Every 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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CATCHING IN THE COLD
CATCHING fish in the cold is all about making the right decisions. And it’s also about being in the right place at the right time.
In summer and warmer weather you can make mistakes in presentation, feeding and even swim selection and get away with it. You could still catch a few fish. Get it wrong at this time of the year and you may as well have stayed at home. But get it right and there is nothing like landing a fish you have worked hard for.
Indeed, get it right and you could have a red-letter day in the cold weather.
Moving until you find feeding fish is a good option. But if you prefer to stay put for longer look for two areas – or even more – of your swim that you can feed. I’d like three areas and quite often feed four or five areas in a different manner, on flowing water, stillwaters or canals. You can use different baits in each areas, different feed patterns, more or less grub.
My initial ploy would be to have one area that I feed very, very lightly and which I won’t necessarily top up until I get a bite or two. Obviously, on flowing water this could mean very little and not so often, usually with the hookbaits, even if no bites. You need to lure fish to the area, maybe from downstream, or to entice them to feed.
My second area would be a heavier feed area and quite often is a chopped worm and caster line. I’ll put in around three chopped lobworms or six to eight dendrobaenas. And I won’t fish this area for at least an hour. Even then it will be one drop in and if the float doesn’t show signs of a bite pretty quickly I will leave the area alone.
Another spot could have a touch of groundbait, fed as small, hard balls, with a few pinkies or dead maggots, and a fourth spot sprinkled with light groundbait with a bit of loose feed put over the top, or maybe a few micro pellets. If I am fishing the pole I will feed via a pot, even with the loose fed maggots or casters. I like to feed tight when the fishing is tough as it tends to pull in a better stamp of fish.
If you get more bites sprinkle the feed around a little to give the fish more area to move around in and to compete. This should also lead to you getting better bites. Remember you can’t take out what you have put in – but you can step up your feed if you start catching more.
A word of warning though – don’t start feeding heavier as soon as you start to get bites. Keep it measly or you could find the fish backing off your bait. It happens a lot in winter. In fact it’s not unusual to gets bites, feed and then find the swim dies. Don’t dash off home as the fish quite often come back in half an hour or so.
Use dark groundbaits in clearer water as the fish don’t like showing themselves over bright areas, especially when there are predators about. If you think your groundbait isn’t dark enough drop some bankside soil in it and give it a good mix to darken it. Make sure you don’t get the bait too sticky as you want it breaking up unless it’s taking bait to the bottom in flowing water.
Hookbaits can be bright. A nice bright yellow grain of corn, glowing white bread or fluoro maggots often catch when all else fail. Fish can see these baits from distance and the bright colours probably do no harm in making some species attack them purely because they stand out.
And just because it is cold don’t presume fish are on the bottom. A bit of warm weather or loose feed will bring them up in the water. Overhanging cover is great when it is bright but open water can often produce when it is a dull day or the water is shallow and warms up faster.
Bushes and branches are great on canals too – but don’t always produce when there are rotting leaves under them. And with winter starting a bit later this year those leaves could be around unless there has been a flush through thanks to boats.
No need to get up early – unless you want the pick of spots – because nine times out of ten the last hour of daylight is often the best. My mate and I fished a stretch of river that was clear and low and couldn’t buy a bite all day despite dropping to fine lines and tiny hooks with small baits. But as soon as the sun dropped and the light started to fade the river came alive. We stepped up line and hooks and caught no matter what we cast out.
It was like a switch had been thrown that said it was feeding time. We’d have caught into dark if we could have seen our floats!
Not all days will be like that though so it is important to stay warm, concentrate, don’t let the cold get to you and be sure you don’t miss those few digs on the quivertip or dips of the float.
COLIN MITCHELL WILL BE BACK WITH HIS POPULAR PLEASURE FISHING BLOG NEXT SUNDAY.
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