I know not everyone subscribes to the HNV view (High Nutritional Value), a term originally coined by Fred Wilton which has become synonymous with specimen carp anglers; or biological/balanced BNV baits or even the new protein modern American standards PDCAAS*. But to my way of thinking, the bait doesn’t necessarily have to be the very best quality, complete or solely intended for carp. Anything on the whole that’s nutritious for any species will do like a chick pea or bean, worm or berry.
VARIETY is the spice of life
It happens to the best of us, no matter how experienced you are as an angler or what type of bait you use you will experience times of disappointment and blanks – it goes with the territory! Luckily for me I’m what you might call a pleasure angler (all-rounder), so I’m perfectly happy fishing different venues for whatever resides in there; carp, tench, rudd, roach, dace, crucians, chub and barbel. But don’t get me wrong; I may not be a specimen hunter but I still take my angling seriously and will specifically target certain fish in the hope of landing a big one but instead of sticking to just one bait, I will use a variety of suitable baits in order to attract them. Providing you get the presentation right then all the fish care about is the bait.
By using a selection of bait foods (real food ingredients) over the course of a session that are suitable for your intended quarry; either on the hook, a groundbait, method mix, boilie or paste, you will usually find one to get them feeding confidently. Because no food item is nutritionally complete, even the naturals have limitations (hence the reasoning behind HNV being formulated to be all encompassing) it’s probably why a change bait may work? and here’s the thing… you don’t really have to have a degree in fish nutrition or food sciences to understand that by feeding poor quality and synthetic and adulterated baits (example: boiled to death, rock hard, artificially flavoured boilies) you’re probably missing a trick – dismissing the very thing that’s common to all fish: their natural ability to detect and actively seek out (and be stimulated by) certain micro-nutrients like amino acids.
Those fish are clever…
Are fish intelligent enough to differentiate what is nutritious? Probably not, because although fish have preferences they can be caught on practically anything up to a point, but what they lack in intelligence they more than make up for in instinct and senses. All fish have the innate ability to do so and learn because they are all to some degree stimulated by/geared towards seeking out real nutrients… they will feed confidently and consistently on particles and spod mixes for example, like robots and yet sometimes ignore an artificially flavoured, sweet smelling 50:50 boilie sat amongst it all.
I don’t wish to labour that point about flavours or convert anyone as we all think differently, so I’m just suggesting that for anyone thinking that HNV is overly complicated or expensive or that nutrition plays no part in angling please think again… try a variety of different real-food baits and particles on the hook or a good home-made shelf-life boilie rehydrated in real fruit juice or a Glycerite SAC juice (alcohol-free natural extracts) that offers the fish the nutrients they crave, because sadly, they’re now so well packed and stuffed into puddles they can only rely on what you feed them to survive.
Do fish have preferences?
Every single creature on the planet craves a variety of different nutrients; it ensures their very survival, it’s instinct rather than intelligence as we know or perceive it. Carp for example are known to occasionally ignore food in preference to salt and minerals they find in the mud; they also have receptors on the head and snout which tells them what it is.
Other examples in the animal kingdom suggests that bears selectively eat the brains of salmon in a run, elk and deer seeking out a salt lick… what does salt smell like? Or a snail or worm? first-limiting amino acids incorporated into pig feed stimulates growth and appetite (not that I know of any pig that needs encouragement to eat). My point is though, that it doesn’t always take intelligence to eat a variety of the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ foodstuff. Some humans suffer obesity by eating all the pies and I know my own fish have preferences because they can become preoccupied on garden peas for example – to the absolute exclusion of anything else edible in the tank for a while.
Fish and animals will seek out a variety of foods to supplement their diet, if they only ate just one thing they wouldn’t grow healthy or reach maturity. Singular and lower value foods are obviously nutritionally poor and generally less palatable but that’s not to say they wont gorge on a bumper crop or something tasty occasionally that’s detrimental to their health in times of plenty. When they have had their fill they will simply move on to something else – hopefully it’s nothing the guy in the next peg has to attract them.
Given a choice, do fish have preferences? A variety of properly prepared particles, naturals and all unadulterated real-food baits and groundbaits (including wholesome, decent, soluble, home-made boilies) will land you fish always, everywhere and repeatedly on lake or river without much encouragement or campaign – cheap too!
So yes, it would seem that fish have preferences after all just like the rest of us, its how we are able to use a bait to specifically target certain species and why sometimes a similar change bait might make all the difference.