I have always got a real kick of being out in extreme conditions. Even in my youth I would happily trudge round Bedworth in frost and snow doing my paper round. I even had a couple of places on the local cut where the constant the trickle of entering streams kept enough water liquid that I could freeze myself half to death scratching out blade roach on squats. That's why I was half looking forward to this weekends fishing.
I say half because I although I do love this weather I knew full well it would probably naff up my plans for two sessions this weekend.
With that in mind I watched the weather as we all do and tried to keep positive whilst saying to myself 'it will only be a sprinkle of snow and both venues fish even in the worst weather'.
Saturday morning I looked looked out the window to see blue sky and smugly thought, ah I was right, it ain't going to be that bad.
Two hours later I stood amongst the 1960's buildings of Coventry city centre and watched a bar of thick grey cloud approach. My initial plan was to get out for three-ish and fish until dark to make best of a winter witching hour. The approaching weather front forced my hand however and I went out around twelve. This proved to be my best move of the weekend.
The swim I fancied for a winter chavin is a great environment for fish, with its five foot deep, half fast half slow water nestled between two deeply under cut banks fringed with masses of dead reed. Perfect to keep them snug in the worst of weathers. Above the water on our side of the fence its awful; miles of open flat fields in every direction and every time I've put up a brolly in this swim it's been the kiss of death, so I left that at home!
The wind was cutting through all five of my layers the moment I stepped out of the car and it did not get any better as I walked across the field dotted by cow pats, which were frozen like organic Frisbees. Not that I threw any.
Being so open I approach this swim in a massive circle so as not to freak out any of it's occupants. Once in position with the wind to my back and my rod as low as I could possibly have it and still register a bite, I looked over the bait options. I'd only brought bread as a back up, so it became a toss up between cheese paste and Lob worms. I have in the past caught more fish from this area of the upper Avon on cheese paste BUT the biggest chub I have ever seen on the bank came from this very stretch on Lob worms, so the answer was clear.
Once cast out I had barley wiped the ook of broken worms of my hand and poured a steaming mug of tea before the snow flakes started flying sideways past me, and I gave an inane chuckle to myself with a kind of macabre glee.
Half an hour in and I had sat on the one cast tight against the far bank the whole time. As well as throwing in two broken up worms and the result had been zero. So I decided to gradually pull the bait across into the faster water on my own bank.
Bingo! Half way across the river the tip nodded and the culprit was hooked. In the water it looked alright, three or four pound maybe. In the net it was a much chunkier a chub than I've caught in a good many years.
5.2lb- that will do me. I tried desperately to do a self take shot only to discover that it is nearly impossible to do so on a snowy day with no shelter to help reduce the bright white light on the open tundra. So I had to settle for the net shot. Which was not a bad thing! As in the couple of ghostly attempts at a self shot my face looked like old jack frost was slapping me just before the camera beeped.
After this I was not going to dally. That age old anglers thought of just one last cast never entered my head. It was just a case of one cast one chub that will do me thank you very much and I headed back to the car.
Bearing in mind that I had only dipped the net once and then walked back across the field, when I got to the car my Fox Predator spoon landing net was very rigid. So much so that I had to stamp it flat to get it in the car boot.
Sunday my intent was to do a bit of pike fishing at another winter hot spot on the Avon. But whilst Facebook lit up with a million posts about snow I sat cursing the stupid white stuff. At midnight I poked my head out the front door to hear the wondrous sound of melting snow and I went to bed hoping to awake to it all being gone in a few hours. As per normal I was wrong. Though what remained had only a short time before it turned to that classical English snow type. Slush.
I had to play it safe and I did not fancy crawling miles with my arse twitching every time the car slid around, so I changed tack, pulled on my lunker boots and hit the alleys as I headed off to the brook.
I could not rightly face catching any more half pound chub as compared to the previous days catch they would seem a little inconsequential. So I avoided any know Chub haunts and dropped on a swim I know has some as yet unmeasured roach potential.
The river looked great with that lovely winter colour and with a bit of snow on the banks. The roach however were in residence but had obviously read my last blog post and were being suitably coy.
After a few casts when my bait returned with the hook sticking out the back of a small gob of bread I came up with an idea. Decoy fishing for Roach. It is so simple I don't know why I didn't try it last week. Pinch a tiny crumb of bread onto a tiny size 18 hook and leave the hook point well exposed. Then pinch much bigger chunk on the line above it. Even if the bigger bit slips down the line, the stinger is always the little bit at the back which the roach plucks at.
First chuck a small but perfectly formed winter Roach on the decoy.
After landing the first one, my conversion rate went through the roof from about fifteen trembles to one fish to three hard bangs to a fish. I ended up landing thirteen fish up to 6oz and enough minnows to keep me in perch fishing for a full week.
I was having such a good time I never felt my feet getting cold. But once they had gone I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to go. Then when a huge sheet of ice came crawling round the corner it seemed the perfect reason to get up and move home for a warming brew and an afternoon on the sofa watching a movie.