Although my time of late has been largely dedicated to the canals I have to say some of that has not been my choice. I had planned to spend quite a bit of my winter fishing on a few selected seasonal spots on both running and still water, but the weather being what it has the last few months, most of my targets have been out of sorts. Really I have felt like I have been waiting for some item of fruit to ripen before I pick it with these venues. Should I be currently into barbel or chub fishing then with the warm coloured conditions I would have been out waiting for a rod tip to wrap over making the most of the conditions. But I am not, and waiting for any kind of winter clarity to appear has been nothing more than torture. Having got to the stage where free fishing time and good conditions seem as likely to coincide as my winning the lottery, I took a chance and booked a day off in the week on what seemed to be a quiet bit of upcoming weather.
Well bugger me if the gamble didn't pay off and little by little the rivers dropped and cleared. Now the only problem was not trying to cram to much into one session with all the options I had. In the end I headed over to Warwick to fish the Myton road stretch of the Avon. In short it was pure week day winter fishing heaven with a distinct lack of boat wankers and impromptu matches cluttering up the river. The water was clear and I leisurely worked my way along the stretch casting savage gear 3D bleak and fox zander shads on 10gram jigs across the flow and bouncing them back slowly to try and entice a strike.
My first hit came relatively soon on, and the hard fight deceived me into thinking it was a much bigger pike than it turned out to be and surprisingly was also the only one of the entire outing.
The only other taker on this enjoyable return to running water was the greediest perch in Warwickshire, who at the end of a retrieve when I was fastidiously bringing the lure right up tight to the bank, shot out and engulfed my 12cm red head zander shad like it was little more than a tiny minnow.
Now although I found my return to the river most enjoyable, my next session was to the old estate lake which also finds itself at the mercy of the bad weather. Being a classical stream fed sort of lake and given that much of the small stream which feeds life into it runs through farm land, it swells easily with any mucky run off from the fields. Only once over the winter have I dared to make the efforts to walk its banks and then I caught it half way clear and still very shrouded by winter.
This time when I stepped onto the estate it was a riot of yellow with every tree, wall and road framed by yellow daffodils in bloom.
The pike were hungry and very aggressive in the now clear water and after establishing that they were spread out all over the lake waiting in ambush amongst the submerged lilies which were beginning to sprout the new year's growth, it was just a case of figuring how best to provoke them. On this occasion it seemed working a floating jerk bait half depth in the shallows proved stimulating enough to bring a slew of aggressive jack pike thrashing at my lure.
Catching two or three small pike in each swim quickly covered half the lake and I soon found myself looking towards the deeper stream entrance to target fish. For this I reverted back to the ever faithful jig and zander shad combo which instantly got a reaction.
Even the strength of my gear and knots was validated when I snagged up on a serious lily rhizome. The new 0.18mm power pro super 8 slick braid I am using along with a 30lb wire trance and a Palomar knot all held fast as I yanked a large chunk of rhizome off the bottom in the stream entrance.
On this occasion every area I seemed to fish held loads of little pike which were very keen to attack. I can't imagine any fish in this lake ever feels secure given the amount of predators swimming around under the water. In the end I caught so many the savage little critters were beginning to look quite cute to me.
Towards the end of the session I got a very different hit! Whilst covering a slightly deeper area where I suspect the streams flow scours away the silt, I was bouncing the zander shad slowly into the trench by lifting the rods slowly and then leaving a longish pause as the lure rested on the bottom. As the lure dropped once again I saw the yellow braid tighten and I struck. The line instantly changed direction as something shot off to my right. The fight was much different to the all the pike I had already caught, so I suspected a big perch may have crashed the party. The still unseen fish was really hammering me and when I saw a deep dark flank roll deep down in the clear water my heart began pounding and the thought of a massive estate lake Sargent looked to be a reality.
To say I was shocked when a bream surfaced would be an understatement. Obviously this bream had never heard that it was meant to fight like a wet sack or that bream don't take lures either. Really I can't quite figure out what happened here. Was this bream attracted to investigate the strange lure moving past and take it in its mouth, or was it simply docilely sucking at the bottom when my lure smashed it full in the mouth.
Rightly I can't decide, so in the loosest possible way I am going to mark it down as a genuine hit. But saying all that, what a perch that would have made!