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Buy the Right Bait for Fishing

Updated on August 17, 2011

Now we come to the vexed question of bait — of which there are literally thousands of types. To start, let's try to simplify it as much as possible.

Firstly, there are the 'kitchen' variety of baits — bread, cheese, pepperami, luncheon meat, sweetcorn - almost anything you can find in the larder that will stay on a hook! In fact, bread, luncheon meat and sweetcorn will probably catch as many fish as most other types of bait.

Then there are shop-bought baits. For small fish on heavily pressured waters, maggots and their chrysalis, often called casters, are hard to beat. Virtually all good tackle dealers will sell these. Take care of your maggots, and don't let them overheat or run out of air, or you'll end up with a revolting gooey mess. Tackle dealers will also sell hemp seed, which works as a very effective ground bait once it's been boiled and allowed to simmer until the white insides show through the black skin. A good deal of tackle dealers will sell this type of bait already prepared.

If it's pike you're after, you'll also need a few dead fish baits. You can use ordinary freshwater fish, but this may pose problems for the local fish stocks. It's far better go to the fishmonger and buy mackerel, sardines or sprats. You can then take them to the water frozen as they will be much firmer to cast that way.

Care of Bait

  1. Don't let bread dry out in the sunshine or it will become too hard to mold around the hook. Try keeping it in a plastic bag in your pocket. 
  2. Keep both worms and maggots out of the heat or they'll soon die. 
  3. Keep worms moist, perhaps in moss or damp newspaper. If you notice a dead worm in the tin, remove it before it contaminates the rest. 
  4. Open cans of sweetcorn at home and pour the contents into a plastic bowl. Cans opened and discarded on the riverbank can be very harmful to wildlife, and to cattle in particular. 
  5. Dispose of unwanted bait thoughtfully at the end of the day. Nobody wants to see the bankside strewn with rotting sweetcorn and luncheon meat. Take home with you any food items that aren't easily going to be eaten by swans or wildfowl. 
  6. If you won't be fishing again for a while, tip away any unused worms or maggots on the river bank rather then leaving them to die in the bait tin. 
  7. Think about bait economy: for example, it s much cheaper to buy a large catering can of sweetcorn than it is to buy several small ones.


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