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Home > The Big Red Carp Fishing Blog > Preoccupation - part one

Preoccupation - part one

Monday, 29th March 2010

If you were around the carp scene way back in the early 70s you will recall the fledgling particle bait scene. Until a certain Mr Hutchinson came along particle baits were not really considered until they were popularised by Rod who wrote what was then the definitive series of articles on the new baits in ‘Angling’ magazine. I don’t know if it was serendipitous but by chance Rod then lived not a hop skip and a jump away from Haith's® old factory in Cleethorpes. I could be wrong but I wouldn’t mind betting that Rod was Haith’s® first carp fishing customer and once the big man had discovered the Aladdin’s Cave that is Haith's® he never looked back.

Later he collected his findings into a chapter in his first book, ‘Rod Hucthinson’s Carp Book’, which was published in 1981. By the time the book was published carp fishing as a sport had exploded beyond all belief and particles became the second mainstream baits after boilies. At the heart of Rod’s thinking lay a desire to create a degree of preoccupied feeding in the carp he was targeting and after a few false starts that included trying jelly babies and garden peas among others, Rod discovered that the greatest preoccupation could be achieved using small seeds. Modern carp fishing has now developed this method of attack by encompassing the use of mini boilies, mini- and micro-seed blends, pellets, boilie crumb and groundbait. Though all seem at first sight to be different, they all have one thing in common, namely that they instil a greater or lesser degree of preoccupation in feeding carp (as well as tench, barbel, chub and big roach).
Using mass baits to create preoccupation is probably one of the most sure-fire ways of getting action in modern carp fishing and it is effective on virtually every type of lake or river you can imagine. Personally I love to fish waters where I can watch the fish as they go about their everyday activity, and it has been on these lakes that I have done a lot of experimentation into the way fish feed. Believe me, you can learn a tremendous amount about carp in general and their feeding habits in particular by actually watching them, so where possible it is a good idea initially to pick a water where you can bait up an area and watch the carp feed and thus judge their reactions to the bait and the baiting situation.
I have watched fish feed in all manner of waters, from small lakes to inland seas, from tiny streams to powerful rivers, and the one thing I have noticed on every occasion is that the more preoccupied they become in their feeding, the more aggressively they behave towards each other and thus the more aggressively they feed.
There are all sorts of baits that will instil confidence in carp, ones that will soon achieve the kind of preoccupation that leads to more confident and aggressive feeding, the cornerstone of any such campaign. Clearly baits such as hempseed, oat groats, dari seed and the like have a lot going for them but you can also mix and match all kinds of different baits to create a bait carpet that will quickly produce preoccupied feeding.

Robin RedWhite Spacer Groats
My preference is for mini and micro seeds, blended with pellets, boilie crumb, chops and a goodly helping of neat Robin Red. I also usually include a tiny scattering of larger pulses and nuts. Carp often targets the larger food items individually once they have been feeding on the bait carpet for any length of time.


I also like to use seed blends such as Red Band and Carpticle (both from Haiths) and I usually add a handful of larger particles such as tiger nuts, chickpeas, black-eyed beans, etc. In fact Red Band Pigeon Conditioner is a brilliant seed blend in its own right containing unique selection of mini particles. The attraction is boosted still further by the addition of aniseed oil as well as some very attractive mini pellets, grains and cereals. As you can see from the before and after shots, some of the small grains break down almost to a mush after preparation and it is this mushiness that the carp initially find so attractive.

Red Band
The great benefit of these kinds of micro/mini seed blends is their low cost. A little really does go one hell of a long way and something like Red Band will keep the carp happy for some time. That said, it is cheap enough to enable to you possibly “waste” some of it by spreading bait further around the lake, perhaps in places where carp are reluctant to visit. Don’t worry if the smaller coarse fish arrive first. The carp soon follow and they will soon chase off the small fry.
Any tiny bait that can be introduced in quantity will have the effect of promoting preoccupation and mass baits like hempseed and groats are perhaps the best examples of such baits. However, I like to create my own customised carpet feed as follows:

Super Red
First mix together in a bucket equal parts Carpticle or Partiblend, Oat Groats, Flaked Maize, and SuperRed Groundbait (available from Haiths). Now add water and allow the mixture to stand overnight if possible so as to absorb water. The process can be speeded up if boiling water is added. I now add the “meaty” bits, the chops, boilie crumb and whole boilies. Finally add the piece de resistance! There isn’t a single solitary groundbaits or Method mix in the world that cannot be improved by the addition of a jar or two of those sexy little false caviar eggs. You can get them from the supermarket. In fact they are actually lumpfish eggs and only vaguely taste like the real caviar, but as a fish attractor they are beyond compare. They are so brilliant that the are actually banned in France!
If deemed necessary the wet mix can then be stiffened to your personal preference by adding soya flour or semolina. However a better option is to stiffen the groundbait with some fishmeal. (Have a browse around these pages for some exciting fishmeals from Haiths.)

Red Factor White Spacer Provimi 66 Fish Meal

Haith’s SuperRed is a worthy alternative to fishmeal, being a complex blend of birdfoods. It too will bind the rest of the bait perfectly if required. SuperRed is based upon Robin Red but it also contains crushed micro seeds, crushed hempseed, ground tigers, Red Factor, peanut granules and aniseed oil.
Achieving preoccupation can also be achieved using pellets and again you will find a wide range of pellets to suit every baiting situation at Haiths.
Rod Hutchinson
Was Rod Hutchinson the first mainstream carp angler to use the Haiths range of seeds, pulses and cereals?
any venue large or small

A comprehensive, multi-part groundbait will work well on just about any venue large or small.
Where there is an abundance of natural food

Where there is an abundance of natural food – such as that harboured by the weed in this photo – a particle approach will soon wean the carp off the naturals and onto your baits.
A Beautiful 40lb common carp

A Beautiful 40lb common carp from the above lake.
Two buckets of my favourite groundbait

Two buckets of my favourite groundbait ready to be introduced to the swim.
SuperRed can be used to bind other baits

SuperRed can be used to bind other baits such as small boiled baits.
Back goes a huge common that fell to a single tiger

Back goes a huge common that fell to a single tiger nut fished over a big carpet of groundbait.

Carpticle, Haiths’ brilliant micro-seed blend that is much more complex a mix than other micro-seed blends.
Cooked Carpticle

Cooked Carpticle…Hmmm…Lovely!
Red Band in soak

Red Band in soak. (Use boiling water.)
Red Band needs to be cooked as well as steeped

Red Band needs to be cooked as well as steeped in order to release the sticky glutinous slime that carp find so adorable.

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