Pack Baits

This is a US baiting method that isn't used in the UK. Some similar techniques but nothing that exactly matches. It is used mainly by short session carpers over here who need an "instant" groundbait but I think it would work well on most of the UK bottom-feeding species. It has the advantages of being cheap, easy, quick as well as effective. Most of the mixes are from things you can buy either at a livestock feed store or the grocery.

First some terms you will see that are not common in the UK:

Corn or Field Corn - Maize. Large kernel corn that has been allowed to mature and harden in the field. Ground up to make corn meal.

Hominy - Maize that has been soaked in a lye and water solution until the kernel swells up (explodes actually) causing the husk to fall off and then rinsed until all the lye is gone. Must be kept in salt water and usually sold here in tins (cans). The closest to it for a comparison would probably be a chick pea. The texture and size are similar although hominy is slightly wider and flatter. The taste is totally different.

Grits - hominy that is dried and ground. Has a very different flavor and texture from regular corn meal. Used here in the South to make a side dish for meals. Similar to porridge maybe. Available here in both standard (about the texture of corn meal) and "quick" (more finely ground) based on how quickly it absorbs water and "sets up". I think you don't have it but you can order from

Karo Syrup - a thick, sweet syrup made from corn. Available here in dark brown, light brown, and clear. Flavor of the dark is strongest. I'm told that you can get it from some health food stores. That would be expensive so you might want to look at some there and try to get a less expensive equivalent item.

Sugar Pops - Sugar Puffs. Can be toughened by coating with Karo and setting outside in the sun for a while or inside were it is warm. You can use Puffed Wheat or Puffed Rice cereals as a substitute but they really need to be treated to prevent them breaking apart when put on the hook.

Oats - Groats I think. A cereal and the variety we are speaking of here is steamed, rolled oats which are used as an animal fodder. Horses think highly of them. Small, round, nearly flat, and somewhat soft so they can be bent some without breaking.

Creamed Corn - tins of sweet corn with some of the corn ground up with added sweeteners until you have a sort of semi-liquid sludge with some whole bits of sweet corn.

Minute Rice - you may have this one. Rice that is treated to cook up quickly and is usually ready to eat in 3-5 minutes rather than 30 minutes for standard rice.

Kool Aid - a powder used to make sweet beverages. Added to water when making a drink.

Pack Bait - a groundbait mixture designed so it can be "packed" around a sugar pop placed directly on the hook or around a hair rigged bait or lead. The more times you squeeze it (pack it) the firmer it gets and the longer it takes after hitting bottom to dissolve off your hook. Note that this IS NOT designed as a hook bait.
Mielie Bomb a South African style of pack bait and almost always based on maize.

Pack Bait overview:
I'm going to start with a picture. You see a pack bait - not sure of the exact mix but there is some sweet corn in it so probably one with creamed corn used as a liquid & binder. The square container near the bait is full of sugar pops which are put directly on the hook and help hold the pack bait in place during the cast and then act as a hook bait after the pack dissolves.

Depending on the specific mix, you may make the mix of dry ingredients and lake water when fishing or you may prepare the combination from 1 day to 1 week before you intend to use it. You will need to do some bankside testing as breakdown time will vary according to water temperature and some other factors. Just take a handful of your mix, squeeze it a few times, hold it on your palm, and put your hand into a bucket of lake water or into the lake itself. You are looking to see how long it takes for the mix to begin to bubble and then to completely break apart. For short casts of 20-25 yds or so, the mix should hold together for around 1 minute. For longer casts, you want a tighter mix and one that will stand up to a cast of 150 yds will probably take 5 minutes or so to break down. If yours breaks apart too quickly, it needs more compressions. If too slowly, fewer. Note that some mixes are never going to stand up to long casting so can only be used if you are fishing the margins or close in. Eight compressions is a good starting place.

The traditional US way of using pack bait it to place one or two sugar pop on the hook and pack the bait around this. The fish will see a pile of interesting stuff and the sugar pop as the only decent sized piece there. They get soft enough after being in the water a couple minutes to not interfere with hooking so no need to hair rig them. For carp in a water with lots of other fish where you have to use a boilie, just pack around the boilie.

If you like using gadgets, the Gardner Bait Bomb is a nice way to mould a pack bait and to pack it more tightly than you could easily do by hand. The thing also makes a nice little open space to fit over your bait and has a slit to put the line thru. For really hard ones, you can use the Gardner Bait Bomb to make them up at home and then microwave them. Last forever that way and get really hard so you can cast long distances without a chance of the pack bait breaking up too soon.

The recipes which follow can be used "as is" or you can add flavorings as you choose. I would go very light on the added flavoring though. These are not mine but have been taken from the bbs or from the pages of several members there - with permission.

These are only a few of the more basic mixes. I'll be happy to locate and publish some more if there is interest. Let me know.

28oz. of Minute Rice
28oz. of Ketchup
Mix and let sit for about 30 minutes and it's ready to go.
1 box of minute rice (28 or 32 oz)
1 bottle of ketchup (28 or 32 oz)
Put the entire bottle of ketchup into a pot, fill bottle halfway with water shake
the bottle and pour into pot, heat until it starts to bubble and pour over rice and stir, then add 2 packs of your favorite flavor of kool aid.
Short to medium distance casting. Won't pack really hard. You can add an egg or two (beaten up first) and the mix will pack harder. (note from Newt - I also like the idea of adding hot sauce to these mixes).

2 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
1 cup sugar
2 packs strawberry kool-aid
1 pack strawberry jello
Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl and add water until a sticky dough is formed. You may have to add more flour to get the right consistency to stay on the hook. The finished bait should have a strong, sweet strawberry flavor and taste pretty good.
I usually take some extra flour with me to the river in case I want to thicken the dough a little.

Boil exactly 1 pint of water
Sift in a bowl
2 packs of strawberry jello
1 cup of corn meal
1 cup of flour
With water boiling sprinkle powder mix evenly over water until entire powder mix is gone, slowly lowering heat as ball forms, put in aluminum foil let cool for 24 hours in fridge, This makes enough bait for at least 40 - 70 baitings, when using bait (a big red jelloey ball).
NOTE: after casting tighten line but DO NOT drag across bottom bait will come off. Carp hit this bait hard hang on to your pole!!!
For a firmer mixture, work about 6 to 8oz of limburger cheese into the mixture after it cools and has set up.

1 5lb bag of Quaker instant grits
1 2lb bag of Quaker quick grits
1 small can of Bavarian sour kraut
Flavoring of your banana-nut, strawberry, black-walnut, etc.
1 handful of mixed bird seed (washed and soaked so it won't float)
In a bucket, mix both bags of grits well.
Add bird seed and mix again, slowly.
Add kraut (juice first) to mix until you get the right consistency. Make sure at this point it is a little dry.
Add kraut pieces - all the time mixing and don't let it get lumpy.
Now add your flavoring and mix it in.
The bait is now ready. If it starts to dry, add either more kraut juice or more flavoring. Be careful not to over flavor. Too little is better than too much.

6 pounds millet
24 measured oz's of strawberry cake mix
5 3oz boxes strawberry jello
2 small bottles of McCormick black walnut flavoring
1 small bottle of Larann Oils black walnut
1 16oz bottle of white (clear) Karo Syrup.
Mix all dry stuff, then pour in about 1/4 bottle of syrup, then add flavors to syrup bottle and shake up good, then pour in and keep mixing till done.

9 cups of millet
2 cups of wheat bran
2 cups of flour
2/3 bottle of dark Karo Syrup.
Take the syrup and heat till it gets hot, put millet, flour, wheat bran in a bucket and mix well. If you want to add flavoring, put it in the syrup first, then pour the syrup in and mix till you don't see the flour. I have found that if you don't use over 2 oz. of flavoring the better off you are. I like 1 oz. myself!

10 pounds of hulled millet and mix it with 4 cups of flour and 4 cups of wheat bran. to this add 2 regular bottles of Karo syrup and mix until you break a good sweat (it gets very stiff )LOL. After mixing well spread out on a piece of card board in a layer about 3 inches thick and let it stand for a few hours then put into a 2 gallon bucket with a good lid. This mix will pack like a rock but breaks down in the water after about 1-3 minutes. That is the simple mix but you can personalize it if you like with what ever flavor you choose. This is a good bait if you are casting over a hundred yards, it casts like a bullet.

3 cups chicken crumbles (like Layena or layers mash)
1 cup of chicken scratch feed (this should be soaked for at about 24 hrs & then Zip locked in amounts needed)
1 cup of breadcrumbs (or even less depending on binding quality needed)
I will dump some canned sweet corn into this or whatever hookbait samples I intend to use.
1/2 tsp Scopex or other intense flavor or enough supermarket flavor to bake a cake. Too little is better than too much !
Mix up the whole mess add lake water, remix, in about a minute or two you will have perfect pack bait!
I mix this up in one of those 4 kg (8 lb) bulk ice cream tubs. The only wet ingredient is the chicken scratch feed. Once mixed it stays good for about a week if kept in fairly cool basement. Lake water is added (it has no chlorine). If its not binding add more breadcrumb, if it gets too dry add more water. Try it I'm sure you will have good results. The scratch feed keeps the fish around longer, the sweet corn gives the fish confidence to nail your hookbait . Breadcrumb is a brilliant flavor absorber & will not overfeed the fish. The crumbles is a cheap bulk ingredient which carries the bait nicely. It can be coloured but naturally ends up like a light brown colour, which is a match for some types of gravel. I would colour it if I wanted the bait to stand out . Think contrast when coloring a bait. Do you want to stop the fish in their track (& risk scaring them away or have them naturally detect it whilst feeding. You can arrange this by the way you add flavor & colour to the bait. If the fish are wary make the bait blend with the lakebed. On a big lightly fished water colour it yellow or red. Flavor your hookbait the same as the pack bait.

7 lbs steamed, rolled oats
1 qt molasses (the regular and not the de-sulfured sort)
Mix well and let sit in a fairly warm place for 1 week.

Oat meal- get the quick type (sold in the grocery and for people, not livestock) and put about a hand full in to a container add a couple drops of flavoring of you choosing stir well then wet it down with apple juice or pineapple juice, only use enough juice to the mix to get it to hold together on the hook, this takes some practice to get the consistency right( have caught some very large 20 and 30 lb fish with this bait)

Grits- you need to get some quick grits and some instant grits, you mix the two types of grits together with the ratio of 2 parts quick and 1 part instant. Then add what ever favor you choose in a small amount (couple caps full )then add some juice same as above stir as you go. when they get to the point that they will stay on the hook you ready to fish with them (takes practice to get the consistency right )

trout chow- there are two types I use #4 (small black beads) and #5 (ground up kind).

#4 is the easiest to use
You take 2 lbs of chow and 1lb of soy bean meal and mix them together, add 1/2 can of cream style corn and your choice of flavor let sit for 5 to 10 min then use.

#5 is a little more difficult to use you need 2lbs of chow a 2lb box of minute rice, mix together. then add flavor of choice(any where from 2 caps full to a whole bottle ) then add a small can of cream style corn and a small can of whole kernel corn juice and all. stir mixture well and let sit for 10 to 15 min then ready to use

1 can cream corn (save can to measure with)
2 cans of quick grits
3 cans of instant grits
1 pack orange Kool-Aid
3 tablespoons of orange flavoring
Mix well

And a good winter bait
It is only a winter bait, and I never use it after the first day of spring. It is not intended to catch a lot of fish, but mainly quality fish.

Two pounds of ground chow and pour in a bucket, do not grind it into a powder. Make sure you have a tight fitting lid for the bucket. One can of pumpkin, usually comes in one pound cans or 14 to 16 oz cans and do not use no more than that. And yes this is the pumpkin that we make pumpkin pies.

Spoon the pumpkin into a bowl. Loosely wrap the bowl with saran wrap, and heat the pumpkin in the microwave until it is steaming hot, or until you would not stick your finger in it (He,He...). Pour the heated pumpkin into the chow. Stir the pumpkin into the chow with a large kitchen utensil. If you can stir it with your hand, then you did not get it hot enough. After mixing, immediately place lid on top of bucket, and let it sit for two hours.

After it cools, stir the bait with your hand to fluff it. Do all of this the night before you go fishing.

On the morning of fishing, fluff the bait again. You will notice that the bait will be extremely soft and fluffy. And this is the intended result. Do not put any flavor in this bait because it is not needed. This bait will break in around 5 minutes or so. It just depends on the water temperature.

Use only small baits - just enough to cover the hooks and get a good cast.

Newt Vail

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