If you thought paste was a bait reserved for catching big carp then you’d be missing a big trick – that’s the verdict of match ace Steve Gregory who is famed for his antics with the stuff across a wide variety of commercial fisheries across the UK.
Paste still catches ‘lumps’, but as F1s become more common in our waters, Steve has adapted his approach to catch the lion’s share of a finicky species more associated with smaller hookbaits.
He’s perfected paste fishing for F1s so much that he can keep pace with anglers playing the numbers game fishing pellets and maggots. It’s all to do with the stamp of fish that paste produces on waters holding fish ranging from ounces to 2lb.
“Fish pellets and you’ll catch, but I’ve found the size can vary greatly,” Middy-backed Steve explained.
“My paste sorts out the bigger F1s and it’s rare to get one under 1lb. There are lots of myths surrounding fishing paste and I think that can put anglers off using it. They shouldn’t be worried because once you master a few simple basics it’s a very easy method to fish.”
To demonstrate, the former British match record-holder invited us to Falcon Lake at Westwood Lakes near Boston, home to thousands of F1s of all sizes to show paste’s power.
“Groundbait pastes are a waste of time because they dissolve,” Steve said bluntly. “That defeats the point because I want my hookbait to stay on for as long as it takes to get a bite. People think that I have a magic paste mix, but it’s just my original Miracle Paste that I’ve been using for years. However, I mix it a few days in advance because this gives me the consistency that I want.”
“It has to be soft enough to strike through, but stringy enough to stay on when fish are knocking into the line or mouthing the bait. I’ll prepare plenty of paste because, on places like Falcon Lake, you could be getting hundreds of bites and so getting through a fair bit. Two bags makes enough for a hectic session.”
“It’s important to match your hookbait to the size of fish. Because F1s are the target, there’s no place for massive lumps the size of your thumb!” Steve said.
“I don’t use little pea-sized bits either. Typically, the bait is around the size of a £1 coin. That’s large enough to catch bigger F1s.”
“I’ll fish a top kit if I can to save time on waters where every second counts,” Steve said.
“Having to unship a section of pole each time can lose you 15 minutes of fishing time. That can work out at over 20 fish you miss out on catching on days when the fishing it good. Fishing short puts you on top of the near shelf on a flat bottom, which is a must for paste fishing.”
Spotting a bite
“Don’t be tempted into striking when the float goes under – it’ll do all sorts of things as fish knock into the line or mouth the bait,” he advised.
“You’re looking for a specific indication on the float. This will be a sharp, positive ‘dig’ on the float as a fish gets hold of the paste properly. Even then you will foul-hook a lot of fish because of the number in the swim. By fishing relatively light hollow elastic, I can get these foul-hookers in. If you aren’t connecting with bites, hold the float tight to the line and you’ll see it fly under!”
Big hooks still rule
“Fishing paste on a size 14 hook is a waste of time because you won’t convert bites into hooked fish. You still need to fish a big ‘anchor’ and for me that’s a size 12 Middy 83-13 pattern. That’s plenty big enough to hold the paste in place and still strike through and get a good hook hold,” he explained.
“Lines are 0.14mm Hi-Viz fished straight through with that light elastic being Middy’s 8-10 hollow grade.
“Finally we should talk about floats and I go big on this front too with a 0.7g handmade model that’s got a relatively slim body. I’ve seen blokes fishing paste with no shot on the rig, instead relying on the paste to cock the float. That’s nonsense and all it does is see any tow or wind on the lake put pressure on the hook and ultimately rip the paste off. I also leave the whole bristle showing to read bites better.”