Groundbaiting is carried out to attract fish into a swim and get them feeding. There are various methods of groundbaiting, depending mainly upon the type of water, the rate of flow, and the species of fish” sought. When fishing fast flowing water, and barbel or bream are the quarry, a ball of groundbait which sinks quickly should be thrown in slightly upstream so that when it hits the bottom and breaks up, the particles drift along the bottom and through the swim. Bream usually swim in large shoals, feeding on the bottom, and large amounts of groundbait are often needed to concentrate the shoal in the swim. A large bucketful of groundbait is generally the minimum required for a day’s fishing.
Baiting up a swim several days in advance can pay dividends, particularly when bream, tench or carp are sought. This can draw a big shoal of bream into the swim and hold them there until fishing starts, even though their usual tendency is to be on the move.
A ball of groundbait can be used to land a quantity of loose maggots on the bed of a deep swim. In strong flowing water, such as a weir stream, bank clay can be worked into the mixture for this purpose. It is then moulded in the shape of a cup, the cavity filled with maggots, worms or another bait, and the top closed over. A strong flow, coupled with the action of the wriggling bait, will soon break up the balls, sending the hookbait samples trickling along the bottom to bring fish close.
Groundbaiting from a boat
When fishing from a boat, groundbait can be dropped over the side or lowered to the bottom in a meshed bag weighted with stones. An occasional tug on a cord attached to the bag will release and circulate particles of the groundbait through the mesh and into the swim. When ledgering, it is essential to get small balls of cloudbait into the swim. This is done upstream, so that the cloud drifts down and through the area being fished. The float tackle is cast out immediately after, following the groundbait closely through the swim.
For roach, dace and chub fishing on a small, secluded river, regular swimbaiting can be made by the use of a ‘dripfeed’—a tin with a few holes punched in the bottom, which is filled with maggots and hung from a bridge or overhanging branch. The steady trickle of maggots over a long period will entice fish from some distance away into the swim.
As match fishermen know, regular groundbaiting of the swim is very important no matter what hookbait is used. Without it, the angler is fishing on a hitandmiss basis. This is why, when ledgering, groundbaiting the swim manually is sometimes employed at the same time as offering the hookbait samples in the swimfeeder.
Care must always be exercised when groundbaiting a swim where specimen fish are the quarry. On a river, the introduction of a large quantity of groundbait will invariably attract shoals of small fish.