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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AT the moment it’s difficult to predict what sort of weather we are going to have from one week to the next – but one thing is for sure: it’s getting colder!

The change from warmer to colder weather always brings patchy sport. Quite often it makes for very difficult fishing. But here are a few tips that could just save the day for you…

First, look for a period of settled weather. It doesn’t matter if it’s warm or cold, wet or dry, bright or cloudy. If you get three days where the weather is consistent the fish should be settled and feeding.

Don’t be put off by a frost…unless it’s the very first one of the winter and particularly harsh. Frost always takes time to get through the water and cool it down – just like the sun took time to warm it up at the start of the summer. And if a lake or river is carrying coloured water, worry even less about that frost as the colour means it won’t fish half as badly as a venue with crystal clear water.

Scale down your tackle. Use thinner line and smaller hooks. You no longer need the heavy gear of summer as fish don’t fight quite so strongly. But still don’t take risks, be sensible about tackle choice and remember you still have to land the fish even if you can attract bites. If you are not getting bites scale down hook size until you do. It’s surprising what you can land on a good, strong size 20 or 22 hook!


Darker groundbait can be a very good option as waters start to get clearer.

Keep feeding but ease back on how much you put in. Once the feed is in the water you can’t take it out! If the fish start of gobble up the grub you can always step up how much groundbait or loose feed you offer them.

Groundbait in winter? Yes! Sometimes this can be the key to getting fish to feed. It is not the swim killer many people used to believe. Just remember that it is an attractor, it should not feed, so ensure what you mix up hasn’t got a heavy feed content.

Likewise, with water being a bit clearer go for a darker bait, often the darker the better. This creates a dark cloud or a dark layer on the bed of the lake or river which can give fish confidence to feed.

It also means that your target fish are not so easily spotted by pike – like they would be if they were feeding over a bed of white or very light coloured groundbait.

The same baits you used in summer will work in winter but once again ease back on them. Sweetcorn is no longer regarded as only a warm weather bait but you certainly don’t want to be feeding much of it – in fact many top anglers feed no grains, sticking to the one on the hook to lure fish.

Bread really comes into its own in cold weather, flake and punch both scoring well when fish won’t look at other baits. Liquidise slices without their crusts for feed. Throw in small balls of the bait, squeezed together lightly be hand, but be careful not to offer too much. But this is also the time when I think the day-saving bait can quite often be worms, both big and small.

I am still amazed at how many experienced anglers still don’t carry some worms in their bags, especially to matches. A single lobworm is deadly for big fish in still or flowing water. Redworms, dendrobaenas and smaller worms will catch almost anything that swims. I believe the worms should be as fresh as possible, even if you are only chopping them.

Keep a selection of worm sizes to offer on the book. Don’t be tempted into thinking smaller baits are best on hard days. Quite often a larger worm will scored where a small one has failed – fish can be greedy! As we get more into the colder weather I’ll come back to the subject of worms and offer you a few more ideas that can often pull fish for you whilst other anglers struggle.



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Best of British - we salute you, inside this week's special Angler's Mail magazine. This big value issue is on sale from Tuesday, September 17. Get your copy!

Best of British – we salute you, inside this week’s special Angler’s Mail magazine. This big value issue is on sale from Tuesday, September 17. Get your copy!

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