Groundbait
Secrets



History of Groundbait:

The first recording of groundbait being used in the UK was immortalised in 1676 by the famous writings of Izaak Walton in his book the Complete Angler

You shall take a peck, or a peck and a half, according to the greatness of the stream and deepness of the water, where you mean to angle, of sweet gross-ground barley-malt; and boil it in a kettle, one or two warms is enough: then strain it through a bag into a tub, the liquor whereof hath often done my horse much good; and when the bag and malt is near cold, take it down to the water-side, about eight or nine of the clock in the evening, and not before: cast in two parts of your ground-bait, squeezed hard between both your hands; it will sink presently to the bottom; and be sure it may rest in the very place where you mean to angle: if the stream run hard, or move a little, cast your malt in handfuls a little the higher, upwards the stream. You may, between your hands, close the malt so fast in handfuls, that the water will hardly part it with the fall.

Your ground thus baited, and tackling fitted, leave your bag, with the rest of your tackling and ground-bait, near the sporting-place all night; and in the morning, about three or four of the clock, visit the water-side, but not too near, for they have a cunning watchman, and are watchful themselves too.

Then, gently take one of your three rods, and bait your hook; casting it over your ground-bait, and gently and secretly draw it to you till the lead rests about the middle of the ground-bait...

– Izaak Walton 1676

Development of Groundbait:
The developement of groundbait over the years can stem back to Izaak Walton days. However I am sure that as fishing devloped as did otherways to attract fish into the anglers swim began to surface. Using a type of medium to carry bait offerings as an attractor that would in turn encourage fish to feed in the swim. We called this Groundbait and this in turn would allow an angler a greater opportunity to catch fish with his baited hook. In my research I have found that Basic ingredients such as Barley, Malt , Bran and Breadcrumb was common place perhaps as far back as a century ago. The introduction of Cakes & Biscuits into the market place in later years possibly after the 2nd World War that Groundbait took on a different dimensions. Although right up to the 1960s and 70s. Bread and Rusk meal being the common groundbait attractor In the UK. However It was the Continental Anglers that took the lead when it came to Groundbait development

Continental Mixes:
Although in the UK we proud ourselves of being perhaps the best anglers in the World it was not so long ago that Continental anglers such as France, Italy, Belgium Dutch etc were deemed far ahead in the development of  various Fishing Tackle such as Pole fishing, Terminal tackle, baits and Groundbait. Using natural baits such as Bloodworm, Joker the continental anglers had to compensate and the birth of exotic and spicy groundbaits were developed. Perhaps it was the different species of fish that they encounted or maybe the vast rivers and Lakes they fished, yet the continental anglers developed many different groundbaits than our British counterparts. Being part of the International angling scene in the Eightees I witnessed many developements abroad with groundbait and was privileged to meet some great anglers who passed on some of their secrets. The Dutch for their Bream fishing secrets and the use of salt, The Belgiums for their use of Sweet Coconut, The French for their leam secrets and the Italians for their Pasta & Biscuits secrets. But above all was the secrets in the applications and tectures allowing groundbait to breakup at different times during the introduction into the swim that impressed me best of all.

British Groundbait:
British Groundbaits in the past having been Bread & Biscuit Based, yet learning from the continental anglers we can proudly say we have caught up and in some case exceed them. With our resources and scientific knowledge of fish species and how each species of fish relate to various smells and attractors our British groundbait can now compete on the same level playing field. Knowing that inert groundbaits (Still) repond to certain species of fish and effervescent
groundbait (Fizzy) would respond to other types of species. Combined with various odors of which we know are important ( (Smell, or olfaction, as scientists call it, is an important sense for many fish. Those little holes that look like nostrils are called nares. Nares don't lead to the throat the way nostrils do in mammals, but open up into a chamber lined with sensory pads that are directly attached to its brain) Under test, the three main odors  that appear to be positive to fish are salt, aniseed, and garlic. Another factor; fish that are weaned from fingerlings on fishmeal  will respond exceptionally well to a fish based groundbait. As all fish species are scavengers it is assumed that just a small scent of decay can be sensed from far down the water stream.

 

Groundbait today:
I believe that a lot of groundbait produced these days attract more anglers than fish and often to my ammusment I would see anglers smelling an opened pack of groundbait and saying how nice it smells. Not realising that our olfactory system is very different from a fish. As I have already mentioned, fish are natural scavengers and are naturaly attracted to foast smells, odors and certain oils.
Fish do have tastebuds. Fish tastebuds have the ability to distinguish the difference between sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Tastebuds are inside the fish's mouth, on its tongue and on the outside of the body including fins. Fish that live on the bottom of the water, such as catfish, have tentacles coming off the head called barbels. Barbels also have tastebuds. However strong smelling groundbaits have an opposite affect in attracting fish into the swim. Getting the balance is the secret and combined with a visual attractor is the key to a succsesful catch of fish. The key substances are amino acids and bile acids (
Bile salts are potent olfactory stimuli in fish ). These will trigger feeding in all fish. Fish are able to detect these chemicals down to incredibly low levels therefore strong smelling groundbaits often do not work and will give an opposite affect.

The Secret:
The secret in groundbait is the mixing and blending to work in the swim for a particular species, groundbait being a medium to carry loose offerings of bait that break up in the water that attract the fish without over feeding the amount of fish in the swim. Therefore the secret in Groundbaiting is twofold: Balancing the right smells (Amino Acids) according to the species of fish, you are trying to catch and the visual effect the groundbait produces. Under test, fish respond by competing for food with each other, while under a controlled condition, bait introduced into an aquarium fell to the bottom and the shoal of fish ignored it, however by drip-feeding bait on the opposite end of the aquarium the fish responded and competed with each other by eating the offerings. In another test, a whole worm introduced into an aquarium the fish ignored it, however a drop of worm juice from a broken worm (One million to one percentage) introduced into the water, suddenly the fish become aware and proceeded to attack and eat the worm. Therefore, fish respond to the smell of amino acids and compete with each other when they see movement. In my experience and many others, groundbait works much better when introduced little and often. The exception being when fishing for grazing species such as Bream, Tench etc… whereby a quantity of groundbait is allowed to settle on the bottom setting a trap for when they arrive.


Clive Branson (C) 2010



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