve struggled with in the past, but just recently I’ve discovered the answer to the problem...
Nash Tackle’s Ball Maker
The new Ball Maker has been designed to tightly compress groundbait mixes into solid dependable catapult-friendly balls of feed. Even the most complex mix loaded with pellets and boilie bits refuses to break up in flight. Skinning the balls with lake water and allowing them to dry for a few minutes makes them even tougher and adding oil-based attractors to the mix also makes them even more resistant to break up.
Whatever approach you use or however you put together your mix groundbait should be an essential part of your carp fishing bait armoury – get in the mix!