At the time peanuts were the most popular bait among the carp angling fraternity. Sadly their very popularity made them a cause for concern. The going method for visiting carpers coming down west was to bring sacks of the damn things and to chuck them into the lake without any thought being given to correct preparation or the consequences of peanuts becoming the only food source available. On the lake in question, College Reservoir, the visitors were putting them in by the sack full and as a result, the lake lost several carp to various forms of peanut related disease and the majority lost condition and weight.
In 1985 a lot of fish on the lake became ill thanks to too many peanuts going in. This fish is clearly suffering from a serious gastric infection, most likely caused by eating too many peanuts.
This fish caught in 1984 at 20lb+ was another victim. It was a fairly regular visitor to the bank and was gradually gaining weight and in early 1985 before the hordes arrived had made it to a respectable 25lb 10oz on a diet of naturals plus good food baits which most of the local anglers were using at the time.
By the end of 1985 the majority of the carp had lost weight. This is the same fish seen above but greatly down in weight. Here it weighed just 15lb. As far as I know this was its last capture and it was later found dead in December 1985.
These three photos show what can happen at the extreme end of the scale: hundreds of kilos of peanuts being tipped into the lake were bound to cause problems, but a more enlightened carp world now knows that peanuts, when used in moderation can be a fantastic bait.
One final point I would like to make before I start: Back in the day the major cause for concern was the fact that peanuts can be infected with a fungus, which produces a carcinogen called aflatoxin. Since there is no clear scientific evidence of what is a safe level for wild birds, Haith's buy only 'nil detectable aflatoxin' - the safest standard there is. Haith's were founder members of the Birdcare Standards Association - a trade body that was set up in 2000 and was committed to feeding safe peanut kernels to Britain's birds. Although the association doesn't seem to be active these days, Haith's still commit to only buying 'nil detectable' nuts - which is why I use Haith's peanuts.
These days there is plenty of information on the Internet giving guidelines on how to prepare peanuts safely and I have not read or heard of any recent problems. There is a Blog along those lines here;
So let's move on to an alternative way of preparing peanuts, a method that owes much to the guy who first published a similar method for preparing tiger nuts. (Having used Coke Tigers for several years, you have my undying gratitude for publishing your little trick and I hope you don't mind some minor plagiarism as I describe how to prepare peanuts in Coca-Cola.)
You will need a bottle of the 'real thing', that is to say, full-on Coca-Cola. The diet stuff simply won't work. You can also use Red Bull or any energy drink as long as it is not a non-diet version, plus some sugar; I prefer to use castor sugar.
First, place a kilo or two of Haith's Premium Peanuts in a saucepan and start to pour on the Coke.
Continue to add the Coke until the nuts are well covered by about 3cm. Now leave the nuts to soak in the neat Coca-Cola for three to four days while the while the peanuts absorb the liquid fully. You will notice that they will have swollen considerably and even at this stage they taste amazing!
After a good long soak drain off the Coke and put it to one side.
Return the soaked peanuts to the pan and having boiled a kettle of water, pour this onto the nuts so they are again covered by at least 3cm of boiling water.
Turn down the heat and then simmer the bait for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile in a separate pan gently bring the discarded Coke up to a gentle simmer.
Now again strain the nuts into a colander.
Then put them back into a bucket or similar receptacle that has a seal-able lid.
Now pour on the simmering Coke…
…and add 250g of castor sugar…
…and two heaped tablespoons full of Black Treacle.
Put on the lid and shake the bucket well to dissolve the sugar and the treacle in the near-boiling Coke.
After a further three days remove the lid and drain off about half of the liquid. The nuts will look like this and you should notice a sticky residue on the inside of the bucket and this should also be evident on the baiting spoon.
Replace the lid and leave for a further three days shaking the bucket every day. The peanuts will then be ready to use and they should smell slightly and 'off' but not sour. They will also be quite soft and will taste amazing; sweet and oozing with sticky attraction. I like to freeze the bait at this stage, as this process seems to add still further to the overall attraction.
It's simply just unfair! How can they resist?
This one couldn't!
Stoned Nuts Rule!