Colin Mitchell, our regular pleasure fishing blogger, weighs in with some of the most frequent problems that lurk behind any fishing trip. Sweaty maggots, dodgy groundbait... we've all been there!

SOMETIMES in angling things don’t go to plan. There is always a potential disaster lurking around the corner.

So what are some of the most common catastrophes and annoyances and how do you avoid them?

Add water and mix it in by hand to give a stiff groundbait.

Easy does it – you don’t want to over-wet your groundbait.

Over-wetted groundbait

You should always be adding water slowly, bit by bit, to dry groundbait until it reaches a nice texture (although there are some make that suggest otherwise as they are created differently).

Use a sponge or an atomiser spray if you want to be very careful in getting the consistency of the groundbait right.

Every now and then, probably when you are rushing, you will over wet the groundbait. Sometimes that means tipping it out of the bowl and discarding but there is a trick you can try to restore it to useable form.

Get some dry groundbait and sprinkle it on your over-wet bait. I always ensure I have some dry groundbait left in my bag when mixing up, just in case.

Grind the new mix together, although it still won’t feel right. Next step is to put the lot through a riddle – even just a small maggot riddle if that is all that’s available. You won’t have perfect groundbait but it could just be good enough to use.

If you don’t have spare dry groundbait to add try finding some sand or dry soil and use that instead but remember this could bind the original mix even more.


Maggots that ARE good enough to eat!

Manky maggots

You know the ones – they stink to high heaven and the smell of the ammonia is enough to make you collapse on the bank. Do you really think the fish will fancy munching them? Of course not!

Riddle off any sawdust, maize and other rubbish and drop a few handfuls of dry groundbait into the maggot container. This will clean them up, de-grease them and make them smell loads better.

I often take a few neat maggots out of the tub, place them in another container and add a few drops of my favourite additive to make them smell even more appealing.

Don’t feed any maggots treated for a lengthy period in liquid additive – they won’t always sink, just like when you soak maggots in water to make them float.

The wrong hooks

No matter what you do you can’t hit the bites. Or when you do hit the bites the fish come off. We will presume you are limited to barbless hooks – if you aren’t, then get a very small micro barbed on your line when this happens.

Most of the time a change in pattern of hook will work wonders. I had it last week when I whip fished for the first time in ages. Loads of fish were coming off as I played them or I couldn’t hit bites.

I chopped and changed until I found a Kamasan 911 did the job. It was a bit strong for the type of fishing I was doing but the wide gape worked a treat, not only keeping on the bait but also the fish!

Carp hooks

Change that hook – size can make all the difference!

Bashful biters

It could be that you can’t even hit the bites you get. Try going up and down a size in hooks until you do. There is also another trick here that won’t sound right but does work!

You could be catching small to medium sized fish, ones that would normally mean a 20 or 18 hook with one or two maggots. Bin the small hooks and put on a 14 with a single maggot.

I know, I know, totally wrong, against all you know about matching hook to bait size and fish target. But sometimes this trick can turn missed bites into caught fish, especially when there are a lot of fish about competing for food.

1. BETTER ACCURACY: In order to get your feeder landing in the same place you need to line up a far bank marker and also clip up your reel line. You’ll achieve better accuracy by bringing the rod over the shoulder of your casting arm, rather than from the side – a mistake many anglers new to this method make. Keep your arms straight as you cast and keep your eyes trained on the marker.

Cast regularly with the feeder – get some bait out there!

Feed, feed, feed

You are catching loads of fish on the feeder but can’t get through the smaller ones to the bigger ones. Take off your hook length, slip on the biggest feeder you have, clip up, cast accurately and keep on repeatedly baiting your swim.

Do not be afraid to chuck it out ten or even 20 times. The commotion could attract the fish, the bait the feeder leaves behind will certainly attract them and if they are only small to start it might not stay that way as their bigger brothers come to investigate what is going on.

If you think that is a lot of bait, think again. Fill your feeder 20 times and tip the contents into a bait box, it’s a lot less than you think and far less than you would feed if you balled some groundbait on the pole line.

Carl gets to grips with running a float through a fast-paced swim.

Standing up can make all the difference.

Stand up!

We all like the comfort of our seat boxes but sometimes it pays to stand.

For legering in rivers when you need to have your tip high, standing is a must.

Likewise when fishing as stick float or waggler in flowing water.

But sometimes you also get a better idea of where you are fishing and how your float is reacting if you stand. If you are not sure try sitting and then change to standing for a few casts.

You could be amazed at the difference. I was last week when I doubled the rated I was catching roach purely by standing which let me cast and feed much more efficiently.

Ugly find in my Emerald Isle angling paradise

Ok, it’s soapbox time again following a trip last week to Ireland and the lovely area around Inniscarra Reservoir outside Cork.

Not only is the fishing great and the people friendly but the scenery can be quite stunning in the surrounding area.

Colin Mitchell has been on Inniscarra in Ireland... but was not happy with what he found.

Colin Mitchell has been on Inniscarra in Ireland… but was not happy with what he found.

As I walked down one of my favourite stretches and lowered my box to the floor I felt something under my boot.

Luckily I lifted my foot quickly – otherwise the abandoned sweetcorn tin would have cut into the waders and given me an expensive day. Imagine what it could have done to a less protected foot or a dog walking through the grass.

There were also discarded bottles, food wrappers and human excrement…and sadly only so-called anglers can take the blame!

We collected up all of our rubbish and some left by others to have nearly half a sack of stuff that should not have been there. Despite the dangers the other big risk from these type of incidents is that the fishing could be lost.

It’s not only Inniscarra or Ireland that is affected. Lots of venues are – even commercials.

I don’t know the answer other than more vigilance and bans for those that are caught. Your views more than welcome…

Blog Mitch