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An Introduction And Guide To Coarse Fishing

man coarse fishing
Coarse Fishing

Coarse fishing is a style of freshwater fishing. Almost all of the fish found within freshwater in the UK, apart from salmon, grayling and trout are coarse fish.

The reason coarse fish are named separately from game fish is that they were known as ‘lesser’ fish. Their rough skin made them unappetising to some people. Although, almost all coarse fish such as carp are viewed as a delicacy in different countries. If prepared correctly coarse fish can be equally as delicious as game fish.

Fish Species

There is a vast amount of coarse fish available throughout Europe. Below is a breakdown of the main species available.


Catfish are a large group of “ray-finned” fish. Named for their long barbels, which resemble a cat's whiskers protruding from their face. They are generally slow-moving fish. Hiding within structures such as fallen trees. There are many types of catfish. Some types grow to enormous sizes.


Carp are one of the most common coarse fish. They are generally large and slow-moving. Similar to catfish there are many types available. Common types of carp are mirror and grass. They are extremely strong and put up a great fight on any rod. Heavy tackle is advised.


Roach are small freshwater fish usually silver and red in colour. Pike will feed on small fish such as roach. They are usually described as “bait” fish.


Pike are large predators. They are green with an array of dangerously sharp teeth. Extremely heavy-duty tackle is advised when fishing for pike. A pike will move quickly and fight hard. They will hide in grass/reed beds and wait for prey to move by before stalking and swallowing their prey. Therefore, using a moving bait is advised close to reeds.

Fishing Techniques

The most common coarse fishing techniques are pole and whip fishing.

When pole fishing you use a long pole instead of a standard rod. Sitting on the edge of a bank moving the rod in and out of your fishing location. Generally, no casting is required.

When whip fishing you use a small telescopic rod. This technique is suitable for smaller ponds and streams.

Some coarse fishermen will also ledger and float fish. Ledgering is the casting of a weighted bait rig from the bank with a feeding device attached. Float fishing is suspending a bait in the water using a float. The advantage to float fishing is that you can see a strike if you watch for an indication.


Licenses vary around the world. It is always important to purchase a coarse fishing license. A game license will not cover coarse fishing. Depending on your location some bodies of water may not require you to fish with a license.

Coarse Fishing Baits

I feel it is of utmost importance to be very selective when selecting baits for coarse fishing. Coarse fishing baits are extremely versatile. What works for one fish may not work for another. There is a large number of baits available. We will break down our top coarse bait selection.

When fishing for perch it is recommended to use frozen prawns. If you freeze your prawns they will hold together for longer in the water. Unfrozen meat may deteriorate quicker when in moving water.

When fishing for coarse fish such as chub you should use mature cheese. The smellier the better. If the cheese has a potent smell it will greatly increase your chances of catching chub.

Sausages and luncheons are suitable baits for carp. When I carp fish I like to cut up my sausages into bite-size pieces. I then spread luncheon meat over the sausage. I feel the mixture of smells makes them more successful.

Sweetcorn can be an extraordinary bait. Although, many rivers and lakes will have regulations against using sweetcorn as it is so effective. It is always recommended to check if the bait can be used before fishing. It can be float fished midwater or ledgered on the bottom. Sweetcorn is a versatile bait. Almost any fish will take it. The bright yellow colour of sweetcorn attracts fish.

As you’ll notice many of the baits mentioned can be bought locally from and common store. Another fabulous store-bought bait is bread. Bread can be used as a floating bait. The soft material makes it very suitable for large carp. You can also break down the bread and roll it into a small ball. Which can also be used as sinking carp pellets. Some coarse anglers use a mixture of bread and mackerel oil to increase the chance of catching a fish.

Worms can be used for coarse fishing. Earthworms can be found in damp soil. Using soapy water will bring earthworms to the top of the soil.

Maggots are also suitable for coarse fishing. If you want to fish with maggots you will need to leave meat outside until a fly legs eggs in it. This process may be squeamish for some anglers. Hook your maggots through their head. Avoid hooking them in the middle as they will not wriggle on the hook. The movement will attract fishes attention. Some coarse anglers will use large bunches of maggots.

Groundbait is essential for open-ended fishing feeders. A method is suitable for all coarse fish.

When fishing for pike use dead bait such as mackerel. Some anglers will use highlighting paint to increase the visibility of these baits for the fish.

Finishing Notes

Overall, it is evident there are a large number of coarse species available. This method can be relaxing or exhilarating depending on your selected technique. It is crucial to learn your baits when coarse fishing. Baits used are the key difference between a novice and advanced coarse fisherman. Research both licenses and suitable rules before starting coarse angling.

by Daniel ONeill

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