This mini ice age we seem to be enduring at the moment is really starting to grate a little. So much so that the other day I began trying to find out exactly what is going on with the weather here in freezing old blighty. What I found out was rather interesting... Usually in late November and December most of our weather comes from a westerly direction off the Atlantic, which although it tends to be a little wet holds the colder weather from northern Europe off. But this year there is some kind of storm circulating in the Atlantic which is preventing the westerly winds from keeping us nice and wet and is instead actually pulling the snow, ice and general freezing conditions right over us; hence we have got the weather we normally receive in January and February a whole six weeks early and the fishing is just about XXXXXX!
The two months leading up to Xmas is normally my busiest time of year at work and I find myself working most weekends and taking a day off early the following week to get a little fishing done. Sadly for me the only day I could get off turned out to be the morning after one of the coldest nights since records began at a shivering -12 Celsius, with a predicted day temp of a balmy -6 Celsius. I won't lie and say that as I passed over the river my arse was squeaking a little thinking it might well be frozen over. After parking the car I walked down to the river through the freezing fog and a wall of white to see the river was still flowing, although against the white back drop it looked practically black. Opposite me my fears were confirmed as in the slower areas on the opposite bank ice had formed a good six feet out into the flow.
My first job once in place was to try and thaw my already frozen landing net from its flat profile and refreeze it in to a more usable net like shape. A task which took all of one dip in the river to defrost it and one whole minute hanging in the much colder air to refreeze again so solid it could support itself.
My target species for the day was the humble roach which earlier on in the year I had landed a respectable 1 1/4 lb specimen from this area of the river. Ever since I have had a burning desire to have another go at them to try and increase the my river pb to a little closer to the 2lb mark.
I did want to run a bait through on a stick float or waggler but even Keiths tip of using glycerine on the rod rigs wouldn't have stopped the ice forming in them, which Rob found out later when he had a go on the float after he turned up later on. I instead went with a feeder rig to knock that infuriating ball of ice out of the tip as I cast out each time.
After a fruitless time fishing maggot I was suprised when after changing to bread as a hook bait my rod tip sprang into life. The bites were sharp and fast and almost impossible to hit but it was only a matter of time before I began to connect with them.
The roach weren't very big at all but on a day like this any bite or fish were very well received no matter how small. After finally connecting with one and casting out again all went quiet, which turned out to be the trend all day. The fish would build up enough confidence to move onto the bait, it would then take ten casts where they nipped off the bread before I connected with one then they would disappear for up to forty minute before it all started again.
Around midday the fog lifted and the sun popped out and although the temp came up the bites ended for a good few hours.
The fish didn't come again until about an hour before dark and when they did it went on for about an hour before they totally switched off as the temp dropped right down again. I did kind of expect them to feed right into the dark and I felt that this would be my best chance of a bigger example but the best I managed all day was maybe 5oz.
I did again fish a second rod with a large bait over the river against a snag in case anything bigger might have fancied an early winter snack. But the only thing this rod produced all day was a very impressive 5mm thick collection of air frost on line and a rather strange noise when I tried to reel it in at the end of the session.
Although I never got anything decent I was more grateful for any action from even the tiniest amounts of fish on such a harsh day. I was also glad that when I got home and checked under my socks where I once felt my feet used to be that all my toes were still there and none had snapped off as I walked back to the car.