Max Hendry takes a look how to apply bait in the winter both for more bites on big fish venues and when you want to catch on prolific lakes.
I have worked at Nash for a number of years now and one of the products that really stood out to me was the Citruz range. Its unique in both its colours and its makeup as a bait. The sweet liquid combination along with the powdered attractors make it ideal for the angler wanting to get a quick bite whether this be over bait or as a single hookbait approach. In the last year or so my work in the product development stage all the way through to the end product has given me as hugely fulfilling job but also an insight on what really goes into the bait making process. It’s fascinating working on new products but also tweaking existing ones to be more effective.
The Citruz was designed originally by Keith Sykes and Gary Bayes, whose remit was to produce a high leakage bait that could complement any boilie and be the ultimate winter hookbait. The attractor blend is diverse and prevents the baits from falling out of favour. Added to this the strong smell prevents the ingress of foreign smells into the baits like silt and dying weed. This is important in a hook bait that you want to be able to chuck anywhere at a showing fish without worry that the bait isn’t working for you. My first outing with the Citruz was for an open day at Cardiff anglings Cefn Mably lakes. It was freezing that day and it seemed to make little difference to the fish. Myself and Alan were demonstrating cold water methods, all Citruz based. Fishing small hook baits and bags of the fizzing stick mix lead to eight bites in a day when the lake was fishing poorly. We even managed a PB or two for the anglers that attended the day, and it gave me great confidence in the bait from the off.
The success of the Citruz pop-ups heralded significant development in the range and we now have complementary products to go with it. The first of this was the pink boilies. Two different pink tones in a bag packed with attractors. This bait was quickly a firm favourite with Alan Blair who caught carp all over Europe fishing his quick hit short session style. Its’ a bait that doesn’t need overloading and often fished better in small quantities aiding in the quick bite nature of the bait.
The hookbait also became a mainstay for my fishing in the spring. Many anglers make the mistake of applying too much bait too early when the fish start to be more active. I have found that they are often just getting on the move and not staying in particular areas for long periods of time. This lends itself to the single hookbait approach. Casting hookbaits to areas that the fish frequent is an active form of fishing but you need a bait and rig that can be cast with accuracy to most areas of the lake without tangles knowing it will present that pop-up accordingly. As a result I like to use the Gyro rig presentation fitted with the bait screw allowing me to keep my popups fresh by changing them regularly and casting to showing fish. It’s a tactic I have had success on in previous seasons where I need to nick a bite.
The single hookbait approach is particularly good on day only sessions. This has meant that I am able to get out when I have free time and make the most of my time on the bank. Pre tying my rigs at home means I am ready when I get to the lake. Chigborough in Maldon is somewhere that lends itself perfectly to this type of fishing. I like to turn up and follow the suns rays across the south facing bank for the day dropping singles into likely looking areas along the treeline to try locate any resident carp in the snags. This method was pretty effective and I bagged a three nice fish in just a couple of hours fishing. However it is about applying the right method on the day. I normally opt for single hookbaits initially, but sometimes when the lakes have a higher stock of fish its better to get them interested in some bait. A winter session with Oli Davies springs to mind. We were out shooting a mag feature on Churchgate lakes. It’s got a decent stock so I was keen to make the most of some competitive feeding and applied some of the Citruz flake to the swim. Rather than spod I boiled up the kettle and added an early sample of the spod Syrup to the mix and soaked it the night before fishing. This allowed me to make ground bait balls that I could catapult to the island margin. I applied the bait little and often over my 12mm Citruz wafter and landed 6 carp in the day session including a real bonus mid twenty common. Certainly a well above average size from the small high stock venue. The moment I introduced bait I would get liners and a bite would be quick. The full range of Citruz products allows you to be more versatile and gives you lots of methods to try and make a bite happen. The range grew further to become the one stop bait for the angler wanting to make the most of short feeding spells in the winter with maximum attraction and minimum feed quantity.
The Cultured hook baits in both the pop-up and bottom bait versions provided unrivalled leakage for anglers wanting something different to a standard pop-up. I found this to be particularly effective for the bigger fish. The attraction and leakage is maintained over a long period of time. My first session with the cultured hook baits I fished a lake in Northampton. I managed to find the fish in the dark with a strong headtorch and get the rods in position without spooking the fish. Within a few hours I landed a 29lb mirror. I had fished the cultured bottom baits over a firm gravel lakebed on a slip D rig I was able to land one from a venue that was to be quite a tricky water. It was well worth the overnighter in what was freezing conditions. I backed that up a couple of days later returning and landing a January thirty. It seemed that no matter how cold the weather is you still have a chance on the Citruz and that’s confidence in itself. It shouldn’t be confused as a small fish method either. I have witnessed consultant catching fish over 40lb from some hard venues on the Citruz, it should never be overlooked.
I have also fished longer sessions abroad where I want a bait that is able to work over a long period of time. When we filmed the social 2, I had a week at my disposal. I must admit this is something that I have seldom done in my fishing so I had to have a different game plan when it came to the way that I applied my bait. Citruz pop-ups were an attack on two rods. I was fishing over a bed of mixed Scopex Squid and crushed tigernuts. The Citruz pop-ups were fished over the top to provide me with a quick bite over the bait. I quickly found that the fish didn’t like bait being fed over the top of them so rather than bait after each fish I decided to try and get more bites over each bait up. This mean making my hook baits more attractive than the rest of the food items in the swim. I did this by using the hook bait spray and boosting my Citruz pop-ups. This produced 11 fish in the 5 days fishing which I was happy with. The fish included some crazy orange Koi of over 29lb which I have never experienced in my fishing, certainly a highlight of the week.
The fizzing stick mix with it active powdered ingredients made the bait rise and fall in the water column pulling fish into the hook bait. The fizzing element comes from the cracking candy in the mix. This produces a noise in the water that the curious carp investigate. The rising particles also carry the sent a lot further and quicker than a standard bag mix again increasing its quick bite potential. In 2018 we saw even more development with the eye catching Citruz syrup for creating bait mixes with the attractor profile of the Citruz. In the development stage we spent a lot of time finding ingredients that both stayed low in the water column and spread throughout giving us a lot of coverage quickly. We reduced the oil content to produce a liquid that was soluble carrier for the attractors. Added to this the thickness that clings to your bait ensure that the liquids got to the lakebed was key. Countless samples and tank tests had us happy with the end product a high visual thick liquid packed with attractors that was super effective in even the most cold fishing situations.
The development of the Citruz also gave us a lot of the elements that we now use in the Citruz pellets. The pellets are spun and go through a treatment process with powdered Citruz additives and a high attract highly soluble liquid. We teamed up this combination with the low oil coarse pellet that breaks down in even the coldest temperatures making a nice carpet on the lakebed. Like the flake boilie you can scald the pellet to make balls for feeding or even soak it in spod syrup with the fizzing stick mix to make an attractive PVA stick. The extra liquids extend the timescale of breakdown helping it work over long periods. I use this a lot when I want the stick to be pumping out attraction all night.
That development continued in the boilies range too with the introduction of the Citruz White boilies. Anglers that remember the hugely effective amber strawberry will know it was in part due to its colour. White is attractive to the carp and allowed us to team up our white pop-ups with a matching bait. In the colder months when the fish’s eyesight become less efficient, the white boilies were the ideal addition to a baited area with a particular impress being made on their use on busy park lakes and canals where they see amount of bread the clarity of the water is not akin to a gin clear gravel pit.
With such an extensive range it’s hard to try and select what to use. I try to steer people to the pop-ups initially. You never go wrong with a pot of these pop-ups and they get you started. Confidence is key with all bait so catch a few and then see how the rest of the range would fit into your fishing.
In this two years I have drawn for the Citruz countless times, whether this be a small Citruz hook bait topper for my hook baits, a solid bag mix for casting at showing fish or even a cultured hookbait cast onto my baited area, the attractors get me quick bites even when the fishing is slow. This is something that all anglers should have in their armoury whether it be just a pot of pop-ups or a bag of bait it’s always good to give yourself confidence when the fishing is slower and the bites are hard earned.