“It’s not just pike that love a deadbait” – Des Taylor

Bream, carp and barbel can also be predatory

“It’s not just pike that love a deadbait” - Des Taylor

by Angling Times |

I was recently pike fishing with Steve Greenway on a well-stocked carp lake.

The only reason I mention the carp is because around dinnertime I had a fast run on a whole joey mackerel, only to find I was connected to a common carp of around 12lb. When I got it in I found it was fairly hooked in the mouth – and that was on 30lb multi-strand wire and two size 8 treble hooks.

Some of you may find that a little strange, but over the years I’ve lost count of the carp I have taken on live and deadbaits while fishing for pike and eels. And I tell you what, on some of the commercials I’ve fished, where most of the fish look like they have been hooked a few times, those I have caught on the fish baits look pristine and are of a higher average weight than the norm.

It’s not only carp that show predatory behaviour. Two summers ago I caught a barbel on the Warwickshire Avon on a livebait, again meant for pike and, again, hooked fair and square in the mouth. That didn’t shock me at all, because for some years I have been catching big barbel on chucks of lamprey. In fact, on the River Trent I rate it as my No1 bait.

This barbel fell to a lamprey section. It’s a great bait on the River Trent
This barbel fell to a lamprey section. It’s a great bait on the River Trent

Moving on to other species, and in Ireland I remember lure fishing a shallow bay on Lough Allen. We never had a pike that day, but we caught bream after bream on copper spoons and shallow-diving lures like Heddon Lucky 13s! These bream were close to spawning, and very aggressive.

I’ve also had bream, along with roach, tench, rudd and carp, drop shotting with small rubber shads – and that was in the winter!

Even bream can be taken on lures
Even bream can be taken on lures

I’ve lost count of the number of chub I’ve caught on lures, deadbaits and livies, and I am still surprised how small these fish are when they start to become predatory. I’ve had chublets no more than six inches long on a lure.

But it’s smelly deadbaits, especially mackerel and sardines, that really get the chub going. I first started using sea baits after spending time on the River Trent with Archie Braddock. He was catching big Trent chub all those years ago, when most anglers were struggling to bag four-pounders.

Around this time Oxford and London anglers Peter Stone and Phil Tew were catching huge chub from the Oxford gravel pits on sea baits. I remember seeing an iconic photo of Stoney with a 7lb chub, when I think my best chub at the time was way less than 6lb. Talking of Peter Stone, he once wrote: “I wonder what species and how big a fish would you catch if you only fished deadbaits for one season?” I think anyone with the dedication to do that would be surprised at the results.

Lures like this will catch all manner of species
Lures like this will catch all manner of species
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