Less than a week ago I regaled a tome where I fished on a perfectly beautiful English estate lake. This write up was to be assigned to equally beautiful but much wilder waterway, but the afore mentioned wildness is partly the reason why it is not about the trip I so much wanted to make.
The hope was to be writing about fishing a winter shrouded river Wye set deep in a frosty valley for naive barbel on a private salmon beat, or angling after pike so big and mean they would deter even the most confident Jack Russell’s from paddling, evaporated in the days of peaky weather that preceded our intended departure.
We watched as the clouds drove in off the west coast and after spilling over the hills of Wales depositing their contents in a sweeping motion, covering the most of the west of the country including the Wye catchment basin. Knowing full well what was about to happen I watched in resigned horror as the Environment Agency’s river levels web page indicated the river constantly swelling. If this depth increase was to happen on my native Avon then a large part of Warwickshire’s population would have quickly become snorkel dependent, but on the Wye a rise from 0.63m to 3.96m is seen as a mere spot of extra water. It did however put paid to any barbel fishing whilst submerging our banker predator spot and leading ultimately to the cancellation of our much anticipated session.
The local river went much the same way and with me trying my hardest to leave the canals alone, this cajoled me into once again thinking about how big I suspect the perch on a target commercial lake could possibly grow. Up until now the temperature had proven prohibitive as the pools resident carp were far too keen to feed on in the mild weather. However with the rains accompanying the sub-zero flush of cold, the commercial seemed the best use of my time.
To say it was a culture shock going from a picture postcard Estate Lake nestled in a deer park, to a comparatively juvenile puddle that was half inhabited by match anglers all wearing matching clobber that made them rather reminiscent of a bunch of rowdy puffed up power rangers, is a bit of an understatement. I was lucky when I arrived and found the area I fancied was not only free of ice but was also free of the match that was assigned to fish the much more uniformed opposite bank. So I set about quickly digging in and baiting up close to a bank side reed bed.
My morning did not go well at all. After settling in I waited and waited for even the slightest movement of my float, which never came I should say. Whilst I waited the match arrived and after ranting and raving about the ice from the car park they did eventually make their way to the pegs where after bashing the just-a-bit-too-thick ice with all sorts of devices, took it in turns to throw what looked like a chunk of metal tied to a rope through the ice and into the shallow water.
It took half an hour for the carnage to end, ten minutes for the ghostly creaking of ice to subside and the ripple to settle. After such a stealthy display I watched slack jawed as my compadres began the banter at the top of their voices over the lake. It was about then that I realised that if I thought I was going to catch a giant stripy in these conditions I was as deluded as my puffed up power ranger friends over the lake and that if I paid for the honour of fishing on this pool on this day I was a full blown idiot. Needless to say five minutes later I was in the car with the heater on maximum rubbing my lip with a make shift comforter and Classic Fm soothing me as I drove away. For a moment I did ponder another pool but the idea of more ice and possibly more people went some way to the shelving of that idea. So sitting thawing in the extreme heat of the car I concluded my only option to put a bend in rod was to ignore my previous statement and head back to a local bit of canal.
With nothing more than my rucksack, a net and my trusty light lure outfit I trudged the tow path of a very heavily coloured section of canal, and straight away I felt comfortable and a lot more confident. Even with water like hot chocolate in front of me I just picked out the gaudiest offering in my bag and went with it. What do you know the ever faithful canal never let me down…
Even as cold as the water was the resident perch were in the mood and no matter how small they could not resist a tiny fluorescent pink shad fished on a 1gram jig head being bounced all over the trench. I even removed a large amount of the snags from the stretch which will be good for when I return in the future.
After moving further down the canal and out of the wind the zander made an appearance. First a trio of zedlets ripped into my tiny lure before zigg zagging off in a fury as they seem to always do and eventually I got a much bigger thump when I contacted a bigger and far more vigorous, yet very leach covered, example.
I think in the end I was just glad to be in the solitude of the canal after such an awful hour or so back on a commercial. Although I know I have to go back after that monster predator I know lurks in this popular pond, I get the feeling I might well be checking with the owner before I grace its banks again to make sure there is at least no puffed up power ranger matches on when I plan to go again as quite honestly mine and their ideas of a good mornings fishing is definitely two different things.