It was late 2012 and with a business trip to the Benelux region already planned, the kind lunch invitation extended to me by friend, CCM consultant and highly respected angler of many years’ experience, Luc De Baets was very welcome and gladly received. Not only would this be an opportunity for a long overdue catch up between the two of us, but would also give me a chance to discuss ideas for future products with a very knowledgeable, immensely talented angler with a proven track record for developing carp and coarse fish baits stretching back to the 1980’s.
Such is his passion for angling and interest in bait development, when we met at Luc’s typically immaculate house it was of course never going to result in just a social event with a culinary theme, but actually the relevance of the food soon became greater than I had ever imagined likely.
Whilst I sat at his kitchen table chewing the fat with him over bait related theories such as nutrition, attraction, functionality and physical appearance, Luc “threw together” a delicious yet uncomplicated stir-fry which fitted perfectly in terms of satisfying the appetite I had built up during six hours of travel but more importantly had a significant impact on the topic of conversation covered.
As he prepared and we ate the dish we reflected on the component parts of the stir-fry and the roles they played in it, naturally leading us to making comparisons with baits, focussing on their different features and the merits they brought to the performance and success rates of baits we’d developed and used in the past. As had been evident in the past, we clearly shared many of the same beliefs and theories on bait and in talking about the different characteristics of baits (and food/feed), their individual importance and how they must all knit together in the quest to create the perfect carp food ‘package’, we identified the key points and cornerstones of an exciting new boilie that in time would become Pacific Tuna.
Once we had established the incorporation of such features as a high level of amino acid-rich, digestible fish proteins, a distinctive, long lasting natural aroma and taste, the inclusion of a big slug of Haith’s Robin Red and, vitally, a highly soluble overall physical profile that enabled the bait to quickly and consistently release powerful appetite-stimulating nutrients in even the coldest conditions, we agreed to liaise via email to set in stone the main ingredients of the mix before Luc would produce and fish with some test samples over the next six months.
Being a professional translator, an outstandingly successful match angler, experienced bait developer and true pioneer of the big carp scene dating back to the 80’s, Luc’s knowledge and perfectionism would be invaluable for preparing, testing and evaluating the base of the bait, enabling it to be optimised on the back of close quarter testing in controlled and challenging conditions throughout the late summer, autumn and winter of 2012/13……… The project had begun.
Finding the edge….
As an animal feed producer of more than 270 years and an established worldwide provider of high quality carp baits, CC Moore have built invaluable buying power and supply contacts that enable us to source the highest quality bait and feed ingredients, supplements and additives from literally hundreds of different suppliers around the globe in volumes that ensure competitive prices, extensive product choice and superior product consistency.
However, in these technology-racing times we find ourselves swept along in, the phenomenon of the internet has of course made instant, easily translatable communication with potential business partners, friends and customers something we now take for granted and use on a regular basis. This incomprehensibly large, world changing network not only serves to put us in direct contact with people who can enhance our personal lives but has also opened a vast window to products and services we would otherwise have virtually no opportunity of accessing. With so many great ingredients now becoming so easily accessible (if purchased in reasonable volumes), highly effective, fish-attracting raw materials such as pre-digested and low temperature fish meals, pure milk proteins, betaine, yeast, spirulina and lots more are now regularly included in many (better quality) commercial and homemade carp baits. Therefore the challenge facing anglers and bait makers alike to deliver a bait that provides that all-important, genuine edge in the finished bait is now one that sees a genuine requirement for more research, development, invention and ultimately longer supply chain ‘tentacles’ that reach into other areas where different nutrient and attraction supplying ingredients can be sourced. Merely producing a bait that incorporate a different combination of the same base ingredients is never going to cut it in the quest to supply a boilie or loose feed that can truly present fish with a genuinely new natural attractor profile.
By late 2012 and In order to be able to import key ingredients such as Belachan, Green Lipped Mussel Extract and Pure Liver Powder directly from source and be authorised to export our finished products into many areas outside the EU, CC Moore had undergone and passed stringent government controlled audits that monitor our purchasing, storing and manufacturing processes resulting in us being authorised to source and bring ABP (animal by-products) into the EU without having them confiscated or destroyed at the port of entry. You may well ask the relevance of this, and I have to be honest in saying that there have been a number of occasions when confronted with import red tape, DEFRA inspections, USDA checklist requirements and the like that I too have questioned our pursuit of it myself, but this lengthy and costly process resulted in the securing of a ‘licence’ that enabled us to source animal by-products from all over the world, almost without exception. In achieving this, it opened up vital supply links into countries and industries that can provide a literal goldmine of different natural marine-derived products that are undiluted for commercial gain, are highly naturally attractive to fish and are previously unseen by the fish we target…….. just what we felt was needed for the next stage of the Pacific Tuna Project.
As Luc toiled away perfecting the base of the bait which was at this time still cryptically referred to as ‘Synergy’, I set to work contacting countless different fish and shellfish processors and ingredient suppliers in the Far East following, albeit less than it may have been due to some invaluable time-saving recommendations from our long established, Belachan supplying business partners in Malaysia. My aim was to identify and source the icing on the cake of the bait and potentially the cherry on top too.
The remit discussed with Luc assured a high quality base of the bait that would automatically deliver a comprehensive cross section of valuable nutrients, extreme solubility and a memorable ‘big fish’ taste profile but the fine tuning and final fish catching properties of the bait really needed to come from pure fish and shellfish extracts that supplied natural powerful food signals when included in the bait. With so many different potential ingredient samples arriving through the post I am almost sure the local global courier staff depots thought we were requesting dead and rotting shellfish products be sent through to us just for our amusement, particularly when a parcel containing fresh pacific clams got delayed in the transport system, started to break down, obviously began fermenting and finally exploded in the local courier depot in a warm September morning. We were not popular!
However, whilst we were no longer seen to be a valued account in the eyes of Fedex, this was a small price to pay as the plan had clearly paid off and, even though we ended up with more outstanding ingredients and additives than we could ever use or need in the bait, two simply superb natural tuna-derived extracts arrived that literally stood head and shoulders above anything else both in terms of taste and nutrient profile. Fitting perfectly with my theory on attractor release and provision in baits, these totally natural yet quality controlled human food grade products were also supplied in both liquid and powder forms meaning their inclusion in the bait ensured instant, medium and long term attractor release and presence in the baits, even if they remained uneaten for a long period of time (which I felt was extremely unlikely in most cases!) What’s more, they ideally complimented the other tuna products that were planned for use in the mix; I felt they were the perfect match
Resisting the irresistible
Firstly being an angler (well I was before I got married and had children) and secondly being an out and out bait fanatic, when you receive such products that scream ‘big fish bait’ and just tick every box in terms of what you like in a product, sitting on your hands and not trying them out is just not a realistic option. I had to try them to test my judgement and made a few hookbaits that used them in conjunction with the main base ingredients that I discussed with Luc several months previously. Whilst I didn’t know the exact level at which Luc would include each bulk raw material, just their presence in the mix was vital to consider any potential reaction between the ingredients and to get an idea of how they affected the functional properties of the bait which are of course vital to effective angling.
With such concentrated products, fortunately the inclusion levels in the bait would never need to be so high that they were likely to significantly interfere with the way the bait rolled and broke down although the extreme solubility of the base meant that I knew we would always be pushing our luck if we added much more soluble content – something I can never resist anyway! However, when I added the powdered tuna extract it instantly opened the bait’s texture slightly which would not only enable a faster breakdown of the bait and a rapid diffusion of nutrients into the water but would also probably increase the fish’s speed of digestion of it making them return to eat again more quickly; a huge benefit in any angling situation.
As I was delighted to witness, even though I never really doubted my initial judgement of them, the hookbaits were mopped up shortly after being dropped into a quiet spot on an unforgiving UK gravel pit. The large, easily recognisable fish drifted into the area, circled several times before being joined by two others, and then they each hovered over the deep red offerings with their pecs quivering as though fanning the waterborne tastes and aromas towards their frantically sucking mouths. A few seconds later and clearly in a heightened state of stimulation, they tipped up purposefully, cleared every last one of the 15-20 baits offered and moodily waddled off to the snaggy tree line close by.
We were definitely moving in the right direction very quickly and the two new additions were nailed on to be included in the bait when the time was right.
The usual frantic run through Christmas which demands the completion of product catalogues, website updates, new product releases and lots more meant that Carp Zwolle again arrived in a hurry and the annual pilgrimage to Holland was upon us before we knew it. With Luc and me going to cross paths for the first time since our meeting at his house the year before, it was a going to be a great opportunity to discuss the bait project and the progress he had made with the base of the boilie. Even though we’d of course exchanged emails and shared conversations since the meeting, I was yet to see any actual physical samples of the bait he had been working on.
Following the Friday set up, I arrived at the stand on the Saturday morning to be pulled aside by a straight faced Luc with a satchel over his shoulder from which he secretively pulled two small tied freezer bags which contained around 500g of rolled baits. I’m sure he explained the differences between them but I must admit that I didn’t really take it all in as I hurriedly rummaged in the bags to sample the baits he’d produced. Half of me was itching to see the outcome from several months of guaranteed genuine testing and tweaking on Luc’s part and the other half was desperate to see the base on which we could apply the two natural marine extracts we’d sourced; products I’d not even revealed to other staff members, such was my intention to protect their identity.
The test bait samples Luc had produced were truly magnificent and their texture, taste and aroma were just perfect for what I’d wanted. They were the ideal colour for the deep red ‘big fish’ bait we’d wanted to introduce into the range following the planned discontinuation of Meteor and the moist solubility and rich savoury profile instantly drew one response. Big fish and big fish anglers who ‘know’ are just gonna love that…….. a response we’ve heard many on occasions when experienced anglers see the bait for the first time.
Even though it was never planned to be blown open at this stage as we were focussing on the release of Equinox and didn’t want attention to divert away from it, we excitedly shared the samples of the bait to several key team members including Gaz and Mike B and they instantly reacted in the same way, stressing their desire to use it immediately if possible; little did they know it was yet to improve still further with the amalgamation of the base, the natural extracts and the addition of the metaphorical cherry or two!
Action and reaction
Over the following 12 months, with the release of Equinox taking centre stage, the Pacific Tuna Project rumbled on in the background with regular conversations between Luc and me, trial rolling, finished product lab testing and more sample fishing constantly taking place to ensure that no stone was left unturned in the creation of what we felt would prove a hugely successful product for our customers. But, even though the results of testing showed us how outstanding the bait had clearly become, I felt that another way of improving the bait still further was to unlock more of the nutrients that were supplied from the base of the bait.
For several years I had kept in touch with two old contacts that used to work together in an animal feed company we dealt with in the late 90s who had found new roles in the life sciences and aquaculture industries and knew that we were now also producing carp and coarse fishing baits that already incorporated expensive, high quality additives that were used in both their industries. So when one of them happened to mention two new natural products that were successfully being used together to create a significant increase in dry matter (feed) intake and nutrient uptake from a set diet in several species of fresh and saltwater fish I was naturally all ears and immediately thought of Pacific Tuna. This powder and liquid catalyst would be ideal for increasing the impact of the nutrients supplied in the bait making its overall appeal even greater than before. Not only were the colour, texture, taste, aroma and density of the bait just what we were aiming for, the invisible goodies inside were too. I was absolutely buzzing and knew we had something really special, in truth a feeling I recounted from the early days of Odyssey XXX; another truly amazing big fish catcher.
The final stages of the ‘Project’
I was happy that the Pacific Tuna Project was now ready to move on, and this would be on to the final stages of testing where it was gradually released to the different team anglers in carefully planned steps that would enable us to get more ‘on the ground’ feedback about its performance in different angling scenarios, in different countries and most importantly from different anglers who have no pre-conceived ideas about the bait, its ingredients or who was involved in its development.
With all those involved in its development and closed doors testing, we all felt very confident that its extreme solubility and leakage, its lasting taste and its deep savoury aroma would ensure that it was a superb instant bait but also that its nutrient supply and digestibility combined with its memorable ‘label’ would ensure it was a bait that fish would simply return to eat time and time again….. but only the testing would tell.
Well, as many will have seen in magazines, on websites and on social media, the consistently outstanding performance of Pacific Tuna through the product testing period has been as incredible as we hoped and more, with so many big fish being caught on it that we have been literally blown away by the response. The more hands it goes into, the wider the stream of big fish catch reports that come back to us – a truly great feeling for any angler or angling bait company who strives to supply other anglers with high quality baits that really do improve their chances of success.
With endless UK and European specimens being caught by anglers who are still testing Pacific Tuna as we run up the product release date in February 2016, it’s difficult to pick out individual captures and results achieved by anglers using it but, I guess, one of the earliest memories I have of a report from anglers using the bait was when Gaz and Marcus took it on a trip over to a tough water in Belgium back in the early months of 2015. Not only did this again reinforce our confidence and belief in the bait but it also showed just how much highly successful, experienced anglers also believed in it following their use of it on what was justifiably expected to be a very testing trip.
Far be it for me to try to convince anglers that Pacific Tuna is some kind of magic, never-fail carp bait what I can say is that we are very proud of this bait and what we know it can achieve. For those of you who try it, I hope you enjoy using it, we do!