Sweetcorn’s greatest attractions are its availability and its convenience. In its readytouse, canned form, it can be put on the hook without any preparation. Alternatively, you can buy fresh or frozen corn which is just as good after a little preparation. Whole cornonthecob needs cooking and decobbing, while frozen loose corn needs boiling for a few minutes to soften it. But if you intend prebaiting with large quantities, you can make a significant saving by buying bulk and boiling up as required. Nevertheless, the canned corn is still the most popular form, but do give the environment a thought before taking cans to the waterside. It is more convenient and less antisocial to open the can at home and empty the corn into a plastic bait box or other container. In fact, there are now a few environmentally conscious clubs that ban cans of all types on the river banks and punish infringements with instant expulsion.

Sweetcorn keeps quite well, but in hot weather treat it like maggots and keep it in the shade if possible. Drain off the ‘juice’ and give the corn a quick rinse under the tap before putting it in your bait box, for it becomes sticky and slimy in hot weather. Removing the juice does not detract from its effectiveness as a bait. Corn can be frozen after use, too; it is expensive, so do not waste. With care, it can even be refrozen.

Sweetcorn grains range in size from that of a matchhead to that of a large pea. So all manner of bait sizes and hooks can be used—from a single small grain on a No 18 to six or seven large grains hiding a No 4 or No 2 carp hook. Compared with other particle baits, few grains are needed to cover the hook.

It pays to use eyed hooks or spadeends with a prominent spade. These help to keep the corn on the shank. With whippedtonylon hooks there is always a risk of the corn sliding up the line, resulting in false bites and snagged hooks. Some anglers favour gilt or gold hooks, but the author has found them no better and uses bronzed, eyed hooks.

How much as loose feed?

The big question with corn is how much free bait to introduce into a swim. This is a very controversial subject, and the views of experts vary, particularly when it comes to ‘educating’ carp and tench in stillwaters. The general plan, however, is to encourage big fish to feed intensively over a small area.

In larger lakes and pits, scatter corn finely over wide areas to accustom the fish to it, then select a hotspot of a few square yards and carpet it with corn. But in both large and small lakes, you will have to modify these general guidelines to take account of the fish population, both of the species you are after and the unwanted species that also like corn. How much modification is a matter of choice.

Like many other baits, sweetcorn suddenly became popular and was the ‘in’ bait for a number of seasons with tench and carp anglers. But never make the mistake of assuming that a single bait is the total answer to success. The experienced angler always has at least two, probably more, baits with him for that day when the ‘in’ bait goes out.