Preparation

Steve with a Yorkshire thirty

As many carpers dust off their tackle ready for another season, DNA Baits boss, Steve Carrie, concentrates his preparations on bait.

Prep work comes in many forms in angling. If you’re a keen angler, so obsessed with angling that you virtually live and breathe it, then I’m guessing you are one of the many that enjoys prepping your gear for the season ahead. New line on your spools, rig tying sessions and, for a few, stinking the house out with some home-made specials!

I used to be much worse than I am today for thinking about fishing day in day out, hour by hour. As time passes and other things are forced to take priority, I’ve had little time to be tying tons of rigs or making my own baits week in week out, which is a shame as I loved it. It was one of the most obsessive times of my angling life, driving people mad with my constant rig and bait inventing!

Even now I still manage to maintain some of the more obsessive sides to my angling that I feel make a huge difference, keeping me fully involved and on the ball with my own angling. That may include many different species these days, but it’s pretty much based around the same aspects of angling in general. These are time and bait, which I still believe are two of the main factors in angling, and in particular success in angling.

I still find time to do some prep work at home – the wife has never got used to it though!
Fermented liquid dip is something I have used for many years

Time is without doubt the number one factor in fishing success. It’s very simple: the more you are bank side with baited hook in water, the better your chances. Even the most novice angler can speed up the learning curve, even dodge it in some cases, upping their success rate by simply having more time to sit on the bank. Time, however, is something I have never had much of, and doubt I ever will, so I can’t have the same mindset as the others that do. Following how these anglers think and fish is not an option for me. It’s pointless worrying about the time others have; you’re much better off concentrating on your own situation and perfecting your own approach, rather than wondering how you can gain extra time. A lot of people I know have burnt themselves out trying to put all their spare time into fishing; sometimes too much is a bad thing, especially in an already hectic lifestyle.

I manage my time on the bank by preparing the main aspects of my angling, and also looking at how to compensate for time lost or time I never had. Aside from the usual carrying the correct gear, ensuring it’s in working order, brew kit, stocked tackle bag, etc., how do I try to maximise my time? Firstly, I tie very few rigs at home these days. I find that having just two or three rigs I like to use, a couple in my box and on my rods is fine. I much prefer to make them up on the bank, so I can adapt as required. You’re much more inclined to put the wrong rigs out, or ones that you are unsure about, if you have tied 30 of them at home!

My main focus is bait prep, not that I roll my own these days, but I still put a lot of prep into my bait at home, particularly my hookbaits. At times I have had 40-50 hookbait pots, all doing different things in different liquids and powders, some for many years!

Be different – time and effort spent on your hookbaits brings rewards

My hookbait preparation is done year round; baits can be worked on now with no intention of using them for six months or so. This is one side of the Evo kits that I played a big part in, helping develop the paste wrap, a method I have adapted for many years using base mixes, powders and all kinds of liquids. Even my prebait is often prepared and developed well in advance, especially particles, which I can have in process for anything from two week to four months or even longer. This is due to various elements of fermentation stages and what I’m trying to use as the attractors of that bait, which is the balance of a high natural energy, carbohydrate based mix in its first stages right through to the natural alcohol produced in the latter stages for a highly soluble attractor – not just for fish either.

I’m also a big believer in prebaiting. When I mentioned earlier about compensating for lack of time, prebaiting is one of the best ways to do it. Although time is still involved in prebaiting, it’s not as intensive as doing those extra sessions or simply not going at all because you only have an hour. A good, well planned prebaiting campaign can work wonders for people on short time; in fact, being able to get a competitive angle off some of the lads with more time to sit it out makes it feel like you’re making your own time. Prebaiting is an all-year-round technique, including winter, but can really come into its own at the start of spring. A lot of thought still needs to go into it, as does time and extra effort. It’s not just as simple as throwing a bit of bait into a lake a few times; theres more to it than that – much more!

I guess that prep work never actually ends, but it’s got to start somewhere. As I have already said, I’m always trying to compensate for time I don’t have. I always approach a water with no inside info or actual capture research (as many other anglers do with great success), because I have always thought that can set you on a previously walked path and you can be blinkered by the fact that set patterns need to be followed; certain baits work, certain pegs, time of year, moon phases... it goes on and gets more and more foggy! That’s not what my angling is about. I take my approach fresh and from March onwards I begin looking at a prebaiting plan, a plan of attack in certain swims, and a few trips to recce swims to get a rough lay out of them and pick my preferred areas to concentrate on. A long time ago I would spend February or March markering and mapping out an entire lake and inputting everything into a diary and map, but these days paperwork is for daytime while sitting behind the desk! As I have used prebaiting as a major method in my angling, I believe I don’t need to be mapping everything out. Instead spending those first three or four sessions on the bank in different swims gives me a great start.

Hand-rolled baits can be very effective and worth the extra time
These prebaiting tools are in my car more often than my actual fishing kit – prebaiting is a great edge

A lot of thought and effort goes into these aspects of my fishing, and I find them to be the main things to focus on in preparation. We can all make sure we have the gear sorted, but it’s the often overlooked items that are the most important. Having the right bait, and often one that’s not just out of the bag, is a great way of tipping the balance in your favour.

There’s much more I would like to cover about these subjects than I could ever fit in these two pages. In my next piece I will be going through these ideas and concepts in more depth and showing you why I think they make a difference.

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