IT’S time for our must-read Sunday blog on this new-look Angler’s Mail website. Every Sunday we welcome coarse fishing all-rounder Colin Mitchell (right).

For many years Colin was a senior Angler’s Mail magazine staff man and he has enjoyed a long, interesting journalism career. He understands match fishing, pleasure fishing, carp fishing – the lot.

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WHEN the weather is cold and horrible and you are struggling to catch the best thing to do is scale down and fish smaller baits. Right? No, wrong!

I always used to firmly believe that if you went down to a 22 hook or smaller, tied on the thinnest trace in your box and slipped on a pinkie you were in for a bite. If nothing bit, you had no chance.

But a number of sessions over the past couple of winters have proven just how wrong that theory is, how I have missed out on a few fish so often in the past.


Pinkies can win you bites – try two if one fails!

First lesson: pinkie IS a good bait, especially fluoros, when the water is clear and cold. But sometimes when you can’t catch on one you can get bites on doubles.

In fact, dropping in a small hard ball of groundbait that breaks up only on the bottom and very slowly also helps pull a few bites when fishing like this, often better than loose feeding a few grubs.

I sat for hours on a local bit of canal and went through the works, bread punch, worms, maggot….nothing. I don’t think even a bloodworm and joker would have caught.

Remembering something I used to use in the days of gudgeon bashing I fed a golf ball sized ball of very hard, dark groundbait, which contained just five or six pinkies.

Two pinkies went on a 22 over the top of this and within minutes I caught. Can you explain that? I can’t, but I know it has worked more than once.


Small worms can unlock a venue so you catch.

Second lesson: small worms are obviously a great attractor. When they fail – even those nice little red ones – or even a bit of a big worm gets no inquiries, a big worm will do the business.

I’d gone three hours in what was admittedly a rubbish area of canal. There was a chance of a half decent perch but this day no one had caught along the length.

My usual chopped worm attack – a banker – had failed. When it’s like this it is often best to keep feeding worms and trying to force the fish into feeding like maniacs.

It didn’t work. But then out of sheer desperation I ditched the light line, put on bigger gear, a 14 hook and a whole worm with the end nipped off. I half expected a pike to have a chomp.

Instead, after a few minutes a nice roach trouble the landing net. Ok, I thought it was a fluke, one that swam past, got annoyed and grabbed the worm.

But it wasn’t long before a nice perch was also in the mesh. They were followed by a few more fish, all on big worms – nothing less than three inches and chunky with it.


Don’t just take a loaf – use it!

Lesson three: never, ever forget bread in colder weather. I know you will be reaching for the punch now but a chunk of flake takes some beating too.

Come on think about it. Someone offers you a quick snack when you aren’t really hungry. You can’t be bothered. They offer you a nice tasty morsel and your belly tells your brain take it.

It’s the same with punch or flake. One will work when the other doesn’t.




A bit of meat can be magic.

Lesson four: meat can be a lifesaver. Many anglers used to believe that meat was best in the summer or for tracking down some big fish in coloured water.

Forget those ‘rules’. It can work anytime of the year and virtually anywhere.

I caught bream on it just before Christmas, fishing a pea sized ragged piece in a semi-commercial fishery.

In the summer no species would have been fast enough to beat the carp to the meat.

Now, with the carp a bit more lethargic, bream and roach get a chance.


Experiment. It’s surprising how many times something different will actually work.



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Beat the cold with this week’s Angler’s Mail – there’s loads of tips and tricks to keep you catching!