Pro Feeder Bagging – Tom Downing

With the newly released Bait-Tech Pro Feeder Groundbait now readily available I was keen to get out on the bank and put it through its paces. There are two ground-baits in the range, a natural mix that contains no fishmeal which is a nice light yellowish colour (popular on the continent) and a dark fishmeal version, both of which have their uses on different days or venues.

First for me to try out was the Natural mix. I decided to try this at a small reservoir just outside of Bideford called Melbury. It is part of the South West Lakes Trust and is a fantastic little fishery on its day, but can certainly be a challenge when facing the elements. I chose to use the Natural mix as the venue doesn’t see huge amounts of bait going in from carp anglers like some others do so I felt this would suffice. I chose to go on my day off of work and surprise surprise the forecast was horrific with rain set for most of the day and the wind getting up gradually as the day went on. I decided to fish the double swim close to the car park due to ease of access and a young junior member of the club coming along to have a practice on casting a feeder at range.

Whilst setting up the weather wasn’t too bad and I was thinking they may have got it wrong…. It turned out they didn’t as it started raining shortly after starting fishing until the kit was packed away in the car! To start off I mixed the ground-bait. I emptied the bag into a mixing bucket and added water, little by little whilst mixing by hand. Without over wetting I got it to a nice consistency then put it though a riddle to take out any bait that had taken on more water than the rest and remove the unwanted lumps. I then left it for 30 minutes to take on the water and just before I wanted to start, I checked the consistency again and then, if needed I added a little more water to get the mix how I wanted to use it. In this case the swim isn’t overly deep so I wanted the mix to be light and fluffy so it would quickly empty out of the feeder once on the lake bed. I set two rods up for the day, both clipped up at 35 meters. On one rod I used a braided mainline to an 8 lb mono shock leader. I fished this with a running feeder and a twisted loop to act as a boom, to kick my hook length away from the feeder and the other rod I set up but didn’t use was a fixed paternoster set up on 5lb mono to the same leader.

With a lot of rain the night before and a drop-in temperature, I didn’t want to feed to much initially and only cast out 5 large feeder fulls of the light fluffy ground-bait mix with a few casters and some maggots in for good measure. I started on an 0.13 hook length, fairly strong line for silver fishing but a heavier line helps to prevent it from spinning up to much when you retrieve without a fish. My hook of choice was a size 18 Guru LWFG where I nicked on 2 dead reds and cast over the baited spot.  My first bite was almost instant after the feeder settling on the lake bed and the braid being sank and a nice roach was slipped into the net. This followed by another quick roach and then bites became a little bit few and far between. I missed a couple of really positive bites whilst using the longer hook length and small hook so I changed to a size 14 and shortened my tail to just 18 inches to see if it would make any difference. Bites didn’t come instantly but when they did, they were good positive pulls on the tip with a mix of skimmers small hybrids and roach. After a few fish and a little top up on the loose feed, the bites had dried up again and I felt they may have backed off of the feed, so I re-clipped a meter past where I was originally and put another 3ft tail on with an 18 hook once again. Bites where slow but came a lot more often until I decided enough was enough for the day where the rain hadn’t let up!

All in all it was a very difficult day given the conditions but I managed to keep a few fish coming to the Pro Feeder Natural and it was very pleasing using the new ground bait for the first time, especially when hearing a local club fished a match here the previous week and the pegs we fished really struggled with just a couple of fish each.

Now that I had used the natural version of the Pro Feeder ground bait, it was time to give the Dark Fishmeal version a good go! I chose a different venue to use this and a peg that I have had some good results on it the past. This time it was Upper Tamar Reservoir, again another fantastic venue that is part of South West Lakes Trust! I arrived at the fishery and was greeted by my mate Simon who was cutting pegs for a future match. He decided to stay and fish so fished next to me. He then told me he didn’t have his trolley with him so it was going to be a test for the 4 wheel barrow. With two boxes, holdalls net bags and numerous buckets and bits loaded onto the trolley we traipsed across to the Devon bank and set up on adjacent pegs known as the gorse bush or dugout swim… bream heaven usually! The weather was far from ideal for the pegs that we had chosen with an easterly wind blowing down towards the Cornish bank where the bream had been showing in previous weeks. Ever the optimist though I was still confident of getting a few bites before the day was out.

I mixed up my ground bait the same as I did with the Natural mix but had it a littler wetter so in turn it was slightly heavier so it would stay in the feeder on the drop as Tamar is considerably deeper than Melbury, in fact with a full feeder I had a count of 26 compared to 13! Set up was almost identical as before too but I fished both rods on fixed paternosters and both at a range of 40 meters. On one rod, I used a 2ft tail of 0.13 to an 18 guru LWFG and the other I used an 18 inch tail of 0.15 to a PR36 18 with a banded hair. Expecting bream to show up at some point in the day, I planned to get more and more positive as the day went on and was armed with plenty of particles to put through a plugged feeder. These consisted of Bait-Tech Natural and Strawberry Corn, Carp and Coarse 2mm Pellets, casters and some dead maggots!

Again, with bream in mind I put out 10 large feeder fulls with a bit of corn and a few casters chucked in for good measure to kick start the swim. I started off fishing with a couple of bits of worm to basically catch anything that swam to give me a sort of idea how it was going to fish. After half an hour or so I had only put a nice roach and a small hybrid in the net and with Si struggling as well, we both feared the worse but kept the feeder going in on regular interval because if the bream do turn up, or a rogue carp, they don’t take too long to clean out your swim without realizing. After about two hours gone I had my first half decent bream of about 2lb, with this I felt there may have been a few starting to show so I upped the amount of corn I was putting through the feeder and added some micros to my ground bait. Expecting bites to be one after the other once I had switched to hair rigged corn I was very worried when the tip sat motionless but then the tip rattled and an 8oz roach was the prize, followed by another and another. Not the intended specie but it certainly shows the versatility of the ground bait! With all the roach putting in an appearance I switched hook baits and banded an 8mm Juice Dumbell Bottom bait and after a few minutes the tip slowly pulled round into what felt like my first proper slab until it got to the net and It was a big bonus Perch! I didn’t weigh it but I would imagine it was 3 plus (the lake has done fish to five plus and bags of 20 or more 2lb plus fish!)  I was certainly chuffed with this as I believed it was probably a PB of mine! After this fish, bites became more frequent with ‘proper’ fish now more apparent. For the remainder of the session I swapped between white and yellow Juice Dumbells and corn and kept some good-sized bream up to 4lb coming to the net.

After a nervy start the day ended well with me having a 50lb plus bag of mixed fish with big bream ending up being the bulk of the weight! It really showed that once the fish were on the ground bait they stayed on it and didn’t seem to back off much as bites kept coming at regular 5 minute intervals. I’m always a bit cautious when using a new ground bait which I’m sure is the same with most anglers out there but it all comes down to having confidence with a product, with this being the first time I have used the Pro Feeder range it was really enjoyable playing around with it and using it on different venues and it certainly won’t be the last time I use it! It certainly is a very versatile ground bait and I will be using on the commercials in the upcoming months for both skimmers and carp.

If you want to try some new mixes for your feeder fishing, be sure to grab a couple of bags of this awesome range, give it a go yourself and watch your catch rate increase.

Tight Lines

Tom Downing

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