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Annual posting of the "White Paper" FISH BAIT

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CARP Bait,


I think there are enough new members, and I am always up for comments - any questions. This was in response to a question, I believe in 1992 – “what is a good carp bait”. Little has changed and I have left the “white paper” unchanged.


My “White Paper” on baits, some science, some opinion, some experience, and some malarkey. I shall not differentiate for I consider myself an expert and authority on carp.


Still, can it be that big a deal? Fish food!


I will try to start at the beginning. Ultimately with carp bait you have three choices. The first choice is never invoked as it is not even a little understood. That is the fight or flight response used to entice game fish to a lure. The two remaining choices are carbohydrates (sweet usually and at the end of the day alcohols) or protein (as amino acids). The major player is protein. Protein is a collective word to describe the structural components of life which are the amino acids. Carp, as omnivores eat a wide range of food, both plant and animal. I will have to say, without scientific evidence, there seems to be a correlation between water temperature and food preference for carp. The warmer the water is the sweeter the bait, the colder the water is the more organic acids are preferred. Of course, there are thousands of other factors that keep bait choice from being this simple. Still I believe it is a good rule of thumb to use at the beginning of the day. Natural vs. concocted is not relevant i.e. A mulberry in summer or a crayfish in winter vs a sweet doughball vs a milk doughball.


Here is the most controversial statement I will make. “Carp eat between nothing and very little when the water temperature is below 50 degrees F. and what they do eat they digest probably less than 5%”. I’ll stick by this statement until proven wrong!! In the presents of vast amounts of food carp will eat and force digest quickly then deposit waste in a known storage area for later re-consumption and further digestion. This happens in either warm or cold environments. I call this the sausage making effect of abundance.


Chemical senses (roughly defined as smell/taste) in carp represent their most powerful tool in exploiting food sources. No sense having a banquet if no one is around to enjoy it. Later in this post you will find comments on the 4 senses.

Several years ago I investigated the stimulatory effectiveness of amino acids on the external receptors of the carp (Cyprinus carpio). Amino acids are highly effective stimuli for the carp smell and taste system. Without going into great detail L-proline, glycine and Alanine in that order were the most effective amino acids, tested An excellent source of all three include fish, eggs, and dairy products. Any feeding frenzy by carp almost always, well, IMO, always have one or more of these amino acids abundantly present that covered the feeding frenzy or holding in an area part you ask about.


Equally complicated is the attractant and the actual offering or pick-up. As you have read in some of my previous stuff the attractant(s) is often or even rarely healthy to the carp. It is usually neutral and has little energy or health benefit.


When it came to the taste system it was found that L-serine was, by far the most potent stimulant. Serine is found in leaches, crayfish, all mollosks, shelled creatures like underwater bugs and microcrustisians. Chitin is an important substrait for a healthy liver in this system. Serine is, in many cases broken down partly into glycine. BTW anything beginning “gly” is pretty good carp bait. I cannot remember if you can get “healthfood” serine but I’m sure it is in some of the body building junk.

A Phone theory, “Protein requirements for healthy carp and the stimuli for finding and trying baits are not related. The trigger mechanism for finding food may not necessarily have a healthy affect on the creature.”


The most pronounced and consistent USEFUL attractant for carp response is “chitin”. This is not really an attractant but a non-energy food. Chitin is a nitrogen containing polysaccharide. You would recognize chitin as the stuff that makes up the shell of bugs and shellfish. It should be enough to say chitin is in the carbohydrate group including such important compounds as glucose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, starch, glycogen, chitin and cellulose. Chitin is the second most abundant bimolecular structure on earth. Chitin is a compulsory essential part of carp diets. In addition to healthy liver function it stimulates the immune system, and supports the structural parts of the carp body. Carp are often fooled by glucose or many of the other polysaccharides since they are closely related to chitin. Chitin is broken down in the carps system by specialized acids. The nutritional value of chitin is nil


I will add here my favorite cheap and abundant source of chitin is brewers yeast. Brewers yeast, in addition to having chitin, has a lot of protein and contains the vitamin B group niacin and phosphorus to promote digestion. First ingredient in a carp bait should be – brewers yeast.


Favorite attractant, the Nightshade family and in particular capsaicin a derivative of capsicum which contain major long distance flavors (I use the words flavors and attractants interchangeably). Plants like, cayenne red pepper (most consistent performer), tobacco, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes are all nightshades. Nightshades like cayenne pepper are not a taste thing for carp but rather long range attractants/flavors. They are an amino acid receptor switch for carp. For example the capsicum or hot stuff in red pepper is a vanilloid which reacts with the amino acid betaine. Humans have a rich source of betaine – puke or hydrochloric acid as stomach acid. Carp don’t have a stomach and need some outside sources. The misunderstood word is “flavor” as in a “vanilla flavored” or “hot sauce flavored bait”. Carp do not taste these bait enhancers; they are positive receptors that attract specimen to an area and turn on the feeding response for protein requirements. Additional attractants of note are kola nut, licorice root, marshmallow root, and peppermint. These additional attractants do not have the range (distance of value) of the nightshades. On small water, range could sometimes be a negative. Personally I cannot address small water successfulness from experience. So the second ingredient in my favorite bait is capsicum – hot pepper (powder or liquid) as capsicum may not be as effective in confined spaces without some current or thermocline.


Do not confuse an “attractant” with “aromatic scent covers”. Molecules with aromatic ring structures are not attractants but what I call, “offensive scent covers”. Since carp, and all teleosts are endowed with natures best chemical detecting systems within their environment scent covers are often confused with attractants. Don’t mistake attractants with scents or odors. Some scent or odor covers, neutral as attractants are, the drugs caffeine and salicylic acid, odors of camphor, cinnamic acid (cinnamon), eugenol (nutmeg and cloves), safrole, anethole (anise), tannin (tea), gallic acid, and vanillin; also the vitamins ascorbic acid and niacin loosely called phenolic compounds are effective covers. Aromatic ring structures blast and often confuse carp smellers (lateral line) and it is best NOT to use them if possible. While I’m here talking about carp smellers the lily family, especially garlic has no beneficial effect on carp (just cats). Allicin the principle aromatic of garlic has an odor only when crushed and that trauma is IN AIR and excites an enzyme that changes the precursor alliin to allicin. In the absence of air garlic has NO ODOR (for humans, can’t be positive about carp). To think of all the years I used garlic faithfully. Third ingredient is the absence of - - - no aromatic scents or covers unless ABSOLUTLTY necessary.


Food values are essential from a responsibility standpoint. Even thought brewers yeast has some protein it is not enough or in the right form to necessarily benefit feeding carp. We need to add a protein for this. I like fish protein powder as opposed to fish meal but cost is sometime prohibitive for some to use. Fish protein powder at 70% protein is $8.00 a pound while fishmeal 55% protein is less than $4.00. Fish protein in dry cat food is even cheaper but not a responsible food for carp because of the trace elements added for cats. Fish protein is by far the best in that it contains all of the amino acids in balance with the requirements of healthy carp. Rarely in US in natural environments will we achieve a situation where fish dependence on our offerings will matter or affect the genetic variables in the species. Never the less I think it is responsible to use healthy bait.


Now the carrier or bulk of the bait. I do not like soybeans. I am completely out of step with the rest of the world here but in the US too many biological bad things can happen to soy meal and derivatives after the bait is completed but before it is used. I prefer corn in many forms. Untainted soybean meal is a very healthy bulk carrier however. I especially like corn gluten meal. Among the bulk products are the binders. If you will use corn something as the carrier or bulk I recommend corn syrup as the binder – the next two ingredients are corn gluten and corn syrup.


I am often questioned, is one amino better than another? Can amino acids be used to differentiate acceptance by a given fish stock or size within a stock. Nope, just some are cheaper. For example betaine is hydrochloric acid like.

Useable betaine could be easily derived from the nearly pure protein, human hair and hydrochloric acid. Add hair (100% protein) to acid until the acid is essentially neutralized. I’ve never used this combination; I’m just making an illustration. OK sources for Betaine are the weed devil’s horsewhip, chaff flower, beet molasses (beet molasses is about the 4th pressing of sugar beets); betaine is highly concentrated in capsicum, kola nut, and licorice root. Approved food sources for betaine are marshmallow root, peppermint, wheat grass, wolfberry fruit, wood betony, and yarrow. The only eatable non-plant source of consequence is brewers yeast. Do you notice any repetitiveness here that intertwine requirements? And, while I haven’t checked precisely, I’d guess this is the source of “new” success with cranberry and other acidic flavors. So the next ingredient is a small amount of betaine if I’m not already using something that already contains betaine.


A side bar, I use as the “best” secret ingredient. Don’t tell anyone. Antacids like Tums and Rolaids (peppermint for fun) really turn on the little electric receptors in the fourth sensory system in carp. (Quiz – what are the first three sensory systems?) Carp have an electro receptive lateral line system which is capable of detecting electrolysis in chemicals from long long LONG distances (as much as a mile). If you believe, as I do that motion is helpful add a bit of Alka-Seltzer to short term baits.


UNRELATED TO THE "WHITE PAPER" but found it attached to the same file and thought I'd throw it in the thread - for fun!


A carp’s sense of “taste”


I have not seen much on the four (maybe 5) sense of taste thrown around recently in bait talk.


Since I am an expert, I though I would give everyone a heads up.

Sweet, sour, bitter and salty - that's it - unless you like cheap chinese food. MSG is for some reason in a class of its own. I have never made a bait with MSG, MSG maybe the secret ingredient everyone searches for.


A child in good health can taste about 10,000 "flavors". Flavors are a combination of smell and taste.


How does this relate to fish, especially carp. I believe carp taste like their noses were held closed (in human terms). We must consider the chemicals that make foods a given ''flavor" that the carp recognize. The most common way toward bait progress is experience. Experience does not always answer the "why" question. If we know why then we can begin to eleminate other variables.


Personally, from experience, I am pretty sure carp don't like the taste/smell of bitter. IMO you'll never catch a carp on banana peel - very bitter, the peel is very bitter; but a banana - look out, bananas are one of my favorites. What are the favorite baits you use based on the chemical formulation?


(Note: we've had the "bitter" discussion many times - still it is fun.)


Hope the new guys enjoy. Many of you have read this post before.



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thats a long paper considering they are just fish :D



Let us see rather that like Janus—or better, like Yama, the Brahmin god of death—religion has two faces, one very friendly, one very gloomy...” Arthur Schopenhaur

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This is revived for Martin and his "robin red"



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I'l have 5 pints+ of what you're on!! (I get down but I get up again)


Match weights speak for themselves.


Our best club angler achieved 960 Lb+ over 15 Matches,


He (as far as I'm aware) doesn't use ROBIN RED yet - but he's learning!!

Edited by Martin56

Fishin' - "Best Fun Ya' can 'ave wi' Ya' Clothes On"!!

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"Match weights speak for themselves."



They do indeed, but what they say to me in the case you refer to, is "avoid this water"



Match weights measured in hundredweights tell a story of overcrowded mud puddles crammed with hungry fish. Granted, some will always catch more than others, but this is a skill of the factory production line rather than any piscatorial ability. Matches where almost everyone catches into three figures don't seem to me to prove very much.


It is a long way from the days of the stick float and a match won with 3 lb odd of roach on a difficult water, with 60% of the participants water-licked.. Whether that is "progress" is a matter of opinion, but I ceased match fishing sixty years ago (or one could say I grew out of it - but that sounds patronising, and I did learn a lot from matchfishers during my teens)


Unfortunately the illusion of skill associated with large catch weights spills over into club waters, and waters with good roach, tench and crucian fishing are becoming stocked with oversized gut-buckets (that's the carp, not necessarily those who fish for them) at the demand of members. OK, its a democracy, and if most want carp I will have to put up with them, but I need a bait that tench, roach, etc will take, but which is not palatable to carp.


My preference is for the challenge of small streams, but increasing age and decreasing mobility means I have to turn to still waters for my fishing - I really do appreciate a challenge, but waters that yield pastie after pastie after pastie do not provide it. .

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RNLI Governor


World species 471 : UK species 105 : English species 95 .

Certhia's world species - 215

Eclectic "husband and wife combined" world species 501


"Nothing matters very much, few things matter at all" - Plato

...only things like fresh bait and cold beer...

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