Top fishermen know that by exploiting the way your target fish feed at any time of day or night or time of the season, they can reliably improve their catches and keep catching more consistently than the average angler. This is one very significant bait and rig subject which is neglected by the majority of anglers. In fact fish like carp change their mode of feeding all the time even over a 24 hour period or in an instant and you can manipulate and induce changes in feeding to catch far more fish!
If you ever fished a match using tiny hooks for bloodworm or jokers as bait, you will know how powerful these fish catching baits are. One of the best feeding triggers for carp and one of the most abundant amino acids found in mature carp tissues is alanine which also happens to be found in abundance in blood worms and jokers. Fish instinctively feed in the most energy efficient way depending on the food supply available and how and where it is located and how spread out or dense or large or small the food items are.
Many carp anglers do not realise carp can feed on items as small as algae and tiny zooplankton crustaceans, even under a millimetre in size and derive extremely significant nutrition from such small organisms. These are very rich foods and are often exploited when fluctuations of populations are especially favourable and in spring and summer help in the time leading up to and after spawning. The success of fine particulate feeds like fine fish meal and bread crumb ground baits in many ways echo this mode of feeding which in this case can occur at any level in the water or sediment.
You can exploit various feeds and fine liquid additives with particles in suspension to induce this kind of feeding, although there are many endless options for doing this effectively and yeast and liver powders and corn steep liquor and various less refined fish oils are obvious examples to begin with. Fish can taste their food using taste buds located in their pharyngeal cavity so this form of feeding is not sight oriented but taste oriented. Using induced filter and pump filter (gulping type feeding,) fish can get the nutritional stimulation of your free and hook baits without actually touching your baits but then having filter fed on them will often be in a far more excited physiological and mental state when they actually physically feed on them and carp filter feed predominantly in turbid waters.
Carp actually derive very significant nutrition by filter feeding as this is the primary mode of feeding used especially in turbid lakes. It is a great advantage to use this mode to good effect, and I have had outstanding success for bigger carp fishing over ground bait and forms of more soluble boilies and pellets forms over deep silt in smaller turbid lakes; where catching filter feeding carp can be very difficult with more conventional approaches and large baits and pellets etc. This method of feeding exploitation can drive fish into a feeding frenzy even though no solid bait has actually been consumed yet!
Bass and trout and even carp, bream and fish like crappie roach and barbel all filter feed to different degrees. This finely adjusted feeding is achieved using what is called the branchial sieve structures which are adjusted in order to energy efficiently exploit more abundant nutritious food particles and natural organisms. Carp can even suction filter feed at least an equal head length away from its head which is similar in energy and movement efficiency as a sheep seen feeding on grass on its knees although fish use far less energy in general movement compared to terrestrial animals not supported in water.
The chemical senses of carp are often mentioned in relation to bait, but the role of the carp lateral line is far less mentioned. The electrical sensitivity of this area in food detection is often severely over-looked by anglers seeking to improve their baits and it is so finely tuned it can detect the tiny movements of zooplankton. As carp are primarily filter feeders using slower suction motions compared to other fish, it makes sense to exploit this by using fine ground baits and smaller hook baits too!
The fine filter feeding mode predominance found with carp in lakes especially is really a reflection of the most dominant abundance of smaller food items available throughout most of the year such as fluctuating populations of fly larvae, tubifex, daphnia, and other benthic organisms as well as algae etc from which carp drive essential amino acids, and pigments like cantaxanthin etc. Many anglers say smaller baits are better for catching carp even though this species and many others become conditioned to eat large boilies, pellets and particles of 20 millimetres and over. But the fact is the smaller baits are more easily consumed for less energy cost compared to many larger ones and the fact that far less anglers presently use tiny boilies on their hook rig is a bit beside the point here.
How many big carp get hooked by match anglers at the end of a day of baiting up constantly with tiny pouches of fine bread crumb and fish meal and tiny micro pellet ground baits; it happens far more often than carp anglers like to imagine. The constant ground baiting is one factor along with the fine tackle they use, but mostly, match anglers are offering carp the ideal form of ground bait to exploit their natural filter feeding modes. Literally matching up your bait to the feeding modes of fish and even influencing which mode and feeding intensity occurs can seriously improve your catches all season; it just takes a little bait know-how…
By Tim Richardson.