I was up bright and early on New Year’s Day. Being a teetotaller I had no issues with a sore head or fizzy tummy, in fact the only negative going on in my life as I drove away from home with the sun still yet to rise was that I hadn’t had much sleep. Although I can very happily stay awake until the early hours (It was after 2.00am when I had finally got to bed on January 1) getting up is another thing. I’m not lazy and I certainly don’t ‘love’ my bed, but anything before 7.00am and I am struggling. But there’s nothing like a bit of fishing to act as an incentive, so when the alarm went off I wasn’t complaining.
I headed for a stretch of the upper Trent that I have fished before, and on that visit I made a note of a wide bend that looked like it should be given a go in winter. And so here I was, full of anticipation at the start of a new year, having visions of shoaled-up perch all fighting to get at my bait. Well I was right about the fish being together, but it was roach that I encountered regularly throughout the day, not my chosen quarry. The fish weren’t big but they were certainly there in numbers. I also managed a couple of bullheads as well, which are quite rare fish these days. It was also an indication of how far up the river I was.
And it was that latter fact that came home to me when I returned in the week to again fish the stretch, but this time to rove with a small spinner. Although the Trent in that area is quite wide, that is very deceptive as it is also very shallow. Obviously I knew that from my previous visits to the ‘wide bend’ but I hadn’t moved around at all so had no real knowledge of the area. I was hoping that a few more bends would appear but alas, even though the odd twist and turn featured, it merely slowed the flow as opposed to giving any real depth.
After a couple of hours of futile spinning I moved to a nearby gravel pit. I was a little more hopeful, but it was very cold. Whilst on the river, every now and then I had to clear ice from the rod rings – now that’s cold. But the extra depth that I was banking on to produce a fish didn’t help at all. So as I blanked on the Trent, I also blanked on the pit. I must admit though that the surroundings were very pleasant and if you are going to remain fish-less then once you have got over that fact, you may as do it in nice countryside.
Although I didn’t even get so much as an enquiry on the Trent, I did see a brown hare. The hare is my favourite British mammal and any sighting of one always gets me excited. Like the previously mentioned bullhead it is not a common species these days, although it hasn’t always been like that. A hundred or so years ago there were an estimated four million hares in the country, but that number has been decimated by more than 80%. So if you see one, particularly the further west you go in the country, then count yourself indeed blessed. I did.
I always keep my eye open for what’s going on around me, and as I walked back to the car on the first of January I noticed four swans on a field adjoining the lane. I could easily have walked past, but instead I slipped my rucksack off my back and got my binoculars out. The hunch proved to be correct, as although one of the pair of birds were mute swans, the other two were whooper swans. I got a good view and although I had struggled to get amongst the perch that day, the birds certainly made up for it. If you read my Angling Journal regularly then you will know that I take more than a passing interest in the wider nature package around me.
By the end of the week the weather locally hit a low as far as cold was concerned. However we did manage to escape some of the extremes that other parts of the British Isles saw, and although it was a bitterly cold easterly wind that blew, we didn’t have any snow. Making the most of the opportunity that I had, I managed a couple of very short trips to the local canal. Spinning is great for those times when you don’t have the hours to set up and bait a swim. Instead you take your made-up rod, step out of the car and within one minute you’re fishing. I also took Twinkle, my Bedlington terrier with me as well, and we both get to enjoy ourselves.
I struggled on the fishing front though and all I had to show for dozens of casts was one solitary small perch that followed the lure back to the bank. At the start of the week with four sessions ahead of me, I was very optimistic, but it was always going to be a battle against the ever-deteriorating weather. But there’s always something positive to draw on and in this case at least I have got my first (and second and third!) blank out of the way and so the only way from now on is up. And there are still fifty-one weeks to go, and just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, so by perseverance the snail reached the ark!
Check out this week’s video clip by clicking here.
(Originally posted January 2008)