Our insightful general angling blogger, Colin Mitchell argues the merit of a fishing Close Season - should it be scrapped? If you like this blog, please click the social media icons above to share with your fishing pals.

Yes, it's the Close Season - and I've been fishing for coarse fish...on stillwaters, legally. It's illegal to fish rivers in England and Wales, of course, until June 16. But still people do it. To help combat this growing problem and support its member clubs and fisheries the Angling Trust produced this simple but effective poster that spells out the rules in five different languages.

Yes, it’s the Close Season – and I’ve been fishing for coarse fish…on stillwaters, legally. It’s illegal to fish rivers in England and Wales, of course, until June 16. But still people do it. To help combat this growing problem and support its member clubs and fisheries the Angling Trust produced this simple but effective poster that spells out the rules in five different languages.

 

ANY TIME now you could find out just why the current fishing Close Season is nonsense.

You will arrive at your local lake and discover you can’t buy a bite. The reason is that the fish are spawning rather than feeding. And that is the first proof that a shutdown isn’t really necessary.

Next you should realise that not every species in the lake or canal has shut up shop as far as eating is concerned.

There’s your second lot of proof against the Close Season – not all fish spawn between March 15 and June 16. Every species is different and even their breeding habits are determined by the weather conditions!

Anyway back to the problem you’ve got that your favourite fish doesn’t fancy a munch. Besides no bites, few bites or a distinct lack of something on your hook you may also foul-hook fish. All are signs that spawning could be about to take place.

I’ve just experienced this fishy behaviour

It happened to me last week at one of my favourite venues – and it might have even been ready to happen the previous week at another water I fish regularly.

In both cases it appears the carp were ready to rock and roll rather than grab some free food. The signs at the first venue were very few carp showing down the edge at a venue where they just love to patrol the margins; and also loads more skimmer bream taking my hook baits than I would normally expect.

They were there - I could see them...but could I catch them?

They were there – I could see them…but could I catch them?

The reason the bream were being caught was because they were able to get to the bait before the normally greedy carp that usually don’t give them a chance.

Now although the bigger carp I would have expected from the margins didn’t show their smaller brothers did feed – but only on a Method feeder at distance.

Bait here doesn’t really matter as all the species in these lakes love a good eating session. But my next session did highlight all of the above even more and ways of still managing to put a few in the landing net.

I didn’t see one carp caught during the first two hours I was at the lake. That is totally unusual on a venue that’s laden with all sorts of species. It was obvious to me that the carp hadn’t just moved area because of the weather conditions but that they had switched off.

Eventually bites came…

I did start to get a few bites, which I missed, before I finally got a small carp hooked fair and square in the fin. Then another hooked in the top of the head! They were certainly interested in something other than the bait on the hook, even though the free offerings might have made them have a nose around the swim.

I changed tactics by dropping in some chopped worm and nailed my bait to the bottom by fishing well over depth. That should have given me a chance with the bream and helped prevent any more foulhookers.

I love when a plan comes together and this one did with the target species soon in the landing net, followed by some roach, perch and rudd.

I did get one proper carp and a few more – but by no means anywhere near what is normally caught here, even on a bad day – showed elsewhere on the lake.

Were their minds on other things?

I’ve seen all of this many times before. Spawning fish and those getting very close to breeding do not feed.

Once in Holland I saw fish in a small, shallow canal going crazy. They were swimming into the banks, thrashing the water and generally going bonkers. But they didn’t want to know when offered a bait. You could have lifted bream and carp from the water in your hands!

I’ve fished other fish-stuffed venues in the April-May period and not had a sign of a bite – the fish more than likely having moved into areas to spawn and not feed.

It’s been said many times before and a few decades ago the still-water close season was scrapped.

Some owners and clubs have, wisely in my book, rotated which of their venues are shut down for a period for a rest. But it is now time to have a total rethink about river fishing taking into account all of what we have learned about fish and fisheries plus the experiences of the people on the bank most – us anglers!

It's quite easy to avoid tangles with Method feeder rigs, as Paul explained.

Use a Method feeder? I have a hint for you…

Method feeder mix tip to try

I’ve been doing a fair bit of Method fishing recently, moulding pellets on my feeder. Many of you have probably discovered – like me – that it’s not always easy to get your pellets soaked to totally the right consistency.

Here’s a little dodge that can put that problem right. And I believe put a little edge on your fishing.

Blog MitchIf the pellets simply won’t go sticky enough to form a nice neat pile on the feeder, not even with a mould, sprinkle on a bit of groundbait. I like the groundbait to be mixed already and a bit on the dry side. It helps the pellets really bind.

I think the groundbait also help the pellets separate faster once the feeder is on the bottom and gives off a further bait trail to attract fish into the area. These may be small fish but small fish activity draws the attentions of bigger fish.

As always when fishing like this, and even more so with the groundbait added, it is important that you do not move your feeder. Let the feeder hit the water and sink to the bottom and then slowly tighten up. I either hold or watch the line as I do this – and it is surprising how often you will see a bite before you have tightened to your tip.

 

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