Who was it that was banging on about the weather being rather mild for this time of year...Oh yeah, it was me! I should have known better than to start whacking on about such things by now as fate has a way of making you look a bit foolish when you make statements like that. In the week that followed that rash sentence the weather here in old Blighty went from hints of spring to practically Arctic in an instant. One day we were thinking the daffodils would soon be out and the next the rivers froze over. It was almost like some kind of promotional stunt for the upcoming final season of Game of Thrones where they had got the actual Night King to come and touch the UK with his icy finger, and freeze it. That or Donald Tusk had turned off the heating to punish us for daring to have our own will and voting for Brexit. Whatever the cause it was cold, very cold and thus the fishing was not going to be easy.
Before I'd even left the house to scrape the ice from the car I knew finding liquid water might be a slight issue. As I chipped away the hard frost I considered that every lake and canal in the county would be out of action so rivers were my only option. Not fancying the Avon I concluded to chip over to the Leam to fish some urban spots where I know the fish shoal up in winter.
Upon arriving I found...
Section 1 - Very frozen
Section 2 - Faster water but still very frozen
Section 3 - I didn't bother with section 3 as I knew it would be frozen
With only a few viable options I headed homeward thinking to check out somewhere on the way just in case it was fishable. Although free of ice when I arrived it turned out I was a bit too late to the party and a group of lads were camped out by the weir I intended to fish. So on I went to my final last chance spot way out in the country where the Upper Avon crawls silently through the potato fields.
Finally my luck was in, the river was flowing and the stretch was vacant. Although there was no more than a couple of hours worth of casting in this field, that seemed a perfect amount of time considering it was currently minus five Celsius.
Between the two freezing margins the river ran winter green. I knew the slower water just off the flow was a known haunt for a perch and chub so I set up a Texas rigged finesse shad from Z-man and flicked the rig tight to the far margin. It took a few casts to find a taker, but all of a sudden I felt a definite thump resonate back along the taught braided line. Suddenly a powerful fish was heading for the far side reed bed and all that I had to stop it was seven feet of lightweight carbon and thirty feet of six pound braid.
I really wanted this unseen fish to be a big chub which this area is renowned for and from the way it kept trying to do me in the bank side vegetation I had high hopes of a five pound rubber lips soon going in my net. Deep down through the winter water I could see a pale fish shape struggling against me for freedom. A few more dives and the fish rolled on the surface and I thought for a moment a pike was attacking my chub. One last surge of power and the fish surfaced. A pike! For a moment I was confused to whether a pike had gone for my chub and somehow the chub had got away and the pike got hooked in the process. It wasn't until I looked and found the size one worm hook driven clean through the roof of the pikes mouth that it clicked that I had been playing a pike all along, no matter how much I wanted it to be a chub!
Really on one of the coldest days of the year so far I couldn't have been happier with this capture even though it wasn't a chub. All the effort I made to actually find a venue on a day when most normal people left the fishing well alone, was worth it, and I continue my unbroken pike run since Xmas.