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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WHAT makes you cringe most when fishing?

I’d wager litter, dog muck, noisy chavs and bait that stinks to high heaven are among the front runners on the lists of many anglers.

Throw in a few bad boaters, crazy canoeists or bonkers bikers and it’s a good bet that most ground is covered.

How about this one though: manky fish that look like something from an alien horror movie?

You know the type of thing I mean: fish with growths that you definitely don’t want to touch when you have your sarnies handy (I have to admit I touch things like that with a damp cloth in my palms).

Then there are those fish with ripped mouths that have sometimes been repaired by nature but not in the way that they should be.

I’ve had a couple of specimens like this over the past few weeks and I even had one with what appeared to be a double mouth.

You can’t allow for growths caused by disease and if I see a fish is in distress because of this I think it’s humane to despatch them. Check with the bailiff or water owner first though!

Gammy mouths are something that can and should be avoided.

I hate to admit this but the majority of the time these are caused by attempted poaching or bad angling practises.

Quite simply in these days when a vast amount of information is freely available on safe rigs, best hooking and unhooking methods there should be no fish suffering from bad hook ups.

Most of these injuries are caused by fixed rigs, badly barbed hooks, rubbish rigs or lazy anglers who don’t take enough care in unhooking fish.

Hello...this what we want to see. A perfect mouth of a well cared for carp.

Hello…this what we want to see. A perfect mouth of a well cared for carp.


So what is the answer to this problem? First, ban for a lengthy period any angler caught using illegal rigs, bad set-ups or seen unhooking fish in an unsatisfactory manner.

There is no place in our sport for these people.

It’s simple to use a disgorger or forceps and there are loads of cheap ones on the market.

In fact either item should be made compulsory, just like a landing net and unhooking mat is at many venues.

Second there should be training sessions for anglers who want to fish venues for big fish that need extra care and attention.

It is paramount that pike are unhooked correctly – Andy Black shows you how it’s done in this week’s issue.

Carefully unhooking a pike.

It’s easy to do – Farnham AS in Surrey have, for years, made all pike anglers go through a simple course on tying wire traces and unhooking pike.

I did the course and it was really helpful. It was also good seeing youngsters learn how to unhook pike without fear of their hands being bitten off!

I visited a local day ticket water the other week and mentioned to the bailiff how I had a real problem with fish being unhooked improperly – and he led me to his rogues’ gallery.

There were no pictures of anglers who had broken the rules – just some actual rigs he had found in trees or confiscated from anglers breaking the rules.

Pike bungs for carp fishing; giant barbed sea hooks with hair rigs; fixed rigs where everything had been tied to the main line…believe me you have not seen anything like this collection.

If I didn’t know the bailiff so well I would have thought he had made these at home to create a talking point.

I was going to say no one could have created evil things like he had on the board…but someone obviously did!

I’ve been impressed with the generally high level of angling – and particularly conservation – I have seen in recent times.

But the minority of so-called anglers who practise the bad methods outlined above need educating or booting out of our sport.


Related post

Last week’s Colin Mitchell pleasure fishing blog 








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