Think Tank

When planning your spring campaign will you be incorporating rock salt into your fishing?

If you are, what do you personally feel is the optimum level and, if you’re not, is there any particular reason? For example, overuse by too many anglers perhaps having a detrimental effect on a lake...

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Lee Jackson

 
The carp caught in the picture was caught using small PVA mesh bag of rock salt, hooked onto the rig prior to casting, to draw attention to the hookbait

The carp caught in the picture was caught using small PVA mesh bag of rock salt, hooked onto the rig prior to casting, to draw attention to the hookbait

Undoubtedly there is some sort of attraction for carp (and other bottom-feeding species) to salt, but whether this is down to its flavour enhancing qualities, or if the carp are actually attracted to the salt itself, I’m not exactly sure. What put a spanner in the works for me was putting Himalayan rock salt blocks (licks) in my garden pond and watching my carp completely ignore them as if they weren’t even there! Okay, you could argue that my carp are captive fish and therefore behave differently, because they live in a garden pond – but why should they? If it was attractive to them, they would surely have attempted to eat it – as they do with all manner of different foodstuffs that I throw at them.

So, I don’t actually think that salt has got any attraction for carp whatsoever as a food item. What I do think however, is that it has the ability to enhance the taste/attraction of many different foodstuffs that it is added to, including most of the types of carp baits that we use, whether it be boilies, particle and seed or groundbaits, etc.

There are actually numerous types of salt, although I only incorporate the Himalayan variety into my fishing

There are actually numerous types of salt, although I only incorporate the Himalayan variety into my fishing

Brain taxing stuff, I know, but, perhaps salt has an attraction due to it ever so slightly raising the pH – therefore the alkalinity of what it is added to, which could give an attraction to the foodstuff or an attraction to the water surrounding the foodstuff, if it is neutral or slightly acidic. I also think that salt (and chilli) has the ability to penetrate the silt and weed on a lake bed, therefore this could in itself offer an attraction to the area where it’s being used. In truth, subjects like this can ‘do my brain in’ because I don’t know what I don’t know! So, in answer to whether or not I will be incorporating rock salt into my spring campaign, if I use particle or seed baits, boilies or groundbait then I will probably add some salt. Will it work and enhance my catch rate though, I don’t know, and all I can tell myself is that I don’t think it’ll do any harm. In case anyone’s interested, I’ve researched salt quite a bit, as there are actually quite a few different types. The rock salt that I use is the Himalayan rock salt, as it has a very different mineral profile and is said to have health benefits over other types of rock salt. As for overuse by too many anglers perhaps having a detrimental effect on a lake, I don’t really think that it will have too much of an effect on the carp as they will happily thrive and survive in water that is quite brackish. I do though wonder how it could affect the natural food chain on lakes, after all, you don’t get many bloodworms buried in the sea bed! I suppose it’s the same with a lot of things in this modern day age, in moderation things work, overdo it though and effect nature and then one day nature will bite back!


 
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Jason Trought

 
If you are going to use salt, may I suggest using it alongside a marine-based hydrolysate liquid as part of a bait-soak, instead of as a standalone additive

If you are going to use salt, may I suggest using it alongside a marine-based hydrolysate liquid as part of a bait-soak, instead of as a standalone additive

This is an interesting question! Do I think rock salt in fishing has its uses? Yes, of course. I have seen enough evidence over the years to support this statement in both my own fishing and that of my friends. In fact I used some, quite successfully, a few months back on a trip abroad. Some will purport that it is only effective pre-spawning, but, personally, I have found the opposite to be true and have found the carp will actively seek out mineral heavy spots during their body’s regeneration period after the rigours of spawning. This doesn’t mean that everybody should go chucking a load of rock salt in though every time you go fishing around spawning time. It is more complicated than that and could do your fishery more harm than good if we all followed suit with this tactic. Salt very effectively destroys a lot of bacteria, hence the reason it is widely used as a preservative. This, of course, isn’t good for the living organisms in your lake. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scaremongering here, as it would take a vast amount of salt to cause a problem in the average-sized lake, but that’s not really the point in my opinion. Any detrimental effect at all on our natural resources nowadays is too much for myself, and is something I think we should always look to avoid.

On that note, although the introduction of salt in small quantities works at the right times of year, or on certain heavily-stocked waters that may suffer with mineral deficiencies, to commercially promote the fact and then financially benefit from it, would then be wrong. It was suggested to us at DNA quite a few years ago that we could make a shed load of money re-bagging rock salt and selling it. I never doubted that to be true, but still stand by my decision not to and sleep much better for it. Both ethically and environmentally it was, of course, the right decision.

We have also been asked many times to produce our cured hookbaits in bulk. Again, for the reasons above we always refuse. In my opinion, one salted hookbait is more than enough to get a bite in the required situation – why introduce 5kg of them? It is probably a lesser known fact that our EVO hookbaits are actually cured in salt more for the reason of encouraging osmosis, by the salt drawing moisture in to the bait. This in turn enables the release of the boosted levels of olfactory and gustatory attractors quicker than a standard hookbait would, rather than the fact it tastes salty!

What I would say is, if you do want to use a bit of salt, please use common sense and combine it with complementary baits – i.e. a marine-based hydrolysate liquid, poured over a high-quality fishmeal with a handful of rock salt, is a much more environmentally friendly way getting the required effect when you feel a salted spot may benefit your fishing.

This large common carp from Rainbow Lake was caught as a result of incorporating salt into my baiting strategy on a recent overseas trip

This large common carp from Rainbow Lake was caught as a result of incorporating salt into my baiting strategy on a recent overseas trip


 
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Tony Gibson

 
Apparently there is rock salt, and then there is rock salt

Apparently there is rock salt, and then there is rock salt

There’s little doubt in my mind that incorporating the right type of rock salt into your carp fishing can provide a potential edge, especially at the right time of year and in the appropriate circumstances. From my basic understanding, it’s important to use the correct stuff if you’re going to be expecting to attract carp with it, as many salt products actually include other ingredients to make use of the salt more practical. Some of these ingredients may actually prove to be more of a fish deterrent, rather than an attractant – so understanding and sourcing your rock salt correctly would appear to be important if you want to get the most benefit from it.

Snails are much more likely to form part of my baiting strategy this spring, than rock salt

Snails are much more likely to form part of my baiting strategy this spring, than rock salt

However, I’ve carried out relatively little practical experimentation with this particular product in my own fishing and currently have no plans to be using rock salt this year. Having said all that, I always try to keep an open mind, and if I think there’s a perfect opportunity to start using rock salt, then I’m more than happy to give it a go. One of the main reasons I have no plans to use it this coming spring, is that I’ve already got a couple of other potential edges that I plan to use. Trying too many new products or tactics all at the same time can lead to confusion, when it becomes unclear as to what may be the cause of the results you’re getting – whether they’re good, bad, or indifferent.

Worms and salt don’t mix

Worms and salt don’t mix

I also tend to use a fair amount of natural type baits during the spring and summer months, especially snails and worms. These type of baits certainly don’t work well with the use of any high salt product, as it either tends to kill them off and ruin something live, like a worm, or turn snails (which I’m particularly confident with, especially around the time when tench or bream are spawning) into a nasty, gooey mess. So, for this spring at least, I don’t currently plan to be using any rock salt, but I may well be looking to incorporate it at some point in the future.

A stunning low-40 common that fell to one or more different ‘edges’ I shall be trialling to a further degree this coming spring

A stunning low-40 common that fell to one or more different ‘edges’ I shall be trialling to a further degree this coming spring

Mick Clifford