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So you want to catch a carp over the Christmas period?

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My typical must have winter ingredients

With the festive holiday looming and many of us with a few days away from work commitments the thought of escaping to the great outdoors with the carp rods to unwind after possibly over indulging on the food and drink is somehow rather appealing.

I will certainly be grabbing myself a few sessions over the Christmas break and know exactly what I will be using to tempt a few fish. I don’t even have to think about winter bait these days as the baits I have developed over 30 plus years of catching winter carp seem to have now got to the stage that I feel I don’t need to move things on any further.  I have 100% confidence that my baits and small stick mixes will catch me carp anywhere.

To be honest I may be a little spoilt for choice with the effective winter baits I have at my disposal but I will share exactly what I am using myself and give the recipe if you wish to copy. I no longer worry about bait, I don’t need to, I know what turns the fish on in winter and believe me the location and the bait becomes so much more important during the cold months than the rig. In fact once the temperatures have plummeted you will get away with rigs that possibly wouldn’t be so effective in the warmer weather when the carps senses and metabolism are both so much sharper.

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The decoy full bait in a stick


I don’t like a lot of bait out there in the winter but I like a bit more than a single hook bait. If I am visiting a water I am a little out of touch with I will simply rely on small stick mixes whilst I ‘feel my way’ into it. If I know a venue well I will trickle a little bit of bait in but emphasise on the ‘trickle’.  If in catapult range as much as I can grab out of the bag with one hand will do for starters. Or, if fishing further a couple of Mini Spombs will start me off.

‘If in doubt, leave it out’ is always my motto when it comes to bait. I have read so many times about using bright over flavoured and heavily glugged hook baits in the winter but in all honesty I get so many more takes using small stick mixes without the boosted flavour levels. Certainly my fish in my pool at home move out of the way of heavily flavoured baits if they aren’t in a feeding mood but tolerate a stick mix. It was this that stopped me going down the heavily boosted hook bait route many years ago and to be honest I have never looked back.

So, here is the stick mix that has been so very consistent for me over the years. Very simple to put together but what you are offering is a rather complex feed stimulating parcel that has lots going on.

In my mind a stick mix should give both a visual presence to a discreet hook bait as well as giving a prolonged amount of stimulatory attraction. This can only be created by incorporating different ingredients.

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My stick mix essentials

My current stick mix consists of…
Magnum White Maximum Action Pellets
Crushed Magnum Duo boilies
Broken Magnum Duo boilies
Magnum White Micro Feed
Naked Hemp (De-Hulled Hemp available from health shops)

Apart from the Naked Hemp which was a new addition to my stick mixes before last winter, this blend has been exactly the same for several years although it has been Fruity Trifle a lot of the time as well as Rahja Spice but with the same boilie, pellet, Micro Feed blend in their respective flavours.

The only time I ever alter it is I sometimes give the stick a quick dunk in a matching Glug before casting, although I cast them dry far more often than I cast a glugged one, but it can help to ring the changes. Sometimes that heavy liquid creeping along the lake bed can trigger a reaction (the Quest Glugs mostly spread along the bottom rather than drifting off to the surface.

I have added a sprinkling of maggots at times too, but can’t honestly say I have received any more action although I do like the idea of a couple of grubs adding slight movement near the hook bait.

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Ready to explode the attraction

So, there you have it but before I sign off I will quickly run through what each ingredient is doing in my blend and why each one is there.

Maximum Action Pellets Rapid break down, good dust covering on the lake bed so a fast release of flavour and maximum spread and visual for the carp.
Crushed Boilie Similar to the above but with a slightly slower release of attraction, this will carry on after the pellet has done its initial job
Broken Boilie Larger bits of boilie leaks quicker than a standard full boilie and will again take over from the previous two ingredients when they have leached as much as they can.
Micro Feed This is a superb stick mix ingredient being slightly spongy it helps to get the bag tight which helps with the mini explosion when the bag melts which gives a larger visual appeal with a greater spread. The Micro Feed still retains its spawn like appearance, even after a couple of days in the water should you get the location wrong to start with. It also has a slow release of flavour so is perfect used 50/50 with the Maximum Action Pellet if you want to try a more simplistic stick mix.
Naked Hemp I am finding I am using this for everything I am fishing for these days. It is the tasty bit of hemp seed from inside the shell. It will give a attractive leak off in its own right but just as importantly it is again spongy which helps to get those sticks nice and tight and the visual aspect is again very appealing and very different to what the carp generally come across.

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Doesn't that full boilie look like the obvious one for the carp to avoid?

Finally for the secret tip I wasn’t going to give

Add one full and intact boilie to your stick mix but make sure your hook bait is a heavily trimmed down boilie, just a standard bottom bait, don’t pop it up. You are giving a decent flavour spread and visual to draw the fish in. The obvious trick hook bait (the full boilie in the stick mix) can be avoided whilst the ‘safe bits’ are hovered up.

I’ll say no more.

Hope the next one is a big one.

Best fishes
Shaun Harrison


About the Author: Shaun Harrison

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Quest Baits boss Shaun Harrison has put over 40 years of experience into developing his range of carp baits ” This bait range is the culmination of the bait knowledge I’ve gained throughout my carp fishing career, a journey which started in the 1970’s. It has truly been a long and winding road – frustrating at times, fascinating and rewarding at others….. Our range you’ll only find proven baits, the ones I use myself 

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