Bait-are we blinkered?

With the plethora of new “super” baits and groundbaits on offer I am beginning to wonder if groundbait/bait/bait additives are the industry’s answer to the decline in float sales (with the increase in home produced and hand made floats) as the latest affordable “must haves”. It seems every season there is a new super additive/flavour/glug and it must be said that a great deal of them have proven successful but is that because of the scientific research into it’s composition or is it down to we anglers being blinkered by the baits we use and anything different will stand out.
Four years ago I bought a sack of wheat for about £9 delivered, I still have some left, and everywhere I have tried it I have caught, and not just roach which most associate wheat with. I have had bream, gudgeon, tench, carp, perch (yes perch!), dace, chub, rudd and roach in all shapes and sizes! The point is was it the pulling power of wheat or was it a different bait from the usual, soft and presented in an acceptable manner? The same goes with  cheese (see previous blog entry”Cheesy what”) and I have had similar fortune with marzipan. It must be said that in some commercial fisheries there is a very prescriptive list of bait that is allowed and as most people are looking to catch carp in a match  or pleasuring it is understandable that they go down the pellet route as the quarry was raised on pellet before introduction to the pool. In the same way, what goes on the hook can have a vast array of flavours and colour while there is now more of a trend to make the bait look “washed out” ie, looking  safer for the fish to take confidently.
Are we alone in our preoccupation with finding the perfect super bait? Obviously not as the introduction of Marukyu shows that the Asian market is just as fascinated with bait. They tend to be “F1” type carp oriented (not sure of the exact genus as there are several!) and there is a far bigger array of baits available than here!
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Most bait is paste oriented and is classified into fibrous v soft and time to break down. Most paste has a target fish and method, my lad, Gareth, has been catching a variety of fish on paste, fishing inches deep in rivers and drains. He often gets paste specially made up in the tackle shop for how long he wants it to stay on the hook. Similarly pellets are pre-banded and are different sizes, colours and make-up- the ones shown here are about 6mm in diameter but 1.8cm long.
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I have used smaller varieties in this country with success- not only for carp but for quality roach and bream, the shape of the pellet makes it harder for the smaller fish to take easily.
The bottom line is does a bait work because of a magical attraction or because it is different from the norm?

Cheesey what?

More than 45 years ago I learned the secret art of  cheese fishing – not for chub in a river but for roach and tench in a park lake! Brynmill Park, Swansea was the venue, home of small roach and cheese fish of wondrous proportions in the eyes of a teenager more used to catching 1oz fish!

PCD-04863Alas Brynmill Park no longer allows fishing but the skills learned from the gurus of the day – Alan Godrich and Paul Huxtable- live on. Poles were not available then, you could get fibre glass telescopic whips up to 6m, elastics unheard of, everything was rod and line.

Alan developed a method of catching the better roach using cheese  just over his rod top in about 3 foot of water. A pointed stick float was dotted with strung out shot to an 18 or 20 hook and a piece of cheese was moulded around the hook so that it was soft and just covered the hook. Small pieces were moulded and rolled as loose feed, only half a dozen at a time, one after the other they were tossed around the pimpled stick, the process repeated every five minutes or so. Bites when they came were dictated by the size of fish! The bigger fish rarely submerged the float, usually a minute lift or dip were all you would get, occasionally just a ripple emanating from the tip of the float, the medium to small fish would just submerge the float. Bait was interesting, Cheddar was the favorite closely followed by Red Leicester for the roach, but Caerphilly picked out the odd tench although it was a sod to keep on the hook!

Today’s weaponry makes it far easier to fish cheese at a greater distance and when combined with a micro pellet loose feed can prove deadly- especially for bream! Most commercial waters these days are fed with pellet, either by the anglers or the owners as a supplement to the anglers bait. Fish become accustomed to pellet but can also become wary, particularly the silvers who often have to wait for any left overs from the carp. Cheese can score as so few people think of using cheese it becomes a new flavour/food for the pellet fed fish and will pick out the older and wiser (usually bigger) specimens in the swim.

So how do I fish cheese today? Depending on the venue, the depth of water will dictate how far out you need to fish. You are looking for a flat bottom with at least 3 feet of water, at Blacklands I am fishing at 8m in 6-7 feet (as the depth is constant) but I would not try cheese any deeper than this unless there was a large head of big roach present. The basic rules still apply, float pimpled, strung out shot if in a shallower swim, my rig at Blacklands has a bulk 2 feet away from the hook and 2 no 10 droppers to a 6 inch hook length of 0.10mm Shogun, with a 20 0r 18 barbless B911. Elastics are very much dependent, as always,  upon the size of fish likely to be encountered. At Blacklands I tend to opt for a no 6 latex, but have an 6-8 hollow rig set up as well if the bigger skimmers or roach move in, although generally I tend to stay on the no 6.

I use two types of float for my cheese fishing, both homemade; the first is a 0.5g version of the “Roach” with a 1.5mm tip for those times when you want a delicate approach and may want to string the shot out later in the day,

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the second is a long glass stemmed diamond body variant taking 1g with a 2mm tip. I use this second float when I am confident that there are skimmers around and want to get the cheese down fast. Pimpling the 2mm tip gives a good visual marker even in wind affected water while the long stem gets down past any surface tow.

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I prime the swim with a handful of micro pellet and half a dozen “pellets” of cheese cupped in, this is left for at least an hour and is topped up with a similar amount every 30 minutes.

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When I go over the swim I am expecting a bite within 5 minutes but this time the bites can be sail-aways if coming from bream or skimmers but the big roach give the same type of bite as all those years ago!

 

 

Liquidising Bread part 2 – the rest of the essentials!

The blog on liquidising bread has been receiving a lot of attention so I thought I’d add the other aspect of the method – the bait and getting it on the hook! This may appear to be simple but so many get worried about it or don’t think about this aspect.!

The Bait

I use any fresh loaf, my current favourite because I like it to eat is Warbuttons Toastie (the orange packed one). In reality any fresh sliced bread will do and the thickness of the bread sometimes has a bearing on the fish but even on hard days I will opt for the toastie.

Firstly cut off the crusts and then cut the slice into 4 quarters, now with the back of a knife lay it over the quarter and press down to flatten the bread, repeat this as many times as it takes so the whole quarter is flattened. Repeat for the other quarters. I tend to prepare two slices for a match and if I get through the two slices I’ve had a red lettered day!

Secondly open out some clingfilm and place the quarters on to it so there is a gap of half inch (1-1.5cm) or so between them. Now fold the clingfilm back over them and cut it away from the roll. You can now press down between the quarters so they are individually wrapped. I then fold the whole thing up on itself so that it is at most 2 quarters by one quarter in size.

You are now ready to go fishing! When I am at the peg I will only take one quarter out at a time and any left over will go into the freezer as a standby in case I have forgotten to do some!

Getting it on the hook

There are several styles of punch on the market, most have a slot that you are supposed to put the point of the hook through to hook the bread. I do not use this type, I much prefer the old (bought when I was 16ish) punch shown below. There are a series of different sized brass punches that are stored inside and screw in, Seymo do a similar version with a plastic body. You can see the 3 things needed to punch bread- the quarter, the punch and a solid surface to press onto. My method is to punch the bread then push the bend of the hook (point away from the punch) into the bread and turn slightly, I find this will keep the bread on allowing me to lift and drop. The flattened quarter is also much easier to hook.

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You will find that once in the water the punched bread will swell considerably as the water undoes the flattening process with the knife but as a consequence the bread is far more secure on the hook. I tend to use the quarter as a counter, a fish results me in punching on the right, a missed bite, bumped fish, leaf,etc… I punch the left.

Proof of the pudding that the punch works

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Hope this helps!

Preparing Wheat

1. I use a large plastic tub that they sell suet balls for birds in. I put 2-3 pints of wheat into this.

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2. I now pour a full kettle of boiling water slowly over the wheat.

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3. I now add cold water until the bucket is about half full

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4. Put the lid on and leave for at least 24 hours, preferably 36-48hours.

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5. Two days later!

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6. Drain off the water (save it for groundbait if you like)

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You can see the difference now in colour

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7. Bag up and put in freezer

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Liquidising Bread

Liquidising Bread

If you are one of the many anglers who when feeding liquidised bread wonder why after the initial run of fish the swim dies – then read on!

Preparation of your loaf is the key. If you just cut the crusts off and blast it in a food processor then that will be your problem! What follows is a step by step approach to preparing your feed that should give you more bites for longer!

  1. Prepare your loaf- don’t use a fresh loaf as there is too much moisture in the bread and it will go lumpy- cut off the crusts and cut the slices in half

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  1. Blast it in a food processor, a few slices at a time and store until the whole loaf is done.

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3. Now flour sieve your liquidised, gently rubbing any larger bits against the mesh.

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4. You will be left with a pile of perfect liquidised and a pile of lumps (these were why the bites stopped!).

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5. Put the lumps back into the processor and blast again, then repeat the sieving process.

6. What you are left with – a bag of perfect liquidised bread and a pile of lumps to be discarded.

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The texture of the liquidised can be made even finer by freezing it and then sieving when thawed.