To Corn Or Not To Corn, That Is The Question!

 A recent fishing report of mine brought up an old controversial type of bait, corn!  The mail I was sent wasn't in the form of a snotagram but just questioned the use of corn as a bait.  As a result of the mail, I felt I should do up a quick dissertation as to my opinion on the matter, for what its worth!

I personally can't wait for the corn season to come around, my favourite being Peaches and Cream and, the best I've eaten was during a camping trip over at Parksville.  It was so good in fact we went back the next day and loaded the camper up with corn to take home and brag about it to our friends, not sharing any of it of course!  The question with regards to fishing is, do fish like it as much as us humans do and does it harm them?

I did a little research on the subject and even with the thousands of hits about various corn topics that had to do with fishing or just had to do with corn in general, I could find only one "expert" diagnosis of just what happens when fish eat corn.  I have sent some mail to our local MOE biologists to get their read on it and if and when they respond I will post same on this article.

Here is an excerpt from the Poop Report (yes, its a website and only I could have found it!) in which it explains what us humans do with corn:

"Most of us have probably realized that after eating corn, it shows up in our stool. The corn in our stool can appear only hours after we eat it. Rest assured, corn in the stool is normal, and the reason we see the corn relates largely to our digestive tract, and also to evolution."

Ya, that's what I thought as well, who would have a website about excrement but, you know something, it was pretty informative!  So, that's it in a nutshell as to what corn does in our system and the main reason it comes out the way it does it simple, we don't chew it enough.   Take that same corn to the fish and feed them and, well, fish more than likely don't chew it any more than us humans do.  However, lets compare digestive systems and I think we can all agree that us humans have a much better chance at "passing" a kernel of corn than fish does, just look at its sphincter!  As well, their stomach is obviously much smallerand according to internet stuff their system is much "easier" than what our s is. So, just imagine what a couple kernels of corn could do if not "passed" by that fish, El Blocko!!  This is particularly true when ice fisherman use corn by the handful and in fact, chum with it.  The following is from the Fish and Fishing website out of the States in their recommendations for catching carp with corn:

"Can you catch sizable carp with corn? Yes! There is no connection between the lure size and the size of the caught fish. 20 kg heavy carp still feed on small invertebrate animals such as blood worms*, just as they did in their first years of life. It is important that corn is cooked enough so that large carp can easily digest it, because the sooner they digest it the sooner will they return to have more! However, be careful with the amount of corn, because those large, 15, 20 kg heavy fish can easily eat a few kilograms of corn!"

So, they actually talk about throwing out kgs of corn in a chumming manner in order to lure the carp in.  But, there is also the recommendation of cooking the corn in their article, so that it can be digested, and herein lies the split in opinions.  Any canned corn that you buy is in fact pressured (and my wife is never wrong!) so, that does soften it up quite a bit.   There are also different varieties of corn out there, here is one that Pro Troll mentions on their site, it is called Shoe Peg corn.  I came across this corn some years ago, I believe one of the local anglers had some, and I had a look at it, the kernel or husk seemed  softer than that of the normal yellow corn.  Now, I'm no gastroenterologist or anything close but, this type of corn may very possibly not harm the fish at all, I honestly don't know.  Remember too, that if you are trolling with it you usually only have one kernel on the hook for a bit of smell and scent.  So, if that one fish, say a 1lb kokanee inhaled it, would it do it harm??  I have absolutely no idea but, I'm guessing one kernel of softened corn would not do any damage and the fish could in fact pass it without difficulty.  We all know how well the digestive tracts of fish are so I think that one kernel may not stand much of a chance, although us humans certainly don't "burn" it all up!

Here is another excerpt from a Florida fishing site in which corn came up on their forum, this was one of the replies:

"Commission fisheries biologist Tom Bender at our Benner Spring Fish Research Station conducted a study in 1992 that examined the impact of corn on trout. For the study, two groups of hatchery rainbow trout were held in separate tanks and tested for 54 days. In one tank, 20 rainbow trout (average size 8.3 inches) were fed a diet of whole kernel corn. In the second tank, 20 rainbow trout of the same size were fed a standard trout pellet diet.

During the 54 day study period, no mortalities occurred from trout of either study group. However, study results did show that the trout fed with a corn diet did not digest the corn particularly well. The growth observed by the corn-fed trout during the study period was only about half of that observed from the trout that were fed the standard trout pellet diet.

The conclusion from this study was that there appears to be little reason for concern about the short term health hazards for rainbow trout when whole kernel corn is used for bait. Although there are better diets for trout than whole kernel corn, this study confirms that mortality does not occur when trout ingest whole kernel corn."

I guess if your looking for an answer from the  Captain as to whether or not I would use corn, I would have to say no.  But, its not because I think it would hurt fish so much as the fact that there are so many other "edible" baits out there that we know will not harm the fish.  In this day and age of biodegradable baits, I can't see any reason why I'd have to use corn.  There's always the good ol garden worms which I still believe in big time, and then the Power Bait selection of goodies.  For my kokanee I either use the maggot kind of Power Bait which comes in different colors, the live red maggots or worms.  Sameo when I jig for cod on OK Lk, its either a gob of worms on the jig or a Power Bait Marshmallow.  So there you have it, the corn controversy.  I think the avid angler can figure out what's right and wrong in this and make a intelligent decision about the use of corn.  For me, I'll use what bait has been working best but, I'm always open to new or old things as well! 

***I did receive a response from our local biologists and they referred me to this linkhttp://www.fish.state.pa.us/images/pages/qa/fish_regs/corn_chum.htm  sameo as what I found but a little more info***

Sherm