With fishing with meat being as popular as it is especially on rivers and commercials we thought that we'd let bait expert Dr. Paul Garner walk you through the different things you can do to give your meat an added edge when you are on the bank fishing.
Luncheon Meat rules
Bacon Grill and chopped pork and ham were among the first baits I ever used and both still have a constant place in my emergency bait supplies stashed in the car, thanks to their long shelf life and adaptability.
Bacon Grill remains one of my favourite brands, being quite firm and sinking well. It can be easily chopped or punched.
Do check the ingredients list on tins of luncheon meat, though, as some contain chicken instead of pork. This makes them much softer, and some brands are prone to float. All the different versions are worth experimenting with – you’ll soon find your favourite.
Hot Dogs for pole work
A cheap and under-rated meat bait. Most hot dogs contain more chicken than pork, a very different proposition to luncheon meat.
Their soft texture makes them ideal for short-range work on pole or leger. They are quite buoyant too, useful for fishing on the drop or when a wafter-style bait is required to turn finicky bites into something more positive.
You can simply slice hot dog sausages into chunks for larger fish, a useful tactic if you are freelining for river chub.
Most of the time, though, it’s a 6mm or 8mm punched bait that does the business. Use a fine baiting needle to carefully hair-rig these soft baits. They are also ideal for side-hooking on the float. Why not use them as a very visual hookbait when floatfishing pellets for barbel and chub?
Fish Bites are back!
Back in the day I caught a lot of fish on Dynamite Baits’ Meaty Fish Bites – small chunks of meat heavily glugged in fish oil to give them an extra boost that carp and barbel couldn’t resist. Fortunately, they have recently been re-released, and are now available in different sizes. As a ready-to-go hookbait, they are well worth having in your bait bag.
Among my favourite baits in the last few years are the various salamis and pre-packaged snack meats that have become really popular. Peperami is probably the best known of these products, but there are lots of other different varieties available, many of which are useful baits.
Straight from the packet, Peperami is just the right size as a carp bait – simply cut it into chunks and hair-rig it. This tough bait will easily last all night and is loved by carp and barbel. For smaller species I use a bait punch to produce my hookbaits. These can range from 4mm upwards, making them ideal for tench, bream and crucians. These small baits are also useful for larger species when they are playing hard to get.
why not fry your meat?
The high fat content of many tinned meats can make using them in hot weather very tricky, especially if you need to cast them any kind of distance. Their soft texture is ideal for pole fishing, where the hookbait can be carefully lowered in, but use the same bait on a leger rig and the cast will often dislodge the hookbait.
One simple tactic to prevent the hookbait being lost is to push a small piece of dead grass under the bend of the hook before pulling it into the bait. This works surprisingly well, but can impede the hook on the strike.
More effective is to toughen up the meat by lightly frying it, so that it can be side-hooked or hair-rigged. Frying draws a lot of the fat out of the meat and gives it a tough skin. Start by cutting the meat into cubes, then warm up a large frying pan and add the cubes of meat. Keep them moving around the pan and fry them for about two minutes.
I will often add some garlic granules or chilli powder to give the bait an extra kick. Let the cooked cubes cool down on a sheet of paper towel and they are ready to use.