If there's one thing in carp fishing that I really enjoy, it's doing like for like comparisons, to see if one particular option (e.g. tactic, bait or rig) produces better results than another. The trouble is though, that it's virtually impossible to carry out an unbiased test that is consistent with so-called "scientific method". To do that, all the variables would have to be strictly controlled, so that only one factor could be altered at a time. Unfortunately, even if the line and rig components are identical, we know only too well, that a distance of only six inches on the lake bed can make a significant difference to pick-up rate. Add to that variations in time, temperature, air pressure (and even moon phase), plus numerous others and it's not surprising that different anglers come up with their own particular views on what works best. An expert in statistical analysis, might make slightly more sense of it all by studying the percentage correlation between individual factors and their effect upon catch rates, but I wouldn't mind betting that there would still be a good deal of mystery involved in it all.
Anyway,aside from the obvious limitations involved in bank-side experimentation, my burning ambition on Monday morning was to compare various winter baits to see if any stood out. The main contenders were Spicy, Fruity and Nutty/Creamy. Now Dean, who had been set up in the Bird-Hut Peg since Sunday, suggested I drop into Peg 2, as his single carp capture had been from that side of his water and the area was on the back of a very cold northerly wind. I unhesitatingly followed his advice and set about the task of getting my gear down the steep steps. An unavoidable flaw in the bait test was that the three usual hot spots locations were distinctly different and not directly comparable. The first was a good way down the (directly opposite) main channel, near to the furthest mini island. For this, a Mainline Essential IB 15 mm pop-up (fruity) on a chod rig suited the situation nicely. Second up, the rear margin of the small bay to the right was treated to a Dynamite Monster Tiger Nut 15 mm boilie, fished snowman style (addition of a 10 mm DNA Malty Milk) on a 9 inch braided hook-link. The third rod covered the snaggy opening to the left of the main channel opposite and this bore a Nutrabaits Techni-spice 15 mm boilie/Mainline Indian Spice 12 mm pop-up snowman combination on an equivalent 9 inch braided hook-link. To each of the braided rigs I added a small PVA mesh bag of pellets to prevent tangles and provide extra attraction (yet another none identical aspect). Two cups of coffee, courtesy of Dean, and a good chat provided relief from the bitterly cold wind. During the afternoon I retired to the warmth of my bivvy and dozed off. Around 2.00 pm my slumbers were disturbed by a flurry of bleeping, but it turned out that a resident swan had made off with a nutty treat. Fortunately, it dropped its prize without getting hooked, but the episode necessitated fresh bait and a re-cast.
Well then, 24 hours later, how did the three different baits compare? I'm afraid to say that there was absolutely no difference, on account of the fact that I blanked like a good'n. The only conclusions that I came to were that swans are a pain in the backside and I will have to wait until my next session to repeat the test. Maybe the match lake will provide me with more productive conditions. That assumes of course that snow and freezing conditions don't put the mockers on it all. Oh the joys of winter carp angling!