Not without a certain amount of soul searching, liberally mixed with fear and trembling, it was that l approached the writing of this article. You see I have a confession to make, and at this point, I feel I should warn any purist readers to read no further, as offensive language and four-letter words such as worm and bait may be frequently used! Yes, it’s true, I’m afraid. During the winter season, I was sorely tempted and have fallen from grace, from the high pinnacle of fly fishing to which I aspired to the lowly status of a humble bait fisherman. We are going to look here at my trout bait fishing secrets.
Shock! Horror! I hear the purists anguished cry, as they squirm in discomfort. Is none safe from the spreading infection of coarse fishermen, wormers and pilcharders? Ah, what of the consequences, you may well ask. Will I be drummed out of the fly fishing club? Will Allan Burgess censure me, refuse to publish my articles and banish me to write of snapper fishing in tatty North Island fishing magazines? Whatever fate awaits me, I remain defiant, unrepentant in my sins. Let me relate my sad story of shame.
It all began innocently enough with a desire to catch some perch, which, as everyone knows are rather fond of worms, or as we purist bait anglers are
wont to call them, “lawn nymphs”. After obtaining a reasonable supply of these meaty morsels I took them for a swim down the Selwyn River. Now, this happened in the winter season when perch are in fine fettle, being summer spawners. I have friends who are content to remain at home from April 30 to October 1, playing scrabble and tiddlywinks or helping their wives with knitting or crochet work, but my addiction is too strong for that and led to my downfall.
Put it down to mid-life crisis or an eternal shame l have sought to repeat the experience since even going so far as to purchase worms and establish a wormery in my garden! By the way, if you find that this article is having a corrupting influence on you and you want to establish a wormery yourself, here is an excellent article on how to do it: Worms – Starting a Wormery for Freshwater Fish Bait.
Many people have compost heaps which supply worms aplenty, but if you are like me, with a garden lacking a good supply and you just want a few for the odd outing, then here is a good tip for you. Fill a bucket with warm, not hot water and add 3 – 4 capfuls of bleach. Pour this onto a patch of lawn and pick off the worms as they surface. Doing this 3 or 4 times will usually yield enough for a day’s outing.
Those who oppose bait fishing often do so on the grounds that fish take the baited hook into their gut and therefore suffer and cannot be released or if under the legal size will die anyway. Any angler worth his salt will make sure this doesn’t happen, by fishing in a skilful and sensitive manner and not leaving his rod unattended. I prefer to keep the rod in my hand, but if I put it down, make sure that I remain with it and watch for the first sign of a bite.
There are many ways to rig up for bait fishing. The ledger rig I have drawn here has several advantages of a fixed or even a single running lead. As you can see, the reel line of 4 – 6 lb breaking-strain goes through the swivel eye and is stopped by a small shot. Because there is no fixed or large lead on the reel line itself, this makes for an extremely sensitive rig where the slightest bite is easily detected on the rod tip, also the only knot on the reel line is to the hook.
Using a long link with the shot at the end means the fish has less chance of pulling against the weights and dropping the bait and the weight doesn’t pull the hook into snags. If you do happen to get snagged, nine times out of ten it will be the weights and not the hook. By applying steady pressure, the snagged shot or shots will usually slide off and free the rig. Finally, the rig is instantly adjustable by adding or removing shot to suit fishing conditions.
Of nine fish hooked using this rig, eight have been released and only one has died (when I hit it over the head! It was very good when smoked). I prefer an active approach to my fishing and travel light, trying different stretches of water. I like to use the rig as a rolling ledger, casting upstream and across and letting it bounce through the lies. I search for fish in an arc and vary casting length to cover each area. Bites often come while the bait is rolling or at the end of the drift when it has settled downstream and a fish has followed it down.
In slack water, or where there is an insufficient flow to keep the end tackle moving, I use the reel to inch the bait across the bottom, with pauses in between. It pays to vary the speed of retrieve until you start getting results. Often a fish will follow right in and make a lunge for the bait as you lift to recast.
It’s possible to use a spinning rod for bait fishing, but they are generally too short and stiff, lacking the sensitivity needed. Failing a coarse fishing rod, a fly rod of 8’6 – 9′ works very well, provided you can mount a threadline (eggbeater) reel on it. Well, there you have it – “Bait Fishing Secrets”! Gotta go now. Must get to the tackle shop before it closes, forgot to buy pilchards! Best wishes for the new season.
Simple trout fishing bait rig.
This post was last modified on 27/08/2021 10:14 pm
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