Standing looking out over the garden munching my bowl of fruit and fibre I mulled over the conversation I had only half an hour before with a sleepy Jacky, that I may have been insane going out in this freezing weather. Funnily enough I had had a similar conversation with Keith regarding the destination for my intended Sunday morning session, where he to had confirmed that my sanity may be in doubt!
After scraping the snow and underlying frost from the outside of the car I began the annoying task of scraping the inside of the window screen too, before grabbing the minimal kit I had sorted the night before and making my way out into the white void that is currently Warwickshire.
It was to turn out to be a day of firsts for me; the first time I had fished this new stretch and the first time I had been sitting next to a river with it actually freezing before my eyes. It took me a while to figure out what was going on as my rod tip kept pulling round then dropping back as if I was getting a drop back bites. After striking a couple of times I noticed a small clump of ice on my line at the exact point where the line was penetrating the surface film.
What was happening was that the ice would build up n the line until it formed a tiny sheet of cat ice in the wake of the line, when it got to big to support its self the thin sheet it would snap off and drift off down stream causing my tip to fly back much in the style of a drop back bite. But what else can you expect when you're fishing in minus seven degree temperatures.
After fishing some ten plus swims I got my first bite of the day from exactly the fish I expected. A little chub of not much over a pound had found my tiny pinch of bread after being attracted by the smallest feeder of liquidised bread I have ever cast into a river.
It was only a short while later on when it's bigger brother or sister found my bait another five or so swims down stream. This one however caused me some serious problems largely due to a large sheet of ice between me and the open water I was fishing in. It is a rather disconcerting feeling to see your line grating on the edge of a jagged sheet of ice six feet out from the bank and the fish that is attached to the end of that line is clearly visible only two feet out from your under the ice. When I did finally get it out into the main flow the second problem arouse, my three metre landing net pole which I thought would me more than adequate for the trip only reached to the very edge of the ice and after already landing one chub my frozen net head itself was airing on the wrong side of weighty. In the end I had little choice but to smash the edge of the thin ice with the frozen head to enable me to land the dark 2lb chub.
I felt lucky to get a couple of bites on such a harsh day never mind land two nice little chub from a new river that is little more than a drainage ditch. But the best was still to come... I had explored a load of fruitless swims over a huge amount of river and I was about to give up when I came across a swim that looked like nothing more than a deeper run of darker water amongst two reed lined banks. Thinking this would be my last swim I swung the feeder into the centre of the run and watched the flake sink under the pressure of the flow. The tip rattle instantly but in a different way to the chub bites. The bites were fast, sharp and impossible to hit but after waiting and waiting something at last pulled the tip round enough for me to strike. Catching the sight of silver flashing under the water my heart thumped at the prospect at finally finding what I was looking for!
It was no monster by anyone standards but at ten ounces it was perfect example of a small river roach.
For me this fish is more special than any five pound chub I could have caught. I have discussed a certain topic with a few of my fishing buddies recently that I feel this fish falls into it. We so often catch fish that are immature that are tossed back as tiddlers But in my opinion when a fish, especially roach, reach maturity they start to look different. Not in a bad way but almost in a way that if an artist was to paint a specimen roach it would look like this and not like the little blade roach we flip back without even a second glance. The same thing seems to happen with perch when they develop that huge humped back and you know that they now have the potential to grow big. In some species this maturity is obvious, such as bream turning from silver to brown, whereas others such as carp, barbel and tench all look the same small as they do big.
For me this is a very special fish and judging by the amount of interest I was getting in this swim there may be others that could break that magical 1lb barrier or even more. So I will be back! hopefully very soon.