Mussel article by John Staten
Mussel is a very under-rated bait and a lot of anglers are missing out by not using it. In many parts of the country it is the main-stay for many over the cod season. On sandy beaches or in estuaries, it is a good bait for flat fish of all kinds, but the main use seems to be for cod.
It's a very smelly bait and that is where it's attraction lies, personally I think and I know a lot of anglers agree, that the smellier the mussel the better. It can be frozen down time and time again, if you don't use all you take on a fishing trip.
If you're collecting your own mussel then have a look around rocks and rock scaurs, leg supports of piers and down the side of jetties. Grip the mussel across the back and just twist the hand around in a clockwise direction to release the mussels grip. You can normally pick enough for a few hours fishing in just a few minutes.
Try to vary your areas of collection from one trip to the next. Don't keep taking mussels from the same place all the time otherwise you'll quickly run down the stocks. Personally, I only choose the bigger mussels leaving the smaller ones to grow for future trips.
To 'skein' a mussel, get it out of it's shell, I use a cut down dinner knife I pinched out of the wife's kitchen drawer! Just cut it down to about two inches and then round the end off.
It's a great bait to use as a 'cocktail', I often fill a small squid with it and tie it off with elasticated cotton. Used alongside lugworm makes it a very effective bait for cod.
I remember about 30 years ago fishing at Gravesend and using mussel as my preferred bait because the water there is deep and very coloured, you are actually fishing in the river Thames and by my reckoning you needed a good smelly bait for any cod to find. I caught many a cod down there over a few years and on many occasion I would get chaps asking what I was using as they could see it wasn't worm and it looked red or orange in colour. I believe I converted a few of them to the use of mussel as a good cod bait.
The best way I have found of presenting mussel on a hook is by getting a 'baiting needle', thread the mussel meats onto the needle then getting 'elasticated cotton' and wrapping it round the mussel, tucking in all the loose bits. Wrap it from one end of the needle and then back again. Slide the mussel off the needle and cut it into 2 - 3 or 4 inch lengths, whichever you prefer and freeze down ready for your next trip. Job done!
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