Someone said to me the other day that it just did not feel worthwhile for him to sit out fishing in the freezing weather for probably so little, so he did not bother going out. I mulled over what he had said and wondered why I never felt like this... I concluded that firstly I always believe not matter how much everything is against me that there is always a chance I could catch the fish of my dreams, and secondly because I already know that if I could fish every day for the rest of my entire life it would still not be enough for me. I love being out fishing that much that I can't let a single opportunity pass me by for fear of regretting it on my death bed.
Even with my strong resolve I knew that the inclement conditions this weekend just passed would push me right to the very limit of endurance once again in this never ending winter. So I wasn't disappointed when I arrived at the canal Friday morning and saw this!
The next few hours could be described as what separates men from boys, and insane from the sane. Even wrapped up with more layers than could be recalled, the cold wind still managed to drop my body temperature enough to raise a bout of shivering. Even with the shakes I still managed to keep my vigil up staring at my neon orange float framed by the ice.
Thank the boating gods for holiday barges on frozen days that's all I can say. Normally these inexperienced one off captains drive canal anglers mad with their inability to steer a straight line. Today though I could have kissed every one that passed me by. Whether they were just unable to stay in the one boat wide pass cut by the more experienced boaters or whether they liked the sound of cracking ice I don't know and don't care, as the passing of five holiday boats had the entire ice sheet smashed into small bits and then the wind took care of the rest, sending it all off to I cared not where.
It wasn't that long after the shattered ice was dispersed that somewhere in the rhythmical ripple of the canal surface that my float broke rhythm for a split second. I suspected this hint was an early warning, and a while later it again broke the rhythm holding under when it should of been bobbing up. Then it moved across the tow and I needed no more evidence to strike.
The first fish was small by this areas standards, but this sub average fish was to herald of a flurry of activity. Five more torpid perch shyly moved off with my bait over the next half an hour and although no one bite submerged the float fully, not one enquiry was missed. The best of this determined to feed bunch was a very tubby gal a few ounces short of two pounds.
Messing around with all that ice got me thinking that any further time spent fishing this weekend would be more efficiently allotted to afternoon sessions, and as the clocks went forward I could find myself able to fish well into the dusk. So my on next session I headed to a small woodland lake which in cold temperatures goes gin clear. I knew for sure it would be totally deserted and half suspected it should be free of ice to some degree, largely due to multiple squabbling pairs of Canadian geese that turn up around this time every year and kick off at any given opportunity. The geese were present and from the look of all the smashed ice they had been at it all morning. Just over half the lake was clear and every spot was free of anglers so it was all mine for the afternoon and all the way to night fall.
Sometimes I think to actually catch the species you want its easier to target another species instead. Whenever fishing for perch I general have a few carpy run ins and as I fancied catching a carp I thought I would fish for perch then. At first it did not work as the perch actually did oblige me and gobbled up my worm as it fluttered down through the clear water.
With the adjusted time I soon realised it was getting on for quarter past seven and the sky was still very light and around then what can only think were roach started fiddling with my bait. This went on for ages as I imagined what was going on under the surface. Then out of nowhere all attentions ceased momentarily before my light float disappeared in the blink of an eye.
My strike just bent my rod over against a solid weight which did nothing at first. Then as the information was processed the solid force powered off, this was no perch! It was not one of those dramatic fights where I and the fish vie for line, but instead the culprit plodded around only half awake on the cold evening. Eventually it did succumb to my careful resistance and when I first caught sight of it my eyes lit up.
Could my first carp of the year be any better looking! I do not think so. It was nowhere near the biggest carp I have caught but deep gold flanks and chestnut head made it by far one of the best looking carp I have landed, ever.
This was one of those occasions when I did not need to hang round and cast again. I was satisfied and wanted nothing to sully this perfect moment. So I packed up straight after I watched that splendid clear water carp drift back into the depths.
It was the canal which called me back for my third and final session of the holiday weekend. I know the perch here are up for it, and with the temperature rising to a heady four degrees Celsius I fancied they might come hard on the feed. So mid Monday afternoon, after a jaunt over to Stratford to watch the Earlsdon morris men getting rat arsed down the road from old Bill's house, I headed back to the canal.
Happily not a single ice crystal was anywhere to be seen and the canal looked to be in tip top condition for a spot of perch fishing. So after settling down and baiting up just off my rod tip on the near side shelf with a mixture of worm infused goodies I waited.
It's worth saying at this point that I have stopped using chopped worms on this and all my perch waters, as frankly its getting very expensive chopping up wholesale amounts of worm and chucking them into the void. So I am now instead using what can only be described as a grotty mix of puréed prawns, chopped prawn, the odd lobworm and a few squirts of Van den eynde liquid worm. It might sound just as expensive but I can assure you it is not. I buy the cheapest prawns I can at £1.50 for 500g, the lobworms I throw into the mix are generally ones I have used as hook baits or odd half's and small ones. The Van den eynde liquid worm is the only real cost at around four pounds but that lasts for ages. So the attraction for a trip only costs me a around £2.50 for a half day or £4 for a whole as compared to £12 per half a kilo of worms plus hook baits.
The perch took ages to turn up to the party but when they did they came slowly but regularly. All in all I had ten bites and nine fish. Bar one they were all pretty average fish at around a puond and half to a pound and three quarters So when I sat down a did a bit of rough maths I reckon I ended up with nine fish for around 12-13lb which is a respectable canal catch on any day, never mind after the canals only been thawed for a half a day.
Saying that though its not the weight that matters to me but the fish themselves Every strike was met with a surging run and close quarter fights of sheer violence. Once in the net it did not stop there - these perch were indignant at being caught. Furious and bristling head to tail. Their spines were never down, they flared the gills and even arched there backs in shear anger. They were the pure personification of what a perch should look like and a joy absolute to catch.