Colin Mitchell

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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Take those hooks out carefully, whatever you catch…


THERE’S really no excuse for it – and it has to stop. What am I on about? The horrific practice of so-called anglers failing to unhook properly.

Most anglers like to catch good specimens of every species. I also like my fish to be nice looking.

Sometimes size doesn’t matter but looks do and there is no reason why we should be catching fish with disfigured mouths.

I’ve had two fish recently that almost made my stomach churn. In fact I had to think twice about touching one of them it looked so much like something from a sci-fi film.

I’m not going to name the fisheries involved with the pair of fish mentioned above as that would be unfair on both venues.

Both waters DO have bailiffs who care and rules that SHOULD protect their fish. But some anglers are quite simply their own worst enemies.

Fish No.1 was a tench that should have had nice rubber lips. It didn’t. In fact it barely had one side of its mouth in place.

I believe it was because of stupid anglers using braid hook lengths that really aren’t necessary on this water. The bailiff who saw the fish reckons it was down to short hook lengths on method feeder rigs.

Fish No.2 was a carp, not a big one but a fish that had lovely colours. It’s mouth was ripped and I’d bet it was through someone using a large sea hook with a great big rough barb.

No surprise despite this fishery having a barbless-only policy. It probably shouldn’t have been a shock when I later landed another carp with a big barbed hook in its mouth that was trailing sea line.

Both captures made me sick to think that there are still anglers out there willing to give the decent fisherman a bad name.

If you must use a barbed hook, make it one with a small barb.

There really is no need to use monster hooks with wicked barbs. Those days are long gone.

When I do feel the need to use a barbed hook nowadays – on venues where they are allowed – I always opt for the smallest, neatest micro barb available. And it’s usually because I am casting to distance with a hook-mounted bait like maggot or worms.

Believe me, those micro barbs are very, very effective. I am living proof having sheepishly visited two doctors in recent years to have size 14s removed from fingers!

Even if you are fishing with barbless hooks it pays to use a disgorger or forceps for unhooking. Barbless can go in at strange angles and make unhooking difficult – and that in itself should tell you that they are effective for landing fish.

Like many anglers, years ago I used to believe that barbless hooks were useless, that they led to lots of lost fish. They don’t!

Fish are lost because of bad angling or smart fishing knowing how to ditch a hook – chub are the smart guys here, always knowing which branch to ditch a hook into.

And anyway, I would rather lose a fish off the hook on the way in than cause damage to a perfectly formed specimen.

The anti-angling brigade just love anything that can bring down or put a massive dent in our sport. So don’t give them potential ammunition.

Fish don’t feel pain. Fact. Fish don’t need to be mutilated, even by accident. Fact.

We protect fish and the environment. Let’s make sure it stays that way by employing a little commonsense on the hook front.


Related posts

Colin Mitchell tries a different day ticket water

Colin Mitchell discusses keepnets

Colin Mitchell goes tench fishing

Colin Mitchell searches for best baits

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Best pellet fishing hooks


VIDEO! Top unhooking advice, using a disgorger, can be seen in the second half of this Angler’s Mail video…







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