Colin Mitchell, our popular weekly general coarse angling blogger, is back to share some of his more "entertaining" experiences on the bank that have raised a laugh or two!

YOU may not remember the slogan but there was once a campaign called Fish for Fun.

It could have been called Fishing is Fun, or Let’s have Some Fun whilst Fishing… because that’s what a lot of us do.

I’m not only talking about catching a few fish, enjoying the countryside or catching up with a few mates.

There’s also the Jolly Japes…the mickey-taking tricks that also make out sport something to smile about.

So here, in no particular order, are just some of the things I can remember that have raised a laugh or two… or a few grimaces!

A warning first though: some of these things should not be tried at home. Or outdoors!maggots

Now that was a ‘bed of bait’!

Let’s travel back in time to a great Irish Festival in Enniskillen when I was lucky enough to share a chalet for the week with the great Ivan Marks, Stan Piecha, Keith Elliott and Trev Tomlin.

After a good session of Irish hospitality I crawled into my sleeping bag – I had drawn lucky to have a room on my own, but unlucky that it was sofa bed. I’d just slipped off to sleep when Ivan woke me, shaking and asking who had put the maggots in his bed.

Totally lost in space I blurted out: “Maggots? I’ve also got casters, groundbait… I just shook them out,” and then fell back to sleep.

Ivan realised I wasn’t the joker. And neither was his room-mate Stan, who also had a pre-baited bed! One of the other two got the blame – and got home, opened their suitcase and discovered revenge was sweet in the form of a pint of squatts!

You’ve had a bite, mate

Of course maggots are always a great foundation for a joke or two and that brings us nicely to the jape that backfired.

One of our fellow competitors went for a walk during a club match and bad lad that he was then left his leger rig in the water.

A fellow angler nipped along to the absent angler’s peg, reeled in, chewed the maggot (well ok, he might have just burst it) and then cast the rig back out.

Our bank walker returned, reeled in and found his bait chewed…. something that had not happened to anyone on a very difficult winter’s day.

Inspired by the fact a fish might have fed in his peg he concentrated for the rest of the match and, yes you guessed, caught and won!

More silliness you may have tried too

Sometime though you catch what you don’t really want – just like the joke about an old boot!

But how about a big wet rag on your line? I kid you not, they fight like demons, really solid, kite a bit but pull down deep. You should see someone’s face when they have caught a towel. It’s a real treat. Must remember… haven’t done that one for a while!

We also used to do silly tricks on ourselves – and this is one you shouldn’t try – by checking if electric fences were really switched on.

It only takes a quick touch and you get this ridiculous shock which for some reason used to make us giggle.


You could, of course, pretend to hold the fence, just wrap your hand around the wire without touching it. Then you got a giggle when your mate jumped back as he touched it for real to check what you had told him that it wasn’t live.

Having avoided the electric fence, the bull in the field and then survived the very long walk back to your mate’s mum’s car you certainly didn’t want to make your journey home more difficult. It was bad enough that three of you got into a rabbit hutch car with a basket and holdall each…

But if you had a fishing pal like my mate Harry things could get a bit difficult, especially as his mum had a habit of getting a bit volatile if made to wait a long time for us anglers. So having arrived back at our pick-up point a bit late we were already on dangerous ground.


Harry didn’t help matters when he delved into his groundbait bucket – a proper household bucket filled with water – and produced a live 4lb eel which he put perilously close to his mother’s face and exclaimed: “Look what I caught!”

The air turned blue! Harry was ordered to put the eel back into the bucket of water and get it back to the river like he was always going to anyway. However, the threat of a 12-mile walk back home for us looked very, very close.

We did get our lift back in total silence broken only when we pulled up on the drive of Harry’s home: “Thanks Mam, I have got a present for you though… some smaller eels I have kept in my basket.”

Thankfully he was joking…


A right wriggling nightmare

Sometimes the laughs are not deliberate, such as at the first big festival English anglers staged in Holland where one of the competitors was that great river angler Paul Newell.

Now worms were in short supply and a valuable bait so Paul decided he would keep them in his hotel bathroom overnight in an open container with the light left on so that the worms stayed in their dirt. But during the night his other half went to the loo and as she came out of the bathroom switched off the light.

You can guess the rest…

Ivan’s terrible yellow perils

And finally we have to return to the legend that was Ivan Marks. Not a jolly jape just a normal happening in the life of an angling master…

We were off to Germany to fish a big match on the River Weser as guests of the British Army and turned up with all of our gear at Luton Airport. It was a civilian flight but hired out to the military.

Some rather zealous jobsworths decided it would be a good idea to check out our fishing luggage and delve into our boxes. A hand went into Ivan’s and pulled out a mass tangle of catapults, reels and other accessories – all jumbled together.

But a tub of yellow maggot dye was also extracted and managed to spill onto two of the airline baggage guys who must have thought they were being poisoned. They ran around like headless chickens as Ivan just pulled out another of his famous ciggies, lit up and shook his head.


The late great Ivan Marks… many a laugh was had by anglers in his company.

When we did get to Germany Ivan still had enough dye to colour up some freshly bought maggots – all of our bait had been “held” at the airport except the couple of bags of casters some of us had managed to slip into our pockets.

The problem was that Ivan decided to dye his bait in the bathroom sink – at the home of the high-ranking officer he was staying with. The Captain, Colonel, Major or whatever his rank didn’t say a word about his newly coloured bathroom. I think he was just so happy to have Mr Marks stay with him!


GOT an amusing story from your recent fishing sessions? Email to: – your story may get published in Angler’s Mail magazine and even win a prize from Angling Direct.