by Gordon Rodricks

       To the Indian Angler "bottom-fishing" constitutes the most popular form because the major carp are easiest hooked at the bottom. Carp have a keen sense of smell and are therefore attracted to your fishing spot by some edible food which they are particularly fond of but more particularly what smells good to them. Therefore your choice of ground bait must consider food and smell. Non food items and any item likely to cause irritation or contamination must be strictly avoided.

       Many theories have been advanced by anglers as to the method of ground baiting; all have their merits and demerits but if one regards ground baiting as a gentle art of seduction then as H. S.Thomas says in his book 'Tank Fishing in India' "we must learn from Bengal" where Angling is a way of life and the ultimate choice of ground baits for major carp has been researched for years and years and is now fairly standardised. Here are a few hints gathered from friends in Calcutta over the years, which have helped :

       1. It is preferable to localise your ground bait to a small area just behind where your hooks are going to be. Do not spread ground bait over an area more than 2 ft x 2 ft. Therefore, your throw should be accurate. If, your ground bait is spread out the fish are likely to miss out on your hook bait.
       2. Do not throw huge quantities of ground bait. It is likely to have the opposite effect and repulse the fish. Also, uneaten ground bait can putrefy the fishing spot in a day and if you are in the habit of fishing in the same place, it can spoil your fishing. Generally throw about 8 balls about 2" in dia at the start of your fishing. Thereafter, 3 balls of the same size every half an hour is adequate. Stop ground -baiting two hours before your closing time.
       3. Do not allow ground bait balls to be too big or too soft. They will spread over a large area at the bottom if they are too soft. Round balls of 2" dia of clayey consistency are adequate.
       4. Ground bait may be constituted of one part matter and two parts soft mud; formed fairly firmly.
       5. Do not allow the throwing to cause too much splashing, it may scare the fish away for quite sometime. It will certainly affect your neighbour who came earlier than you. The fish he has attracted around will run away and may not come back.

       The choice of material for ground baiting at Powai can be wide and varied but the "Calcutta Masala" seem to be the best. This is available at Calcutta as a brown powder or as a brown paste. Both as Powder or Paste, you can buy 2 or 3 qualities. Quality is determined by the amount of Mustard Oil Khullee. Good quality has less Khullee initially. Both forms can vary between Rs. 40/- to Rs. 100/- per kg., depending on quality and season.

       If you do not go to Calcutta yourself, ask a friend there to help you. He can be guided by the shopkeepers who are very dedicated to their trade and by and large will advise you correctly.

       The powder or paste should be strong smelling and have a pleasant "appetising" smell. Do not purchase any material that smells rancid or foul.

       The powder can be mixed with equal weight of wet khullee and then softened to a paste with ghee or butter residue or coconut oil. This can be stored in an air tight container.

       On the morning of your trip, you can add equal parts rice or 'powa' or boiled sweet potato or Satu (Bihar gram flour). You may also flavour it with crushed garlic or hing or crushed onion in small amounts. About 3 kg. of this combined matter is enough for one day.

       If you buy ready paste from Calcutta, then you may add a small additional amount of wetted khullee before storage as the paste itself will contain khullee. Other ingredients can be added the evening before your trip.

       If you decide to make your own powder masala, here are the ingredients- the names are all in Bengali so you may ask your friend at Calcutta to send you samples and then go around local grocers in Masjid Bunder/Dana Bunder who will identify them for you.

a) Sajira
b) Tej Patha
c) Choto Methi
d) Buch-ki-dana
e) Ghore Botch
f) Kangla
g) Mathe
h) Aube
i) Tambul
j) Ekangi
k) Ajwan
l) Triphul
m) Jaiphul
n) Daniya

       My friend in Calcutta could not tell me the proportion of each ingredient as he does it by experience and feel but, he did emphasize that each item must be first roasted separately and lightly, then powdered and then again roasted till the smell emerges and then mixed and stored as powder or constituted into a paste with khullee and ghee or butter residue i.e. ghee or makhan ghad.

       Ground baiting is a subjective science; many of you may have other experiences and ideas. You are welcome to follow what you feel is best but do not use irritants or contaminants.

       Given below are the addresses of ground bait suppliers in Calcutta. They are located at Bow Bazar. They can send you your requirements by courier, lorry or rail. Once you have established contact, future dealings are easy because as I mentioned earlier most of them are dedicated persons, in this business for generations. They also deal in Ringal bamboo fishing rods, ants eggs, Indian fishing, reels, keep-nets, landing nets, yeast tablets for Haria etc.

1) Balai Mullick
Old Kanto Bros. (estd. 1886)
Shop No. R. 32
156-B Bipin Behari Ganguly Street Bow Bazar
CALCUTTA 700 012
Tel. : 500462 Mfg. of Jaldy 'Ao'.
2) Robin & Co
. 155/2 A Bipin Behari Ganguily St.
Bow Bazar
CALCUTTA 700 012
3) Kanto Mullick or Sujan Mullick
New Kanto Bros. (estd. 1886)
158, Bipin Behari Ganguly St.
Bow Bazar
CALCUTTA 700 012.
Tel. : 505652
4) Sen Brothers
155/2 B Bipin Behari Ganguly St.
Bow Bazar
CALCUTTA 700 012
5) Mr. Dinesh Krishna Basu Calcutta Fishing House
156, B. B. Ganguly Street
CALCUTTA 700 012
6) Umacharan Karmakar and Sons
157, Bipin Behati Ganguly St.
Bow Bazar
CALCUTTA 700 012
Tel. 500464 Mfg. of Jally Khao
       The hints above are given in good faith but as you all know there is more to bottom fishing than ground baiting. Whilst the chance of success is fairly good, please remember, your fishing slope, the weather, the overall proximity of fish, noise from your own boat or neighbours can all affect your angling. If you fish at least 20 ft., away from your neighbour, do not bang chairs, tins, etc., do not get up and move around too much, you will have a better chance of success.

Back to MSAA home page