IT’S time for our must-read Sunday blog. Every Sunday we welcome coarse fishing all-rounder Colin Mitchell.

For many years Colin was a senior Angler’s Mail magazine staff man and he has enjoyed a long, interesting journalism career.

He understands match fishing, pleasure fishing, carp fishing – the lot.

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IF YOU were a fish would you munch on the maggots, worms, corn, bread, meat, boilies, pellets that you put on your own hook? It’s not such a mad question as you may think! Let’s have a look at the poser…

How often have you opened your bait boxes and smelled that ammonia stench off maggots but still used them? How often have you used worms that can barely offer a flicker of their tails as you put them on the hook? How often have you put a boilie on a hair having taken great care to push a baiting needle through a bait that had obviously gone very hard and dried out far too much?

If there is anyone out there who can answer ‘no’ to the three questions above (or a similar one about any other bait) you are probably in a minority of one.

Yet you should NEVER use any of the above baits if you are serious about catching fish.

Think human and fish at the same time. If someone gave you a stale bread sandwich you would have to be pretty hungry to eat it. If someone fed you a piece of meat (and basically that’s what maggots are to fish) that smelt high you would reject it.  So do something about it! Stinking baits are usually best thrown in the bin (when the other half isn’t looking) but there are times when they can be ‘rescued’ or at least not wasted.

Maggots can be cleaned in sawdust, maize or even a bit of groundbait. Any of the above will take away the sweat and can then be riddled off. Any remaining smell can be got rid of with a few drops of flavouring – or even the smell of the groundbait you used to clean them up. Dying worms are usually best ditched. You want ones that are moist and wriggly – like they had just come out of the ground. If you are happy that they don’t smell wrong you can still chop them up and use as feed.

Don’t use casters that smell off – the great Ivan Marks once told me (and as usual he was right) that sour shells scare fish more than attract them. Bin them! If the casters are floaters but haven’t turned sour you can still use them on the hook. Roach in particular love a dark caster. Likewise, these baits can be crushed into groundbait for the added attraction of their insides. But make sure you don’t have bits of floating shell.

Stale bread – providing it isn’t blue – can be steamed back to life, or just whizzed around the microwave for a few seconds to get it back to a doughy texture. Crunchy stale bread can go into the liquidiser to make crumb groundbait that will just need a drop of water, as normal.

Rock hard boilies that still have some smell can be crushed for feed. There are crushers made for this, or cut them up and smash them in a food processor (but not with a plastic holder, as it can smash those…as I found out!). Left over fresh bait that isn’t going to be used for some time can be frozen. Don’t just stick maggots and casters in the fridge and hope they stay ok for a few weeks. Freeze them! Dead maggots are then fresh to feed or use on the hook. The casters should be placed straight into water when you defrost them or they will go grey and be no use. I haven’t tried freezing worms and to be honest can’t see that really working. Live, fresh worms take some beating.

Pellets that have been soaked for feed or hookbaits can be frozen and used next time out. They are pretty hardy customers but I don’t advice freezing more than once – and will only refreeze when they have been kept cold during a fishing session. Soaked pellets can get a bit soggy – or dry out – and will often need a flavour boost if they have been frozen.

So there you are…how to save cash and probably catch more fish. But don’t make false economies by risking it with dodgy baits.



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