Our popular general coarse fishing blogger, Colin Mitchell, is back exclusively for the Angler's Mail website - debating the age old advice that big bait leads to big fish.

 ONE of my sea angling mates once told me: big hooks and big baits equals big fish.

It’s a saying that stands the test of time if you apply it to all forms of angling. But sometimes it can be a case of small baits equals big fish; or at least catching when all else fails.

Take last week’s adventure with Music Mike to a lake where meat has been the No.1 bait for ages and on the rare occasion that doesn’t work worms certainly do!

We arrived after a hard frost, ice still on the ground, a bitter cold wind and bright sunshine. Not the best fishing conditions but this is a venue where we have caught before even after some ice clearing.

Chopped worm-1

We both started feeding very, very carefully and with maggots on the hook to catch a few small roach and perch but no sign of anything else. Mike went on the meat and over the course of the day had four carp to add to his small fish.

I went onto my favoured chopped worms – a method that has never, ever failed here for me in the past. Result: not a bite!

As always I had fed more than one swim and it was the area that had been primed with just a few live and dead maggots and a very tiny amount of micros that produced a few fish.

Then I decided to try another of my winter/hard times tricks and fed a tiny amount of groundbait, just a nugget through a pole pot.

The response was instant with skimmers joining the roach, perch, rudd and small carp. And with single maggot being taken more readily than double.

Summer baits won’t always work in winter. Natural baits are usually much more effective with worms, casters, maggots and bread often having the edge over those pellets and pastes that were so good in summer.


When the bites tailed off I decided to break out the tub of very old pinkies that were in my carryall – and double fluoros had me flying again.

Chopping and changing between single and double red and double pinkies I had bites all day, which is more than most of the others on the lake.

Rather than the normal size 14 or 16 hooks we get away with here I’d gone down to an 18 and a 20. And my total bait use for the day can’t have been more than half a pint of dry groundbait, a good palm full of micro pellets and around a quarter pint in total of maggots.

Nothing new in any of the above: just lessons learnt in the past dragged out and used again. And proof that at this time of the year a good day’s sport can be had with a little thought and very little bait…

Sound the alarm… the ‘noizy boyz’ are here!

Some things in angling do not change – no matter whether it is summer or winter!

Yes the bankside numpties were out again…their arrival heralded by some clanking trollies hurtling down the lake with a vast array of gear, most of which would not be used.

At least they didn’t erect a bivvy for their short day session…although I’m not quite sure what all the hammering was about before they began fishing!

Two rods each for two anglers and their lines stretched in every direction possible, effectively cutting off around ten swims in the lake (which thankfully wasn’t busy). But why cast across to the far bank (not far as the crow flies) and then walk round and feed boilies into the swim?

Maybe they wanted to leave that bit of bank quiet but if that is so why did they cast into the trees there and then spend some time with a landing net snapping off branches to retrieve end rigs?


And then there were the bite alarms! Why, oh why do carp anglers have their alarms set so high that someone in the next country can hear them?

And why do they have them sounding off every few minutes even when they are not getting runs or signs of a bite? I swear these guys were trying to compose some sort of bite alarm symphony!

Needless to say they also had mobile phone syndrome: you know, it appears to be stuck to their ears and they have to shout very loudly so that everyone can listen into their private lives…whether they want to or not!

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