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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GO fishing. Right now…well ok, if you are reading this in the middle of the night, don’t!

But if it’s daylight and the weather is half reasonable get yourself on the bank. I’m not going to predict you will catch a net-full but I can tell you that you’ll have a great day out.

Avoid the bright sunny days, especially after a frost – unless you just fancy going into the countryside to enjoy the surroundings and have some peace and quiet. But if the weather is overcast or the temperature has risen a few degrees then get on the bank! Fish won’t feed all the time in the winter. But give them the right conditions and they will give you plenty of bites.

You’ll need to think carefully about your choice of swim or will need to do a bit of homework to find out where the fish have been caught by other anglers. The fish tend not to be spread out in the colder weather so there can be sections of lakes and rivers that are devoid of fish. Yes, I mean there are none there. Zilch. But when you do find where they are living for winter you can have a real red-letter day once they start to feed.

They will feed. It might be for an hour, a few hours or even a few days if the weather is warm enough. But they need to eat sometime. And believe me, catching a few fish that you have had to work to tempt is a lot more rewarding than hauling in ravenous specimens that fling themselves onto any bait you have offered.

Scale down those lines and hooks to what you were using in the warmer weather. Cut back on loose feed and remember that small, natural baits are more likely to get you bites. But don’t wear blinkers. There are times when all of the above guidance goes out of the window.

Sometimes the fish won’t care too much about the thickness of your line. And providing you have matched the size of hook to the size of bait you are using there won’t be a problem there.

Sometimes a nice big lump of bread flake or a whole juicy lobworm will get you a bite when all of the smaller baits haven’t even yielded a sniff.

It always pays to experiment a bit when you are fishing, chopping and changing tackle, presentation, feed and baits. And in the winter one little tweak can bring a bite. But if you are really confident in what you are doing stick with it. I have found that quite often sticking with just one method can eventually bring rewards.

Offer me just one way of catching fish at this time of the year and I would have to plump for chopped worm. Although you will probably chop up worms into a mush, leave a few bigger pieces in the feed, which could help hold bigger fish in your swim. Don’t just hook on a whole worm or half a worm – although it’s worth trying both those things.

Vary the size of the pieces you use. A bit of worm about the size of a maggot often works wonders in catching roach. Maybe they think it is a maggot or caster but with the smell and taste of a worm. Yummy…well, if you are a fish!

Also try different lengths of worm, different sizes and even different types like lobs, reds, brandlings and dendrobaenas.  Often just one size of type will work when all others fail. On really hard days the opposite to what you expect can also work – a whole big worm can often bring bites when all other bits and pieces have failed.

I like catching fish of all sizes but if you want a good chance of nabbing a specimen chub, perch or roach…this is the time. With the smaller fish not zooming around pinching every bit of bait it gives those wily big fish the chance to inspect your bait without it being robbed before their eyes.

Winter fishing can be hard – but the rewards are there for those who wrap up warm, stay safe and put in a bit of effort.







The new issue of Angler's Mail magazine is in shops from Tuesday, December 10. Be sure to get your copy!

The new issue of Angler’s Mail magazine is in shops from Tuesday, December 10. Be sure to get your copy!


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