Making the most of meat baits

Chub, barbel and carp enjoy meat as much as we do. Even fish as different as dace and catfish will occasionally feast on it. Luncheon meat is the most popular of the meat baits and sausage meat is also effective. The very latest bait is stewing steak -in 1990 match fishermen on the Trent started winning consistently with it. It could be the boom bait of the nineties.

We have all heard tales of fishermen who, often out of desperation, have hoiked a piece of pork or beef from their sandwiches, attached it to a hook and caught a massive barbel. But, being honest, if cuts of beef, mutton and pork were at all consistent, we would be using them every day because they are far easier to obtain and use than maggots or worms.

Lovely luncheon meat

On rivers as far apart as the Hampshire Avon and the Yorkshire Ouse luncheon meat is both popular and successful.

Barbel, chub and carp all succumb to it.

Luncheon meat is available both in tins and fresh from the delicatessen. Both types have their devotees.

Getting fresh Fresh luncheon meat is easier to keep on the hook than the tinned variety. Buy it in a 1lb block rather than sliced. Freeze half for the next time you go fishing. Cut the rest into cubes and store it in a polythene bag to prevent it drying out.

Cans can Any of the other well known brands of tinned luncheon meat are very handy bait. The cans are easy to carry and you can take home any unopened tins for another day’s fishing.

Tinned luncheon meat is not as easy to keep on the hook because it has a higher water and jelly content. But many anglers prefer it to the fresh version because it has a higher fat content that – they believe – leaves an irresistible trail for barbel and chub.

Cut the meat into cubes – the size depends on the hook you are using. Most anglers believe that the point should just be showing. There’s a simple way of keeping tinned luncheon meat on the hook; place a slip of grass between the luncheon meat square and the hook bend. If the grass is flat against the meat its central spine provides rigidity.

If you believe that fat is the key to a successful luncheon meat bait you can increase its fat content still further. Melt some fat or lard in a frying pan and drop in your pre-cut cubes. Turn the bait lightly in the fat and then remove it. When it cools it is enveloped in a thin film, which is attractive to fish and makes for a slightly firmer bait. Can it! Some waters have banned cans altogether because at one time the banks of the rivers and lakes were littered with cans. Clubs were threatened with the loss of their waters and a number of anglers were banned. If you are allowed to use them, make sure you take your tins home with you.

Sizzling sausages

Sausage meat has nearly the same attraction for chub and barbel as luncheon meat. For carp it seems less successful, though in still waters they do try it. Chewable chipolatas Modern small sausages are easy baits to use because their plastic skins hold them firmly on the hook. However, the plastic skins kill the essential meaty smell and trail of the sausage, and perhaps spoil the bait for the fish. Continental style spiced sausages can be effective, especially around houseboats where fish have developed a taste for them from scraps.

Banger boom The good old fashioned banger is relatively popular as a bait. Fried and cut into sections it can be fished on every sized hook from a no. 10 to a no.2. If you boil the sausages they become softer and less likely to float unexpectedly to the surface. Bangers are particularly successful when legering – the sausage can cover the hook point completely. Sausage meat This is a successful bait whether raw or cooked. As with luncheon meat, frying a ‘patty’ in lard for five minutes gives the meat a stiffer texture and increases fat content.

Used raw it is very successful when mixed with a little flour or, better still, fine groundbait. It forms a kind of paste that attracts chub and barbel and can be moulded on the hook.

While you are fishing give the fish a taster of your hookbait by feeding the river with fine loose sausage meat. A cheaper method is to make a groundbait of bread and sausage meat.

High steaks

Stewing steak was the discovery of 1990. A number of high catches have been recorded with it. The secret is to mince it up very fine and fish with small – maggot-sized – pieces on the hook. On the occasions when you would normally use maggots, switching to stewing steak may help you to catch a much bigger stamp of fish.