Live bait vs Artificial Bait?
Is the Artificial Stuff a Waste of Time & Money?

Now artificial lures are one thing. I know they work.

But artificial bait? "Surely not" I said to the chap in the tackle shop. "A waste of time and money".

"You should try it", he said. "It's good stuff".

"Really?" I said, meaning - 'You've got to be joking'

"It's good stuff", he said again. "You should try it".

Swayed by this compelling argument, I bought a packet, with the intention of trying it on the unsuspecting seabass lurking off the Plymouth Sound breakwater.

Actually it was more of a re-sealable sachet, containing six sandeels in a strange gravy-like liquid.

'Berkley Gulp!' it said on the packaging, 'Sand Eel - Silver Mud'.

It was destined to stay in my tackle box for some time.

In fact it was almost a year later, and on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean that I looked at it again.

We were anchored in Prickly Bay, Grenada in the West Indies. Jigging a string of Sabiki Lures had proved unproductive, so I'd no natural bait and - much worse - was under considerable pressure from Mary to 'get something edible for the barbecue'.

It was then that I remembered the Gulp! Artificial Bait... 

Trying Artificial Bait for the First Time

With dusk almost upon us, I removed the jig and clipped on a carolina rig with one of the strange-smelling sandeels on the end of it - with more than a little scepticism. It certainly looked like the real thing, but ...

I cast it out as far as I could, which wasn't very far - there's lots of stuff to get in the way on a sailboat - and started twitching it back. After 3 or 4 fruitless casts, the light spinning rod was almost jerked from my hands. No tentative knocks first - just 'bang' and away. I didn't have to strike, it hooked itself.

'It' turned out to be a Dog Snapper (so called because of its two prominent canine-like front teeth) of around 5lbs. Yummee!

I put the rod away - interest turning instead to the barbie.

That defining event happened some years ago. I've since caught many good fish on Berkley's 'Gulp!' baits, although I have to say that it's much more effective if you apply some movement to it, rather than leaving it stationary on the seabed to fend for itself.

This seems to be particularly true with 'Gulp! Squid - my current favourite for the warm waters of the Caribbean. It's usually completely ignored if I leave it dangling beneath the boat.

I try to keep a couple of packets of artifical bait aboard our sailboat 'Alacazam', and there's several good reasons why you might want to do the same...

  • Providing you keep the sachet sealed, the artificial bait remains 'fresh' (if that's the right word), and doesn't dry out.
  • If it has been allowed to dry out, or the flavour has leached out in use, the bait can be rejuvenated by dousing it in more of Berkley's 'gravy'.
  • It doesn't need refrigeration. Particularly good news this, as it leaves more room in the fridge for beers.

So, on the old question of 'Live bait vs Artificial' - here's my answer:~

"Artificial Bait? You should try it - It's good stuff!".

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