Let me give you an example. In 1989 and 90 I fished a lake that was relatively lightly fished, especially midweek which is when I liked to go. Mostly I fished one particular spot using the Four Bs method (bivvy, buzzers, bedchair and boilies) but I also always kept a few particles such as hemp seed or groats trickling in.
One area that caught my eye was an area of bright, clean gravel situated right at the base of the wooden structure that supported a swim. The swim itself was hardly ever fished, being in a dark and cold area of the lake that seldom dried out and nobody liked. In addition it was low in discernible features and generally uninteresting. This made it ideal from a stalking point of view so for a couple of days I laced the margins with hemp seed and a few boilies: morning the area had been cleaned out and the gravel polished to a shine!
Mid-afternoon I would reel in my conventional rods and creep round to the swim. Going down on my belly I slithered forward so that my forehead and eyes just cleared the front planking of the swim. If there was a fish in there, I’d wait for it to go away before putting a light scattering of seed onto the gravel with a single boilie over the top. Then I would set the clutch lightly so that line could be taken and place the rod so that only the top few inches poked over the top, the I’d sit back on the grass several yards away from the rod. Now it was just a matter of waiting for I knew, yes knew, that a carp or two would come into the swim sooner rather than later.
I had several good fish from the swim and can well recall one sunny afternoon when I got caught at it by a friend of mine who also fished the lake, mainly at weekends. He came along the path to find me sitting back on my heels with the rod lying on the deck. Clearly he had no idea anybody was fishing the unpopular swim, let alone stalking fish in it. “What on earth are you up to?” he asked but before I could tell him the reel’s clutch gave a rasping screech and the line belted off as a big fish left the foot of the swim. It was a cracking mirror that weighed just over thirty pounds.
I hope that example gives you some idea of the excitement and effectiveness of single rod stalking, but I will totally accept that stalking is not everyone’s cup of tea and is often practically impossible to do on may hard fished waters. That said, it is till possible to adopt a semi-stalking strategy even on hard fished lakes and that is by fishing more or less the same method (single-rod fishing) but covering two or three different areas.
Wherever possible I would advise you to use individually placed rods on front and rear rests rather than use the conventional type of set up of buzzer bars and rod pod. By doing so you can fish three separate areas much more effectively than you can with the other set up and the added sensitivity you get when the rod tip is pointing at the bait has to be experienced to be believed.
The world is your oyster when it comes to you choice of baits to use. I have shown a few here in my photos but I am sure you can come up with plenty of great alternative approaches.
Try being ‘different’ when fishing for preoccupied fish. It sometimes takes a real ‘in yer face’ hookbait to get them interested. I have found that a boilie, liberally spread with Marmite, often does the trick. You might also like to try dusting the Marmite-coated hookbait with powdered attractors such as Betaine or Green Lipped Mussel Extract.
Alternatively why not try a real stinker of a glug? This can be formed by adding 5g Betaine and 5g Green Lipped Mussel Extract to Liquid Kelp. Mix the powders well into the liquid to form a paste and then dunk your hookbait in the resulting goo. (This trick should be on the secret list so keep it to yourself!)
Some of my of my most exciting experiences have been while watching carp feeding in only a couple of feet of water, tight to the bank.
A clearly discernible ‘dinner plate’. A sure sign that carp have been clearing up your bait.
It was on this small water that I perfected many of my stalking skills, often baiting up the most inaccessible areas…
…And then poking a rod in wherever it would fit!
Here’s the result of the episode described in the text. A 30lb mirror stalked while my mate looked on in astonishment.
This gloopy red mush is a ‘wet’ dressing of the astonishing Haiths’ SuperRed, a Robin Red-based groundbait, and undoubtedly the finest and most complex carp-specific groundbait ever designed.
Haith's Carpticle - a superb micro and mini particle mixture. Soak overnight and then bring to
the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Then add some good quality sea or rock salt…
…And a good splurge of Corn Steep Liquor.
For fishing at range Carpticle can be stiffened to form large balls with groundbaits such as SuperRed. Alternatively you can use neat Nectarblend or, as shown here, Red Factor, both available from Haiths.
It is always advisable to keep yourself well hidden if you are stalking in the edge and single rod tactics are much more effective allowing you to stay well back from the water’s edge.
Here the rod is positioned at the back of a set of pads that are just visible beyond the rod tip.
My favourite bait carpet is this enticing blend of Haith's hemp seed, Red Band™ and popcorn maize.
I have found that a boilie, liberally spread with Marmite, often gets the carp’s attention quickly.
Hookbait dipped in a glug made of GLME and Liquid Kelp. (This trick should be on the secret list so keep it to yourself!)
Search along the shelves of your local supermarket. There’s a treasure trove of goodies to be found there!
Tinned chickpeas for starters!
A recently stalked river common that became hooked on my bait carpet.