Colin Mitchell, our popular weekly blogger, looks into what makes a fine catch - and casts his eye over fish weighing matters too.
ANY fish is good in my books.
But like any other angler I do like catching some specimens – and really appreciate good-looking samples of any species.
You can’t beat a scale-perfect carp, a lovely striped and spiky perch, a golden-scaled chub or a splendid silver and black roach with vivid red fins.
I hate seeing fish that have been bashed about – usually nowadays thanks to the predatory effects of some birds and beasts.
But there are also fish that have mouths totally distorted because of bad unhooking or bad rigs. Seeing this almost makes me cry.
If I see someone struggling to unhook a fish I ask if they want help.
If you have difficulties… don’t be afraid to ask for aid from other anglers. Or even cut the line before you do damage – there’s every chance a fish will discard the hook itself.
How much did it weigh? Really…?
Having said all of the above there’s something about good-looking fish that’s got me annoyed in recent months…
I’m getting increasingly annoyed when I see pictures of fish and then a claimed weight which, to be brutally honest, looks like it’s a lie.
Some anglers have been caught with their pants down and had to confess they may not have got the weight of their catch right.
But why do people claim weights that are not true? What do they get from it other than fooling themselves?
I only ever weigh fish in a match or when I get a big fish that looks like it could be close to a personal best or is exceptional for where I caught it.
In fact I rarely carry scales with me. But if I catch a good fish and have to estimate its weight I tell friends I have done that and not weighed it.
My three personal best roach have all been bang on 1lb 14oz, all weighed on dial scales.
It would have been easy to claim a two-pounder but I would have known I had not hit that magical figure (one day, one day….)
It’s a lot harder to admit that you have just missed out by two ounces. Especially when it is three times!
But it is a fact. I am still very, very proud to catch those fish. They were monsters in my eyes and I am only sad they all fell on days when I did not have a camera with me.
Pass on the cloth
Another pet hate is seeing people holding a fish in a cloth.
Why? Not only is this not good for the fish (unless, maybe, it’s a very damp cloth) but it also hides the person’s hands which instantly gets me wondering!
Then there are those who hold the fish out at arm’s length. Why?
This again raises suspicions and could be dangerous for the fish that could easily leap from someone’s hand.
Far better to hold the fish gently but safely low to the ground, or even leave in on the unhooking mat and pose next to it.
Why do you think some big fish anglers get in the water to pose with their prized catch… it’s not just to get a good picture, it also ensures safety should the fish flip free.