Our insightful general angling blogger, Colin Mitchell delves into the importance of sight and smell when chosing bait. If you like this blog, please click the social media icons above to share with your fishing pals.
AFTER getting your hook and line choice right it’s the bait you select that will determine how well – or even if – you will catch fish.
Even after you have plumbed up to find depth and features and decided whether you are going to fish on or off the bottom you won’t catch unless you give the fish something they fancy eating. Or should we say offer them something to eat that they can smell or see?
There’s no doubt that those are the two key senses when it comes to catching fish. We know some fish can see better than others and some obviously have a better sense of smell. There may be a debate about how fish see or how they see colours – but there is no doubt that some coloured bait work far better than others.
I believe both smell and colour are important on their day not just for catching fish but also for giving anglers confidence that their baits will be taken by a fish.
Fresh bait – not stale – for me!
Let’s start with smell. Fresh bait smells better than stale to us so it makes sense that fish are going to think the same way (with the possible exception of catfish which often appear like food dustbins!).
A big juicy maggot that doesn’t stink of ammonia has to outscore a manky looking and smelling grub. A nice fresh slimy worm is better than a shrivelled and dried up non-wriggler. And a crunchy bright-shelled caster is top of the pile when it comes to turned maggots. Or is it?
I firmly believe it is although I remember my mate George once turning up to a match with a plastic bag of casters that had been nestling in the bottom of his carryall for well over a week. There is no doubt they were off. They didn’t smell right when you crushed a few and the mostly certainly didn’t look attractive. He still won the competition! Sometimes angling just isn’t what you would expect…
I will freeze fresh bait to use again. Not worms, but certainly maggots and casters. Casters will come out of the freezer straight into water and then ditched after the session. If you don’t put them in the water they go off faster and turn that horrible grey colour. It’s the same with groundbait that’s not used – it goes in the freezer providing it hasn’t been stood in sun or heat all day. If it has… it’s binned as it will go off.
Flavourings and colourings
So what about flavourings? I believe a mix of both powders and liquids works best.
The powdered versions are mixed with your dry groundbait. They hang around the crumb and keep some flavour near your bait. Liquid additives are put into the water you use to mix your groundbait. They drift off in the water creating a cloud or trail to your patch of groundbait.
So what about colourings? Dark colours for clear water and bright for coloured is the usual guideline. But at this time of the year when you do not want to feed very much a bright bait such as white bread, sweetcorn or a fluoro boilie will stand out from quite a distance for a fish to spot in clear water. Likewise in coloured water those bright baits stand out and can be more easily spotted by a fish.
As with all fishing there is very little you can say that is clear cut. You will build up your own picture of successful colours and flavours that work. The most important thing to remember is that they do work. You need a mix of finding out which ones are best and which ones give you the most confidence.