Far Bank Dom Gar­nett’s weird baits

Hardly a sea­son goes by with­out a weird bait or two hit­ting the head­lines. But are these gen­uine Eureka mo­ments, or will fish eat al­most any­thing? Dom Gar­nett reck­ons they might...

Angling Times (UK) - - WELCOME -

WHAT is the strangest thing you’ve ever slipped on the hook to trick a fish?

Hempseed? Lun­cheon meat or corn, maybe, as if these were the most nor­mal things in the world for fish to come across.

Even so, you have lit­tle on the se­rial carp an­gler, whose baits can be down­right bizarre. I won­dered whether it had gone too far with flavours like Lob­ster Ther­mi­dor or Chi­nese Take­away boilies – un­til I went to Amer­ica and found cof­fee and ba­con-flavoured lures.

The old school might be shak­ing their heads at this point, but fish can and do find the most bizarre things not only ed­i­ble, but damned near ir­re­sistible. And for ev­ery time we scoff at an odd ‘new’ bait, some­body will al­ready be catch­ing a lot of fish on it.

Per­haps we should be slower to write off the un­usual, be­cause it’s good fun ex­per­i­ment­ing and there’s al­ways the chance you’ll be sur­prised. On one of my coach­ing ses­sions last sum­mer, a young lad asked me: “Has any­one ever caught a fish on a Haribo?” I nearly told him not to be daft – in­stead I ad­mit­ted: “I have ab­so­lutely no idea, why don’t you try it?” The next part of the story should be ob­vi­ous – mo­ments later he was hooked into a carp.

Per­haps the most con­sis­tent of odd baits in re­cent years is the su­per­mar­ket prawn. The first ar­ti­cles I read left me to­tal dis­be­lief. I was still wait­ing for the in­struc­tion to dip the things in Marie Rose Sauce be­fore cast­ing out. But how wrong could I be?

They are ab­so­lutely ter­rific for big perch- and not just for the scav­engers of ‘ar­ti­fi­cial’ waters. Why wild fish on rivers or large nat­u­ral lakes would find them so ir­re­sistible is quite be­yond me.

The more I think about my most mem­o­rable catches, the fewer seem to have been caught on any­thing strictly ‘nat­u­ral’ at all. Do pike chase shoals of sar­dines on the lo­cal canal? Were the roach feed­ing on pel­lets all along? In the case of the lat­ter, it’s a fact that hu­man ac­tiv­ity, angling-re­lated or not, also plays a part. How else do you ex­plain mul­let caught on chips or fish caught on a cig­a­rette butt or a piece of or­ange peel?

Per­haps I should in­vite our own Bait Doc­tor, Paul Garner, to have the last word on this fas­ci­nat­ing topic. But suf­fice to say, had I wanted to com­pile a list of angling’s odd­est baits I would have needed not just the back page but the whole mag­a­zine!

Carp on Hari­bos? My sum­mer stu­dents were re­warded for their cu­rios­ity. Of­fer­ings like su­per­mar­ket prawns are not strictly nat­u­ral, but cer­tainly deadly.

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