I am envious of people who live in countries where it actually gets cold enough for their local waters to freeze sufficiently for them to ice fish. Here in the UK when our waters ice up it's little more than a cursed inconvenience, as the ice never gets more than a few inches thick and you yourself would be thick if you even stuck so much as a foot on it. In the likes of the US, Canada and northern Europe it seems they most years freeze up with enough thickness of ice that you can actually drive trucks and some quite large trucks at that, whereas all our ice is any good for is keeping us at home doing flipping chores.
The reason I moan is as you may have guessed the general lack of liquid water after a couple of weeks of low temps. Now I know people will thinking 'well what about the rivers' and I know it might seem churlish for me to say that right now I am not really feeling the flow of the river. It sounds even more churlish when I say that for the last few years I've been not that bothered by chub fishing even though it's probably the only source of reliable winter fishing.
In truth right now all I seem to be able to think about or fancy doing is lure fishing, hence the envy levied at those lucky enough to be able to drive onto, drill a hole and fish a jig under the ice. My envy aside I did actually get out fishing once some time off work finally came round, and even though I was intending to go chub fishing using some more classical tactics I can't deny that I did have a drop shot rod residing in my quiver.
The heavy frost was still clinging to the world when I pulled off the road, and looking across the field towards the Avon I could see nothing else had set foot in this field as yet. It wasn't this field that drew me though, but instead one down a path and across a few ditches that really seemed right for today. So after navigating two frozen mud filled ditches I found myself looking across another field from behind a barbed wire fence. It should be worth saying at this point that this particular field has caused me a few headaches before by way of its inhabitants. You see for a large part of the year it is used as grazing for a group of horses and in the past those horses have been a little too inquisitive for my liking. Don't get me wrong I am not feared of our equine friends, but when I am keeping low down close to the river the last thing I want is a few hundred pounds of pony sniffing around me or a harras of them hurtling round the field which let me say has happened in the past. Largely my problem lies with this particular group and the fact that they seem not to interact particularly well with me.
Anyway as I stood looking into the pasture it seemed I might have been in luck and not a single colt, mare or stud could be seen within the boundaries of the field. That was quite literally until I cocked my leg to step over the barbed wire fence, whereupon the ground began to rumble and the ice in the ditch cracked as two huge stallions appeared from nowhere and charged within feet of me steaming snorting and braying like the devils own steeds. Still frozen on the spot half cocked over the fence I watched as they proceeded to do tight circles in front of me before beginning to buck like broncos shot in the ass with a cattle prod. There was literally more chance of me winning the lottery than me going into that field after that kind of display. So I did the only thing I could and uncocked my leg, waded back through the ditches and went back down the path towards the certainly vacant yet all together poorer fishing field.
In the end I found myself perched rather precariously on a vertical bank fishing what I can only describe as a spasmodically productive run. It's a cracking looking spot where the main flow is pushed onto into a narrow shallow gravel run by a massive reed bed. At the end of the run which was for the record just a bit further upstream than myself the water suddenly deepens off as it collides with a overhanging tree. Between me and the flow it is just a big eddy where some of the deflected water heads back up river to be sucked back into the flow. It really is one of those swims when you have to make the right cast or it just doesn't happen. There is a hole in the overhanging branches just before the tree that's in the water and if your under arm cast doesn't get caught up on its way in, your bait ends up making bottom right under the mat of debris.
For the longest time I used to try and fish this swim on a tight line, but I soon figured that by using a weight that only just held bottom and by paying out a small bow of line, I could actually get the bait to get dragged right under the snags by the current. Once I discovered this my catches from this swim went from the odd fish to multiple catches
So, first cast I leant forward on my seat and fired the rig into the gap better than I had ever done before. I paid a bit of line and put the rod in the rests. For once I'd got the weight to flow ratio spot on first time and periodically I could see the weight hold position for a short while until the flow dislodged it. Then out of the blue my rod tip nodded twice before springing back and that where I struck into my first chub. Sadly my reel didn't feel much like paying out any line and somewhere as I fiddled with the clutch the first one got free. I thought that was the end of it in all honesty, but after giving the swim a bit of time to settle down whilst I farted around in the eddy with the drop shot rod I again chanced a cast. Lo and behold I was right to stick around as the next tootle through the rod banged over as long lean chub engulfed the bait. It was as that fish recovered in the net that I realized that I had forgotten to pack my camera and thus my only option for a photo was crappy phone snaps today.
I knew I would end up regretting forgetting my camera and I wasn't that wrong either, as even in the bright sun the chub were up for a feeding. After landing a couple of small black tail chub I found a third and final better fish hiding right at the end of the snags which after a particularity dirty fight, found its way into the net.
All in all it ended up being a successful little outing, and even though it wasn't what I really wanted to be out doing it actually was quite satisfying to see that even though I have neglected both the river and chub of late, my skills and knowledge are as good as ever. Saying that if the temperatures stay high for a while I think I will get my actually be able to get onto a few waters I've been dying to fish that have been off the menu due to their generally frozen nature, and if not well maybe I will chance those wild horses for a cast in the other field.