Colin Mitchell, the popular Angler's Mail website blogger, shares his three must-have baits when heading into the chilly months. Read AM print magazine this week for all major angling news and tips.
FOR the past week you’ve probably been hanging on with baited breath waiting for me to keep my promise and reveal the baits you need to catch more fish through autumn and into deepest winter. Or there again maybe you couldn’t care less…
Anyway, whichever it is, if you want to get a few bites and fish as the weather gets colder there are, in my opinion, three baits you should always try to have in your carryall.
Never leave home without bread, worms and pinkies and if there is any chance of a fish feeding it’s likely to be on those hookbaits. (I’ve not mentioned bloodworm and joker as they are a bit more specialised… although one of the most misunderstood baits around by many pleasure anglers).
Let’s start with probably the most undervalued of those baits, the humble pinkie. It’s not just for small fish!
Fluoro pinkies have caught me all sorts of species when all else have failed. They can literally act as a switch when you put them on your hook and turn the fish on to feeding.
Single or double on a 22, 20 or 18 hook can often bring bites when all else has failed. Doubles can often be better than single!
A lot of anglers used to feed the even smaller squatts when fishing pinkies but you will find that just a few pinkies in small, hard balls of groundbait can work a treat.
You want just a few hookbait samples in that groundbait, mixed fairly hard to it goes straight to the bottom before breaking up as your don’t want to spread what fish are about all over your swim.
Your groundbait can be around golf ball-sized and ensure it is dark coloured – even mixing with black dye or some riddled peat – so that in clear water it doesn’t act like a target area for predators to home in on once you have the fish feeding.
Fish are also clever enough to know that if they feed over light areas they could well be scoffed by a pike or a big perch! If there’s not too much flow or tow loose feed a few pinkies over the top of your feed area too to drag in a few other customers – but you will probably find the bigger fish stuck over the centre of that cereal feed which is best fed through a pole cup.
Next on to white bread – cheap, simple, clean and effective as punch or flake, it tends to be an instant worker in clear water.
You tend to get bites straight away on the bread, fishing punch over the top of small balls of liquidised feed.
If it doesn’t work immediately don’t give up easily – and it if does bring bites and then dries up don’t be scared to feed and try again later in your session.
There’s no harm in mixing the liquidised bread with a bit of groundbait to get it down if there is flow on the water.
Worried those little bits of punch will come off your hook easily? Try the alternative method of zooming slices of bread around a microwave for a few seconds, minus the crusts, and then use a rolling pin to flatten it, but not too tight.
You can cut these slices up into smaller pieces and wrap in foil or cling film to preserve their freshness. Punch the bread out as normal but if you are also worried about punching just use a small pair of scissors or a knife to cut into tiny squares to fit your hook.
Don’t worry about looking a bit silly doing this – I and other anglers I know have fished this way many times and it works! I wouldn’t argue against a method shown to me by former World Champion Ian Heaps!
Finally onto what many regular readers will know is my favourite bait – worms!
Dendrobaenas are everyone’s favourite nowadays and they are good for chopping and for using in different sized sections on your hook.
Vary the size of the sections from a worm head the size of a maggot to half worms or even full worms for the chance of a bigger fish. And don’t just keep going smaller on the size of the worm in order to get a bite if the day is difficult – sometimes a full worm can work when bits of them don’t!
Likewise, keep feeding chop and judge how many bites or signs you are getting to help you decide how much to feed and how finely to chop. I don’t always like mushing up the worms – but I do like a variety of sized pieces laying on the bottom. A few dead maggots or casters help boost holding power.
If you can get redworms jump at the chance as they will tempt fish like a nice curry makes your nose twitch as you walk past an Indian restaurant. And if you are fishing for barbel, chub, bigger perch or even carp NEVER forget the pulling power of lobworms!
Whole or part lobbies can outscore all of their brothers at times, especially when there is a bit of colour in the water. Collect them if you can and the fresher they are the better – you know the ones I mean, the slimy juicy ones!