Colin Mitchell talks best winter fishing baits in his popular Angler's Mail blog. Click the social media icons to share this top advice with your fishing mates online.
THERE always used to be a trend to think small in winter.
No, not that! Behave…. we are not talking of the effects on your angler’s anatomy (if you are male) if you haven’t got the right thermal gear in place.
More like dropping down in hook size and fishing with smaller baits in a bit to earn some bites on hard days.
There were times that a double maggot became a single maggot, then it was a single pinkie, a squatt and even on occasions a bit of a squatt!
Worms went from whole dendras to bits of them or the smallest worms you could find.
But you know what… those are NOT always the best baits and ways to earn a bite.
They may work when you are trying to winkle out a small fish but in all honesty think bigger or a bit different if you want to score in winter.
Worms, bread, maggots, casters, pinkies are all great winter fishing baits but do you know how to get an edge with any of them?
These mini maggots win extra winter fish
They won’t always work but here are a few tried and tested tips that usually bring me a few extra fish, or indeed ensure that I catch.
One of the best baits around has do be pinkie. Nearly all fish eat them and fluoro ones appear to score when all else fails, in both clear and coloured water.
But one of the best ways to attract bites with them is to feed hard nuggets of dark groundbait, gobstopper sized pieces containing maybe just two or three grubs.
Then fish double pinkies over the top on a 22, 20 or even a size 18 hook. Go for a lighter hook as these are small baits.
The other bonus is that pinkies keep for ages in a fridge if you start off with fresh bait. And even when they shrink a bit and get tougher they will often still outscore big maggots.
Whack on a worm!
And forget about searching around for the smallest worm you can possibly find. Whack on a lobworm or a big dendrobaena. Yes…go for it!
It’s not unusual to fish over chopped worm dragging allsorts of sized worms looking for a bite and failing… until you offer up a big worm.
You see those fish that turned their nose up at expending a bit of energy to grab small worms just can’t resist that one bit of movement to grab a nice big free feed. Caught out!
Having said that, there are also days when a piece of dendra or lobbie that is about the same size as a maggot will do the business.
Or…get a worm, hack it in two and put both bits on the hook, an open end at the top and the other facing in the opposite direction. Works a treat those juices flowing all over the place.
Punch ’em out with bread
The size of bread you used – punch or flake – you really have to match to the size of fish you are aiming to catch.
But once again don’t just go looking for the smallest punch in your box. Bigger can sometimes be better – easier for a fish to spot from distance in clear water?
Or why not try two pieces on the hook. The greed factor can work in your favour.
Punch need not only be used on the float, and nor does it only catch small fish, as was very well explained in the Angler’s Mail blog by Darren Cox about catching winter winter carp.
Very little but still often is the feeding pattern that will work more times than not but if you are struggling to get a bite and want to try something different, heave in the bait.
You’ve nothing to lose and there have often been times when a few big handfuls of maggots or around four big balls of groundbait – with very little feed – have turned the fish on for me.
This feeding spell may not last long but it can produce a few fish or even the occasional bigger samples.