Anglers these days don’t realise how lucky they are where groundbait is concerned, when I started fishing some thirty five years there wasn’t the fantastic array of colourful bags that greets the angler today. In my local tackle shop you had the choice of brown crumb or white crumb which was sold in brown paper bags. The white crumb was stickier when water was added so people tended to add it to the brown when they needed a firmer mix for deeper venues or moving water. So back then, blending the two in varying quantities was about as sophisticated as it got!
‘Continental’ groundbaits (as we used to call them) were expensive and a relative rarity and I think if people were honest the majority thought they were a bit of a gimmick. The bait invasion from the continent started as a trickle but all too soon the floodgates opened as the tackle shop shelves started to fill up with bags and bags of wonderful smelling and colourful groundbaits with exotic and mysterious names like Supercup, Secret, Roubaisien and Magic. The two main players were Sensas and Van Den Eynde and the bewildering number of products in their respective ranges showed us just how far behind our counterparts across the channel we were.
As a schoolboy my meagre pocket money wouldn’t stretch to buying these new wonderbaits but around the same time I recall seeing an article explaining how you could make your own additive packed groundbait using readily available products. It went on to explain the various additives that could be bought from pet shops and garden centres or even pillaged from your kitchen cupboards and even offered some recipes for different venues or species. There were the more obvious ones like breadcrumb, maize, crushed hemp, bran and sausage rusk but also listed were ingredients like dried blood (good for tench and eels), peanut powder, coconut (not whole ones obviously) and loads of different herbs like coriander and fennel which apparently roach love.
The various recipes listed the ingredients and also suggested the percentages of each that should be used in the mix and if I’m honest I quite enjoyed creating these weird and wonderful concoctions depending on where my next club match was being held even though it was very time consuming. As you would expect I had varying degrees of success with my match results but I seem to remember that the dried blood (which had a really pungent smell) worked pretty well for eels and the occasional tench.
As a super keen young angler I was reading every fishing magazine available which filled my mind with new ideas, tactics and baits to try. It was an article on pre-baiting that led to my first foray into shop bought groundbait, my local shop had a few bags going cheap, I can’t remember the name of it or who made it but I do remember it mixed up like stodge (or maybe that was me!). For a whole week, as soon as I got home from school, I mixed some up and went to my local pond (which was within walking distance) and after making sure nobody was watching I pre-baited my chosen swim.
This was during the winter so you can probably guess what comes next, Saturday finally arrived and I was up at the crack of dawn ready to plunder the vast shoals of carp and tench that were attracted by my week long pre-baiting campaign. I arrived at the venue and it was frozen over!, I tried breaking the ice but needless to say I walked home with my tail between my legs. Talking of groundbaiting disasters, I’m sure we’ve all cupped or balled in several balls of feed only to see them all float, not so bad on a stillwater but on a river they finally sink in your downstream neighbours peg!
My top tip is to always mix your groundbait as soon as you get to your peg, by the time you have set all your kit up, your mix will usually be ready to have some more water added. My second tip is to make sure you always carry a riddle with you, no matter how well you might think you’ve mixed your groundbait, riddle it and you’ll be amazed at the size of some of the lumps left on the riddle. Just push them through and you will be left with a lovely tray of feed, ready to be formed into balls. Lastly, always make sure you use a top quality product and that’s where Bait Tech comes in.
As the relative new boys on the block, I’ve been impressed with many of their products, especially their expanders and pellets along with their hemp, tinned corn and great range of meat. Many of their groundbaits are designed for commercials and again they are top notch but I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so excited about a new product as I was when Bait Tech released Pro Natural. Designed for silvers on natural venues, it was exactly what I’d been waiting for and when I first got my hands on a bag, it was everything I’d hoped it would be, smelt great, mixes up beautifully and will hold lots of particles if you so require. I fish a lovely natural roach venue and have had some gorgeous nets of quality roach by cupping in a couple of balls of ‘Pro Nat’ before loose feeding hemp and casters over the top.
Hot on the heels of that success, came Pro Natural Dark which is just spot on for clear venues and it’s not just Pro Nat dyed black, it actually has dark ingredients and I’ve been using it a lot when I can get hold of it, but that in its self is proving difficult as it’s flying off the shelves faster than Bait Tech can make it. Not resting on their laurels, they have now released Pro Natural Bream and it’s supposed to have a lovely smell but I can’t verify that as I haven’t managed to get hold of a bag yet!
Bait Tech have come up trumps with the Pro Nat range and how I wish it had been available all those years ago, I honestly believe these three groundbaits will cater for 95% of my fishing now as I just can’t see me using anything else. I also think there’s scope for more in the range, Pro Nat Red or Yellow perhaps? And how about a Pro Nat White, designed especially for punch fishing for roach? all would be great additions to the range.
Packaged in 1.5kg bags and costing around £3.99 per bag it represents great value too, a bag normally lasts me two sessions.