Cheese is one of those baits that is often unfairly neglected. The advantage of cheese over other, more popular baits — such as maggots, for example – is that it tends to attract better quality fish. Although cheese is a fairly expensive food item, it is not an expensive bait – you don’t need much for a day’s fishing and a pound of Cheddar is cheaper than a pint of maggots. Cheddar, Gruyere, Camembert, Red Leicester, Stilton or Double Gloucester – there really are no bad cheeses when it comes to bait, but some are better than others. Smelly cheeses make the best bait – so it’s not suprising that Danish Blue and Stilton reign supreme. In winter, when rivers are in flood and the water is highly coloured, fish rely heavily on scent rather than sight. It is easy to imagine how cheesy smells trailing downstream from a legered bait can attract the attention of a 4 lb chub. Finn cheeses such as Cheddar and Edam can be fished in cube form. Simply cut the cheese into cubes of a size to suit the hook size. A 6mm cube sits nicely on a size 12 hook, a 12mm cube on size 10 and 8, and a 20mm cube on size 6 and larger. Crumbly cheeses such as Stilton and Danish Blue can be kneaded into paste form and then moulded around the hook. Very soft cheeses are sold in tubs and tubes as sandwich spread. Mix them with powdered cheese – like Parmesan – or very fine groundbait to stiffen them up sufficiently for moulding. Swine and cheese As an alternative to fishing plain cheese you can try a cocktail. Sit a cube of luncheon meat on the hook bend and then mould cheese around the shank. Both chub and barbel often respond to such a bait when neither bait on its own is enjoying a great deal of success. Parmesan cheese is extremely smelly and when added to paste baits gives them a pungent aroma which the fish can’t fail to notice.
Cheesy mixes It is always satisfying to catch fish on new baits – especially one you’ve discovered for yourself. If you are stuck for ideas then you might like to try Graham’s potent, cheesy mix.
If you are after specimen chub on a smallish, fast-flowing river – like Cheshire’s River Dane, for example – then you can’t beat the leger for rolling a bait into likely looking holes. Any of the usual rigs – sliding link leger or fixed paternoster – are perfectly suitable for this.
Work the bait Cheese attracts fish that are not already in the swim but you can improve your chances by taking your bait to the fish. Walk the banks quietly, keeping a sharp look out for likely spots where you can introduce your cheese.
In summer try dropping a cheese bait in the clear runs between streamer weed, in among the roots beneath trees and bushes, or in the fast water below weir pools. Sometimes you can tempt fish from right under the bank where the current has undercut the riverbank and formed a hollow where fish often like to hide. In winter try the deeper pools and backwaters away from the full force of the flow. The bait really comes into its own at this time of the year. Even when there is snow on the ground and the line is frozen to the rod rings, you can still tempt fish on cheese. What better way to end a crisp December day’s fishing than with a brace of 2 lb chub on cheese?