Business as usual – blanking that is (pike article, entry 187)

The weather has certainly gone from one extreme to another recently. There have been times when I’ve been sitting around at home in shorts and tee shirt, yet a few days later it’s been a case of piling the layers of winter woolies on as temperatures have plummeted. And it was the latter that faced me as I planned ahead for the couple of angling sessions that would be incorporated into this week.

Continuing with pike, the canals were out for a start, as they were iced over. And whilst I have observed ice fishermen when in Canada, I don’t think that it was thick enough to walk on, cut a hole in and drop the bait through. On the other hand it formed a broad enough layer to make it a non-starter for English-style angling.

Fortunately though, due to the recent dry period, the rivers were low and fishable as far as pike were concerned. And it was to the River Severn that I headed for the first trip of the week. It was a good job that I was fishing with floats as indicators, and so could lay the rods on the ground, as the bank was so hard that it would have been very difficult to get rod rests in.

But while I can live with a low air temperature just as long as the water is OK, on this occasion I had neither. In fact the water was just 3C and was still warmer than the air, although the word ‘warmer’ is perhaps not a good choice. When the water is that cold I don’t exactly feel inspired with confidence, but as we often say, we will never catch sitting at home by the fire.

Well I did blank, although I must say that I always enjoy every session. The place I fished at was a very quiet stretch of the Middle Severn, and apart from one dog walker all I had to keep me company were the birds. As a keen birder I am always alert to what is going on around me, and the highlight of the day was a skylark singing high over the far bank field.

Although the signs of winter were all around, the bird was behaving like it knew that spring is just around the corner. I also saw numerous goosander, some on the river upstream and others in flight overhead. I counted a total of thirty-nine birds in all, although it’s possible of course that some were duplicates. Seven birds were the most seen at any one time. And right at the end as I was packing away, a snipe circled in front of me and dropped out of sight on the far bank.

One thing I really like doing is fishing in the snow, and it looked like I was going to get my wishes answered the next day when snow was predicted. However, there’s snow and there’s snow. And when it’s that deep that it brings the region to a standstill, then you are best staying away. And so due to the severity of the weather, that’s what I did. I had plenty of work that I had to catch up on though, thus freeing up the Friday instead to venture out.

When I arrived at the River Sow, although snow was everywhere it had actually stopped. And with the next dumping not predicted until late afternoon, I was intending to get a session in and then be back at home before the area once more ground to a halt, as it always does when we get a bit of snow. As with the Severn, the water temperature was a miserly 3C, which in all honesty is more suited to grayling than anything else.

At least I was able to blame the weather this week for my two blanks. But although I left the Sow fish-less, just like my previous session I once more rescued it by seeing some nice birds. As I had seen lots of goosander on the Severn, this time it was snipe that put in a regular appearance. Ranging from single birds to a group of 7, I had plenty of them to keep me interested, as the pike played really hard to get. I also saw a single female goosander as well on the river.

So after my single fish that broke the long run of blanks, this week it has been a case of business as usual. But whilst I cannot guarantee fish will be caught, one thing I can say with certainty is that I will be back at the water’s edge next week and will have some more tales to tell. Well, barring any disasters of course, although it will take more than a little inclement weather to keep me away.

 (Originally published February 2007)

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