How Much Bait Should I Use When Carp Fishing in France?

Duncan de Gruchy answers one of the most frequently asked questions about carp fishing in France

Duncan de Gruchy Fishing at Oakview Lake in Sept 2015
Duncan de Gruchy Fishing at Oakview Lake in Sept 2015

Baiting Tactics for Carp Fishing in France

I am writing this whilst fishing the 'home' swim at Oakview Lake, one of my all time favourite carp fishing venues in France. The owners, Martin and Shirley, told me the question they get asked most frequently is, how much bait should I use and what type? What follows are my thoughts on how I plan and approach a week’s fishing on a venue of this size.


I am a great believer in taking too much bait rather than too little. I have been caught out before on a big hit session and running low or out of bait mid way through a session when everything is going well is no laughing matter.

How Much to Take?

On a venue this size (about 2 ½ acres) with this head of carp (approx 110) I will plan to take/use the following bait:

  • Boilies – 20kg of good quality and of mixed sizes (15 and 18mm) all of the same type. I used to take 2 or 3 types but I am happier now taking one variety
  • Pellet – 10 to 15kg. I normally use the 'house' pellets as the carp will be used to them
  • Particles – 10-15kg (cooked weight). As with the pellet, I will use the particle made on site by the owner, which is garlic flavoured mixed particle at Oakview
  • Groundbait – 7kg (1kg bag per day). I don’t see many anglers using groundbait so it is something different that the carp don’t see that often
  • Sweetcorn – carp love the stuff so I take a few tins. Not frozen though as I like to add the juice out of the can to my groundbait mix
  • Tiger nuts (whole and chopped) – a jar of each to add to my particles. The lake rules state 'no tiger nuts' but Martin will allow small amounts of shop bought jars on occasion. You MUST always ask Martin before adding any tiger nut product to your baits at Oakview Lake
  • Additives – I don’t go overboard but like to add some concentrated liquid to my groundbait mix
  • Pop ups – I am a big fan of pop ups, mainly because of their hooking potential and presentation. If I am not sure of the make up of the lake bottom then I can virtually guarantee decent presentation
Duncan's bait balls
Duncan's bait balls

Baiting Approach

It's all very well taking a load of bait with me but how do I go about putting it in? The common theme amongst most customers is to start off small and build up as action dictates. I prefer the other way round, i.e. start off fairly heavily, and then see what happens. I believe this gives me the best chance for a big hit. Of course, this does not always work but I have had some notable catches over the years using this approach. However, I do not mean piling it one area as you will see.

On Arrival

The first day of any week long holiday session is always a bit of hassle as we know. You may have had a long journey and be tired but no doubt very keen to get the rods out as soon as possible. After all, you will have been looking forward to your carp fishing trip for a long time. However, you have to be careful now as you could make or break the week within the first few hours. So I make sure I take plenty of time setting up, looking round the lake etc, before I even contemplate putting any bait in.

I do not fish nights so my approach is based on day sessions only. When I set up on the first day I grab my boilies and walk round the lake basically throwing them in everywhere and anywhere. I have a week for the carp to get confident with my bait so I am happy to give them plenty of freebies. I will happily throw in 5kg’s of boilies on the first night.

Day by Day Approach

I start off by fishing for a bite. My aim for the week is to try and find at least 3 'going' spots and I do that by watching the water and looking to see where the carp are that week. I put in a good quantity of boilies the night before and therefore carp will show themselves when they come across the bait, thereby making it easier to find them. Once I have chosen a likely looking spot, I will put in a small amount of bait, then start building up the bait if I get action. This can take a while, for instance on this my most recent week at Oakview, it wasn’t until the Wednesday that I got all 3 rods going.

This 42lb mirror took Duncan's bait after three and a half hours
This 42lb mirror took Duncan's bait after three and a half hours

Once I have found each spot, I will stick to those spots for the entire week and will vary rarely move the rods unless I am absolutely convinced I will be better off. You can easily end up chasing fish all over the lake if you are not careful and spread bait round everywhere. I find it far more effective to build up spots in order to get the carp used to finding food there on a regular basis.

Second 40 of the week from Duncan's no.1 spot - 43lb 12oz
Second 40 of the week from Duncan's no.1 spot - 43lb 12oz

Before putting the rods out each morning, I walk round and throw in approx ½ kg boilies, a few balls of groundbait and a few scoops of particles and pellet into each spot I have selected. I then position each hookbait accordingly. I am a big fan of bait boats, and like them or loathe them, they are the perfect tool to position your hookbaits exactly where you want them. My preference is to put them a couple of yards away from my baited patches. I believe carp get very used to, and therefore wary of, small, tight patches of bait (particularly if bait boats are used a lot) and this tactic has led to the capture of a lot of my bigger carp.

I will not move the rods during the day, or put any additional bait in other than what I have put in earlier during the day. Unless I have action! If action occurs then I throw in a few handfuls of boilies over the top just to make sure there is still food in the swim.

Duncan's no. 2 spot kicks off with this 42lb 2oz mirror
Duncan's no. 2 spot kicks off with this 42lb 2oz mirror

I use between 2 and 2 ½kg of boilies per day. If I do not have enough action during the day to use them up then I will walk round at the end of the session and throw in the remainder over my spots.

My Best Tip on How to Apply a Baiting Strategy

One of the best tips I can give customers at Oakview Lake is to keep the bait going in even when things are not happening. We can all have frustrating days when the bobbins are “glued” and you wonder if you are ever going to get a bite again. The temptation when this happens is to use less and less bait but keep patient and stick to your plan and those alarms will sound again!

Duncan de Gruchy. 26 September 2015.


Duncan remained at the Home Swim all week on this occasion. His baiting tactics resulted in 20 carp on the bank. The catch included 3 x 40s, 9 x 30s, 7 x 20s and a 17lb ghost carp. The average weight of the catch was 30lb.