Q. What is the difference between fishmeal’s and bird-food baits and how do I know which one I should be using?
A. Thanks for the question. As the names suggest, they are either made from a high percentage of fishmeal or bird foods; it is as simple as that really. Usually the percentage of fishmeal or bird food is at least 30 to 40 per cent but this does vary between manufacturers and different recipes. Fishmeal’s are generally not all that desirable to carp in cold water, by this I mean 10ºC or less, whereas a good bird-food mix will be eaten in extreme cold weather.
Of course there are exceptions to this. Some waters fish better than others in winter, the fish respond differently and there are a lot of factors to consider, such as the levels and type of bait going in. For instance, I feed my stock pond with a mixture of baits all year and they eat the lot, shelf lifes and frozen, fishmeal and bird food. However, my day-ticket-lake fish don’t like fishmeal’s in winter and it does fish well no matter how cold it gets, but not on fishmeal’s. I prefer to use baits with a blend of fishmeals and bird-food ingredients, which is how I designed the two Nash Bait Squid mixes. S Mix Squid is bird food and fishmeal, (the fishmeal is about 25 per cent) whereas the All Season Squid is bird food, milk protein and eight per cent fishmeal. Fishmeal’s are extremely good food for carp and are an essential part of the majority of good baits, with the added bonus of the carp liking to eat them.
Q. I’ve read that carp often lie in a torpid state in midwater during winter. If this is true, is it even worth fishing for them? If so, what tactics would you recommend?
A. JACK BROWN SAYS: During winter, especially on deep, featureless pits, the carp will often sit fairly lethargically midwater. When takes are hard to come by off the bottom this may be the reason, but it’s not to say they are uncatchable. This is where zig rigs can be devastatingly effective; presenting hook baits in the mid to upper surface layers will catch the fish as they shoal up in the warmer layers of water. Gauging the right depth is the most important factor. In some circumstances, just a few inches can make all the on the difference. This can be a case of trial and error but a good starting point is half depth and three-quarter depth, working your way up and down from there. Hook-bait choice for me is usually the Nash high-density foam. This stuff is megabuoyant and is available in six colours – black, white, red, orange, yellow and brown. Changing the colour and even size of the foam is something to play around with. I’ve had by far my best results on small pieces of black that have been soaking in either the awesome Nash Bait Strawberry Oil Palatant or Sweet Cream liquid flavour. Soaking the foam can give it a little kick but it also disperses small amounts of oil over time, which I feel can draw fish down or up if your zigs are not presented at the right depth. Fining your end tackle down with zigs is important, especially in winter, but be sure that it is strong and sturdy enough to land them. The size of fish and how snaggy/weedy the water is are the factors you need to consider