At the start of the season, the water is often cold, so the fish are sluggish. Fishing with live bait can be good for catching them. Here’s some advice on this technique, which we hope will get your season off to a good start. In Europe, it’s called “la pêche à la TOC”, the TOC being the “tap” you feel in your hand when you get a bite…
The choice of rod varies with the type of watercourse you’ll be fishing. The smaller it is, the shorter your rod needs to be.
For small or medium watercourses, you can use a 3.40m or 3.60m rod. These are very versatile. For major rivers, you need a longer one, 4m or more, with which you can cast further.
In live bait fishing, the line on the reel is just a reserve, which will be used while you play the fish. You’ll need small reels and shallow spools. You’ll find these lightweight reels/spools much more comfortable to use.
The line assembly for fishing with live bait has two parts: the main line and the leader. The main line is your reserve line. It lets you keep track of your line as it drifts. You can choose bright or natural colours, whichever best helps you to keep track of your line in the amount of light you have.
The standard line diameter for fishing in most situations is from 14/100 to 16/100. The leader is the part of the line which will be on the bottom of the river with the hook attached to it. It should be as invisible as possible: less than 2 – 4/100, transparent nylon or fluorocarbon (invisible in water).
The sinker you put on the leader and where you’ll put it depends on the current and the depth of the water. A well-chosen sinker makes your bait look realistic and helps it drift properly.
In small and medium-sized rivers, the sinker should be about 30cm above the hook. To start with, try 4 No 6 weights. Afterwards, you can adjust weight and distance from the hook according to the water you’re fishing.
If there’s a strong current, put your weights close together, otherwise, space them out.
You can try out different baits early in the season. The most versatile baits are worms of various kinds including earthworms and ringworms. You can always mix several different kinds of bait on the same hook. It’s up to you to find out what works on the day.
You need to choose your hook carefully to present your bait as attractively as possible.
Attach your weights with a gentle squeeze. Then, if necessary, you can move them without damaging your main line, and if they get caught up by stones, your line may not break.
You should thread worms onto the hook lengthwise from the head. The point of the hook should come out in the swollen part of the worm. For ringworms, you can thread them starting at the head or the tail. Make sure you don’t eviscerate them if you do they won’t be any good as bait.