This year’s fishing season starts on April the 6th with the arrival of a group of 3 lads from Sevenoaks in Kent, and it is approaching at a rapid rate. I get asked all manner of questions from my guests as they prepare for their carp fishing holiday in France but by far the most frequently asked question as the season approaches is:
How much bait will I need ?
Well the honest and simple answer is; I don’t know. But I do offer the same advice and information to all of my guests.
When my big carp are feeding they will eat virtually anything so fish with a bait that you have confidence in and keep your tactics simple. You can buy my bait or you can bring your own, either way is fine by me but remember that the fish are used to my bait and do sometimes take a couple of days to adjust to something new presented to them, especially if it is in large quantities.
This is not a pressured water so you will not have to use fancy rigs. I only allow fishing for 26 weeks of the year, a hard week for the fish will be 6 guys with 18 baits in the water 24 hours per day, but more normally it is 1, 2 or 3 guys, and ladies, fishing at a rather more relaxed pace. I also keep spare weeks throughout the season so that the fish get a rest.
I have around two and a half tonnes of carp in the main lake, if you add on all of the silver fish then that is too much for a 9.46 acre lake to sustain naturally. So the food for the carp is subsidised all year round. Throughout the winter, providing the water temperature stays at 4-5C, they get a daily feed of 4kg of cooked corn. As soon as the water temperature increases above 5C I gradually increase the subsidy.
The water temperature is currently 7C and rising steadily, on the far bank in the sun the surface water will reach 12C during the afternoon, as at today their subsidy is around 11kg per day. I give them 4kg of cooked corn for breakfast and then for their evening meal they get 4kg of corn, 2kg of pellet and 1 kg of boilies. As the water temperature rises I will increase their protein by adding more and more pellet and boilie into the mix. By April I will be feeding around 15kg per day and believe me they will eat it all.
This gives you an indication of how much food they will eat in a day and one thing is for sure, if you do not offer enough food to hold them in your swim then they will go elsewhere on the hunt for more. Conversely, give them too much in one big meal and like most of us they will be off somewhere nice and quiet for a siesta.
I always fish the “little and often” method but then that probably takes me back to my match fishing days. I have guys who do equally well by bombing in 10kg of boilies and just waiting. Another thing which is certain is; if there is a sudden abundance of a natural food source then all the bait in the world is potentially a waste of good money.
Big carp are grazers like cows, they eat almost constantly. They will take up a lot of food and then swim around chewing on it until it is all processed through their system, then they come back for more. I have often watched a shoal feeding when I am feeding them and I reckon that on average each fish will swim around for about 20 minutes chewing on it’s first mouthful before it comes back for more. They never swim far away, perhaps only 20 meters or so, but when that bed of food is gone so are they, and I mean instantly.
I once put 7 kg of bait into one spot and then sat and watched, it took 5 minutes for a shoal of about 20 fish to find it, at a guess they were all large 20s and smaller 30s. They polished off that 7 kg of food in about 40 minutes and then disappeared as quickly as they arrived.
BUT, when the sun is shining nothing interests them at all, there is nothing that a big carp likes more than an afternoon’s sunbathing.
Ultimately, you will have to decide on the answer to the question on the day but hopefully I have provided some food for thought.