It’s what every river angler marks down in their diary, the start of something special, where dreams become reality and where your favourite river is part of you again. The long anticipated wait is entering its climax as I type and many of you are eagerly awaiting the season to start, making plans with friends and buying new bits and bobs in preparation, it’s exciting, it’s what ‘us’ anglers call a passion, incomparable to anything else that you you have felt. It’s just a shame your partners don’t see what all the fuss is about!

Whilst many of ‘us’ anglers can’t wait until the season starts up, it’s quite amazing how many times the magical day ‘flatters to deceive’, and your hopes for a big haul are left in tatters, wondering where it all went wrong?

Well it doesn’t have to be this way…

By following a few simple, methodical steps and being proactive in your approach can and will equal the rewards, you only get what you put in to anything in life and angling is no different.

Preparation Is Everthing!

I follow a very simple guide when preparing for the beginning of the season, one that has stood me in good stead over the years.

Three days prior to fishing, get yourself down onto the river bank armed with some boilies (chops), maize, corn, hemp, groats and meat. There’s no hard and fast rules to the assortment of bait you wish to use, although I must advise you to avoid pellets!!


Well the answer is very simple, pellets no matter what size or how oily they are it all breaks down. A lot of people make the mistake of baiting an area with pellets and pellets alone and then after all their hard work in preparing their swims it’s all gone to waste after an hour unbeknown to them.

An assortment of bait is best!

Keep your bait as simple and breakdown free as possible, you’ll notice from my picture there is nothing within the assortment that will break down in water.

This is very important…

It is conceivable that a fish could take x amount of time to even find the bait, this is specifically the case when fishing rivers where the stockpile of barbel is considerably low in numbers.

pre-baiting is an essential element in giving yourself the best chance of doing well on the opening day so do it right!

You’re attempting to interest every barbel that is nearby or passing through to your bait which can be tricky in itself as barbel (as all fish) have grown accustomed to living without anglers baits for 3 months.

There’s no reason why preparing and pre-baiting in readiness should cost you the earth either. Buy the cheapest luncheon meat, sweetcorn, maize and boilies (fishmeal)  you can find and begin to mix the bait in a bucket or similar.

Step 1 – Place boilies in crusher.

I like to include chopped boilies in my mix, to do this you can break them up in your fingers, but personally I like to us a korda crusher as shown (left).

I will include around 6 – 10 boilies in the crusher at any one time, I find by doing this and incorporating this within the mix gives the fish more time within your swim as oppose to picking up one boilie.

 Once you have included your boilies cover and begin to crush by twisting clock and anti-clockwise motion so the crushing teeth on the crusher, chop the boilies.

Step 2 – Place the cover on top and with a clock and anti-clockwise motion, twist.

It really is a simple way to chop your boilies up and would highly reccommend one to anyone, but make you buy the medium as the large is too big for the average person’s hands!

When I add this to the mix of maize, groats, hemp, meat and sweetcorn it makes barbel stay longer in your swim picking out the bits of morsels.

This works so much better than bigger baits and by being committed to getting out every evening and baiting up one, two or even three swims in preparation for the big day should pay off if conditions are favourable on the day.

Step 3 – As you can see the boilies are now chopped and ready to be placed into the mix.

I use half a kg of boilies, half a bag of frozen corn, a few handfulls of maize and a pint of hemp with a tin of meat cut into cubes. Baiting 2 – 3 spots with this is easily conceivable whilst having some left for the next day of baiting.

Arrive at the river around the same time every evening is best, bearing in mind this is a 3 day capaign you shouldn’t go overboard with baiting, 3 – 5 handfuls in each spot should suffice, just to get the barbel to keep coming back into your swim looking for food.

A perfect mix for pre-baiting.

I will also make sure I am not being watched by someone as it’s quite amazing how often you turn up early on the 15th to start at midnight to find someone else sat there. Baiting 2 -3 swims gives you that option also to move to that other spot if it’s been taken.

I will bait these areas every evening so the fish get use to that bait, at that time being in the water, it’s quite surreal how much fish get use to a pattern, routine or continuity. 


When choosing a location I like to be somewhere quiet generally, out of the way from the main circus, a location that people very rarely go, finding these swims is not that difficult. People want easy access and will generally be as close to the access point as possible. Find swims that require that little bit of effort in order to get there, these areas exist in nearly every club stretch bar a select few.

Creases (far bank) and ‘features’ like this hold the key to a successful June the 16th.

There’s a few things to look for when choosing the right spot because you’re trying to bring the fish to you not the other way around. Make sure the water holds some flow, not to deep and as some sort of feature this can be visible or under the water such as a crease for example.

These are all prime areas to look for when preparing your campaign and I wish each and everyone of you a good start to the season, I myself will not be on the river until the end of June 😦 but I will make the most of it then. 

I also hope you have found something useful in this article to help with your campaign and will look forward to hearing how you’ve got on. Remember to be methodical and logical in your approach to baiting and the results will, majority of the time speak for themselves. It has worked for every June the 16th I have fished. 

Good luck and tight lines,