In hot weather luncheon meat can become very soft as the fat in it melts. To make a much tougher bait, try frying the meat first. This cooks out the fat and puts a tough skin around the bait.
Cut a tin of luncheon meat into three-quarter-inch slices.
Heat up two teaspoonfuls of cooking oil in a frying pan.
Add a teaspoonful of garlic powder to the pan.
Fry the meat for two to three minutes on each side.
Break the meat into chunks to give you the perfect bait size.
Plain pellets will catch plenty of carp off the top, but you can test out different flavours and attractors very easily by top-coating your feed with different liquids. I also like to make up some PVA sticks of pellets that allow me to catapult baits much further, should the fish be at distance. Normally I put in this preparation at home so that I am not wasting time on the bank.
Mix one pint of 3mm Riser pellets with two pints of 11mm floating pellets. This mix creates a much tighter PVA stick than big pellets alone.
Add two teaspoonfuls of TG Active boilie dip to the pellets and shake so the bait is evenly covered, then allow the liquid to soak in for 10 minutes.
Wide-bore PVA mesh makes up small, round sticks. These can be catapulted accurately up to and beyond 50m if the fish are well out in the middle.
Store PVA sticks in a bucket of pellets. This absorbs any moisture that might melt the PVA, and the sticks will always be ready to hand.
Meat is a cracking bait for margin fishing. I like to give mine a bit of a twist to give it maximum pulling power and make it really stand out.
Cube a tin of luncheon meat using either a sharp knife or a meat cutter. I prefer 8mm-10mm cubes for themargins, as they pick out the better fish.
Add some chilli and rock salt flakes to three tablespoonfuls of hemp oil.
Pour the oil mix over the meat and give it a shake to cover it evenly.
For best results leave the oil to soak into the meat overnight.Store it in the fridge to keep it in top condition.
It may not look the most appealing bait, but Craig Mortimer’s budget bread and corn mix is unbeatable!
Whether a carp is 3oz, 3lb or 30lb, they will never turn their noses up at a free feed of bread and corn. Match anglers use both to great effect right through the winter and well into early spring, so why not adopt this approach when targeting specimen carp?
Even if the fish are completely dormant due to the cold water temperature, the bright visibility that these two baits bring to the table is usually irresistible. Being primarily flavour, colour and cloud, there is nothing to really feed upon, apart from the hookbait.
Gardner, Sticky and Daiwa-backed Craig Mortimer has been using this mixture of ‘match baits’ over four years and his results speak for themselves, with a 31lb 12oz being the biggest to fall to his tactics. With this in mind, Craig’s carping approach just had to be checked out, so we met the 30-year-old Ipswich rod at The Nunnery Lakes complex near Thetford, Norfolk and asked him to guide us through this magic carp mix.
How to make Craig's mix
Starting with a whole fresh sliced white loaf, he places the lot in a bucket and adds water to produce a mush. Next in goes a 900g bag of frozen corn that has been liquidised, as well as another full bag of frozen whole corn.
“I like to add around 1/3 to half a kilo of crushed Manilla boilies and 100ml of the corresponding liquid as this enhances the flavour trail and gives the bigger fish something to graze on without filling them up,” he added.
“If I am fishing somewhere shallow or over the top of zigs and I want the slop to make more of a cloud in the water, I’ll add a little more liquid and lake water. Alternatively, if the venue is deeper, I stodge it up with the addition of more liquidised breadcrumb or groundbait.”
The beauty of Nunnery is there are few, if any, silverfish, but if a water does hold bream, you can get plagued by them at times. By fishing a boilie on the hook, if you do hook a bream or roach, it will generally be of a better stamp, so still worth catching.
“I have found in the past that feeding silverfish will draw in the carp, which soon bully these fish away from the swim, so it’s a win, win,” Craig told us. Follow the simple steps below to create your own corn mix on the bank!
Carp love corn and they love spicy baits, so why not combine the two in this cornucopia of flavours that can be used in PVA sticks and bags to stunning effect?
The bait you load on to your feeder can make a massive difference to the fish you catch. Here are some of my favourite combinations...
The Method is super-effective for big greedy carp. Recast regularly at the start of a session to lay down a bed of feed, and use a groundbait containing flaked maize, small pellets and other morsels to keep carp grubbing around. Top this off with a shaved 15mm wafter boilie on the hair.
Commercial carp respond well to feed pellets. The bulk of my feed will be 4mm pellets, but to stop the carp getting fixated on these I’ll add a handful of 6mm pellets to the mix. Start with an 8mm banded pellet but be prepared to switch to a larger or smaller bait
Fishmeal pellets with a Method feeder are deadly for bream. I combine sweet and fishmeal elements in all my bream mixes. Sticky pellets, softened with molasses-flavoured water, are a great starting point for bream at range, with pellet, mini-boilie and hair-rigged worm hookbaits.
My light, high-attract groundbait is low in food value – Dynamite Swim Stim Green with added Krill or crayfish powder as a stimulant. On the hook use corn for tench, while for crucians give a 6mm soft pellet, a rubber caster or a bunch of dead maggots a try.
On lakes that get lots of carp bait the roach and rudd will see a Method load as an easy meal. With a 10mm boilie on the hair, load the feeder with a 50-50 mix of dark fishmeal goundbait and brown crumb. For rudd I swap a boilie hookbait for a pop-up fished 4ins-6ins off the deck.
The Method feeder is a great way of catching tench – the combination of groundbait and chopped worm is hard to beat, especially with my secret ingredient, Krill powder.
Chickpeas make a great pre-baiting ingredient and they’re not expensive. You need to prepare them properly though. Here’s how I do mine…
The bait we use can be a big outlay for all of us, especially when faced with venues full of hungry carp, but do you really have to spend a fortune on expensive offerings, or are cheaper alternatives just as good? This week I take a look at some of the bargain basement baits that are out there.
Cut the waste
I am just as guilty as the next man of taking far too much bait with me, especially when faced with a venue that I am unfamiliar with. I just don’t want to turn up and find that people are bagging-up on a bait that I haven’t got in my bag.
To combat this problem, check out the venue’s website or maybe give them a ring before your trip. Most of the time you can get some useful and up-to-date information on what is working.
Even if you have sparse information about the venue, other than the species you’re after and the tactics you’re going to use, you can still use this to cut down on bait expenses. I find it better to put ‘all my eggs in one basket’ and go with a clear plan of how I am going to fish with just one or two baits, than take too many.
Rarely do I find that I have too little of a certain bait with me, so think carefully about how much you need, or use baits that can be saved until your next trip if they go unused. This can save a lot of waste and cut your costs too.
Here are some of the cheapest baits around, but ones that will still catch an awful lot of fish...
Often overlooked, bread is a fantastic commercial bait, and one that will catch a range of different species. At this time of the year try punching a slice of bread and pinching the 8mm disk around the shank of the hook. Bread has the obvious advantage of being highly visible, and also very light and fluffy, making it ideal on days when the fish are not feeding confidently.
Also, try fishing bread over groundbait, as the light texture of the hookbait resembles the fine particles of feed. To bulk out your groundbait, mix it as normal and then add an equal amount of finely-liquidised bread to achieve a rich feed that will break down quickly and form a carpet of bait.
We really overlook cheese baits in the UK, but go over to the continent and cheese-flavoured baits are among the best-sellers. Some of the pre-packaged ‘snack’ cheeses have a great consistency and strong flavour that singles them out as top hookbait choices. Best of all, they are cheap.
If you have a meat cutter then this will make short work of rubbery blocks of cheese, turning them into the perfect size for both the hook and for feed. Cheese really is a brilliant carp bait, and if you punch smaller pieces you will be surprised at what other fish species you will catch too!
Meat can be quite an expensive bait, but by shopping around you can find some real bargains, and because it is rather filling, most of the time you will only need a relatively small amount.
Garlic sausage is one of my favourite meat baits, as it has the perfect soft texture, but stays on the hair well. You can find it on the deli counter of your local supermarket. The strong aroma is also a noted carp and bream attractor, and in recent seasons small pieces of meat have caught me a wide range of different species.
Cut the sausage into 10mm thick slices and then use an 8mm meat punch to produce hookbaits that can easily be hair-rigged. Once I have punched out as many baits as possible I break up the remnants and use this as my loosefeed.
I like to use a soft paste, which is ideal for fishing either on the pole or on a long float rod down the edge. A more selective bait than my other choices, paste often sorts out the bigger carp and will also pick up bream and tench. Buy bulk bags of paste, as you only need to mix up as much as you need and the rest will keep for future trips. Go for a fishmeal-based bait at this time of the year.
You can make paste out of your favourite groundbait too. Just mix it quite wet and it will bind together well enough to be carefully swung out for margin fishing. If you want a tougher paste then instead of using water, mix the dry powder with an egg as this will bind it together much more firmly.
I suppose you could say that potato hookbaits really are as cheap as chips! While not suitable as feed, potato can easily be cut into slices and punched to make a tough hookbait. Better still, it takes on colours and flavourings readily, making it a very low-cost, easy-to-use alternative to other hookbaits.
Micro pellets cannot be prepared in the same way as pellets of a larger diameter, simply by soaking or pumping – try to do that and they will quickly turn to a mush.
Instead, you have to add water a little at a time, allowing time for the micros to absorb moisture but never become saturated. You can add liquid flavouring to the mixing water (right) and for an extra ‘kick’ try a teaspoonful of rock salt sprinkled over the prepared pellets.