Mussels as bait

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Mussels as bait

Post by Banksy » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:30 pm

Not Swan mussels, I hasten to add, but Tesco's finest frozen cooked mussels, about £4 for a large bag.

I had my eyes opened last year when I was visited by a friend from Nottingham, and we fished a natural gravel pit.

On the previous occasion he had re-introduced me to the art of fishing hemp & tares, which worked very well for the lovely roach in that pond.

But on this occasion, he produced a bag of the said mussels, and proceeded to catch a superb bag of bigger roach. We didn't weigh them, but several were certainly over 1 lb 8 oz.

I returned to that pond last week, having sneaked a couple of bags of mussels into the weekly shopping trolley, and found that they really do work well for selecting the bigger roach. The mussels are chopped in two, and the half with the hard white disk is put to one side for hookbait. A size 14 hook is passed through the white disk, and this gives a sufficiently good hold to allow a gentle cast

As far as I know, there are no Swan mussels in that pond, so why do they work so well?



Re: Mussels as bait

Post by JAA » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:48 pm

I use them for carp a fair bit and have also caught many good roach, rudd and tench on them.

I've also found they are good for large roach (on purpose), but not when carp are about.

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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Harry » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:53 pm

I've used them for Carp, never Roach though.... most of the shellfish are good baits, although the pickled ones are no use, Cockles especially are good for Carp and Tench... :Hat:
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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Stuart Whiting » Mon Nov 07, 2016 4:44 pm

The possible reason why they probably work so well is because they most likely resemble freshwater snails which are actually part of the staple diet of larger roach :Hat:

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Phil Arnott
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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Phil Arnott » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:40 pm


I think it's natural for anglers to speculate why a fish takes a bait but I gave up quite a while ago as I wrote about it in Angling Times a while back See below.

Having watched tadpoles, shore crabs and a sand lizard feeding on bread nothing surprises me.



Copyright © Philip Arnott 2002
No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without prior permission of the author.

Reproduced by Kind permission of Angling Times

Bait Myths

It is a commonly held view that baits fish well where they are found naturally. For instance it is often stated that lugworm fishes well over a lug bed and crab fishes well over rocks. While this is often the case, the logic behind the thinking is flawed. The trouble is that nobody told the fish. For much of the time fish, like most other wild creatures, are opportunists when it comes to food. If an easy meal comes along which is acceptable in terms of the diet of the fish then it will be eaten irrespective of whether it is normally found in the area.
When fishing in rocky areas with crab, it might normally be expected to take wrasse, coalfish and cod but these species will also take lugworm well. In truth crab probably has the edge because the fish prefer it but the fact that lug may not be found within miles of the spot does not have any bearing on the results.
A couple of years ago I took some king ragworm over to the Kerry in the west coast of Ireland. When I used them in the surf at Stradbally in Brandon bay I caught five bass for over 20lb. The bass just loved them despite the fact that king rag are not found on the west coast of Ireland.
It may well be found that in some cases that the bait natural to the area is the optimum bait. Bass for instance can become preoccupied with sandeel where sandeel are found in numbers. Within a few miles of Brandon bay in Kerry is a mark where sand eel is king and six days after taking the catch on ragworm, I took another five bass on sandeel from this mark.
Another bait myth has grown over the use of white ragworm. Some anglers firmly believe that white ragworm fishes well in clear water because the fish can easily spot it. One angler I knew was looking at the possibility of dying king ragworm white. As an angler who carries out much of my fishing in very turbid water I was amazed at this view as I found white rag was a superb bait in water where the visibility is virtually zero. Visibility is rarely more than a few metres around the British coastline and fish are probably detecting bait by scent at more than 100metres!
Fish like white ragworm because it smells and tastes good; its colour is most likely irrelevant. Comparing white ragworm with king ragworm just because they both have legs and they are both called ragworm is a mistake. From the fishes point of view they may well be as different as chalk and cheese.
We can’t possible know how fish think or work out what they prefer to eat by some logical process. Applying our way of thinking to that of the fish has lead to many of the fishing myths. The only sure way of knowing the effectiveness of a particular bait for a particular species of fish, at a particular fishing mark, at any particular time, is by trial and error. This way the fish will let us into the secret.

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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Vole » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:04 pm

Barbel, chub, roach, carp, and gudgeon all love mussels - I had a 2.2 ounce gudgeon on one!
"Write drunk, edit sober" - Hemingway.
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Dave Burr
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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Dave Burr » Mon Nov 07, 2016 6:54 pm

Excellent post Phil. My standard comment when somebody puts a catch down to bait is, "Did you catch it because or in spite of that bait?" We've all done it - been convinced that the bait made the difference - and occasionally, it is doubtless true. But fish explore and examine countless items they come across and some are edible. They do seem to have a memory and, at times, a preference for some food but they won't pass a free meal to go and search for a preferred worm, boilie or sliced loaf. Unless, of course, they have learned to fear said bait of it's presentation.

Fred Crouch once dissected a barbel and found it full of minute snails. He hypothesized that they were eat when the fish mistook them for small gravel and that they were intended as a digestive aid in the way that birds do. Then Matt Hayes stated that barbel eat hemp because they believe they are eating a bed of small snails. Two respected anglers, both, in my opinion, talking bunkum.

Bigger roach do tend to favour certain baits and anything that helps shorten the odds in our favour is worth experimentation. But I strongly believe that the way to single out big roach is to find a bait that has not been hammered by all and sundry. For big roach, I would never choose maggots.

Pass the mussels please.

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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Match Aerial » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:12 pm

Vole wrote:Barbel, chub, roach, carp, and gudgeon all love mussels - I had a 2.2 ounce gudgeon on one!
Was that a river chub vole ?

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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by AshbyCut » Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:28 pm

I always check the 'reduced' chiller section in Tesco in case a bag of these ever come up. They freeze well.
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Re: Mussels as bait

Post by Vole » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:18 pm

I've never had a stillwater chub, MA; nearly all my mussel fishing has been on rivers. Most of the mussels I take get snaffled by chub; forget them if you object to catching (often small) chub while you wait for the bearded wonders to turn up.
I use the frozen "mussel meat" which is just mussels with the shells off.
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