IT’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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IT DOESN’T matter how many or how much you catch – you learn best from experience and your mistakes.

Two sessions in the space of three days last week showed me how I should not wear blinkers and how it is often best to visit any venue with a totally open mind.

Obviously you need to do your homework on depths, species, best spots and any other info you can glean. But don’t take all of the above as gospel and always remember things change from day to day, even on waters you know well. Or think you know well!

I expected an evening session on a local stillwater to be excellent. It had been warm most of the week, the sun had been out all day and as it got lower in the sky I expected the venue to go bonkers. Yet the first hour was slow as I fished corn over micro pellets, a ploy that had worked exactly a year ago in the same conditions and in the same area.

When I thought about it there had been a slight change in the conditions – the wind was blowing towards my end of the lake, which should have made sport sock on. But it wasn’t! At the end of the evening I’d landed 17 tench and three crucians plus a few rudd. A great evening but most of the fish came at the end of the session and, if I am honest, I greedily expected more.

What went ‘wrong’? It’s always difficult to know but I reckon I should have fed more, even when I wasn’t getting many bites. My two biggest tench were touching 5 lb and I got seen off twice. There were much bigger fish in my swim than the previous year and I reckon they scoffed the free offerings much faster. The second session was an all-dayer at Finch Farm near Maidenhead, my venue for a guaranteed catch no matter what the weather. You never know what will be next when the float goes under.

I fed, as usual, to the far bank rushes and right down the edge. Pellets and groundbait on the nearside, just pellets and corn over, in search of bigger fish. After an hour I was struggling, just two fish but lots of tiny dips and indications on the float at both 11 and three metres. Eventually we sussed that the fish had a BIG liking for meat. They weren’t on the corn as normal and maggots brought just tiny fish. For some strange reason pellets weren’t anywhere near the top of the menu either. But even with the meat the place wasn’t fishing right, or I was fishing it wrong!

The temperature had dropped, but not enough to turn the fish off, and the wind was pretty strong, but not so bad to affect presentation. Once again it took me time to figure out that the fish – mostly carp, with some bream – wanted feed little but very often. I’d also used the ‘wrong’ feed pellets.

Expecting the place to fish as normal at this time of the year and thinking I would have to get past the small fish to the bigger ones, I’d taken along 3mm feed pellets. I should have stuck to micros. Late in the session I fed just four or five pellets every minute, or after every bite, whichever came first, at three metres, next to the nearside vegetation. With either a bunch of maggots or a bit of meat on the hook I then got a fish a bung, and a surprising number of crucians among the commons, mirrors and various ornamentals.

The swim literally came alive to the change of feeding pattern. With that many fish around you would have thought that any old feeding, so long as it was regular, who have got them going. Not so. These fish definitely wanted to compete strongly for their grub and they had a liking for smaller particles on the day.

I always used to believe that you fed lightly to start and built up as the bites improved. I really must get my memory rebooted!



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