A slow – and cold – start to the New Year (perch article, entry 130)

With the New Year just one day old I set off for the first session of 2006. Although still after perch, and indeed still spinning, there was a slight change as I headed for a pool rather than the canal, which so far has had my undivided attention. I have taken out a new club card for the year with the intention of including a small pool complex in my perch portfolio. It was a good job that I took my bird watching gear along in the car, as upon arrival every pool was covered in a thin sheet of ice.

However, with the sun out (as much as it can be in January) I was confident that there would be a reasonable thaw to allow me some fishing. So, as I left the sun to do what comes natural to it, I headed around the area with my binoculars. Although I was away for just an hour, I still saw eighteen species including a male sparrowhawk, groups of bullfinches (seven birds), goldfinches (twenty-eight), redpolls (four) and a single siskin. By the time I got back to the car, there was a small patch of clear water, so I set up the spinning rod and headed for the pool.

Not surprisingly I had the whole place to myself. Which was good really, as it would have been real competition if more than one angler was after the only available swim. However, the sheet of ice was visibly thawing in front of my eyes and so as another car pulled up on the car park at noon, there was a good half of the pool now fishable. As the other angler headed for the nearest swim I was already round the other side. One thing with spinning is that you don’t want a busy venue, as space is the order of the day. But no other anglers came, so I was fine.

Concerning angling tickets, I find – and it is a general statement – that the more you pay, the fewer problems you get with other people such as litter, disturbances etc. This particular club card is dirt-cheap. And so when the other angler went to his car, opened the doors and put his radio on full blast, and then walked back to the lake to fish, I wasn’t really that surprised. Even though I was right across the other side, I could hear everything. However, every cloud has a silver lining and when I heard that Aston Villa had beaten W*st Br*m 2-1, I did smile to myself.

I didn’t have much to laugh about with the fishing though. Not one single fish, although I was encouraged to see a couple of small perch follow the spinner to the edge. In my defence though, the water temperature was rock bottom. And even my radio friend went after an hour. Hopefully he won’t be back either, unless when he gets home he suddenly remembers all the rubbish he accidentally left behind in his swim and returns to clean up. I carried on right to the end though, and listened to Wolves on the radio, whose result at Coventry taught me a lesson for laughing at our rivals.

In the middle of the week I managed back-to-back sessions on the local canal, and in particular the stretch where I have been catching my recent big perch. However, the total sum of fish caught was a solitary two-ounce perch! Not even a single fish snatching at the lure, which is always a heart stopping moment in itself. And not even one fish following the spinner back to the edge, which again is at least an encouragement that the fish are moving.

I did encounter a group of anglers fishing the canal on the one session, and they too were struggling to get bites. I think they had two roach and a perch between them. So at least it wasn’t just me. Often I am the only angler out and about so there’s nothing to compare with. I usually have to gauge the session by my own experience. It was obvious really that the weather was playing a major factor in the difficult start to the year. Both sessions on the canal were during a cold spell, and as we know, fish are very sensitive to temperature change. Still, at least I had caught a fish, my wife reminded me, so I wasn’t a blanker.

I had an unexpected final session right at the end of the week, due to a major electricity fault in the office at work. This meant that we had the day off on Friday, so I took full advantage and after dropping my wife off at her mom and dad’s house (she was visiting for the day – not leaving me because of my fishing!) I headed off for the middle Severn. Another very cold day, but at least spinning keeps you active. And I did walk for a couple of miles or more along the river, dropping into every swim to cast out a few times.

Again I really struggled, and again I blanked. The only excitement was when I hooked into a weed bed, and just for a split second I thought I had connected with a fish. We’ve all done it I’m sure at some point, just for a moment thinking we have struck into something good, only to discover that we have hooked a plastic carrier bag (they’re the worst, they really fight in the current), a branch or some other debris.

So there you have it, four sessions so far in 2006 and all I have to show is a tiny perch. After a good ending to last year with three decent fish in as many weeks, it is back down to earth with a bang. Still, I am blaming the weather. That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it. But there are another fifty-one weeks to go, and my fishing is more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s not so much how I start the year that counts, but rather what goes on over the whole twelve-month period.

(Originally published January 2006)


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