Winter baits to tempt stubborn fish
Happy New Year fellow anglers and the temperatures have really dropped now and it’s feeling more like January. On 7 January I was back at Swarkstone Lock where I first fished the canal last year and blanked a few times. Determined to catch something, anything this time I was really disappointed when the initially calm winds and light rain quickly turned into driving rain and 20 plus miles per hour winds. After only three unfruitful casts I sought shelter under the railway bridge and after chatting with an angler lure fishing I decided to call it a day and went home. Definitely a damp squib of a session but I shall return!
On 28 January I went to Beechwood Fisheries with the Mitchell 300 and landed a Carp around 3lb, another smaller Carp and loads of small Roach on a busy Swan 2 Lake. Several of us anglers were wearing our checked shirts too I noticed, maybe they, like me got their shirts for Christmas!
It was my birthday in January and my partner made me some gingerbread fish!
Here's an interesting article from the Anglers Mail website for tempting fish to feed in winter which can be particularly tricky as most species’ metabolism slows right down in colder water. Fish need far less food than during the rest of the year when they are much more active, so to tempt fish into feeding you need to select the right bait. Here's an article from the Angler’s Mail which reveals ten great baits that have a top reputation of catching even the most stubborn of fish in tough winter conditions.
1 Salt: The addition of salt to bait is a great attractor at any time of year, but it really comes into its own during cooler conditions when you want to create a small area of maximum attraction. Forget chemical-laden table salt and opt instead for sea or rock salt which is easily incorporated into pastes or groundbait or sprinkled onto maggots, casters, pellets, hemp or corn. Small PVA bags of pure salt are perfect to use with any hook bait and are a little-used but devastatingly effective winter edge.
2 Bread: Bread is a top winter bait especially on the rivers where chub and roach both adore flake, crust or punch. Although mashed bread is widely used as groundbait when bread fishing, for winter use a finely liquidised white, sliced loaf which produces smaller particle sizes and is less likely to fill up feeding fish; remove crusts from the slices for an even finer mix if the going is really tough. A PVA stick of compressed crumb is a little used but brilliantly effective winter carp tactic, use in conjunction with a single grain of white fake corn.
3 Chocolate Malt: Choccy malt breaks all the rules, unlike all other flavours which can be counter-productive if used in excess, it is impossible to add too much. For a brilliant winter carp puller add 20ml of the sweet liquid to an egg and mix up with a proprietary fluoro-white pop-up mix to create small pop up boilies.
4 Lecithin and alcohol: Oil-based flavours and attractors and fishmeals lose their attractiveness as oils become more viscous in cool temperatures. To ensure flavours leach out and are not locked into bait add lecithin granules (from a health food shop) to fishmeal groundbaits and pastes. Alternatively, mix up paste baits with alcohol to ensure excellent dispersal, a tot of the odourless vodka is the usual choice but experiment with whisky or gin for a really different scent.
5 Maggots: One of the very best coldwater carp catchers, a PVA bag of maggots, in conjunction with a bunch of grubs on a hair-rigged maggot clip, is one of the most reliable of winter carp tactics. Maggots are easily digested, colourful and loved by carp. Cast regularly and tightly to build an area.
6 Spices: Spicy flavours have long had an association with winter fishing and a sprinkling of turmeric on maggots, a shake of garam masala in groundbait, chilli-laced hemp, coriander flavoured corn, meat dusted with garlic salt and pastes made with belachan paste are just some of the spicy options, which are only limited by your imagination.
7 Paste: Hi-attract paste hook baits are only one part of the winter paste story as the versatility of the bait lends itself to a number of different applications. Most notably it can be used as a ‘plug’ for watch-style leads or as a wrap around for any bomb or hook bait; it can even be ‘blobbed’ onto PVA stringers. The paste used in this way gives a longer-term leakage of flavour-charged particles into the swim and acts as a great fish-puller, especially in the rivers. To give a more rapid breakdown for non-hook bait applications mix pastes with water rather than eggs.
8 Corn: For coldwater commercial carping there are few baits to beat a simple grain or two of sweetcorn. Corn is easily digested, highly visible, even in coloured water and unlike maggots, resistant to the attentions of small silvers. A couple of grains hair-rigged through the middle sit perfectly on a size 18 hook but, if the going is really tough, a single grain presented lengthwise on a size 20 should do the trick.
9 Liquids: Solid PVA bags are not just for filling with solid baits. The tactic of filling bags with neat liquid flavours and attractors has brought winter bites by giving a massive explosion of attraction with no feed. Use PVA-friendly mixes and experiment with different mixes: condensed milk combined with chocolate malt is a good starter for carp.
10 Peperami: The spicy meat snack ticks all of the boxes when it comes to winter fishing, despite the fact it is on the oily side. Highly attractive to carp, chub and barbel it can be whittled down to tiny chunks for use with scaled down line and small hooks, yet it still packs a serious punch in terms of attraction once the outer skin is sliced off. Try a thin slice as a topper for half a 10 mm pop-up boilie for excellent winter carp results.