COLIN MITCHELLEvery 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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GOOD watercraft is vital to making the most of your fishing time.

It’s something that was hammered home to anglers years ago but I am not convinced that newcomers to our sport in recent decades actually appreciate just how important this skill is to their success.

To me – and many of the anglers I fish with – fishing holding swims stick out like a sore thumb.

Overhanging trees and bushes, reed beds, lily beds, obstructions in the water…as soon as I see anything like that I am drawn to it as if it’s a giant fish magnet.

Most of the time I am not disappointed. Fish see this type of place as a sanctuary and quite often they are just waiting there to be caught.

Fancy there are a few fish under that bush? You'd be right!

Fancy there are a few fish under that bush? You’d be right!

But there are other times when features aren’t quite so obvious and this is where real watercraft comes into play, the years of experience on the bank paying off in terms of catching.

A prime example of this was last week when Music Mike and I visited some lake near us that we’d only fished twice before, both times with a great deal of success.

Both those visits were in the summer when trees were complete with leaves, rushes lined the banks and to be brutally honest I think you could have caught from most swims.

This time however the lakes had fallen victim to the floods. Most of the path around the lake we chose was underwater. Swims we had fished in the summer and late autumn were not accessible.

Bankside overhangs and features were not what they were back then and many pegs looked very similar.

For me, fishing into the wind – which wasn’t too cold – was the starting point. My theory on this pretty deep water was that the cold warmer surface water of the day would hit the bank I sat on and put warm water, and food, on the table of the fish almost at my feet.

The deeper water further into the lake appears a bit of a no mans land so a near swim had to be favourite.

I plumbed up at five metres next to what was left of a tree, just a few branches. It was deep – so deep I had to tie more line onto an already long pole rig (if Bob Nudd can do that, so can I!).

I caught two quick carp on the pole but felt it wasn’t quite right. The water just seemed too deep.

Just to my left was another not so deep bit of water covering the footpath and some dead rushes where, in summer, I had caught right next to the bank. I plumbed and found it a foot shallower – something I felt on this milder day could work in my favour, and help with feeding more accurately.

I moved along, fed a few pellets and dead maggots and started to catch. My total was 50 fish, 23 of them carp, the rest skimmers and nice rudd.

It was a case of feeding steadily and chopping and changing baits between meat, a bunch of maggots and half a big worm, to keep in touch with the fish.

Mike picked a spot out of the wind on the far side. He sat behind what was the path and dropped his rig right down what was the normal edge of the bank. My cousin had fished and caught from this spot in the summer so we knew it was a catching area.

The water was a bit shallower than where I fished so it would warm up faster in the milder weather and it was also a place where natural food such as worms would drop into the water. Mike stuck to big baits and had around 20 carp too.

A guy on the middle lake fished the same swim he had visited a number of times in the past and stuck to his same methods. He had around 16 fish because he did what he knew worked in a good area.

In stark contrast two other anglers turned up with no boots which meant they walked all around our lake before they found one spot where they could get near the water.

One chucked out a leger – I do mean chucked…he just cast it anywhere with no thought and his bait was in and out or the water so many times the fish would have needed rocket propelled swims to grab it.

His mate tackle up a waggler, set a depth and also chucked out. He didn’t plumb up, didn’t think where he was fishing.

In summer he would have been fishing at around half depth and might have caught. With the extra water he could have been fishing less than half depth.

Neither fed any groundbait, pellet or loose feed and after an hour or so without a bite – and probably having seen us catching – moved to another lake.

Leger man still chucked all over the shop whilst his mate started to fish down the edge. We went home but I’d bet the float guy caught now that he was fishing to a feature…the bank that fish here, like many other venues, love to patrol, especially later in the day.



A lake can look feature less at first sight – no trees, no rushes, no obvious attractive swims. But a plummet or a bomb can show you something totally different.

  • Careful use of a plummet - or a bomb if you're legering - can make all the difference to finding the fish.

    Careful use of a plummet – or a bomb if you’re legering – can make all the difference to finding the fish.

    Have a good search around for deeper and shallow holes with the plummet.

  • Look for ledges, plateaux or drop-offs, all good fish holding spots on different days.
  • A decent sized bomb cast out and reeled back in slowly will find gravel or mud, weedbeds and obstructions.
  • You can feel a bomb ‘rattle’ over gravel, pull back a bit as it goes over mud and hit the bottom with a bit of a dull thump when it is mud or soft.
  • Think where the natural food will be for the fish. Build up a mental map of the lake’s bed and then picture where your quarry might be swimming around feeling they are safe or believing they might find grub.
  • Casting out blind never brings the best results. Spend a bit of time getting to know your swim or venues and it will pay off.



Colin Mitchell’s blog last week

Choosing swims on commercial fisheries







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