Colin Mitchell, in his popular weekly general coarse fishing blog explains how you never know when a bait can strike gold for a big haul.
ONE of the biggest decisions we have to make as anglers is what bait to put on our hook.
It used to be easy when you first started fishing years ago – maggots or worms! Of course you then learned about casters, bread and cheese, and it didn’t take long before you wised up to sweetcorn and luncheon meat.
Now you can walk into a tackle shop and see literally hundreds of different baits, including plastic and other materials used for artificial casters, maggots, bread and more.
So where do you start? How do you select? What’s best?
We all have our own views but something we must not forget is what species we are fishing for. And on any given day baits that failed before can produce bites when all else fails.
I don’t profess to know the answer to which is the best bait or to knowing which species will fall for something in which week of the year.
All I can do is give some guideline as to what has worked for me… and maybe a few reasons why!
First choice bait if you want to catch a fish, any fish, has to be maggots.
They may be selected first by smaller fish but there is no doubt how effective the grubs still are, especially now that many species have wised up to the deluge of pellets and boilies many waters have seen.
Dead maggots can often ward off the attentions of smaller fish and in my book are a killer of a feed bait on their own or mixed with some groundbait.
Casters are good summer or winter both as feed bait and for catching fish.
They are more expensive than maggots but you don’t need as many.
Remember, casters that fall to the bottom stay there and still benefit your swim – live maggots wriggle into the silt.
Worms – certainly for me – are the one bait you should never leave home without.
Lobs, reds, dendras… they all catch at any time of the year.
On a hot sweltering summer’s day no fish can resist a tiny red or a juicy lobworm and in the middle of winter when you are looking for a bite you can often score with a wriggler or part of one when nothing else works.
Bread is still one of the great under-rated baits. Carp, roach, tench, bream, chub… they will all take a piece of bread as flake, crust, punch in summer or winter.
Some commercials have now banned bread so check out the rules before you start fishing. But where it is allowed on lakes, rivers and canals it is still one of the cheapest and most effective feeds and hookbaits, especially in clear water.
Cheese is often overlooked. You probably associate it quite rightly with chub but don’t discount it for tench, carp and even barbel.
I’ve even caught big dace on small balls of cheese, used to deter minnows on rivers in summer.
Meat and corn
I’m going to lump meat and corn together for the very reason that at different times of the year they can both work – or just one of them works. It is rare that there is a time when neither of these two baits will catch on still or running water.
Meat used to be thought of as best for flooded rivers and corn for stillwaters in summer. Note: used to be! They will both work year round no matter what the conditions and it is just a case of discovering what the fish fancy on any day.
That’s the basics without even a mention for the good old pellet or boilie… that, I think, has to come down to your personal beliefs in flavours, colours and manufacturer.
What I do know is that if any of the baits mentioned here doesn’t work for you; don’t give up on them too easily.
Baits I thought MUST work…
A few months ago, whilst trawling the shelves of a local tackle shop I spotted some 6mm spicy sausage pellets. They stank – in a nice way – and in my book just HAD to work, especially on a Method feeder rig.
The first few times out I failed to even get a bite on these baits but could catch on other offerings.
A couple of weeks ago, having kept them in sealed tubs, I dug them out of my carryall and tried them again with instant success for carp and bream. Since then they have become a bait that can catch when other hook offerings have been only average.
It used to be the same for me with bread punch. I could catch on flake but never on punch and I knew that was wrong.
I saw other anglers take apart certain venues on the punch and was determined it had to work for me. I armed myself with some liquidised bread and a few slices for the hook and took no other bait with me so I had to use my loaf.
I did eventually catch well, adapted my approach to how I fished the punch and now love fishing this method, especially in winter when the water is clear.
The morale of this story is – always give baits a second chance!