Now I’ve never been one to tinker with baits in the past. If I found a bait that worked I seemed to just stick with it. I’d flog it to death until the fish seemed to suss it out or a so called new wonder bait came on to the market. Lets be honest a boilie is a boilie and if they’re hungry they’re going to eat it. Right? Well that was always my logic anyway, but over the past five months I’ve come to realise that there is a whole lot more to that scenario than I could ever imagine. Before I talk ‘bait’ I am the first to say that bait is only a piece in the fishing jigsaw; as to me, location, has always been the most important aspect of my fishing. I’m not and have never been a ‘sit and wait’ angler. I won’t bore a fish out. I’m always looking and moving. To be honest in everyday life I can’t seem to sit still so why would I change that just for fishing? This year I have been out on the bank a lot, and I do mean a lot! Weekends, after work, before work, to be honest as much as I can scrape! And with working six days a week I even surprise myself how much I’m on the bank at times! To me that is the key. Time spent watching and learning about feeding patterns and habits, learning about the movements of fish, and how they seem to change from venue to venue, is of massive importance. If you can hit it right you’re onto a winner! The bait aspect has become very important to me after watching the habits of these wonderful creatures that we spend so much time and money trying to catch. It does seem to be differ a lot from venue to venue. The angling pressure and kilos and kilos of bait being thrown into the lakes will eventually affect the way these fish feed. For me it’s about being able to adapt to the way the fish are going to be thinking… Let’s be honest, if you lived on a diet of massive bags of chips everyday but every so often you got grabbed by the bottom lip and pulled for many yards after putting one in your mouth believe me you would soon look upon them with caution. Or the scenario where you’re constantly foraging and snacking on small items when suddenly a big bag of chips is thrown your way then I’m sure you would scoff them down. It’s all about the different scenarios in my eyes – and tailoring your approach to make the best of them. At certain times nothing’s ever that simple in this game and there are no clear-cut answers or to be honest I don't think most of us would participate if it was so easy. We’re thinking people in this game and the mystique and the not knowing what’s going to happen next is what drives us. These are living and thinking creatures that we are trying to catch and being able to outwit them in the first place is a massive achievement in itself.
Back to bait… Late last year I was offered the chance to join Team Marukyu as one of their pro team. I’ll be honest, I didn't know that much about their baits at the time, but judging by the superb success I’d already had using lures from their sister company, Ecogear, it was a no-brainer for me. The thought that must have gone into the lures that I had been using must have been utterly mind boggling and if the same people were asking me to join Marukyu then I thought they really must know what they are talking about. I accepted, and to be honest I really am honoured.
The first baits that were sent to me were the Credence range of boilies; Fruit Spice and Krill Feast. Now anyone that has fished with me over the past 30 years would've seriously raised their eyebrows at the thought of me using shelflife baits as I was so adamant that frozen baits were my mainstay and I was always slagging off the shelfies. Upon reading the bags that these boilies came in and the fact it said to use as soon as possible after opening, it kind of gave me hope as I’ve known of people in the past using shelflife’s and keeping them in there tackle bags for months and months under the impression they will still work the same.
With the Credence range I imagine they were sealed but were as fresh as they could be. These baits are quite soft much like the frozen and I was actually quite impressed and eager to give them a try. Now I live at a caravan park and there’s a lake on my doorstep and it contains a beautiful strain of common and with 11 of these fish going to over 20lbs it seemed the perfect place to test them! During my first session I quickly realised these were margin fish and ended up with five fish, two of them over 20lbs including an absolutely stunning koi/common cross. It seems I took the picture with the sun behind me but I’m still really pleased with the picture as it’s a stunning fish! During this session I checked the bait to see how it was reacting to the water as to whether it was soaking in water to release the attractants; whether they were breaking down or whether they were staying like a gobstopper like the shelf life baits of old. These baits were slowly taking on water, but I noticed that they were also oozing oils from where the hair entered and exited. Now to me this was a real confidence boost.
The next item I was sent was the range of Amino+ sprays and Gloops that apparently were full of feeding triggers that stimulated more fish into feeding. ‘Yeah right’ is what I thought, probably like you too are thinking now! Oh well I thought, I’ll give them a try. My god! How misguided were my dismissive thoughts!? Since that day my fishing has gone to a whole new level! I went to fish a high pressure local lake for a two day session and sprayed some of this spray onto my loosefeed and hookbaits and ended up catching the two biggest fish in the lake in the form of a 30lb 2oz common and a 48lb 12oz catfish along with a whole host of the lakes most sort after kois. This spray is so versatile as well - it can be added to groundbaits, particle mixes, maggots, pellets, floaters, bread, you fish with it you can add this stuff to it! One warning though… it really does stink. It comes in six flavours. Some actually smell good enough to eat but others are horrendous, but it seems all of these work just as well!
Now just to prove how good these were, myself, Stephen Collett and Nick Marlow had arranged to do an Angler’s Mail article at the lake in my front garden. Now as I’m sure most would be, I was nervous to say the least. And having done a couple of articles before I kind of knew how important it was to catch on the day. In the feature I was to be fishing against Stephen Collett, and to fish directly against one of the highest regarded all-rounders in the country I really had to pull something out of the bag. The day arrived and as for most articles I’ve ever done, the angling press turned up fashionably late and way past prime fish feeding time. I wish they wouldn't but I suppose it’s a job and we all have hours we need to work, plus it can also be a long journey to the venue. Anyway, they arrived and Nick very quickly handed me a bag full of bottles and and said can you try these today? They were the Gloop version of the Amino+. I set up with a float and a credence fruit spice boilie chopped and fished back to back and ooooozing with the new glug. I cast it in and within a matter of minutes had hooked into a phenomenal hard fighting fish. After an immensely enjoyable but nervous fight as I was desperate for the picture. I gently drew my prize into the landing net. The fish weighed in at 20lb 12oz and was one of the lakes stunning commons. Absolutely buzzing was an understatement! It got better though as an hour later I was graced with another 20+ fish. Stephen also ended up with a 20+. What a phenomenal day with phenomenal people – it’s one I will never forget if I’m honest. A couple of weeks later I was sent the new Focus Amino Pellets. Watching the fish go absolutely crazy for these things in the margins and videoing it for Facebook certainly told me that these are really special. Along with the groundbaits that myself and Dan Sales tested at a local commercial are surely going to bring a lot of fish to a lot of people!
Just recently I’ve been venturing up to the Linear Fisheries complex near Oxford. My loose feed has consisted of nothing more than Amino Focus pellets, hemp, casters and maggots with the fake Marukyu Maggot along with chopped worm on the hook and sprayed with amino+. I’ve been feeding only a few spombs for a 24 hour session as due to the pressure it seems less is more on these lakes.
My catches have been for me absolutely remarkable, with tench to 8lb 14oz plus lots and lots of carp and a whole host of stunning roach over 2lb. I really do believe the Amino+ is a real game changer - and that's coming from an old stalwart like me that would never tinker!