Colin Mitchell, in his popular weekly general coarse fishing blog, ponders the question of how many fish were really out there? And he probes technology for sussing swims.

AFTER a day’s fishing do you ever think just how many fish must have been in front of you?

When you have had just one fish or a handful you start to imagine there are very few in the lake, river or even just your swim.

And after you have landed enough to fill a keepnet your brain asks how many more fish were down there – or if indeed you did empty the venue!

But let’s get on thing straight – you never catch everything that is swimming in front of you, unless there are very few fish in the venue and they are very nomadic.

I once had around 90 lb of rudd on a three metre pole, fishing just a short distance away from my keepnet.

All of the fish were 4oz or under and I got one a bung for five hours, except for when my rig tangled.

I fed groundbait and maggots continuously, lost fish as I tried to swing them and didn’t have to make any conscious effort to keep disturbance to a minimum.

Rudd kept coming!

Rudd kept coming!

How many were in that lake?

The fish were still feeding when the whistle went to end the match – that I didn’t even win – so how many fish were in front of me.

Everyone caught loads that day and it made you wonder how long we could have kept on catching.

The questions above came to mind last week I went for a couple of hours bream fishing at Farnham AS’s Badshot Lea big lake.

The weather was overcast, warmer than it had been but I would have liked some breeze creating a ripple.

Two rods launched big frame feeders loaded with groundbait, micro pellets and dead maggots.

As the weather still hadn’t warmed up just five loads from each and then on went a nice salmon and shrimp boilie.

One feed and bait went in around 35 metres and I launched the other to around 60-65 metres as felt the fish could be a bit further from the bank in the conditions.

The idea was not to put in any more bait until I got a few bites believing the fish might not be feeding madly and you can’t take out what you put in.

With almost an hour gone the far rod went with a really good run – but as I was playing the fish the shorter distance rod nodded a couple of times without sounding the alarm.


After getting a nice bream just over 5lb into the landing net I quickly picked up the other rod and in came a fish around 2lb 8oz.

Instant thoughts were that I was in for a red-letter day.

Well, I got two more knocks that could have been liners or small fish unable to pick up the bait, and that was it!

I was happy to catch on a not too perfect day but was left wondering if they were stray fish or there had been a really massive shoal that passed through really quickly and mopped up what I had fed.

The bailiff came round and reckoned this type of pattern is quite usual for the lake, two fish, same time at different distances.

The questions will, of course, never be answered, which is all part and parcel of this great sport of fishing and something that gives us something to think and talk about.

Echo sounders, bait boats and underwater cameras

Now this gives me the chance to move nicely into the area of questioning the use of echo sounders, bait boats and underwater cameras in fishing.

The only time I have used an echo sounder is when boat fishing at sea and when watching a fish survey on a massive lake.

I wouldn’t use one in my normal fishing as for me it would take the fun out of using watercraft to find and catch fish.


Likewise with an underwater camera – I love seeing underwater footage of fish and fishing but it’s just not for me when I am on the bank with my gear.

Bait boats are something that divide opinion and in some waters they are banned.

I don’t like bans unless they are really needed and if someone wants to use a bait boat let them unless they are disturbing someone’s sport.

But once again I won’t use one. If I can’t cast somewhere or bait by hand, with a catapult, throwing stick or feeder then I am not really using any fishing skills.

It’s a bit like the self-striking rods and electronic reels that we used to see advertised… you might as well give someone your gear and let them go fishing for you!

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