WASTING BAIT - ON THE BEACH
So you're off to the beach, eh, looking forward to a good session. The wind is in the right direction, it's a high tide and there's excitement.
Might have a good catch
Got your bait sorted out - what are you taking? Sand eels, mackerel fillets, maybe some muscles and, of course, who wouldn't take some squid. All of these will be frozen so you root out your freeze bag. In goes all your bait.
Now you think, hang on a minute, have I got enough bait for my session?!? Hmmm, I'll just put a few more packets in my freeze bag.
Happy now? Good. Off you go then.
How was it? Did you catch? You did. Great! Did you use all your bait? No - You did what with your bait? You threw your leftover bait on the beach, for the sea gulls!! Why? Because you think it isn't any good now.
Had this conversation many times over the last twenty-five years.
To all those beach anglers who, at the end of their fishing session, leave their so-called "left-over bait" on the beach or shingle for the sea gulls or a strolling dog, believing it is no longer any good - think again! I never have "left-over bait".
Occasionally, I will buy frozen bait, however, once it has thawed, I would never re-freeze it, because it goes mushy.
So what's the answer?
My answer is - by salting, yes, that's right, salting.
An ancient method of preservation, still used around the world today for fish for human consumption, e.g. salted cod. Dry salting preserves the integrity and texture of whatever it is treating, by drawing water out of the cells.
Some of the salt is taken up in the cell structure.
The salt kills a lot of the microbes which make your bait break down and rot. It does not blow the cell structure, unlike freezing, nor does it taint the bait, unlike some other forms of preservative, e.g. formalin. It is, of course, a de-hydration system. When your bait is in the sea, re-hydration occurs. This system works very well with prawns, shrimps, sand eels, mackerel, squid, muscles, etc. - the list is endless, the choice is yours.
For example, a sprat, unless frozen, is nigh on impossible to cast. However, when treated by this method, will stay on the hook and can be cast a long way - a great bait for rays, not to mention bass!
Take a little time and try this method
Dry salting - use cooking salt from your local supermarket (1 large bag)
" Use a clear, plastic sandwich box with lid, approx. 20cm x 14cm x 8cm
" Leaving the lid on, turn it upside down and drill several 2mm holes in the bottom
" Place 3 sheets of loo role in the bottom - this is to stop the salt filtering through the holes
" Cover with a layer of salt
" Cover the salt with a layer of bait
" Repeat - salt, bait, salt bait, etc., finishing with a layer of salt
" Replace lid, pressing firmly - this will stop the salt from drawing moisture out of the air
" Place box in a dry area, on a few sheets of newspaper, to catch the liquid that the salt will extract from your bait
" Leave for 48 hours
" Empty the wet and discoloured salt onto several sheets of newspaper
" Remove your bait which will be dryish and stiff
" Wrap the salt up in the newspaper and dispose of in a waste bin
" Use a second sandwich box to store your salt-dried bait in, adding a light sprinkling of salt between each layer
" Store in a dry place - not in your fridge or freezer
" Use as required
Now, for the million pound question - Does this bait catch fish? Absolutely! A hungry fish is a hungry fish.
A tip to remember:
" Use the right bait - For the right fish - At the right place- At the right time
Now, if all of this isn't enough for you to try or think about, have you ever thought of colouring your bait?
No? Perhaps you don't think it would work?
Think of all the spinners and artificial lures that are made in all combinations of colours - they catch fish. I use coloured bait and I'm happy with what I catch
"Tight Lines" - The Bait Bandit - Dorset