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Bait
31 Oct 2016
by Garth Ethelston
How to get more out of sweetcorn
We can’t say it’s revolutionary, but it’s one of the greatest winter baits of all time and our guess is you’ve forgotten about it. What are we talking about? The humble grain of sweetcorn!

I have always loved sweetcorn. There aren’t many species of fish that won’t eat those little golden grains and carp are certainly no exception. The weather is cooling and as other baits begin to slow down, I have an inkling that corn will still produce the goods for me here at Linear Fisheries Oxlease Lake.

I arrive at the lake at around 4pm and am pleased to pull into what looks like a relatively empty car park. With my boots slid on I begin my way round the right-hand bank of the lake. I’m quite surprised at the amount of tents I am passing but then it hits me, it’s the school holidays. The constant line of bivvies now makes sense. I continue up, past the island and into the first empty swim I have seen.

I can immediately see signs of fish in the area and with no other evident swims this plot seems as good as any. I stand still for a bit longer and notice a fish pop its head out just down to my right. My mind is now made. I drop my jacket on the ground to secure the swim and then make my way back to the van to grab my kit.

Elliott Gray is here with me too, in order to take the pictures, and he is going to drop into a little swim next-door. Between us, we get our bits on the barrow and make our way round to the swims. I am armed heavily with sweetcorn for the carp and burritos for us two so the night ahead looks promising.

Eventually I arrive in my swim and I must say, it was a longer walk than I thought. The swim is still showing signs of life so I decide to have a flick about with the marker early on. I am doing this while the fish are apparent in numbers, but shorter and slightly to my right. It doesn’t take too long for me to find an area I am happy with either, which is a bonus. I have found quite a small gravel area amongst some silt at about 60yds range – it’s perfect.

My rods are pretty much rigged up already so all I have to do is attach the actual rigs themselves. Casting just a bare lead out to the float and feeling the lead down reveals that I am landing nicely on top of the gravel. With the distance now marked using the line clip I repeat the process, this time with the spod. I am using a Skywinder to deposit the corn. The lack of holes ensures that I get a minimal amount of spod spill. Excess bait from the spod can attract carp to feed right in close over your lines, which isn’t ideal.

I am only going to put six spods of corn over the spot to begin with but I will top it up if I get a bite at some point during my stay. The light is fading quite quickly now but I have some bait out there so it’s time to get some rigs out there too.

I am using a nice simple braided bottom bait rig, which incorporates N-Trap braid, a size 10 Mixa hook and a single grain of plastic corn. I am also going to add a small PVA bag of corn to the rig, which I will create using ‘The Salt Trick’. The Salt Trick is a great way of making particles PVA-friendly and best of all, it’s easy to do.

The first rod is sent sailing out to the spot and lands on the gravel with a firm ‘donk’. I am using my line clip to ensure that the rigs are landing nice and tight on the spot. Fishing tight, and accurately, maximises the chance of quick bites when the fish turn up. The baited area is much more confined and in turn the carp are always feeding close to the rigs.

With the first rod on the spot I am now going to flick a PVA bag of corn a rod-length or so behind and to the side of the spot. This rod is used to pick up any fish that maybe shy of the spot itself. Fishing a rod off the baited area is also good way of picking up the bigger fish as they hold back whilst the little ones feed. Hopefully this will work tonight.

I now have two rods sorted but the light is fading fast so I need to be quick getting my middle rod sorted. This is where the line clip really comes in handy – even if it does get dark I will be able to position a rig over the bait with ease.

How to colour corn

01) Pick a food colouring – the choices are endless.

02) First, empty a tin of corn into a bait tub.

03) Add a helping of colouring to the sweetcorn.

04) You want quite a heavy dose like Garth has.

05) Now close and shake the tub well and then leave it to soak until the corn has taken on the colour.

They're on it already!

Would you believe it, whilst tying up my third rig the right-hand rod rips off. The carp have found the corn already and I am now into my first fish of the trip. It doesn’t feel a massive carp but is certainly putting up a good account for itself. The fish has run me ragged in the edge but is now safely in the folds of the net. It’s a lovely mirror of about 13lbs, not a bad start at all. With the fish photographed and returned I can now sort the middle rod out, luckily it was almost ready to go. With the rod now sorted and on the spot I can get the right-hander back out too.

Both rods are now in position, having landed firm I am happy. Time to top up the spot with another six spods of corn. Keeping your spot topped up is very important if you want to keep catching, especially on the highly stocked venues like this one. We are a few hours into dark now and the dinner bell is certainly starting to ring. Burrito time. With a meal for two soon complete we begin to devour our food. It has started to drizzle but is surprisingly cold in comparison to earlier so the food is going down a treat.

I was midway through one of my burritos and the middle rod just burst into life. The take was a bit stuttery but the fish is definitely on and it actually feels a decent size. Slowly I lead the fish towards the net, it isn’t giving up easily. I have had the fish in the margins a few times now but it is content on avoiding the net. Eventually the fish seems beaten and I ask Elliott to help with the netting. As Elliott grabs the net the hook pulls. I’m gutted to be honest, it was a 20lber. The sweetcorn spot is certainly seeing some activity from the carp. This is a real good sign of things to come because the lake has been fishing quite slowly. Fingers crossed the action continues.

With the rod back on the spot in double quick time I sit back down to enjoy some more food. The rain has stopped now and a mist has formed over the lake, it’s a lovely autumnal evening. We are about an hour or so after the last bite and my left-hand rod has just picked up a fish. It was the rod positioned off the edge of the bait. This was a tactic I was hoping would pay off and it has. Hopefully I will land this one. The fish has no immediate plans of giving up but some steady pressure should sort things out. The pressure eventually takes its toll and the fish is soon in the net. Amongst the black of the night I am sure I picked out some scales? A quick flick of the head torch confirms my suspicion. It’s a belting fully scaled, well, almost fully scaled. On the bank I am blown away by this carp, totally unexpected and far from typical of the strain in this venue. Up on the scales, the fish is just over 21lbs, a proper Oxford scaly one. Happy days.

With the fish back safely I set about getting my rod sorted. The Salt Trick has worked well and the three bites I have had so far are the only ones I am aware of around the lake. I have also coloured some of my corn which will give them something a little different to look at once the sun is up in the morning. It always pays to be different and I’m pretty sure what I’ve done so far this session is rarely used on here.

The rod is back out there now and we are both pretty tired, so it’s time to retire to bed. I’ll be up early so best to get some shut eye whilst I can.

The Salt Trick

01) The bits you need to create PVA-friendly sweetcorn.

02) First, drain the liquid from your sweetcorn

03) Now pour the corn into a bait tub like so.

04) Next add a decent helping of salt to the corn and mix.

05) Your corn can now be put into the PVA tube.

06) PVA bags like this should be the end result.

Still time for some action...

I’m up early but have had no further action. The rain has been constant since about 1am and it really has fallen hard. It has kept me up a fair bit and I still haven’t noticed any breaks in its consistency. I think the cold rain has had a bad influence on the fishing. With the amount we’ve had I’m sure it will have decreased the waters temperature, not ideal when it’s late in the year.

I have given it a while just in case I was to receive a bite but we are now well into the morning and nothing has happened. I think I am going to top the swim up. There is always a possibility you have been cleaned out and not received a bite. Another four spods of corn ensures that my spot still has bait on it. With the swim topped up I am also going to give all three rods a re-chuck.

The swims looks dead and I am sat staring at the water hoping for a fish to show itself. If a fish does give away its presence then I can simply reel in, attach a PVA bag of corn and then cast into the area. This has worked very well for me during the colder months, when location really is vital.

It’s a shame but no fish have shown, no more bites have developed and the rain is lashing down again. I have had a great time, landed a couple of stunning little carp but now it’s time for me to head home.

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