For many anglers like me, the thought of using livebaits is not appealing, and along with the ever-increasing legislation's being imposed upon anglers by angling clubs, the opportunity of actually being allowed to use livebaits is ever decreasing. So what do you do if you feel the need to enhance that boring old deadbait sitting on the bottom of the lake? Well the answer is to liven up the dead!

For many years, I have not felt the need to fish for pike with livebaits, preferring to rely on a range of good quality deadbaits. These baits will then be spiced up in a variety of ways, and this in turn, will hopefully put more pike on the bank. After a conscious decision to stop using livebaits for pike, my results slowed up to the extent where a run was all I wanted, let alone a fish! My results though, soon picked up with the introduction of flavours etc. My introduction into the world of flavouring came through another love of mine, eel fishing.

For many years I have been very interested in eel fishing, and have followed the results of fellow eel anglers who added oils and flavourings to their baits, which gave them the edge over others on hard fished waters. The flavoured baits on many occasions outfished the un-flavoured baits, and so the die was cast. I began to think like my fellow eel angling friends and began to copy their tactics. I began to inject pilchard oil into deadbaits for pike, and almost immediately my results picked up so much, that even to this day I do not feel confident enough to cast a deadbait out for pike, unless it has been given the flavour treatment.

So where do you begin? The quality of deadbaits is important. pike will refuse to eat that puss-filled fish that has been sitting on the fishmongers slab for days, even if it does smell of sweet strawberry, so make sure you find a good supply of quality baits, and look after them! Individually wrap all baits in clingfilm if they are not already individually frozen. This makes them easier to handle when fishing and when sorting them out in your freezer. You will not have to individually wrap baits such as Sardines or Red Mullet, as these baits tend to be sold at the fishmongers already blast frozen and pre-separated in sealed freezer bags. Always take your baits to the water in a insulated cool bag which will help keep the baits in tip-top condition during your stay by the waterside. On arriving home, always put the unused baits back in the freezer as soon as you walk through the door, helping them stay fresh. You should now be confident enough that you have a good supply of fresh quality baits and know how to keep them that way. Now you need to become associated with the wonderful world of pike bait flavourings!!

Over the last few years I have used the following additives to help put a few more pike on the bank, these include oils, health food oil capsules, carp and pike flavourings, food additives, milk, and Alka Seltza.

Oils.

This is the traditional pike bait additive and includes pilchard oil, cod liver oil, fish feed oil and ming oil. Over the years I have found that pike have no preference for any particular oil during the summer months, though once the water temperature becomes colder during the Autumn and Winter months, they seem to prefer the lighter oils, such as ming oil. This oil does not thicken in cold water, unlike the others, and will disperse quickly and evenly through the water. I have tried adding an emulsifier to the thicker oils, such as the cod liver oil, but still find the oil congeals in globules on the bottom of the lake instead of dispersing through the water. This is no good for the fishing as the oil needs to disperse evenly in the water to attract pike to your swim. In contrast, the results I have had from the lighter Ming oil during the winter months have been staggering, considering the oil is actually made from a blend of fish and vegetable oils. I have also found that by mixing the oil with fresh milk on a 50/50 basis, the oily milky mixture, on escape from the bait, produces a oily cloudy effect. I have found this to attract more than a passing interest from pike, and results have been almost instant!

All oils are injected into a thawing deadbait using a plastic pipette. These are sold in medical supply shops, though several fishing shops do sell them at a vastly over-inflated price (3 for £1). The pipettes hold around 4ml of liquid which is an ideal amount to put in the bait regardless of the size. The benefit of using a pipette over a syringe and needle is that the pipette does not have a needle which can become clogged with oil, but a blunt end through which the oils can easily flow. The oil can either be injected into the bait through the mouth into the stomach, or through the anal opening (not nice I know!). All oils can be purchased at your local tackle shop, though the Ming oil is exclusively sold through The Tackle Box in Kent, and can be purchased by mail order. Another form in which oils can be used during deadbaiting is through the use of cod liver oil capsules which are commonly sold in health food shops for the health-conscious amongst us. These capsules are a clean way of enhancing your deadbait, though the oil has no emulsifier in, and will only be effective during the warmer months. These capsules can be stuck on one of the hooks making up the treble on the wire trace.

The good thing about these capsules is that they give a slow release of oil as the shell melts in the water, and if a pike takes the bait before the capsule has melted, you can actually strike through the capsule with ease. The other benefit is that you will not get any messy oil on your hands, or have the bottle leak on your bag.

Next up - flavours, colours and additives.