From all accounts it seemed that catfish show a marked liking from protein and a marked dislike for birdfoods. They are also supposed not to like strong fruit flavours or a heavy dose of commercial sweetener. I therefore made up a bait containing no fish or milk proteins, no liver and lots of coarse birdfood (Red Factor), and of course Robin Red at 10% of the mix. In addition I half drowned the mix with a powerful fruit flavour and made it excruciatingly sweet. The idea being to create a bait that would not attract the cats but was not overloaded with carpy attraction so that if the boiled bait was used sparingly the carp would respond positively.
Finally I took with me several sachets of a trial version of Robin Red pellets that I have been using on an off whenever I can get hold of any!
I asked my favourite rolling company Rollin’ Baits to make up my bait as 15x12mm barrels and took with me 30kg for a two weeks trip.
In addition I also wanted to back up the boiled bait with a decent Robin Red-based groundbait – SuperRed - mixed 50/50 with a cheap yet effective cereal, oat groats (see last month’s article). Finally I made up a paste comprising ground down SuperRed mixed with eggs and blended with the flavour and the sweetener. Robin Red-tastic, mate!
Now I wish I could tell you that my cunning idea worked to plan but sadly I think I have created the best catfish bait ever invented. Within 20 minutes of casting out I found myself attached to a lively catfish of about 40lb and this set the pattern for the rest of the trip. No matter where I baited with the Robin Red attack, the cats homed in on my bait. In fact the best way to avoid them (not completely, it has to be said) was not to fish at night, as they are a lot more active after dark.
These next few photos describe my rig set up and show how I used the various options I had taken with me.
Here is the bait boat loaded up with Robin Red pellets and a good dollop of the SuperRed/groats groundbait. The hookbaits shown here are Techni Spice shelf life from Nutrabaits, a bait that I used from time to time in an attempt – unsuccessful – to avoid the cats.
These are the Robin Red-based boiled baits (barrels) with a light coating of neat Fruit Special flavour.
In this photo you can see how I used the SuperRed paste, moulding it around a Fox Paste Bomb. This allows the flavours to leak out very quickly as, being a paste, there is no outer skin to hamper or effect water penetration.
The most effective presentation, arrived at via trial and error, was this snowman rig using a bottom bait counter-balanced with a buoyant pop-up. Hook is a Fox Arma Point LS size 4 and the hooklink is 25lb Supa Nova.
I seldom cast out (or send out the bait boat!) without attaching a small PVE mesh parcel to the rig. This I believe helps prevent tangles on the cast, and when the rig is falling through the water after being released from the hopper. It also helps draw attention to the hookbait. Here you can see the contents of the PVA mesh parcels that I made up at the lakeside.
And this is one of the parcels ready to be trimmed.
Finally I always like to introduce a fair number of paste balls as I feel these will aid the attraction in the area of the bait carpet and hookbait. The paste is simply rolled into boilie-sized balls and fired out by catapult.
While the cats seemed to be drawn irresistibly towards the Robin Red feast, by fishing hard during the daylight hours and not bothering too much with night fishing I was able to avoid some of the cats and actually caught some very pretty carp to decent sizes.