I love being out in the early morning fishing in the snow, and as we don't really get that much opportunity to do this, I was really looking forward to getting out and having a few casts in the white the other day. One type of fishing I would love to have a go at is ice fishing and thus I am quite jealous of my old fishing buddy Noo-noo Harrison who moved to Grand Cache in Canada a few years ago for work, who I saw on Facebook the other day was out ice fishing on Grand Cache lake.
Bar a bit of a distraction watching Adventure Land cartoons with BB, I was out not long after sunrise. Though there was little more than a dusting of snow, I could easily see that I was the first person to set foot on the tow path of the Coventry canal. Other than my own footprints the only tracks were that of foxes and possibly a deer which had come down from the woods and wandered along for a while before nipping back into the cover.
Large swathes of the canal surface were covered in a layer of thin ice topped off with a few centimeters of slush, but a few decent size bits of water had been kept free of ice by either the wind or had possibly thawed the day before. The water that was still accessible looked a really nice clear winter green that would give good visibility to the fish, whilst not be so clear as to make them nervous due to a lack of cover.
I knew I would have my work cut out and previous experience told me that the zander probably wouldn't play ball in the freshly chilled water, so perch, the illusive pike and the super rare chub would be what I was after. I also suspected it wouldn't exactly be hectic sport given the conditions, so first things first I just needed to get a hit. That first hit came quite quickly in truth after I hooked up a red head spiky shad lure which has done quite well previously on this bit of cut, and did so again attracting a welcome pristine perch.
They seemed to be quite tightly shoaled up at the bottom of the near side shelf, but once a I found a group of perch I managed to convince a couple of three to attack before the action dried up. Only problem was finding the shoals, and in trying to do so I covered quite a lot of very slushy and muddy tow path. Before I located more fish I did cross paths with yet another water vole. This one was crossing the canal to forage under some brambles overhanging the water. I watched it cross back and forth once before trying to get a picture. The next time it came back across the canal I pulled out my phone and just as I pressed the button it did a neat little dive never to be seen again and left me with this picture.
After the vole I struggled to locate fish in any numbers and just hooked a single small perch here and there until I moved onto a very snaggy area which last year produced a belting chub for me. I could feel the lure bumping into small branches on the bottom of the canal that had fallen off the overhanging trees. I often find fish lingering in these sorts of areas probably using the small branches as cover for safety or attack. The lure found its hold in three or four more serious snags where I had to twang the line and change angles to retrieve it. Then right at the end of another retrieve I felt the lure get thumped hard just as I was lifting it up in the water. I really prayed for it to be another chub but the fight lacked the power of the last time and quickly a solid perch succumbed and went in my net.
With the snow quickly melting and several very unwelcome drips finding their way between my hat and hood onto my neck, I didn't last long on the thawing canal. It really was well worth the effort of getting down to fish in the snow to catch a few perch on freezing morning when everyone else had stayed in bed.