Our insightful general angling blogger, Colin Mitchell shares his advice for finding the best fishing spots. If you like this blog, please click the social media icons above to share with your fishing pals.

Spring, summer, autumn or winter...finding the right seasonal features will usually find the fish...

Spring, summer, autumn or winter…finding the right seasonal features will usually find the fish…


THERE’S a skill that appears to be getting lost to many anglers. Now many of you will instantly think I am going to talk about river fishing. Wrong!

It’s the vital art of watercraft, being able to identify best fishing spots (swims), conditions and tactics that are best for catching fish.

Blog MitchNatural anglers like World Champions Bob Nudd and Alan Scotthorne and big fish experts such as Andy Little all appear to have this ability built into their brains. What they learn about fishing after that just adds to their armoury and takes them to the top of the tree.

But for us lesser mortals it is a steeper learning curve. We have to soak up all the information we can, learn from others and also try to remember our successes and mistakes from the past.

After more than 40 decades of angling I like to think I can spot a good swim. I also thought that most other anglers with at least a modicum of experience could do just the same.

I was wrong! I’ve been astounded in recent months about the number of anglers who can’t see a decent swim, peg or area in a lake, river or canal.

Surely an overhanging bush, a weed bed, moored boat or tree roots screams out as a fish holding spot? Sadly, to many anglers it does not!

Features to locate the best fishing spot

It would appear that commercial fisheries have spoiled the swim spotting skills of a number of anglers. Yet these venues shouldn’t have done that – the better swims still have features, whether they are obvious or not so obvious.

One angler told me last week that the only good spot on the local canal was a turning bay because it was wide and held fish.

Take a look at the picture here of the canal just a few hundred yards from that turning bay – wide and packed with features, include overhanging vegetation, a deep channel next to the wall and a flush running in bringing flow and food.


Just a bit further along there is a bridge where the water is also deeper as the few boats churn up the bottom in this narrow section and clear away the debris. The bridge, like some of the trees and bushes along the bank, offers shade to fish.

And I don’t mean because they overhang the water. Sometimes trees and bushes just cast a shadow on the water in lakes, rivers and canals and this is enough to attract many fish and make them feed.

Look at this perch (below) – it came from a barren stretch of water with no trees, bushes and a similar depth as most other swims. But a tree – obviously with few leaves – meant the area was darker.


Don’t always think the obvious

A far bank bush, or a nice slack area, always look fishy. It doesn’t always work that way. Lots of slacks on the rivers near me do not hold fish. They only go into them when the waters are flooded. But the fish do like the crease between flow and slack.

And I can take you to areas where there are loads of bushes that scream ‘fish holding area’ yet you will only catch by fishing down the middle of the river.

I’ve been surprised at how many anglers so find a nice spot on the bank to set up and do not even look at the water in front of them. Then they tackle up and just cast out with no thought.

Fish will move, you can make them feed in different areas with the right bait, scent trails or laying down a carpet of grub.

But why do that when you are pleasure fishing and can get straight into action by selecting the right swim?