The Sunday open at Bake Lakes was on Dunes, I was looking forward to the day as the lake has [&hellip
If you were to approach ten anglers and ask them there opinions on meat fishing, the chances are five of them would love it and five of them would hate it. Along with paste fishing, it tends to provoke extreme responses in anglers, with some being supremely confident in the method and some having next to no faith in it at all.
There is no doubt that it can be a devastating bait on its day, with some massive weights being taken on it in the warmer months. Its not just carp that love it either, it can be a devastating way of sorting out the better silver fish in a venue.
A good example of a mixed venue that responds particularly well to a meat attack is Lakeside Fishery at Ranskill, where ton up bags of carp and silver fish are commonly taken.
The real strength of the bait at this and a lot of venues is that it catches everything that swims, where as baits such as worms and caster only take the silvers, and dog biscuits only take the carp. It also has a habit of selecting the bigger skimmers, while worms and casters can leave you with smaller samples.
In terms of rigs for this kind of fishing, it is often best to err on the heavy side, as when the fish are really having it they become preoccupied with the bait so it doesn’t matter so much about rigs and presentation, and afterall you want to land any carp that you may hook
0.14 is a good line for venues where silvers are expected along with the odd carp, as it is robust enough to land your carp but light enough to still attract bites off the silvers. As I say, don’t be afraid to step up if you are struggling to land fish however!
As I have stressed in my articles in previous months, I am not a big believer in one size fits all rigs for different baits, believing it is much better to suit float sizes, hooks and shotting to conditions on the day. For meat fishing, a simple bulk around 12 inches away from the hook is normally a good place to start however, then you can amend your shotting depending on whether you are getting bites or missing them.
A very important thing to consider when fishing meat is how you strike, or to be more specific, lift into bites. This is very important, as like pellets, meat is a soft bait and you want to avoid time wasted shipping back after you have missed a bite and your bait has come off. When the float goes under just lift until your float is totally out of the water, if there isn’t a fish on, lower it back in.
Of course, there are things that you can do to help your bait stay on the hook, and I will cover those in detail later on in the piece, but perhaps the most important thing you need for a good days meat fishing is the right type of meat. The three most popular are Spam, Plumrose and Tulip, with Plumrose being my preferred choice for the majority of meat fishing.
The best way by far to chop your meat is with a meat cutter, as this ensures that all the pieces are the same size, which makes life a lot easier if feeding by hand or by catapult, as they are all the same weight and therefore travel the same distance.
These are available from all good tackle shops, and are generally available in 2mm, 4mm and 6mm sizes, with 4mm being about right for the vast majority of meat fishing. One point I would make with regards to preparing meat is take your time when putting it through the cutter, there is nothing worse than forcing it through quick and snapping a string, not only does it mess your meat up but they are a nightmare to replace!
A little trick I like to employ is putting the tins in some warm water for around two minutes before I chop them. This melts the fat holding the meat in the tin which not only makes it easier to get out of the tin, but also prevents the fat (which floats) getting in with the main body of the meat. Don’t let the meat itself get too warm however, or it will tend to crush rather than cut when you put it through the cutter.
When prerared, I store the meat in polythene bags tightly packed in the fridge until it is time to use them. When on the bank, put your bait in boxes and emmerse it in water to stop it from drying out.
Liqui – Meat
A devastating way of fishing meat in shallow water is to push it through a maggot riddle, thus creating fine particles of meat, which can be drip fed by a kinder pot. This is even more effective if the riddled meat is then dusted in a groundbait such as Ringers, which then breaks up in the water along with the meat as it falls.
It is best to only use this in really shallow water however, as when it is more than say three feet deep it has a tendency to draw fish up in the water causing missed bites and liners.
This method is particularly effective on snake lakes, where mixed nets of F1’s and carp are the targets, and is often used to great effect at places such as Heronbrook and The Oaks at Sessay.
I tend to look at feeding meat in the same way I feed pellets, as they are very similar baits in that they are both quite difficult to keep on the hook at times. Look to feed little and often, and avoid getting too many fish in your peg as this will lead to a frustrating days fishing, with foul hooked fish and liners galore.
For this reason I would always kick off by feeding just a few pieces of meat along, and then feed by catapult or kinder pot to draw fish into the peg if bites are not forthcoming. Some venues respond well to the introduction of particle baits such as hemp or micro pellets along with the meat however, as this gives the fish something to graze over until your next meaty offering comes there way!
One thing that meat lends itself too particularly well is shallow fishing, as it sinks really slowly through the water, giving the fish plenty of time to come up and intercept it. When you intend on fishing meat it is often best to have rigs set up at a variety of depths, as the fish have a habit of moving up and down in the water.
One of the key things to successful shallow fishing with the bait is how you hook the meat, and there are a couple of little tricks you can employ to improve your bite to fish ratio. Hair rigging the meat is one way to get around the problem, but a far quicker and easier way involves hair rigging a bait band.
Tie the bait band on as if it were the loop on a hair rig. Thread your bait on a baiting needle, then loop the bait band around the top of the baiting needle, stretch it, and pull the meat down onto it. You will then find that the bait band retracts at the back of the meat and holds it on. Changing meat on one of these is loads quicker than hair rigging, which can be worth an all important couple of fish at the end of the match.
As I mentioned earlier in the article, it is very important to lift not strike when fishing meat, and this is particularly relevant with shallow fishing. Expect the float to be up and down constantly, just a steady lift so the float is out of the water will be enough to set the hook if a fish has took the bait. If you hit one bite in three with this style of fishing then you are doing well, so don’t stress if there is a bit of movement on the float!
Another popular meat based attack which is commonly used where islands are out of reach of the pole is the meat feeder. This is a really positive way of fishing, and has accounted for many massive bags over recent years, and has won many a festival at White Acres over the last few seasons as well.
I was fortunate enough to be told the method by one of its greatest exponents- Mr Steve Ringer, who gave me a few tips which have proved invaluable.
The first is to use a metal cage feeder with no spikes in it, as this will mean that your meat explodes out of it, where as with a gripmesh feeder it has a tendency to stick in it.
Use as shorter hooklength as venue rules allow, around twelve inches is ideal, and expect bites to be savage! Do not be tempted to sit on the rod if its not going around, keep casting in and putting bait through the feeder, you will start to pick up fish eventually, and when they turn up you will generally keep on catching on the method.
In terms of what to put through the feeder, it all depends on the venue and how the fish are responding. Sometimes it is best to feed 4mm cubes, while at other times putting the liquid-meat mix I described earlier or even a bit of fishmeal groundbait through the feeder can be a better way to go.
Punched meat is best on the hook when fishing the meat feeder, as the shape of it means it stops on a hair rig better than cubed or chopped meat. Don’t be afraid to give these shapes a try however, as its amazing how fickle carp can be at times, and a subtle change can make all the difference.
Bad for the fish?
One criticism of meat that is commonly aired is that, oils in it are bad for the fish. To be honest, I think this is a load of rubbish as when you look at the best venues in the country like White Acres, they nearly all allow meat.
Even on a local scale I believe it is apparent that meat does no harm. At the vast majority of matches at Lakeside Fishery at Ranskill, all competitors will have over five tins of meat, and yet the venue continues to go from strength to strength. All in all I would say you can use the bait without feeling you are doing the fish any harm.