This month let us concentrate on bait which can be as complicated or as easy as you like. With bait the main percentage of anglers think your bait should be as fresh as possible and I do tend to agree, generally with worm, crab & fish baits you want it to be as fresh as possible. There are also times though that I think there are exceptions to the rule and “ripe” bait is definitely the way forward! For instance when fishing for certain fish I will leave a bait out for a few days to ripen up like squid and I generally do this for something like large eels, you can get really good results on this a large stinking bait with large hooks is needed though to keep the dogs off it as they love it too, or if in winter when fishing can dry up sometimes use some lighter gear and have some sport by using ripened squid strips the whiting will nail it like there is no tomorrow and can turn an annoying fish at times into good sport. If targeting cod and bass two popular choices then you want your baits as fresh as possible and your top baits will be peeler crab, rag, lug and squid. On the roving rods section this month in Porlock I had some fantastic live rag worm bait from West coast angling which performed just as it should do along with some freshly dug lug worm by myself locally although small worms I just doubled it up and the result was a lively night which also caught a lovely couple of codlings. If you can’t always keep or get live bait that’s going to be fresh for when you go out on your fishing trip then there are plenty of blast frozen options these days. Pop down to your local tackle dealer and see what they have in or if you’re not as mobile these days you can get some great bait online from plenty of good reputable companies and when the bait arrives it’s still frozen and in top condition. Other popular methods are letting your chosen baits marinate in some bait enhancers whether it’s a juice or oil etc you can smother your baits in it and let it soak in a few days or a week before your fishing session which puts extra stink in the water and in these waters in the Bristol channel that can be a massive advantage as they hunt by smell a lot due to visibility being so poor. Some people like to inject juices and oils into their bait just before casting out for extra smell as well or inject it into lures that they use. So let us take a look at a few baits and what they are mainly used for:
A lot of anglers first choice of baits whether it be for Cod, Bass or Rays, hounds ... Some anglers just won’t be without peeler! Another variant of crab is Cart which is very popular up north! Both can be quite costly but at the right times you can go and forage crabs yourself from the shore you can also get good results on hardbacks which I found work equally well especially for hounds in the summer months.
Rag worm: Again another top bait many swear by with a few variations like king rag (a lot larger), white rag and small harbour rag aka maddies which are good in a bunch. No self respecting fish is going to ignore a rag worm breakfast or dinner, not only that rag are very hardy and provide great movement in the water for a long time providing not only smell but a visual attractant which is crucial when looking to catch predatory species.
Lugworm: Just as popular is lug worm especially during the winter months when after codling and being a versatile bait whether you thread them up the line, bunch them, make a lug sausage etc they have a great amount of juice that comes out and the fish love them! If you can’t get fresh worm then you can order frozen blacks which work well all year around.
Squid: My personal favourite as a bait, again its versatile and a tough bait as well with plenty of smell! You can get unwashed (I certainly prefer this) for a stink fest or you can get calamari which can still be very effective. But mix this bait with any of the above and you have a very effective bait especially if there are crab infested areas wrap chosen bait in a squid mantle and not much will get through quickly.
If you’re not sure how to present a bait pop onto youtube and you will find plenty of people with videos of differing ways to present your chosen baits. Tight lines! And may you all stay safe in these testing times at present.