colinmitchellcarpsmallIT’S time for our must-read Sunday blog. 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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HOW many maggots have you used so far this season? A pint, a gallon… or none at all?

It’s a pretty safe bet that there are more anglers who have not used grubs at all. Pellet power has engulfed fishing – yes, even I have used them both as feed and hookbaits – and it’s led to a lot of people wearing blinkers. Maggot sales are down and due to that slump in demand the quality of bait available isn’t always as good as it should be.

I’m lucky that my local tackle shop has pretty good bait nearly all of the time – but visits to other outlets when I have not been near home have yielded some pretty inferior bait. So this is my attempt to improve the quality of the bait by trying to increase demand…and help your fishing at the same time!

If you could have just one bait to go fishing with, or just one choice to catch a fish to save your life it would have to be maggots. Worms would be a very close second for me – and sometimes even be first choice! But let’s stick with the humble maggot for now…


Maggots catch nearly all fish that swim (even pike at times). They are simple to hook, easy to feed, can be doctored to give them an edge and be used on different sized hooks and multiples for different fish. Big lively maggots were always what we wanted – but in recent years we have also come to realise just how deadly dead maggots can be, especially for bigger fish.

Small fish are suckers for lively maggots. Put two, three or even four on a bigger hook and you can often pick off bigger fish. But when those nuisance smaller fish simply won’t even leave a bunch of maggots in peace, slip on a couple of dead grubs and the tiny species are less troublesome. That’s also pretty handy when you are using barbless hooks as dead baits don’t come off so easily.

Last week I went armed with a multitude of baits for my first match in ages. Meat, corn and paste had been scoring at this venues and were my first choices. I also had a variety of pellets, worms and at the last minute took maggots…just in case…

I was cursing when I examined the maggots as half of them had died overnight (not the normal tackle dealer as my mate picked them up for me). As it turned out, those dead maggots, pole fished and used on a method feeder rig, proved to be my best bait on the day and got me a decent net of fish whilst others around me struggled. Just one of them had maggots, a young lad with brains.

The bonus of maggots is that you can also turn them into casters, a great bait for all fish, a good feed bait, and quite often something that scores when fish don’t want maggots. You can also freeze maggots rather than throw them away or watch them turn into floating casters. We are back to the dead maggots here…good for feed and hook.

Dead maggots don’t wriggle into the bottom mud or silt like live ones and can be fed in groundbait without the fear of them taking on air and floating. One maggot on a size 20 or below; two on an 18 or 16 hook, two or three on a 14…and if you really want a big bunch on a large hook, you can use a bait clip.

Can’t catch like you used to with pellets? Quick, get back to maggots before anyone else realises just how effective they might be at your local fishery.

And with the cold weather approaching don’t forget the humble pinkie – preferably fluoro – which can score when all other baits fail. These small maggots are NOT just for small fish…



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Bream hauling on match gear, full report on what Dick Clegg called "one of the best results ever" and loads more can be enjoyed by getting the new AM magazine, in good shops from Tuesday, September 3.

Bream hauling on match gear, full report on what Dick Clegg called “one of the best results ever” and loads more can be enjoyed by getting the new AM magazine, in good shops now.

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