Carp Baits – Baiting Tactics

Fishing bait article – “What was the 32 caught on Rod,” was the statement from a fellow carp angler, “dog food,” I said “off the surface then mate,” he remarked as he rambled of through the scrub. At which point I said to myself by way of a whisper under my breath, “on the bottom mate.” It was his and probably the majority of angler’s perception that dog foods are surface bait, how wrong you are. Most associate pet foods such as chum mixer and the like with floater fishing. How many have used sinking pet foods? Not many! Match anglers use tinned cat foods and many swear by their use. I seldom see UK carp anglers using sinking dog foods!
The lake was quite busy with no less than 8 bivvies and several day anglers including Rob Maylin, as far as I am aware my common was the only fish to grace the banks that day. So how did I catch when the majority struggled? By going against the grain, doing something different. The carp in swan valley are easy to observe when they are in the top bay, the water being very clear. Staying quiet and feeding the carp at close quarters taught me a lot about the way in which they were feeding, picking up small baits and being very wary when doing so. This gave me the feeling that the only way I was going to get a pick up was to use a bait and approach that they associate with danger. The rig was the cam rig which I wrote about in the last issue, so will refrain from going into to much detail, but have included a photo just in case you missed the previous issue, it works very well for rig shy fish.

Carp bait

Let me take you through a short account of how the fish was tricked into submission. I was looking at options in which I could improve my chances of a take, so decided not to use baits that the carp would recognise as danger. My thinking being that they are rig shy and wary of picking up little round balls of bait. This was clearly evident as I sat motionless for 2 hours watching the fish at close quarters. Heart in mouth, as a finicky common would visit the area, pick up the odd morsel and disappear back into the depths, 2 metres from my position. Not boilies though, only the odd piece of high life dog food! At least I now knew that they would have no hesitation in taking it, I was gaining the upper hand. I left my hide after placing a handful of the chopped worm shaped pastes next to the bush, allowing the swim to settle for a while. On my return a silt cam rig with a single hair rigged high life morsel was delicately lowered next to the bush, several pieces were flicked nearby. Slack lines with bobbins lying on the ground, this allowed the line to settle on the lakebed “cam effect”.
A few minutes passed, but seemed like an age when the indicator edged upright from lying flat immediately followed by a sharp lift and a powerful curve of the rod. Well! The result was a 32 LB + common; on my first ever visit to the lake, only 10 minutes after lowering the rig.

Was it luck or a combination of factors, I would say the latter. The fish had not seen high life dog food, they had not encountered the cam rig and the deceptive properties of it, the common was a cagey fish of that I am certain, but did not detect danger by association with the new found food items, and as a result  it was picking up the baits without hesitation.
High life dog food is only one of a number of sinking dog foods currently available, the most well known but still rarely used in the UK being Frolic. Frolic is quite different in texture and shape; it has the consistency of a fairly hard boilie that is principally meat and cereal based. Its aroma is, as you would expect, a meaty dog food smell. It has been used to great effect on the continent for many years, I recall sending Simon Crow some pictures of it to accompany one of my articles that was featured in carp world several years ago. But I have only recently seen it used by UK anglers. It has caught many fish on some tricky European waters including the Orient and Cassien. There is no reason why it should not do just as well in the UK. Nonetheless when using it on smaller pressured lakes I would prefer to break the polo shaped feed into small pellet sized pieces. It is bait that will catch on the most difficult waters and very under rated, give it a go you may be surprised, it will work well on any water where it has not been used. The composition is as follows: Cereals, vegetable proteins, meat meals, minerals, milk and milk products, various sugars, fish and fish proteins.  As you can see it contains some good carp catching ingredients at a cost of £1.69 per 800 g box. The pack is re-sealable maintaining freshness; it can be purchased from most Tesco stores.

High life dog food – baiting

Whilst wandering the isles of Tescos with the wife for the weekly shopping ritual she tried to gain my attention as she had gone through the checkout, she needed my credit card to pay for the weekly shop, in spite of this I was not interested in the throwing of her arms and her raised voice to attract my attention as I had discovered a new dog food that had caught my eye! I was so engrossed in reading the ingredients of High Life Dog Food. The outer showed the feed came in two shapes, a small triangular shape and a small chopped worm shape and a couple of different flavours. By this time my good lady was becoming not so good as a queue was starting to build up. I quickly grabbed a box of each and threw them onto the counter. The complete silence whilst travelling home in the car was a bonus! It gave me a chance to inspect the innovative new carp bait that I had discovered. I remember the discovery quite well as I went on to catch a lot of carp over it, hence the reason the day has been etched in my memory and that of my significant other’s!
Once home I disappeared into the study to carry out a few tests on the carp in my tank and also to establish the breakdown period in water. My carp are only small so I crumbled up the chopped worm type, I watched as the fish hoovered them up and mooched around for more. Step one was a big thumb’s up; the fish in the tank loved them! It was still not a true test as these fish are in a false environment. Fish in tanks respond different to those in a lake, what is tolerable to aquarium fish may not be acceptable to carp in wilder surroundings.

The chopped worm shaped morsels that were placed in a bowl of water went soft after 2 hours at a temperature of 7 degrees centigrade; they left an oily halo effect just above the feed. If oily attractants could escape in that temperature then without doubt they would be a good bet for the winter! However they did not break down like pellets, but remained intact and in shape, somewhat like a boilie paste in the shape of chopped worms. Maybe their worm like shape and colour has something to do with their effectiveness?
First use and first blood came from a small overstocked fishery near Salisbury. The kind of lake dug for match anglers and stocked with carp from 4 – 26 lbs, the vast majority being in the 4-12 lb bracket, perfect for testing baits. No boilies being allowed, I was armed with high life on its maiden voyage on a bitterly cold winter’s day. The match anglers were out and had grabbed the better swims prior to my arrival so settled for an un-favoured peg, fishing to the centre island at 30 yards range, it’s only a pool. Two PVA bags full of high life and a single hair rigged grain were cast. Carp started taking a preference to the baits within 15 minutes of being cast, the roach pole anglers could only watch in awe as I landed several carp to 12 lbs in 5 hours of fishing, one of them came over and politely informed me that no boilies were allowed. I gave an arrogant smile as I left for tea, knowing that they believed I was breaking the rules and out fishing them using boilies.
From that day high life has been one of the main baits I use for both feed and hair rigged, it remains one of the baits in my carp angling armoury, in fact I have used it for the majority of my sessions since Christmas. It also makes up a large percentage of my loose feed when fishing abroad, the other percentage being crumbed mainline boilies and various pellets. A recent session in France has further increased my confidence in high life, my 17 year old son Gareth and his friend Daniel have just taken 1.2 ton of carp in 6 days, including 70 over 20 lbs with the biggest at 40 lbs 8 oz using a combination of maple 8, high life and pellets. I am about to send an article off to International Carper detailing this hit.
When fishing in good old blighty I regularly fish at least one rod using high life only, the fish in the majority of lakes have not seen it, increasing the chances of the carp feeding confidently on it.
If however I am fishing a lake where the hook bait may receive the attentions of nuisance fish or crays I opt to fish a much harder high life pellet shaped hook bait. Preparation is quite simple and in for an hour’s manual labour inthe kitchen you will have enough hook baits to keep you going for some time.
Ingredients of high life are as follows: beef, high fructose corn syrup, soy grits, soy flour, wheat flour, calcium carbonate, brewers soluble, salt, cheddar cheese and methionine. The cost per 1.5 kg is £2.99.
To make pop ups and harder bottom baits follow the recipes below, I used mainline Polaris pop up mix and their high leakage 50/50 base mix for hard bottom baits, they came out perfectly.

Pop up high life baits

1. Crumb quarter of a sachet of high life in a blender or by hand.
2. Mix thoroughly with twice the amount of mainline Polaris pop up mix (other pop mixes may achieve the same effect)
2. Crack one large egg into a mix bowl.
3. Slowly add the dry powder mix, until a firm but workable paste is achieved.
4. Roll to desired size and shape then boil for 2-3 min’s.
5. Leave to air dry in a warm place for 24 hours.
6. Your pop ups are now ready for use.
7. Air-dry for a longer period for long-term storage.

High life sinking hooks baits

Follow the recipe above exchanging the pop up mix for mainline high leakage base mix, roll to the required shape and size and boil for 2-3 minutes. The finished hook bait smells and looks the same texture as the original high life worm shaped pellets. They work a treat fished in a PVA bag of high life.

There may be other sinking dog foods out their that I am not aware of, in my opinion the pulling power of high life will take some beating. It can be applied as a bait using a multitude of methods including the bag or stick methods.
Frolic is available from most large super markets abroad, if you run short of bait whilst on tour, it is an option. I tend to use boilies over the top of high life on larger waters and high life on its own with a high life pop up on small or highly pressured lakes.
Both manufacturers supply in much larger boxes than shown here, I have seen high life sold in 5 kg boxes in the UK and frolic sold in 10 kg bags on the continent. I have presented my findings on both products for all to see, if you choose to ignore this article you will be missing out on a bait that is now at the top of my list for loose feed. I have not seen high life featured in any magazine or article. You know where you heard it first!


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