Bait Review June
I used to live in Seaview when growing up in the early eighties, not far from Maitland just outside Port Elizabeth, which was one of the best places to find sand mussels back then.
I would walk along the stretch of surf, pushing down hard on the sand with my feet, which would get the mussels to release the water trapped in their shells. As this happened, it would form two small holes in the sand to show exactly where
to find them. The other method would be to pull a knife through the sand until you cut into a shell with the knife blade and then you could start digging. Or you could stand in the surf and, as the water rushed back, you could feel them under your feet as the sand washed away below them.
You will normally find a patch and, once you have, it is not difficult to collect your bag limit of 50 sand mussels, all no smaller than 35mm in diameter around the widest part of the shell.
We used to get an orange ring in the tackle stores back then to check the sizes of the various shellfish, but I haven’t seen one around for years now. I found that if the mussels had a brown algae beard marking around the shell (like the ones in the pictures), they would be big enough to keep. It’s a good way to tell if you don’t have a ring to make sure of the size.
You can now buy frozen sand mussels, distributed by Quality Baits based in East London, at most tackle stores. I have been using aniseed as an additive for many years now, as it works well for most species of fish, especially bronze bream, kob and steenbras.
There are a few bait types in the sea that have a very slight aniseed scent, such as mussel worms, bloodworms and the long tentacles on a squid; this is why the fish are so attracted to it. I have also found banana essence works especially well for bronze bream. Unfortunately, the use of additives is prohibited in some competitive angling competitions, just because it works so well. I find by adding it into a Ghost Cocoon, it is absorbed into the cotton – which saves you having to add it onto your bait each time.
But in most cases, I add it to my bait as well as in the Cocoon holder before fishing. I reserve latex cotton for the leagues to avoid any suspicion of being suspected of using aniseed during a league competition. The use of additives is, however, allowed in the RASSPL Pro leagues and often makes the difference when fishing – especially for kob and bronze bream.
I use Super Cast aniseed but most types will work. Add a little into the cotton holder, let it absorb into the cotton and drain the excess back into the bottle. You can see the brown beard around these mussels showing they are size enough to keep.
Start by removing the filter tubes from the tongue of the mussel; these are what the fish feed on most of the time as it’s the part that sticks out of the sand when the mussels filter feed. It also contains the guts of the mussel where most of the smell is situated; this is what attracts the fish onto the bait.
Thread the mussel tubes onto the hook, leaving the tubes free when cottoning on the bait – this will allow the bait to look more natural in the water and encourage a quicker bite.
Once you have cottoned on the bait, pour a few drops of aniseed onto the finished bait from the cap of the bottle to add a little extra smell. You can also tie a few sand prawns on with the mussel, as this is a fantastic combination for most fish.