I am not getting the time to fish at the weekends at the moment due to family commitments and other things so I am taking any opportunity to get a weekly fix that comes my way. So with a day off I got back on the river for a day session on Thursday, but not before Jacky aired her concerns about my sanity for heading to the river for the day on the coldest day of the year so far. With night time temperatures below zero and day time temperatures around one degree Celsius with possible snow showers predicted, I took nothing to chance. By the time I had donned all my fleece layers and my winter suit I felt like I was wearing an inflatable sumo suit.
Turns out Jacky was spot on and I was insane! After six hours with a freezing northerly wind in my face all I had to show for my efforts of throwing a feeder all day was one single tiny dace which I never bothered to photo as it would have been an insult to the camera for getting it out. Towards the end of the day I was really thinking of jacking it in.
As I am not a God fearing man it would be considered hypocritical of me to say I was praying for a change in my fortunes, but even though I wasn't praying my prayers were certainly answered when the sky turned black one whole hour before dusk and moments later the rings of rising fish were all over the river.
A message from someone maybe!
As if by magic the rod tip sprang into life and in the last hour the fish really switched on in a feverish feeding frenzy. To say it was a bite a chuck would be an understatement because before the feeder had even hit the bottom it was like there was a queue of fish waiting to attack the hook bait. Strange thing was that they were all roach between two and six ounces and every one was an absolutely perfect condition clear water fish.
Though I was enjoying the now unstoppable run of fish and had landed thirty plus little roach on the trot time was ticking away. Soon I found myself thinking that universal anglers thought 'just one last cast'; the one last cast didn't produce anything and I began packing up. Though I did have a gambit up my sleeve...
I had up until now neglected to mention that I had cast out a sleeper rod baited with an inhuman smelling gob of my secret cheese paste next to a snaggy overhanging tree on my own bank at the start of the day. Although I had received no attention on this line I had re baited it twice through the day and now as I packed up it had become the focus of my attention. Whilst putting one rod back in it's bag I thought I caught glimpse of a slight nod on the sleeper rod. Dropping everything I moved into position and watched intently. Two more nods registered before the tip slowly pulled round and I struck into a solid fish that was desperate to get under the tree. It didn't take long for me to catch sight of a huge pair of white lips in the twilight. That faithful winter feeder the chub, had found my bait and was now safely in my net. It did not look that big in the water but on the bank it seemed to grow as I unfolded the net mesh around it. At 4.7lb it totally validated my sitting on the bank for seven hours waiting for it in freezing weather.
Although my persistence paid off this time the realisation that winter is well and truly here reminds me that it's about time to rethink my tactics and target fish for the next few months, as winter has arrived hard this year and if the last one is anything to go by it could be a hard and lean period all round.