COLIN MITCHELLEvery Sunday we welcome coarse fishing all-rounder Colin Mitchell.

For many years Colin was a senior Angler’s Mail magazine staff man and he has enjoyed a long, interesting journalism career.

He understands match fishing, pleasure fishing, carp fishing – the lot.

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Weight a minute…


I’VE got a bit of a weight problem. No…not like that, although I confess that I could probably do with cutting out the pizzas for a few weeks!

I am more concerned about the weights some anglers claim for the fish they have caught.

I’ve always been a bit suspicious about some claimed weights, ever since my early days on Angler’s Mail.

You know the ones I mean – those pictures where the fish is held forwards; where you can’t see the actually width of the fish’s body and the captor’s hand looks like it’s been blown up with a foot pump (it if is not carefully hidden from view).

And just recently I’ve had even more cause for concern thanks to some of the guesstimates I have heard on the bank.

The guy two swims along from me last week landed a nice carp and went to great pains to lift it up in the landing net to show me it. It was a good 7-8lb, might have gone 9-10lb on a good day.

He unhooked it and slipped it back before a guy who obviously knew him appeared on the bank and asked it he had caught anything.

‘Just one carp around 27lb,’ was his reply.

TWENTY-SEVEN POUNDS! I nearly fell off my box. I know he was two swims away but my eyes aren’t that bad and there is NO WAY that fish was anywhere near that big. Even with the benefit of doubt I’d only give him 12lb maximum.

It was the same when some anglers started telling me about 3lb perch they had caught in a local water where I know you are lucky to get one over 1lb.

And the so-called double-figure tench from another lake not far from me were also stretching the imagination to the moon…and back!

If you can’t estimate the weight of a fish very well and want to tell people about it – weigh the specimen. Then there is no doubt.

I was out last week with my mate and cousin who caught a nice carp on the pole. He thought it was a good one on the method and we weighed it for him. It looked around 8 lb but came in at 5 lb 8oz. It had the body size but must have been hollow.

Just because a fish LOOKS big don’t presume that it also weighs heavy. Believe me I have seen some monster fish over the years and the size of them has sometimes fooled me.

There was the giant pike from a fairly local gravel pit that I went to photograph. The guy said it was big and might make 30 lb. When he pulled in his sack it looked over 40 lb to me!

This fish was a real monster, a proper crocodile, yet it took good scales to just 28lb. Still a lovely specimen.

Then there was the guy who called and said he had a really big carp one which, at the time, would have shaken the record. Carp of 35lb plus were – and should still be – really notable.

When I saw him pull the sack out of the water I was gob-smacked. This was a giant of a mirror, a big round specimen that looks well heavy.

At 40 lb-plus it was certainly and eye-opener and even experienced carpers who watched the weighing thought it went heavier. The scales had been checked, so the weight was right.

Likewise, when I was called to go and do some pictures of what were then record bream at 15 lb-plus I went expecting to see big fish. I was stunned by the size of these slabs.

They were so big that they covered the bottom of a single-man blow up dinghy. A picture simply didn’t do them justice, you had to be there or you would have sworn they were over 20lb.

But the call that really took the biscuit was the one from the guy with two double-figure tench. He didn’t say where they were caught but I knew that his address was near some pits that were capable.

It turned out his house backed onto the Thames – so this looked like being an even more remarkable catch.

When he pulled his keep net from the river my jaw hit the deck. There was no doubt these were double-figure fish…but how do you tell someone that the ‘tench’ he has just caught are actually mirror carp?


….and finally

If you have ever fished matches you will know that many match anglers are great at fibbing – or rubbish at estimating the weight of fish in their nets!

I’ve seen so-called 10lb weights turn into 20lb when the scales have arrived. It’s seldom that match men guess heavier than what they have caught.

I always used to try and count the fish, or add up the weights of each fish as each one went into the net. It’s not easy, especially when you are catching lots of fish of different sizes.

I made a rare appearance on the match circuit two weeks ago and when the scales arrived I predicted I had around 22lb. The scales said 25lb 12oz, which I reckon meant I had done pretty well with my guesstimate.

But don’t you leave anything to chance if you really want to know what your fish weighed – there are plenty of good scales, slings and nets around now to ensure that your personal records books are accurate.






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