Colin Mitchell, our Sunday blogger.

IT’S time for our must-read Sunday blog on this new-look Angler’s Mail website. 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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AS I write, it’s a lovely winter’s day, the sun is beating down and it looks great for a session at the waterside. But I know it’s quite simply not worth the effort of getting the gear out and into the car unless I just fancy sitting outside in the fresh air.

The chances of catching in these conditions – despite a mild night – are pretty slim. But give it a few more hours until that sun starts to hit the horizon and it’s a totally different story. As the light fades and we start to slip into darkness the fishing even in this weather, and even if there had been a frost the previous evening, can be amazing. Waters that were dead and appeared totally bereft of fish come alive. In fact the transformation can sometimes be unbelievable.

Fishing in the winter – is it worth it?

Fish quite simply don’t like bright winter conditions, especially as the water is, more than likely, crystal clear. You can fish as light as you like with the smallest hooks you can tie and struggle to get a bite. Yet when that light starts to go it often doesn’t matter about the size of your hook and line.

I was on the River Loddon near Reading a few years ago in these conditions. The flow was top notch and I knew there were fish in the swim. But no matter what I or my mate did we couldn’t get a bite. Then, around 3pm, just as it started to get a touch colder, the fish started to feed…and how!

The 24 hook was replaced by a 14 and it was literally a case of a fish a cast. To be honest, we didn’t even have to feed as the roach, dace and chub wanted it so much!

It was dark when we packed up. We’d fished until the tips of our floats couldn’t even be seen as shadows.

It was the same story on the Basingstoke Canal…four hours for just a couple of tiny perch before the sun sank and then a raft of bigger specimens, plus roach and bream.

This is also the time when different baits can score heavily. Bread can often become a No.1 choice, either in punch or flake form. Just don’t feed too much.

Fish appear to react instantly to bread if they are in the swim. If you don’t catch on it fast, change bait…but don’t be scared to try it again later in the session. Worms are also another killer bait for winter. But don’t stick to redworms and dendrobaenas. Nothing beats a juicy lobworm, or part of a lobbie. And if you can get them, fluoro pinkies – single of double – often catch when a normal sized maggot fails to get even a sign of interest.

I’d like to tell you which works best between maggot or caster in winter. But you will have to experiment with this as it does vary from venue to venue. Push me and I would go for the caster. It just appears to have the edge on a lot of occasions in winter and often has the bonus of appealing to bigger fish.

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