Natural Baggin’ - Jonny Old
You often hear anglers talking about the ‘natural larder’ or ‘the naturals must be out’, common terms that are used for those periods in the angling calendar whereby the naturals of a lake are in full bloom, and as a result, the carp are making the most of their presence. It is certainly hard to predict when these times are, and they can pop- up overnight as if by magic, whereby all bites seem to switch off and the fish get their heads down on the naturals.
Certainly, on those rich waters, clear with lots of weed and silt, these ‘natural blooms’ can be more frequent and can what seem like long periods when the fish just are not interested, couldn’t be further from the truth with the right approach and switching tactics up a little. For a few years now, the natural bag approach has played a part in my armoury, especially at times when I feel conventional boilie tactics just aren’t picking up those bites, a change to something more natural, subtle and appealing can once again get those bobbins moving.
This short insight feature takes a closer look at my natural bag approach, how I tie the bags up and construct the mix to give me a great edge throughout the spring and summer period when the natural seems to be flourishing once again. This approach has stood me in good stead on some small, tricky venues in the past, allowing me to position a hookbait among weed and more importantly present effectively, which maintaining huge amounts of natural attraction around my baited rig.
The natural bag came about when I was fishing a rich, silty and weedy estate lake, this lake in question had always been notoriously tricky and I think a lot of that was down to the fish being so tied up feeding on the naturals as opposed to angler’s bait such as boilies and bright pop- ups that many were using. I took a gamble and changed my whole approach, opting for the solid bags, combined with a subtle, but fantastic mix that not only offers attraction, but mimics the natural present in many of the silty areas with the addition of a few ingredients.
The basis for my mix is pellets, now, pellets are by no means anything new, but I certainly think selecting the right type of pellet is key. You want these to be small and replicate those shards of natural such as snail shell, which is why I choose the dark coloured Belachan Bag Mix pellets. These pellets are dark in colour and while they may not stand out, they offer incredible natural shrimp attraction and I think that subtleness of the mix, creates very little caution and wariness when the fish approach the baited area. You may also notice that I use a dark hookbait, one of the balanced matching hookbaits in a black colour, once again to tie in with the subtle mix. I think if I were to say maybe fish a bright pink or yellow over the mix, it would stand out far too much and there would be no doubt the carp could quite easily single it out, mopping up the free offerings instead.
To the body of the mix I add a couple of natural ingredients that really compliment the overall appeal and food signals emitted when the bag begins to slowly break down. These ingredients are once again based around the more natural additives available, including the frozen water snails that are visually appealing and also pack a great deal of crunch and salt within the mix. Similar to this, I add fresh hemp, which I believe the fish simply love gorging on and filtering through their gills when they feed. The white cornels of the hemp seed are also visual and mimic that of a snail on the lakebed, which I believe is huge edge during the spring. The two other additives are heavily based around providing the fish with stimulatory triggers, such as the GLM which is packed with salt, one of the derivatives that fish crave during those first few weeks of spring.
When all of these items are mixed together, they provide a carpet of subtle goodness that is completely different to what many of the anglers out there are already using. I pack the whole lot into a solid PVA bag, which means I can present my hookbaits in pretty much any area of the lake where the fish seem to be most active. When I arrive at the lake, I will closely watch the water for signs of fizzing and movement before I decide on where may be best to set- up. By using the solid bags, I know that I can rest assure I will be presented on any lake bed other than very thick weed, which means that I do not have to spend time leading around and potentially spooking any fish off.
At times, it can be quite obvious when the fish are tuned into feeding on the naturals; it is worth looking out for huge beds of fizzing, weed that has been uprooted when the carp are grubbing around and areas of cloudy water around the lake where the fish are grazing. When you have picked up on these signs, it will certainly make sense to note them and present solid bags among the areas they are occurring. By packing the solid bag down tight, the surface area will mean they sit proud over silt or debris, ensuring the hookbait can be reached by any feeding carp.
My solid bag set- up is very simple; a length of leadcore where permitted, a large drop- off inline lead and a short Ronnie rig which can be used with either a pop- up or balanced wafter hookbait. I personally prefer a balanced bait, as in my opinion, when those fish are pre-occupied on naturals, they are feeding very close to the lakebed, often sifting around and digging into the lakebed debris. The big drop off inline serves two purposes, number one, when they are feeding tightly, it ensures they are hooked pretty much instantly. Secondly, the lead can discharge and allow the fish to rise up in the water, which makes landing fish on weedy venues a great deal easier.
If you haven’t considered the natural approach for your venue, then I would certainly advocate giving it a go. When combined with a solid bag and a subtle, natural hookbait, you can rest assure it will trip up most fish when positioned in those areas they are confident in feeding. Give it a go this spring and see if it can outwit those tricky, finicky feeding fish!