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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THE great thing about angling is that anyone can do it. You don’t need any special skills or talents and you can take part in whatever part of the sport you like.

Unlike any other sport the man in the street can actually pitch his wits against World Champions – and even go up and chat to them without having to get past barriers of hangers on. With very few exceptions the top anglers in the world of pleasure and match fishing are approachable and, providing you are not disturbing their sport, you will get answers to your questions.

There are also loads of good coaching sessions available and even professional coaches who have passed exams that allow them to teach angling skills. So in my book there is no reason why any angler should not know the basics before they go onto the bank. Yet over the past few months I have seen some horrendous things that really have no part in today’s angling. They have included:

  • A coach walking away from young anglers, leaving them on the bank to their own devices.
  • A pole angler with TWO traces on his rig…one with a hair rigged bait the other with a hook mounted offering.
  • A coach who allowed youngsters to swing in fish that should have been netted – and then laughed as roach and tench swung wildly through the air.
  • An angler switching off his bite alarms whilst he went to the fishery shop ‘to save battery power for this evening’.
  • An angler who tied his pole to his bankstick with string so that he didn’t lose it for the second time in a week. His ploy failed and a boat had to be brought to rescue his top five.
  • A small hook tied to massive breaking strain line with a double granny knot.
  • Fish dropped back into the water from a great height.
  • An angler without a disgorger – yes, even if you use barbless hooks they are sometimes needed!

I have no doubt that you could add to this list of shame (I’ve not included my pet hate of litter and countryside louts).

A young angler learns the basics. But is it time an angling exam for all?

A young angler learns the basics. But is it time an angling exam for all?


How do we stop it? Although I hate to put up any barriers to people wanting to join in our great sport, I think it’s time for a basic angling exam. Clubs and commercial fisheries are the obvious people to lead this push, along with help from the Angling Trust and the Environment Agency.

It doesn’t have to be a big deal – just how to keep places clean, treat fish with respect and know the basic angling knots and rigs. Many clubs withdraw permits from offenders to their rules – let’s stiffen up on that. Maybe the EA could withdraw licenses too.

One of my local clubs makes every new member go through a pike fishing course before they can go after predators on their waters. I did the course on how to make wire traces, mount baits and – most important – how to unhook pike. It was interesting, informative and, I am sure, has helped save countless pike from mishandling.

Another club makes every junior member go to a talk-in before they are allowed to fish their prime carp water. I sat in on that and it was just basic but at least no youngster would have any excuses about the rules and regs – even though they did have to be accompanied by a ‘responsible’ adult until a certain age.

All of these type of course, chats etc. not only help the angler, they aid the protection of valuable fish stocks and also protect the good image of our sport.

Does your club foster any good moves like the above? What do you think can help us progress angling? Let us know…



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