Maggot Myth Busting

Now that winter is here a lot of carp anglers turn their attention to maggot fishing, and why not, after all they have a brilliant track record for catching carp.

dl-maggotsOne things does worry me, however, and I don’t think I am alone in saying this, in fact I know I am not.

Somewhere along the line a few people have caught over huge amounts of maggots and, somehow, this had led to the belief that more is better. Quite literally, the more you can afford to shovel into the lake then the more carp you will catch but this is not only false, it is also very dangerous.

Winter carp will only eat a small amount of food, no matter what type is may be and yes, they may find maggots attractive but they are still very unlikely to gorge themselves on them as they just do not need that much sustenance at this time of year.

What happens to the left-over bait, the uneaten maggots that are out there on the bottom of lake?

This is the part that worries me, particularly because most people’s answers to this question will be the same.

Are you also thinking that most of them will either crawl away or the silver fish will eat them?

If so, then you are in the majority but, I am afraid to tell you, probably very wrong indeed.

Unless you have a huge head of silver fish in the lake (in which case maggot fishing is not viable anyway) and you have fairly shallow lake, then the silvers will not be eating much at all.

They are usually shoaled up in and around the weed in shallower and more sheltered area and not down in the deeps on the large open areas you are probably targeting.

As for crawling away, well they just don’t go anywhere, that is a total myth as they are too busy drowning to worry about re-location and, even if they did then that doesn’t alleviate the problem of them still being in the lake.

The uneaten maggots will eventually die and rot on the bottom and huge quantities of rotting bait cannot be a good thing for the oxygen levels or the toxicology of the lake.

I know of plenty of lakes that have now banned maggot fishing for just these reasons and others that limit their use to prevent the problems arising.

Obviously, this problem is not unique to maggots and bait of all sorts can be over applied and end up rotting on the lake bed. A lot of the better-quality boilies will actually float after a short while and often, on pressured lakes, the gulls can be seen to pick them off in the windward edge.

Not all baits will, however, and let’s face it, who wants to be fishing on top of a pile of somebody else’s old bait, no matter what it may be.

The solution, take a look before you start and after you finish, gauge if you need to top up your spots or if it worth pre-baiting before you leave and see what is already out there before you start.

On a recent trip to a Northants syndicate water I spent forty-eight hours fishing a swim that I knew held carp, as I had seen them rolling at first light. I carefully spodded out a gallon of maggots over two rods and sat back to await events.

After two nights with no action whatsoever I decided to break out the FishSpy camera float and see exactly what was going on, I had another gallon of bait in the truck and I was considering baiting up before I left in readiness fir the following week but the lack of action made me hesitant.

I simply wrapped up the spod rod with the FishSpy on to the exact distance that I had been fishing and launched it out onto the spots.

What I saw amazed me, every single maggot, as far as I could tell, was still laying there perfectly presented on the bottom and the fish obviously hadn’t fed at all, despite being in the area.

Maggots everywhere on the bottom.

Maggots everywhere on the bottom – as revealed by the FishSpy camera.

This made me realise that maggots are not the wonder bait we think they are and the fish still have to be hungry to feed, in fact I wished I’d just fished with single boilie hook-baits to be honest.

The one thing I didn’t do was pre-bait before I left and I wonder just what did happen to that first gallon, did they ever get eaten?

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Dave Lane

About Dave Lane

Dave Lane tackled his first carp in the mid-sixties, and by 2004 had bagged five different UK fifties culminating with the famed Black Mirror. Since then, Dave has added a further three fifties to his tally. As a product developer, Dave has travelled the world to source the best tackle angling has to offer. As a writer, he’s contributed three books to the angling canon. His most recent title, Tight Lines, is available to order now.