Paul Cooper discusses issues around the safety of plastic artificial baits…
I first came across Plastic baits when I was fishing on the Mangrove with Shaun Harrison. Shaun was knocking the stuffing out of the carp, catching on every trip that he made on a fairly challenging lake. During mid-season he let me into his secret! Artificial plastic corn!
On the Mangrove it was in the rules that you could cast out a marker rod and use a rowing boat to take out your loose bait to create your feeding table. Every rod was to be cast, so this method saved a lot of time for baiting up especially with particle bait.
Included in his food presentation would be maize or sweetcorn, mixed with hemp and other goodies as well as rehydrated boilies.
It was a master piece, and I could not thank him enough for that little tip. From then on I was tipping my hair rigged boilie with either 1 or 2 pieces of plastic corn. My catch rate improved immediately, and it was a tip that was kept quiet for a couple of seasons.
There is no doubt that plastic corn or plastic boilies are a brilliant carp catcher, and the word soon got out. Unfortunately every carp water in both England and France have seen this set up since, so you no longer have the edge.
These days, plastic corn is in every carp anglers box, but how safe is it?
With a boilie, be it shelf life or frozen, no matter how edible it is to the carp, it will break down or float to the surface eventually and get eaten by something, whether it be by carp, other fish species, crayfish, invertebrates, or bird life.
Lets take plastic. If a problem has occurred and there has been a main line breakage, and for some reason a rig is sitting out in the lake, connected to a lead set up or not, and it has an hair rigged piece of plastic bait attached, we now have a bait that is fishing 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, until that piece of plastic breaks down. How long that would take is anybodies guess.
A fish could take the bait, get hooked and be swimming around with the rig etc and no angler to retrieve it and release it from the trap that we have set. If by chance the fish manages to eject or remove the hook, which would still have the hair rigged plastic or artificial corn bait attached, the bait then starts fishing again. How long this cycle goes on I would not like to guess, but it will continue until the hook eventually rusts away.
I rarely use plastic corn these days but will use un-flavoured plastic boilies when faced with crayfish or Poison Chat. Flavouring the plastic defeats the object as they draw the attention of these nuisance species, so flavouring is out of the question. I know the risks associated with the use of plastic, but on some occasions it becomes a necessity. Now, I will only use a plastic bait if it is accompanied by a barbless hook pattern, so as to eliminate the chances of fish being tethered in the event of me being unlucky enough to lose a rig,