Ramblings Of A Carp Angler – Baitboats

In this blog I would like to talk about yet another controversial issue. Baitboats! You either love them or hate them.

I am sure that this short piece could offend some anglers, but I will put my thoughts out there and leave it up to the reader to decide.  There will be three kinds of anglers that this topic will effect; the baitboat user, the  modern traditionalist angler and those that simply sit on the fence.

Technology has come on leaps and bounds during my journey into carp fishing. In my early days there were not many lakes that contained carp of any size, in fact, for years I was fishing for 10lb plus carp. There were no lakes that I had access which contained anything like a twenty pound specimen.

From 1952 the British Carp Record was held by Dick Walker, with his famous capture of Clarrisa, weighing at 44lb from Redmire. Clarrisa, was placed in London Zoo where it spent the remainder of its life. This carp record remained until June of 1980 when Chris Yates hit the headlines with a 51lb 8oz carp from the same famous lake.

Take a look at the lakes throughout the British Isles now, there are numerous lakes with 40lb specimens.  Carp weights, along with technology to catch them have improved tremendously.

Carp Fishing Blog Baitboats

Dick Walker. A Legend.

 

So where has this technology taken us?

Electronic bite alarms, wireless receivers and transmitters, indicators that light up on a run, depth and fish finders, lots of gadgets, which of course includes baitboats.

All these aids are there to make our stay on the bank more relaxing and comfortable to say the least. There would be no long night sessions if you were listening for a coin to drop on a tin plate, or listening for a bell to rattle on your rod tip. We have all moved on with technology, so what is wrong with the baitboat?

Baitboats have been around for years now and even they are developing; with fish finders, GPS, and under water cameras. But do they work. Of course they do, what a perfect way to present a bait. Or is it?

carp fishing baitboat blog

A redundant part of my fishing itinerary

 

If you approach a water that has constant pressure from baitboats, then surely wouldn’t it be a better method to spread your bait, instead of small dumps of goodies with a hook bait sitting in the middle. On the other hand, baitboats can reach places where you haven’t got a chance of casting too. Now does this come into the realm of not playing ball and in fact cheating. Surely the carp need some places of refuge to escape the angler. The bait boat reduces these drastically.

Some anglers may feel that they are disadvantaged by their lack of experience or they may have a disability and feel the need to use the best technology going. I cannot see a problem with that. Now we come down to experience. If you are or think you are an experienced angler then why not put your own natural ability up against the carp and cast your bait. The trouble is we all like it too easy and want to get the edge. A baitboat certainly evens up the playing field when it comes to carp fishing experience. As long as you can get the gist of using a handheld remote control you can accurately place a hook bait along with kilo’s of your choice of bait, anywhere within 300 yards on any given lake.

carp fishing baitboat blog

Molyneux 40+ carp caught from the social swim at 130 yards, aided by my baitboat

 

When using a bait boat it is not as important to balance your rods and reels. They are only tools to hold and feed out line to take out the hook bait and place the bait. As long as the rods are strong and subtle enough to play in a fish you can use as thick a line as you feel safe with.

Casting is a different kettle of fish. Well balanced reels, rods, main line and end tackle all matter. What matters the most is angling ability, accuracy and experience, and of course water craft. However, angling experience and good watercraft would give a baitboat user a distinct advantage over every other angler. But if you have good watercraft and experience why do you need a baitboat?

carp fishing bait boat blog

An Etang de Boux common captured on video, and 1 of 15 carp caught in just one day by casting pva bags to roving fish.

 

Should an angler who claim’s to be ‘a traditionalist’, and is totally against baitboats also be against all technological advances and remain fishing with split cane rods and centre pin reels? I don’t think so.  I think that it is fair to say that what is actually meant as a ‘modern traditionalist’ is an angler that likes to use his own experience to outwit the carp and not a machine.

When you look at most of the top syndicates in England, baitboats are banned. Why? Because anglers have abused the privilege of their use by fishing at extreme distances and in or too close to snags. I have seen boats taken well out of what you could call the users swim, into either out of bounds water or other persons swims.

A lot of  anglers keep their opinions to themselves and do not appear to be concerned how other anglers decide to fish. I fall into this category on most occasions.

carp fishing bait boat blog

Matt Randall, one of my regular syndicate members, with a carp caught off his own merit from our water.

 

Now I run a small syndicate on a 5 acre lake and not one of my anglers would dream of using a baitboat on it. Boats are banned anyway. Why? All my anglers are handpicked for their fishing experience and if boats were allowed I am sure that I would loose at least half of my membership. Their is simply no need for them as bait can be introduced easily to any part of the lake with catapult, throwing stick, by hand, spodding or by spomb.

I am not totally against them, I own one myself. Do I use it? No, not anymore. It has been tucked away out of sight for a few years now, and the only time that I used to use it was for my occasional French trip.

Why did I use it?  Lack of confidence in my own ability to catch on fairer terms perhaps? Laziness to present a hook bait and freebies accurately? Fishing at distance that I could not  reasonably create a bed of bait? Probably all of these.

My attitude has now changed, and I cannot envisage using one again. If I fall short on my fish tally, so be it. But I will know that I have caught my carp by using my own skills and ability as an angler.

Paul Cooper

Comments

8 thoughts on “Ramblings Of A Carp Angler – Baitboats

  1. Duncan de Gruchy says:

    Nice subject Paul!
    I am one of those anglers who falls in the middle of your three categories. Personally, I do have a bait boat and always take it with me on my french trips. I cannot use it on my home waters as they are banned, mainly because of anglers abusing them, and I was part of the Committee that made the decision to ban them (which I wholehearted supported). We live in an age where things are made easy for us and in certain situations, bait boats are very useful. On certain waters I have been too, a bait boat is almost essential for catching anything, particularly on venues where there is an out of bounds side to the lake and the carp stick close to the far margin treeline. Then it’s a decision of using the boat or potentially having a blank week, and that is down to the individual to decide.

    However, I prefer to be “traditional” for the majority of my fishing, casting my baits, using pva bags, catapults, throwing sticks etc for applying bait.

  2. Pat Gillett says:

    Hi Paul,
    You already know my feelings about bait boats, i have never owned one and never will, but each to their own. To me they just take so much of the skill out of angling. Remember that young Belgium lad in France a few years ago. He had a programmable gps controller for his boat. He only had to press a button (didn’t even have to steer the boat) and off the boat went to the exact spot and dropped his bait. Sorry, but that’s not what fishing is about to me.

    Cheers,
    Pat

  3. David says:

    I’ll declare my hand from the start – I will always use a bait boat (if allowed) if doing so gives me a significant advantage. Sometimes I don’t do so because it’s simply more trouble than it’s worth, but I never refuse to use one on ethical / moral grounds.

    I have a serious carping friend who considers carp caught on the surface don’t count & nor do French fish. He does have a set of very, very expensive rods that allow him to cast much further than the average carper (even with the same degree of casting skill) – but that’s OK.

    I have a good friend who is a serious match angler – he thinks carp fishing is cheating because, on most occasions, we do not hook the fish ourselves, we fish when we are asleep, we do not see the bite (relying on alarms).

    I have another friend who is a serious trout angler – he thinks fishing with a worm for a trout is cheating (even though he accepts they are much easier to catch that way). He also refuses to fish commercial trout waters because the fish have been artificially stocked – its natural streams or nothing for him.

    Finally, I have a friend who is extremely animal cruelty conscious and having rescued a swan with line & shot trailing from its beak, launched into a tirade, venting obviously pent up feelings about my choice of hobby & business, telling me that all fishermen were barbaric “how could anyone inflict such cruelty (on the fish, never mind other wildlife) in the pursuit of your so called hobby!” Our friendship did survive I’m pleased to say.

    I could go on, but I don’t need to. Fishing is a very personal activity – each person taking what they want from it be it enjoyment of the surroundings or challenge of catching the fish. Because it’s personal we set our own criteria as to what we consider to be acceptable in pursuit of our quarry… and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge others if they draw the line somewhere else (providing it doesn’t inconvenience others or endanger the fish or surroundings.)

    Live & let live must surely be the moto.

  4. Pat Gillett says:

    David wrote: ” Because it’s personal we set our own criteria as to what we consider to be acceptable in pursuit of our quarry… and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge others if they draw the line somewhere else (providing it doesn’t inconvenience others or endanger the fish or surroundings.)”

    This statement sums up angling (of all types) perfectly. It is a very personal thing and we all derive pleasure in different ways and like to catch fish’ on our own terms’ and has David says as long as we don’t interfere with others or the envoironment, then so be it.

  5. Shaun Harrison says:

    I have never owned a bait boat out of personal choice. I don’t like to see them used feeling they look so out of place when I am trying to escape and blend in with nature myself.
    If people feel they need them then that is fine in my book but should a record fish ever be landed after dropping a hook bait off with a bait boat I sincerely hope we see two separate record lists formed. One caught by true angling and one for assisted captures.
    I have no issues at all in disabled anglers taking advantage of bait boat technology.
    I have written at length on the subject in the past and my views have still to change. I think quite simply it is the sight of toy boats on a tranquil carp lake that offends me more than the fact that many use them.

  6. Paul Cooper says:

    Some interesting comments.
    I am afraid that the sight of bait boats on French venues is with us to stay, at least until another form of advanced technology takes over that betters them, GPS controlled helicopters, submarines etc, who knows.
    I do not get concerned as long as they are used sensibly by others but unfortunately this is not always the case.
    I was fishing a 25 acre lake with Jim a few years back and on our arrival 2 other anglers were already in place. They covered 3/4 of the lake with their bait boats which drove Jim and myself to fish the only bit of water that they could not reach. Two of us on one swim. Consequently we struggled as this was the widest part of the lake and all the fish were on the far margin some 230 yards away, well out of our casting range.
    On another occasion I was fishing a water on test for Angling Lines with Pat, and was catching well, spodding out my freebies at around 60 yards. On the far bank there were a group of Belgian anglers who saw fit to bring their bait boats across the lake some 130 yards and drop baits within a yard of my baited area. My language was blue to say the least and they found English anglers are not such a push over. It did not happen again but it certainly spoilt the atmosphere on the lake.
    I am sure there are dozens of examples like these but I am afraid that it will carry on. The only way to control their use is to somehow put limits on the distance that they can be driven.
    When the boat situation is abused, over distance for example, they push the fish out that far from the bank that it is impossible for a casting angler to get a take. Now this is not fair! Use them by all means but within casting range so that casting anglers can at least get a chance of picking up a few fish.

    Paul

  7. Pat Gillett says:

    Paul wrote: “When the boat situation is abused, over distance for example, they push the fish out that far from the bank that it is impossible for a casting angler to get a take. Now this is not fair! Use them by all means but within casting range so that casting anglers can at least get a chance of picking up a few fish ”

    This situation actually arose on a lake not far from me. The carp were conditioned to feed further and further out by the continuous use of bait boats, so much so that the controlling commitee took the decision to completly ban the use of bait boats. After a while the anglers were once again casting carp within easy casting distance.

    Pat

  8. […] Baitboats have been around for years now and even they are developing; with fish finders, GPS, and under water cameras. But do they work. Of cause they do, what a perfect way to present a bait. Or is it? – – – – – – – – to read more of this blog click here […]

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