INSIDE THE MIND | A Preference Of Taste

As carp anglers we really are a funny old breed. Time and time again we blindly accept as proven truth things that are little more than urban myths, often perpetuated by would-be local legends. Many examples instantly come to mind from the old “They don’t take floaters here mate,” through to classics like “This is no-carp corner – they never come in here.”

I love a lot of these simply because it often means that in reality the truth is very different indeed; invariably it makes carp fishing easier because anglers have blindly followed the old ‘rules’ and ignored floater fishing opportunities, or perhaps put their rods out in the fashionable swims because the carp never get in that back channel. I could pretty much guarantee that in most if not all of these situations, you’d be able to make a pretty big dent in the stock by floater fishing, in the back channel!

I have fallen victim to this mentality myself; only recently in cold weather, I have been catching some fish using a bait that we all consider a firm summer option. In fact I’d never heard of people using it in the winter and when I asked around it seemed everyone was of a similar mind-set; nobody bothered with it but nobody really knew why, we all just assumed it wasn’t much of a cold-water bait! Well it’s been a very interesting learning curve for me, proving things for myself and adding another string to my ‘bait bow’ – maybe I will tell you all about that next winter but for now, let’s study another case of what I call “mistaken assumption”.

I think the essence of this particular myth goes back to the 1980s when the boilie fishing boom exploded on to the scene. Through the writings of various luminaries at the time, we were all taught that once the winter arrived and the water got cold, we were best advised to retire the ever-effective fishmeal baits and switch instead to a birdfood or in more modern times, a nut-based bait. The ‘rule’ seemed to be fishy and oily for the summer and sweet, creamy and fruity for the winter.

While it is true that a rich fishmeal may be harder to digest quickly in really cold water, is it really true that the fish have less of a preference for such baits in the winter in terms of taste and attraction? Surely if a fish likes the taste of something then that wouldn’t just change according to the calendar?

When I started hearing about specimen anglers catching carp on small dead baits intended for perch and chub, in very cold water conditions, I started to wonder if perhaps we had got it a little wrong. If carp didn’t like fishy things in the winter then how come they got caught on actual fish – you can’t get any more fishy than that!

The other thing that triggered my curiosity was thinking back to the baits we used to use in cold water. Luncheon meat was one of the best – again far from the sweet and fruity type of bait we had been told is better and yet meat used to be brilliant. Anyone remember the old Dynamite Meaty Marine Mix? Through the latter part of the 1990s and into the turn of the century, none of us would dream of going winter carp fishing without it.