It is a well-known fact that British people constantly talk about the weather. Even a casual encounter in the street with someone you have never met before will invariably consist of ‘It’s cold today’ or even ‘It’s nice to see the sun out for a change’. Having travelled quite extensively myself around the world, one thing that you can say is that many places have weather that you can more-or-less predict months or even years in advance.
Going to Ghana, I know what the humidity level will be for any chosen month, if I visit Tanzania I know when the rainy season will kick in. And if I go to Uganda I don’t bother taking woolly jumpers! But you can’t say the same thing about Britain. Our geographical position as an island ensures that our temperate climate offers plenty of variety. So much so that it almost seems that no two consecutive days are ever alike.
As anglers – particularly if we are regular in pursuing our pastime – then we are definitely on the front-line of everything that the forces of nature throw at us. And so over the last week, it has definitely been a struggle. With snow and very sharp overnight frosts it didn’t hold well for bream fishing! But call me determined, because that didn’t stop me from venturing out. It was hard work though, although as the title suggests I did win through in the end – but only just.
For the first overnighter of the week I was actually quite hopeful. As we know, water and air temperatures, although they will relate to each other, don’t rise and fall at the same rate. It takes a while for the water to catch up with what is happening in the atmosphere above it. Hence, although the cold spell was on its way, the water temperature was still reasonable. But the fish didn’t know that as I didn’t even get a single bleep on the bite alarm.
By the time the second session came round, although we had left the worst of the weather behind, it was chilly. The day was fine but the moment the sun set, it did feel very wintry. To illustrate the point, I arrived at the gravel pit in my Wolves football shirt but ended up with a jumper and a fleece suit on by the time evening came round. For those who aren’t aware, Wolves kit is old gold, so it’s quite bright! But as I’m fishing a good distance out from the side, there is no issue with clothing.
I don’t have a problem with camouflage gear by the way, I wear it myself. And there’s nothing wrong with it if you want it to be a fashion statement either, as I don’t have any issue with ‘looking the part’. But it’s not always an essential, that’s the point I would make. Wear it every session if we like, but let’s not kid ourselves that it is indispensible or even that it will make us fish better! Although having said that, confidence is a big factor in angling, so who knows, camouflage may help in some cases!
Once the sun had disappeared over the horizon, I was hopeful for the first couple of hours of darkness, but nothing came. Then there is the period around 1.00am that always seems to be productive on this venue, but that too drew a blank. By now I had cocooned myself in my sleeping bag and drifted off into the land of nod, and without trying to sound negative, pretty much resigned myself to another fish-less session.
However my sleep was interrupted by the sound of three single bleeps on the bite alarm. ‘It has to be a bream’, I thought to myself as I quickly positioned myself over the pod. The line had actually gone slack so I found myself turning a few handles of the reel to try to connect with something solid, by which time I decided to strike anyway. It seemed forever as I drew in so much line before finally feeling weight at the end. The result was a nice looking bream that became very feisty as it was time to take the photographs. It must have been camera shy as it did all it could to avoid being snapped.
But it does show the importance of not only having an unhooking mat but also of ensuring all fish plus angler photographs are done whilst the latter is low to the ground. If you follow my articles regularly you will notice that I am always low on my knees when posing with a fish; that way should it suddenly come to life, the very worst that can happen is that it will fall inches onto a wet mat. Pictures of anglers standing up whilst holding big fish are not good. However, having said that, I am definitely in the education camp as opposed to the ‘let’s slaughter them’ attitude that so many have.
Remember, we all have to start somewhere and in many ways it is an ongoing path, we never really ‘make it’ in the sense that we are perfect and cannot learn anything else. Therefore, in terms of good angling practice, I am all for that being promoted, and will do that constantly through my writing. Many anglers are simply not aware of what’s what. But of course some are and couldn’t care less, now that’s a different story!
The fish was returned and I once more retreated to my sleeping bag. With the aroma of damp bream slime very powerfully filling the space inside, I wrapped the bag around me (I always leave one side unzipped for quickness when I have a fish) and kept my face away from it. It was a bitterly cold night, star-filled and cloudless but that was the lesser of the two evils as far as what faced me if I had decided to cover my head!
Check out this week’s video clip by clicking here.
(Originally published April 2008)