Eight pages of expert answers.
Q: With the winter cod season upon us, I’ve heard that crab cart is a good bait to use. How do you make it?
JOSHUA STANBRIDGE, BOURNEMOUTH, DORSET
PF says: Crab cart is the inner coral that is found inside a female edible crab from September onwards. It can be mixed with other baits to make it even more pungent, and is usually mounted on the hook with elasticated cotton. Different regions have different regulations on size limits, so check before you collect your own. You can buy them from fishmongers.
Q: When I’m casting with my multiplier reel, my thumb often slips off the spool, resulting in my cast going astray. How can I prevent this from happening?
ANDY LEWIS, BY EMAIL
Q: How do you tell the difference between male and female edible crabs, to use for crab cart?
DAVE RICHARDSON, SUNDERLAND, TYNE & WEAR PF says: One solution that some anglers use is what is known as a ‘thumby’, where you wrap a couple of turns of electrical tape around your thumb, or even use the thumb cut from a rubber glove.
I prefer to fix a piece of bicycle inner tube under my reel seat on my rod. Before casting, fold it over the spool and use it to grip with your thumb.
PF says: It’s really quite simple. Turn the edible crab on to its back and take a look at the abdomen. A female crab will have a particularly wide abdomen stretching across most of its underside. A male crab has a much narrower one.
Q: I’m concerned that I’m damaging fish when attempting to remove a hook. What should I do, and will using a circle hook prevent deep hooking?
BRADLEY CRACKNELL, PORTLAND, DORSET
PF says: It’s inevitable while fishing that we will end up catching a fish that has swallowed the hook. If you intend returning the fish, simply cut the snood as close to the hook as possible.
Other than stainless steel hooks, most patterns will perish quickly. Circle hooks could be worth trying.
When you have removed the wings, flesh and coral, place on kitchen paper to remove the excess moisture.
When the excess moisture is soaked up, you are ready to prepare the cart bait into packages made using clingfilm.
Remove the legs and claws. Pull away the carapace of the crab to reveal the juicy flesh and coral inside. Start to pick out the flesh.
Continue to remove all the flesh and coral from inside the carapace. Use a small spoon or blunt knife to get under the edges.
Remember to only use edible hen crabs that are of legal size. The minimum in the North East is 140mm, but it varies from 130-140mm.
Turn the edible crab upside down so the eyes face the floor and, using the palm of your hand, hit the crown to despatch it quickly.
Take the wing, flesh and coral and wrap tightly in clingfilm. This is important to remove the air and prevent freezer burn.
Tie a tight knot in each end of the clingfilm and place cart baits in the freezer. Only remove the bait you need for each session.