What with one thing and another conspiring to halt my attempts at jotting down my fishy tales over the past weeks I have failed to report upon what has been a quite intense period of short sessions leading up and into the icy blast that has fairly killed sport stone dead. The canal is now solid ice and thickening up nicely due a run of subzero nights and daytime temperatures hovering around or even below nought degrees, so we may be able to get our skates on soon and slide all the way to the pub
, and back! If you want to join in the fun, just remember that the warmest place with the thinnest ice is below a bridge, so get out well before and walk past or just take a long run up and slide through as fast as possible, and you should be OK...
I'm going to lead this post with pictures as it's just too much effort to clearly remember all the facts, blow by blow.
Courtaulds in the gloom ...
I always have loved fishing in the mist and the fog, and according to John Wilson such conditions are fantastic for big roach fishing as you get what is in effect twilight, for as long as it persists. Well, I caught now't so, so much for theory! I then fished the cut the next afternoon and the afternoon after that but did equally poorly. It seemed that my run of roach had come to an end.
A return to the dace hotspot saw a reduction in catch rate from that experienced the first time around and a marked decrease in the stamp of fish; it was now very hard to get a fish above four ounces whereas the average had been about four ounces or so then with an upper limit of eight. I experienced a flying start with fish after fish coming safely to hand but then had a run of bumped fish so I put out a bait on the lead and proceeded to catch again. I went back to the float after half an hour and the problem seemed to have fixed itself, the feeder having drawn them back to the riverbed but as soon as things seemed right once more I then experienced a run of impossible to hit bites with sucked maggots coming back on the hook. Roach, I thought, and this was a theory that soon was confirmed when at last I managed to hit a damned bite - a blade of less than one ounce. When hoards of small fish began to intercept the feed in the upper levels as soon as it hit the water I decided to abandon all ideas of coming up t'meet them as yer match man undoubtedly would, and instead, go all out with the feeder for the last hour and go for a specimen. When at last I felt the heavy throb of a substantial fish I prayed it would be a roach or a dace, but of course it was only our old mate chavender gatecrashing the party.
A mixed net of mostly small dace, a few blade roach and a solitary chub
By the end of the day I'd amassed a catch of perhaps forty fish but it had been bloody hard work and I was absolutely knackered...
I'm too impatient for this...
Back on the cut things were going from bad to worse. I returned to Grassy Bend, a place that has produced a good average size of roach for me with three fish over a pound and a half. It was another case of nothing doing, I'm afraid.
Then the snow and ice arrived to make things even harder!
I got a session in before the cut became unfishable and finally caught a roach of about a pound - it was just far too cold to be mucking about with weighing paraphernalia and besides, roach of this size are becoming too common a catch to be bothering with the proper documentation of every single one.
My third trip to the dace hotspot was absolutely dire. It was below freezing all day long and I had to keep the landing net in the water to avoid having it freeze solid after using it to sink the keepnet. Two other anglers were on site and they had a grand total of one small knock between them the whole day! I did rather better with enough bites on the feeder to keep my interest, all but one of which were missed. A three ounce dace proved to be the only fish of the entire day...! Awful hard fishing.