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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DID you take one look at the freezing cold weather and decide against fishing? Think again!

I just love a spot of ice fishing. It’s so different and the thrill of catching one, two or even a few fish through the ice is fantastic, you get a massive sense of achievement.

I went down to the Basingstoke Canal, knocked a hole in the ice – well, a rather big gap to be honest – and then started to catch roach instantly on bread punch. Later in the day I added a few nice perch to chopped worm. Those are the two baits I feel really confident with when fishing like this but in all honesty I reckon that you can also catch on caster and fluoro pinkies.

No mention of bloodworm or joker, even though I know they can sometimes be a lifesaver in terms of attracting bites. I didn’t have these baits, know that most pleasure anglers back off them and to be fair you can still catch without them.

He knows how it’s done – Will Raison had this mighty bag at Gold Valley during a freeze up, for his eMag (available from

So are there any secrets or tricks to fishing through holds in the ice? Most definitely!

I always used to think that you had to delicately break the ice so as not to spook the fish. Now I give it the full welly! Fish are more often than not attracted to the commotion.

My ice breaker is a 2kg smash hammer fastened to a four foot length of chain and then to a heavy duty clothes line.

I sling it to the far bank on the canal then and then used pulled and dropped it using the chain to saw through the ice.

Each time the hammer was allowed to hit the bottom to stir up silt, a cloud to five fish cover and whatever natural food was laying down there dormant.

The gap went from one bank to the other and was about a metre wide. I deliberately had a few gaps and marks to use for shipping out my rig to the right feed areas.

First drop in brought a roach and I fed very, very sparingly, a big marble sized ball of liquidized bread once bites faded away. On the worm line it was two mushed up lobworms with a bit of lob, dendra or redworm on the hook. No more worms were fed until I had caught at least one fish.

I had more than 70 fish in about four hours, nothing big but a great day’s fishing with lots of bites.

I had to break the ice a few more times as it started to freeze over during the day but this still didn’t put the fish off feeding. This is not an isolated catch. My lad and I had a good day at Marsh Farm small lake after smashing the ice and perch from holes in the ice on the canalized section of the River Wey.

I also remember back to the days when the Oxford Canal was a very popular match venue and event organizer Pat O’Connor used a chain saw to cut out your swims. Not one hole…but three! One for the keepnets, one at three metres and then another that would have been your far bank swim!

Always remember, if you do cut a hole in the ice rather than smash it (because it is so thick) pile the ice on the opposite side to that which the wind is blowing from. That way any breeze will help keep the hold from freezing over again.

And finally, remember that walking on ice, even stuff that appears safe, can be very, very dangerous. Stay on the bank and don’t try to become a true Eskimo!



You’ve read how I do it, now here’s some footage from Angler’s Mail TV of proper ice fishing experts at the 2011 Ice Fishing World Championships….








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Click here to read all Colin Mitchell’s pleasure fishing blogs


Great tips in this week’s Angler’s Mail magazine. And next week’s bumper issue (on sale from Tuesday, December 18) comes with free fishing gloves!