Tour of Duty part 31

Sat 14 January 17


Boilies were the first particles

The UK is covered in great carp waters now and the chances of catching big and plenty of fish is within almost everybody’s reach. The fishery owner wants you to catch as a rule as it will mean more business for him, as do the tackle and bait companies. The result is lots of articles and debate on the forum about what boilie or what colour of pop up and to be honest most of it is just in the head as these fish have become dependent on an artificial diet and don’t necessarily behave like carp anymore

I have to say here that I am the exact opposite of one of these “Keep It Real” nutters. There are huge lakes with low stock, famous lakes with few fish that have been chased around the pond by kids on mobile phones and just downright chock-a-block ponds where you can’t fail to catch. What gives me the right to comment on another man’s hobby? As far as I am concerned you fish the kind of water that’s suits your level of angling or the time available. If I was a single and wealthy man I would probably choose to fish 200 days a year on St Ives, it’s a challenge you can retire on, much the same as fishing the mountain lakes of the Alps. Yet I still see all these comments about a fish doesn’t count or the wrong uns, mostly from people who get all their bait and tackle for nothing! If you have spent 10 years of your life crawling around on all fours chasing a carp with a name, when you catch it and then expect a hero’s adulation? Sorry mate it was your choice! I hate to break it to you but your capture is no more important than anybody else’s. I will shake anybody’s hand that catches the fish of their dreams but ranking them against each other, croc of shite and it need saying. In my youth any carp caught on a floater was said to not count! I used to love spending my summer catching non counting carp.

If we take a time machine back to the 1960’s in search of carp, we are likely to struggle for a number of reasons but not least because there are very few carp. Also there is no specialist equipment, bait, magazines or internet. In fact you are only likely to be a carp angler if you fish a lake that contains them. My point which is getting ever more long winded is that you would have been fishing for carp that behaved like carp and were truly wild fish. Few carp were landed and the ones that were caught were mostly random captures. Carp being inquisitive will pick up random objects and an unpressured fish will be more likely to do it. Rigs and the ability to fish at range did not matter as the carp were unpressured but still very few were caught, so what was the game changer?

The particle theory is relatively simple and revolves around lots of small items that keep a fish occupied for a time and more importantly it will be so plentiful that it more than competes with any natural larder! Interestingly I always caught a lot more carp in Canada on boilies than I did on corn despite feeding both in quantity. These river fish have to work hard fighting the current constantly and spend months under the ice. I think they cannot afford to miss any food opportunity.

The HNV bait theory on the other hand implies that it is down to the quality of the bait, if you make a high protein nutritious boilie the fish will recognise it as being good and select it over other items. I subscribed to this for many decades and if truth be told I did pretty well and I am sure that my superior baits caught me more fish. However if you match nutrition against angling pressure there will only ever be one winner and it doesn’t matter how good your boilie is?

So before boilies and particles the anglers might use worms, bread or potatoes which would be baited on the hook and usually free lined. As I said I don’t think the rig or distance made any difference but why would a living creature abandon its normal diet to eat an unknown object in isolation? I believe the reason boilies became a revelation overnight was because for the first time in history they were fished with free offerings and prebaiting techniques. I have no doubt that the carp recognised the quality of the food source and when it became plentiful it became a really viable option over digging in the silt for bloodworm. Do I think the carp would have proffered the boilies to particles such as sweetcorn or tiger nuts, yes absolutely? However carp learn by association and trips to the bank and this situation would probably be reversed after 2 or 3 captures. For the next few decades the fish got the upper hand as they learned to master our presentations.

A really big fish from my lake. It was almost 2 years before it finally got caught. I used to see it all the time and tell people about it. Nobody else would see it and in the end I even began to disbelieve myself until it came out here for the first time at 58lbs.

This is not a carp history lesson but an insight into fishing for wild carp which have had the chance to do a few times. As a youngster I pre baited an oxbow lake on the river that contained carp with boilies for the first time. As a keen youngster I baited every day for the whole duration of the closed season. On the first day of the season I had 34 runs and on the 2nd day I had 1! This is how angling pressure makes a difference. 30 years ago I tried an approach similar to zig rigging which had not been named by then. We know how effective this method can be so you would expect that I raped waters with it, wouldn’t you? Actually I caught nothing! I know now that the zig bugs are 50 times more likely to get you a take than a round boilie which I was using at the time, even then why the failure? Could it be that the fish have evolved to feed on the tiny emerging bugs more to avoid danger on the bottom? Every lake has fish that do not get caught or go on the missing list for years and I would suggest that have either not transitioned from a readily available supply of natural food or chosen to avoid dangerous items with the round ball right at the top of it. I don’t think they are clever riggy fish just set in a food habit routine.

Last year I got permission to fish a garden pond of 3 acres with a dozen carp, 2 of which would be between 50-60lbs commons. Nobody had every fished the pond or baited it and it is only 3 feet deep. How easy was this going to be! Armed with 3 loaves of bread cut up into cubes and a catapult I found the fish and started to feed them. Once I got them going I would go and fetch a rod and a net and a bloody big mat. The fish had 3 or 4 bits of bread and swam off, when I found them again they were all hiding under a bush, where they stayed until I left. Over the weeks I tried all approaches including leaving a bait fishing for 3 days with I well out of the way. I caught 2 nice pristine commons but not the ones I wanted and the campaign was a failure.

These fish were so spooked that they would hide for days but were fat like barrels from the naturals and were a long way from starving. To compete with the naturals I would have to put in a good amount of boilies and I now believe that nearly all of these had been eaten by crayfish or ducks before the carp got a look in. The quality of my bait certainly caught me nothing despite being a proven effective bait. I now believe I have the answer and expect to see a virgin 60lbs common on this page about may time.

Tight Lines

Jason Rider


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