In his popular weekly blog for this Angler's Mail website, Colin Mitchell shares his autumn top fishing tips for feeding and best tackle presentation for catching big this season.
THERE are a number of elements you need to get right for successful fishing trips.
But the two most important are probably tackle presentation and feeding. And if you’re seeing autumn fishing tips, you should pay attention!
In fact you can sometimes get away with not presenting your end rig quite right and still mug a few fish. But get the feeding wrong and you can forget all hope of a red letter day.
You need to feed correctly to get fish into your swim and then keep them there by offering them just the right amount of regular bait. Put in too much bait and the fish will be overfed. Put in too little and they either won’t have the confidence to feed well or they will disappear to another swim where they will get some grub.
How much feed? Where to feed it? When to feed it?
Let’s start with the where. Obvious places are near features such as bushes, overhanging trees and bushes. What was that you said? Winter’s getting close and all the above are dying off.
Get your plummet out and check out the features you can’t see but which are just as important – the deeper holes, the shallow ledges, slopes. All rivers and lakes have some form of bottom change and these attract fish like magnets.
When to feed? Maybe have a couple of quick drops in to see if there are any mug fish that want to snap up bait quickly. Then the best ploy, as always, is little and often. How little? How often? That takes us nicely to how much to feed and only your fishing session can answer that question.
More bites equals more feed needed. But less – or even no bites – doesn’t mean you stop feeding. Just take a little more care on still-waters and canals as what you put in you can’t take out. On rivers, where food will often get washed away, keep the trickle of bait going. I know that a lot of the top angling coaches get asked about feeding on virtually every session they take. Like me they are unable to give a definite answer because every session and every day is different.
But there is one thing you should remember. If you hear that the anglers bagging on a venue are using four pints of maggots or two packets of pellets as feed that is a great piece of advice. But it is no use taking that bait with you, coming home with most of it and saying you can’t understand why you didn’t catch.
This is also the time of year you should be thinking about whether to cup or pot in bait when pole fishing. Now you are scratching your head wondering what is the difference between the two methods…Obviously, in most cases anyway, cups are bigger than pots. Pots mean less feed. However, pots do come into their own a lot more now fish are not eating as much as they did in summer.
If fish are going to be a bit cagey and may not settle with food going in over their heads, a decent pot of pellets or groundbait at the start could kick start your swim, and then don’t top up until you get a few fish or regular bites.
A pot can be used to trickle in bait all of the time. Each time you pull the pole back to check your bait fill up the pot. Don’t just leave it sitting like an ornament on the end of your pole. Let it do its job.
I struggled on a local stillwater last week where I fished three areas of my swim in an attempt to keep it going. In the end the margin swim was next to useless, the area to my left where I had potted in groundbait, micro pellets and a few maggots produced a few fish, mainly stragglers. But the area slightly to my left where I potted in micro pellets, a couple of grains of corn and a few maggots on a very regular basis produced the bulk of my fish.
I don’t think the difference in bait fed into the areas made a lot of difference. I actually got the impression that there were only a few fish around which gobbled up the pots of bait pretty quickly. I picked off one or two and two and then I reckon the next fish came into the swim, probably as they saw a steady stream of bait falling through the water.
Sometimes you’ve got to pile it in!
I’ll finish with a story about a friend who used to fish matches on the river when a gallon of bait was used by anyone who won or framed.
He was – and still is – a pretty decent angler but never, ever got into the money on those events. He never got close and that left him puzzled. He asked one of our friends who framed regularly what he was doing wrong. The answer came back: “Every week you take a gallon of bait but every week you come back with six pints.”
You don’t always need that amount of bait to catch a load of fish – especially on still-waters at this time of the year – but there’s no point buying and taking it if you don’t even think about using it!