Free Fishing Secrets That Catch You More Big Catfish and Carp

Fishermen hate to miss out on the latest edges to improve catches. But it really is better to solve problems by beginning with the study and observation of fish behaviors, and not with the latest tackle and bait adverts. With details of many big fish captures, this articles shows you how and why this is so important.

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It really is better to solve problems by beginning with the study and observation of fish behaviours and not with the latest tackle and bait adverts first! I remember a time years ago now, when the famous UK Woburn Abbey cats adapted to very intense fishing pressure from anglers by switching-off from all previously successful “conventional baits.” They refusing to take them, relying for their survival upon natural food items instead. Using observation it became clear they were preying upon small zander in the margins of the lake. Therefore when small zander were used as bait, immediate success followed after weeks of struggling using popular recommended baits.

Using baits which arouse zero or as little suspicion as possible (ideally with the maximum stimulation) has always been the biggest point about fishing baits (as well as the hook!) Yes, catfish adapt to fishing pressures and can change their dietary habits to rely solely on natural food; which has not yet been exploited as bait that is! Very often, they will only take baits they are prepared to take the risk to fed on, just like carp. And just like carp, catfish can become much easier to catch as you progressively use smaller and smaller baits. I’ve only ever live-baited for catfish once, so all my catfish catches have been on homemade baits and altered and adapted commercial ones.

Also just like carp, tempting very big catfish is most often no push-over; indeed far from it! (Using live-baits is completely unnecessary and strictly for sadists in my book!) I’ve had thirty catfish over sixty pounds in the UK now on homemade baits and I’ve watched over the weeks and years how their bait preferences and the effectiveness of various baits has changed. Often this change is incredibly fast and even sudden after a good catch. Then you need a new version of bait!

In this respect catfish are definitely in a similar league to carp and considering catfish feed far less frequently the potential for “blank sessions is much higher! Wels catfish and channel catfish for instance have metabolisms which means they actively feed much less than carp in lower temperatures, so in many countries their season is far shorter than for carp.)

In fact on various fisheries I”ve experienced I’ve known catfish to reject all the following baits after initial success: Cockles, mussels, squid, liver, luncheon and sausage meat, marine halibut pellets, trout pellets, salmon pellets, salami, various “Pepperami” products, carp pellets, leaches, fresh herring, mackerel, eel and lamprey segments etc. Also the same has happened with a huge range of boilies of all kinds of base mixes stimulators and attractors, both commercial baits and homemade ones and so on.

Fortunately you really can keep ahead of both catfish and carp by using homemade baits. If you have underestimated the satisfaction of getting regular new personal best fish using homemade baits then I guess you will settle for commercial baits. Many of these may have already been experienced by fish and therefore not as effective as newly introduced ones.

With commercial baits you really are competing not just against the fish’s senses but a multitude of other anglers too. Not only this but often they are simply not in optimally stimulating nor digestive forms as they need to “fit” the practical preferences of buying customers. The adapting and altering of commercial baits is absolutely recommended; making your version uniquely and “new” is a hugely important key to consistent big fish success.

The choice of various substances and methods to this end are not merely limited to flavourings or feed stimulating additives, but fermentation, liquidising and forming such baits into new baits and ground baits and much more cutting-edge developments and substances…

Many catfish species display very similar chemoreception and olfactory similarities to carp, including receptor sensitivities to a huge range of similar substances; feeding triggers like betaine and amino acids, and a whole range of attractive flavours for example. In fact over the years it often been a curious personal observation of mine that when conditions are “perfect for carp to feed,” very often it will be the catfish which feed first. This feeding activity (and resulting catfish caught) are often literally followed by the carp feeding and being caught, (or sometimes vice- versa.)

I recall two very memorable sessions. Over the course of two weeks fishing various sessions, I fished and baited a swim continuously without success and no sign of fish activity, line bites, “oil slicks” tiny “give-away” bubbles or of fish rolling craftily under the surface… Then within the space of an hour a 37 pound mirror was followed by a 68 pound catfish which were both the biggest catfish in the lake at the time and the joint second biggest carp which was a huge framed white looking mirror which had never been banked before since the fishery had opened about 10 years previously.

An almost identical pattern and results happened the following week with the capture of the other joint biggest mirror in the lake of 36 pounds at the time followed by a 58 pound catfish which was the second largest catfish in the lake at the time. By contrast, I had caught the largest carp a couple of years previous to this at around 45 pounds within half an hour of baiting up one evening using an unusual homemade bait over a bed of natural spice extracts-soaked maize and sweetcorn (These are very rich foods high in potent antioxidants, attractive pigments, sugars, essential minerals and vitamins etc!

This kind of result of a 30 or 40 pound carp and 50 pound plus catfish caught almost together in just an hour or 12 hour period has happened more times to me for it be “coincidence.” Catfish are “binge feeders” and often the same fish will be caught more than once over the space of just a few days. Over a “red-letter” period of just 4 days I caught the same two 50 pound and 70 pound fish twice each on homemade “pop-up” baits. (Once I hooked the same 120 pound catfish twice in a week before it “switched-off” again for a few months.)

Often it is best to keep your catfish catches “quiet” and not letting competing anglers learn of your results, in order to keep catching consistently yourself. Everything your competing anglers do in terms can drastically impact upon your fishing results for both catfish and carp! It also pays to be stealthy yourself, hide your lines and minimise any detectable tackle in the water and fishing activities which although may be considered “OK” can actually put off fish from feeding! When fishing for catfish on homemade baits the absence of “line bites” can be a very reassuring sign. In contrast, on some extremely heavily pressured waters, just getting a “line bite” can seem almost a miraculous event; but when it happens you often discover you’ve just “spooked” a fish from feeding on your bait!

Fishing pressures and normal bankside activities like a fully loaded “tackle barrow” rumbling its quiet way along the bank can severely affect catfish and carp and “switch them off” from feeding. This can even prevent their feeding on baits altogether until angling pressure is “perceived” by fish to be reduced to “safe” levels. In fact just banging a car door or pushing a loaded barrow around some fisheries has definitely been proven to alter fish behaviours and can even result in you unnecessarily wasting the first days and nights of a valuable session. On numerous occasions I’ve landed big catfish after not getting a single bite for as long as too many anglers’ lines were in the water than the fishery could “handle.” (And the same goes for carp!)

On more than one occasion after a period of no catches for any anglers, numbers of them have decided that the “Lake is crap with no fish in it!” reeled in their baits, leads and lines and left the fishery. When they do in their ignorance (if only they saw the “bigger picture”) then my frustration levels drop and my excitement and anticipation levels rise significantly! When enough anglers have given up and left it is then that the action very often starts.

Even within ten minutes to half an hour in such a situation, I’ve had fish over 60 and 70 pounds take the bait. Sometimes this has meant no-one was to take a picture or to enjoy witnessing the fish of a life-time; so sad! (In many ways I personally prefer it that way.) The times I’ve shared news of captures seems to result in swim robbing “copy-cats” who want to know every detail down to the exact feeding spot and exact rig dimensions in order to attempt to replicate your success. (I learnt the hard way that fishing acquaintances and even some “friends” are often the last you should tell in the drama and excitement of a big fish capture.)

However, I do not mean or intend to be a secretive anti-social angler and I do tell what I can to help fellow anglers increase their personal catch rates of course! But I do not wish for them to copy me for one very good reason. They cannot becomes “self-sufficient thinking for themselves anglers” if all they do is copy from others all the time. Riding on the backs of others is just too easy a route in my book, which robs anglers of massive benefits of learning for themselves many vital aspects of “the essential bigger fishing picture!” (The original meaning of education was to bring forth what is inside a person; “Teach a man to fish not give a man a fish and all that!)

These big catfish and carp are definitely aware of fishing all our fishing activities even at night when everything is still and quiet. Using trendy “camouflaged clothing” for example, will not disguise your body heat as you move around; carp can see into the air from water and see your “signature!” More familiar threats like vibrations from tight lines (picked up by the lateral line finely tunes pressure receptors cells,) bite alarms with enough decibels to wake the dead and bleep five times each time they are turned on (not a brilliant idea that one Mr Fox!) Heavy “artificial” splashes from heavy leads, method ground bait rigs, and heavy poly vinyl alcohol bags get to be very easily recognisable warning signs as opposed to dinner bells after a period of exposure, catches and association with past stimuli!

Simply walking along the bank is enough to send warning vibration shooting across the water all the way the other bank on the far side of the lake. Yes’ I realise this can all sound “over the top” and there are waters where you could drive right up to waters edge, chuck out some bread and catch carp right next to where you’re standing. (Well, I don’t notice the majority big fish catches from such waters!)

Sound waves travel very effectively both through and across water. (Next time your mates have a conversation with you from across the water in another swim, notice the echoes; (which are especially noticeable at night!)

Very little is “tight” or having neat square lines or right angles in nature and tight lines that are obvious pinned down to the bottom or passing higher up through the water are very obvious “danger reference points.” Obviously for fish these have dangerous associations with previous fishing activities, leads, baits, hooks etc! Incidentally, when a fish is hooked and landed, how it does not know that it might be returned safely to its home and not going to be someone’s supper! I guess birds like herons that feed in the margins on fry sheltering there, are less immediately obvious reason big mature fish are not exactly in favour of being taken from the water!

Catfish are equally adept as being aware of you, your fishing equipment and activities as carp are. Carp are already notorious for responding very negatively to anglers fishing activities. “Crude” tackle and these days, even far more subtle and sophisticated methods, rigs, bait designs and sizes etc.

On one occasion in 2006, I found myself on a deserted stretch of a normally packed busy commercial fishery. Within ten minutes of casting out I’d landed the lake record. Although 30 years of fish location skills and use of an innovative new homemade bait were also major factors in this catch, another was the most important. Fish are only catchable when they are prepared to feed (without being electro-fished or blown up with dynamite at any rate! I knew how to fish “stealthily” crating very little water or bank disturbance by vibrations, movements, shadows etc. The lack of fishing pressure from me and other anglers meant the fish actually felt safe enough to feed on bait immediately in its vicinity.

Big catfish are very “residentially located” oriented fish like so many big carp, which although also travelling to find food can spend the majority of their time remaining in just one area of a water or swim. I once fished another very constantly pressured fishery for 3 days and nights with no success and no sign of carp or catfish feeding activity. Big catfish can get you very excited by excreting large “slicks” which appear on the water surface made more obvious by causing a round area of water to go calm while water ripples all around it. (It looks a bit like it does after ground baiting with a very large amount of oily boilies or pellets.) When you see this your know a big catfish is on the cards for you! When your fishing rod bends double on the take; you’d better be ready; enjoy the ride! “Tight lines!”

The author has many more fishing and bait “edges.’ Just one could impact on your catches!

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