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The Changing Face Of Bait - Geoff Cooper

When I started my obsession with that slimy un co-operative of species we call carp, we really didn’t  realise how hard we made things for ourselves sometimes. We were forever sourcing bits of this and bits of that to try and put together a bait that we thought would catch the monster that filled our dreams. Some of the concoctions we put together were reasonably successful, others fell apart at the boiling stage or just didn’t bind in the first place.

Now one of the most successful baits I used in the old days was a cat meat special, but in a paste form - as if you tried to boil it, you had a saucepan full of lumpy gravy and a pretty grumpy mum, with saucepans ending up in the bin and probably no tea.

We always found ourselves going back to the more expensive ingredients, milk powders with yeast, sweeteners, and the usual dollop of 5ml of flavour (that ruined it). Now with the pellets and powders that were coming about, there was more scope for coming up with a wider variation of baits. Now around this time (the 80s) bait companies started messing with fish meals - pretty much unsuccessfully i.e. they wouldn’t bind, wouldn’t roll or were just plain useless. Except one company called Premier Baits, who came up with a bait that not only rolled well, boiled nice and firm, but boy did it catch some fish! So much so that there wasn’t a water in England that wasn’t being taken apart by this new bait.

Waters that we had fished and considered 4-5 fish in a season to be good going, we were now catching 4-5 in a weekend! So much so, that unless you were on PREMIER BAITS, you would struggle to compete. You either sat behind motionless indicators, or joined the crew and caught your share.

The advantage of this type of bait was that it seemed to be instantly accepted by the carp. Even the first time fish came across it, and it didn’t need the 5ml glug of flavour as the inbuilt attraction in the food bait itself was attractive enough, although fish oil was added to the bait as an attractor and a nutritional food in itself that the fish could utilise as an energy source and use the protein as a means of growth and tissue repair etc.

Any more than 1 or 2ml of flavour was really unnecessary as it was really only there as a label and to change the acidity of the bait and the surrounding ph of the water and as water slowly forces itself into the bait the oil was forced out of the bait for awesome attraction. The fishmeal made massive improvements to catch rates all up and down the country. We didn’t have rollers back then, and were using such large amounts of bait that we were taking powder and oil fishing with us to make baits on the bank during quiet spells!

There was no mistaking the guys that were on the fish meals - as there sleeping bags, trousers and most of their gear was covered in a slick of oil, but it had to be done. It was quite difficult to over bait with these baits as they broke down in the water the smaller fish would eat them, so you were fairly safe to always keep a fairly large amount of bait in the water in front of you. As some was breaking down it was replaced with fresh bait, up to a point where I’m sure that the fish accepted it almost as part of a natural food source.

Since the 80’s PREMIER BAITS have continued to produce and excel in the making of fishmeal baits. As they source new ingredients and new products they have continued to produce top class fishmeal baits which contrary to popular belief go on catching through the colder months as well as the warm ones.  I have actually had some of my best winter results on unflavoured fish meals. These days it’s hard to find a bait company that doesn’t have a fishmeal bait in there catalogue, though personally I think the production of the Premier Baits fishmeal was the next biggest thing to hit carp fishing since the hair and they are still leaders in this field today. If you ain’t tried ‘em, you don’t know what you’re missing. Get on ‘em, you know it makes sense.

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