For most purposes Cheddar cheese makes an excellent bait—but it must be fresh. On occasion, softer cheeses such as Stilton or Danish Blue are also very good.

Understanding wives and mothers do not object to anglers removing small pieces of stale cheese, but taking the fresh Cheddar may raise a few eyebrows. Removal of the Stilton or Danish Blue is apt to put a definite strain on any relationship.

The thoughtful angler makes his own arrangements to purchase cheese before he goes fishing. But however you obtain it, it is well worth trying this versatile bait.

Fresh Cheddar can easily be moulded into a puttylike consistency. This should be done as and when needed, the cheese being flattened between the finger and thumb and then folded around the hook and shaped firmly.

For chub or barbel, walnutsize pieces on sizes 4, 6, or 8 are about right. In slow or sluggish waters this can be used on the bottom without using any weights. In faster water, however, it is necessary to use a ledger lead such as an Arlesey bomb to hold the bait down, once in position. A few smaller lumps of cheese should be thrown into or upstream of the swim at intervals during fishing. Groundbait should also be liberally laced with cheese powder as this helps to hold shoals in the area of the hookbait.

For roach or dace, pieces the size of peas on size 1014 hooks are used. In suitable swims a ledger might be used but the favoured practice is to swim the stream with standard floatfishing tackle. Again bites are usually positive. Though durable, cheese is soft enough to allow good hook penetration when the time comes to strike.

The much softer cheeses, such as Stilton and Danish Blue, when mature, are sometimes too soft to be moulded on to the hook. If so. Mix the cheese well with a good stiff bread paste. The cheese imparts sufficient flavour to the paste to provide a tasty bait for many species.

Cubes of cheese

As an alternative to moulding the cheese on to the hook, it is possible to cut it into small cubes of a size to suit the hook. The hook is then either pressed firmly into the cube or threaded through it. In either case the hook point must be very close to the surface of the cube, even protruding. Some smaller cubes are thrown into the swim as attractors.

The versatile cheese slice has gained a lot of friends over the last few years. You can use either the white or yellow variety, cut into slivers, to fish running water where it dances and shimmies through the swim in a most attractive way. It attracts bites from all species of fish—the roach in particular being susceptible to a thin strip of tasty cheese lowered tantalizingly below a lightly shotted stick float.

Different shapes cut from the slices sink’and fish quite differently from any other bait, and bites can come at any time during the bait’s introduction to the water. A big chub, for example, may appear from nowhere to grab a halfpennysized strip of cheese almost as soon as it hits the water.

Sliced cheese is equally effective when used in conjunction with a bread punch. On stillwaters this is an advantage because the shapes don’t come into contact with the angler’s hands. Lay the slice on a flat surface, press in the punch, and insert the hook lightly. During summer months, crucian carp are spellbound by punched cheese, and very often a tench or two show up.

During the winter, most kinds of cheese lose their impact because the cold water makes them rock hard. This is the time to turn to the various cheese spreads. A little messy to hook during the summer, these soft, creamy cheeses make an ideal winter bait. They are just hard enough to stay on the hook during casting but sufficiently soft to tempt fish.