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Cutting teeth

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In 2007, whilst reading an Internationally known Carp Angling message board, and in amongst, what seems to be the mandatory ‘topics’ on such web sites – ‘You must do an apprenticeship in coarse fishing before you are allowed near Carp’ – ‘XYZ boilie is so much better than ABC’ – ‘That isn’t the way to treat a Carp once you’ve caught it’ – the usual topics, usually ending in a bun-fight and tears before bedtime type thread – I had the fortune to read a thread by a member of the message board who had started to build his own lake.
It was after reading the message board topic that I came to the conclusion that I needed to follow my dream.
I have been Carp angling for the higher side of 35 years, but I didn’t follow the much talked about ‘Apprenticeship route’. I cut my teeth off the rocks of ‘The Bill’ in search of Wrasse, Bass, Conger, Mullet, John Dory, Gurnard- the list is endless,… and all before bed-time and my 8th birthday.
To go even further back, all-be-it just a couple of years – I could be seen with a rope tied around my waist by my Dad, whilst casting off of Q-Pier for Pollack, or feathering for Mackerel, and on a good weekend, if the Frigates or Destroyers were tied up alongside, I’d be escorted down the ladder and along the underside of the pier to go for the Diesel fish. Mullet.
As the years progressed through the early teens, the homework was completed on the way home from school, and the tie was off after walking through the door.
Jeans on. Wellies on over school socks always caused an ear-chewing. The faithful Wolverhampton Wanderers bobble hat pulled down tight, and not forgetting the packet of Malted Milk biscuits, and it was onto the pushbike, and peddle as quickly as the legs would go around on the pedals, out to ‘The Bill’, or off the rocks over at ‘Blacknor’.
It didn’t matter where I went, so long as I had a rod and reel in my hand I was happy as a pig in ‘it’.
Going off in our ‘nippers’ boat was often eventful.
We’d lower the boat off 'Red Crane' and head out towards ‘The Pit’. Often in weather that many wouldn’t go to the shops in. Heading to ‘The Pit’ at midnight to catch the tide, with a boat rod hanging over the side and half a Mackerel skewered to the hook – hoping to catch Conger.
One particular evening, in the above scenario – the 4 of us, myself, ‘nipper’, ‘Rich’ and ‘David’ were set for a night of Congering. We had enough bait courtesy of a couple of hours feathering earlier in the evening. The only thing we didn’t account for was the weather.
We had been over ‘The Pit’ for about an hour, having caught several Congers, when the swell started to extract the urine. The boat was being tossed around all over the place – we lost anchor and was seemingly getting too close for comfort to the rocks just to the left of Pulpit Rock. Now was not the time for the Johnson to add more urine to the situation by not starting on the pull. It started eventually, but not before Rich had shown David how not to swing a Gaff around in temper. I bet it hurt, and he was lucky to not lose an eye. Brotherly love certainly went out the window in that couple of minutes.
It was at this point in time, that 3 of us found time to ground bait with Malted Milk biscuits we had digested earlier. The 3 of us couldn’t quite work out what David decided to ground bait with though, but all 4 of us was certain that he could never eat that much in 1 sitting. Maybe it was shock from the Gaff.
Anyway – I digress,…
Back to this mind-changing/life-changing thread I read.
The thread explained how the Lake was going to be dug, where features were going to go, what features they were, and of course – what fish were going to be added. The thread, over a couple of years was updated by the author, and the read was superb.
It should be pointed out that the author of the mind altering thread that 'made my mind up' is no narna. He certainly knows his onions, and has been a keen fisherman, as well as angler for more years than he cares to let on. He is an encyclopaedia of knowledge where Carp are concerned (as well as other species), and it was/is his love, dedication and his wanting to follow a yearning that set my path out before me.
I knew what I wanted to do, but I was adamant that I did not want to cut corners.
This meant one thing. Doing the homework properly and not like it was done many years ago on the way home from school.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on the mood – I was going through a period of life that everything I touched, health-wise so to speak, turned to smelly stuff.
I was in and out of hospital more times than Sooty’s puppeteer had his hand up Sue’s skirt, so I had plenty of time to learn, but where to start.
I have always been a staunch believer in Carp welfare and what we feed them in search of a capture always intrigued me. It was to become an obsession. An obsession I still harbour today.
The first place I looked was health. What keeps a Carp alive. The answer was obvious, and bits and bobs of school Home Economics and Biology came back in flashes. Amino Acid.
I scoured the local library and Internet, spoke with Chefs and Chemists, Bait Makers and Anglers to try and find out as much as possible regarding the welfare and requirements, dietary speaking, that a Carp needs to survive, and to learn about Amino Acid.
Oh, what a journey it has been, and the trip isn’t even 1% of the way to destination, and I openly admit, I don’t think, in fact, I know, the bus will never stop or reach destination in my lifetime.
What I do know though, is what makes for a healthy Carp is a healthy diet. Be it introduced by angler or through nature itself – a healthy diet keeps a Carp alive.
This is where my journey begins.

It’s all Ball’s to me!!

Brown balls usually, but have been known to make White, Green, Red, Yellow and many colours that almost defy the spectrum in between, but the one common denominator is the end product.
It is always full of what I perceive as nutritional ingredients to aid the Carp in growth and an overall healthy life. I state now for the record – I will never get it correct, and I defy anybody to say they have mastered the menu. They are not necessary liars if they say they have, but I would say that they are telling the truth awkwardly.
So, in my perception of what a Carp requires to be healthy, I started off at where I thought the beginning was, and started to research Amino Acid.
What are they? What do they do? Is there a ‘special’ Amino Acid?
I feel relatively confident in saying that: anybody who decides to follow the same route – you will require a lot of paper, many pencils and pens, a lot of spare time, and be prepared to drink copious amounts of coffee.


There are many, many Amino Acids in nature. Many more than the 20 (although certain writings lead that there are 22) that are required in human and animal life cycle that keeps us, and animals alive. Without them we would not exist. However, in the animal kingdom, and by that, I confirm I am looking purely from a Carp point of view: there are substantially more than 100 Amino Acids that contribute to healthy living.


Below is a list of the EAA/NEAA that is considered ‘required’, as well as derivatives that contribute to sustaining a healthy Carp diet.

Alanine is a non-essential Amino Acid that is involved in the metabolism of Tryptophan and the vitamin Pyridoxine. The alpha-carbon in Alanine is substituted with a Levorotatory (l)-methyl group, making it one of the simplest Amino Acids with respect to molecular structure. This Amino Acid is one of the most widely used in protein construction.

Arginine is a complex Amino Acid that is often found at the active (or catalytic) site in proteins and enzymes due to its Amine-containing side chain.
Asparagine the beta-amido derivative of Aspartic acid, is considered a non-essential amino acid. This Amino Acid plays an important role in the biosynthesis of glycoproteins and is also essential to the synthesis of a large number of other proteins.
Aspartic acid
Aspartic acid is one of two Amino Acids (the other is Glutamic acid) that has a negatively charged carboxylate group on the side chain. This gives Aspartic Acid an overall negative charge at physiological hydrogen ion concentrations (approximately pH 7.3). Although Aspartic Acid is considered a non-essential Amino Acid, it plays a paramount role in metabolism during construction of other Amino Acids and biochemicals in the Citric Acid Cycle. Among the biochemicals that are synthesized from Aspartic Acid are Asparagine, Arginine, Lysine, Methionine, Threonine, Isoleucine, and several nucleotides.
The major biochemical function of Carnitine is to act as a trans-membrane carrier of fatty acids to the interior of mitochondria. Carnitine is not used in the biosynthesis of proteins or enzymes and has an unusual structure compared to the classical Amino Acids. It is synthesized naturally from the Amino Acids Methionine and Lysine.
Citrulline exists primarily in the liver, where it is heavily involved in the urea cycle to detoxify and excrete ammonia. This unusual Amino Acid is formed in the urea cycle by the addition of carbon dioxide and ammonia to Ornithine. Next, it is combined with Aspartic acid to form arginosuccinic acid, which later is metabolized into the Amino Acid Arginine. Citrulline is not a component of any major proteins or enzymes.
Cysteine is only incorporated into proteins at the rate of 2.8 percent relative to the other Amino Acids, but the unique Thiol side chain of this Amino Acid is often heavily involved in the three-dimensional stability of proteins and enzymes. The side chain is also often involved in the chemistry occurring at the active sites of many enzymes. Cysteine is also critical to the metabolism of a number of essential biochemicals including Coenzyme A, Heparin, Biotin, Lipoic acid, and Glutathione.
gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the product of a biochemical decarboxylation reaction of Glutamic Acid by the vitamin Pyridoxal. GABA serves as an inhibitory neurotransmitter to block the transmission of an impulse from one cell to another in the central nervous system.
Glutamic Acid
Glutamic acid is biosynthesized from a number of Amino Acids including Ornithine and Arginine. When aminated, Glutamic Acid forms the important Amino Acid Glutamine, and because it has a Carboxylic Acid moiety on the side chain, Glutamic Acid is one of only two Amino Acids (the other being Aspartic Acid) that has a net negative charge at physiological pH. This negative charge makes Glutamic Acid a very polar molecule and it is usually found on the outside of proteins and enzymes where it is free to interact with the aqueous intracellular surroundings.

Glutamine is one of the twenty Amino Acids generally present in animal proteins. A monoamide of Glutamic Acid, the biochemical is also a component of many plants and was first isolated from beet juice in 1883. Glutamine was not isolated as a component from a protein, however, until 1932 and was first chemically produced the following year. The substance plays an important role in the cellular metabolism of animals and is the only Amino Acid with the ability to easily cross the barrier between blood and brain tissue. Combined, Glutamine and Glutamic Acid are responsible for the vast majority of the Amino nitrogen located in the brain, and are of central importance in the regulation of bodily ammonia levels.
Glutathione is actually a tripeptide made up the Amino Acids amma-Glutamic Acid, Cysteine, and Glycine. The primary biological function of glutathione is to act as a non-enzymatic reducing agent to help keep Cysteine Thiol side chains in a reduced state on the surface of proteins. Glutathione is also used to prevent oxidative stress in most cells and helps to trap free radicals that can damage DNA and RNA. There is a direct correlation with the speed of aging and the reduction of Glutathione concentrations in intracellular fluids. As Carp grow older, Glutathione levels drop, and the ability to detoxify free radicals decreases.
Glycine is the simplest Amino Acid and is the only Amino Acid that is not optically active (it has no stereoisomers). This Amino Acid is essential for the biosynthesis of nucleic acids as well as of Bile Acids, Porphyrins, Creatine Phosphate, and other Amino Acids. Glycine is the second most common Amino Acid found in proteins and enzymes. Glycine is also similar to gamma-Aminobutyric Acid and Glutamic Acid in the ability to inhibit neurotransmitter signals in the central nervous system.
Histidine is one of the basic (with reference to pH) Amino Acids due to its aromatic nitrogen-heterocyclic imidazole side chain. This Amino Acid is biochemically metabolized into the neurotransmitter Histamine and the set of genes that produce the enzymes responsible for Histidine biosynthesis are controlled by the well-studied Histidine operon.

Hydroxyproline is derived from the Amino Acid Proline and is used almost exclusively in structural proteins including collagen, connective tissue in mammals, and in plant cell walls. An unusual feature of this Amino Acid is that it is not incorporated into collagen during biosynthesis at the ribosome, but is formed from Proline by a post-translational modification by an enzymatic hydroxylation reaction. Non-hydroxylated collagen is commonly termed pro-collagen.
Isoleucine is a member of the aliphatic side-chain Amino Acid family that is composed of extremely hydrophobic biochemicals that are found principally in the interior of proteins and enzymes. Like several other members of this family (Valine and Leucine), Isoleucine is an EAA that is not synthesized by mammalian tissues. Another feature of this class of Amino Acids is that they appear to have no other significant biological role than incorporation into proteins and enzymes, where their main purpose is to help dictate the tertiary structure of the macromolecules.
Leucine, like its relatives, Isoleucine and Valine, is a hydrophobic Amino Acid that is found as a structural element on the interior of proteins and enzymes. There appears to be no other significant metabolic role for these Amino Acids, but they are essential and because they are not synthesized by mammalian tissues, must be taken in the diet. Leucine ties Glycine for the position of second most common Amino Acid found in proteins.
Lysine is an EAA that has a net positive charge at physiological pH values making it one of the three basic (with respect to charge) Amino Acids. This polar Amino Acid is commonly found on the surfaces of proteins and enzymes, and sometimes appears in the active site. Sources of Lysine include meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products. Methionine
Methionine is an important Amino Acid that helps to initiate translation of messenger RNA by being the first Amino Acid incorporated into the N-terminal position of all proteins. This sulfur-containing Amino Acid is also the source of sulfur for Cysteine in animals. In that regard, Methionine is considered an EAA whereas Cysteine is not, so Cysteine is nonessential only as long as the diet contains adaquate amounts of Methionine. The terminal methyl group of the Methionine side chain often participates in biochemical methyl transfer reactions making Methionine a member of the "methyl donor" class of biochemicals.

Ornithine plays an important role in the urea cycle and is the precursor of the Amino Acids Citrulline, Glutamic Acid, and Proline. Another primary role of Ornithine is being an intermediate in Arginine biosynthesis, although this is due to its participation in the urea cycle (responsible for the production of urea). Ornithine is not directly incorporated into proteins and enzymes and does not have a codon in the genetic code.
Phenylalanine is an EAA that is also one of the aromatic Amino Acids that exhibit ultraviolet radiation absorption properties with a large extinction coefficient. This characteristic is often used as an analytical tool to quantify the amount of protein in a sample. Phenylalanine plays a key role in the biosynthesis of other Amino Acids and some neurotransmitters. It is the most commonly found aromatic Amino Acid in proteins and enzymes.
Proline is one of the cyclic aliphatic Amino Acids that is a major component of the protein collagen, the connective tissue structure that binds and supports all other tissues. Proline is synthesized from Glutamic Acid prior to its incorporation into pro-collagen during messenger RNA translation. After the pro-collagen protein is synthesized, it is converted by posttranslational modification into Hydroxyproline.

The methyl side chain of Serine contains a hydroxy group making this one of two Amino Acids that are also alcohols. Serine plays a major role in a variety of biosynthetic pathways including those involving Pyrimidines, Purines, Creatine, and Porphyrins. Serine is also found at the active site in an important class of enzymes termed "serine proteases" that include Trypsin and Chymotrypsin. These enzymes catalyze the hydrolysis of peptide bonds in polypeptides and proteins, a major function in the digestive process.
Taurine is a non-essential sulfur-containing Amino Acid that functions with Glycine and gamma-Aminobutyric Acid as a neuroinhibitory transmitter. While Taurine does not have a genetic codon and is not incorporated into proteins and enzymes, it does play an important role in Bile Acid metabolism. Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant Bile Acids, Chenodeoxychloic Acid where it serves to emulsify dietary Lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion.
Threonine is another alcohol-containing Amino Acid that can’t be produced by metabolism and must be taken in the diet. This Amino Acid plays an important role along with Glycine and Serine in Porphyrin metabolism.
Tryptophan is an EAA that must be obtained from the diet. The unusual indole side chain of Tryptophan is also the nucleus of the important neurotransmitter Serotonin, which is biosynthesized from Tryptophan. The aromatic portion of Tryptophan also serves as an ultraviolet marker for detection of this Amino Acid either separately, or incorporated into proteins and enzymes, via ultraviolet spectrophotometry.
Tyrosine is metabolically synthesized from Phenylalanine to become the para-hydroxy derivative of that important Amino Acid. This Hydroxylated Amino Acid participates in the synthesis of many important biochemical. The melanin biological pigments, and the catecholamines, an important class of biological regulators.

Valine is an aliphatic Amino Acid that is closely related to Leucine and Isoleucine both in structure and function. These Amino Acids are extremely hydrophobic and are almost always found in the interior of proteins. They are also seldom useful in routine biochemical reactions, but are relegated to the duty of determining the three-dimensional structure of proteins due to their hydrophobic nature. They are also EAA and must be obtained in the diet. Important sources of Valine include soy flour, cottage cheese, fish, meats, and vegetables.


So, there you have it. The meaning of life, and no - my name isn’t Brian.


The observant will notice that there is more than the ‘mandatory’ 20 Amino Acids required to sustain life. Why?

In short – the Essential Amino Acid, along with Non-Essential Amino Acid and the figure 20, derives from human requirement and subsequently placed in a category which is frequently used to determine life cycle in the animal kingdom. In this case, Carp.
Whilst this is acceptable, and I say that purely from a bait-making stance, in truth, we as humans can’t be sure of a dietary requirement for Carp.
What we can do, is to suggest to a feeding Carp that the food we are feeding it is substantial, and meets all of his/her requirements to lead a healthy life.
As a bait-maker, albeit a layman, the target is to try and catch the wily old Carp out?
In truth, this is the case, but the underlying procedure, from a personal point of view, is: feed the fish a diet that means he/she doesn’t have to go and eat bloodworm, snails, worms, plant life, cigarette butts, jelly babies and a myriad of other edible niceties that could, or could not be available.


Don't be under any illusion - the above explanations of Amino Acids is by no way all my own writing. It has been sourced through scouring knowledge basis from around the world and then adding to it, or omitting certain irrelevancies.


Next instalment will concentrate on ingredients used in making a high quality bait, and why they are used together to attain the highest possible health and welfare for Mr and/or Mrs Carp.





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What I do know though, is what makes for a healthy Carp is a healthy diet. Be it introduced by angler or through nature itself – a healthy diet keeps a Carp alive.


Next instalment will concentrate on ingredients used in making a high quality bait, and why they are used together to attain the highest possible health and welfare for Mr and/or Mrs Carp.

My philosophy on bait and fishes diet to a tee. Some interesting stuff you have dug up there I will look forward to the next thrilling instalment. Cheers for sharing while I think I have a good balanced recipe it will be good to read your understanding of it and maybe find a tweak or two. :idea:

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