WELCOME to the Sunday blog on this new-look Angler’s Mail website.
Every Sunday we welcome coarse fishing all-rounder Colin Mitchell.
For many years Colin was a senior Angler’s Mail magazine staff man and he has enjoyed a long, interesting journalism career.
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Feel free also to comment by using the special space at the bottom on this page.
IT used to be maggots that were the be-all and end-all of baits. Without them your bait box looked naked.
Now it’s boilies or pellets that you can’t be seen without. Of course if you believe both of those statements you are approaching your fishing with blinkers firmly in place!
I was on a local lake the other night when someone walked up and told me that the best bait – in fact the only bait – was paste bought from a local tackle shop. Without this bait I was wasting my time. And the guy even went through how I should use this bait, feed and present. Maybe he should have asked me first if I had caught…
For the record, I’d landed two crucians, a proper bream and a rake of tench, the smallest 3lb and the best on its way to 5lb. Now that, to me, is a fantastic evening’s fishing, especially as I had only been on the bank for two and a half hours as the sun dropped slowly behind the horizon. And I hadn’t used any sort of paste!
This brought back to me something legendary former World Champion Kevin Ashurst said many, many years ago. If we are hungry we don’t want soup, we want a steak. Now the vegetarians out there might not quite agree with Big Kev’s idea but I am sure they get the gist. If we are hungry we want more grub. Fish are just the same. And likewise, we’d get sick of eating steak all of the time, so it’s nice to ring the changes.
Experienced anglers know that sometimes you need more than one bait to keep the fish coming. And that is what I did for the session above – and in fact for a lot of my fishing so far this season. My main line of attack was to feed 3mm fishmeal-based pellets with corn over the top. The change baits have been 6mm soft halibut pellets or two big chunks of worm. So far, I’ve steered clear of maggots and casters in a bid to avoid smaller fish. And it’s worked… although I expect to change tactics as the colder weather kicks in.
I’ve seen lots of anglers catch on a bait, then get no bites but they just sit and wait for something to happen. They also stop feeding because they have had no bites. Obviously they never read Ashurst’s thoughts! I’ve just changed the hookbait if there’s no action after a short time, in fact as little as five minutes. I’ve also rung the changes after two or three fish and managed to keep getting bites. I’ve also fed continuously. Some anglers struggling to get a bite have gone down in line diameter and hook size. I haven’t!
What’s the point? At this time of the year the water is coloured and line thickness isn’t such a problem. Hook size should always be matched to the size of the bait. A 14 is tiny when it’s stuck into a grain of corn or a big pellet. Scaling down tackle can bring more bites – especially in winter – but why do it when it doesn’t bring more interest and might only result in tackle breakages or lost fish?
Maybe I’ve just been lucky or in the right swim but I like to think that I’ve used my experience and put a bit of thought into what I have done. Swim choice has been vitally important over the past few weeks with the hot weather and bright sun. A little bit of shade, even if it’s just from a small bank side tree or a few rushes, can make a big difference. And the bigger fish just love to live down the edges and patrol the margins when they think all of the anglers have gone home.
That’s another lesson… how many anglers fish all day in the blistering sun and then depart because it’s their tea time? Loads! When that sun drops down the fish come out to play.
Autumn will bring changes if you want to keep on catching. But that’s a story for another occasion…
COLIN MITCHELL’S NEXT BLOG WILL APPEAR ON SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 2.
MONDAY: Carp crews on rotation – Korda, Fox, Nash and ACE.
TUESDAY: Steve Collett, Mail contributor and ultimate all-rounder.
WEDNESDAY: Angler’s Mail HQ – yes, us!
THURSDAY: Specialists from Pike Anglers Club, Korum and Pallatrax, on rotation
FRIDAY: Carl & Alex, Angler’s Mail juniors and video diary makers.
SATURDAY: The Angling Trust – guys at the governing body.
SUNDAY: Colin Mitchell, veteran coarse angler and top journalist