This is a question I have seen asked a lot, so today, we will be looking into whether mussels are a good bait for carp fishing and whether it’s a cost-effective carp bait and also if they will help you catch this big crafty carp.
So, do carp like mussels? Yes, there’s no doubt about it. Carp, love mussels and they will catch you plenty of fish. The only problem is the cost, smell and availability when compared to other baits.
Is Using Mussels Illegal In The UK?
In the UK, there are 6 native species of freshwater mussels. It is illegal to use some of these and has been for many years. You can face a fine of up to £10,000 if you are caught using these. The most common are swan mussels but we would still recommend you leave these alone as numbers are slowly on the decline.
That’s why it’s best to use ones bought from supermarkets or your local fishmongers.
How’s Best To Prepare Them?
While researching this article there was a lot of debate about the best way to prepare mussels for fishing as it seems everyone has their own opinion. I will list all the options below and then leave it up to you as to which way you want to prepare them.
“Use them fresh, mate”
This was one of the replies I saw on a forum. “This is what they are like in the lake” and maybe he’s right. A carp is never going to come across a cooked mussel and they only know of the raw type that they might come across while scouring the lake bed.
If it’s fresh mussels you are after then your fishmonger is the best bet. However, these won’t be the cheapest bait and opening and prepping the mussels will take some work.
Mussels From a Jar
I had never thought of this before writing this article but mussels from a jar or tin might be one of the best ideas. Whys that? Well, it’s just stuffed full of mussels which means you get a lot for your money. Also, a jar takes up less room in your kitchen and doesn’t take up freezer space. The jars can be left in your garage or even in your fishing bag.
Frozen mussels are another good option. These are usually cheaper and you can buy them in shells or already out of their shells. Personally, I’d always go for the option with no shells as it’s just easier and less hassle.
Just check what your frozen mussels are in, as some come in a garlic and wine sauce, while others are in a tomato sauce. Personally, I want my mussels are plain as possible when carp fishing.
What About Smoked Mussels?
I read on a forum where one guy swears by smoked mussels. He said these were great for tench on his local lake and it’s the first time I have heard of a smoked bait being used. If you give it a go, please let me know how you get on.
People said these did not work as well as normal mussels.
What’s The Best Way To Fish With Mussels?
Mussels are a big bait when you compare them to sweetcorn, pellets or even boilies. They are also quite a soft bait.
My advice would be to use them on a hair rig. That way, it keeps your hook free and might give a better presentation.
The other option is to hook them directly. I recommend a size 12 hook as the minimum size for this. Bigger bait = bigger hook size.
Its recommended to hook them through the toughest part of the mussel as it gives it the best chance of staying on well.
They Are A Great River Bait
When doing the research for this site people raved about how good they were for river bait. As a carp fisherman, you might be after river carp so that’s why I thought it was worth mentioning. Don’t be surprised to find species such as sea trout taking your mussel by mistake.
What Other Fish Will Eat Mussels?
Mussels will likely keep smaller fish away from your bait such as roach and rudd but other fish will eat them given the chance.
On the river, they are well known to catch large barbel and chub.
In lakes where large tench are present, don’t be surprised to find one of them taking your hook bait. Crucian carp also love them as well.
On rivers, they’re best fished as a moving bait, either under a large float or being trundled along the bottom, as you would do when rolling meat for barbel. In lakes, carp and tench are also partial to a margin-fished mussel, as this is often where they come across freshwater molluscs.
On my local lake, mussels are a good bait for the big perch that live in the lake. Perch of up t0 4lb have been caught on mussels.
What About Zebra Mussels?
The zebra mussel is actually an invasive species in the UK, so if you see these feel free to use them. They reproduce faster than other species and cause a lot of damage to our waterways.
Mussel Flavour Products On The Market
We took a look to see what other flavoured mussel products.
Corus produce a lovely green mussel flavoured boilie that I would recommend trying. It’s not something I have tried myself, but it looks good.
Similar Carp Baits To Mussels?
When thinking about similar baits to mussels I would say prawns or cockles are probably the closest. I have used prawns quite a bit to catch big carp and some nice sized perch.
Mussels are worth a try. Fish love to eat fish and I am a big fan of natural baits. If you have tried them, please let me know how you got.